Once upon a time anglers appreciated a ton of whip with decent backbone met with pure 100% Portuguese cork. Today we find ourselves utilizing foam grips met with lighter blanks, stronger backbone, and a plethora of technique specific rods. This year I put affordable rods through hell to see how well they would stack up against the odds of a thousand fish in one of the most punishing saltwater environments the world has to offer.
I do not claim to be a rod builder or expert on design, but I do spend more time on the water than most guides, which puts me right at the ranks of insanity. My name is Chris Castro, host for the award-winning kayak fishing show Next Level Fishing TV. I also write for the world’s leading kayak fishing magazine as an all water kayak angler who has beaten out boaters in tournaments, risked my life for the sport more than once, and as someone who dreams about chasing big fish on a kayak. Through those travels I have had many conversations about fishing rods, and one common question is what I would recommend for a good affordable setup. Unfortunately, I have never really gone down that rabbit hole, and have always stayed in my comfort zone. It is a piece of advice I have always struggled with because I simply have never found confidence in most rods under the $99.00 dollar range. This year I stepped out of my comfort zone and put the ACK TKS rods to the test. Particularly the Medium-Fast Casting Rod – 7’, and the TKS Heavy-Fast Casting Rod – 7’6”.
Both rods bring an EVA split handle which allows for a firm comfortable grip. IM8 rod construction that identifies the style of modulus used in the blank construction. Zirconia rings with a deep drawn frame and premium guides for increased impact resistance. If none of this makes any sense to you then know that many rods today are Multi-Modulus or Blends. Rods in the 44million to 55million modulus range, are IM8, IM9, or 40 ton fall in this category. Plenty of rod specific range for this category of rod especially if you are a fan of crank, and spinner baits like me.
The big question is how these two rods are going to stack up through an entire season of play. Will they be diverse enough for smaller species like trout, and good enough big bull reds? My typical fishing year begins in the cold where I set out to predict big trout territory and eating patterns. Trout are a funny species that can really beg for a specific action. Too much whip and a soft hookup can cause lacking hook sets. Too stiff and it is just all over the place feeling every impact of a thrashing fish which is never good when fighting trout. The Medium-Fast 7’ ACK TKS rod has a really good middle of the road action that’s perfect for this style of fish. In my opinion this model does not necessarily bend where it’s rated which is common, and that is okay because it’s slightly underrating in the right direction. On the flip side the action is just right for swim baits, but not exactly a topwater king even though it can be done. The Medium Fast 7’ ACK TKS rod is my favorite so far due the versatility to suit my needs. The ACK TKS Heavy-Fast Casting Rod 7’6″ is by far one of my longest rods and built with the same results as the 7′ minus the action. This Heavy-Fast Casting rod in my opinion would do extremely well in the bass scene. For saltwater fishing you might enjoy the action for top water, although typically we enjoy seeing this action more so on a shorter 6’6″ style rod for control and overall convenience. Now if you target oversize redfish and or black drum all the time, this rod is absolutely wonderful! It has just the right amount of sensitivity, strong and high backbone along with enough reach to get those larger than life baits.
The durability of these rods have exceeded my expectations especially when comparing them within their respectable class. I’m hard on my gear, and I’ll admit to neglecting my rods occasionally. The ACK TKS rods have held up to the hyper saline waters of the Laguna Madre. I always tell folks to think of fishing rods like a living breathing document that continue to be tweaked, twisted, and translated differently as technology improves. These rods are some of the best I’ve tested within this price range and I think it’s important to back that up by simply saying that I’ve trusted them even on my highest challenges this year. They have a handful of wins in 2020. I trusted them to help me win the South Texas Winter Classic. The Biggest Redfish on the IFA Kayak Fishing Tour, plus a handful of other top 3 finishes this year. They are still going strong and continue to land some of the largest species offered on the Texas coast.