This next installment of tournament gear purchases will cover my choice of rods and reels for the 2012 fishing season. I plan on being thorough with this subject because these tools will become an integral part of my fishing style as the tournament season progresses. So let's get down to the what's an why's of my gear choices so you can get a better understanding of my thought process while choosing new gear.
To keep it simple for now, let's work from the top to the bottom...starting with my froggin' and topwater rods and reels!
When I walk into Bass Pro or any tackle shop looking for a new rig, I ALWAYS choose a reel first! I do this because the reel will become the foundation in creating a well balanced, dependable setup. Some of the things that I ask myself before I even look at a reel includes...
1) What gear ratio will I need? (7.1, 6.3, 6.4, 5.2???)
2) What is the overall weight of the reel? (Lighter reels will cause less fatigue)
3) What type of internals does it have? (Brass/Aluminum?)
4) How many bearings does it have? (More bearings = smoother retrieve/casting, Less bearings = longer casts)
5) What kind of braking system does it have? (Magnetic, Centrifugal, Dual?)
6) Do I want a small or big profile reel? (Which is more comfortable when I palm it?)
7) How much drag force does it have? (The more drag force the better!)
8) How fine are the adjustments on the spool knob, drag star, and brakes? (Audible click adjustments?)
9) What type of material and how many pieces does the body come in? (Aluminum, Carbon Fiber?)
10) What kind of warranty do I get with this reel? (1 year, 3 year?)
All of these details are necessary because if you take your time and choose informatively you will end up with a durable, application ready reel! REMEMBER that all people will have their own favorite style...so don't take any recommendations that I make to heart. Always go with what is most comfortable with your own personal style!
After you have run through all of these details, the last thing you want to look at is the price. Normally I like to stay within the 120-250 dollar range because most reels on the market today are manufactured with quality parts and options within this price range. Most of the gear outside of this price point will end up with you breaking the bank for something that attracts the fisherman more than the fish. REMEMBER that keeping on a budget when you are just starting out is going to be another essential part of keeping yourself in the game! And just because a reel is 300 dollars or over, doesn't mean you can't find it for cheaper some place else!
After all of my decisions were made I decided on the Lew's Tournament Pro Speed Spools (TP1SH) for both of my topwater applications. The dual brake gives me better adjustability for windy conditions, the one piece frame and carbon fiber side plates are simple and well made, the audible click spool knob, drag star and magnetic brake can be tweaked in fine increments, and the reels are VERY lightweight overall! I chose the 7.1 gear ratio for both my frogging rod and topwater rod because that ratio will allow me to recover slack line quicker, it will help me cover a lot of water more quickly, and will give me the ability to horse fish out of heavier cover faster!
The next piece of this puzzle were the rods that should be paired with these light weight burners! Some of the things that I wanted to look into first before buying included...
1) What action, power, and length will I need?
2) What kind of handle does it have and is it comfortable?
3) What kind of guides does the rod have?
4) How does it balance and feel with the reel I bought?
5) What type of warranty does the rod have?
This phase really took some thought because a rod has two main functions that need to work in unison with each other before it can be an effective tool. These two main functions are 1) Bite detection and 2) Fish fighting ability. Froggin' and Topwater, although both surface lures, will both have to be two very different styles of rods. The reason why begins with the #2 function and the types of hooks corresponding to each bait. Frogs usually have a dual split hook with one eyelet. Since froggin' requires a delayed, full force hookset I went the route of choosing the St. Croix Mojo Bass 7'0 MH fast action rod. This rod gives me the length needed for longer casts, it has a MH power that gives a great deal of backbone, and has a fast tip reaction. The blank and the warranty is also really nice on this rod for being at the 100 dollar mark. A really sensitive rod for this application is not really necessary since frogging is more of a visual strike than a "feel" strike. As long as the rod allows you to feel the weight of the fish after the strike happens, then you are good to go!
Last but not least is my topwater rod. In this case I had to take a totally different approach from the the froggin' rod because most surface topwater lures have a set of treble hooks. In most instances, treble hooks embed themselves on the hookset so having constant "soft" pressure on the fish during the fight is very critical! So for this route I decided to go with the Shimano Cumara Reaction series 7' 0" MH Moderate Fast action rod. The key in this whole decision was choosing a rod that had a moderate to moderate fast action that will act as a "cushion" during the fight. I can not begin to tell you how important the action will be for this and all remaining setups I will talk about. Keeping that hook in the fish will make or break you in a tournament situation, so you might as well have every odd you can in your favor! So as a rule of thumb, any instance you are using a lure with treble hooks...always use a moderate or moderate fact action rod!
The length and the power I chose for this rod is all relative based on what was comfortable for me. A 7' rod is my "middle of the road" comfort zone and I usually shorten my length if I need more accuracy, and add to my length when I need more casting distance or a greater length for shock load dispersement (i.e. flipping and pitching)...but that will be for a later segment.
I by no means have written down every and all of my reasons for picking this equipment, but instead gave you the spark notes version of what I thought was essential. Any and all questions beyond this posting is welcome and can be sent to Alan@dupageangler.com
Look for my next segments coming soon...as you can see below, I have ALOT more to cover!!!