Sydney Sewell
A kayak angler sits on a red fishing kayak casting with a kayak-specific rod and reel.

Kayak Angler took a behind-the-scenes look at a new generation of kayak-fishing specific rods and reels. Lamiglas, McCain rods and Truth Reels have released models targeted at kayak anglers with paddle-fishing-friendly features. We couldn’t fit all the great info into the article, here’s the full interviews with experts that know these rods.

Sydney Sewell, McCain team pro

Kayak Angler: How were McCain’s kayak rods developed?

Sydney Sewell: The McCain team worked together with a couple of avid kayak anglers including Jason Nantz, Ty Southerland , Vance Zahorski, and me to develop the perfect series of kayak rods for freshwater and inshore fishing. And now McCain is working on an offshore kayak rods that will be called the BTB (beyond the breakers) rods.

KA: What features appeal to kayak anglers?

SS: The action and length of these rods are to benefit the kayak angler. They are light, sensitive, and strong. Each rod also comes with a Rod Glove, a Line Cutterz ring, and a rod tether. Each rod has a lanyard attachment on the rod for the tether.

KA: Tell us a great kayak fishing story.

SS: I have a love for each one of the rods in the kayak series but my favorite has to be the Jerk/Rattle/Spin casting rod. The sensitivity in the tip and the backbone is what I love about it. I was fishing one morning with a KVD caffeine shad which is similar to a fluke with the jerk/rattle/spin rod. I was casting far in open water trying to cover as much area as I could. I’d let the shad sink and give it a twitch or two. The action you can get out of a shad bait with this rod is incredible. After a couple of twitches I would get a hit. I was confident on every hook set even though I knew with the distance and the stretch of the mono working against me, this rod has what it takes to sink that hook in. That day I landed a five and six pounder with the help of the Kayak Series rod.

Rod Reel Questions

Paco Ernandez, Lamiglas pro, designer of Kayak Series rods

Kayak Angler: Tell us the history of the development of the rod.

Paco: I’ve been building rods for 20 years. In 2010 I picked up a Hobie Outback. I used it to fish Montauk. Using standard rods, I found it difficult to fish with a long butt. So I decided to change that and took it home. It was too awkward. Built a lot of Lami blanks, I’ve been on prostaff for 10 or 12 years. I grabbed one of the blanks and decided to build a rod with shorter rear handle. At that point I just did it with my own style with the spiral wrap heat shrink. I try to design rods that make fishing easier. I’ve had a kayak rod since 2010. I tried giving it to Lamiglas designers, but they weren’t open to the idea at the time. Now I felt that the market is exploding and there are a lot of companies gearing towards kayak fishing. Spoke to Tom Posey at Lamiglas and he brought me up to Washington to build a kayak rod in their factory. They liked the idea that there weren’t any major changes in the blank. We brought the rods to ICAST where they were a big hit with the angler, buyers and the press. It was tremendous response. People came into the Lamiglas booth asking about them, checking them out. I heard from other vendors that we were the buzz with the kayak rods.

KA: What features appeal to kayak anglers?

PE: Started off using carbon fiber rear handle for improved sensitivity and makes it easier to get out of the rod holder. More durable. Made rear handle eight inches long now you have reel closer to the body which makes it more stable and less fatiguing. And when you have the rod in the rod holder on the gunnel and you reach out you’re not pulling the rod out 10 to 12 inches.

Butt end of the rod has a tag line loop made with rock climbing line that is rated at 270 pound tensile strength which is epoxied into the blank for a rod leash. Having the reel seat back further on seven-foot rod provides more forward rod to fish with so it is easier to get around the bow of your boat without having to use a longer rod. All Fuji components Alconite guides and reel seat. I hope kayak anglers will fork out the dollars. Lamiglas is always top quality. We’re not going to cut corners at this point. That’s the reason I stayed with Lamiglas, they’re always quality in my eyes.

Jim Sammons, Pro kayak fishing guide, host: Kayak Fishing Show

Kayak Angler: Tell us the history of Truth Jim Sammons reel.

Jim Sammons: I got a Truth reel way before they were a sponsor of the show. I worked with them to improve their early models. Eventually, I invited Truth Reels owner Wes Seigler to a shoot for Kayak Fishing Show. After we wrapped, he told me that he wanted to design a Jim Sammons signature model. I was flabbergasted.

He asked what I wanted in a reel. We started with their LG Narrow reel and tweaked it. We upgraded the bearings to make them tougher. Then, we shortened the crank arm. In a kayak, the reel is closer to the body; the shorter crank arm is easier to get around. We also made the clicker stronger and louder for better live bait fishing. I like Truth reels because they are made in America and simple to work on. I’m always tearing apart my reels to maintain them. They’ve eliminated a lot of parts for simple construction. It’s simple but tough. The toughest part was working on the signature look of the reel. We went with dark red brushed matte because it doesn’t show scratches. I chose red because Spiderman was my favorite comic book character when I was a kid. Wes designed the kraken and paddle on the side of the reel. I think it looks so cool!

KA: Tell us a fish story.

JS: I used the reel in New Zealand and got big yellowtail. Wes gave me the first production reel, No. 1. I have it in a glass case at the house. I fish with reel No. 3.

KA: Do you see a trend in kayak fishing specific rods and reels?

JS: Yes, I’m seeing companies reaching out to kayak anglers, again. To be honest, I don’t think you need a specific kayak fishing rod. Some of the add-ons can be gimmicky. You can find a great rod or reel that you like and it will work great in a kayak. What we need is good rods and reels that can take a beating. We need the best components and construction to take the abuse of kayak fishing. Look for a rod and reel that has been tested in the kayak.

By making kayak fishing rods and reels, companies show they are embracing the sport. The recognized that kayak anglers are a serious segment of the sport. They are willing to design stuff tough enough for us.

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“Thank God my dad wasn’t a podiatrist,” jokes Ric about following in the footsteps of a famous outdoor writer. After graduating from Radford University and serving two years in Russia with the Peace Corps, Ric returned to Virginia Beach and started writing for The Fisherman magazine, where his dad was editor. When the kayak fishing scene exploded, Ric was among the first to get onboard. His 2007 book, The Complete Kayak Fisherman is one of the first tomes to introduce anglers to paddle fishing and hundreds of articles and seminars have brought countless anglers into the fold. When he’s not chasing every fish that swims, Ric teaches English at a school for at-risk teens.


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