It's a word we use a bit in lure fishing especially, but in truth I am not sure exactly what it means or indeed how we might actually quantify it - "so and so rod has loads of feel" etc. - I know that I think about the amount of "feel" that I feel a particular rod gives to me for my fishing, and without a doubt I think that some rods give more "feel" than others, but recently and for various reasons I thought more about it..............
A couple of guys I have been fishing with in Ireland a fair bit this year catch more and bigger bass than I could ever hope to, and they have also switched on big time to soft plastics rigged weightless - but how much are they actually "feeling" when they are fishing these lures ? Well with the gear they are using one could argue that perhaps they aren't actually "feeling" that much, but with the fish they catch one could also argue that they're getting more than enough feedback and then some. So are we reading far too much into this whole "feel" thing anyway ?
Ger tends to fish these days with a Tenryu Red Luck Super Distance rod and Eric is almost surgically welded to his "little" Tenryu Red Luck Top Water rod - and for all the added sensitivity that many of us like to think that braid gives us, Ger sticks to mono mainlines because he does not trust braid with big fish in snaggy conditions. Now as much as these are some class rods, some lure anglers might argue that perhaps some of these red rods are not exactly overburdened with this feel thing when fishing soft plastics rigged weightless. But then these rods are doing the job for a lot of far better anglers than me, so again I need to ask, what does the whole "feel" thing actually mean ?
I know that if I am bumping say a Black Minnow at range over a sandy or muddy seabed that whatever gear I am using I am often struggling to feel the thing land back on the bottom with the sink and draw technique, but of course the closer the lure comes back to me and therefore the shorter range I am fishing it, the more I then start to feel. Now fish say a Texas rig into a rocky bottom for wrasse and it's like having a telephone in your hands with how much you can feel, and I reckon it makes little difference as regards how much I can feel when using say a high-end Graphiteleader against something decidedly budget in price like that little stunner Shimano Yasei Red Dropshot rod (review here) - a hard little weight bouncing on a hard rocky bottom is easy to "feel" however much that carbon costs.
So am I doing something wrong because I can't necessarily get a load of "feel" at long range over sand ? A thoroughly nice bloke from Wales recently played around with a few lure rods I have got here and he said that he was struggling to "feel" his weightless soft plastics on my Graphiteleader 9' Argento Nuovo (review here), whereas I reckon this stunner of a rod gives me about as much "feel" as any lure rod I have personally come across - so who is right and who is wrong ? Am I really feeling what I think I can feel ?
Well I would argue that none of us are right or wrong here, but I would also argue that many of us are perhaps reading too much into this whole feel thing (me included) - in that with all the talk of modern rods and lines and whatever, perhaps we are starting to perhaps unrealistically believe that unless every single little movement, bump, twitch and even fall of a soft plastic is not transmitting right down your potentially expensive bit of carbon, down through your arm and into your hand then we're doing something wrong - which I don't think we are. I also have a suspicion that sometimes a percentage of anglers may well almost be convincing themselves that they've got this superior level of "feel" going on when in fact they are doing no more than talking themselves into it and in fact are "feeling" as much or indeed as little as the rest of us.
And I come back to these Irish lads I have been fishing with. I'm not even sure the idea of "feel" really comes into it for them, because instead they are backing themselves and their knowledge of the marks they fish to be in the right place at the right time, and by using a lure that gets the fish going they are getting all the "feel" they need when a big bass goes and impales itself on the end of their line - which let's be honest, you'd need to be asleep not to feel it when a decent, buzzed up fish goes and grabs your lure, whatever rod you might be using. Food for thought or once again the outpourings of my overactive brain ?