Not Your Father’s Stick

REVIEW: Big Bear Spinning Rods
Big Bear Fishing Rods
I first met Rob Wimberly (Owner/President) and the Big Bear Fishing Rod crew at the 2008 ICAST show in Las Vegas, when they initially introduced their innovative line of fishing rods to the public. I was immediately taken, not only by Rob’s affability, but also by the unique design of the entire rod … from the made-in-the-USA blanks, to the ground-breaking grip design. As soon as I held one of his new rod offerings in my hands I knew I wanted to put one through it’s paces on the water, and it was easily my choice for the New Product Showcase Award in the rod category.

Big Bear Grip

The ergonomic grip channels away water while reducing hand fatigue and increasing performance.

It’s a combination of features that makes their line of rods so different. They begin with a domestically fabricated, top of the line, lightweight, super sensitive high-modulus graphite rod blank, and adorn it with extremely lightweight yet strong Pac Bay Minima line guides, which combine for incredible casting accuracy and distance. Then, they incorporate a split handle design with a blank-exposed reel seat that truly adds to the unparalleled sensitivity. Add in to the mix their proprietary synthetic rubber, dual ply grip; their easy to identify, large-font Length, Power, and Action (LPA) labeling on the split handle; and available in-between “3/4” power ratings; and you have a bevy of features that no other rod manufacturer offers.

Fast forward to this year, when I finally decided to start my tournament fishing career, I get a call from Rob who says “We need to get you on our Pro Staff, Cave!” Well, you can guess what my reaction was to that. 😉 Soon after my enthusiastic “YES!”, a tube arrived on my front porch containing a spinning rod that he described as, “the best rod you’ve ever fished.” I quickly found out that he was not exaggerating! I had ordered a 6’9″, 3/4 Medium, fast action spinning rod. The “3/4 Medium” lies in between the “Medium” and “Medium-Light” power ratings, which I thought would be perfect for the uses I had in mind for this rod: Shakey-Head/Flick-Shake and light line Senko fishing. It quickly became apparent that it was versatile enough to handle a few other duties as well.

Pac Bay Minima Guides

Strong and durable, yet lightweight and sensitive, Pac Bay Minima guides help to make long, accurate casts every time.

My first time out with the rod, the fish were in the middle of spawning. So, I tied on a 1/8 ounce weedless Flick-Shake jighead and hooked on a 6″ worm, and planned to use it as a “teaser bait” on the bed to excite the fish before switching up to the “closer bait” to get them to strike. It was readily noticeable how easily and accurately the light-weight bait was casted, even to the deeper beds. Flipping to the close-by beds was effortlessly accomplished, as well. As I dragged the bait onto the beds, the extreme sensitivity came into play as I could feel every pebble, shell, rock and other sub-surface debris … and I could even tell the difference between each! Fortunately, the fish were very aggressive and I was able to quickly discover this rod’s awesome hook setting power, and meaty backbone for fighting your catch.

Next time out, I decided to try it out as a Senko rod. I Malibu-rigged (weightless T-rig) a 5″ Kinami Flash and started casting it around. I was amazed at the added distance I was getting with this rod, equalling or even bettering the range I have gotten on other top-of-the-line rods that cost 3-4 times as much. What was even more impressive was the accuracy. Many rods will flex left or right, sending your cast slightly off course, unless you make the perfect casting motion. But, I found this rod to be much more forgiving helping you to be right on target every time. The next thing that caught my attention was how much sensitivity I got when dragging the rubber lure on the bottom. With no weight or other exposed hard surface, the soft rubber of the bait often absorbs much of what is telegraphed up the line. But, with the Big Bear rod, I could again feel and differentiate everything the bait slid over. Then came the first tentative, noncommittal nip at the bait … I doubt I would have felt it with many other rods. It was enough to alert me to a fish’s interest, and a few doodle-dances later I was battling a 5 pound 12 ounce beast that put me, my 8# test, and this rod through a real test. It was a test that my new rod handled with ease.

5 Pound 12 Ounce Largemouth Bass

5 pound 12 ounce LMB easily subdued on a Big Bear spinning rod.

Now that is was obvious the Big Bear rod would manage the uses I had intended it for, it was time to run it through a couple of other possibilities. Light-line T-rigging has always been one of my favorite techniques, especially for tight-lipped fish. With a 3/16 ounce bullet weight, 2/0 EWG hook, and a 6″ Roboworm I was again exceeding the distance, responsiveness, and touch of rods I have utilized in the past for this technique. When I switched to drop-shotting with this rod, I achieved the same incredible results. I’ve also found it to be perfect for jerking a fluke, dragging a nail-weight worm, wacky-rigging, and other light to medium-light techniques.

No matter what tactic you employ with Big Bear rods, you will certainly come to appreciate their proprietary grip design, made from a secret synthetic rubber formula using dual ply technology. The inside is hard for maximum sensitivity and durability, outperforming cork or other synthetic materials. The outside is firm and textured for extra rod control and comfort, by allowing sweat, rain or water to be channelled away. On chilly days, the grips quickly warm up after a few casts insulating your hands from the cold. Overall, these rod grips add to your all day comfort, decreasing hand fatigue and increasing your casting and hook-setting performance.

Length, Power, Action (LPA)

Large font LPA handle labeling makes rod selection a breeze.

Each Big Bear rod comes with a super secure reel seat, a built-in hook keeper, a limited lifetime warranty, and are superline and saltwater friendly. All of these features combine to truly make it the best spinning rod I have ever fished. Yes, I am part of their Pro Staff now … and, I guess I am “supposed” to say that. But, you will see that I only team up with companies whose products that I use and believe in. And, in the case of Big Bear, I fell in love with their line of fishing rods 4 years before I became part of their team. It is an honor to be associated with Big Bear, and I can’t wait to add more of their offerings to my arsenal.

Whether you are looking for a spinning rod, casting rod, or want to have them make you an affordable custom rod, I highly recommend you take a long hard look at the Big Bear Fishing Rods line. There aren’t many pieces of fishing equipment that I believe will actually help make you a better angler … but, a Big Bear rod most certainly will!
NOTE: All UFC – Unemployed Fishing Club members can receive 20% off any Big bear rod by entering the discount code found HERE. By the way, UFC membership is free.

MSRP – from $150

Cave Club Rating: 5 Clubs
Cave ClubCave ClubCave ClubCave ClubCave Club

Cave Club Scale
5 Clubs = The Missing Link
4 Clubs = Rock Solid
3 Clubs = Better Than Sharp Stick
2 Clubs = Not Fully Evolved
1 Club = Should Be Extinct

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