Stand Up Rods for the Northeast

Are you ready to stand up and fight?    

By Capt. Eric A. Stewart

Eric-Kevin on a blue marlin
ON YOUR FEET – Kevin DeLude battle a 400 pound Blue Marlin in the Nantucket Big Game Battle of 2015. Capt. Eric Stewart Photos

Stand-up fishing is a style of fishing where the angler fights the fish while standing, without the use of a chair or post. Sometimes the angler will use the assistance of a harness attached to the reel, a gimbal belt, or both. In the offshore and big game fishing world stand-up tactics have become commonplace, and large fish are routinely fought and landed using modern day stand-up tackle methods. Understanding the variables in stand-up rods will allow you to pick the best rod for your target fishery.

The first variable is the rod blank itself. The most common used materials to build the blanks are solid fiberglass, tubular fiberglass, graphite, and combinations of fiberglass\graphite. Solid fiberglass rods are strong, but can be heavy. Graphite rods are lightweight, but tend to break more easily. If you want a graphite rod, I recommend buying the high-end blanks such as Calstar and Seeker. These blanks are expensive, but they hold up well and have been extensively tested. The tubular fiberglass blanks can give you the strength you need at a lighter weight than solid blanks. The action of these rods can vary greatly, and understanding those qualities will make a huge difference in your choice. Personally, I prefer a fast action rod with a soft tip and a big back bone. I do not like the heavier action rods with a stiff tip, as I want the rod tip to act like a shock absorber and stay flexible so that I don’t pull any hooks when the fish are boat side. I only fish with Seeker Blanks on my boats.

Most stand-up rods are built short, usually 5’6” to 6’ in length. These shorter lengths allow the angler to put maximum pressure while using short pumps to gain line back onto the reel. I recommend the 6ft rods for the extra length at boat side to keep the fish from going under the boat. Stand-up rods carry line ratings in 20-40lb, 30-80lb, 40-100lb, and 50-130lb line classes. You need to match your line and target fish to these ratings. I prefer the Seeker rods for their strength and toughness. I fish 6-foot rods rated for the 50-130lb class with a fast action and a soft tip. I will fish 30-80lb class reels on the same rods.

GET UP, STAND UP – Stand up rods for 30 to 80 wide class reels with aluminum butts designed to fish out of rod holders.

  Once you’ve selected a blank, you need to select your guides. You can use rollers, standard ring guides, silicon carbide guides, power oval guides, or a combination of a roller tiptop and stripper guide with the rest being ring guides. The considerations for the guides should revolve around two factors: the line you plan on fishing, and the fish you plan on targeting. For big game and line at 80lb test or above you should choose a rod with all rollers. If you plan on using wind-on leaders than you will want to use the bigger wind-on guides for your rod. These add to the weight of the rod, so that needs to be considered.  For rods using 20-40lb test line and trying to catch smaller gamefish, standard ring guides will work just fine. The roller guides with a light tackle line can present a problem if the fish hits on a turn, because the line may jump off of the roller and become frayed. With the super braids you need should consider all silicon carbide guides that will not get cut by the braided line. You may also want something in between and opt for a rod with a roller top and ring guides, with the first guide from the reel being a roller guide (commonly referred to as a stripper guide). This combination gives you the smooth operation of a roller guide at the key points of friction on the line. This also keeps the cost of the rod down. I fish mostly 60lb to 130lb test line on my stand-up rods, so I opt for a rod with all roller guides.

Next, you have to select a bottom for your rod. This is going to be the butt section. There are many choices, but I offer one absolute: never buy a stand -up rod that has a plastic gimbal on it, it will absolutely break on a big fish. Your choices for the butt section are a one-piece detachable aluminum butt, a foam butt, or a plastic reinforced slick butt. If you are primarily fishing from the rod holders (as we do in the Northeast because we do so much trolling and live baiting) the one piece aluminum butt is the best choice.

Stand-up fishing has become the normal technique for pursuing tuna, mahi, wahoo and other pelagics offshore. With smaller boats going out farther and lacking the room for a fighting chair, they are leaning more towards the stand-up style and are learning that they can land some very big fish on smaller tackle. The Goose Hummock Shop offers a large selection of custom and production stand-up style rods, so stop by and talk to the experts in our offshore department for a customized recommendation.