After the fun we had with the Fenwick River Runner rods that we reviewed last year we were more than excited when we heard about the smallmouth series. Smallmouth bass present some challenges for the angler when it comes to a rod, most rods made for largemouth fishing are not really made to stand up to smallmouth bass, especially when talking about casting rods.
The Fenwick Elite Tech Smallmouth rods are the best species specific and technique specific rods we have ever had our hands on. My time on the water with the 6′ 3″ model really proved the rod provided the extra control needed for the acrobatic smallie without having to contend with the extra force that a traditional bass rod puts on a fish. Another thing this series of rods does very well is allows you to throw the light lines and lures that are often required for these bronzebacks. Sensitivity can be an issue with lighter rods but the Elite Tech rods let you feel a solid thunk before the rod even starts to bend that is why these are my choice for panfish and smallmouth alike.
This rod is a perfect match for us since we often through topwater on braided line with a 6.4:1 reel. The low stretch of the braid coupled with the soft tip and strong backbone of the 6′ 3″ model proved to be surprising perfect for each other. The softer tip allows the smallmouth the do all of its jumping around while reducing the risk the hook popping out due to a stiff rod. Another benefit of this rod is the short handle, though some anglers may have difficulty if they have larger hands. By having the shorter handle it allows you to make quick accurate casts and have a strong topwater presentation without smacking the tip of the rod on the water.
Now it’s time to talk features. As with the other Elite Tech rods the high modulus graphite blanks offer a superior strength and feel to most available on the market today, just as you have come to expect from Fenwick. To keep the rods as light as possible they use a titanium framed zirconium guide that also reduces wear on line which is very important with the light line used in some smallmouth fishing. The hidden handle is also light weight and provides the most sensitive feel with the most comfortable grip you are likely to find. With the hidden handle comes the TAC cork that Fenwick is becoming widely known for, this handle gets stickier and sticker the wetter it gets, another added benefit for when you are on the smallies and handling a lot of them. With several lengths and actions available you are sure to find at least one to fit your fishing style. The price point of theses rods is about $129, a very competitive price for a soon to be classic.