In 2012, Shane Cox took a chance on a company and an industry that he loves. He purchased Hammer Fishing Rods and set out to grow its brand through local tournaments on Pickwick Lake. These American-made rods are now grabbing the attention of anglers across the country.
Of course, here at FLW we had to get our hands on a few to see how Hammer ranks against the industry’s best rod manufacturers. We reviewed the 7-foot, 3-inch, medium-heavy Lady Angler Rod Series. Don’t let the name fool you, guys. This rod fits in the arsenal of any angler.
Here is what we found.
Picking up a Hammer Rod for the first time, I was impressed with its simple design. Every piece on this blank has a purpose, with no extra carry-on luggage to weigh it down.
For instance, there is no fore grip. Many rod manufacturers use this design, and I really like it. The Fuji reel seat is nothing fancy, but the exposed-blank design allows you to feel the rod while fishing and won’t exert constant pressure on your inner hand for comfortable, all-day use.
The rods are wrapped with Fuji micro guides. I’ve been on the micro-guide bandwagon for a long time now, and I still think it’s the way to go for most rods and techniques. The guides are tapered starting with a larger, double-footed first guide to absorb the pressure of the line during a hookset. From there, working up the rod, the guide size quickly shrinks to standard micro guides.
All the rods feature a spit grip made by Winn Grips, which has manufactured golf club grips for years and has been in the fishing industry for half a decade or so. Lew's and other rod manufacturers are also using Winn Grips on rods.
This was my first experience using Winn technology. The grips feel very tacky, and gripping the rod feels a little like gripping a golf club. The casting grip is thin but not too thin. I still haven’t found the perfect size grip, but this rod feels confortable in my hand when paired with a Lew's Tournament Pro baitcasting reel.
The last part of the rod is the butt grip. I make every cast two-handed, so this is an important part of the rod for me. The grip is a 1 1/2 inches long, which is on the small end. I prefer a large grip that gives me more to hold on to during a cast.
However, I eventually got used to it, and the size didn’t affect the overall fishability of the rod.
There is a size rod for every technique and bait on the market. I focused my test on the 7-foot, 3-inch, medium-heavy Lady Angler rod but also spent a little time using a heavier model – the 7-foot, 3-inch, heavy rod from Hammer’s All-American Elite series. Stripped down, the two series are identical. Only the cosmetics vary.
An important thing to note is that both rods have a different action than what I believe most anglers are used to using. My interpretation of the medium-heavy is that it fishes more like a medium-power rod, and the heavy is more like a medium-heavy. Keep this in mind if you are ordering a Hammer Rod for the first time.
The difference in the way the rods feel compared to what’s “standard” is partially because these rods have a very parabolic action. Similar to a Halo or Fitzgerald rod, they load up clear down the blank and not just through the upper third. Many anglers are starting to realize you don’t need a broomstick to drive the hook into the fish and are opting instead for parabolic rods that really load up. A parabolic rod can also increase the chances of landing a fish during a long drawn-out battle to the boat because it can give when a fish surges, and the long bend maintains constant pressure on the fish.
Casting a bait with a parabolic rod is a dream. Using the 7-foot, 3-inch, medium-heavy Lady Angler rod I was able to cast a Strike King 6XD with ease. The rod loads up on the backswing and rockets the bait forward with little effort. If you need to make long casts this rod will do the trick.
If you prefer a bigger rod for cranking or are looking for a rod to handle the “magnum” crankbaits that have become popular recently, Rayovac FLW Series angler Brandon Perkins suggests the 7-foot, 11-inch Hammer. It’s the rod he used to bomb a Strike King 6XD for three days en route to finishing runner-up at the 2015 FLW Series Championship.
October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Cox says the company sold out of its pink-handled Lady Angler Rod Series. Cox is currently taking pre-orders for when the next shippment arrives. As mentioned, the only difference between the Lady Angler and the All-American Elite is the cosmetic finish. The Lady Angler has pink grip highlights and pink wraps around the guides, while the All-American Elite has red. I haven’t seen too many quality pink rods on the market. The Lady Angler is the exception.
The 7-foot, 3-inch, medium-heavy Lady Angler rod worked well as a cranking rod and could also be used as a jerkbait rod. The 7-foot, 3-inch, heavy All-American Elite rod that I used for a shorter period of time is more versatile and could be used for fishing a football jig, Texas rig, Carolina rig, swimbait, ChatterBait, spinnerbait or buzzbait. Overall, I was impressed with this American-made rod company. With a limited lifetime warranty on all its rods, Hammer offers a great option for a serious tournament angler.
Company: Hammer Fishing Rods
Series: Lady Angler
Power: medium heavy
Length: 7 feet, 3 inches
Warranty: limited lifetime warranty (After first year of ownership, a $25 service fee will be required before return shipment of rod.)