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.