By Jeffrey McGovern
I hear that a lot. Questions like, "why in the heck would someone who seriously fishes use such an odd looking, weird little pole?" Simple answer: they are fun to fish with. Let me tell you how I started.
In spring of 2006, I was getting ready for my yearly trip to Lake of the Woods, Canada. One of the top ten fishing destinations in many angler's minds, it is always a world class adventure for me and demands the best gear I can bring along. I have always chosen rods for the trip based on durability and toughness. When you are in the wilderness, there are no spare parts or tackle stores available when problems occur. The gear you bring is all you have for the trip and it has to hold up. My regular line up included Chaos, Loomis, St Croix, Falcon and a few custom sticks. I found Emmrods online and ordered a Packer model really as sort of a joke. I equipped that first rod with a smoothed up 5500C ABU reel and loaded it with 15lb YoZuri Hybrid line. Into my gear mix and off to Canada it went.
The fishing was outstanding. After a shore lunch that Monday afternoon, I picked the Emmrod up off the deck for a few casts. I tied a Redfish Magic to a 20lb fluorocarbon leader so the rig would handle about anything I might hook up. That first cast produced a nice smallmouth that was a blast to fight on that little Emmrod. I was hooked as much as the fish was, as cast after cast produced more small mouth. I was having loads of fun learning to cast and work the lure with my new toy. As the week wore on, all those high end rods I had brought with me ended up spending most of their time on the deck. In my hands was the little Emmrod Packer racking up a huge catch count for the week.
As soon as I got home, I called Duane Markley, the owner of Emmrod and told him of my success. He asked for pictures which I sent over and he posted immediately on the Emmrod website. I could not leave well enough alone and started bugging him for different models and improvements to increase their strength and versatility. The Packer model I used has a handle design from the 1950's. Therefore, most low profile casting reels and a number of spincast reels don't fit the retro style handle. The Packer is a tough little rig and, with the right reel, performs great. Still, I wanted more. Emmrod also made spinning rods, but, I asked for changes in them, too. I was looking for gear that would stand up to powerful fish in a saltwater environment and allow the angler to use top notch reels in the process.
Duane has responded like no other manufacturer I've ever worked with. He took all my suggestions and endured me ruining sample rods that returned (often in pieces.) Each change he made was for the better -Emmrods got better and better. For my 2008 Canada trip, he sent me over the first of what would become the Rugged Flex Jr model. Finally I had an Emmrod that would handle a low profile or round casting reel, using the type of high quality reel seat most anglers are familiar with. As with the earlier versions of the Emmrods, the rods are interchangeable allowing the angler to choose the action they want for a particular presentation. The 2008 trip was wonderful and that Emmrod caught a huge number of fish once again relegating my other rods to the deck all week.
I kept asking Duane for more improvements and the rods became better with each change. The result was casting rods (both short and long handles) plus spinning rods with improved seats and handle designs. As my 2009 tip approached, I went to Duane with the idea of fishing my entire week in Canada using only Emmrods. He supported the idea and my relationship with Emmrod entered a more professional one. For the trip, I took 13 Emmrods in both spinning and casting configurations. They performed beyond expectation and we ended up shooting video the entire week that now is part of the distributor and dealer piece for Emmrod worldwide. Our second round of video work took place in November 2009 out of Crystal River, Florida. Once again, we had an amazing performance from a rod so different than anything else out there.
Working with Emmrod, starting as a curious angler, then a satisfied customer and now as a distributor, has been a great journey. We continue to collaborate on making improvements to handle and rod designs to improve durability and function in saltwater as well as freshwater. The firm is supportive and willing to make the changes that continually improve their product. One of the best things about Emmrod is their no nonsense method of customer service. If you (somehow) manage to break one, it need only be boxed up and sent off to Emmrod for replacement - no fuss involved.