As an avid fisherman with over 20 years of experience, I’ve had the chance to test out hundreds of fishing rods for different applications and environments. For offshore and deep sea fishing, having the right jigging rod can make all the difference in fighting and landing fish.
Recently, I took a trip to Maui to battle tuna, mahi-mahi, and other pelagic species. For this trip, I decided to test out the Penn Rampage Jigging Rod to see how it performed for vertical jigging in deep waters. After multiple fishing trips jigging along ledges and reefs, I can confidently say this rod excels in heavyweight jigging applications.
Overview of the Penn Rampage Jigging Rod
The Penn Rampage Jigging Rod is purpose-built for vertical jigging. With its 1-piece graphite composite blank, Fuji guides, EVA grips, and rubber gimbal, this rod is lightweight yet strong enough for deep drops. The moderate fast action is ideal for working heavy jigs vertically while still feeling subtle bites.
Here are some key features and specifications:
- Rod Lengths: 6’2”, 6’6”, 7’0”
- Rod Power: Medium or Medium Heavy
- Rod Action: Moderate Fast
- Line Rating: 30lb to 130lb
- Lure Rating: 2oz to 20oz
- Rod Material: Graphite Composite Blank
- Guides: Fuji Aluminum Oxide with Stainless Steel Frames
- Reel Seat: Heavy Duty Graphite
- Grips: EVA Split Grip
- Hook Keeper: Yes
Testing the Rampage Jigging Rod in Hawaii
During my trip to the islands, I was able to test the 30-80lb model in both the 6’6” and 7’0” lengths. We targeted a variety of offshore species by vertical jigging along ledges and underwater structure.
The conditions included deep water from 80ft to 150ft deep. We used heavy butterfly and Williamson jigs from 8oz to 16oz to reach depth and attract strikes. Species included Yellowfin Tuna up to 50lbs, Mahi-Mahi to 25lbs, and various Jackfish.
I paired the Rampage rod with a Shimano Talica 25 reel loaded with 80lb braided line. This combo was lightweight, balanced, and had the backbone needed for heavyweight jigging.
Over the 2 week trip, I was able to dial in the performance of the Rampage Jigging rod in real offshore fishing conditions. Here is my detailed review:
These rods are rated for medium to medium heavy power, which was perfect for the jig sizes and species we targeted. They had enough backbone and lifting strength to rip fish from deep waters but still had some give to avoid pulling hooks.
Dropping 8oz to 12oz jigs straight down 150ft then ripping them upwards took serious power – which the Rampage had no problem delivering. Once hooked up, I could easily lift most fish from depth.
When a 50lb tuna hit, the rod could handle the bulldogging runs and head shakes without giving up much line. Overall, the power was right where you need it for serious vertical jigging applications.
The moderate fast action was another highlight of this rod. The tip was soft enough to feel subtle bites on the drop, but stiff enough to drive solid hooksets home.
When jigging, I felt everything – from the light taps of small Jacks to the crushing bites of Yellowfin Tuna. The action let me distinguish fish taps from the bottom. Yet when I swept back hard, the backbone engaged to drive home the hook.
The action also helped keep most fish pinned after the hookset. With the softer tip, the rod cushioned head shakes and runs instead of pulling hooks free.
Overall, the action makes this rod very versatile. It’s both sensitive for feeling bites and strong for staying tight to fish.
Sensitivity and Balance
Sensitivity is critical for vertical jigging, as most bites come as light taps and ticks as the lure flutters down. The Rampage didn’t disappoint, transmitting vibrations extremely well to telegraph when fish attacked my jigs on the drop.
The balance was also excellent, allowing me to jig comfortably all day without wearing out my arms. The rods were light enough to use finesse when needed, but had enough weight to drive solid hooksets.
Together, the sensitivity and balance make this a very fishable and comfortable rod for long days of vertical jigging. It’s precise when you need it but also powerful when big fish hit.
We put these rods through some grueling tests offshore. The graphite blank stood up to the pressure of cranking huge jigs from 150+ feet of water repeatedly. The guides and reel seat also held strong, with no loosening or breakage issues.
Despite hooking into large fish that tore off drag and made blistering runs, the rod always returned to center with no damage. The build quality is very rugged for the price point.
After many days jigging and fighting fish up to 50lbs, the rod looked and performed as new. The finish also resisted nicks and scratches well. For a budget-friendly rod, it can clearly handle abuse offshore.
Fit and Finish
For a rod under $150, the Rampage Jigging Rod punches above its weight in terms of components. The Fuji guides held up perfectly and caused no line issues. The aluminum oxide inserts stood up to heavy drag and abrasion from braided line.
The EVA grips also performed excellently, providing a comfortable and slip-free grip when fighting fish. The rubber gimbal was another nice touch, helping keep the rod secure in rod holders on rough offshore rides.
Finally, the winding finish was flawless, with no loose thread or imperfections. Overall, its impressive the quality of components Penn loaded onto this rod for the reasonable price point.
Compare Rampage with Alternatives to Consider
While the Penn Rampage makes an excellent lightweight jigging rod, there are a few other options anglers may want to consider:
Shimano Trevala Jigging Rod – Shimano’s high-end carbon jigging rods offer premium performance for a steeper price. They are extremely sensitive and powerful, but run $200+.
Daiwa Saltiga Ballistic Jigging Rod – Another top-level jigging rod known for strength and durability. Expect to pay $180+ but they are built to last seasons of offshore abuse.
Penn Regiment Jigging Rod – A step up from the Rampage, with higher-end components and advanced construction. A great middle ground around $170 MSRP.
Tsunami Trophy Series Jigging Rod – Budget friendly like the Rampage but with slightly lower quality components and guides. A good value around $100.
While pricier options like the Trevala and Saltiga will edge out the Rampage in performance, the Penn rod still holds its own remarkably well for a sub-$150 model. Unless you need premium sensitivity or ultra-fast action, the Rampage gets the job done offshore.
Penn Rampage Jig Casting Rod Final Thoughts
After extensive testing offshore, I was thoroughly impressed by the Penn Rampage Jigging Rod. For less than $150, it packs excellent performance and durability into a lightweight, fishable package.
The power was right on, allowing me to work heavy jigs effectively for tuna and other species. Sensitivity was also excellent, telegraphing light taps and tentative bites when jigging deep crushing strikes and hooksets when needed.
Finally, the components and build are high-end for a rod this affordable. After repeated usage offshore, the rod showed no signs of damage or wear. For budget-minded anglers wanting quality gear, the Rampage hits a sweet spot.
Overall, this is one of the best heavy jigging rods I’ve tested for under $150. It has the backbone and responsiveness needed for serious vertical jigging, while still being comfortable and fishable all day offshore. For light to medium duty jigging, it’s hard to beat the value and performance the Rampage provides.