October 5, 2022

Noodle Rods: Not Just for Steelhead

Noodle rods are the weapon of choice for serious salmon and steelhead fishermen. The unusually long and supple rods allow for the use of very light line for delicate presentations to wary salmonids. Battling one of these large fish on a noodle rod is an incredible experience. More and more I’m seeing fisherman using noodle rods in spring and summer for panfish, and with good reason. The same light line and fine presentation it affords can put more perch, crappie and bluegill in the bucket. You will be pleasantly surprised at the bend panfish will put in a noodle rod. Every bit of resistance seems amplified when fishing with one of these rods.

My first experience using a noodle rod for panfish occurred in an inland lake, fishing for bluegills over the deep remnants of a beaver house. This structure attracted large bluegills. You had to fish with a bobber or risk frequent snags on the submerged sticks. The problem was you needed to suspend your bait about 8-feet down, which made for almost impossible casting with conventional spinning rods (this was before slip bobbers became popular – I just dated myself!). So my next trip, I took my noodle rod and casting was much easier and I thoroughly enjoyed catching dozens of bluegills on it. Another benefit of a noodle rod is the leverage it provides for longer casting. Common lengths are nine feet to twelve-and-a-half feet.

Fishing with a Float
Rocket bobbers are a great fixed position float. Casting a bobber with the bait set deep is much easier with a noodle rod. Even if you use a slip bobbers, you will benefit from the added leverage for casting, the ability to use lighter line for more stealth, and enjoy the pure fun of landing fish with a noodle rod.

Fishing with Weight
Another great way to fish with a noodle rod in deeper water is with conventional sinkers and hooks or a drop-shot rig. Setting the hook and watching the arc from a deep water perch is great fun.

If you fish near piers or marinas, a drop-shot setup allows you to “troll” by simply walking along the pier, vertically jigging up and down, waiting for a hit. Miss the crowds by getting to a pier early or late or just stake out a few feet of space to walk back and forth. You will be surprised with how many, and what different species, hug the piers for warmth, protection or food. Noodle rods allow you to hug the pier wall or extend your reach by the length of the rod without casting. It’s one of my favorite ways to fish.

How to Buy
You will find more options if you search for a noodle rod as a “Salmon & Steelhead” spinning rod. Not too many brands label them as “noodle rod” – it’s more of a nickname or slang term.

Many recognizable brands offer noodle rods and they are available at several different price points. One of the best bargains on the market is the Wright & McGill Salmon and Steelhead Spinning rod. This rod is offered in three lengths: nine, nine-and-a-half or ten-and-a-half feet. Constructed with graphite blanks, Fuji reel seats, hard alloy Fuji guides and a nice long cork handle and a price tag under $50, makes this an incredible value. Even if you don’t fish for salmon or steelhead, noodle rods are a great tool to have in your fishing arsenal. It just might become your favorite way to fish!

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Jon Sutton

California Jon's life has revolved around the outdoors since his early childhood when he caught his first bluegill. Since then he has grown into a full-fledged angler targeting salmon and bass.

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