Just prior to losing a week of fishing due to the current deep freeze conditions, I was comparing notes with Cory Rambo while waiting for clients at the boat launch. Cory is the driver of that Golden Triangle Industries/CastAway wrapped truck that you frequently see around town.

At the time, we were discussing rods and that in spite of the fact that we both use CastAway rods, how different our needs were. We both carry a boat load of tackle, but in all likelihood not one of our rods are alike. There is a valid reason for that, but we’ll get back to that.

Cory and Rusty Clark were only two days away from fishing their second team tournament of the year on the Anglers Quest circuit when we spoke and as you would expect, he was more concerned with size rather than numbers of bass. Chris McCall and Tommy Dickerson had won the first event of the year and were leading last year’s team of the year winners by 6 pounds.

Rambo’s concern was apparently for naught, however, as he and Rusty absolutely blew the field away on Rayburn.“We had 16 pounds of bass in the livewell very early in the day,” said Cory, “and knowing that you have probably already earned a check makes you a much better fisherman the rest of the day.”

Sixteen pounds was more than 75 percent of the field would weigh in at the end of the day, but Clark and Rambo were just getting started.“We culled and upgraded over and over throughout the day, “stated Rambo, but it really got crazy around noon.”That was an understatement!

In that short period of time they upgraded three of their bass with an eight pound 4 ounce fish, a seven, a big six, and culled the two smallest for two more heavy end 4 pounders. When all was said and done, their 30.24 bag beat the second place team by a whopping nine pounds. They not only earned the winning check of $2250 for their phenomenal effort, but also recaptured the lead in the year to date standings.

“We pretty much hung around the 15 foot breaks and caught fish all day,” added Rambo, but the bass apparently wanted something a little different later in the day.“Rusty fished a Carolina rig and wore me out early, but I stayed with a jig and the big fish just ate it up when we were on that hot streak.”

I feel certain that most of the teams fishing against them would argue that they were on a hot streak all day long. While a six pound average is every tournament angler’s dream, it is even more impressive when you look at the numbers for the rest of the field.

Eleven of the fifty-seven teams entered failed to weigh in a single bass, only thirteen teams managed to weigh in half the weight Clark and Rambo brought to the scales and only one other team cracked the 20 pound mark. With three events remaining in the 1st segment of the Rayburn Saturday Series, the defending champs are going to be difficult to unseat.
Competitive bass fishing is a far cry from earning your living as a saltwater fishing guide and the tools of the trade differ all the way from choice of boats to tackle. Undoubtedly, the most obvious difference is choice of rods. Basically every rod I use for duping trout, reds and flounder is significantly lighter than anything in Cory or Rusty’s arsenal.

They might be carrying a medium action spinning rod for finesse fishing, but that would be the only rod we may possibly share. For the most part, they need a rod with enough length and backbone to drive home the hook and redirect the route of a thick shouldered bass in a single jerk. From that point on, it is hand-to-fin combat in close quarters and a stout rod is a distinct advantage.

While I am spending the majority of my fishing time with a medium or medium light 6 ½ foot Skeleton titanium rod swimming plastics in open water, Cory and Rusty are dissecting the thickest vegetation with a Skeleton Grass Master 7 foot 3 inch heavy action rod. I use 20 to 30 pound braid for the sensitivity more so than strength, but they often count on 65 pound braid to give them an edge in those close quarter hand-to-fin encounters.

While the hook setting capability is a critical factor regardless of the application, it is rare indeed when a bay fisherman has to be concerned with steering a fish away from structure. The more important issues are the ability to cast lighter lures as far as possible and the ability to wear out a fish with a compromising rod and a smooth drag.

The same all important hook set that instantly moves a seven pound bass out of the thickest of cover would just as quickly rip the hook out of the thin-walled mouth of a seven-pound trout. The one exception would be that while they are obviously more fun to catch on lighter tackle, Cory’s heavy action rod would work just as well, if not better, on redfish.
As a matter of fact, the only time I also opt for a heavier rod and the same hook setting technique is when we fish the shallow back water lakes with frogs and top water lures. It takes a lot of rod to handle 8 pounds of fish and ten pounds of moss grass draped over the line!

The folks at CastAway are very much attuned to the diversity of angler needs ranging all the way from pond fishing to trolling off shore. And, while their upper end rods satisfy even the most discerning angler, they also cover every base with a wide variety of quality sticks at prices that fit the tightest of budgets.

If freezing your rear end off for a swing or two at a big fish is just not for you, use the remainder of the month cleaning up your tackle and taking stock of your gear. If you can find the money for a new rod I would advise holding off until after you make a trip to the Houston Boat Show at the George R. Brown Center March 2-6.

You can not only pick up a CastAway rod and talk to the folks that build them before buying a new rod, but do the same with a number of other quality rod manufacturers that will be there as well. This is always a great show for the fishermen, saltwater or freshwater, as it focuses more on fishing than boating.

I will be there, but should you have a question in the meantime or want to look at the rods that I use every day, just e-mail me or give me a call. Cory can do the same for you bass fishermen and he just might have a hot tip that will help you catch your career best bass this spring as well!