High or Low Mount Reel Seats for Salmon Surf Fishing Rods
A decade or so ago every salmon angler fished their free-spool salmon/surf outfit with the reel in the traditional position some 500 to 600 mm from the rod butt. For whatever reason rods began to appear with the reel seat located just a couple of inches from the butt. At first glance by the uninitiated, this seems very strange indeed. The advantage of the low reel mount position is that casts can be made to travel much longer distances. Low-mounts cast further, all things being equal. Low-mount, I feel, is more comfortable to cast with. Once you get used to the low reel mounting position there is no going back.
However, with low-mounts, once the cast is made there is really only one way you can hold the rod to retrieve your line. This is with the rod butt placed against your leg, hip or stomach. One hand winds the reel, and the other must be placed at least 400mm up the rod to take the weight. Some use a small rod bucket to keep the butt in place, but otherwise, hand positions on a low mount rod are limited. You can’t tuck the rod butt under your arm as you can with the high reel seat position. You also can’t stick the butt under alternate arms to relieve the boredom or aching muscles!
Low-mounts have really only become possible with the advent of very lightweight yet long (12ft) rods. With low-mounts, the whole weight of the rod acts as a lever out in front of you. Unless weight is kept to a minimum they can be very fatiguing to fish with.
I have found that the total rod weight needs to be about 530gm (1 lb 2 oz) or less to be truly comfortable fishing into the surf all day; the lighter the better. Composite Developments produce a 12-foot salmon-surf rod that is just 402gm (14oz). This is very light and makes the rod excellent for sustained fishing over long periods.
If your rod has the old high-mount position it may be possible to have a second low-mount reel seat glued in place by the staff at a good tackle store. You can do this yourself if you are good at such things. You can either leave the original reel mount in place or have it removed.
Having tried both, I’m now a firm believer in lowmounts for salmon/surf rods