Last fall I managed to catch 5 pike close to 1-meter length at Varlaam, which came as a surprise even to me. I didn’t know that the gravel pit lake could hold such fish because, until last fall, I didn’t know how to catch them. That’s the naked truth. Long story short, I am due with the footage of pike no. 5 so here it is. Watch the catch and release of that beautiful specimen in the video below and find out more about the best all-around pike rod for fishing our waters, from 93 cm on the EDGE: the last big pike of the fall 2017!

Welcome, No. 5!
November 26, last Sunday of the month, marked the catching of the fall’s 5th big pike. The tackle was the same used for the other 4 – soft swimbait of 6″ (15 cm) rigged on an offset hook, the only difference being the reel. The 93 cm fish came on the Daiwa Z2020 SHL Black Limited edition, who took its trial of XXL pike with flying colors.

The 5th element: the fishing rod
Lure, strategy, presentation technique and others aside, I believe that the rod was the common element that made the difference: EDGE Swim Bait 805-1 HM by Gary Loomis. You can find the most important thought about the rod in the video’s subtitles, but I will extend them briefly, after the video.

Watch the fight and how I managed to land the 93 cm pike despite that amateurish entomologist net in the video edit down below. For a viewing experience at maximum detail, please set the resolution at 1080 HD from YouTube’s play menu:

An Excalibur for everyone?
The perfect rod is a myth, that is until we find that combination that best fits our techniques, lures and preferences. Thus, it’s something extremely personal (that starts with choosing of a model made of certain qualities). Just an example: the story tells that the fishing rod of known painter and pike angler, Neculita Secrieriu, was regarded as a modern Excalibur and as such, wanted by the other anglers of the time. The rod built around a graphite Sportex blank was powerful yet gentle at the same time, with a progressive action, which made it fit for spoon and other reaction baits fishing.

Rods after rods
I have fished with rods of every make and kind since the beginning of the ’90s. I found the best rods for the job with the old G. Loomis brand (pre-Shimano), then with Evergreen International from Japan, and recently I returned to American soil with the discovery of the new brands North Fork Composites and EDGE Rods, created by none other than the Legend of graphite rods, Gary Loomis.

My Excalibur, forged by Gary Loomis
Since I received the EDGE Swim Bait 805-1 HM rod, I forgot about anything else in pike fishing rods with a variety of lures. Even though it’s listed as a light swimbaits rod, between 14 and 87 grams (maximum casting weight is around 70 grams to me), the SB805-1 HM has an incredibly versatile behaviour: it casts 3 grams jigs (1/8 oz.) with 7 – 8 cm plastics, but also lures of 40 – 50 grams and it makes great presentations with almost anything. Its capabilities list includes spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, any-depth crankbaits, soft plastics on offset, weedless hooks (15 – 20 cm swimbaits or smaller, up to 12 cm), oscillating spoons between 10 and 40 grams, european jerkbaits, frogs, topwater baits (pencil baits, stick baits, swisher baits), hard swimbaits between 15 – 17 cm (20 – 60 grams) and many others, more than I can remember right now.

A quick sketch in my view
In my opinion, the pike rod must have certain characteristics that it would be wise to look after when searching for that uniquely versatile rod: to be powerful so it could cast between 10 and 50 grams or even 2 oz. and at the same time, to be „gentle”. This means to have an obvious dose of elasticity in the tip that will transit in the middle section with the reserve power in a very smooth manner. Not a telephone pole. About its action, a Moderate-Fast is preferable, before talking more subtle terms such as Fast Parabolic or Fast Progressive. This talk is about casting rods, but the blank can be always built into a spinning rig, if you and baitcasting reels don’t get along too well. We’re not looking for extreme sensitivity like that needed in zander rods except for the special situations such as fishing in deep lakes and reservoirs.

Why do we want elasticity?
Considering that most pike lures are reaction-type and most of the time, we present them on a tight line, in almost constant contact with the lure, the pike rod must manifest in an elastic way (controlled elasticity in the tip and middle section) if we want to fish with maximum efficiency. We need a minimum of elasticity during the moments of bite that will allow the fish to grab/inhale/engulf the lure. Rod flexibility has another major role: to keep the fish pinned down throughout the entire fight and to not let it escape, especially with a fish that express itself so vertically with all those jumps. The rod must dampen the shocks of the fight, to act like a big absorber – it’s a primary and vital function for fishing with lures armed with treble hooks.

Why do we want power?
Because pike fishing in here is mostly done in heavy vegetation waters and heavy cover, when even a small pike of about 60 cm may cause lots of trouble should the rod doesn’t offer enough reserve power. A rod that can easily cast lures between 10 and 60 grams means not only a large variety of lures to fish with, but also a big reserve of power to fight the fish. A rod of that power should not be a telegraph pole. Here comes designers’ mastery in blanks making and the big brands experience coupled with constant R&D work.

I’m sure that without this rod, some of the big 5 pike of the fall would have been gone. I did some calculated mistakes during the fights (keeping the rod between my legs while switching on the action camera on my head, for example). But due to the forgiving nature of the SB805-1 HM blank, none has gone away. The rod helped me bring a beautiful 93 cm pike in front of the camera. A very solid fish for its length. We’ll talk more about fishing rods with other occasions. Until then, thank you for your attention and tight lines!