By Dan Kidder
If you walk in my garage, you would think I have 20 kids, or run a Boy Scout fishing program or am a fishing guide. In reality, my garage is where fishing rigs go to die a slow death after they fail to meet my exacting standards.
For years I have been searching for the best all-around spinning rig that will work for everything from angry Northerns to little crappies. I have tried dozens of poles, scores of reels, and thousands of yards of lines, and until recently, I still hadn’t found that setup that did what I was looking to do.
My criteria are simple; I want a rod that will have a stiff enough action to get me out there, whether on a boat or on shore, yet still be light enough to alert me to the presence of some of the more gentle biters lurking in the depths. I want a few reels that can be easily swapped out for a quick change over, without re-spooling every time I hunt a different species. I want those reels to smoothly hurl and retrieve my line. I want them to hold a lot of line without binding or tangling. I want them to be quiet. And, I want a line that won’t break frequently, will have sufficient strength, but also thinness to be able to bring in those fighters. I want something that doesn’t tangle, twist, wrap, or loop.
Seems impossible, but after years on my quest, I have finally hit upon what I believe to be the perfect combo.
I learned a while back that the rod for the job would be a steelhead setup. I discovered that a rod in the 9-foot range gave me sufficient distance for casting long, while enabling more controlled precision shots at short range. I also wanted a medium action to allow good control, but also positive feedback. For this job, I have settled on the G. Loomis E6X Steelhead Spinning rod (1084-2S STR). It is 9-feet long, medium action, has polished oversized guides, and an extra long cork handle so I can get both hands on it for tossing heavy crankbaits. It will handle everything from giant muskie to tiny trout, without strain. This rod is the perfect fit for the job at hand.
Next, I discovered that my problem all along hasn’t been the brand of line I have been using, it is the type of line. Monofilament sucks. It develops a memory. It binds. It snarls. It twists. It is thick and takes up a lot of real estate on your spool. I doubt that I will ever use monofilament again. The braided line I have chosen is Power Pro from Innovative Textiles. This super fine braided fishing line flies off the reel in smooth arcs, stripping yard after yard into the depths. It has very little stretch when you have a snag or lunker fighting back with all its might. But what really got my attention is how thin it is for the strength it provides. The line runs differently than monofilament so you have the actual breaking weight and the equivalent thickness to a mono-line. For example, the Power Pro 30 pound test line has the equivalent thickness of an 8-pound test mono line. The 15-pound test is the thickness of a 4-pound monofilament. And for those really big fish, the 65-pound test braided line is the same diameter of a 16-pound mono. This means you can load up your spool and not sacrifice line length because of the thickness of the line. When was the last time you were able to put 100 yards of 30-pound test on your regular spinner? This stronger, smoother line means less lost lures on snags, less lost fish to breaks, it is less prone to sun damage and decay, and it just flies off the spool. I was easily getting 80-yard casts with a tiny ¼ ounce spoon, and it was retrieving beautifully on my 5-pound test line with the thickness of 1-pound mono.
As for reels, I know that there is no single reel to rule them all. For my purposes, rather than despooling and respooling line every time I change target species, it is just easier to grab a couple of reels and a few extra spools for each and swap them out as needed. To meet my exacting criteria, I opted for a pair of reels from Shimano; the daintier Sedona for smaller fish, and the mid-sized Stradic for those meatier fighters. The reasons for this choice are mainly the design of the spools, as well as the proven record of Shimano’s gearing system. Shimano is a gear company. They make gears for bicycles, and motors, and anything that needs precise gears. They have been around for a long time and have a proven track record of making gears that work. Their reels are smooth and tight and quiet. They have an excellent and easy to use drag system, and the quality of their workmanship has stood the test of time. The spool design, however, is what really got my attention. The taper at the top of the spool, controls the flow of line going out, and also as it comes back in. You can overload this spool, but it takes a lot to do it. The spools also swap out easily and spare spools are not difficult to find. The bail engagement is strong, but quickly folds back into place with just a gentle turn of the handle. The drag system is adjusted quickly by dialing in the top of the spool and has positive clicks to let you know that you are actually dialing in the drag and not just loosening the spool nut. They have longer handles, so no more knuckle bumping as you reel in your line.
While I am sure that I will always be fine-tuning my all-around fishing rig, it seems like after years of trial and error, I have finally landed on an ideal set-up for the majority of fish species I may hunt. Be sure to see the charts below for the full specs of each of these products, or check them out in the fishing department the next time you hit your local Sportsman’s Warehouse store.
|Loomis E6X||Model #||Length||Pieces||Line Weight||Lure Weight||Power|
|Description: A medium-heavy, big-water steelhead drift rod in both spinning and casting configurations. It has plenty of power for winter or summer-runs and doubles nicely for fall silver salmon. E6X technology gives it a lighter tip-weight which improves balance and fishability. A great all-around, all-season, medium-heavy power drift rod for steelhead and small salmon!|
|Stradic Model C3000||Model||Line Retrieve Per Crank (in)||Mono Line Capacity (#Test/yd)||PowerPro Line Capacity (# Test/yd)||Max Drag (lb)||S-ARB Ball Bearings||Roller Bearing||Gear Ratio||Weight (oz)||Retrieve|
|Sedona Model 1000FE|
|SE1000FE||24||2/270, 4/140, 6/110||10/150, 15/145, 40/105||7||N/A||3+1||5:01||7.1||Reversable|