The fishing season is upon us like a starved bass on a school of cold-shocked shad, and if you're like most anglers, that has you thinking about a new rod, a new reel or maybe both. Our tackle test is designed to make choosing which rod or reel to buy easier than ever. This year we decided to include only rods in the six- to seven-foot range in a medium-light to medium-heavy action, because these will handle the broadest range of freshwater and nearshore saltwater fishing. Test reels were picked using the same parameters. All of the tackle items in this test represent brand-new introductions or, in a couple of cases, totally reengineered products. They range from top-shelf to economically priced, and you'll likely be as surprised as we were when you see how well some of the less costly gear stood up to the more expensive rods and reels.