Old 18 fishing rods reviews

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Jan 23rd, 2013

Looking for reviews on Old 18 Outfitters Rods#1411000008/27/2102:20 AM


Ranger Z118OfflineOP

Extreme Angler


Extreme Angler


Joined: Jan 2009

Posts: 2,785

Tyler, TX

Was looking for reviews on these rods, any help would be appreciated! I have heard good things, but have never held one.

Thank You!


Re: Looking for reviews on Old 18 Outfitters Rods [Re: Ranger Z118] #1411135308/28/2101:20 PM

Joined: Apr 2006

Posts: 1,023




Extreme Angler


Extreme Angler


Joined: Apr 2006

Posts: 1,023


Check out Rick Caldwell on Sam Rayburn Fishing Reports. This is his rod and he is always talking about them

Champion Jigs

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Customer Appreciation

Old 18 offers two warranty options for each rod series:

  • Manufacturer’s Defect warranty
  • Non-fishing Accident Replacement warranty

The length of each warranty varies by rod series, as follows:

Rod Series                   Manufacturer’s Defect             Non-fishing Accident Replacement

Ambush                         1 year                                                  1 year

Tracer                             1 year                                                  1 year

Hollow Point               1 year                                                  1 year

Aerius                             2 years                                                2 years

Suppressor                  2 years                                                2 years

Manufacturer’s Defect Warranty

We cover damage that occurs during normal fishing activities, or conditions, for craftsmanship or material defects. Rods that qualify under this warranty will be replaced free of charge. NOTE: We warranty the product, not the shipping. 

Non-fishing Accident Replacement Warranty

Accidents happen, and we do not like our customers to be disappointed. We realize that not everyone is ready to invest in another full-price rod, so Old 18 offers a replacement program. This warranty is for rod damages not covered under the manufacturer’s defect warranty due to non-fishing activities or rods evaluated as special circumstances. We only require a one-time payment for a replacement (plus return shipping costs). Here is the cost of replacement for each rod series:

Rod Series                         One-time Cost                               Return Shipping

Tracer                                    $65                                                        Your Cost

New Ambush                      $80                                                        Your Cost

Hollow Point                       $90                                                        Your Cost

Aerius                                     $140                                                     Your Cost

Suppressor                          $150                                                     Your Cost

  • If we no longer sell the model you are replacing, we will offer you the most comparable current model.
  • For those who make an Accident Replacement claim on the older Ambush series (gray blank), Old 18 will give you a credit to be used towards any rod purchased at retail price. The credit cannot be combined with any sales or coupons. The credit amount will be based on your original purchase price:

                                               Your Purchase Price      Your Credit

                                               $60 or more                          $60

                                               Less than $60                        Your Original Purchase Price

All warranty claims must meet the following requirements:             ​

  • The claimant must be the original owner.
  • Proof of purchase is required.

Other Notes:

  • The customer is required to pay for return shipping costs to our facility.
  • We do not cover broken rod guides when shipping is involved. However, a local shop can repair guides for less than the cost of return shipping.
  • Upon receiving the rod, we will perform an internal inspection to verify the claim.

We strive to contact the claimant within ten business days after receipt of your rod.

To initiate the claim, please complete the form at https://old18.com/warranty-form/. Please ship the damaged rod to the following address:

Old 18 Outfitters

Attn: Rod Warranty Dept

331 Corporate Woods Dr, Ste D2

Magnolia, TX 77354

Sours: https://old18.com/
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Evergreen's Latest Specialty Stick, the RCSC-78XH Wakebait
Evergreen International debuted their Brett Hite Combat Stick series of rods to North American anglers during the 2017 Bass Master Classic event in Lake Conroe, Texas. Since that initial introduction, they've slowly refined and built out series to include thirteen (13) application specific rods...
iRod Leans into the Power of the Sea with the SWC794C-H Poe's Mag Stick
Matt Newman doesn't make baits, but he does own a fishing rod company. An avid big bait fisherman, when he caught wind of our 2021 Rat Rumble, he wanted in on the action and immediately sent us a new, somewhat under the radar stick dedicated iRod fans have been buying as they gear up for throwing big baits.
Power Tackle's "The One" for Big Baits : 4.5XXH
Following on our successful experience with Power Tackle's The One 04MH, we wanted to dive just a little deeper into the manufacturer's latest series and sample a stick within the same lineup with ratings that appear a little more appropriate to my latest obsession - big baits.

Bipidy-Boppidy-Boop, Ark's Brandon Cobb's Fairy Wand is Not a Childhood Fable
Leveraging the success of their best selling Randall Tharp signature series of rods, ARK is hoping to catch another wave of momentum with their latest introduction, a series bearing the name of a rising star in bass fishing circles, Brandon Cobb. Today, we take a look at our first rod in this new line, the BB73MLXS Fairy Wand

Designed to Smash Green Monsters, the iRod Croaker Crusher Frog Rod
Kaimana is a saltwater inshore and offshore series that many swimbait anglers have latched onto and there are two additional freshwater series to book end Genesis, Fiber and Crusher. We take a look at a rod within one of those series designed by pro Kayak fisherman, Ron Champion. Introducing the iRod Crusher series IA784C-H Crusher Croaker.

Now This Stick Is Legit : The Wild Side WSC72H+
Similar to its bigger and more powerful sibling reviewed in August 2020, the WSC75XH Big Bait Special, the WSC72H+ arrives in a custom, two compartment rod sleeve. It is a two-piece stick separating at the handle, and once assembled, is very easy to forget was ever in two pieces
The Enthusiast Oriented Steez AGS Rods are Back and Cater to U.S. Applications
The G.Loomis NRX+ Bladed Jig Rod � Overkill, and Just What Enthusiasts Want
Megabass America Brings Valkyrie Worldwide and Triza Travel Rods Stateside

Evergreen International's Power Finesse Stick, the Gizmo Special
Through their exclusive partnership with Daiwa, Evergreen continues to expand this series with technique, and even bait specific spec's for the US angler. We got our hands on one of these new introductions, the Gizmo Special, to not only test its effectiveness as a stick designed around the Gizmo topwater lure, but of course to see what else this intriguing little stick can handle.

iRod's Guitierrez Special, the G2 Ultra Finesse
iRod's founder, Matt Newman is a reputable big bait fisherman, so even when one of the biggest names on his staff of pros, Gregg Gutierrez, came to him with the idea and need for a signature, finesse tuned fishing rod, Newman deferred telling Gutierrez, he'd take the thought into consideration.
G.Loomis Unveils the NRX+ Line of Conventional Bass Rods

A Feature Packed Travel Stick from Monstar Fishing
Whether you're planning your next exotic angling adventure or you just enjoy having a combo on standby in your trunk for those "just in case" scenarios, functional, multi-piece, travel rods that are truly compact are difficult to come by. I'm not talking about two or three piece sticks that still require their own spot in the overhead compartment but something you can literally fit into your carry on.

Daiwa's Rebellion Against the Dark Side of Enthusiasm
A manufacturer that until recently, was not often associated with the term "good value" is Daiwa, but they have a line of bass rods that, after reviewing the specifications, have the potential to be just that. We got our hands on one of their sticks for a closer look. Introducing Daiwa's Rebellion 7111HFB-SB swimbait stick.
A Serious Exterior with a Lively Personality, the Douglas XMatrix Swimbait Rod



A Classic Vintage in the Making? Kistler's '21 Helium
While there are other product lines above and below this one, in my mind, Helium is still the series that defines Kistler Custom Rods. We recently caught wind of some changes within the company surrounding their source for blanks, so we acquired a stick from the current Helium series to check out. Here's our look at the 2021 Kistler Custom Rods Helium.
Abu Garcia and Ike Help You Take Your Show On the Road
With all the difficulty these days trying to fly with more than one suitcase, let alone a big tube full of fishing rods, it's a little surprising there aren't more options for multi-piece fishing rods made for the fisher-person who loves to travel. Abu Garcia recently introduced an option within their IKE series of rods consisting of a multi-piece stick with two different tips...
Does Power Tackle Deliver with "The One" Rod?
Power Tackle Rods out of Richland Springs, Texas has been building fishing rods with serious minded anglers in mind since 2007. They have a relatively new series that caught our attention for the name they chose to dub the lineup. Time to meet the "One."
Getting Straight to the Point Blank... Creating a Custom Rod Build
Every now and then we learn of a new blank manufacturer making noise in the custom rod circles. Usually, we can find a manufacturer who is not afraid to divulge they are using these blanks so that we can fish, test, and write up the finished product...
ARK Rods's New Graphite Cranking Stick : Invoker Pro IVP74MHRC
Riding on the coat tails of the Reinforcer success is a refresh of one of their original series, Invoker. They've elevated these rods to "Pro" status but kept the price point the same. Let's take a look a the IVP74MHRC to see how they've done.
The Omega Swimbait 8' Heavy by Leviathan Rods
To be honest, it didn't really take much to convince me to reach out to Leviathan rods once I found out they're relying on Gary Loomis's company, North Fork Composites (NFC), to supply their blanks. Their Omega Swimbait 8' Heavy is built on an NFC, custom specified LMX-PSI blank...
The Search for One : Megabass of America's F5.5-75XX Braillist
Megabass of America's F5.5-75XX Braillist is a seven foot, five inch (7'-5") casting rod rated with a fast taper rated and medium heavy in power. The stick's name is derived from the fact it excels at bottom contact applications.

Going Big with Phenix's M1 : The MX-UR80H
Phenix's refreshed and revamped M1 series made a big splash here at TackleTour when we published our thoughts on the Search For One contender, MX72MH. In fact, it is still among my favorites so far this year. Of course, when we published that article, we received quite a few messages from our West Coast readers asking about the swimbait stick.

An Enthusiast Level Rod For Anglers Of All Levels, Legit Design's Big Bait Special
Arundel Tackle out of Chicago, Illinois is in partnership with Legit Design for exclusive North American distribution rights. That's how we got our hands on the subject of today's review. Introducing the Legit Design Wild Side WSC75XH Big Bait Special.
Taking the Time to Appreciate the Unique Personality of the Dobyns Xtasy Series
A Cranky Honey Badger of a Stick : Ark Rods's TS74MH-G B-Hittay
Since their debut a few short years ago, Ark Rods has done a good job making headway with affordable, smartly styled, good performing sticks. They recently upped their game by signing Pro Bass Fisherman, Randall Tharp to their team and last year, they celebrated this team up with the company's very first line of signature series of rods, Randall Tharp's Honey Badger line.
Denali Rods's New Sub $100 Rod Series : Ryker
With several series spread out and smartly targeted at price points between $100 through $250, Denali's popularity grows with each passing year. For 2021, Denali looks to push the boundaries of affordability even further with the introduction of an entirely new series.
Back in the Hunt for the Search : Fenwick's Refreshes Their World Class
Several years ago, we took a look at a couple of sticks within Fenwick's flagship series of rods, World Class. Both sticks left me with mixed feelings for while I liked the rods' build, components, and power, I was hoping for a bit more in terms of sensitivity especially considering we were fishing a flagship series...
Phenix Once Again Delivers on Maxim-um Value
One of Phenix's big introductions for 2019 was their new look and feel Maxim series rods. This is their ~$100 series bass rods built for exceptional value. Somehow, we never took a look at the spinning rod options in the original 2015 series, but we're correcting that today with our look at the totally revamped MAXS-610L.
Busting Bunkers and Awards with Megabass's Destroyer F7.5-77X
Megabass's F7.5-77X Bunker Buster is a seven foot, seven inch (7'7") casting rod featuring a full rear grip. The front portion of that grip is cork, while the back section is EVA foam. It shares the same cosmetics as the F10-711X Onager and F8-78X Mark 48 except at only twelve inches (12"), the rear handle on the Bunker Buster is short like that of a flipping rod.
Casting with Veracity : Abu Garcia's VRCTY79-9
In case you hadn't noticed, Abu Garcia has a rather extensive catalog of bass rods. From the budget friendly Vengeance and Vendetta to the more enthusiast tailored Fantasista, there's a series of sticks to suit just about any budget covering a plethora of techniques...
Are You a Big Bait Addict? If So, Kistler Has the Rod for You, the KLX7107XXH
Tossing big baits with the intention of landing bigger weights in the livewell is becoming more commonplace with each passing year. However, that practice has kind of settled in with the mid-sized and mid-weighted baits of roughly five to seven inches in length and maybe two to four ounces in weight...
Purple Reign : Phenix's Reinvigorated M1 is a Winner
It's been a good seven years or more since we took a look at the MX72H from their M1 series. Well, the wait is finally because Phenix Rods has unveiled a totally revamped, refreshed, and renewed M1 series with an updated look, feel, and appeal. We took the M1 MX72MH our for a test run.
ARK Rod's New Series Delivers Reinforcements for Your Enthusiast Soul
As we grow more and more conditioned to the different formulas (blank + components + grip material and design) for assembling a fishing rod at the various price points, it becomes increasingly difficult for an individual fishing rod or series thereof to capture our attention. What else can a manufacturer do to stir our enthusiasm?
Trippin' In Abu Garcia's IKE Finesse Series
Abu Garcia's recent refresh of their Mike Iaconelli signature series of rods is divided into three sub-categories. Our recent look at the MIKEC76-6 introduced us to the Power Series. Today we're concentrating on one of seven sticks from the IKE Finesse Series. Introducing Abu Garcia's IKE Finesse Series MIKES74-4.
An Affordable Cranking Stick for Spinning Rod Fans - The Abu Garcia Veritas
Last year, we shared with you our thoughts on Abu Garcia's new Revo Winch W30 - a low gear ratio spinning reel designed for moving bait enthusiasts. But no cranking or any technique specific reel is complete without a corresponding rod, right? Naturally, Abu Garcia knows this to be true and makes a stick to perfectly match with the Revo Winch W30...
A Shot of Finesse with a Dash of Versatility : Doomsday Tackle's T47S-370MF
Just like the previously reviewed T47C-370BCF, this stick features a retro-style color scheme and detailing that we have found is a little bit polarizing. Some anglers love the throwback colors and styling while others would prefer a more modern and tactical looking rod. Which camp do you fall into? 

Taking Aim with Megabass's Destroyer F8-78X Mark 48
Cosmetically, the Mark 48 is a carbon copy clone of the Onager. In fact, if you line up the two rods' reel seats, there is about a two inch difference in handle lengths, and a one inch difference to the tip.

The Search for One : Lew's Pro-Ti TLPT170M
Lew's stepped up to the plate recently with a new, top end series of rods for their bass market and we managed to get our hands on one. Here's our take on the Team Lew's Pro-Ti TLPT170M casting rod.

Shimano and G.Loomis Launch Limited Edition Bantam MGL & IMX-Pro Combos
For the first time in the two decades that the G.Loomis brand has been part of Shimano the company will soon offer anglers a limited edition combo which includes a limited IMX-PRO rod matched up with the proven performing Bantam MGL baitcasters.

Wait for It, Wait for It... Abu Garcia's IKE Delay Series
Sometimes, you just want to tie one on, toss it out, and crank it up. Abu Garcia realizes that moving baits are a staple of any bass fisherman's arsenal and in the recent refresh of their Mike Iaconelli signature series of rods, they included a collection of seven rods in a sub-series dubbed "Delay" just for this.
A Mix of Handling and Power Voodoo in the Witch Doctor Shaman Rods
A Spinning Rod with Multiple Personalities : Denali's Lithium L883MS Multi-Spin
I took the opportunity to ask Major League Fishing Pro Jeff Kriet if he has a favorite in Denali's lineup. Without hesitation he chose to highlight a stick he feels doesn't get enough attention and that stick is the subject of today's review. Here's our look at Denali Rods's Lithium Series L883MS Multi Spin.
ARK Rods's TS73MHFC May Not Be a Printer, But It Is Money
Ark Rods is an intriguing manufacturer. Seemingly out of nowhere they burst onto the scene with an array of smartly priced, smartly styled, performance driven series of sticks. We've been working out way through their Tharp series having good experiences with each stick thus far, and the subject of today's article had a name that was just too difficult to resist. Here's our look at Ark Rods's TS73MHFC Money Maker.
Bub's Punch Rod Levels Up : iRod AIR IRA7104PRG-H
It's been some time since we've visited with a product from iRod Fishing. Founder Matt Newman was recently in touch to share with us some new models added to both their Air and Genesis II lineups. Today, we take a look at a stick designed by Western Pro, Bub Tosh. Here is iRod Fishing's AIR IRA710PRG-H.
Are You Worthy to Possess the Power of Megabass's Warhammer?
Zander and I have been busy getting acquainted with the new, extended models of Megabass of America's current Destroyer lineup, but one stick from the original introduction has been on my list since its debut in 2017...
Daiwa Introduces a Refreshed Black Label Series - the BLX Bass Rods



Product ReviewedDate Posted
Cranking It Up With Denali's Russ Lane Cranking Stick

Feed Your Enthusiast Soul : Conquest 842C MBR5/26/19
Think Less, Fish More with Megabass of America's F5-75XX EMTF
The Power in IKE, Abu Garcia & Mike Iaconelli's MIKEC76-6
A Better Levante? Megabass Remakes their Mainstream Rod Series
Okuma Nomad Express � Freedom for Big Bait Anglers3/20/19
Shimano and Jackall Prepare to Launch New Poison Adrena rods and Lures at the Classic
Fenwick Increases an Already Good Value in Their HMG
Taking Aim at "The One" with Ark Rods's Sniper Series2/24/19
St. Croix's 8'8" Legend Glass : What's the Dealio?2/13/19
Long Term Test: Dobyns Brings the Fury at a Great Price Point
Crank It Up! Abu Garcia's Veritas Winch Cranking Stick12/24/18
ARK Rods Strikes at Value with their Viper VIP72MHXC
More than Just Finesse with Fenwick's HMG70ML-FS12/2/18
Megabass Valkyrie Rods Take Flight with New Shielz Hybrid Construction
A Dominating Combination - Ish Monroe's Tatula Elite AGS Equipped Frog Rod
A Gem Hidden Within Abu Garcia's Veritas Lineup - the VTSS70-4
An Entire Combo for the Weight of One Reel Begins with Phenix's FTX-71MH
ARK Rods Pierces the Sub $100 Stigma with their Lancer Bass Rods
Putting a Twist on Spiral Wrapped Rods and Making them Affordable � The Riverside M2
G.Loomis's 820S DSR GLX : A Top Notch Performer, but...
Taking Another Spin with Phenix's K28/12/18
A First Look at the Boldly Styled Upcoming Halo Rods Black Widow Bass Series
Make No Bones About It, The New Z from Kistler

Re-Enforcing the Viability of Spinning Gear, Megabass's New F4.5-74XXS
ARK Rods Adds Value to Your Search With the IVK70MXC Casting Rod
What the Finesse?!? A Sub $150 BFS Stick? Meet The 47
Putting the Pro in IMX, G.Loomis's new DSR822S5/15/8
What the Finesse?!? Phenix's Sub 3oz Feather Series Spinning Rod
Best Value Alert : Ark Rods Invoker IVK610MLXS
A Global Design for Enthusiasts, the Shimano G.Loomis Conquest Rods3/14/18
The Dragon ReAwakens : Megabass of America's 2018 Orochi XX
A Spin on Affordable Versatility - St. Croix's BassX BXS610MLXF

St. Croix's Legend Elite ES70MLF Wins our Ultimate Award
Savage Gear Introduces New Fishing Rods for 2018 - Meet the Browser Series
The Surprising Fantasista Premier FNPS70-5 from Abu Garcia
Saving the Best for Last? Evergreen International's Brett Hite Medium Powered Casting Rod12/20/17
St. Croix Delivers Value in our Search for One with the BXC71MHF
Evergreen International Continues to Impress with the Affordable RCSS-71MH
The Search for One : Fenwick's World Class WC72M-FC
Taking Another Spin with Kistler's Magnesium 2
The Very Refined Fantasista Premier FNPC70-6 from Abu Garcia
Is the New Kovert Series from Denali Really Lighter?
Going For a Spin with G-Rods International
Megabass's Destroyer Series Goes USDM - Part 2
Megabass's Destroyer Series Goes USDM - Finally
Ready to Combat the USDM : Evergreen International's Jack Hammer
Daiwa�s New Daiwa Tatula Elite Rods make Carbon Guides �Affordable�
The Search for One : Fenwick's HMG Series
Kistler's ZBone LEXF Spinning Rod, the LEXF-2MS-70
Abu Garcia's Villain 2.0 Continues to Impress
Labels Shmabels - Phenix's 7'-4" Glass Cranking Rod
A Classic is Reborn : G.Loomis's MBR842C GLX
Denali Goes on the Offensive with Their New Attax Series
Enigma Fishing's Search For One Candidate, the EAM73MB-M
A "Game Changer" from G-Rods?
An Exclusive, TackleWarehouse Search For One Candidate!
The Stuff of Wonder, Graphene Infused G-Rods
Abu Garcia Blends Flagship Status with Big Bait Aspirations
Is Fenwick's New Flagship Really World Class?
Phenix Rods Goes High End With K2
MB Levante Part 2 : Stinger Shot
Kistler's New Feel N Reel Hybrid Cranking Series
Abu Garcia's Ring Leader, the Villain 2
St. Croix Ups the Travel Gear Ante with Legend Trek
Fenwick's Elite Tech Entry to Our Search For One... the ETB69MH-FC
Kistler's New Flagship ZBone LEXF Casting Rod
Cranking It Up with Megabass's Orochi XX Swingfire
The Search for One Spinning Rod? Daiwa's TDS-701MXS
Shimano's JDM-esque Zodias 172MH
The Search for One: The 13 Fishing Archangel is the Very Definition of a Halo Product
Is the Search Over? St. Croix's New Legend Elite EC70MF Casting Rod
Re-Energizing Their Drive : Denali's New Lithium Mag Crank Stick
Going M.A.D. Over Kistler's Helium 3

Our First Look at G-Rods International!
A TackleWarehouse Exclusive! Daiwa's DX Bass Cranking Stick
Holding Out On Megabass? Don't Read This
The Tatula Web Continues to Grow : E-Glass Cranking Stick
Aaron's New Edge with Enigma Fishing
Kistler Rods Brings Magnesium 2 Home
The Okuma EVX-C-751Ha Delivers No-Frills Utility
Rising from the Depths, Megabass's Leviathan
Returning to Tradition : Fenwick's Elite Tech Spinning
Kistler�s Helium 3 Series Rods Channel the Previous Generation
Shimano's JDM Expride Lands in the US
Rapala Canada's Concept of The Search For One
Cranking It Up with Quantum and KVD!
Cranking It Up with Phenix's X13 Composite Cranker
Daiwa's Travel Series : The Ardito 763
Cranking It Up with Dobyns Rods's 806CB!|
Dobyns Rods Cranks It Up with a Search For One Candidate!
The Fun and Stylish TDS 701MXHB from Daiwa
Kevin VanDam's Own Performance Tuned Fishing Rod by Quantum
To Infinity and... Lamiglas, the INF703FS
The Stowable, Powerful, Versatile 706CB from Dobyns Rods
The Big, Beefy, EVX 861XH Rod from Okuma
WTF?!? : Does Daiwa's Steez AGS Deliver As Expected?
Interestingly Versatile: MajorCraft America's NANOACE NAC-WJ731M
The Surprising EXTC726XF EXO Tour from Quantum!
Previewing the New Shimano Zodias Bass Rods
The Search For One : Phenix's Maxim Series 7'3" MH
Kistler's Refreshed Magnesium TS : The MgMDXH710T Mad Dog

Go Light or Go Home: The Okuma Helios HS-CM-701M

The Return of Kistler's Carbon Steel Line
Flipping Week : Zombie or Immortal? Dee Thomas's Signature Series Flipping Rod
Flipping Week : Orochi Double X Aaron Martens Special!
Flipping Week : Gary Loomis Shows his Edge for Flipping
Flipping Week : Phenix Rods Mocks the Demon
Flipping Week : iRod's Bub Tosh Punch Rod!
Getting a Grip on Castaway�s new Invicta Spinnerbait Rod

The Best of Both Worlds � The Shimano/Jackall Poison Adrena Rods
Product Insight: What We Look for in a Fishing Rod... Featuring Batson
G.Loomis Updates the IMX Series of Bass Rods
The Search For One : Guess Who's Back Building Rods?
Not Just for Chuckin' Blades: The Megabass Orochi XX F5-610XX Spinnerbait Special
Daiwa Completes Their Suite with the Tatula Casting Rods!
Looking to Recapture the "Lighter Than Air" Magic : Kistler's New Helium 3
Phenix Adds to their Heavy Powered Arsenal : The M1 MX72H
Balancing Around AIR : iRod Fishing's IRA704C-H.
The Search for One: St. Croix Speaks in Xtremes
Ready to Take Your Fishing to the Edge?

Putting Value Back in American Made - Kistler's KLX 7' Medium
A Creature Feverish Search for The One? The 735C from Dobyns Rods
What the F-Power? Megabass's Drop Shot is Going to Double XX The Competition!

Megabass Doubles Up the Ancient Dragon God of Water : Orochi XX
Better the Second Time Around?  The iRod Genesis II IRG744C-MH
The Father of Flipping Continues to Innovate : DT Guides by Dee Thomas
Not a Follower: The Airrus Stargate ASG721HF-C

Creature Fever : Jigging, Worming, and Chopping with G.Loomis's GL2 804C JWR
Regaining His Edge : Bass Rods by Gary Loomis

From Coast to Coast with the 13 Fishing Omen OBC73M
Ready for Battle, a First Look on the Water with Phenix's M1 Series
Creature Fever : Phenix Gets into Heavy Recon
Just in Time for the Holidays, Kistler's New KLX
Denali's Stealthy Noirwood N823FJ Finesse Jig
The Search For One: Eclectic Versatility in the 2 Hole. The G.Loomis NRX 852C
Savvy Duo:  Dobyns SS733C and SSM733C Micro Guide Rods
Creature Fever : ZBone in the AmaZon
Creature Fever : Avid About St. Croix
Zombies from the Amazon to Alabama
From Rigs to Jigs with the G. Loomis NRX 873C CRR
What The Finesse?!? : Feeling Lucky... Craft?



G.Loomis NRX rods go �Green�
What the Finesse : Daiwa's Mega-Where?
What the Finesse: Talk about Endurance, Powell�s new Spinning Rod
What the Finesse : This Legend Has "It"
Do You Believe in Micro-Magic? WTF!! : Duckett Fishing's Medium Powered Spinning Rod
Kistler Custom Rods Introduces Their Stock Model Z-Bone LEX

What the Finesse : Falcon's Jeff Kriet Signature Series Stick
Phenix's Oxymoron Trout Stick : The Iron Feather

The Search For One... St. Croix's Mojo Bass
Powell Teams up with Pro Angler Jared Lintner to create a rod specifically for Squarebill Cranks
The Search For One with the Legends� St Croix�s Legend Elite and Xtreme
The Search for One... Carrots with Flavor Enhancing Micros?
Cast, Crank, REACT!! : Cumara CUCX711MH
The Search For One... Lamiglas Certified Pro
The Samurai Sword of Frog Rods, the Daiwa Steez XBD
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Sours: http://www.tackletour.com/menurods.html
Old 18 Outfitters Ambush Series Spinning Rod Review

The Best Fishing Rod and Reel

Why you should trust me

I’m a United States Coast Guard–certified master captain, and I have been fishing since I could walk. I grew up working on charter boats in and around Long Island Sound, and reliable fishing gear has been paramount not only to my profession but also to my life. Having fished on a budget in settings as varied and diverse as the spring brooks of the Adirondack Mountains, the brown sludge that is the Hudson River, and the emerald coastal waters of New Zealand, I can say that a careful selection of the most durable all-around tackle has been essential to me.

To supplement my own expertise, I enlisted the help of veteran spinning-reel reviewer Alan Hawk, and also consulted Salt Water Sportsman contributing editor and Discovery Channel television host George Poveromo on what would be the ideal spinning-rod-and-reel setup for a casual fisher.

Who this is for

Like most fishers, I’m not able to carry, store, or afford a different rod and reel for every species of fish or method of fishing. So I picked an affordable, high-quality spinning-rod-and-reel combo that can work in as many fishing conditions and settings as possible—including saltwater and freshwater. This spinning-rod-and-reel setup is approachable enough for a novice to learn on, yet it performs well enough for a seasoned veteran to depend on.

In researching and testing, I prioritized attributes such as durability and build quality—features that anyone, regardless of skill level and intended use, can appreciate—over more specialized features such as multiple-geared reels for using live bait or especially stiff rods that can handle big fish but not smaller ones.

This spinning-rod-and-reel setup is approachable enough for a novice to learn on, yet it performs well enough for a seasoned veteran to depend on.

At the sub-$200 level, our selection for both a rod and a reel represents the most affordable but still reliable pairing we could recommend. You could easily spend $2,000 on a fishing rod if you’d like something ultralightweight or designed for a specific species you’re targeting, but our pick will get the job done almost as well (if not just as well) most of the time. Similarly, you could go cheaper, but then you’d give up reliability.

If you’re more experienced and looking for a specific rod and reel, apart from the size of the fish you’re targeting, you’ll also have to take into account what kind of fishing you’ll be doing: Will you be casting artificial lures (objects designed to look like fish or other prey with a hook attached), or using bait (smaller fish, worms, or other natural prey, either alive or dead)? Most lure fishers will want a stiffer rod composed of graphite (or mostly graphite) so that they can “work” a jig or plug to imitate the movements of prey, while bait fishers might seek out a rod that’s a little looser or more sensitive, so as to detect the slightest strike. Our rod recommendation can do both things decently, but if you know you’ll be doing only one or the other, you should look into a more specialized setup.

How we picked

First off, I had to decide what kind of rod and reel we would focus on, which was an easy choice—if you’re going to own only one fishing rod and reel, a spinning-rod-and-reel setup is the most versatile and the easiest to use.

Compared with a baitcasting or fly-fishing setup, a spinning setup is more comfortable to use and is usually easier to repair; it also requires less finesse to cast. Think of it as the “automatic transmission” version of a fishing rod and reel. If you’re starting from nothing, a spinning outfit offers the highest chance of success. If you’re a beginner, it’s much easier to pick up than either of the other options, and it’s far less likely to become tangled than a baitcasting setup.

Key features of a fishing rod

In my 20-plus years of fishing, I’ve come to learn that when you’re shopping for fishing rods—as for any tool—paying a little attention to a few key features can be telling before you even pick up one. The rod’s material, flexibility, sensitivity, and line-guide construction all make a difference in how well the rod will perform and last.

seven fishing rods on deck

As mentioned previously, bait-hucking fishers will want something that’s more sensitive and flexible, while lure fishers will want something stiffer (known as “fast action” in fishing jargon). Most rods are made out of fiberglass, graphite, or a mixture of both. The more graphite in a rod, the lighter and stiffer it is, but such rods are also more brittle, so you wouldn’t want to hand one to a 3-year-old. Fiberglass is heavier but more flexible (“slow action”) and nearly impossible to break. For a beginner or an all-around angler, a combination of both materials offers the most versatile package: It gives you enough stiffness to adequately manipulate a lure, while maintaining enough sensitivity for detecting small bites.

The next most important specification you’ll want to consider is the material that makes up the guides—the loops that lead, or guide, the line from the reel to the tip (the skinny end) of the fishing rod. Lower-end fishing rods (and many higher-end ones, too) usually feature guides made of either thin stainless steel or aluminum oxide (ceramic) frames holding cheap ceramic O-ring inserts (rings designed to protect the insides of the guides and prevent line wear) that chip or corrode, and eventually fail.

Additionally, the more pieces that make up the guide, the more pieces with the potential to fall apart. A design with more pieces means more jointing and fastening, which usually requires glue. Since fishing rods are often exposed to sun, salt, sand, dirt, fish parts, and general wear and tear, glue is simply less than ideal (as is plastic); a single piece of relatively rustproof metal is incomparably sturdier.

More expensive (and usually sturdier) guides include inserts made of higher-quality materials such as silicon carbide (SiC) or titanium-framed silicon carbide (TiSiC), which are usually affixed to rods built for performance (longer casting and lighter weight). While these materials are not necessarily stronger than stainless steel or lined aluminum oxide, they are higher-performance materials, and a lot more expensive. You start seeing these only on rods in the $150 range, as opposed to the $40 to $50 range, so they’re beyond the budget of most casual anglers. Also, most anglers won’t even notice the difference—I find that I don’t care one way or the other, and I’ve been fishing my whole life.

The rest, including the grip material and the number of pieces the rod itself breaks down into, is up to you. I will suggest that, if you can accommodate it, a one-piece rod will almost always outperform a two- or three-piece rod. A one-piece rod offers better stiffness and more control—fewer pieces make for fewer problems with durability and performance, although portability suffers.

Key features of a fishing reel

With the rod settled, we looked into reels, which are a lot more complicated since they have so many moving parts. When you’re shopping for a reel, among the first things you need to consider is how much drag you’ll need to handle the type of fish you hope to catch. “Drag” on a spinning reel is provided by a stack of washers, which you can either tighten or loosen against the spool (the part of the reel that holds the line) to build friction to reel in a fish, relieve friction to allow for “play” in the line (so it doesn’t break), or let it swim away in order to let the hook fully set.1

The amount of drag required varies by fishing method and the species targeted—but if you’re not sure, we recommend asking the locals, or going to a bait-and-tackle shop. John Bretza, Okuma’s director of product development, put it into perspective: “Even when we fish North Carolina bluefin [tuna] (which can weigh hundreds of pounds), we use 18 to 22 pounds of drag for the strike and, most of the time, as our full-drag setting as well. That’s still a lot of drag for most...” In other words, you don’t need much drag to cover a wide variety of fish. For the average fisher, the 10- to 25-pound maximum drags on any of our picks will suffice. But to make sure you get what you need, look for the “maximum drag rating” on the spec sheet.

One of the most important features is durability. Cheaper reels come with cheaper drag systems made of felt or lower-quality carbon fiber, which disintegrates quickly. This construction, combined with little or no preventative sealing to keep saltwater and grit from entering the mechanical parts, means that most reels less than $50 just aren’t worth the money.

If you're willing to spend $100 or a bit more, you’ll get all the makings of a reel that’s built to last. That means a semisealed drag—for keeping out water, dirt, and corrosive salt spray—as well as an all-metal body. It will also be repairable should anything go wrong, whereas with cheaper gear, the cost of a repair can often exceed the worth of the reel.

That said, if you plan to do a lot of bait fishing from boats, buy a conventional open-faced reel with a more dependable dual drag system.

six fishing rods on boat on lake

How we tested

Person fishing from high grass next to lake

I tested all of the rods and reels from beaches, rocks, boats, and riverbanks. I fished with lures in rivers for trout and salmon, and I set 1- to 1½-pound live baits from my skiffs, catching ocean fish up to 20 pounds with each rod and reel. I also tested the gear on smaller bottom fish, including summer flounder, sea bass, and porgies (or scup), as well as red drum and spotted seatrout in Charleston, South Carolina. I spent several days fishing freshwater rivers for trout and smaller salmon, and a couple of days fishing private ponds and lakes for largemouth bass. I beat up these rods and reels, from the mouth of the Hudson River in New York to the Cook Strait of New Zealand.

person at end of fishing line inside hardware store

Our spinning-rod pick: Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2

hand on rod above reel overlooking water

If you’re planning to get only one rod and you don’t want to spend a fortune, it should be a 6½- to 7-foot Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2, available in ultra-light, medium, medium-heavy, and heavy versions. It should be a single-piece model, if you can accommodate it. The size and line rating depend on the species you’re targeting and the type of water you’re fishing (ultra-light, UL, for panfish and small trout; medium, M, for fish weighing 3 to 10 pounds; medium-heavy, MH, for fish in the 10- to 25-pound range; and heavy, H, beyond that). The GX2 is the latest update to a classic line of rods renowned for their versatility and durability for nearly four decades.

The Ugly Stik GX2 was introduced in 2013 as the first major redesign of the Ugly Stik series since its debut in 1976. Compared with the original, it includes more graphite and less fiberglass, giving the rod more of a backbone for working lures and handling heavier fish, while still keeping the soft fiberglass tip that makes it sensitive enough for detecting subtler strikes and smaller catches.

Based on the GX2’s build and the original’s history of durability, the GX2 could very well be the last rod you’ll need to buy. They are seriously tough rods—a fact supported by their industry-leading seven-year warranty (compared with the typical one-year coverage offered on Penn and Shimano rods, and even on Shakespeare’s own, non–Ugly Stik rods). I haven’t found another $40 fishing rod I would trust this much. In fact, if it costs less than $100 and it’s not an Ugly Stik, I’d just as soon use a hand line.

What makes the Ugly Stik GX2 so much more durable and versatile than other rods is that it uses both graphite and fiberglass to provide sensitivity and strength without sacrificing too much of either. It features a primarily graphite shaft for stiffness, along with a soft, clear, and flexible fiberglass tip.

That flexible tip means it won’t be ideal for manipulating lures, but we think the added versatility is more valuable to most fishers—especially beginners. While the GX2 isn’t better than a specialist rod in either application, it is a capable performer in both—which can’t be said of the Ugly Stik Tiger or the Penn Squadron.

In addition to having a durable shaft, the GX2 is the only rod in its price category that comes fitted with one-piece stainless steel line guides, which can literally be smashed with a rock and still maintain serviceability. During testing, I accidentally planted my foot directly on the guide of a rod that I’d left in the bottom of my boat—as one does—but it was unscathed. Cheap, flimsy aluminum-oxide guides are the industry standard at this price, so it’s nice to see Shakespeare, the maker of the Ugly Stik, take durability seriously. Apart from higher-end models that cost four or five times the price, I’ve never seen this feature in a spinning rod. This design also represents an upgrade from the old Ugly Stik, which had two-piece pop-out guides that were the only weak spot in an otherwise bulletproof rod.

Just in case anything does go wrong, all you need to submit to take advantage of the Ugly Stik’s class-leading seven-year warranty is photographic evidence of the damage, your receipt, and $10 to cover shipping. That’s far better than the one-year warranty coverage from Shimano and Penn, and even from Shakespeare itself on its non–Ugly Stik models. (St. Croix offers a five-year warranty for its Triumph rod, which we tested as a possible upgrade pick.)

One quick shopping note: Make sure you’re buying the spinning rod, not the casting version of the same rod from the same manufacturer. They’re easy to confuse, and our chosen reel won’t fit the casting version.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

The downsides of the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 are few but worth noting. First, it’s heavier than more high-performance graphite rods (which usually run about 5 ounces for a medium-heavy 6-foot-6 or 7-foot rod), and some people find that tiring. But if you’ve never held a high-end spinning rod before, you won’t notice the difference.

Another problem with the Ugly Stik GX2 is that the guides are not always perfectly placed. This is something you’re likely to find in any mass-produced base-level spinning-rod model; it’s not something children will notice. Guide placement becomes more essential when you’re fighting trophy-sized fish, which is not something the average angler will put their gear through. If you do happen to be fishing big game, you’ll likely have to step up in price range, or find a good deal at a garage sale.

Runner-up rod: Shimano Saguaro

rod and reel with dead fish on boat

Shimano’s Saguaro series is every bit as versatile as the Ugly Stik GX2, but the guides are nowhere near as durable as Ugly Stik’s Ugly Tuff guides. While I found the rod itself to be more clunky and cumbersome overall—especially when casting lightweight artificial lures—that’s also what made me recognize and appreciate it as a dependable workhorse.

Compared with the similarly priced Ugly Stik models, the Shimano Saguaro is a stiffer graphite composite. While this design can be advantageous for casting plugs, it offers less “play” or give, which can hinder other applications like setting the hook while bottom fishing with bait and a heavy sinker, where some flex is advantageous.

Apart from the Saguaro’s less durable guides, the primarily graphite rod is more brittle, and less likely to survive a spill or a misplaced foot.

If you plan to fish with care (and not with children), the Saguaro can make an excellent rod for medium-weight jigging and topwater fishing, but it is less than ideal for lightweight artificial lures or bait fishing, and nowhere near as sturdy as an Ugly Stik.

Upgrade rod: Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite

stock image of ugly stik elite rod

If the Ugly Stik GX2 is unavailable, or if you know you want something stiffer for doing more lure fishing, the Ugly Stik Elite series is a good bet. These rods are available in the same wide range of sizes as the GX2 (for the most all-around versatility, we’d still recommend a medium to medium-heavy rod in the 6-foot-6 or 7-foot range), but they have a cork grip instead of an EVA foam grip and contain 35 percent more graphite, which makes them a bit stiffer and lighter overall. The added stiffness makes the Elite ideal for manipulating lures and giving them “action” (a fishing term for making lures dance or hobble like wounded prey).

The Elite is usually only about $10 more than the GX2 at any given length, which isn’t a lot of money, so you might be wondering why it isn’t our top pick. First off, as a stiffer rod, the Elite isn’t as well-suited to bait fishing for smaller catches. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing if that’s what you know you want, but it’s worth noting if you’re a first-timer trying to start small. Second, while the GX2 is the direct successor to the classic Ugly Stik, which had four decades of acclaim behind it, the Elite series is a whole new line. While that extra 35 percent of graphite sounds appealing on paper, it’s still too early to tell whether that might decrease the long-term durability. For most anglers, however, the GX2 is the better bet.

Our spinning-reel pick: Daiwa BG SW Spinning Reel

person holding rod with Daiwa BG SW reel attached

The Daiwa BG SW series is our reel pick because these reels are built tougher than any similarly priced competition. Daiwa’s original BG series has been a crowd favorite since its introduction in the 1980s but has fallen short as an all-around choice only because the roller on the bail (which guides the line from the reel to the guides on the fishing rod) was not built to handle braided line. That changed a few years back—in fact, our teardown revealed that it has more in common with $200-plus reels than with others in its price category. (Consider sizes 1500 to 2000 for small freshwater and inshore saltwater species, 3000 to 5000 for medium freshwater and saltwater species, 5000 to 8000 for surf fishing, and 8000 to 10000 for larger fish, including some pelagic fish like mahi mahi and small tuna.)

Mechanically, the Daiwa BG SW reels stand head and shoulders above competitors within the same price range for a handful of reasons.

The ball bearings in the BG SW, for one thing, are the very same Minebea bearings that are loaded into Shimano’s Stella SW series of reels, which typically run for $800 to $1,400. The anti-reverse clutch (which keeps the reel from spinning backward) consists of individual metal springs, as opposed to the cheap plastic clips usually featured in $100 reels.

The drag or “thrust” disc has a rubber seal mounted to it, and according to expert spinning-reel reviewer Alan Hawk, it’s constructed of the same polymer that makes up the thrust discs of the Penn Slammer III (which usually costs about $300).

And finally, one small but brilliant finishing touch: The spool has a small hole drilled in it to prevent rust and allow trapped water to escape. This detail is further testament to the kind of thought that Daiwa put into the research and design of this humble but trusty little $100 reel.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Daiwa no longer states on its website that the BG SW has a machined aluminum gear, but the company avoids mentioning what material the gear is made of. As Alan Hawk discovered, it’s cast zinc. Nevertheless, although machined aluminum makes for a higher-quality, more durable gear, cast zinc still gets the job done and is the industry standard in reels under $300.

Upgrade reel: Okuma Azores Z-65S

Okuma Azores reel over splashing water

Also great

Okuma Azores Z-65S

Okuma Azores Z-65S

Holds more line

This slightly larger, more expensive reel is durable and has a high drag for targeting larger fish. Its large spool size makes it great for surf-casting and open-water applications where extra line comes in handy, but it’s too clunky for targeting smaller fish.

The Okuma Azores reels are simple but powerful, with a design and drag comparable to those of the Daiwa BG SW, but they can be slightly more expensive depending on the size you select (we recommend the Z-65S size for all-around use). Next to other reels with similar line ratings, the Azores reel holds a lot of line because it’s a bit bigger. This means it will perform well in the surf or at greater depths (60 feet or more), where excess line is often necessary. It’s also a capable stand-in if the Daiwa is unavailable, but it’s a bit too large to gracefully handle lighter-action artificial lures.

Of all the reels we tested, the Azores had the highest maximum drag rating at 44 pounds (I didn’t quite get it there, but it came in close enough at 40 pounds on the scale). Forty-four pounds of drag (or tension) is about as much drag as any human can handle before being yanked off their feet anyhow. The Azores is equipped with Okuma’s Dual-Force Drag System, which has one set of washers in the top of the spool and another larger, single washer at the bottom. The reasoning is that the two drags work against each other, which theoretically makes sense and might explain the reel’s formidable drag rating.

After putting sand and salt through the reel and taking it apart, I was surprised to find that the spool was just as clean inside as the Daiwa BG SW and the Shimano Spheros SW. That bodes well for the long-term durability of the Azores, despite the relative lack of internal grease compared with other models. However, while the bearings are sealed, the gear is not, and I’m left with doubts as to whether the gear can outlast those of the Daiwa BG SW or the slightly more expensive Penn and Shimano reels.

Overall, the Azores is a capable reel, but its larger size and slightly higher price mean that the BG SW is both more versatile and a better value for most people.

Care and maintenance

Regardless of what rod or reel you get, salt is the enemy—even with gear specifically designed for use in the ocean. At the end of the day, be sure to give everything a solid rinse with freshwater and loosen the drags (to relieve straining pressure), whether your rig costs $20 or $2,000. If you take this step, our recommended Ugly Stik GX2 and Daiwa BG SW combo will serve you well for years to come.

When rinsing a reel, first tighten the drag, sealing it so that water doesn’t work into the washers. Lay the reel out horizontally so that any water that gets in has an easy path out, and don’t blast a reel with water to avoid blasting out the grease; just make sure it receives a thorough flow. If you want to be particularly diligent when cleaning your fishing gear (it will pay off in the long run), you can soak a cloth in freshwater (even with a little soap—boat soap works) and wipe everything down. Once finished, loosen the drag; if you leave reel drags tight, they tend to get stuck that way and lose their precision.

Additionally, keeping your reel packed with grease will reduce corrosion and improve longevity. You can find reel grease in almost any outdoor-sporting store, but if you’re not confident in taking your reel apart to apply grease, having it done in-store would be worthwhile.

What about tackle storage?

Although a good rod and reel are crucial for the beginning angler, managing the necessary tackle (hooks, lines, sinkers, floats, and so forth) for your fishing expedition can also make or break your experience. The amount of tackle carried to the boat, watering hole, or river will vary depending on what kind of fishing you’re doing. But to keep things flexible and give yourself room to grow and try out different environments, we think investing in a simple yet multipurpose tackle bag is a good place to start. In comparison with the tackle boxes of old—whose fold-out compartments resembled hardware storage more than outdoors equipment—a well-constructed tackle bag with individual compartments, carabiner loops, and a supportive shoulder strap will lessen the load of hiking to remote spots or bringing necessities with you while wading into a river.

We spoke with senior editor and lifetime angler Grant Clauser about his preferences for tackle storage. And though he agreed that there is likely no single bag that will suit anything from fly-fishing to deep-water trowling, he had a few suggestions for what to look for. His tackle splits its time between a classic (and unfortunately discontinued) L.L.Bean tackle bag (which straps easily to the front of his kayak) and a similarly vintage side-sling number from Piscifun. Costing around $30, the updated version of Clauser’s side-sling model features supportive, padded shoulder and waist straps, as well as enough compartments to easily sort bait from gear, while not overburdening you. The numerous loops and side compartments make it easy to keep essentials like pliers and multi-tools within reach, alongside a convenient water-bottle holder.

The competition

As our former runner-up pick, the Penn Battle II reel offers build quality and durability comparable to those of models costing $150 or more. It’s compact enough to handle small fish gracefully, but it has enough drag to land saltwater fish, as well. Unfortunately, we’re noticing consistent stock issues with Penn’s reels, potentially related to the coronavirus pandemic.

I brought my cheapo Shimano FXS rod on several trips to test beside the others. Though I’ve owned and used these rods for nearly two decades, I won’t recommend them. They’re functional, and I’ve managed to land fairly large fish on them, but they’re brittle and unreliable. If you’re paying $13 to $35, you shouldn’t really expect much, but if you need to have a fishing rod and want to spend less than $20, the FXS will do the trick for smaller fish—just take it for what it’s worth and don’t expect it or its guides to last.

We also considered several high-end models to determine if paying a lot more would get you a much better product. I was a big fan of St. Croix’s Triumph spinning rod as an all-around inshore stick—it’s featherlight, well-balanced, and a pleasure to cast all day long. I found that the tip was just sensitive enough to pass for a bait-fishing rod (though I’d still primarily designate it as a lightweight artificial/jigging rod). I’ve left it soaked in salt and sand, and even in a bit of marsh mud for two weeks, and I’ve seen no rust stains or any other signs of degradation.

The only issue I have with the Triumph (as with almost all other rods that aren’t Ugly Stiks) concerns the guides. While generally sturdy, they still don’t come anywhere close to Ugly Stik’s Ugly Tuff guides.

We also tried the Penn Battalion and the Shimano Teramar SE, which are both great rods. I found the Battalion to be somewhat lightweight for its action and recommended line weight, which you could easily solve by ordering the next weight up (for example, if you want a “medium action” rod, order the Battalion in “medium heavy”). I’m also a fan of the Teramar, which is extremely well-balanced—both in weight and in guide placement—but Shimano rods come with only a one-year warranty, and I prefer the high-end cork on the Triumph and Battalion anyway. On the other hand, if you’re going to spend the majority of your time bait fishing, consider the Teramar, which offers a little more play and would be a delightful tool when you’re fishing cut bait for striped bass from a boat in Long Island Sound.

Shimano’s Spheros SW is among the smoothest spinning reels I’ve ever held, out of the box. It has the same three-part pinion/clutch seal (the most important seal in a spinning reel, protecting the very center of the reel, which is virtually irreparable) as Shimano’s $1,000-plus reels. The line lay is impeccably even, and despite being largely plastic, the Spheros is sturdy where it counts. If you’re looking to spend $200 on a reel, the Spheros is it, with the Quantum Cabo PTSE (more on that model below) so close behind that I’d recommend trying both before making a decision based on your own personal preference. (Note that the Cabo PTSE sizes 60 and up are superior to the 40 and 50 sizes, which have inferior anti-reverse clutches.)

We also tested Shimano’s Saragosa, a supposed upgrade, but didn’t find anything particularly advantageous about it over the Spheros SW.

The Shimano Baitrunner performed well, but its lack of durability took it out of the running after we did our teardown test. After just a few weeks of use, it showed some early signs of corrosion. We expected more out of a $160 reel. Ultimately, I’ve had to repair the secondary (freespool) drags on the Baitrunner, which is another reason why I suggest buying a conventional setup if you’re going to fish bait.

Shimano introduced another $100-range line of spinning reels, called the Nasci. I’m thoroughly impressed, especially with the fact that Shimano includes a cold-forged drive gear (usually cast zinc in reels within this price range), though according to spinning-reel guru Alan Hawk, it’s made more cheaply than the higher-end drive gears. The major issues I immediately had with the Nasci were the slightly uneven line lay (line doesn’t seem to collect on the spool as neatly as on other reels) and the tiny crank handle, which is bolted on and cannot be changed. This design might not affect other fishers as much, but I find it to be a nuisance to have to grab something so small when you’re hurrying to set the hook.

The Quantum Cabo PTSE, which I picked up only after reading a rave review by Alan Hawk, was delightful to cast. It’s featherlight, and I paired it with two higher-end rods, which made for the lightest spinning-rod-and-reel combos I’d ever held; as a result, I didn’t grow tired casting into a stiff breeze from a rivermouth jetty for several hours. The 100 and 120 sizes are absolute brutes. My friend Captain Colin Kelly spent the better part of the fall bluefin tuna run off Cape Cod relying on these modestly priced reels, which compete with the $500 to $700 reels that have generally been the only options for catching fish over 200 pounds on spinning gear. Toward the end of the season, a 400-pound bruiser burned up the clicker on the spool, which isn’t a huge deal but worth mentioning. That said, most 100- or 120-size reels are probably outmatched by 400-pound fish.

About your guide

Owen James Burke

Further reading

  • The Best Reel Mower for Your (Small) Lawn
  • The Best Garden Hose, Hose Nozzle, and Hose Reel
  • The Best Fish Tank, Heater, Light, and Accessories
  • Pro Kitchen Tools to Level Up Your Home Cooking
Sours: https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/best-rod-reel-for-most-fishers/

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