He describes how it benefits his punching approach. “The most important aspects of this rod include the length and action. I prefer the longest r
He describes how it benefits his punching approach. “The most important aspects of this rod include the length and action. I prefer the longest rod available, because it picks up more line on a hookset, moves a fish away from heavy cover better, and gets the angler more vertical, over his or her lure when flipping,” says Balog. “A good punching rod should be powerful, but the action must be more parabolic than, say, a swim-jig rod, or a worm rod. It needs to flex in the midsection for one very important reason: to continue pressure during a sweeping, pull-set. When punching, it’s imperative to pull the hook into the fish, while moving it up and out of the cover all in one motion.”
For anglers new to punchin’, Balog describes it as “a viable technique year-round.” Best times are in early spring when most big fish are shallow, or when unseasonably cold winter weather pushes big bass up under mats. Yet, the technique is also great in summer and fall. Balog says, “Much of our fishing here in Florida revolves around the state of the grass, rather than the season. For instance, if left untreated, grass of all kinds will get incredibly thick by late summer, leading to awesome punching in places anglers can still access. But often times the grass is sprayed, taking away the potential for that technique. So the best time is, really, anytime there’s good, thick grass. Water type may vary, but punchin’ works in a variety of cover, from hydrilla, floating mats of hyacinth, dollar weed, and pennywort, to mud mats, tussock islands, flooded bushes and willows.”
Balog says the Victory Knockout excels here due to inherent sensitivity in the blank. “One of the biggest keys is feel. Most beginners to the technique have no idea how many fish are biting their baits. They discount the subtle taps and light bites.” SCIII+, a hybrid of St. Croix’s advanced SCIII carbon and exotic SCVI carbon, makes those subtle taps no longer indistinguishable from cover, bottom, or even panfish. Many times the bass just barley hold the bait, so feel is imperative. The Victory Series is very sensitive, despite the surprisingly low price point, and allows me to really feel what’s going on under the mat.”
The Wildcard with Andrew Ragas, Minocqua, Wisconsin
From Florida and Midwest bucketmouths to smallies of the north and beyond, it’s important to note the versatility of the Victory series. In-demand bass guide of Wisconsin’s Northwoods, Andrew Ragas, sums up that versatility in one rod, the Marshal (VTC73MHF). “I am enamored with the sensitivity and strength and amazed by the power and backbone of the Marshal. Not only is it tech-specific, but universal and multi-purpose as well; traits that I need for the typical guide trip in which numerous fishing scenarios play out over the course of a day,” says Ragas, who has access to hundreds of great smallmouth and largemouth waters in the Minocqua, Wisconsin area. While Ragas targets both species with individual technique-specific rods, sometimes it’s nice to have a jack-of-all-trades.