Lighter is better when it comes to rods and reels, but that doesn't mean lighter in action, power, or strength. It means lighter in overall weight. This industry-wide trend is only accelerating.
Sensitivity is the reason, Other things being equal, a lighter rod affords a better feel for the tap-tap vibrations a biting fish sends up the line. A heavier rod or reel, conversely, dampens those tremors and also diminishes your ability to sense structure or the bottom.
Some newer spinning and baitcasting reels are 30 to 40 percent lighter than their counterparts of just a few years ago, thanks in part to materials such as magnesium and titanium. Rods, too, are slimmer, for which we can credit new resin systems, skeletonized reel seats, and split grips.
Carrot Stix are a great example. Rod designer Ken Whiting has left Airrus Rods and joined a Canadian company called e21. There he started using a Scottish process that integrates carrot fibers with the epoxy matrix in graphite blanks to build the new Carrot Stix rods. With fashionable split grips and strong but light-weight guides, the 6-foot 9-inch LTX baitcasting and 6-foot 7-inch LTX spinning models come in at about 3.2 ounces — wonderfully light for rods capable of handling big largemouths and walleyes. Carrot Stix (the orange color is a gimmick) were a huge hit at ICAST, capturing the overall Best of Show award.
Daiwa continues to give the lightweight trend a boost by expanding its Steez line of spinning and baitcasting reels and rods. The original Steez baitcaster introduced last year weighed an amazing 5½ ounces, about 4 ounces lighter than common-size bass reels. For 2008, the company has added the Steez 100HA model designed for greater line capacity with 14- or 16-pound monos, and it still weighs only 5.6 ounces. Both models have ingenious reel handles bent inward to reduce wobble as you crank. There are lightweight spinning reels to match, plus a light yet powerful Steez series of rods.