Review: Bubba Blade’s Inshore Rods Deserve a Chef’s Kiss
Bubba Blade has expanded its line of inshore rods. And they’re everything you’d expect from the beloved fishing and food-focused lifestyle brand.
If you are a brand that embodies a lifestyle, you will examine the full spectrum of the lifestyle you hope to represent. And Bubba Blade’s focus on water at the table continues to expand into areas that, frankly, make sense.
In short: the new Tidal series of inshore rods of the brand reflects a salty sensibility that enhances the durability, style and performance of each rod. And designers were quick to offer the saltwater rods at various price points for Bubba devotees with shallow or deep pockets.
I had the chance to test each rod in the coastal marshes of Charleston, SC. And man, did we put these rods through their paces.
I’ll break down the casting rods and then dive into the review.
The Tidal series of coastal rods from Bubba Blade
I’m not going to lie, these guys do a hell of a job explaining the engineering behind how these coastal rods came to be. But I’m going to do it too. It’s my job, after all.
The series includes a base Tide Casting Rod ($140), one Tidal Select Fishing Rod ($200) and a Tidal Pro Fishing Rod ($330).
Overall, you have four power types to choose from in each rod: Medium, Medium Light, Medium Heavy, and Heavy. Each rod also has a few different lengths available. Each rod is available in 7′ and 7’6″, and the base model is also available in a shorter 6’10″ option.
The main difference between each option is simple: hardware and materials. The base option includes corrosion resistant steel guides and a 24 ton Toray. But upgrade to the Select model and you’re looking at corrosion-resistant Fuji components and 24/30 Toray. If you choose to get the most out of the Pro, you’re buying a rod with top-of-the-line Fuji reel seats and guides, 30T Toray graphite construction and a carbon fiber handle.
And the Bubba heritage baked into every shank is the iconic non-slip grip you’re used to seeing on his knife collection and beyond. It’s hard not to recognize the brand in the sleek design and colors of the Tidal series, but this grip certainly sells it as Bubba through and through.
The Tidal Inshore series in action
When I say our team put these rods through their paces, I mean it. During the 2 days we were on the water in Charleston, I experienced one of the most extinct peaches of my life, salty or otherwise.
You could barely throw without a bite. The rockfish were to. I thought our boat crashed the first day with around 60 fish caught – until another in our party said he brought in almost 150.
It wasn’t just rockfish. We brought back flounder, speckled trout, mutton and more. If Bubba’s rods were to show weakness, it would have happened. And yet, from the basic spinning rod to the Pro, the Tidal series has proven itself.
How the rods felt
Personally, I like to come back from rods with a lighter feel that allows for a bigger fight and rods that have a bit more spine but retain some sensitivity. It’s fun to feel the differences; those inshore fishing rods delivered on it.
We fished mostly circle hooks with no indicators, meaning it was all underwater. There was no way to rely on sight to tell what was going on. And the sensitive feel of each rod indicated whether a fish was nibbling or lit.
For clarity, I’m an earthling locked up in Montana. I’m a relatively inexperienced inshore saltwater angler, but an experienced fly fisherman, so feel is a mother tongue, although circle hooks and live bait are not.
I loved these rods. They offered enough backbone for reeling to be effective. But they also offered enough sensitivity and playability to make every fight with a fish fun and tuned.
The Pro is truly an exceptional rod, and I really tried to hook it as often as possible. The Select is a close second. And the base rod was not without impression. Each performed; the Pro simply had a wow factor. It was really fun and smooth to fish.
I will add that most of the time I forgot about the rods and just had fun. And usually, as a professional equipment tester, it’s the true love language of equipment doing what it should. These rods allowed me to take a step back and just enjoy two of the best days of fishing of my life. (Congratulations to Captain Rusty Griffin and the good people of RedFin Charters. To hit. Their. At the top.)
Final Thoughts on the Bubba Blade Tidal Inshore Rod Series
Sometimes in the gear world, you’re hesitant to try the first generation of anything. Wait for the brand to succeed, many people will say.
This is not the case with the Tidal series of coastal rods. Bubba Blade has really put time and effort into building this high quality line. His team engaged with experienced guides and anglers with extensive inshore fishing experience, they broke down the process in detail and the engineers came back with a rod the brand can truly be proud of.
It’s hard to say that there are downsides to these rods. You get what you pay for, in terms of hardware. If you fish ashore all the time and need something that will last forever, the Pro is probably the way to go. But if you’re a more casual salt angler—perhaps a Montanese with coastal dreams—the basic rod will be a good affordable option.