With all the technique specific rods available on the market today it can be quite a daunting task to decide which rod to purchase, especially when searching for a technique-specific outfit. Then after you have decided on the rod, you still need to figure out what reel to put on it.
This wouldn’t be a hard task with unlimited disposable income and we could buy a rod and reel for every technique, every day of the week and every wind and water condition. However, that is just not realistic for most of us.
To help make your rod and reel selection process easier, I got my hands on a few new combos in an effort to break down how these combos can better multi-task for you with reduced boat-deck clutter.
Fenwick Aetos And Abu Garcia ComboThe 7-foot, 6-inch medium-heavy action Fenwick Aetos paired with the Abu Garcia Revo Rocket is a great combo for tackling several different styles of presentations at once.
I am a huge fan of rods with softer tips because I have been described as a “violent” hook setter—it’s a habit that’s hard to break, but also one I’m not sure I want to change. Basically, I need a softer rod to absorb some of added momentum during my hook set, or I loose fish. The Aetos fits the bill!
After using this rod for a while I found that it worked great as a shallow, squarebill or lipless crankbait rod. While fishing a bass tournament this past spring I was ripping a lipless crank looking for prespawn fish cruising an expansive flat. I caught some dandy largemouths along with a couple of stud northern pike and this combo handled it perfectly. It has enough backbone to rip it free of brush and vegetation and with the Rocket I could cover the water fast looking for the most active fish.
If you haven’t tried the Revo Rocket you need to! It has a zippy 9.0:1 gear ratio, which is great for quickly cranking jigs back to the boat for another cast at targeted structure. Technically, it’s a slack-line reel, meaning it works great for presentations that put slack in your line such as plastics and jigs. But, it certainly has a place for horizontal baits as well. The reel makes it easy to cast most baits a mile and then retrieve at a comfortable pace without causing arm fatigue.
Don’t overlook this combo for numerous styles of crankbaits, but it can also be adequately used for vertical presentations like working a jig or Carolina-rig. Without a doubt this rod and reel has a permanent spot on the deck on my boat.
Abu Garcia Villain And Winch
The 7-foot, 1-inch medium action Abu Garcia Villain paired with an Abu Garcia Winch is a solid combo that covers numerous presentation options. With the slower gear ratio—5.4:1—I consider it a tension reel, perfectly suited for retrieving anything that requires constant movement, or swims horizontally.
In addition to the obvious crankbait applications, I have found that it also makes a great spinnerbait, swim jig, and chatterbait combo. Each of these presentations requires a slow retrieve, but need a rod with adequate backbone for a solid hookset.
Also, one of my favorite baits to be using during the summer months is 5- to 7-inch jointed wake bait. Most of the time anglers work this presentation too fast, or don’t achieve a powerful enough hook set—the Villain/Winch combo fixes that problem.
One of Quantum’s hottest rod and reel—and for good reason—is the Quantum EXO Tour PT rod in a 7-foot, 6-inch heavy version married to a Quantum Tour MG in a 7.0:1 ratio, which is a slack reel meant for quickly picking up line to set the hook or finish the retrieve for the next cast. But, that’s not all it’s good for.
If you want a lightweight rod that comes standard with amazing sensitivity, this is the rod for you. When you go light on a rod, durability usually gets sacrificed. That is not the case with the EXO Tour PT—it’s as tough as nails, yet light as a feather.
Once I had the Tour MG spooled with 17-pound fluorocarbon, it quickly became one on my favorites. I found that it works great for flipping light to moderate jigs or plastics up to 1/2-ounce. But, it also makes for an ideal swim-jig rod, especially if you are looking to cover water.
I found that it also works great for working a pegged Skinny Dipper or pulling a Zoom Horny Toad around grass patches. This combo is soft enough for accurate long casts, yet stout enough to pull the fish from dense cover when you hook them. In short, this is a solid combo for a multitude of different presentations.
Quantum Energy And Tour KVD
There are numerous types of bladed baits that I like to throw, and this rod and reel combo works magic for spinnerbaits, chatterbaits and swim jigs. And, of course, knowing that KVD had a very heavy hand in the development in these combos, you can rest assured they are of substantial quality.
The 6-foot, 10-inch medium heavy Quantum Tour KVD rod has a pretty fast tip making it ultra sensitive, with adequate yet not overpowering backbone. When matched with the Quantum Energy PT reel this rod and reel combination is absolutely stellar for spinnerbaits, in fact this is my favorite way to use it. But, I’ve also found it to be a great alternative for squarebill crankbaits and even small swimbaits.
Bottom line is simple: You can easily work several presentation options on these two rods.
Wright McGill—Skeet Reese Combos
Wright McGill has teamed up with Skeet Reese to develope a rod that can be seen across the lake. If you have ever seen the bright yellow rod you know exactly what I am talking about! Did you know that they also make a nice matching reel to boot? This combination seems to be found on most tournament anglers’ boat deck.
Probably the most common is the Skeet Reese S-Glass Crankbait rod, which is a 7-foot medium with a fast tip that does an amazing job with crankbaits. However, I found that it works great for lipless cranks, small topwaters and short swimbaits in 6-inch range.
It has a soft parabolic bend to it that allows the fish to eat baits without the angler jerking the bait away from the fish’s mouth. I’ve also found I have more control of the fish during the fight, which is always a helpful thing!
The right reel is critical for this combo and I’ve found that matching the rod with a Wright McGill Skeet Reese Victory baitcaster in a 6.2:1 loaded with 12-pound fluorocarbon is completes this set up.
Wright McGill Skeet Reese Deep Plus Crank
New this year, the company offers a Deep Plus Crank rod that is 7-foot, 1-inch heavy intended for bigger, deep-diving crankbaits that “bottom out” the smaller cranking rods.
I paired the rod with Skeet Reese 7.0:1 Victory reel. I found that it does just as advertised with those big baits. It has a great backbone that stops flexing 8 inches down from the tip allowing you to work big cranks without the added fatigue that typically comes with by running deep cranks.
During an evening bass tournament, I realized that I had left my frog rod at home with no known alternative on hand. I grabbed the Skeet Deep Crank Plus and tied on my favorite frog. I was amazed how far I could cast it and with great accuracy.
After about 10 minutes I had a nice 4 pound largemouth eat the frog in the middle of weeds and I easily pulled the fish from the vegetation without any problem. Since then, I keep it rigged with a frog, but when I’m confronted with a deep water scenario where a crankbait will play, I’m more than covered.
Loomis And Shimano
The G. Loomis IMX 6-foot, 8-inch Jig & Worm rod with an extra fast action paired with a Shimano Chronarch CI4 in a 6.2:1 gear ratio needs to be a rod and reel that everyone has in their boat! Although it is labeled as a “Jig & Worm” rod don’t let that fool you. This is such a perfectly paired combination that it works for many presentations.
The first thing that needs to be noted is how sensitive this rod is. I was in a large bass tournament on a large natural lake that is home to many 6-plus-pound small- and largemouth bass. I discovered an awesome spring jerkbait bite and clobbered the fish! Even on the pauses, with slack line I could feel the fish eat the bait. I managed a Top 10 finish—the Loomis/Shimano combo was a serious contributor to my end result.
The reel played a big role as well. I’ve found that it can chuck a bait a city block. While fishing in the ultra-clear waters, I needed to be positioned a fair distance from my target—in this case docks and reefs. I was able to make a long accurate cast while keeping plenty of water between the boat and the fish.
By the way, this combo really works small jigs and worms. I can’t stress enough how the castibility and rod sensitivity make setting the hook into a bass that just ate a Texas-rigged finesse worm nothing short of a pleasure. (Without giving you too many options, but this combo also very effectively throws a finesse swim jig, 3/8-ounce or smaller and a small, shallow-diving crankbait.)
Lew’s Speed Stick And Gold Spinning Reel
Let’s not forget about spinning outfits either when talking about bass fishing. Lew’s makes a 7-foot Speed Stick in a medium action and when paired with a Lew’s Gold spinning reel, it sees some serious boat deck time.
I really like the micro guides that come standard with this rod as they greatly enhance sensitivity and casting distance. I prefer 8- to 10-pound fluorocarbon on the reel and typically use it for throwing finesse baits.
Recently, while on a natural, clear-water lake the only way I could get bites was to skip the bait to the back of the dock in the shadows. This rod was perfect for that as it had a soft enough tip to get good velocity on the bait to get it to skip. Then to follow it up when I got a bite it had enough backbone to pull the fish out.
After I caught all the fish I could off of the docks I dropped back to the first drop and threw a 4-inch tube with a 3/8-ounce jig and got into another pod of fish. This set up worked great for the deep bite and skipping docks.
Next time you’re in the market for a few new rod-and-reel combos, don’t get flustered by all the choices. Remember that just because there is a specific technique the rod has been designed for—that’s not the only thing it is good for.
After years of fishing tournaments and spending a tremendous amount of hours on the water each year, it’s more important to match the rod and the reel to the angler! Most folks like something a little different—you ask 10 different fishermen what their favorite rod type is for a worm and you’ll likely get 8 to 9 different answers.
Just remember to make mental notes when you are trying a different technique than what the rod is listed for, and you might fine a new winning combination. Not only will this help your fishing, but also your checkbook!