It’s about more than the fish

Most of the time we (professional anglers) do nothing other than talk and write about catching fish. It’s what we do so you’ll have to excuse us if we seem like we have a one-track mind. The thing is, though, there’s more to it than that.

One of the things I like the most is designing and testing lures and equipment. It’s not exactly like catching bass but it does have a direct impact on how well we do on the water. For the past two years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Abu Garcia on a new line of fishing rods.

When I say new I’m talking about brand new from start to finish — everything from start to finish. I’m excited.

Those of you who’ve made a lure at home, and then caught a fish on it, know what I’m talking about. It’s one thing to trick a bass into biting something. It’s another to do it on, or with, something you have designed yourself. There’s no feeling like it.

We’ll be introducing the new line at the 2014 Bassmaster Classic in Birmingham, Ala. There’ll be five casting rods, five spinning rods and five cranking rods. Each of them has been designed and tested by me on the water and in the lab. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve sent them back and forth but it’s been a lot. We’re finally ready.

The actions are the most obvious but that’s not all there is to it. The guides have to be right, too. They need to be durable, light and spaced correctly. And let’s not forget about the handles. They have to feel good in your hand and they have to help balance the rod.

As time consuming and technical as that is, I have to say that in some ways that was the easy part. That’s the fishing stuff. I know what I like and what I need. It’s fairly easy to transfer that to the engineers once you’re able to figure out their language. The tough part, for me anyway, was putting together the rest of the package.

Color — both the blank and the wraps — are a big deal, believe it or not. You have to have something that looks good but, at the same time, you have to be careful to make it distinctive. You don’t want a rod that looks like some other company’s rod. The idea is to set yourself apart but still be a part of the overall fishing community.

The reason I’m writing about this is because I want everyone to understand that we really do care about what we offer the public. We want it to work. It’s not about throwing something together and having a pro say it’s the next best thing to sliced bread.

In fairness, I think most of the companies try to do that. It’s not just Abu Garcia. Very few out there want to sell junk or something that doesn’t work, and very few pros will endorse something they don’t believe in. That’s not who we are.

Mike Iaconelli's column appears weekly on You can also find him on Facebook and Twitter or visit his website,

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