Outdoor Life Online Editor

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.

It’s important to note that despite the fact that we used specific scoring criteria, there’s a definite subjective component to grading tackle. That’s why our team members’ varied backgrounds and biases were important. Along with selected OL editors we were pleased to have lure inventor Herb Reed of Lunker City on our panel.

Our tests were conducted on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee (the famed New Hampshire smallmouth bass and landlocked salmon lake) at Corky and Betsey Newcomb’s Heritage Resort. For consistency, all of our test rods were fitted with Spidercast SCP 300Pro casting or Spidercast Alloy SCA 30 spinning reels. On spin reels we used 8-pound-test Stren EasyCast mono, while our bait-casters were spooled with 12-pound-test original Stren. All of our test reels were mounted to 61/2-foot, medium-action Quantum Tour Edition casting and spinning rods.

Some test rods and reels (Rapala, Rogue, Daiwa and Pflueger) are part of new series, but we didn’t test every model in every line. Therefore, if a specific test item interests you, but you’d like a larger or smaller reel, or a heavier or lighter rod, contact the manufacturer for a catalog.

[XLINK 234534 “Spinning Reels”] | [XLINK 234537 “Bait-Cast”] | [XLINK 234539 “Spin-Cast Reels”] | [XLINK 234664 “Casting Rods”] | [XLINK 234666 “Spinning Rods”] | [XLINK 234525 “Tackle Test Index”]