Hollow Vs Solid Ice Rods:
We've come along way from the jiggle sticks of the 20th century. They had to be tossed to the ice once a fish was hooked and had wooden pegs for a reel. With these ancient predecessors, the only way to bring a fish in was hand over hand. In the ice fishing industry today however, there is a plethora of rods to choose from, but how does one know what to look for when selecting a good, high quality rod? Let's break it down.
Among both rod and reel manufacturers in the industry today is a trending ambition to get weights down as low as possible - and for good reason. A hollow, thus lighter, open water long rod certainly benefits an angler spending long days casting frogs to the lily pads but when it comes to ice rods, opting for a hollow rod over a solid one would be a foolish mistake. Because of the short length and thin diameters of an ice rod, attempting to remove weight from its core will only remove about as much weight as the average jigging spoon tied onto the line, but it will always result in a more fragile rod that has far less flexibility.
Yet there are still a multitude of companies selling both hollow fiberglass and hollow carbon fiber ice rods. More often than not, hollow ice rods, no matter what they're made of, will eventually end up broken. Because ice fishing is a cold and often rugged sport, where gear gets banged around on long treks across the ice, purchasing a hollow rod is simply not a good choice.
Companies like Tuned Up Custom Rods use only solid fiberglass and solid carbon fiber blanks which allows for far greater flexibility and strength. Things like titanium guides that make de-icing frozen up eyelets a snap and custom rod lengths tailored to any angler's needs are just a couple of the other great features one gets with their products.
Parabolic Vs Hyperbolic Curved Rods:
Traditional ice rods have always featured a plain and even curve in their bend which we will refer to as a parabolic curve. To put it simply, this curve is the same on either end of the rod creating a smooth arc. While this traditional bow in an ice rod has fared adequately as a tension keeper between the fish and fisherman's hand over the years, it is inherently flawed. Here's why...
Ice rods need to be softer and more flexible than open water rods for a number of reasons and ice rods that utilize this traditional, parabolic curve will eventually "bottom out" at the handle when enough pressure is applied from an angry fish. This makes for less control. In addition, a "bottom out" will shorten the effective length of a rod to a fraction of what it was to begin with - forcing the angler to hover over an ice hole. The only way to negate this "bottoming out" of the rod is to increase the "power" or strength of the rod blank. The problem with adding power to a parabolic curved rod is the deadening result noticed at hook sets. This deadening of the rod means less flexibility, less fun fighting small to moderate sized fish and more importantly, a real risk of a fish "spitting the hook" as tension will quickly be lost with every shake of a fishes head. It also means the angler will need to horse a fish up the water column to keep adequate tension in the line.
When it comes to parabolic curved rods, because fish come in all sizes, there is no way to perfectly match any one rod's power to the range of fish weights one will catch while ice fishing. One may be catching 6 ounce fish in one hole and fish 16 ounces or larger in the next. Where a 16 ounce fish is bottoming out a parabolic curved rod, a 6 ounce fish isn't even keeping enough tension to keep the hook properly pinned in it's mouth. We as anglers want all the fish we catch to give us a good bend in the rod and of course stay on the line but most of all we just want to have success. This is where the modern, hyperbolic curved rods have come on the scene to stay.
A rod with a hyperbolic curve will have a soft, fast action tip that quickly transitions to a moderate powered main section. This rod type not only "loads" a rod effortlessly into instantaneous and smooth hook sets, but maintains an unbreakable line tension throughout the battle. A rod equipped with this modern technology utilizes not one, but two flex points. The first being the front section which will stay folded over no matter what size fish you have on and the second being what is referred to as the backbone of the rod. This backbone section should flex just enough to maintain good tension during the hard runs and head shakes a fish will make but still allow the angler to stay in control of the fish without the rod "bottoming out".
The rod smiths at Tuned Up Custom Rods were pioneers of this technology and one of the very first companies to produce ice rods with the hyperbolic action. They've implemented this technology throughout their product line. Tuned Up Custom Rods produce rods that will suit any angler's needs. From the classic Bullwhip for panfish, which has an ultra sensitive high vis tip that makes bite detection clear to any angler's eye - to the more beefed up Quick Tip which utilizes the hyperbolic curve to keep Walleyes locked in, weather they weigh 1 pound or 10. They even have rods for Pike, Trout, and Sturgeon.
In the end, once a fish is on the line, an angler is only as good as their rod will let them be. It's that important to have a great rod... Perhaps more important than any other tool you bring on the ice.
By John Rasmussen