Phenix Redeye Travel Rod

By Jeff Johnston, Hunting & Shooting Editor

I keep a packable fishing rod behind the seat of my truck that’s perfect for poaching country club ponds when the wedding reception offers no booze and for taking on trips where there’s a chance of wetting a line.  

Why? Because it’s sad how many times I’ve been assured by a host—whether a friend or a hunting ranch operator—that he has “plenty of fishing gear,” only to find a snarled mess of Zebco reels and Snoopy rods not fit for a five-year-old when I arrive. (It’s like an African PH telling you that he has a rifle you can use for your safari, but when you get there he hands you a TC Contender in .22-250.) So I just pack my own. 

Trouble is, unlike the fly fishing world, there are not many high-quality packable (3 or 4 piece) baitcasting rods available. Bass Pro offers its Pro Qualifier Series, and it’s okay. St. Croix now offers one, and it’s decent. But recently I tried a new one from a company called Phenix Rods and found that its Redeye Travel Series is the best I’ve seen yet. 

When it’s assembled it’s very hard to tell it from a high-end one-piece. To any fly fisherman this is old news, but to hardcore bass fishermen, the revelation is like the day we landed on the moon. Basically, even though this rod lives in a 36-inch case, I don’t feel handicapped at all when using it. Unlike the Amazon travel kit specials marketed to John Candy-types, the Redeye could be used at a Lake Fork tournament in the spring. It bends uniformly throughout its length with no flat spots, and has more Fuji micro line eyelets than it needs. 

The 7-foot, 10-25# line model I chose has enough backbone to rip a hog from heavy cover, yet its composite blank and proprietary resin build make it sensitive enough to finesse a ⅜-oz. dropshot rig if I need to. And that’s basically what Phenix designed it for; a do-all baitcasting travel rod that you can use for everything from pike in Canada to largemouths in Texas and flounder in Florida. (If you’re more of a spincast or salt-water guy, the Redeye Series contains various models for those, too.)

I like that it has a minimalist grip and reel seat and that it weighs just 4.6 ounces—indicative of a high-end rod—and balanced so that it feels like even less in the hand. But what I like best is that I can sneak it in a golf bag for those times when I’m coerced into playing that horrible game. Then I laugh as I drag a heaving bucketmouth onto the 16th green while the guys on the next teebox watch, some of them appalled, others just jealous.  $299       

Pros: best packable casting rod I’ve come across; lightweight; available in various action speeds and line weights for many fishing styles and species; comes with felt-lined, ridgid travel case

Cons: will encourage you to fish at times and places you probably shouldn’t

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