Merwin: The Barbie Rod Challenge

So are you ready for the Barbie Challenge? Barbie rods and related cartoon-character spincast outfits for little kids are sold by the hundreds of thousands every year. You can get one at your local chain-discount store for about 10 bucks. Everybody knows about these things and experienced anglers usually regard them as a bad joke. But have you ever actually fished with one?

I have, for both freshwater bass (pictured) and saltwater stripers. A few years back I even wrote a piece about "Fishing With Barbie" that you can read here. The whole point is and was that you can learn a lot about your own fishing skills by handicapping yourself with a kiddie outfit.

The rods--usually of solid fiberglass--are plenty strong enough. As a test, I once dead-lifted 16 pounds with my Barbie rod without breaking it. And I found that fishing with these things is indeed more difficult, from casting on to setting the hook with such a short rod. Eventually, I had both experienced guides and lodge owners trying to get the rod away from me so they could try it, too. Just to see if they could do it.

I'd really love to see a high-end Barbie tournament, where 10 of the top bass pros have to compete with one another using these dinky outfits. I bet the catch rate would go way, way down. One thing you'll learn if you try this is that maybe little kids don't need that handicap either. If such tackle is so hard for an adult to use, why stick a kid with the same thing when you're trying to advance him or her in the sport of fishing?