There’s a certain stigma to rent rods.
Be honest. When you see someone with a rented rod and reel setup, you make a mental note to avoid them. Am I right? It’s a fair assumption. If you are renting a rod, you probably don’t get out a lot. We all want to maximize our time on the water. Why waste time getting in tangles with a newbie?
Those things being said, we all probably have a story or two about the rent rodder that got lucky.
I remember the first time I witnessed the power of the rent rod. I was up in the Channel Islands riding the Pacific Islander. During the week, what is now the world record California Halibut was caught by Francisco Rivera aboard the Mirage on his company’s annual charter. The fish weighed in at a whopping 67-pounds, 5-ounces. That weekend, I was on the PI, and we were targeting those big halibut as well.
A guy came on the boat named Matt. It was pretty obvious he wasn’t a regular. He only brought a small backpack and one rod & reel combo. He wore a Hawaiian shirt, jeans and flip flops. When we woke up the next morning, he was wearing the same outfit to fish in. Crewmember Bryan Duncan tied a high dropper on his one setup. Long story short, when the trip was over, Matt took jackpot with a 59-pound, 8-ounce behemoth (right). Had the record fish not gotten caught earlier in the week, Matt would’ve also gone home with a world record (previous record was 56-pounds and change).
And he caught it on a rent rod.
Another time I saw the lucky rent rod phenomenon play out was four years later aboard the Eclipse (now the Tomahawk). Capt. Adam Williams (now on the New Lo-An) was running the trip. It was Memorial Day Weekend. There was a group that came onboard that I discovered were members of a wedding party. The group included a young man named Petros from Greece who had never fished before. As one of the crew members came by in the galley collecting for jackpot, he asked how that worked. There were 3 newbies in their group, and they were hesitating. I chimed in, “Just do it. I can almost guarantee that one of you three will win.” They bucked up and put their money in.
It was a tough trip. One of those trips where you are struggling to stay engaged and alert because of the lack of action…no hits on the troll, empty kelp after empty kelp. Late in the day, I was in the wheelhouse with Captain Adam. He was telling me how we were going to have to call it a trip soon and head for home. We both kept glassing though in hopes of a miracle. Out of nowhere he yelled, “Bluefin!” I put down my binoculars to see what he was seeing. He wasn’t looking through his. Nothing was registering on the meter, but something about the sound of the sonar tipped Adam off. I didn’t wait around for an explanation. By the time I got on deck, Adam was instructing Chewie, the deckhand on the tank, to lay the bait on heavy. I grabbed my rod and pinned on a bait. As I casted out, 50-80-pound fish were boiling around the boat. Almost immediately, I hooked up. When it was all said and done though, guess who caught the big fish and took jackpot…that’s right it was Petros, the rent rod kid from Greece who had never fished before (far left below). It weighed out at 72-pounds on the scale at Seaforth Landing.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that the quality of rent rod gear has gotten better and better.
A few years back, the big landings in San Diego started offering high quality gear for rent. The idea made sense to me. A high quality big tuna setup is going to set you back around $1000 and it’s going to be one of your rigs that you will use the least. Even if you have a good heavy setup, it may still make sense to rent another one so you can have a flatfall rig and a bait rig.
I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for awhile, and this week offered the perfect opportunity to do it.
Last week, Michael Gaddis (top, center), was riding the Liberty with Capt. Taro Takeuchi on a full day trip. He was outfitted with a Calstar 700H and a Shimano Talica 16II that he rented from Fisherman’s Landing. Michael ended up having an unforgettable day on the water as he was fortunate enough to hook and land a 249-pound bluefin tuna on a sardine fishing 50#. He landed the fish after a grueling 1 hour and 45 minute struggle.
I contacted Carl Schmidt, General Manager at Fisherman’s Landing, to get the particulars of this amazing catch. The cost to rent this exact setup from the landing for this length of trip is $50. You could get out 4x on the same trip, with rented gear, and spend less money than buying the same setup and getting out once. Does that make sense to you? Carl told me they put a fresh topshot on every reel before it goes back out with a customer. You can get a heavier setup for just $10 more (Calstar 700XH / Talica 20 or 25 two speed). Whatever size you choose, it will have at least 500-yards of line on it to land that catch of a lifetime. Also, as you can see from the picture, they don’t have any yellow electrical tape or anything crazy to alert the other anglers that you rented the setup. You’re just fishing top-of-the-line Calstar and Shimano fishing gear.
I’ve had people tell me they haven’t gotten out for these big bluefin because they don’t have the right gear and can’t afford to buy it. Hopefully, the information I’ve shared today will put that excuse to rest. The opportunity is there and you shouldn’t let it pass you by.
Good luck if you get out there.