The birth of 10-foot bass rods

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Ronnie Moore

At the end of the summer, I contacted the Elite Series Angler Advisory Board and our Tournament Director Trip Weldon. I wanted to bring up some thoughts about our maximum rod length rule. I’ve often wondered why we were limited to 8-foot rods. I know why we have the rule, but I wondered if it was something that we could improve upon. It’s not just because I am a rebel and wanted to make a change, it’s because I know how much more efficient longer rods can make all of us as anglers.

They unanimously decided to increase the length to 10 feet. I didn’t suggest a length but asked the question. After the discussions, they all voted unanimously to adopt longer rods, and they settled on 10 foot as the length. Here’s why I’ve thought about this for so many years.

First things first. Why did we even have the rule in the first place? The answer to that question is the one and only Dee Thomas – the Godfather of Flippin’. When Dee was just getting into bass fishing tournaments in the 70s, he was known for using 10- to 14-foot cane poles and “Tule Dippin” in the Delta.

When he decided to start fishing tournaments, the tournament directors started getting complaints about him having an unfair advantage, so they limited the rods to 8 feet. That’s making a short story out of a long one, but that’s the basics of it. We’ve fished under those regulations since then.

Here’s why I’ve wanted to be able to use longer rods. I spend a lot of my free time in the offseason fishing for steelhead and salmon in rivers in Northern California. Steelhead especially are very line shy, and they are very powerful. Their ability to make strong runs can cripple just about any tackle setup. Add the fact that we often have to fish for them with 6-pound-test line, and there can be a true recipe for disaster there. To combat those difficulties, we fish with long spinning rods, sometimes as long as 10 feet.

I’ve often wanted to be able to use a long spinning rod in bass fishing because I know how much more efficient they could make me on the water. Think about it. How much farther could we throw a tube or a drop shot rig on a 9- to 10-foot spinning rod? But, not only would we be able to throw it farther, we would also have the leverage necessary to handle hooksets at the distance and control the fish better once we had them hooked up. Not only that, being able to stay further away from the fish will make it easier to keep from spooking them.

I’m really jacked about the new ruling because I’ve always wanted to be able to use an 8-foot, 6-inch spinning rod, but there will be other uses for longer rods as well. I can see big crankbaits like my SKT Magnums from Lucky Craft being better on a longer rod. Swimbaits, flippin’ and a few spinning techniques like tubes, drop shots and float and fly will be perfect with the new regulations.

Think about the difference in leverage. When we started flipping with 8-foot rods instead of the standard 7-foot, 6-inch models, the ability to get a fish’s head turned and bring them up toward the surface more quickly with that additional 6-inches was amazing. Now add an extra foot and that makes it even easier to land a fish when fishing in cover. Along with that, the ability to cover more of an area from one position instead of having to plow through a grass mat with the trolling motor is going to be a big deal as well.

These longer rods may not be for everyone. But, truthfully, manufacturers aren’t going to stop making 7-foot fishing rods, so you’ll be able to choose to still throw those if the long rods don’t work for you. But for those of us that make a living fishing in tournaments, hardcore weekend tourney anglers and bass fishing enthusiasts as a whole, these will be huge.

As I type, I’ve been busy working with Wright & McGill Co. on what we want to do with our lineup within the new regulations. We’ve got six new models coming, and I’m pretty excited about what we’ve done so far. For sure, this is an opportunity for companies to sell a few more rods, but, ultimately, what this whole thing was about to me is being more efficient and catching more fish.

That is why I proposed the rule change to the committee, and I’m excited to see the effect it has on our sport.

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