Charles Bunting, Missouri, says, “The 12-foot Ultralight has always been our bread-and-butter pole. It’s really light. The original style pole is what we were using when we won the classic. The newest model with a rear reel seat is great for jigging because it gives great balance, but when trolling, we like the original style handle. The Ultralight lets us see really light bites. I get a better hookset because of seeing the bite quickly and the pole has a good backbone.”
Tim Blackley, Tennessee. “Nothing is better than the 16-foot Buck’s Graphite (BGJP) when fishing shallow water. We did tests using them on one side of the boat and slightly stiffer rods on the other side. I caught two-to-one on the BGJP just because they were so sensitive you could see the bites. I’m sure the number of bites were equal but I could see them due to the sensitive poles. The longer poles keep baits up in front of the boat so we don’t spook as many fish. These poles aren’t easy to use. A weekend fisherman should stick with 12-footers. However, as a tournament fisherman, these 16-foot, sensitive poles are critical for getting and seeing more bites when fish are up in the water.”
Brian Carter, Texas. “I like the 9-foot Sam Heaton for my vertical jigging. The 9 gives me a quicker hookset than a longer pole. I’m fishing in deeper water so I’m not spooking fish by going with a shorter pole. I use a 1/8-ounce Lake Fork Baby Sahd jig a lot. When fishing at 20 feet, the heavier jig matched with 6-pound test or thin braid, might save four or five seconds a drop when compared to fishing 8-pound test with a 1/16-ounce jig. If I fish 80 or 100 trees that saves me time so I can fish a few extra trees during my trip and catch more fish. My hookset with the 9-foot pole and braided line doesn’t require a hard set.”
Weston Belcher, Texas. “I like Buck’s Ultimate in both 7 and 10-foot models. The 10-footer is good for fishing timber and bridges. I use a baitcaster reel because I’m often fishing 20 feet of water. The reel allows me to pull line off my reel to adjust depth. For example, I’ll hold the pole up in the air as high as I can and adjust the bait to just touch the water. I pull line from the reel to the first eye. I keep pulling line and counting pulls. If I find that fish are a 4 pulls it makes it quick and easy to get back to the same depth each time. The pole has a good backbone and sensitive tip to get fish out of the brush in that deep water.
Russ Bailey, Ohio, uses his signature series long pole for pitching and jigging, but switches to a Buck’s 6.5 Spinning or 5.5-foot Sharpshooter rod for casting and skipping. “This time in the fall the fish will start getting shallow up here in the north. I like to use a tube and skip it back under the docks and pontoons. I let the jig settle to the bottom, then bring it back in small skips. The longer rod is good when it’s windy but the 5.5 is good for control and tight places on the calmer days.”