Best Fishing Rods for Fishing in Alaska in 2017
TFO BVK Spey Rod TF 08 134 4 B (13-foot, 4-inch 8-weight)
The BVK Spey rods are similar to the TFO Deer Creek series, but a little bit faster and a little bit stiffer. The idea was to produce rods that would handle long-line methods and touch-and-go casting better than the slower Deer Creek series. Our tester used the 13-foot, 4-inch 8-weight to target large rainbows on the Naknek with a Skagit line, moderate- to heavy tips and big flies. It performed admirably with a 510-grain Airflo Skagit Switch head and also with an OPST Commando 475-grain head. The largest rainbow of the trip—nearly 31 inches—was tamed with this rod. Fit and finish is superb, better than one might expect from a Spey rod in the mid-range of prices.
Okuma Guide Select Pro Rod
We tested the GSP-S-902M, which is a 9-foot spinning rod rated for 8- to 17-pound-test line. It’s light, smooth and responsive. We targeted big fall trout by drifting beads and threw spinners to silvers. This spring, we’ll use it to side drift a bobber and jig for steelhead.
TFO Impact TF 05 90 4I (9-foot 5-weight)
The TFO Impact series is a refined rod. Technological advances are evident in the reduced diameter blank, fast recovery and limited east-west wobble on the forward cast. The seemingly tactical, matte-black blank and subtle, green-trimmed black wraps are classy and stealthy. The handle on the Impact series is thinner than many other rods on the market giving it a delicate feel. We tested the rod with both weight-forward floating lines and intermediate lines with flies from size 12 chironomids to size 8 Woolly Buggers. Stillwater guru George Krumm says the Impact 5-weight has made it into his starting lineup of rods.
Okuma Guide Select Classic Rod
We were impressed with the strength and sensitivity of this carbon-composite rod. We used the GSC-C-932H-CG (9-foot, 3-inch casting rod rated for 15- to 30-pound-test) trolling for silvers and liked how the rod’s soft tip allowed coho to grab baits and turn, and then allowed us to drive hooks home with the ample butt section of the blank. We’ll use this rod next year on kings, too. We liked how effectively the carbon-fiber grips transmitted subtle bites. There are five models in the series ranging from 9- to 10 ½ feet with line ratings of 12- to 25-pound, 15- to 30-pound, and 20- to 40-pound.
We found this one-piece, 6-foot, 6-inch rod well suited for jigging rockfish, lingcod, salmon and average-sized halibut. The tip is soft-enough that fish can grab a jig on the way down and eat it, before feeling resistance from the powerful butt section. We fished it with 6-ounce Live Deception jigs from Ahi USA and will try that combo again in the saltwater around Prince of Wales this year with 8-ounce versions of this fish-catching jig.
G.Loomis HLBR 72-50C Halibut Rod
This 6-foot, fast-action, 40- to 60-pound-test rod is light and responsive and was completely up to the task of dominating halibut to 80 pounds on a trip in 2016 to Pybus Point Lodge. Due to its light weight, it can be balanced with a lighter reel. We paired it with an Okuma Metalloid 5s and comfortably jigged for halibut for prolonged periods. It features AFTCO Superlight roller stripper guides and tip-top in addition to heavy-duty braced conventional guides. This light rod is very powerful and we recommend it for your halibut trips.
Mud Hole MHX Spey Blank, FSP1267-4-MHX
Over the years, two-handed rods have been shrinking. Perhaps the most common two-hander is the 13-foot 7-weight. However, 12-foot, 6-inch 7-weights have been available for several years. Mud Hole Custom Tackle’s MHX 12-foot, 6-inch 7-weight proved to be a very fine casting tool and dare we say, somewhat of a cannon! We tested this rod on the Naknek’s big rainbows, and despite being shorter than some might like for the huge Naknek, the MHX had no problem launching Skagit casts fine and far-off. We used a 425-grain OPST Commando head with tips as heavy as 12 feet of T-14 and the rod just jacked. We built this rod from a Mud Hole kit, and the kit can be had for less than $300. To think you can get a Spey rod that casts this well for so little coin is hard to believe, but true.
Daiwa Aird-X Braiding-X Rods
These rods are built on a graphite blank with Daiwa’s Braiding-X construction to strengthen the blank and reduce twist. We tested the 662MFS, which is a 2-piece, 6-foot, 6-inch spinning rod rated for 6- to 15-pound-test. We used it while fishing for rockfish (and the occasional lingcod) at Pybus Point Lodge in 2016. It performed admirably and is light and tough, easily handling fish up to 10 pounds. We think it would work well as a travel rod, perhaps targeting coho using spinners in tight quarters.
Cousins Columbia Series CC 1054 TG Salmon Rod
Cousins Tackle’s entire Columbia Series of technique-specific salmon rods are making a splash on the West Coast. This rod became available in limited quantities last year, and during the last 12 months we landed numerous Chinook salmon with it, along with a few silvers. From jumbo jet divers to flatlined K-16s and on to herring trolling rigs, Super Bait/Pro-troll rigs and weights up to 12 ounces, this rod proved to be extremely versatile as well as durable, with its composite graphite and glass construction. The graphite handles are durable and are virtually unaffected by abuse. This rod really shines in trolling and back-trolling applications. The parabolic action allows salmon to really get a hold of a Kwikfish or trolled herring. At 10 feet, 6 inches, it makes an awesome side rod or bow rod to widen your trolling spread.
Redington Hydrogen 690-4 Fly Rod
This 6-weight, 4-piece, 9-foot medium-fast action rod casts nice loops and is especially light with a soft tip, making it very well-suited as a stillwater trout rod. Crafted with lightweight components, it comes in at a feathery 2.5 ounces. We enjoyed casting Buggers on an intermediate line and playing turbo-charged rainbows on a weight-forward floating line using a chironomid under an indicator.
Echo ION-XL 9-foot, 8-weight Fly Rod
Our tester landed his biggest-ever silver salmon, a 16-pound bruiser, on the first trip out with this rod. He found that it casts and handles well and seems to be a great value for getting started in fly fishing. The rod breaks down into four pieces and travels from adventure to adventure. Includes a padded case and sleeve.
G Loomis E6X 1083-2C HSR GH
We enjoyed battling Chinook on the Nushagak with this rod in 2016. It’s light, sensitive, fast and has a strong backbone, allowing testers to detect subtle strikes in the graphite handle and make solid hook-sets on hard-mouthed king salmon. This 2-piece, 9-foot rod is rated for 12- to 25-pound-test line and can handle baits weighing from ½- to 5 ounces. We pulled plugs and boon-dogged with eggs, and the versatile rod worked nicely for both applications. There are a wide range of rods in the E6X series.
Echo Base 9-foot, 8-weight Fly Rod
This four-piece rod breaks down for ease of travel. It’s a good value for a quality fly rod and costs about $100. It casts well and held up to rainbow and silver fishing. It comes with a nice padded case and sleeve for traveling.