I'm incredibly thankful for your allowing me to try your gear, Mark, and to write it up! Your trust and confidence mean a lot, and I hope to try some of your equipment again one day.
BLUF (aka the spoiler): The newest version of the OTB10 is an exceptionally well-built and versatile rod. At 10' and two pieces, it plays very well with set rigs and throwing lures in the surf. Though rated for 1-4oz, I threw a lighter ½ oz topwater with smooth results. It is a great rod to add if you're looking for something under the 12' range and a dual-threat style rod.
The Over The Bar series of rods come in sizes (now 10') 12' and 13' where you can attach either a conventional or spinning reel to them. They are both more directed at the conventional style, and I've found that on the 10', the bite detection showed no difference in either type. I genuinely feel that these rods will handle both reels just fine, and like that, this will be excellent for any angler that may utilize either style. For information about these rods, contact Mark Burford at Floridasurftackle@gmail.com
When I tested version one of the OTB 10', I found it a bit stiffer than I would like for a rod that size. The initial view of the 10' Over The Bar rod I was to test is a stylish and mid-range rod. It looks like the other Over The Bar rods I have seen but a smaller version. I noticed that the lower portion of the rod did not have a guide eye, which I found strange, and wondered if it would have any adverse effects on casting a spinning reel. The tap test showed a very short reverberation with a moderate tap, believing that the rod would be a fast-style tip. Bend test showed strong rigidity and great bounce back to normal position.
Its castability was ok, and the bite detection was just fine. The initial view of the 10' Over The Bar rod I was to test is a stylish and mid-range rod, and it looks like the other Over The Bar rods I have seen but a smaller version. I noticed that the lower portion of the rod did not have a guide eye, which I found strange, and wondered if it would have any adverse effects on casting a spinning reel. The tap test showed a very quick reverberation with moderate tap, believing that the rod would be a fast-style tip. Bend test showed strong rigidity and great bounce back to normal position.
I fished it in both the Atlantic and the Gulf with no issues for fishing ability. I caught little croakers and a solid bull red drum with no problems. The bite detection was precisely what I had hoped it would be in that it did report when the small fish were nibbling away. The bull red was a solid fight, and I felt every pull and headshake the whole way in. So its abilities were never in question after that.
Mark already knew about everything I told him in my initial report and had plans for Version 2 in the works. He sent me V2 not too long after receiving them from the factory, and the differences were staggering! The new rod looked the same but felt different in many ways, and for the better too! The tap test showed an even better reverberation giving it a more "fast" style tip though it is a Medium/Moderate. The grip diameter felt a little smaller, and the shrink-wrap was perfect! I was excited to get this rod fishing ASAP!
I brought both my Penn Conflict 2 5K and a Piscifun Chaos XS (which is junk IMO, and a review will be coming in on that this year) to see how they worked. The Piscifun cast pretty weakly, and the distance was subpar. I took it off after a couple of outings and went back to the Conflict 2. The casting was out much further (90-110 yards) and felt significantly smoother this time. Bite detection had increased a little as I pulled in some small whiting and baby catfish after seeing the wiggle, and these were extremely tiny.
While throwing set rigs, I found that a 3 oz was a great preload zone for it, but the 4 oz was just fine if you needed that heavier weight on those rough days. Dropping it into the same zone was much easier than V1 and closer to the +/- 5 yards differential. Catching was a lot of fun on this rod as well. During the recent "Goodbye Pompano Blast" tournament hosted by Lost Key Outdoors, I was able to snag a sweet 16" whiting on the OTB. Sadly, it wasn't the winner, but it hit my PB/PR box. I thought it was a red drum with the way it was shaking, and the OTB10 rolled that fish smoothly upon the sand.
This time around, though, I wanted to test its ability to fish. I brought out some spoons and jigs to get a feel for it. I put on a 2 oz spoon and started casting to feel distance and retrieve one evening and was double rewarded. The distance was a sweet 60-75 yards, and the rod's action moved the spoon as I needed. No over bending or snapback was noticed. While doing this, though, I had the drag down to max to get the most distance, and on one retrieve, I hooked up on something that was in the mood to fight and fight hard! After a good two or three minutes (and no drag manipulation), I pulled in my a 19" fat Bluefish (PB time!). The rod didn't overwork and was easy to control the entire time.
Next round, a 1 oz spoon. Distance dropped as expected, but it still was in the surf and rolling in smoothly. No fish caught this time, but that was expected as I was throwing and not trying to catch on it. The tip didn't bounce or overdraw the lure through each time. Now, while all of this is going well, I decided to go outside of its normal range of lures (1 – 4 oz), putting on a ½ oz topwater. Castability dropped as expected but not to the level I thought it would be. It was just slightly shorter than the 1 oz spoon. It pulled the topwater perfectly, darting side to side and making a lot of noise. After a few times doing this, I expected to see some wind knots since it was lighter than the recommended range and found none! Bonus, I didn't feel any significant fatigue using this rod as a lure/jigging rod as I did with V1.
The weight and action of the rod are an excellent balance to use both as a set rig rod and for throwing lures in the surf. The added ability to use either a spinning or conventional reel is also an outstanding feature. From the surf to the piers, the OTB10 is an excellent choice to add to your arsenal of rods.