A quick stroll around the floor of the International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades, or ICAST, can leave your head spinning. The number of new fishing rods for 2017 is hard to take in. After hours of talking with reps, walking the floor, and testing promising new models, I landed on my top five new rods. Here they are, in no particular order.
13 Fishing Muse Black 13 Fishing continues to solidify its status as a top player in the rod and reel business with its new 2017 additions. The extensive Muse Black series offers anglers of all species a high-end stick at a reasonable price. The rods are built from super light, incredibly sensitive graphite blanks. The Evolve Airfoil Carbon reel seat and EVA foam grip are ergonomic, comfortable, and easy to palm. But the entire Muse Black lineup is well-rounded. There are 25 rods in the series—15 of them casting, four spinning, and six swimbait sticks. 13fishing.com; $175–$235 13 Fishing
Denali Kovert Lite The sleek design of the Kovert Lite was what first caught my eye, and a thorough inspection of its weight, action, and components left me impressed. The Kovert Lite is lean and mean, as well as 25-percent lighter than the original series of popular Denali rods. Less weight means less fatigue, more casts in a day, and, ultimately, more fish. Denali was able to trim ounces off these rods, while not sacrificing performance and sensitivity, by using so-called Interloc Blank technology. The Kovert Lite series is built on IM8 graphite blanks, with semi-micro guides and a custom EVA handle. There are three spinning rods and 11 casting rods, covering a variety of technique-specific applications. Denalirods.com; $150 Denali
GLoomis GLX For nearly 25 years, the Loomis GLX series has been widely regarded as the best bass rod on the planet. This year, it got an upgrade. The new GLX rods are built on blanks that are up to 20-percent lighter than the already-feather-like originals. Loomis has introduced a new handle design that is unique to the series as well. The guide system is composed of Fuji K frames, with SiC rings and a special, corrosion-resistant coating. The massive collection of 20 casting and 15 spinning rods has a model for every conceivable purpose. GLoomis.com ; $420–$465 GLoomis
St. Croix Legend Glass This is not your father’s fiberglass rod. In fact, it’s not even close. If I had to pick one rod from ICAST that absolutely amazed me, the St. Croix Legend Glass would be it. Graphite has taken over as the preferred material among rod builders, but there will always be a need for glass’s moderate action for certain applications. Fiberglass is traditionally heavier and less responsive than graphite, but that’s not the case with the Legend Glass. St. Croix has taken its IPC technology, combined it with premium S-glass, and added quality components to create the most exciting rod I’ve seen in a while. These sticks are a crankbait fisherman’s dream. There are four rods, ranging from a 6-foot 10-inch model to a 7-foot 11-inch model, which could manhandle massive cranks meant for probing 20-plus feet of water. Stcroixrods.com; $240–$250 St. Croix
Edge Rods Pacemaker Edge offers impressive, high-end rods with its new Pacemaker series. These rods were designed with careful attention from Bassmaster Classic champion Cliff Pace. I found the Pacemaker rods to be incredibly light, responsive, and comfortable. They feature top-of-the-line components, including titanium guides with Zirconium inserts and an ALPS AGC reel seat. The family of six casting and one spinning rod ranges from a 6-foot 10-inch model to 7-foot 10-inch model, and handles 1/8- to 2-ounce lures. The rods can handle cranking, structure fishing, pitching, and drop-shotting, among other applications. edgerods.com; $359 Edge Rods
The write-up for the Edge Rods Pacemaker initially stated that Temple Fork Outfitters makes Edge rods, when, in fact, it is the exclusive distributor of Edge rods. We regret the error.