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August 12, 2011 / flogginwater

Gear Corner – Okuma Reflexions Casting Rod

Anyone who’s spent much time reading my Blog, or even just my Gear page, will know that I’m a big Okuma fan. Okuma, in my opinion, offers some of the best value to the angling public – offering good quality rods and reels for prices that don’t make your wallet whimper when you reach for it. That might sound like the pitch from some paid lackey of Okuma’s – it’s not. I’ve never received so much as a coupon from them – I’ve just been using their rods for the better part of a decade now. I still own, and fish regularly with, my original 7’6″ Celilo light action spinning rod.

Last spring, while on a quest to obtain one of their mythical 8’6″ ultra light spinning rods, I discovered they’d released a new line of rods – called Reflexion – for trout and bass anglers. These rods are one-piece rods with split grips (a cork butt cap, with exposed blank section, and two small cork sections on either side of the reel seat – a grip which I really like aesthetically and practically as it shaves a bit of weight off the finished product) and light weight, strong guides. I couldn’t find any rods in the series longer than 6’6″ at my local retailer. The rods I did find came in a few basic flavors:

Ultra light and light spinning rods for trout/panfish
Medium power fast action spinning rods for bass/large trout
And fast action, medium-heavy power bass bait casting rods.

Each rod uses what now seems to be the standard burned olive colored graphite blanks that the newer Celilo rods feature, with graphite reel seats that expose part of the blank for better sensitivity. The thread wraps are nicely subdued and semi transparent, which appeals to me.

I bought my rod, a 6’6″ medium heavy power fast action rod, rated for 17-25lb line, because I wanted a stout bait casting rod for pitching top water rubber frogs and spinnerbaits into really nasty, snag-filled messes for bass. Of course, the only bait casting reel I had that was up to the task was my Abu Garcia Revo SL, that I had recently respooled with 50lb braided line. I could pull stumps with this combo (and I have, actually pulled up large limbs and large clumps of weeds out by their roots with it).

I haven’t fished this rod as much as I should have earlier in the season. I took it on a few early season bass outings – but got shut out and wound up flinging flies and micro jigs at their smaller sunfish cousins.

First Blood for this rod came on the Willamette River, smack dab in the heart of downtown Portland, while night fishing for catfish. I caught a few nice bullheads, and some weirdass looking neolithic sculpins of some sort with it. Not the bass I’d intended, but fun despite that fact.

My outing yesterday was the first time I’d actually landed a *bass* with this rod (though it certainly wasn’t the first time fishing for them with it). My skills with a bait casting reel have improved quite a bit over the last year – and I was able to toss a 3″ senko with just 1/16th oz of weight ahead of it a good 40-45 feet – and managed to land this guy:

and this guy:

With such a rig. It also handles heavier jigs

with aplomb. Tossing spinner baits, buzz baits, and Carolina rigs is also easily handled. The rod itself has plenty of power – as I mentioned before, I’ve pulled up a few rafts of weeds, along with the odd errant tree limb, with this rod. Never once did I fear it would snap.

When crawling a senko or soft plastic crawfish along the bottom, I could feel every rock, every clump of weeds, and every tell tale taptaptap. How much of that is because of the combo of the sensitive rod and the low stretch line? I bet it’s quite a bit, actually. But that really is where this rod shines – crawling plastics on or near the bottom.

It’s a fine rod for tossing hardware, for sure, but I can do that with a softer casting rod just fine too. No, the real place this rod shines is with soft plastics. It’s a great worm rod. Paired with a light weight low profile bait caster – it’s a winning combo. The best part about it though – is the price. I paid less than $50 for the rod. $50 – that’s nothing when you look at high end sticks by G. Loomis, Lamiglas, St. Croix, or Wright & McGill. This rod is easily as sensitive as my G. Loomis GL2, although it’s heavier in both actual weight, and in action (the GL2 caster I have is a medium action, medium power rod, whereas this Okuma is a medium-heavy fast action rod.) The difference in weight isn’t enough to complain about. I could make rapid fire casts for hours with this rod, and not get worn out.

As sensitive as it is, I’ve even entertained thoughts of using this for low water steelhead drift fishing. That’d get lots of sneers from the guys using high dollar, very long drift rods. That might be worth it in and of itself.

Okuma did well by anglers in developing these rods, and selling them at their price point. For the bass angler or trout angler that really takes their fishing seriously, but doesn’t have a big budget – they’re a must-have lineup. Pair these with an Abu Garcia or Shimano reel (or one of Okuma’s own excellent reels) and you can’t go wrong.

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