Some of my fondest memories over the years have been spending time with and experiencing the wit and wisdom of some of fishing’s most talented and engaging personalities.
One of those people was Vic Dunaway, longtime fishing editor of the Miami Herald and a co-founding editor of Florida Sportsman Magazine. I’ll always remember his quip when someone ask him what his favorite rod was. The author and humorist with a twinkle in his eye would answer, “Any given kind.” Unfortunately, outdoor writers have been branded over the years as a group of individuals (sometimes warranted) that write favorable articles for products given to them by tackle companies hoping for a good review in the outdoor press. Dunaway could get away with that joke because he didn’t fit that mold. To Dunaway, his readers were far more important than any tackle, however it was obtained.
That memory resurfaced recently when I decided that I needed to upgrade my spinning tackle. I’d been following the advances in rod materials and design with regards to my fly tackle but I hadn’t gotten a new spinning outfit in over a decade. During a conversation about fly fishing with my good friend and tackle representative Rick Hess, I brought up my need to upgrade my spinning tackle and he mentioned a rod company whose line he was representing. I had forgotten that conversation until about a month ago when I attended the Manatee Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Association banquet in Palmetto. I thought that would be a perfect opportunity to buy a new outfit while supporting the iconic conservation organization. I purchased a new Shimano spinning reel there but never found an outfit that matched my needs.
I had heard of Bull Bay Rods but had never seen or used one when Hess told me not to buy a rod until I had a chance to try one. I instantly loved the fit and feel of the Sniper Series rod he picked and it matched my reel perfectly. On my first time out, a quick bike ride to the Longboat Pass Bridge, I caught three mackerel and was sold. The rod is beautifully made, light and responsive for all fish, has fast action and the backbone to fight bigger fish.
Bull Bay Rods was founded as a custom rod company by father and son team Kelly and Dustin Phillips in 2012. The Phillips had been disappointed in the service they had received after the breakage of some off the shelf tackle they had purchased. A few years later they partnered with Mike Anderson, host of the Reel Animals Fishing TV and Radio show, and in 2015 they launched their first custom line. Since then they have expanded into multiple lines servicing inshore, offshore and freshwater anglers. The rod Hess suggested for me was their Sniper Series that, as its name implies, was built for long, accurate casts. Although I didn’t have to pay for the rod, I made sure that there were no strings attached. I made him aware that I would never represent a product to my readers that I wouldn’t use myself. I had no problem like that with this rod. On my second outing, I sight fished a nice snook and really got to test the rod. As advertised, the rod allowed me to make an accurate cast, and when the snook hit my jig I was impressed with the way it handled the runs and jumps while telegraphing the best of the experience. I can in good faith offer a positive endorsement to my readers. Since we all have individual tastes and needs, I would advise readers to try one and make their own decisions. If you want more information on Bull Bay Rods, visit their website. You can experience the feel and purchase a rod locally at Discount Tackle in Bradenton.