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Fishing Rod and Reel Combinations





In determining a fishing rod and reel; one must consider the species you are fishing for along with the type of lure or bait to be used. For instance your rod and reel set-up should match the fishing presentation. There are several main basic categories of fishing rod and reel combinations: Spincasting, Spinning, Baitcasting, Trolling, Mooching, Flycasting and Center-pinning; and within each there are multiple sub-categories of specialty types of outfits used for specific fishing applications.

Fishing Rod & Reel Combinations:


This is the preferred set-up for the inexperienced angler. Spincasting outfits are excellent in teaching the beginning angler and children the mechanics of casting. The spin cast reel is mounted above the rod with the reel spool enclosed with a nose cone cover, this prevents line snarling and backlash's that are associated with bait casting reels. Casting is a simple task, the angler presses and holds down a button on the rear of the reel, this disengages the line pick-up pin, upon the forward cast the line comes off the spool. Once the crank handle is turned the pick-up pin is engaged retrieving the line on the spool.

Spincast reels have low gear ratios as a result of the size of the spool, which makes it difficult to fish lures that require a fast retrieve such as: inline spinners, spinner baits and buzz bombs. When purchasing a spincast reel consider selecting models with anti reverse and smooth drag system versus the inexpensive all plastic models with sticky drags that result in broken line. For rods buy fiberglass their durable will hold up from abuse. 


Spinning reels where commercially introduced in 1948 by Mitchell Reel Company of France. The design was of a fixed spool reel mounted below the fishing rod with a mechanical pick-up (wire bail) used to retrieve the fishing line. The anti reverse feature prevents the crank handle from rotating while fighting a fish allowing the angler to use the drag. In casting a spinning reel the angler opens the bail, grasping the line with the forefinger, then using a backward snap of the rod followed by a forward cast, the line is drawn off the fixed non rotating spool and not against a rotating spool such as a bait casting reel. Because of this lighter lures can be used where the weight of the lure does not have to pull against a rotating spool. Spinning rods have large fishing line guides to minimize line friction upon casting. Spinning outfits operate best using fairly light weight limp flexible monofilament fishing lines.


Baitcasting outfits are excellent for many kinds of fishing, and come in a wide variety of options and types: Round and Low Profile, High and Low Retrieve Speed along with anti-reverse handles and line drags designed to slow runs by large and powerful gamefish. Baitcasting outfits are considered the standard when using heavier lures, all bait casting reels are mounted above the rod. When casting; the angler moves the rod backward then snapping it forward, the line is pulled off the reel by the weight of the lure. In the early years of bait casting reels the angler used their thumb to control the amount of line travel as well as to prevent the spool overrun or backlash. Today all quality bait casting reels have a spool tension feature for adjusting the centrifugal brake, and or a magnetic 'cast control' to reduce spool overrun during a cast and resultant line snare called a birds nest. Overall bait casting outfits are best suited for the experienced angler, they can be intimidating but you can learn with a little time and effort.  

For successful casting the most important setting is the casting brake. (The casting brake is the small knob located in the center under the reel handle side) To set the cast control, tie on your lure and reel it to the tip of your rod. Tighten the knob until it feels snug. Push the casting release button. Your lure should not move. Hold the rod at the 2 o’clock position and slowly turn the knob counter clockwise until the lure starts to fall. Let the lure hit the ground and watch the spool. The spool should not spin more than one revolution after the lure hit’s the ground. If it spins more than one revolution, tighten the cast control knob and repeat the procedure. If the spool does not spin after the lure hit’s the ground, the cast control is set too tight. Loosen the knob and repeat the procedure.


The term trolling not only reflects the type of equipment, but a commonly used method of fishing. Trolling is a form of angling where lines with hook-rigged lures are dragged behind a boat to entice fish to bite. Trolling outfits are very similar to bait casting set-ups, as the trolling reels are mounted above the rod. Trolling rods range from long and limber for downriggers and planer boards to stiff for large plugs. The spool line capacity on trolling reels is greater than bait casting reels to accommodate heavier fishing line that is used for long line big water trolling.

All trolling reels have three basic features: star drag (Line Braking System) on the reel handle for fighting large game fish, an on/off line release lever and a line out alarm (Clicker) other options are a line counter allowing the angler to replicate the amount of line used on successful fish catching patterns. Trolling can be as simple as just letting line off the reel with an attached lure known as flat lining or using rigging systems such as a downriggers, planer/trolling boards and dipsey divers.

The Gear - This originally consisted of using 25# mono line, a kidney sinker attached to the end of your mainline, and a leader usually 6' long with 2 hooks tied in tandem hooked into a herring for bait.

The Rod - The original fiberglas rods were usually from 8' 6" or 9' medium or heavy mooching rod. You will however notice a few 10 to 11' rods being used. Lately you will see graphite rods slightly lighter, especially if braided type lines are being used.

The Reel - The reel is usually a spool type reel with a star drag. Size is usually anything that is designed to hold about 200 yards of 25# mono. "Moochers" use a direct drive reel so that they can be in more direct control while letting the line/lure out by thumbing the spool. Mooching reels have also become popular for use while Trolling.


The angling method of fly fishing is casting a fly or streamer consisting of a hook tied with fur,feathers, foam, or other lightweight materials to mimic insects, minnows and other aquatic creatures. The fly lure is non-weighted for which the fly rod uses the weight of the fly line in casting the fly lure. Fly lines are available in a variety of forms varying from tapered sections (double-tapered, weight-forward, shooting-head) level (even through out) as well as floating and sinking types, attached on the end of the fly line is a leader of monofilament or fluorocarbon fishing line called a tippet in whichthe fly lure is tied to. Fly rods are long, thin, flexible fishing rods originally made of split bamboo, but now are constructed from man made composite materials (fiberglass, carbon/graphite and boron/graphite) ranging from 6ft to 14ft in length.

The fly line, not the lure, determines casting. Fly rods are sized (matched) by the weight of the fly line from size #0 rods for the smallest freshwater trout and panfish up to and including #16 rods for large saltwater game fish. Fly fishing reels are mounted below the rod with the basic design of line storage. Early fly reels often had no drag systems just a clicker that was used to keep the reel from overrunning the line when pulled from the spool, the angler used their hand as a line brake known as palming when fighting a fish. Newer fly reels have incorporated disc type drag that allows the angler the adjustment range using the combination of the rod and reel to control large game fish in powerful runs.

There are several types of casts in fly fishing, the most common is the forward cast. The angler starts by stripping line off the reel with one hand while whipping the rod in a series of back a forth motions over the shoulder. The correct angle is 10 o' clock to 2 o' clock. The main objective is to load the rod with stored energy then transmit that energy to the fly line allowing the angler the acceptable amount of casting distance. The goal is to present the fly lure in such a way that the line lands smoothly on the water’s surface and appears natural. Other casting techniques are false casting, used to cast a fly lure with out landing on the water, others are single and double haul cast, roll cast side, or curve cast and the tuck cast. If you're considering fly fishing we highly recommend that you seek professional guidance by visiting your local fly fishing pro shop in selecting the rod, reel and fly lures as well as receiving lessons on casting.


Center-pinning is a highly evolved hybrid that shares the mechanics of spinning, fly fishing, noodle-rodding jig-and-bobber drifting and a dab of side-drifting. It can be worked from bank or boat, will cover a football field or more of water without requiring the angler to reposition and reaches deep under overhangs and dripping brush to ferret out secluded fish that other techniques can't reach. It's mechanically simple if not somewhat techie, produces when water conditions are cold, muddy and nearly impossible for conventional tackle, employs thin, fine lines (10-pound-test is good, 8- is better), and will effectively deliver those high-action mini jigs that cause lethargic coldwater steelhead to come unglued. A basic rig and rudimentary casting style will throw jigs as light as 1/32-ounce for considerable distances, and 1/16-ounce jigs easily soar 60 feet.

The free-spooling reel is the heart of the center-pin system. The frightening heart. A British writer described them as "the Rolls Royce of reels. A delight to look at, wonderful to hold, and just a nightmare to use." Center-pin reels resemble thin (typically less than an inch wide) fly reels that will hold 300 yards of 8-pound-test on a 4H-inch diameter spool. These reels are essentially single-action precision-crafted line-arbors that revolve freely on embedded micro bearings around a polished spindle-the nearly friction-free namesake "center-pin."

Prominent reel manufacturers are Raven, Ross, Islander and Okuma. Because of the nearly friction-free zero-drag and infinite free-spool, the reels will smoothly self-feed line downstream, a plus for classic bobber drifting. The constant free-spool (some models offer clicker resistance), while ideal for long drifts, takes practice when looking to develop the coordinated touch that will stop the spinning spool with delicate finger pressure short of disastrous line overruns and tangles, yet never impeding the drift. There is also a tendency for loose coils to jump the spool and wrap-up on the rod handles.

Center-pinning rods resemble stiff renditions of the wimpy noodle rods that were in vogue in the 1970s. CPs are 11 to 14 feet long, built with medium backbones, fast tips, and 6- to 9-inch butts with under-slung reel seats. The extreme length and closely-spaced row of 10 to 14 line guides help loft the bantam lures and control the fine lines inherent to center-pinning. The length, which allows a lot of slack to be lifted off the water in a hurry, can be a plus-factor when fighting a hard-charging steelhead with the maddeningly slow, single-action center-pin reel.

John Posey, an executive at Lamiglas Rods, sees enough new interest to jump into the market with the X113MC-P model designed with a moderate action. The Lamiglas center-pin rod is 11 feet 3 inches long, two pieces, and rated for 8- to 15-pound line and 3/8- to 3/4-ounce lures, Posey said.
Raven Tackle, a Canadian manufacturer based in Ontario, is one of the longest-established makers of center-pin rods and reels, marketing a line of rods from 11 feet, 6 inches to 14 feet. The lanky rods provide line control when float fishing, long drifts and passable hook sets. According to Raven, 13-foot 6-inch float rods handle most river conditions, and the 14-footer is for large rivers. Raven manufactures an 11-foot 6-inch model, comparable to the Lamiglas introduction, specifically for steelheading.

Center-pin steelheading lines are typically light monofilament, thin diameter and buoyant to float on the surface during the drift.

The standard center-pin cast involves a convoluted casting style that is beautiful to watch and intimidating to master. Casting requires mastering a two-handed technique with a monster learning curve and no shortcuts-pat-your-head, rub-your-belly coordination. Strip out 18 inches of green line and hold it at a 90-degree angle away from the spool, forming a V between reel spool and first guide. With finger pressure your rod hand secure the free-spinning spool. Holding the line 90 degrees out, draws back the rod and flip it toward the targeted current seam, simultaneously releasing the line. Holding the line at a 90-degree angle is critical to presentation and smooth line feed.
There are several casting styles, most prominently the Wallis, Nottingham and side cast, which is the basic 90-degree system.

For drift fishermen there are several large advantages to center-pinning. Ultra-light jigs (down to 1/32-ounce), single eggs or even flies can be presented without adding supplemental sinkers, Slinkies, or pencil leads, which enhances lure action. Free-swinging lure action is especially critical for provoking strikes when water temperatures are just short of ice and when visibility is measured in inches. Stout winter flows, however, sometimes may require a split or two of shot to be positioned above the very light lures to prevent them from kiting back to the surface, and will be needed to pull line through drift floats designed to slide on the line. Bobber and jig rigs can be finessed from pocket to pocket along current seams that run well over 100 yards, which means that every cast covers a lot of holding water, including reaching into areas protected by shielding overhangs. The ability to reach fish that conventional fishermen can't is a huge bonus.

When all the pieces fit, though, center-pinning is a deadly combination that lifts bobber and jig drifting into an evenmore productive art form, and produces steelhead and salmon when it shouldn't. I don't see the technique ever displacing open-faced spinning reels or fixed-spool casting systems, no matter how productive it is. It's a challenge to learn. A little upscale. It probably has more in common with fly fishing than conventional steelhead techniques.

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