Joe SillsWritten by

Okuma’s PCH Custom a Coast-to-Coast Hit

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There’s a bend in the road near Monterey, California. At this bend, the Pacific Coast Highway banks sharply towards the sea, dancing around a fuel stop flagged with red and yellow banners bearing a black horse—the West Coast home of Ferrari. Here, cutting edge cars lie in wait, preparing to stretch their carbon fiber bodies at Laguna Seca raceway, just a few miles away.

But the legendary car maker isn’t the only company testing carbon technology near the Pacific Coast Highway. On the other side of the asphalt, in the swirling Pacific, the rod engineers at Okuma designed and built one of the most advanced new saltwater rod series on the market: the PCH Custom.

“These rods were originally designed for the California market,” says Okuma Director of Product Development John Bretza. “Now, we’re discovering that there’s a lot of crossover. They’re being used in several markets on both coasts for saltwater fishing opportunities.”

Okuma’s PCH Custom series covers a 7-foot, 7.5-foot and 8 foot family of rods that, unlike many fiberglass saltwater rods, are crafted from pure 24 ton carbon blanks. The technology, Bretza says, is similar to what you see in cutting-edge bass rods. And the advantage of weight reduction means the PCH Custom is a lighter, more responsive and faster tapered rod than much of the competition in its $199 price range. “A lot of guys are fishing all day long, jigging and live baiting and using reels that are getting smaller and lighter,” Bretza adds. “The PCH Custom matches up perfectly with the trends consumers are seeing on the reel side.”

Each PCH Custom, carbon blank is infused with Okuma’s UFR technology—a system that places layers of long strand, glass fibers into the blank between the second and third tip to increase durability. “Its strictly designed to enhance the lifting power and the resistance to breakage. It gives the rod over three times the lifting force of a rod without UFR.”

That’s critical for preventing breaks in high sticking situations: the demise of most rods that fail when the tremendous strain of deep water fish, combined with an unlucky or inexperienced angler becomes too much. “Most rods break between the second and third tip,” Bretza adds.

A fishing industry first

With carbon and UFR tackling the rod’s weight and strength, Okuma is relying on an outer wrap of 3k, woven carbon to give the PCH Custom enough hoop strength to withstand crushing, and is importing thermoplastic technology (TPE) from the high performance shoe market to introduce grips that, on the 7-foot and 7.5-foot models. “It’s much more durable than hypalon, which has the same sponginess, but TPE is not as porous,” Bretza adds. “It’s the same durability you get out of the soles of tennis shoes.”

Bretza says each PCH Custom is backed by a limited lifetime warranty. “We wanted to make a statement here. At $199, we think that’s a pretty strong sales point at a time when a lot of that is changing around the industry.”

Available for dealers in May, the PCH Custom made its debut public debut at the 2017 Fred Hall Show in Long Beach. And once reps got their hands on it, pre-orders began migrating from the shores of the West Coast to the tarpon-filled waters of Florida and towards the boats of Tilefish anglers in the Northeast. Now, the PCH custom seems poised to spread those three letters thousands of miles from where the rod got its name.

PCH Custom Features:

  • 24-ton carbon blank
  • 3k woven carbon outer wrap
  • TPE, thermodynamic grip on 7 and 7.5-foot models
  • FUJI K-Concept, K Guides
  • Machined flat reel, ALPS reel seat
  • Zirconium inserts
  • Full, deep press design that wraps around and protects inserts
  • Limited lifetime warranty

Joe Sills Hi there, did you know? Each week, we curate a list of the Top 5 stories in fishing and send them right to your inbox. Reading Tackle’s Top 5 is one of the best ways to become or remain an industry expert. -Joe Sills, Digital Editor