Product Insight: What We Look for in a Fishing Rod...
Featuring Batson (continued)
Taper: A rod's taper is also what many refer to as "action". This refers to how far down into the blank the rod's tip bends before you reach the power section of the rod. Taper and action are not the same as power. The slower the rod's taper, the better suited it is for moving bait applications. Conversely, the faster a rod's taper, the better suited it is for vertical bait presentations like jigs, soft plastics and the like. This is a general rule of thumb as lines here can be blurred with aggressive tapers that result in a blank with a really soft tip, or really powerful rods that have a very slow, moderate bend. In other words, there are always exceptions to the rule.
Put a rod in the hands of a TT Editor and we're going to look
very closely at build quality.
In general, a fast tapered blank bends at about twenty to twenty five percent (20% - 25%) through the tip. If a blank's tip bends through less than that, it's considered extra-fast, and if it bends about a third of the way down, it's more of a moderate taper. Medium-fast is another term used today and it's a way of saying a rod's taper is between fast and moderate, and medium or regular are both different ways of saying moderate.
The epoxy work is smooth but a little uneven at the bottom of
this guide's thread wraps..
By taking a rod and gently flexing it's tip against the floor or up against the ceiling, you can get a sense of its taper. But note, the transition from top to backbone is not a clear line of delineation so a lot of
judgment is involved in this assessment. We found this sample rod from Batson to be about a fast taper.
Here's another angle
Crispness: This is where the entirety of a blank's
design comes together, the grade of graphite plus how the raw material is cut
and rolled determining the taper and power of the overall rod in question. The
less crisp an overall build is, the more you lose in sensitivity and accuracy in
a cast. A good way to test this is to hold a finished rod at it's reel seat in
one hand and hit the blank with the base of your other hand just above the
foregrip. Note how long it takes for the rod's tip to stop reverberating and
sense the frequency of its reverberation. Is it kind of a dull vibration or is
it sharp, almost jarring?
The tip top is also has some extra gloss that bleeds into the
guide, but will not affect performance
When comparing rods side by side, especially models that are at different price points, this is a good way to get a sense of the difference in each rod's blank. The higher grade graphite sticks reverberate with a relatively sharp, almost jarring vibration while lower end blanks will have a more dull sensation. A $100 stick SHOULD feel less crisp than one priced at $400. The fair market value of our Batson rod is roughly $150 - $170 and the crispness we sense in its blank coincides with most rods in this price range.
On the label, placement of the thread wraps on the right side of
the label are really tight to the specifications.
Components: This of course refers to the guides, reel seat, and handle used on the rod. Handle material is entirely a matter of personal preference. Some people adore the look of cork and claim it gives you better sensitivity. If you hold your rod at the handle and don't palm your reel, great, otherwise that argument is a little moot. Others like the clean look of foam, how comfortable it is to hold, and how it doesn't look all dirty and worn after a couple of trips. Trouble is, foam dents easily and those dents rarely work themselves out.
One of our favorite features of this rod? It's svelte reel seat.
Guides on a rod are very often taken for granted by anglers. Many will argue all you really need, performance wise are something akin to Fuji Alconites. There's no need to go a higher grade material like SiC inserts because they're too expensive, brittle, and easily break or pop out. If you don't treat your gear with respect, this can be an issue. All my personal rods have guides with SiC inserts and I've yet to pop one out.
Next Section: A reel seat that sets the rod apart