United Composite Viper and Invictus 7'6" Review

Discussion in 'San Diego Long Range fishing Reports' started by fishordie, May 23, 2016.

  1. fishordie

    fishordie I've posted enough I should edit this section

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    Good afternoon,

    All to often a question is asked that is a bit open ended and needs a bit more of a definitive use description. I find this often when someone asks about an 80 pound stick. I believe Jim asked about why I rate the Viper 76 as 80 - 130 while he, Jim, considers it a prime 130 pound stick. The answer lies in the usage of any given stick. There are several ways most anglers fish. The first is the old, tried and true, pump up and wind down. Another would be short stroking without touching the rail. The third is performing these same techniques while using a harness and or plate. These techniques tend to be on Non-giant tuna from Long range boats.

    However, once the word "Rail" comes into play there is just a couple of ways to play bigger fish for the average size and weight angler. Results will differ depending on how much experience and how willing the angler is to think out of the box (I have never cared for boxes myself and tend to think outside of them) but the two main ones are bend the rod to its max allowable based on drag settings while the fore-grip is on the rail and then gather line as the rod unbends to bring the rod back to max bend. In short, the angler keeps line coming in when it is not going out using the recoil of the rod to do the majority of work.

    The second method, while still using the rail, is to short pump any time the line is not going out in order to keep a fishes head turned as often as possible and then use the combination of reel and leverage to bring that fish towards the boat as much and as often as possible. The short stroke can be employed with minimal effort by those who understand how it is done which allows the angler to save their energy for the end game when we are discussing giant tuna. For folks under 6 feet tall, such as myself, I never have to take a knee, preferring to keep my rod tip low while performing the noted short pump lever deal with the rod tip fairly low until the fish is closer to the boat. When the fish is way off in the distance I never go down to a knee preferring to put a minimal bend in the rod and use the step back and wind forward technique to both stop the fish and to bring it closer to the boat until the angle is right for bending the rod. This last technique seems to get the most commentary from folks who are not used to such things but for me and I only speak for me, I will never go to a knee as this technique of step back and wind forward is so much easier and in my opinion more efficient.

    So getting back to the 80 pound business. Since most folks are not targeting giant tuna from an Ultra Long Range West Coast boat, the majority of clients asking about an 80 pound rod or combo seem to be remember being rocked by some mythical and giant Yellowtail or Grouper sort of thing while fishing somewhere on the bottom of the ocean near structure. Everyone seems to believe the fish that rocked them was of the 100 pound plus variety as there is just no way a 30 or 40 pound model can pull against our massive drags the way their lost fish did. No way... No way... No way..... Of course, many of us just smile knowing all too well that mythical 100 pound yellowtail might have been at best 50 pounds and more than likely an aggressive 30 - 40 pounder, but the fish's ability to grab a bait, from above while heading into their rock lair at blinding speed for short distances, is remarkable. Here is where we differentiate an Viper 76 from a Raptor 76 or any other rod which bends more than another.

    The reason I like the Viper 76 for 80 thru 130 work is I much prefer to limit my bend when fishing 80. I do believe I get bit better on that dropper loop sort of setup when fishing the Lupe, the Rocks or any other place where getting rocked is a common occurrence. I find 100 and 130 just do not get bit as well. However, in these situations, I use the exact same drag settings on 80 as I do on 130 as I know my connections are not going to break and I need to get that fish's face pointing up instead of down. Though I need a small amount of buffer from the rod tip to not "Snap" the line as the start up inertia of the spool combined with the momentary transfer of energy puts additional strain on the line, in truth, I do not want that much bend from the rod. Any extra bend allows the fish's head to have a second where it is facing the wrong direction, allowing that fish to build up that short burst speed, at which point the angler is kinda screwed. In this situation the Viper 76, for me, is superior to the Raptor version.

    Secondly, the same applies to those times I opt to fish 80 pound for giant tuna while long ranging. In my opinion, I only reduce my drag settings a few pounds or not at all when dropping to 80 pound as my opinion is 80 pound will not break under those noted loads but will see faster line deterioration due to abrasion and fish chew than 100 or 130 or heavier. Therefore, in my opinion, it is incumbent upon me to bring in a fish at least as fast on 80 as I would heavier line or even faster. Yeah, I know, I sound contrary to popular opinion but I suppose that is common place for me.

    The time of the Raptor 76, for me, would be if the big bluefin or similar fish, are eating slightly smaller lines. If they are eating 60, for example, I want the ability to not only use my smooth reel drags to keep from parting the line but have the additional fire power of a stronger rod, if and when I need to turn that fish's head and point it towards the boat. Again, too soft a rod and some of the energy transfer is lost. As soon as I feel that fish's muscles relax (Yes, this is the benefit of short top shots in that you can actually feel what the fish is doing before the tip of your rod lets you know), I know that now is the time to gather line thus it is mandatory I get the fish pointed in the right direction immediately. I do not believe the Raptor 76 is capable of doing that on Cow sized tuna but on those under 150 pound fish I think it is magnificent. However, for me, if there are 150's on an ultra long range trip there are 300's and I do not want to be on an under gunned rod when that possibility exists. Err, let me rephrase that, Unless I am fishing spinners and a Popping rod and I am intending to shoot elephants with a smaller than recommended gun.. My choice.

    For this angler, when I feel the fish tire, I want to man handle them. At the same time I want the rod to still place a ton of pressure on the fish even if that spool is spinning in the wrong direction. The Viper 76 and the Invictus 76 do this in spades on Cow sized tuna or where minimal rod bend is required to keep a heavy line fish away from structure, while the Raptor will perform this task on smaller versions beautifully in open water while still providing enough tip buffer for the bigger fish on lighter line.

    As always, I note, these opinions are for me and me alone. If an angler knows they have a different style and it works for them then that is the correct style for them... However, because I sell a ton of product, I attempt to understand the type of angler I am speaking with, get to know what seems to work for them, tell them what works for me if they ask and then help them choose their products based on the results of the conversation. After we chat about all the options it is the customer who gets to make the final decision, but I want them to understand there is more than one way to slay a dragon, skin a cat or catch a fish. I also recommend they try the different approaches, recommended both by on line experts, experts on the boat, experts at the tackle shops and of course the input from the crews, so the angler's can use their experiential knowledge to make a strength based decision rather than just reading these on line expert approaches.

    Yeah, I know, I lost those guys with ADHD about 7 paragraphs ago. Oh well.... Maybe some Lithium??

    Jamie
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2016
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  2. Rodless_Jim

    Rodless_Jim I've posted enough I should edit this section

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    What an excellent explanation! I am definitely guilty here of an assumption...that other anglers will voluntarily choose to fish the way that I do. I did take the time to explain how I use my cow rods, but in my single-mindedness, Jamie, I never considered the various ways you envision and describe using the different rods.

    I still can't see myself using a Viper 76 the way you describe, even for dropper loop, but I can see using my 2x4 that way. In fact, I have done so. And using a Makaira 20 with 30lbs+ of drag, in conjunction with the power and recoil of the rod, does exactly what you describe: it turns that fish's head right around. The most it can get is maybe four inches before the resistance is just too much, and when I pull on my end, the fish has no place to go but up.

    I repeat, very well thought-out and described!

    Ultimately, I believe I may end up fishing 100lbs with one or more Viper 76s. While I happen to believe that this rod is at its best under 35-38lbs of drag, there is no question that it is outstanding at 32lbs of drag as well. Both the 2x4 and the 770XXH seem to be best suited for 29-31lbs of drag, and that is just enough for me to fish 100lbs.

    So in short, I get my best recoil out of the Viper 76 at around 36lbs of drag at strike, and it has a bit more to give me if I need to go past strike in the end game. I have proven this to myself on multiple fish. Thus, I see the rod as a 130lb rod...for the way I fish, and specifically for big yellowfin tuna. I can now see that, given different conditions, the Viper 76 might be a more versatile blank than I initially thought.

    Thank you for the clarification, Jamie!

    PS - Can you please tell me a bit more about that "step back, wind forward" technique? Not here...we don't need a thread jack. But even so, I expect it is a skill or technique I am going to want to try...
     
  3. Bill W

    Bill W tunaholic

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    Gourmet food for this fast food junkie Jamie... To put it simple... Any way you can put line on the reel is a winning plan. The fish is always trying to get an angle down with it's head, to kick out a run. Short pumping keeps the head up. That means if you can wind down, why wait for the rod to lift the fish. The lower the rod, the more efficient the lift. It is all about fast and short lifts that can corkscrew a fish up. Take advantage of any opportunity to put line on the reel.

    Just treat them like big albacore...

    If I was in the market for a new 100# rod, I would go for a Viper.
     
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  4. SouthBayKiller

    SouthBayKiller I've posted enough I should edit this section

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    1st line on the 7th paragraph was what I needed to know. Not really looking for a cow rod. Only for 8 day trips max, primarily for big bluefin and occasional Lupe/alijos large grade yellowfin. And secondarily as a dropperloop rod.
     
  5. Bill W

    Bill W tunaholic

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  6. screamingreel

    screamingreel Long Range Fanatic

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    Jim, (Rodless),

    I concur with Bill and Jaime; the step-back/wind-forward method is another effective fish retrieval technique to employ and can be effective at certain times in specific situations. While it is not common, LR folks have been doing it for years. I use it when appropriate and seen others use it too. It works!

    - Jeff Burroughs

     
  7. JohnTFT

    JohnTFT Insomniac

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    All of this talk of high drags is greatly exaggerated and is not in your best interest for most situations.

    Pulled hooks, broken hooks, bent hooks come to mind. The drag is there to let the fish tire itself out no?

    I have had deckhands ripped too many times when the fish comes to gaff green. I am fishing lighter drags these days with as much capacity on the reels as possible.

    The goal for a rail rod is to keep it loaded. For me what keeps it loaded is the rail. Crazy high drag pressures make it more difficult to move around. Let other anglers under you. Yes you can slide back and forth on the lever drag but, its a hassle.

    Changing the angle of the tip will keep it loaded correctly most of the time. When the fish is straight up and down you can walk back and wind or put the butt lower thus raising the tip.

    What the UC rods have are typical Randy Penny designs. Soft tips with huge back end power.

    I am not one for looking at line specs and the like.

    Hell I have no idea what an 80# "Stealth" outfit does or what that even means.

    I use the Invictus in the dark, on the chunk and kite.

    I use the viper for everything else. I like both the 7'0 and 76 models and use them the same.

    Simple easy peasy. Dont have to think about it too much.
     
  8. Fishybuzz

    Fishybuzz fishybuzz

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    John I agree with you 100% and 110% in your assessment on the use of uber tight drags which IMO are a recipe for failure....
     
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  9. dtf

    dtf Well-Known "Member"

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    Next up will be H D R !!
     
  10. fishordie

    fishordie I've posted enough I should edit this section

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    Hi Jim,

    I had never heard nor seen of anyone using the step back and wind forward technique rather I developed it for myself the first time I was introduced and actually used circle hooks (It seems like an eternity ago). Because I was told the circle hook was designed to set in the corner of a fish's mouth without the the angler actually striking the crap out of the fish by swinging the rod (I really miss those days), my brain said I still want to set that hook. It made sense that if just pointing the tip of the rod at the fish while reeling as the line comes tight is good, a gentle step back while pointing the tip at the fish, without jerking, would not only allow the hook to set but would be a bit of additional impetus on the fish and pull the head just a bit back towards the boat.

    Other's may have used the technique before me but I had never heard about it. Be that as it may, on that same trip a crazy thing happened. This huge giant of a man was having a rough go of it. He was getting bit okay but he kept losing fish. This occurred either to bad connections or getting sawed off. The more times it happened the angrier he got.... Until, he finally had enough, looked at me and said he was going to kill something (I was really hoping it would not be me), showed me he had set the lever drag on his new reel all the way to full, got bit on a circle hook, stepped back as the line came tight and literally put 300+ pounds of human behind his pull. I watched as a 200+ pound fish, running away from the boat on the surface, had its head snap back and literally did a 180 degree turn in mid air as this guy, in all his anger and without knowing it, used the mechanical advantage he had of shifting his weight backwards to amplify the power that went into turning that fish. He landed that fish in 3 minutes, about the same time he ran out of gas and anger as he gave it everything he had in those few minutes. He spent the next hour drinking heavily, coming back to the rail as he and I relived those few minutes and had the two of us laughing our asses off. Now, I do not recommend that extreme technique as it seems like a recipe for snapped lines, pulled hooks or a heart attack but the sight of it amplified my desire to see how a more moderate approach to the same concept might apply both at hook set and during the fight.

    The full technique is simple and I show the technique to most everyone on everything from a trout rod to an unlimited rod. I can literally place the aft grip of any rod under my arm, without even holding on to the fore-grip, have anyone grab the tip while I ask them to hold on and not let it pull out from their grip, and by rocking my upper body from my feet backwards or stepping back, while keeping my elbows in tight and my entire body in a proper posture position, I can easily pull a 200+ pound man forward with only a negligible amount of energy spent. I can keep that up all day while, at the same time holding onto and drinking a glass of scotch .... Okay, that last part is not recommended but it does work on the mental aspect of the game.

    In actual application, simply point the rod a few degrees above the fish to put the slightest bend in it. so the line is not directly onto the reel, and gently rock back or take a smooth step back and wind back, hard and strong, as you rock forward or make a step back towards the rail. Though my posture is correct I am always relaxed. As I continue to note, if your shoulders are up around your ears.. You are probably not relaxed... Of course you might be on the cycle using steroids for a long period of time but that is another discussion.. One key is timing so at no time do you ever relieve the max pressure you are exerting on the fish when changing direction. The other key is again, I keep my elbows in tight, my body is in proper physical alignment with pressure coming from my feet through my body, so I can use the best mechanical advantage when winding hard against the reel handle. I can also use this technique when my Spinner is getting low on a really big tuna, to force that big fish to face back towards the boat as I have never thrown any rig over the side with a back up attached nor have I ever taken a skiff trip. It really is very simple and very efficient but the key is posture and timing. It is even more effective for you really big and or tall guys or anyone who prefer not to take a knee while you put your rod tip way up in the air to exert more pressure on a far away fish heading in the wrong direction. Getting down is hard but getting back up can be a real bitch.

    Finally, this straight line approach also works super efficiently just after an angler hooks up and needs to walk up or down the rail.
    Again, with proper posture, the shoulders are down, the back is straight and the angler relaxed, an angler is easily able to do what needs to be done with almost no expenditure of energy which is wasted on trying to hold onto a fully bent rod. I suppose in engineering terms the angler only has to offset the pull forward in this position rather than trying to not only offset the pull forward exerted by the fish but also trying to keep an offset angle to keep that rod bent. Too many angles which are not conducive to maintaining a mechanical advantage given the joints we, as humans, are configured with... I coach and teach a lot of sports and learned long ago the majority of mechanical advantage comes from the bottoms of the feet and is transferred into other parts of the body. Efficiency of this transfer is based on reducing the loss of mechanical advantage as we curve our spines, bend our limbs and joints or get out of a straight and proper posture. The same applies to fishing... Okay, now I am probably getting too technical. Let me just say, this technique is easy and efficient and works for me.

    Jamie
     
    Last edited: May 26, 2016
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  11. Rodless_Jim

    Rodless_Jim I've posted enough I should edit this section

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    Thank you for the detailed explanation!
     
  12. Brad I

    Brad I Common Sense Isn't Common Enough

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    Jamie, that sounds a bit like "lift up, wind down" converted to "lean back, wind forward"...but a lot less stressful on the arms!
     
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  13. fishordie

    fishordie I've posted enough I should edit this section

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    By the way.. the hook set I note above (Post # 30) gives me a much better hook up ratio for Wahoo on my Bombs and Jigs as well as big tuna. Way better. However, new deck hands, who have not seen me do it before, always look a bit perturbed by the deal until they see it actually works incredibly well....At which point the world is really rosy..

    Jamie
     
  14. screamingreel

    screamingreel Long Range Fanatic

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    Another way to explain step-back/wind-in technique:

    While standing up (knees slightly bent), hold rod firmly (yet relaxed) with one hand on fore grip (slightly in front of and under reel). With your other hand on the reel handle, place rod rear grip under armpit. Keep both elbows relatively close at your side with shoulders relaxed. With rod pointed at fish straight in front of you; take a step back and wind-in line as you step forward.

    As a fish approaches boat and line becomes more up and down, switching to a different technique (such as using rail or harness) becomes more effective for line retrieval.

    Try it next time, it works!

    - Jeff Burroughs
     
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  15. $norkle

    $norkle Well-Known "Member"

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    X3
     
  16. $norkle

    $norkle Well-Known "Member"

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    One downside to the step-back, wind-forward technique is that I've seen people really get in the way doing it. I agree that it can be very effective, but folks have to always be aware of the "traffic" both behind them and coming down the rail. Done right, go for it----done with blinders on and you become "that guy"
     
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  17. Bill W

    Bill W tunaholic

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    Very close to what I do. I will separate my feet, one foot forward one foot back then rock back and reel forward by shifting my weight. Great for saving energy bringing in sharks. Thought one was a shark and then felt a slow tail beat near the boat. It turned in to a 265#
     
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  18. Steve K

    Steve K Hey, I'm gettin' bit...

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    Step back and wind is gonna be OK when we're fishing big tuna. Very seldom do we have more than one or two hooked at the same time, pretty easy for others to be aware of what's going on.mBut if that fish has taken 300 yards, it's gonna take about forever to get it to the boat. I like wearing a small rod belt and working a 90 degree arc from horizontal to straight up to gain that much line. Then into the rail format, putting a bend in the rod and reeling when the tip lifts the fish.
     

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