The number one question I get as an ice fishing professional is, "How do I put my reel on this rod?" "You want me to spend how much money and it doesn't have a real seat?"
Yes, I want you to purchase quality, high end rods whether they are custom, or mass produced. Why? Because your results will be increased tenfold. The new revolution of fishing rods has become paramount to the ice fishing industry.
Consumers are appreciating the same quality and action as they would with open water rod presentations, though fishing through a hole with a 24" -36" fishing rod.
Back to my most common question asked. Where does the reel go, and how do I put it on? Most of the high-end rods, are designed with lighter handles. Whether, they are foam wrapped in Wynn grip, cork turned and tuned on a lathe or synthetic material.
All these handles are designed to optimize the feel and make the overall rod as light as possible. So, that is reason number one. As a consumer, you are not being cheated, you are actually getting better quality.
Now, onto question number two.
"How the heck does my reel stay on here?"
Well, this one comes down to personal preference. There are several ways to affix your reel to your handle. I will break down the products I know and their pros and cons.
Castration bands. These are probably the original method to securing a reel to a handle.
Pros: long lasting, cheap, durable.
Cons: If your handle is not designed for the bands, chances are they will score your handle and permanently indent the cork, or foam. The other issue is that if you do not have the tool, they are virtually impossible to get on.
Overall opinion, if a handle is designed for bands, or you have a hard handle, I should recommend the cold snap reel wrap tool with bands and check out their video tutorials on installing them.
Hockey tape or Electrical tape. By far this is the most common method of securing a reel onto a handle. Pros: We all have tape. It is strong and light.
Cons: Tape will usually fray or wear out. It will start to peel. The adhesive will also eat away at the cork and leave a residue on the handle. Overall opinion. As a last-ditch effort on the ice, I would use tape as a temporary solution to hold a reel in place.
Clam pro wrap. A newer product that hit the industry a couple seasons ago designed specifically for this purpose.
Pros: does exactly what it is supposed to. It is smooth, and self-adherent, waterproof.
Cons: Can Only come in blue. So matching colors is not an option.
Overall opinion. The product works well.
Medical pre-wrap. Most commonly used by tournament pros, and rod builders.
Pros: extremely lightweight, sticks to itself, no residue, cheap, waterproof
Cons: can peel back, wears out long term.
Overall opinion. This is my favorite way to secure reels onto rods. A three-dollar roll of this product will last you a long time. I like this product because it is super thin and durable still allowing you to feel everything through the rod without sacrificing any of the integrity. You can find this product at your local pharmacy or some tackle shops will carry it.
So, now your questions have been answered. Next time you are at a retailer or show, don't be afraid to pick up one of those high-end rods and tell your buddies all about how they perform better without a reel seat.