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Okuma’s New Dead Eye Rods

By Mark Romanack

The author gets to spend lots of quality time testing
out Okuma rods and reels. The new Dead Eye
series of walleye specific rods are among his
favorites for all things walleye fishing.
Being a member of the outdoor media has some perks. One of those is getting my hands on new products months and sometimes years before these goods go to market. Recently I was invited to help Okuma develop a new line of species specific rods aimed at the growing walleye market. Known as the Dead Eye series, these rods represent all the popular lengths, models and actions walleye fishermen covet.

The process of developing a complete line-up of fishing rods is no simple matter. Dozens of anglers like myself, sales reps, factory personnel and rod designers are involved from start to finish. Okuma began this project by asking resource people to identify all the different rod types and actions walleye enthusiasts routinely use. From that rather lengthy list, Okuma began the process of narrowing down the focus to a manageable amount of specific rods aimed at the most popular and productive walleye fishing presentations.

The types, lengths and actions necessary for many of these presentation specific rods were already part of the Okuma line up of fishing rods. In this case popular rods like the IM8 graphite EVx series were used as a foundation to build upon.

In other cases no suitable rods were readily available forcing Okuma to design new actions from scratch. This process begins by building a prototype and then tweaking that prototype again and again until the desired results are achieved.

When the dust had settled the Okuma Dead Eye series involved 23 different rods designed for fishing situations a walleye angler is likely to encounter.

In the spinning category there are several rod lengths and actions ideal for vertical jigging, casting jigs, slip sinker rigging, fishing floats and casting small or light crankbaits. Both one and two piece rods are included in the spinning line up and all of these rods are based on super sensitive IM8 graphite blanks.

In the baitcasting category the Dead Eye series includes an all purpose rod ideal for fishing jigging spoons, casting crankbaits and fishing bottom bouncers. Unique rods in this category include two models aimed specifically at fishing bottom bouncers and an extra long and soft action baitcasting rod designed for the very popular “Slow Death” presentation that has taken walleye fishing by storm in recent years. These rods are a combination of different graphite modulus blanks.

Okuma didn’t overlook trolling presentations with the Dead Eye series. In this category anglers will find rods ideal for trolling with in-line boards, lead core fishing and also special models for fishing planer board mast systems. The trolling rods are built from fiberglass and fiberglass composite rod blanks ideally suited to the rigors of trolling.

The Dead Eye series includes rods specific to all
the popular walleye presentations including jigging,
trolling, bottom bouncer fishing and even
slow death fishing.
The first field tests for the new Dead Eye series took place in northwestern Ontario,  a region widely known as hosting North America’s top walleye fishing destinations. The jigging rods were put to the test on the Jackfish River catching walleye on nearly every cast. Chad Thompson of Pasha Lake Cabins,  was kind enough to share with us what he calls the “Walleye Dream Trip”. From an anchored position we casted jigs and caught walleye from 17-24 inches almost at will! Hundreds of walleye were landed during the day long excursion and all the spinning models were put to the test.

A week later we packed up the Dead Eye rods and traveled to Nakina where we boarded a float plane and headed to Leuenberger’s Kag Lake Lodge,  one of my favorite fly-in walleye fishing destinations. For the next six days a group of eight hard core walleye anglers field tested the spinning, baitcasting and trolling models.

The total number of walleye caught during this six day intensive testing was staggering. Based on observations made at these two field testing opportunities, the final tweaks were made and a finished version of the Dead Eye rods created for the walleye market.

Of the 23 rods in the series, several jumped out at me as “must have” rods for the walleye enthusiast. In the spinning category a DE-S-661ML performed flawlessly for a wide variety of jig fishing presentations. A close second to this rod is the DE-S-701ML.

In the baitcasting category I was blown away by the DE-CBR-862MT telescopic bottom bouncer rod. Despite the extra length, this rod is light enough to hand hold or it can be fished in a rod holder or in cooperation with a planer board, making it the most versatile bottom bouncer rod I’ve ever fished. The telescopic design allows the rod to fit in the rod locker of any fishing boat.

The DE-CSD-1062M Slow Death rod is also very unique. The extra length and slow action is ideally suited to this super slow trolling presentation. When a fish bites, the soft tip telegraphs the strike. The backbone of the Slow Death rod kicks in once a fish is hooked, making it almost impossible for a fish to throw the hook. The telescopic design makes it easy to stow this extra long rod even in small fishing boats.

In the trolling category the DE-C-861MT telescopic is the ideal trolling rod for fishing in-line planer boards. Perfectly suited to fishing crankbaits, spoons or spinners, this rod is a real keeper.
Last, but certainly not least, the DE-CBB-701ML Big Board Rod is as close to perfection as I’ve seen in a rod designed for fishing planer board mast systems. Charter captains and others who fish walleye often using big boards will find this rod is soft enough in the tip to telegraph strikes, yet has enough backbone to land the largest fish. Ideal for trolling with either monofilament, fluorocarbon or super braid lines, this model is going to be a top seller.

Anglers who appreciate walleye fishing will no doubt find the new Dead Eye series exciting. This new line up of fishing rods features something for every walleye fisherman and every walleye fishing application. The new Dead Eye rods are being shipped to dealers this fall and should  be in wide distribution before Christmas time. Hint, hint.