"Get a Grip"
Fishing rod grips have come a long way in shapes, sizes, colors, and materials in the past few years. Grips now come in a wide variety of colors, all kinds of material, and are very customizable to fit any anglers needs and wants. Golf style grips, heat shrink material, cord style wraps, foam, cork, and more make the handle combinations almost limitless!
Few rods are as "multi-purpose" as light inshore spinning rods. Ranging in lengths from 6-8' and with line class ratings from 6-25lbs; there is a light spinning rod for most applications. A 7' inshore spinning rod, rated for 10-20lb line, with a medium fast to fast action is a very versatile tool that can be used for a lot of species in fresh and salt water. No anglers arsenal should be without a few light spinners!
Throwing flair-hawks for snook is addicting, and most anglers can't help but get hooked on the THUMP! Catch a snook or two on a jig and you will be looking for just the right rod for your new sleep depriving habit.
Like all things fishing related, opinions vary on the best rod and reel setup for throwing flair-hawks; the following is a quick look at two combos that work well for us. Big thanks to Capt. Eric (http://www.freighttrainfishing.com) for all his help in getting us dialed in on a lot of the the different snook fishing things we write about here.
Bridge/Jetty/"Land-based" Jig Rod- When we are out fishing from land at night we tend to break out the longer jig rods. Stout graphite baitcasting rods in the 8.5-9' range paired with a heavy duty low profile baitcaster spooled with 30-65lb braided line gets the nod most of the time (Example: Cousins Tackle 8925 or Rainshadow 1088 paired with a Daiwa Lexa or Abu Garcia Revo NaCl). Spinning rods in the same length are also popular with a good strong spinning reel spooled with 30-50lb braided line. It becomes a personal preference on bait casting verses spinning tackle. Baitcasting reels tend to be a little lighter in weight, offer good drag systems, and some cool casting advantages when you really get them dialed in. Regardless of wether you chose bait casting or spinning reels, the long rod is important for getting good long casts. Also, the long rod can save your fish when you need to reach under a bridge or steer a fish out of a bad area. A medium fast action works well on a jig rod as it provides just a little time for the rod to load up and drive the hook home after a bone jarring THUMP!
Boat Jig Rod- The only major difference with the boat jig rod is the length. The longer rods work on the boat, but the length can be cumbersome. A 7-8' rod with the above mentioned specs does a nice job on the boat.
Thanks For Reading Guys,
"Tackling it all"
South Florida offshore fishing can be a tough thing to buy tackle for; one day may find you trolling for dolphin, the next day kite fishing for sailfish, and then the following night snapper fishing on the reef (to name only a few...). With so many angling opportunities available it is hard to pick just one to concentrate on, and it is hard to buy tackle to cover them all (especially to beginners). Unfortunately (or fortunately if you own a tackle shop, like I do) one rod doesn't cover it all. The following is a quick look at rods/reels for getting started when it comes to offshore fishing in South Florida.
The three most common types of offshore combos are:
1. Spin/Troll- Typically a 6-7' spinning rod paired with a large capacity spinning reel spooled with 20lb monofilament. "Spin/Troll" is a term given to spinning rods meant for offshore use, they typically have a gimbal allowing them to be locked into a rod holder and used for light trolling.
Comon Uses- Light trolling, Flatline rod while drifting, pitch bait rod for schoolie dolphin
2. Lever Drag/"Trolling" Combos- Typically a 6-7' boat rod paired with a lever drag conventional reel spooled with line in the 20-40lb class. The lever drag reel is popular for trolling as it allows for slight drag adjustments to deal with varying conditions. Anglers interested in trolling more than anything else should consider going with larger lever drag reels in the 30-50lb class( Shimano TLD25). A smaller lever drag reel (Shimano TLD 15) filled with 20lb monofilament makes a nice multi use rod/reel for light trolling, kite fishing, bottom fishing, etc.
Common Uses- Trolling, Live bait fishing, bottom fishing(In some cases)
3. Star Drag Conventional- Typically a 6-8' conventional rod paired with a star drag reel filled with 20-40lb monofilament. Rods tend to be a little lighter than those used for trolling, have a more sensitive tip, and are better for feeling small bites. These set-ups are great for bottom fishing and drifting with live bait. They are not ideal for trolling purposes.
Common Uses- Bottom fishing, Drifting
Many new south Florida anglers like to start with something like following combination of gear:
(2) Spin/Troll Rods
(4) Shimano TLD 15 Reels matched to 6'6" Rods spooled with 25lb monofilament.
This is a fairly well encompassing set. The spinning rods can be used to catch live baits with sabiks, rigged as pitch bait rods while dolphin trolling, set out as flatlines while bottom fishing, and more. While the TLD combos can be used for dolphin trolling, kite fishing for sailfish, bottom fishing for snapper, drift fishing, and more all with very simple rig changes.
Interested in getting into surf fishing? The following is a brief rundown on common surf spinning rod and reel combos and common uses for South Florida beaches. Uses will vary depending on location.
1. "Traditional" Surf Rod- 10-13' Surf Rod matched with a 6000-8000 size spinning reel spooled w/ 15-25lb monofilament line. This long surf rod is ideal for those that want to cast a bait out, stick the rod in the sandspike, and kick back in a beach chair until a fish bites. Pick the longest rod you feel comfortable with. Longer rods provide a longer cast, and help keep line out of the water when the surf is up.
Common Uses- Bait Fishing w/ bottom rig.
Common Species- Pompano, Bluefish, Croaker, Whiting, Jacks, Blue Runner
2. "Crossover" Lure/Bait Surf Rod- 8-10' Spinning Rod (Graphite preferably) matched with a 5000-6000 size spinning reel and typically filled with 30-50lb braided line. This setup is ideal for those interested in being able to use both lures and bait.
Common Uses- Bait Fishing in calm conditions, throwing heavy lures(spoons, diamond jigs, poppers, etc), "bobber" rig (as described earlier)
Common Species- Snook, Tarpon, Blacktip Sharks, Jacks, Bluefish, Spanish Mackerel
3. Light Spinning Rod- 7-8' Spinning Rod matched with 3000-4000 size spinning reel and filled with 8-10lb monofilament or 10-20lb braided line. This is a a setup that can be used for smaller lures or light bait rigs in calm surf conditions.
Common Uses- Summertime snook sight fishing, pompano jigging, throwing small spoons and gotcha lures, croaker/whiting bottom fishing, and much more
Common Species-Snook, Croaker, Whiting, Pompano, blue runners, bluefish, spanish mackerel
"Picking Out Pier Rods"
Many south Florida piers limit the number of rods an angler can take out fishing; with a three rod limit being a very common number. The following is a brief rundown on the three most common setups carried onto south Florida fishing piers; and some of the more common uses for them. Target species, weather, time of year, and many other factors may change these setups from time to time, but this general rundown will keep most of your pier fishing bases covered. (From left to right in the picture)
1. Heavy Bottom Rod w/ large capacity Conventional Reel. This setup is typically a beefy 8-9' fibergalss rod(for strength) and a reel capable of handling 30-60lb test monofilament line.
-Common pier uses include: snook fishing underneath the pier, casting out bottom baits(permit fishing is very popular), trolley rigging, or (on piers that allow it) shark fishing. This setup is typically going to be your "big fish" rod and reel.
-Crossover uses include: Livebait Rod for bridge snook fishing, beach shark rod, heavy boat bottom fishing rod(Very commonly referred to as a "Tortugas" style bottom rod"
2. Long Spinning Rod / "Big Spinner"- A fairly heavy spinning rod in the 8-9' range matched with a spinning reel capable of holding a large capacity of 30-65lb braided fishing line. This rod is usually graphite to keep the weight down and allow for better casting; but certain Calstar fiberglass blanks excel in this application and provide a little more durability than many graphite rods on the market today.
-Common Pier uses include: Throwing heavy cobia jigs, throwing heavy plugs(Like Rapala X-Raps) for bonita and kingfish, and flatlining for snook when they are feeding near the surface.
-Crossover Uses include: Flair hawk snook rod, beach plug rod, and very popular for cobia fishing in the boat when long casts are needed.
3. "Sabiki Rod" (although it is so much more...) is a 7-8' lighter action spinning rod matched with a 3000-4000 size spinning reel and either 8-10lb monofilament or 10-20lb braided line.
-Common Pier Uses include: "sabiki rod" for catching livebait, casting goofy jigs for pompano, throwing assorted small plugs and jigs for mackerel, and many other uses where a small rod or light line is needed.
-Crossover Uses include: too many to list, bass fishing, inshore fishing of all types (wading or boat fishing for snook, trout, redfish, etc), summertime beach snook fishing etc...
We interrupt rod/reel week to bring you this special episode of "Everything You Need To Know...About Fishing" (That's right special an extra day early to enjoy all the...well you know)
As we continue to roll on with a look at various types of fishing rods and reels; let's not forget the most important factor when picking out a rod and/or reel...the person fishing with it. It is easy to read yourself in circles when it comes to fishing related things, and everyone has an opinion on what is or isn't the best choice. Make sure that a rod and/or reel looks good to you, feels right, and falls in your price range; your the one that is going to be fishing it, make sure you like it before you buy it!
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