Posted by: socalsalty | April 20, 2013

Gear Preview: Calstar GFX 800H & Seeker Inshore Pro

I like to fish braid (aka spectra) on most of my reels.  It costs more upfront, but there are lots of advantages to fishing braid.  It lasts longer.  It cuts through kelp.  It allows you to pack more line on a smaller reel.  It gives you a really good feel for what’s happening at the end of the line…lots of great attributes.  There are downsides too.  One downside of braid is that it doesn’t have any give.  That lack of give can be a good thing, but you also run a higher risk of pulling the hook.  Once you are hooked up, a certain amount of give helps you absorb the headshakes in a fight with a tough fish.  One way to balance braid’s lack of give is to use a leader of either mono or fluoro.  Those lines stretch to help absorb the shock of a violent fight.

Another way to counterbalance the lack of give is to use a more forgiving rod.  I found a couple that I liked when I hit Fred Hall Del Mar a few weeks back…

Hot rep demo wrap ;-)

Hot rep demo wrap 😉

Calstar GFX 800H

I told John Cameron of Calstar Rods that I fished a lot of braid.  The GFX 800H is the rod he showed me.  It didn’t have that customary black/teal coloring scheme…he only had a rep demo version available at the show.  The GFX 800H is 8 feet long and rated 30-60 lb.  Going back to the 3 rod premise, it could fill the role of your heavy rod.  I’d probably fish 65 lb braid, with a topshot of 40 or 50 lb on it.  The rod has that familiar parabolic Calstar bend to it, yet felt very strong.  I could imagine pulling as hard as you want and not needing to finesse the fish as much.  Maybe that saves enough time that you get one or 2 more fish during a good bite?  If you’re paying good money to be out and there’s only one good hit all day, 1 or 2 more fish would make all the difference in the world, right?

I definitely want to check this one out further.

Seeker Inshore Pro Series

Matt Kotch calico is rad!

Calico Bass by Matt Kotch.  Nice touch!

These are the new series of rods updating the Corey Sanden Blue Lightning line of inshore focused rods.  Corey is the maker of MC Swimbaits and likes to fish heavy braid in heavy kelp, targeting big calico bass.  When I say heavy braid, I mean heavy…like to 80 lb braid to a short 80 lb fluoro topshot kinda heavy.  That heaviness is not so much to fight the fish, but to be able to get it out of the kelp and into the boat after he’s hooked one.  Corey’s home fishery is San Diego Bay and if you know calico fishing in San Diego, you know that the Point Loma kelp is some of the thickest, most unforgiving kelp we have to deal with in SoCal.

Now imagine you’re in that kelp…you get bit, and you go for the big swing to set that hook.  If you are fishing a stiff rod and were fishing heavy like Corey, good chance you’ll rip your bait right out of the bass’ mouth or tear a hole in his mouth allowing the fish to shake itself off.  The bend on these rods is designed to counteract that violence and maintain a proper hookset.

Calico on the MC Swimbait in the Pt. Loma kelp

Calico on the MC weedless in the Pt. Loma kelp

Seeker General Manager, Darin Dohi, showed me the ISP808 model.  The 808 is one of 5 rods available now.  The others are the 659, 706, 708, and 807…all designed to throw specific MC Swimbaits.  The 808 was designed to fish Corey’s weedless bait.  Seeker is introducing 2 new, beefier models at the Pacific Coast Sportfishing show later this month designed specifically for Cedros Island.  The rods are an S-glass/graphite composite, making for a very light (20% lighter than the original Blue Lightning rods), yet strong weapon.  After bending the rod, I made the comment to Darin that I wouldn’t feel overmatched if I was fishing calicos in the kelp and got picked up by a yellow.  “Exactly” Darin stated.  “And with the beefier Cedros models, you could fight a 40 or 50 lb Cedros sized yellow.”  These would be the perfect rods if you are lucky enough to be going on that Shogun Skiff Trip to Cedros in June.  Darin said that the stouter models are designed to throw a big bait.  In a pinch, you could even use them to throw surface iron.  Hmmm…

Conclusion

Both of these rods bear further investigation.  I could easily see them making it into my lineup.  I like the fact that both are proudly made here in SoCal.  The Calstar rod was supposed to be ready by the Fred Hall show, but a supply problem with one of their vendors prevented that from happening.  They should be making their way into a showroom soon though.  The Seeker Inshore Pro rods are available now (except the 709 and 809).

VIDEO: The promo video for the Shogun Skiff Trip

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