We've all heard the stories - a kayaker flips over in deep water, losing his or her favorite rod and reel combo. If you spend enough time in a kayak it's bound to happen to you, either while launching from the beach or reaching for something and losing your balance. In years past several companies have tried to make a rod that will float if dropped over board, targeted towards kayakers, and these rods didn't do very well.
One company in Jacksonville, FL has learned from mistakes made in the past and perfected a rod tailor-made for all kayakers, from beginners to experienced anglers. I met Sean Abbey, the owner of Overboard Rods, at ICAST 2012 , where he gave me a complete rundown on his rods.
“All of our rods are made with our very own IM6 graphite blanks. They are some of the lightest, most sensitive IM6 graphite blanks out there. They still retain the more durable properties of this style of graphite, though, which is important in the sometimes abusive world of kayak fishing. We use all quality stainless and graphite PacBay components that are saltwater and braid worthy, and lightweight. The handles are made from a two-part urethane foam, the same stuff floating docks are made of, and are all turned by hand to be able to float specific weight ranges of reels.”
The first things you notice about these rods are the big butt and fore grip. Available in many different color combinations, this is the business end of the rod. At first glance you would think the rod would be heavy, but that’s not the case. I noticed no remarkable increase in weight in the 7’ 6” rod that I used for this review, compared to my other rods. It was quite balanced and comfortable to use all day long. I used two reels for testing, an old Shimano “Stradic 2500” (that no longer works) for the floating tests, and a Quantum “Catalyst PT20” for the lure tests.
I found this test to be easy - throw the rod and reel in the water. Simple, and yes, it did float. The water depth was about three feet, and what I noticed was that the tip of the rod sank and made contact with the bottom leaving the butt end sticking up. Sean told us that the rod will float like this for several days before the urethane would become waterlogged. With no nicks or cuts in the foam, it would float like this for some time, making recovery of a lost rod quite possible.
I tested several different lures: weedless jerk baits, topwaters, and even a popping cork. Lacking a bit in action, I had no problem making long, accurate casts with a Heddon “Zara Spook Jr.” or a MirrOlure “MirrOdine”. Using a jerk bait, I noticed the casts were not as long as my current setups. A weighted popping cork was also no problem. The rod had good feel, even with the extra-large butt and fore grip. I had thought that they might dampen a bit of the feel from the rod, but that wasn’t the case.
One thing I did observe: the butt end is a bit long (for me, I prefer a shorter butt of at least 8”) and while sitting and wearing a PFD, it did get in the way. Again, this is just a personal preference. I had asked Sean about the lengths at ICAST, and he told me this is the minimum length they can make it and still keep the floatation qualities. It will also not fit in a standard rod holder (Scotty or Ram), but it fits in the flush mounted rod holders. An oversize rod holder would have to be used if you wanted to store it in front of you or on a milk crate.
All in all, I was quite impressed with the quality of these rods. I think they would be a great addition to any kayaker’s arsenal, giving you the peace of mind that if you did tip over, the rods would be recoverable. Modestly priced from $100 to $120 dollars, an Overboard Rod is well worth the price.