Finding the Right Fishing Setup

I get asked more and more about how I choose my fishing setups and what I recommend.  The water ways in the areas around me are very much different than many others in the country, but the types of gear we as fisherman need when it comes to rods and reels will not change a lot.

There are a lot of factors that can affect your decision when choosing a new setup:  the waterways you’re fishing, the types of fish you’re going after, the lures you’re throwing, and what the structure is around where you’re fishing.

Picking the right Rods

When choosing a rod, there is a lot of things to think about.  Many factors will affect your decision.  Here is a list of some of the more important ingredients to choosing your setup.

  1. Species. Different species call for different weighted rods. For example, if you’re going after trout, blue gill, or crappie, you will want an ultralight rod with a lot of flexibility and a lot of action at the tip.  You will need to feel every small bump from those fish.  Now, if you’re going after larger fish like large and smallmouth bass, you will want to get a heavier rod.  A medium, medium heavy or in some cases even a heavy action rod is needed when going after these fish.  A medium will come in handy when throwing your soft plastics and certain smaller hard baits.  The medium heavy will be used mostly for your jerk baits, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and sometimes your heavier Texas rigs.  The heavy rod will be used in heavy cover when you’re throwing jigs and frogs.  You need the stiffness when you’re throwing those baits to pull those fish out of that cover as quickly as you can.  When catfishing, or saltwater fishing, there is specific rods already labeled for these types and are an extra heavy rod.  They are hard to miss when you’re shopping for a new setup for those situations.
  2. Water type. Fishing often happens in many different types of waters. Lakes and ponds, rivers, streams and even as big as the ocean.  When fishing streams, often you will want a shorter rod that is a bit stiffer.  You will most likely have a lot of tree cover which will make casting difficult and that’s where the shorter rod comes in handy. For lakes, ponds, and streams, you have a bit more free range with your choices.  From a 6’ rod all the way to a 7’6” rod.  I don’t recommend going much longer than that unless going catfishing, saltwater fishing, or using large swimbaits on a regular basis.
  3. Type of fishing. Now, there’s two types of fishing: conventional and fly.  We covered conventional above but some of you may be fly fisherman or wanting to become one and you may be wondering what rod weight to choose.  When it comes to fly rods, the choices are a little bit smaller.  For your smaller panfish and trout, you will want a rod ranging in the two to four weight region.  When fly fishing for bass, you will want a fly rod within the five to seven weight range, preferably a 5/6 weight rod.  Now, when you get into the bigger freshwater fish and into saltwater fly fishing, you will be looking at anything from an eight weight all the way up to a 12-weight rod.  These bigger weight rods will give the strength you need to fight those bigger fish in a way that many people have never experienced.
Crew Member Cody Younciak with a Large Mouth Bass

Picking the right Reels

When deciding what reel to pair with your new rod, there are many factors involved here as well. These are some very important things to remember when deciding.

  1. Match the reel to your rod. What this means is you don’t want to put a heavy-duty bass reel on your blue gill rod. If you just picked up and ultra-light for trout, you will want to get a smaller ultralight reel to match.  If you chose a medium, medium heavy, or heavy bass rod, pick a reel that will work for the type of lure you’ll be throwing but also matches the power of your rod.
  2. Understand your gear ratio. This may be one of the most, if not the most important factor when buying a new reel. You will want a faster reel, in the 6.2:1-6.5:1 range, when you’re throwing crankbaits, soft plastics, and sometimes jigs.  Reason being, the baits are thrown around a lot of cover and you will need to pull those fish out of there as quickly as possible.  Then a slower reel can be used when buying a spinning reel, or when buying a baitcaster for your jerk baits, spinnerbaits, or swimbaits.  These baits you will want to slow roll often to get the full affect and action of that bait. There is another blog post about understanding gear ratios that you can find right here with Angler Pros.
  3. Don’t pick just one. When choosing a reel for your new setup, do not just buy one brand and say that’s good enough.  If you’re upgrading to multiple setups, buy a variety of reels, try them all, then decide on one you want to use consistently.  For me, it was Daiwa.  Hands down best I’ve ever used.  For you, it may be different.  You may choose Abu Garcia, Shakespeare, Quantum, Lew’s, etc. etc.  You will have lots of options when it comes to a reel which is another reason I would recommend you try out multiple brands before you pick just one.  This tip will come in very handy and make the decision-making process a lot easier in the long run.

I hope this helps you when it comes time to buy yourself a new setup.  Even if you’re new to fishing and you’re just looking for a guide, this one should come in handy.  If you’re looking for line tips, Jimmy McKinney has a great blog about choosing line, but you may also contact any of us here at Angler Pros to help fill you in with what line to use, where to use it, and when.

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