6 of Our Favorite Pack Rods
Since the early 90’s fishing rod technology has advanced enough that multi-piece rods now perform equally as well as single, or two-piece rods. In the fly rod sphere four piece rods are now the industry standard. In the era of crowds and weekend warriors it is no wonder that more and more anglers are venturing deeper into the backcountry to find better spots, and fishing holes.
When trekking into the backcountry extra pounds and ounces can add up. Seasoned wilderness travelers can become downright obsessive about weight and space, extreme examples include, sawing the handles off of toothbrushes to cutting towels in half, however difficulty can arise when attempting to pack along a rod, reel, and small tackle pack. Four piece rods can be easily attached to, or put in to a backpack. While, this is great if one happens to be solely a fly fisher, or is willing to part with the few inches of extra space that a standard rod tube takes up. Any 4-piece rod can be considered a “pack rod” but if those extra inches and ounces matter, or something more versatile is in order a true pack or travel rod may be the only answer. The pack rod specific sphere is a narrow one indeed. The following list is made up of the top 6 fishing rods that excel in pack ability, and travel readiness.
Hardy Smuggler, this rod comes in weights ranging from 5 to 6, with 8 feet being the standard. It casts and fishes with a medium to slow action and breaks down to a compact eight pieces. The Smuggler is at the high end of the price spectrum and even used can run in excess of $400.00. The best place to buy one would be on an eBay auction.
Orvis Clearwater Frequent Flyer, dropping down significantly on the price scale, this sweet little 9 foot, 5 weight rod is a tip -flex and can throw everything from streamers to tiny dries. Breaking down to a tight little package of 7 pieces, the Frequent Flyer can be purchased at orvis.com as a complete outfit; rod, reel, and line for $330.00.
Fishing time like vacation time is a precious commodity, often times wind or weather conditions aren’t conducive to a quality fly-fishing experience. During these times a good spin/fly combo and a couple of spinners can salvage the day.
Orvis Encounter Spin/Fly Combo sold as a complete package, this rod extends to 7 feet and in fly mode throws a 5-weight line with a solid mid-flex action. Change up is as simple as flipping the grip section over and attaching the provided spinning reel. The spinning reel accommodates 2 to 6 pound test line and the rod handles 1/16 to 3/16 ounce lures nicely. The supplied factory case is a bit bulky, but does have padding and space for reels and the rod, the entire combo is available for $239.00
The Eagle Claw Trail Master is responsible for more backcountry fish dinners than the night crawler. The Trail Master has been the go-to first rod for many wilderness anglers and for good reason. Ranging in lengths from 5 and a half feet to 7and a half feet, older models have that silky fiberglass action, while newer models toss bugs and gear with a medium to light feel. Available new at cabelas.com or basspro.com for around $68.00 this is a great 4-piece rod at a budget price point. If one is dead set on the Trail Master eBay auctions, pawnshops, and second had stores may also great sources to score one of the classic glass models.
Bait and Hardware
Many backpackers and wilderness travelers are not seasoned anglers, however the prospect of a fresh shore side meal, or the thrill of a wild fish on the end of the line, can be more than worth the few extra ounces in a pack.
The Daiwa Mini-Spin Travel Pack rolls in at around 50 bucks—this 4 and a half foot, 5 piece spinning rod will throw small lures, as well as bait, and it fights fish with an ultra-light action. Best spooled with 2 to 4 pound test this rod/reel combo comes with a hard plastic case, and can be purchased at cabelas.com or basspro.com.
Zebco Dock Demon, while not specified as a true pack rod the Dock Demon’s one-piece 30-inch length makes it not only packable, but also ideal for tight spots in small mountain streams. The Dock Demon’s short length makes it a fantastic starter rod for very young anglers as well. Available in a closed faced bait-caster, or spinning reel the total combo comes in at a price point of under 20 bucks, and is available for purchase at walmart.com.
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