I know what you’re thinking – you’re wondering what on earth this device is and what it does!
Well, it’s called a Gunnell Rod, and it has two main advantages over a traditional rod. First, it allows anybody to land a big fish, regardless of the angler’s strength, size or ability. Secondly, it makes it much easier to fish in rough conditions, as you can just hang onto the handle with one hand and wind with the other. You can switch between left and right hand operation, and the GR will rotate to follow fish movement. The GR is compact and can easily be stored away. You just take it out when you have inexperienced guests, or when conditions get sloppy. It’s also handy when you want to float out a pilly while flicking plastics, and can recover a teaser quickly. Designer Jason got the idea from deck winches. “Alvey deck winches are great for deep water fishing, but I wanted something more versatile,” he explained. “The GR lets you use any reel you like, although overheads suit it best. You can use the smallest overheads right up to any of the large 50s or 80s.” Jason says you can also use electric reel for ultimate ease of operation, although that’s something I haven’t tried yet.
I first tested the Gunnell Rod on a memorable trip with Norval Charters on the Coral Sea. I love my reef fishing, and I couldn’t wait to try a device that was so unusual. When I got a chance to have a drop, I sent down a pilly on a running rig with a circle hook. Then I left it and got on with my main job, which was photographing other anglers with their catches. I came back and found the Gunnell Rod had hooked something, and I casually wound in a keeper red emperor – not bad for a first fish.
Young gun Kyal Hunt had a turn next, and he brought in more tasty reefies. It was all a breeze with the GR, which took the weight of the fish. Of course, being experienced and (more or less) fit, Kyal and I didn’t technically need the GR, but hey – there’s nothing wrong with bringing in a steady stream of reefies without getting tired. It’s also satisfying in poor conditions to have that handhold, enjoying the sight of everyone else lurching around while you calmly wind in fish. The best thing about this device though is the experiences it gives children and other people who lack strength, know-how or both. Jason has had many rewarding trips with people who wouldn’t normally be able to land prize catches. “Once we took out a young kid called Levi who had cerebral palsy and had never fished,” Jason said. “The Gunnell Rod allowed him to get his first fish, and I’ll never forget his excitement.” Kids can also use the GR for small species. My 2-year-old and 4-year-old can’t drop it in the drink, and they can happily hang on while winding in whiting that have hooked themselves on circles.
The Gunnell Rod is stainless steel and built tough, and has a SRP of $370. If you’d like to see it in action, look up Gunnell Rod on YouTube, or check them out on Facebook.