How To Choose The Right Rod And Reel
Wading through the myriad of choices in fishing gear can leave you with a headache.
To begin with there are the choices between freshwater or saltwater fishing, light tackle, medium tackle, heavy tackle and even fly-fishing.
When considering saltwater you also stop to consider, am I going deepwater or am going to fish near shore. Do I need a rod suitable for boat fishing or a longer rod for the beach and pier fishing?
We obviously cannot address all of these in one article, so let’s take a favorite of mine, saltwater fishing. For the purposes of this article we will assume we are choosing near shore and bay fishing as opposed to offshore, deepwater fishing.
This author grew up on the Gulf Coast of Florida leading to a love of saltwater fishing. We have always had a number of fishing piers in the northwest Florida area where I was raised so having a boat was never a prerequisite. The main types of fishing we do in the Florida panhandle are fishing off the local piers extending into the Gulf of Mexico and wading in the local bays.
When fishing off the local piers one will need fishing gear from medium to medium heavy. Fishing in the Gulf of Mexico we usually focus on the following migrational species: Spanish Mackerel, King Mackerel, and Cobia. Cobia will require separate instruction that goes beyond the scope of this article.
Fishing for Spanish Mackerel requires a medium light to medium action rod at a minimum as the fish can reach a weight of seven or eight pounds in schools of large fish. The reel of choice should be equivalent to a Penn 4500ss or Penn 716 or better. Almost everyone chooses spinning reels for pier fishing. You want a reel that will hold at least 200 yards of 10 to 12 lb. test monofilament line and tie a steel leader of 12-14 inches to keep them from biting through the line.
When fishing for King Mackerel, you will need considerably heavier fishing gear as these are considerably larger fish. King Mackerel on the Upper Gulf Coast will average around twenty pounds but “smoker” Kings of over forty pounds are not uncommon and they can take out 200 yards of fishing line off your reel in seconds! When fishing for these monsters you want to have a medium heavy rod, seven to nine feet in length and preferably paired with a Penn 706z. We favor the Penn reels here on the coast because of their durability. The thing that is special about the 706 is that it has no bail, which makes for much quicker casting. This is crucial when you are competing with several other fishermen all around you. As with the Spanish Mackerel, you will want to tie on a steel leader, but a much heavier one for the Kings. Use a leader of a 40 lb. class or better.