Best fishing rods for Alaska in 2022
OPST Pure Skagit 12’3” 9-weight pureskagit.com
At 12’3”, this is OPST’s longest, most powerful two-hander. This is an excellent rod for T-Whatever. It’s a great stick to swing flies for BIG rainbows, steelhead and all salmon except large kings. This rod uses superior components, including really nice cork, a burl reel seat, REC CERECOIL titanium stripping guides and RECOIL titanium snake guides which are light, corrosion proof and flexible. The fit and finish on this rod is impeccable. With outstanding workmanship, superior components and the genius of Ed Ward behind the design, this rod is the epitome of a Skagit-casting rod. We paired this rod with a 425-grain OPST Commando Groove head, throwing tips as heavy as 10 feet of T-17 with big (4.5”) flies to huge Naknek rainbows and winter steelhead in other locations. This rod loads fairly deep into the butt section and is easy to cast for both newcomers as well as experienced Skagit casters.
Daiwa Harrier X HRJ 64MHB Jigging Rod daiwa.us
Rated for 40- to 60-pound-test line and jigs from 60- to 150 grams (roughly 2- to 5 ounces), this is a fantastic rod for pelagic rockfish like black rockfish and small- to medium-sized lingcod. In fact, it’s our Editor’s favorite jigging stick for pelagic rockfish. This rod is perfect for jigs from 2- to 5 ounces and makes the average black rockfish very fun to catch. He pairs this rod with a Daiwa Coastal baitcaster or Lexa 300 line-counter reel spooled with 40-pound-test Daiwa J-Braid x8 Grand. This rod doubles as a salmon jigging rod, too, easily handling jigs such as the Ahi Live Deception, Daiwa Zakana, Pt. Wilson Dart, Luhr Jensen Crippled Herring, P-Line Laser Minnow and others.
Beulah Opal Surf Rod 7/8 11’0” beulahflyrods.com
The Opal Surf series is a two-handed rod designed primarily for overhead casting off beaches for species like striped bass, saltwater salmon, sea-run cutts, sea-run dollies and others. The advantage of a two-hand, overhead-casting fly rod is greater casting distance than can be achieved with single-hand rods, and with less fatigue. 100-foot casts are achievable. This rod can double as a short Spey rod too. Beulah makes beautiful fly rods. Our tester initially purchased this rod for stripping flies at Pyramid Lake in Nevada. He rigged it with a custom shooting head system made of floating running line welded to 28 feet of T-14 to launch beetles and boobies to the horizon in search of the lake’s Lahontan cutthroat. This is a great rod for overhead beach-casting situations, and as mentioned, can do double duty as a short spey rod.
Daiwa North Coast SS NCD902H Salmon Rod daiwa.us
This 9-foot, heavy-action salmon rod is rated for 12- to 30-pound-test line and 1- to 6 ounces of lead. Although marketed strictly as a downrigger rod, this rod is well suited to saltwater salmon angling using lead or divers, and it shines just as brightly in large rivers backtrolling for Chinook. This rod landed several Chinook salmon during the filming of an Angler West TV episode in Sitka last June. It’s a very versatile salmon rod at a great price.
Santiam Fishing Rods SFC-602H santiamfishingrods.com
New in 2021, this two-piece, lightweight, halibut travel rod put the smackdown on many nice halibut, in addition to nine other species of bottomfish. The carbon-fiber blank is strong, sensitive, and light, making it easy for our dyed-in-the-wool jigger to bounce heavy jigs all day long. The rod features quality guides and an X-flock handle. We tested the model with a stainless tip top for jigging; this rod is also available with a roller tip for bait fishermen. It’s designed for traveling saltwater anglers and the two-piece rod will fit in any overhead bin. It’s reasonably priced, making it even more attractive to purchase and bring with you on your next Alaska bottomfish adventure.
Sage Sonic Fly Blanks, 596-4 5-weight and 697-4 6-weight sageflyfish.com
One of the beautiful things about rolling your own rods is you can save some money (for high-end builds) while customizing them any way you want. Editor George Krumm built these two rods using the Sage-recommended guide spacing, but used REC CERECOIL stripping guides and RECOIL single-foot snake guides wound on with Forhan locking wraps. These guides are very light and completely corrosion resistant. George coated the guide wraps with three coats of Perma Gloss—which is lighter, stronger, and harder than epoxy. He used Batson carbon-fiber fly-rod grips and fighting butts, plus Batson ForeCast Y-series (5-weight) and I-series (6-weight) reel seats. In essence, he took Sage’s excellent Sonic blanks and turned them into rods superior to Sage’s already great Sonic factory fly rods, at about 2/3 the price of a factory rod. The fast-action Sonic blanks are crisp, with several generations of advanced fly-rod design elements such as Konnetic Technology, which improves fly-line tracking and accuracy by eliminating the dreaded east-west wobble less sophisticated blanks often have. These rods are now George’s favorite 5- and 6-weight fly rods.
Daiwa Spinmatic-D Ultralight Pack Rod Model SMD704ULFS daiwa.us
This is one sweet little small-species travel rod! At 7 feet long, the 4-piece rod fits into lots of small spaces. It’s rated for 2- to 6-pound-test line, which we pushed to the upper end landing some big trout in 2021. We liked the handle design; the non-tapered cork is broken into a fore grip and long rear grip. The fore grip feels extremely comfortable in the hand and on the index finger, and the rear is long enough to rest against your forearm, feels solid in the palm, and really increases leverage on bigger fish, which we often find lacking in ultralight rods. The fast-action graphite blank is quick to transmit the lightest taps, but has some power when you bend the rod into the cork. There are four rods in this series from 5’6” to 7’, and they are all 4-piece and reasonably priced.