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  • Writer's pictureWoody

The Digital Fishing Rod Arrives

A look at the Abu Garcia Virtual Rod

Get connected with your fishing. The Abu Garcia® Virtual™ rod is the world’s first integrated fishing rod that makes it easier to digitally log your catches with the simple push of button. Simply pair the rod with your smartphone via Bluetooth and the ANGLR app. When fishing, a simple click of the integrated button in the butt end of the rod records your catch with location, weather and water data to fully document the catch in your personal and private log book. The data is stored for reviewing and analyzing to make your days on the water more successful!

No, the Abu Garcia Virtual Rod is not an imaginary fishing rod that you can only see on-screen.

Instead, it’s a real, digitally-enabled rod in your hand that connects to a data storage base in your smartphone and your Lowrance sonar/GPS, so that you can record your catches without ever putting down the rod.

No kidding, it actually does that.

I’m not generally much for gadgets and gizmos in fishing, but this is one techie gimmick that people might actually use.

Many of us vow to log our catches to instruct our fishing later, but we rarely stick to it—the notepad and pen is an awkward combination when the fish are biting, and your scribbles tend to be unreadable later, especially after the paper gets a bit of water on it. Forget trying to go home and enter all the stuff into some sort of usable data-base—most of us just won’t do it. Even getting out your phone to log a catch soon becomes burdensome for all but the most compulsive record-keepers.

The Virtual Rod digitizes the whole process, making it a lot more likely to be of real, lasting use. Just click a button built into the butt of the rod to record data, including location. It’s designed for use with the ANGLR app, available for your smart phone free online.

When paired via Bluetooth, the app allows info recorded on the rod to jump via your smartphone wifi hotspot to your Lowrance chart recorder/sonar, so it’s immediately useful data that you can refer back to on future trips or when you return to the same area later in the day.

Operation is simple enough even for those of us who are tech dinosaurs. (You won’t have to call your grandson to make it work, in other words.)

Simply pair the rod with your smartphone via Bluetooth and the ANGLR app in a one-time setup operation. The online setup guide is detailed enough for most of us to get it right the first time through, but the company has a good online help service, free, if you need a bit of coaching.

When you get out on the water, a click of the button in the butt end of the rod records your catch with location and water data to document the catch in your personal and private log book. The data is stored for reviewing and analyzing later.

The rod butt cap is a bit larger than normal, but otherwise you’d never know this is not a conventional “dumb” rod. Press a button integrated into the rod butt to record catches, double-click to drop editable waypoints at their exact location on the Lowrance and press and hold the button to indicate a change in tackle. The action to record a catch compiles location, weather and water data, while enabling the phone’s camera to add a photo.

Each blank is made with 30-ton graphite for a lightweight balanced design and has stainless steel guides with polished zirconium inserts. The blank is natural graphite color, the wraps and trim lime green.

These are good rods even if you forget about the electronics, with minimal weight for their power, good tip action and a nice feel. The exposed reel seat gives your hand increased blank contact for improved sensitivity in finesse fishing. The grip is EVA foam—I prefer cork, but the foam is tough and gives a good grip. The reel seat has a micro click hood design that should keep the reel in place permanently once tightened down.

They’re available in spinning in 6’6”, 6’9” and 7’ lengths and in several different actions suitable for bass, walleye and inshore saltwater species like trout and reds. In baitcasters, lengths are 6’9”, 7’, 7’3”, 7’4” and 7’6”, in actions from medium to heavy, mostly aimed at bass anglers but also suitable for inshore saltwater including snook, stripers and baby tarpon.

The Virtual Rod has a 2-year battery life and functions regardless of cell service.

You can make your info public for crowd-sourcing if you like, but I’m guessing a lot of anglers won’t do that—sharing your honey hole is just not in the DNA of most of us. It comes set to private use so there’s no risk of accidentally revealing your favorite spot.

All models are $129.95, which would be a good price for a rod of this quality even without the electronics. (Might make a good Father’s Day gift for some.)

Visit Abu-Garcia here for details: (The company says their interrupted supply chain will be back in action by June 1 on these rods, but you can probably find them in stock at Bass Pro Shops and other vendors.)

You can see the ANGLR app HERE

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