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Downsized Rod, Upsized Offshore Fishing Fun?

Mini rods are making the rounds. A guide in Islamorada is making some interesting arguments. What gives?

Downsized Rod, Upsized Offshore Fishing Fun?

Guide Brandon Storin, pictured with an Islamorada mutton snapper, challenged himself to see how many saltwater species he could catch on a three-foot-long Ugly Stick. His epiphany inspired the creation of the Bean Pole.

The general trend in Florida saltwater rods has been longer is better. Six-foot rods in the 1980s gave way to seven-footers, then seven-sixes came of age in the ’90s, and now 8-footers are commonly used on the flats—to say nothing of the 10-foot plus rods guys are prowling the surf with these days.

However it’s worth asking: Is there a place in the Florida salt for a shorter rod? Perhaps, even, a much shorter rod? A guide in Islamorada is making some interesting arguments.

Filling the hours left open by the 2020 pandemic shutdown, Capt. Brandon Storin, out of Bud N’ Mary’s Marina, challenged himself to see how many saltwater fish he could catch with the 36-inch Shakespeare Ugly Stick Dock Runner spinning combo he found in a local shop. Storin caught a host of fish from snapper to a 40-pound tarpon.

angler with pompano
Brandon Storin with an African pompano caught on a mini rod.

What started as an angling challenge, evolved into, “Wow, this is going to become an advantage,” Storin said. “I realized that, in the tight mangrove creeks, you often have trouble making accurate casts with a full-size rod.”

Storin’s epiphany inspired creation and the Bean Pole was born. A 36-inch rod with a cork handle, three guides (including tip), designed to accommodate spinning or conventional reels.

It’s got more backbone than most of the “mini” rods you’d find at stores or online. If you’re fishing from a dock, bridge or pier, a rod that can’t move a fish shifts all the workload to the reel.

In the past three years, Storin and his clients have used the Bean Pole to boat snook, tarpon, cobia, goliath grouper, African pompano, various snapper, permit, blackfin tuna and mahi.

Mangrove and yellowtail snapper are his favorite mini-rod targets. “It makes those smaller species of fish more fun. It’s infectious,” he said.

You’ll give up some casting distance with a mini rod. Instead of whipping the rod, Storin makes more of a lob cast.

“I put on the reel based on the fish I want to target,” he said. “If I’m going for smaller species like mangrove snapper, yellowtail snapper, snook, redfish, tripletail, juvenile goliaths, or mackerels, I use a 3000 size with 15-pound braid.

“For mahi, tuna, cobia, and permit, I use a 4500 with 30-pound braid. For sails, tarpon, and sharks, I use a 6500 with 50- or 65-pound braid, except for sails. I use 25-pound mono there for the stretch.”

PADDLE POTENTIAL

For kayakers, mini rods make some sense. Minnesota transplant Noel Vick—fishing heavily in Florida—says, “Fishing right above your quarry, you can’t beat that interactive process of find, then fight. Like ice fishing, you can watch the action on your electronics. See the bait, locate fish, watch them swim up and strike.”

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Vick, a kayaker, often fishes premium ice fishing rods. “They are designed to fish like a long rod, just miniaturized, with the same actions and powers.”

Often, the best areas have tide/current, and with the kayak pedal/prop you can make adjustments to essentially remain motionless by structure.

“Some fish will run out and away,” said Vick. “Sometimes, they throb right below the kayak. Invariably, you’ll get fish that run port to starboard, or vice versa. This is where kayak control is essential. Keep just enough tension to hold the fish while you make forward or reverse moves to keep the fish to the side. Keep the rod as high as possible.”

When fighting the up-and-down fish—snapper, grouper, African pompano—Storin advises, “Let your forearm become part of the rod.”

Mini rods are fun, for sure, and useful in some special cases. Also, there’s no denying the benefits of portability.

“I have one rigged inside my truck at all times,” said Storin. “You might pass a nice pond and you think ‘That looks like a great place to fish.’ A mini rod will go wherever you go.”


  • This article was featured in the December/Januarys issue of Florida Sportsman magazine. Click to subscribe.



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