Great relationships are mutually beneficial. Case in point: Since beginning to design rods for Lew’s in late 2016, Mark Rose has used the company’s rods to win back-to-back FLW Tour events, and Lew’s has benefitted from his expertise in the design of a successful series of ledge-fishing-specific rods. Among the rods, which are part of the Team Lew’s Custom Pro Speed Stick Series, is the Mark Rose Ledge Series Small Crankbait Rod, which I recently reviewed. It’s a premier offering that is wicked sweet and a real joy to fish.
Measuring up at 7 feet, 6 inches long, the Small Crankbait Rod isn’t that small on the spec sheet, but it doesn’t feel really big in hand. Due to a little bit longer handle than normal, the rod is far from unwieldy, and it’s so light and balanced that you’d be hard-pressed to think of it as a truly “big” rod.
The butt is an odd-looking combo of foam and cork. I’m not a huge fan of the look, but it is very comfy to hold and fish, which is far more important. The reel seat is a pretty standard feel-through model that is comfortable and very solid. The rest of the rod is sleek and dark with gold accents. Everything on it has held up admirably well through a couple months of moderate fishing.
When I think of a ledge rod, I don’t really think small crankbaits. Mark Rose probably doesn’t live and die offshore with small crankbaits that much either, but they’re excellent tools closer to the bank, and this rod is great for them. It flat launches a Rapala DT 6, and you can fish a pretty wide variety of square-bills and medium-running crankbaits with ease. I’ve experimented with casting a 1/8-ounce crankbait like the rod is rated for, but I’m just not that good. That said, the rod truly has a lot of range, from the small end of a ¼-ounce Luhr-Jensen Speed Trap up to the Strike King 5XD or a Rapala DT 10.
Though the rod casts extremely well, it probably isn’t going to be a close-quarters go-to for most people due to its length. That said, I used to do most of my square-bill fishing with an 8-foot rod, so I’m kind of digging slinging a 7-6 around for closer stuff. I just think most people will probably prefer a shorter rod for picking apart laydowns with square-bills. Yet it can definitely be pressed into service on that side of things if need be.
In addition to being a capable square-bill stick, it’s also quite nice for jerkbaits. Again, some folks will prefer a shorter rod for less bait movement, but it casts a Megabass Vision 110 very well and really feels good. The handle is just a touch thicker than average, which I never noticed when casting and winding, but once I started jerking more I picked up on it. I think I could get used to it, but my usual jerkbait stick has a slimmer butt, and I think that’s just more comfortable for my hands.
I’ve also fiddled with the rod for topwaters, and I think it has a place there too. Because of the parabolic action, it soaks up the lack of stretch from braid really well. With braid, it will cast a walking bait a country mile, and the rod is light enough that it’s comfortable to walk the dog with despite the length. I’ve even chunked around a medium-sized wake bait with it, and that was fun too.
To me, the ideal crankbait rod lets you feel the bait pretty well and doesn’t lose fish. The Mark Rose Ledge Series Small Crankbait Rod has a nice combination of crispness at the tip for feel and softness throughout to keep fish buttoned up, and I can’t say that I’ve lost one on it yet.
Because it’s lighter than what I’d consider to be a 6XD rod, it’s not much for swinging fish, but you probably shouldn’t be swinging that many on a crankbait anyhow.
Checking in at $240, the Mark Rose Ledge Series Small Crankbait Rod is a premium offering that does what it should perfectly and several other things very well. If you’re balking at the price, note that it does come with a limited lifetime warranty, which should make the purchase a little easier. If you do decide to pull the trigger you’re getting a heck of a stick. I really love it, and I can say for sure that it’s going to be a part of my arsenal for as long as I have it.
Series: Team Lew’s Custom Pro Speed Stick
Model: Mark Rose Ledge Series Small Crankbait Rod
Warranty: Limited lifetime warranty