Tackle tips – rods & reels

The following was included in the January issue of The Citrus County Villager Paper

Tackle Tips – Rods and Reels

Gary Rankel, The PackerYaker    

Hope y’all had a Cool Yule and Festive First.  Here’s to Plenty in Twenty, both on and off the water.  

A few of you have emailed me requesting info on the fishing gear I use.  I can’t begin to cover the overwhelming array of rods, reels, lines, lures and assorted gizmos and gadgets available to achieve the perfect presentation, so I’ll break the discussion down into segments, beginning with a look at my preferred delivery system: spinning rods and reels.  

Achieving the proper balance between your fishing rod (length, power and action), reel (size and weight), line (type and test) and lure (type and weight) to maximize casting distance and performance is critical to experiencing an enjoyable and productive day on the water.   To be clear, I am not affiliated with any tackle company or product manufacturer, and have tested far too few of the many available rods and reels to recommend best models and values.  I’ll simply reference those products that have worked for me over the years.  

First off, if you fish out of a kayak like me, don’t believe the “experts” who recommend using shorter fishing rods.  You’ll want to cast as far as possible to avoid spooking fish in our clear, skinny water, and longer rods cast farther.   Fishing rod blanks are generally constructed of graphite, fiberglass or carbon fiber to achieve desired combinations of strength, durability and sensitivity, with corresponding power and action properties.  Power (light to heavy) refers to a blank’s stiffness or resistance to flexing.  Action (the degree of blank flexibility when casting and setting the hook) ranges from extra fast, where only the tip section flexes, to slow, where the entire rod bends.            

I normally fish with 7 to 8 foot medium power, fast action spinning rods equipped with 2500 or 3000 reels loaded with 8 to 10 pound braided line, and generally designed to cast lures in the 1/8 to 3/4 ounce range.  I prefer a medium-light rod paired with a 2500 reel loaded with 8 pound braid when targeting smaller seatrout and largemouth bass, and a medium heavy rod and 4000 reel spooled with 20 to 30 pound braid when fishing around docks or heavy vegetation, where I need to “horse out” large snook, redfish and bass before they wrap themselves around the structure.  

I generally believe that you get what you pay for so, notwithstanding my wife’s dirty looks every time I place an order, my go-to outfit is a G Loomis IMX or NRX rod fitted with a Shimano Stella reel retailing for more than $1,000.  It’s super sensitive and “light as a feather”, allowing me to cast my favorite artificial lures (a topic for another time) all day without tiring, yet is powerful enough to handle over-slot snook and reds.  The more expensive rods also have top quality guides allowing for smoother casts and a more consistent bend throughout their length; my rods have eight to nine titanium guides.  

I also like the more moderately priced ($400 – $500) St. Croix AVID rods paired with Shimano Stradic reels.  I’m told that many fishing guides provide this outfit to their clients, attesting to their performance and dependability.  Many excellent comparably priced and less expensive serviceable models are available.  

One-piece rods are a bit more sensitive with slightly more action, but make sure they’ll fit inside your vehicle, especially the shorter cab pickup trucks.  You won’t want to leave them unattended in your boat or kayak while eating lunch at a restaurant after a day on the water.  

High end reels are generally smoother, more durable and made out of lighter materials (e.g., carbon fiber, aluminum) with upgraded gears, drag washers and ball bearings.  

BTW, if you’re looking for more in-depth info on fishing Citrus County waters, check out my website and the January / February issue of Florida Sport Fishing Magazine.    

Peaceful Paddles, Tight Lines and Happy Landings Nature Coast Kayak Fishers (http://fishingkayaks.us)