Review: TICA “Downrigger Special”

By on February 28, 2018

Like many Northwest salmon fishermen, I no-doubt have a lot more fishing tackle than I really need to do the job, but I try not to let that stop me from adding to my arsenal every time I walk into a tackle store or fire up the desktop to do a little online foraging. After all, can we really have too many toys?

I would have to say that my personal weakness is rods, and I would guess that I’ve probably accumulated, sold off or traded, then re-accumulated, somewhere in the neighborhood 200 to 250 of them over more than six decades of fishing. That number includes everything from two-foot ice-fishing rods and ultralight panfish sticks to giant clubs for taming oversize sturgeon and monster halibut, but a good many of them have been salmon rods; my quest for the perfect mooching rod, diver rod, jigging rod, spinner rod, plug rod, back-bouncing rod and most any other salmon rod you could think of has gone on for much longer than I can remember.

Terry Rudnick with a victim of his TICA Downrigger Special rod.

Terry Rudnick with a victim of his TICA Downrigger Special rod.

It should be pointed out right here that tackle technology is largely responsible for my salmon-rod addiction (I can’t blame it all on my inability to just say no). Rod manufacturers keep making more and better products, stuff that’s better suited to the job of catching fish, so folks like me (us) have to keep on buying it.

One of those manufacturers of more and better tackle is TICA, whose rods (and reels) I’ve been using for much of my saltwater fishing since early 2016, and whose new Downrigger Special rods have become standard equipment on my boat over the past year or so. I would guess that I’ve used maybe a dozen different downrigger rods, but in a year’s time the Downrigger Special has become my favorite. From tip to butt, it’s built the way a downrigger rod should be built, and it’s a perfect fit for the kinds of fishing we do, whether we’re after coho 30 feet below the surface or trying to dredge up big summer chinook from 200 feet of water out in the open ocean. At the risk of sounding like an advertisement, I’d say that it’s a rod designed specifically for the down-and-dirty job of catching big fish from big water.

TICA’s Striper LE200 and LE201 (left-hand retrieve) reels are a good match for their Downrigger Special rods.

There are two rods in TICA’s Special line: a medium action (for line weights 10 to 20 pound) and medium-heavy (line weights 12 to 25 pound). Both are 10 ½ feet long, two-piece, moderate action. Since it’s a little better suited to the wide range of fishing I do—from deep-water trolling for summer chinook out of Westport or on Swiftsure Bank to fishing 40 feet down in south Puget Sound—I like the medium-heavy model. The medium-action rod, though, should work well for such fisheries as winter blackmouth, summer coho and pinks that are holding at medium depths, or even trolling for deep-water kokanee in places like Lake Chelan.

Both rods are made of high-modulus graphite (75 percent) and fiberglass composite and feature 15 Zirconia ring guides and a Fuji Hardloy ring tip guide, EVA rubber, non-slip diamond wrap front and rear grips and a stainless steel hook keeper. Perhaps the most unique feature of the two Downrigger Special rods is their bright-blue color. To tell the truth, I wasn’t crazy about that at first, but (I soon learned that when I have other people fishing with me and yell out “Fish on the blue rod!” they know exactly where to turn their attention.

Even the price of these two rods is pretty special. You get a lot of rod for $100, so I’m likely to be running one on both sides of my boat this season.

TICA, by the way, also makes a line of all-fiberglass downrigger rods that are worth taking a look at. For more information on their complete line of rods and reels for fresh and salt and fresh water fishing, go to

Terry Rudnick
Terry Rudnick is a freelance outdoor writer and photographer specializing in Pacific Northwest hunting, fishing, and boating. He is the author of the seminal volume "Washington Fishing," and co-author of the award-winning books "How to Catch Trophy Halibut" and "Washington Boating and Water Sports." Rudnick has received more than two-dozen awards for his writing and photography, including the Silver Trout Award and the Ken McLeod Journalism Award.