bubba blade fishing rods
(Photo/Nicole Qualtieri)

Review: Bubba Blade’s Inshore Fishing Rods Deserve a Chef’s Kiss

Bubba Blade expanded its line into inshore fishing rods. And they’re everything you’d expect from the beloved fishing- and food-focused lifestyle brand.

If you’re a brand that embodies a lifestyle, you’re going to look at the entire spectrum of the lifestyle you’re hoping to represent. And Bubba Blade’s water-to-table focus continues to expand into areas that, frankly, make sense.

In short: The new Tidal Series of inshore fishing rods from the brand reflects a salty sensibility that builds durability, style, and performance into each rod. And the designers were quick to tier out the saltwater fishing rods at different price points for Bubba loyalists with shallow or deep pockets.

I had the chance to test each rod in the inshore marshes of Charleston, S.C. And man, did we put these rods to the test.

I’ll break down the spinning rods, then dive into the review.

Bubba Blade’s Tidal Series of Inshore Rods

Not gonna lie, these guys do a helluva job explaining the engineering behind how these inshore rods came to life. But I’ll take a stab at it as well. ‘Tis my job, after all.

The Series comprises a basic Tidal Spinning Rod ($140), a Tidal Select Spinning Rod ($200), and a Tidal Pro Spinning Rod ($330).

Across the board, you have four types of power to pick from each rod: Medium, Medium Light, Medium Heavy, and Heavy. Each rod also has a few different lengths available. Each rod is available in 7′ and 7’6″, and the base model also comes in a shorter 6’10” option.

The main difference between each option is simple: hardware and materials. The basic option features corrosion-resistant steel guides and 24-ton Toray. But move up to the Select model and you’re looking at corrosion-resistant Fuji components and 24/30 Toray. If you choose to max out with the Pro, you’re buying a rod with high-end Fuji reel seats and guides, 30T Toray graphite construction, and a carbon fiber handle.

And the Bubba legacy baked into each rod is the iconic nonslip grip you’re used to seeing on its knife collection and beyond. It’s hard not to recognize the brand in the slick design and colors of the Tidal series, but that handle certainly sells it as Bubba through and through.

The Tidal Inshore Series at Work

When I say our crew put these rods to the test, I mean it. For the 2 days we spent on the water in Charleston, I experienced some of the most lights-out fishing of my life, salt or otherwise.

You could barely cast without a bite. The redfish were on. I thought our boat had crushed the first day with around 60 fish caught — until another from our group said they’d reeled in nearly 150.

It wasn’t just redfish. We pulled in flounder, speckled trout, sheepshead, and more. If Bubba’s rods were going to show weakness, it would have come through. And yet, from the base spinning rod to the Pro, the Tidal Series showed out.

How the Rods Felt

bubba blade inshore fishing rods
Capt. Tony Levesque reels in a redfish on the Tidal Select rod, while Capt. Rusty nets; (photo/Nicole Qualtieri)

Personally, I enjoy toggling back from rods with a lighter feel that allows for a bigger fight and rods that have a bit more backbone but still rank some sensitivity. It’s fun to feel the differences; these inshore fishing rods delivered on that.

We fished mostly circle hooks without indicators, meaning that everything was happening underwater. There was no relying on sight to tell what was going on. And the sensitive feel of each rod indicated whether a fish was nibbling or on.

For clarity, I’m a landlubber locked in Montana. I’m a relatively inexperienced inshore saltwater angler but an experienced fly angler, so feel is a native language, though circle hooks and live bait are not.

I loved these rods. They offered enough of a backbone that reeling was efficient. But they also offered enough sensitivity and play that each fight with a fish was fun and tuned in.

The Pro really is an exceptional rod, and I definitely tried to snag it as often as I could. The Select is a close second. And the base rod was not unimpressive. Each performed; the Pro just simply had a wow factor. It was really fun and slick to fish.

I’ll add that most of the time, I forgot the rods and just had fun. And generally, as a professional gear tester, that’s the true love language of gear doing what it should. These rods allowed me to step back and simply enjoy two of the best days of fishing I’ve ever had. (Shoutout to Captain Rusty Griffin and the fine folks at RedFin Charters. Hit. Them. Up.)

Final Thoughts on the Bubba Blade Tidal Inshore Rod Series

bubba blade inshore fishing rods
Qualtieri holds a redfish caught with the Bubba Blade Tidal Pro rod; (photo/Capt. Rusty Griffin)

Sometimes, in the gear world, there’s a hesitancy to try out the first generation of anything. Wait ’til the brand gets it right, many folks will say.

That’s not the case with the Tidal Series of inshore rods. Bubba Blade really put the time and effort into building this high-quality line. Its team engaged with experienced guides and anglers with tons of inshore fishing experience, they broke down the process into minutiae, and the engineers came back with a rod that the brand can truly be proud of.

It’s hard to say that there are any cons to these rods. You get what you pay for, material-wise. If you fish inshore all the time, and you need something that’s going to last into perpetuity, the Pro is likely the way to go. But if you’re a more casual salt angler — maybe a Montanan with inshore dreams — the base rod is going to be a good, affordable option.

Nicole Qualtieri
By

Based in Montana, Nicole Qualtieri is GearJunkie's Hunt + Fish Editor. She also serves as a Board Director for Orion the Hunters Insititute, a non-profit promoting fair chase and hunting ethics nationwide. A DIY hunter, she comes from a non-traditional hunting background and began hunting and fishing in her 30s. She's been a voice for hunting, fishing, and conservation since 2014, when she got started working on the television show MeatEater. She's an avid horsewoman, bird dog aficionado, snowboarder, hiker/backpacker, food nerd, and all-around outdoorswoman. Find her online at @nkqualtieri.