Monday, March 31, 2014

All Pro Rods Review

Like any fishing rod on the market, they all have their up's & down's, good points & bad points, pros & cons, however you want to look at it. I have been wanting to review All Pro Rods for a while now, but I wanted to put them through their paces to give them an honest review. I have not thrown these rods for 10 years like some people, but I have enough hours with them to give quality feedback to the public.

Instead of writing a separate review on each series of All Pro Rods that I have used, I'm going to group all of them into one. So far, I have used the Atlantis, APR-SMG, APX "Elite", and the APX Graphite series of rods.

The moto for All Pro Rods is "Sensitive Power". So when I started using these rods for the first time, I wanted to see how sensitive they were along with how strong. I'm not going to list all the "features" of the rods, you can check their website out for that. Instead I'll talk about my personal experience with each one. So, let's get to it! First one I'll talk about is the Atlantis Series.

Photo Credit: Joe Underwood

The Atlantis Series is the saltwater series of rods from All Pro. They're reasonably priced at $159 for the entire Atlantis lineup. That may sound a little steep, but when you compare these rods to others on the market, you can see that they're priced right. When you grab an Atlantis for the first time, you will instantly notice how light these rods are. In fact, the Atlantis Series is the lightest rod yet from All Pro. Don't mistake light weight for toughness! These rods have a soft tip with a great backbone. Not to mention, these rods are sexy as hell with the deep cobalt blue finish. The guides are titanium with a chrome polish meaning the salt won't destroy them.

I have been using a 7'0 medium light paired with a Shimano Stradic Ci4 2500 for most of my skinny water sight fishing. Now some may say that a medium light is way to light for redfish, but I disagree. The medium light Atlantis is sensitive enough to feel the softest strike but yet has plenty of backbone to set the hook and control the fish.

The medium power rod is an amazing "universal" rod that can throw light soft plastics to top water lures like a skitterwalk or super spook and everything in between. The rod has a very sensitive tip like the medium light but loads up much faster giving the angler more power. If I had to pick one rod for my inshore needs, the 7'0 medium Atlantis in either spinning or casting would be it. The downside to the Atlantis series is that they are only offered in medium light and medium power. I wish this blank was offered in medium heavy to tangle with bigger salt water species or to straight up overpower fish away from structure like docks, pilings, etc.

Next on the list is the APR-SMG Graphite series. The "SMG" stands for "Smallmouth Guru" which the design is tailored to smallmouth bass fishing. The SMG rod features a medium fast tip but 1/3 down the blank transitions into a very stout backbone. It doesn't take much of a hookset before this rod loads up for the angler. This rod is incredibly sensitive with a ton of power! The sleek green blank paired with a split grip design makes this rod stand out amongst it's peers. Priced at $189, this higher priced rod screams quality from end to end.

I use the SMG 7'0 medium heavy casting rod as my "go-to" spinnerbait rod. I previously owned a St. Croix Mojo bass spinnerbait rod which I liked a lot. I was absolutely amazed when I started throwing the SMG. The rod is light as a feather compared to the St Croix Mojo and handles a heavy spinnerbait like they were meant to be together. It's hard to believe a rod this light can store so much power.

Don't think that this rod is only for smallmouth bass. Like I said, I use this as my spinnerbait rod which means largemouth bass 99% of the time. I've caught borderline trophy sized pickerel on this rod as well. Honestly, I can't think of any downsides to the SMG. I plan on adding a couple more SMGs to my quiver in the near future. I will also add the 7'3 medium heavy spinning to my saltwater collection as well. Moving right along, the APX "Elite" series is on the clock.

The APX "Elite" is made up of an ultra-light weight blank with high quality components. Titanium guides, Fuji reel seat, deep blue thread wrapping, and a split grip design make up the APX "Elite" series. The combination of these features equate to an extremely high-end fishing rod. Priced at $199 for the APX "Elite", these rods are not the cheapest out there. Just like the old saying goes, "You get what you pay for." That might not be all the way true in this case because I believe you get more than you're paying for.

The APX "Elite" has a soft, yet fast tip, and like all other All Pro Rods, a backbone strong as an ox! My first experience was with the 7'0 medium heavy cranking rod. I was fishing my favorite lake which holds some bruiser bass. I was throwing a KVD square bill crank and could feel every bit of action that the bait produced. On this day, the bass were absolutely crushing the I thought. My previous crankbait rod was heavier and no where near as sensitive. What I thought was "crushing" was no more than an extremely sensitive rod transferring the energy of the strike right into my hands. I figured out that my previous rod was a sensitivity barrier compared to the APX "Elite" cranking rod.

I also own the 7'6 heavy flipping stick which has yet to see any action. I know one thing is for certain...bass in heavy cover will be ruined by the heavy flipping stick. It amazes me that a rod as light as it is has the strength to back it up. The APX "Elite" series is nothing short of badass! You know you love a fishing rod when you think of new techniques and purposely buy new reels so you have an excuse to buy a new fishing rod, or 4.

Last but not least is the APX Graphite series. This sounds like a broken record when I say that the APX Graphite series is ultra lightweight. Just like the previous series that we talked about, the lightweight feel means that you're going to feel everything from the softest strike to the obvious annihilation. Priced from $140 to $189, the APX Graphite series offers lengths and power ratings for any presentation you can think of.

One feature that sets this rod apart from others is the graphite arbors built into the butt of the rod. These sensor rings amplify the sensitivity of an already super-sensitive rod. Built with similar materials to the saltwater Atlantis series, these rods will hold up to the salty environment as well. This rod may not be the sexiest rod with the matte finish throughout the blank, but don't let that deter you if you like your rods to be super shinny. The APX Graphite looks pretty flippin' good when it's bowed up with Fatty McBucketmouth at the other end.

One of my favorite rods that I own is the 7'0 medium APX Graphite spinning rod. Paired with a Shimano Stradic FJ 3000, that combination is no joke. I have caught everything from small crappie, 5lb bass, trophy sized speckled trout, to mid-slot sized redfish. I throw everything from twitchbaits, jerkbaits, small crankbaits, to jigs tipped with jerkshads or paddletails. This is one rod that I know will not let me down.

I'll admit that I was a little hesitant to try All Pro Rods at first. I'm an avid St. Croix fan through and through. Both St. Croix and myself are made in Wisconsin and we're both high quality, haha. When Chad Hoover and I first talked about All Pro Rods, Chad was pretty excited about them which got my attention. When he told me, "These rods took G-Loomis out of my hands", I knew I had to try them. Since then, I can honestly say these are the finest rods that I have ever thrown, hands down! The final grade for All Pro Rods is...

4.5 out of 5 Stars

I marked down All Pro Rods 1/2 of a star because of; the Atlantis series is only offered in medium light and medium power, and because All Pro Rods do not have "big game" rods like stout musky rods or offshore rods...yet. If you don't agree with me or my rating, that is perfectly fine. Please do everyone the favor and write your own review. I would love to read it.

The potential All Pro Rod owner will first notice a rod that is extremely light, very well built, with quality components from end to end. You will immediately want to slap on a reel to see what it can do. As anglers, a high quality rod normally means high price. Yes, these rods are not priced like Wal-Mart rods, as well as they should not be. Take a look a G-Loomis, St. Croix, Kistler, and other comparable rods out there. The same quality you find in All Pro Rods will cost you more with other manufactures. So when you're in the market for a new rod to add to the inventory, try out All Pro Rods, you will be glad that you did.
For more information on All Pro Rods, check them out at and give them a "like" on Facebook as well. For 10% off All Pro Rods, go to HOOK1 and use code HOOKLINESINKER at checkout.
~See ya on the water!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Canoecopia 2014

250,000 square feet of expo space
Over 20,000 people come through the doors

Mind blowing...intense...grueling... and flippin' AWESOME are just a few words that I would use to describe Canoecopia.

Canoecopia is annually held in Madison, Wisconsin and is put on by Rutabega Paddlesports. This is the expo of expos when it comes to anything paddlesports related. From kayaks, canoes, and stand-up paddle boards, to outfitters, state parks, and entertainment, Canoecopia offers something for everybody! It's impossible to walk through the doors and leave without having a good time. Probably the worst thing that can happen to you is reaching a little too deep in the pockets to buy the latest and greatest toy for your hobby.

"So you're telling me that I get to travel back to my sacred frozen tundra to talk kayak fishing, sell some paddles, see my family, and hang with some of the coolest people in paddlesports...SOLD!"
I was fortunate enough to travel back to my homestate of Wisconsin for the event. It wasn't shopping and playtime that I was here for. Werner Paddles brought me along to preach my passion and get paddlers and anglers excited about the world of kayak fishing.

My event schedule entailed of giving a "Kayak Fishing 101" seminar on Friday and Saturday afternoon, and a pool demo about "5 Essential Techniques for Kayak Anglers" on Saturday as well. In between the seminars and demo was working the booth to show off the new "Hooked" series of paddles along with helping people find the right fitting paddle, specifically for them.

The Werner booth was located perfectly in the front row directly beyond the main doors. Danny Mongno (Werner's marketing manager) summed it up, "Once those doors open, it's going to be crazy." Since this was my first Canoecopia, I didn't exactly know what to expect. Danny was right, it was crazy indeed!

Photo Credit: Cindy Lesky at Violet Leaves Photography

Photo Credit: Cindy Lesky at Violet Leaves Photography

The moment the doors opened it was non-stop! You met everybody from the most seasoned paddler to somebody who never held a paddle in their life. It was amazing to meet so many like-minded individuals. Hearing old paddling stories, reasons for buying a kayak, and personal goals was very cool. I mean, how can you have a bad time talking paddling and fishing! The ultimate bonus was having my family travel to Madison to see me. Being in the Air Force, I don't get to see my family very much. So any time I get to spend with them is very appreciated! My sister Ashley traveled from Minneapolis, Minnesota to hang out for the weekend.

Myself and Ashley. Photo Credit: Cindy Lesky at Violet Leaves Photography

Giving the seminars and pool demo was probably the most stressful fun I have had in a long time. The first seminar of the weekend on Friday had around 40 people, the pool demo had over 50, and my last seminar on Saturday had around 100! The Saturday seminar was a lot of fun because my entire family showed up for it!! I tell ya, my family is downright amazing! Along with my family, my friends Ross and Richelle showed up! I was in seventh heaven. A big, "Thank You", to Luke and Reid from Johnson Outdoors for hooking up an Old Town Predator MX for my pool demo. This boat rules!!

Rocking the demo in an Old Town Predator MX. Photo Credit: Abby Kennedy
Photo Credit: Cindy Lesky at Violet Leaves Photography
From left to right; Dad, myself, Mom, Ashley, and David

As quickly as the weekend arrived, it was gone! Time fly's by when you're having fun and busting your tail! I will say one thing, I have never had so much fun while working as hard as we did. From setup to teardown, it was a lot of work with plenty of reward. Spending the weekend with the entire Werner Paddles crew could not have been more enjoyable. Doug, Danny, Rob, Megan, Danielle, and Roxanne are first class individuals representing a first class company.

Some great news coming from Werner Paddles is the new release of their ultimate performance paddles in the new "Hooked" series. Both the Kalliste and the Cyprus are now offered in the best kayak fishing series of paddles on the market. Be sure to check out the new paddles at, "Hooked Series".

With Canoecopia 2014 in the books, I'm now dedicating almost all of my free time to prepping for our upcoming move to Florida. If you have ever moved in your life, you know how much "fun" it is! Hopefully I can sneak on the water soon to release some stress through plenty of hooksets into the jaws of fish. Ahh, just thinking about makes me smile...

~See ya on the water!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Kayak Kevin Podcast #10

After coming back to Virginia following a fantastic (but crazy busy) Canoecopia in Madison, Wisconsin, I was invited by Kayak Kevin to join him and Lee on Kevin's podcast. The last couple of months have been nothing short of crazy. Obviously, there are times where the kayaks stay in the garage and you have to take care of other business. At least the cool part was some of the other "business" still entailed kayak fishing of some sort. Check out Kayak Kevin's Podcast #10 as Kevin, Lee, and myself talk about the sport we all love. (I know, my name is not spelled Becolay).

COMING SOON...My 2014 Canoecopia trip report from Madison, Wisconsin. It was an amazing time! In the mean time, enjoy the podcast.

OH YEAH, if you have not done so already, subscribe to Kayak Kevin's podcast on YouTube. This is a great way to find out tips, tricks, and anything helpful about kayak fishing.

~See ya on the water!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Toothy Critters

Boy oh boy...It has seemed like an eternity since the last time I paddled around in some plastic! Between the non-stop studying for my Air Force promotion exam, a mid week college class, to getting ready to travel back to my home state of Wisconsin...the word "busy" would be an understatement!
With my promotion exam behind me and my college class a thing of the past, it only made sense to get back on the water for a little mental break. The feel of spring was in the air with temps in the low 70's even though you knew it would not last for long. Once again, another winter storm has his sight's set on the mid-Atlantic. Winter is not going out without a fight, that's for sure.

I was hoping for Fatty Mc. Bucketmouth but that would not be the case today. Instead, I caught numerous Picky St. Demonseeds, aka "chain pickerel. The pickerel were out in full force! I had double digit hook ups with the biggest fish measuring in at 23.5".

As usual, the time on the water cleared the mind and put an everlasting smile on my face. Next on the schedule is Canoecopia in Madison, Wisconsin. Canoecopia is the worlds biggest paddle-sports expo with over 250,000 square feet of expo space and around 20,000 attendees annually. I will be there with Werner Paddles giving presentations, talking kayak fishing, and showing off the new "Hooked" series of paddles...can't beat that! Check out the link.

Hopefully the winter weather takes a year long hike so our water can warm up and get the spring spawn in full swing! I'm ready to pull some big girls from the beds and tackle some skinny water reds. Oh damn, I'm a lyrical gangtsta!! PEACE!!!!

~See ya on the water!