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How We Test

****Every tackle manufacturer represented at the annual International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades (ICAST) Show was invited to submit new products for our test.

For an apples-to-apples comparison, the test rods and reels in each category were mated with identical control reels and rods. Pure Fishing provided Abu Garcia reels and Berkley Lightning rods for this purpose. All reels were spooled with Seaguar Kanzen braided line. A thousand thank-yous go out to both Pure Fishing and Seaguar for supplying the control gear. We simply could not perform the test without their contribution.

Every rod and reel was fished several times over the course of four days by each panel member in the marshes of southern Louisiana, where we tied into everything from largemouths, sea trout, and redfish to flounder, catfish, and monstrous black drum.

Testers rated and scored equipment for qualities including aesthetics, ergonomics, durability of construction, sensitivity, casting distance, drag quality, line management, fish-fighting performance, and, last but not least, value.

Test Results at a Glance
Rating Key:
**** – Excellent
*** – Very Good
** – Good
* – Fair

Spinning Rods

Overall Price Performance Design Price/Value
13 Fishing Envy Black **** $225 A A+ A-
Shimano Compre **** $100 A A A+
Lamiglas Infinity **** $240 A A+ B+
Kistler Carbon Steel **** $100 A- A- A-
Falcon Bucoo Micro **** $130 A- A- A-
Dobyns Coalition Weapon **** $200 A- A- B
St. Croix Legendxtreme **** $390 A- A- B+
Fenwick Aetos **** $180 A- A- B+
Lew’s Team Lews ***1/2 $180 B+ B+ B+
Cabela’s Fish Eagle 50 *** $90 B- B- B
Bass Pro Shops Bionic Blade **1/2 $80 C+ C+ B-

Baitcasting Rods

Overall Price Performance Design Price/Value
Lamiglas Infinity **** $360 A+ A+ B
13 Fishing Omen Black **** $100 A- A A
Dobyns Coalition Weapon **** $200 A- A+ B+
Quantum PT Tour Tactical **** $100 B+ A A
Kistler Carbon Steel **** $110 A- A- A-
Falcon Cara 17 **** $225 A- A- B
St. Croix Legendxtreme **** $390 A- A- B-
Lew’s Team Lews **** $190 A- A- A-
Airrus Stargate ***1/2 $380 B+ A- B-
G.Loomis GLX ***1/2 $395 B+ A- C+
Cabela’s Fish Eagle 50 ***1/2 $90 B+ B B+
Wright & McGill Sweet Reese Alabama Rig *** $100 B B- B
Abu Garcia Villian *** $180 B B- B
Bass Pro Shops Bionic Blade *** $80 B- B- B

Spinning Reels

Overall Price Performance Design Price/Value
Quantum EXO PTi **** $200 A+ A+ A-
Lew’s Speed Spin SS300A **** $60 A A A+
Okuma Helios HX-25 **** $140 A- A- A-
Abu Garcia Revo SX 30 **** $160 A- A- A-
Shimano Saros 2500FA **** $130 A- A- B+
Abu Garcia Cardinal STX ***1/2 $50 B+ B+ A
Castalia Magic Flight XT 2000 ***1/2 $148 B+ A- B

Baitcasting Reels

Overall Price Performance Design Price/Value
Abu Garcia Revo Premier **** $300 A+ A+ B
Shimano Calcutta 200D **** $340 A A B+
Quantum Energy E100SPT **** $160 A- A A-
Pinnacle Optimus LTE **** $160 A- A- A
Bass Pro Shops Bionic Plus **** $80 B+ B+ A-
Okuma Helios **** $200 A- A- B+
Lew’s BB1 ***1/2 $160 A- A- B+
Abu Garcia Revo Winch ***1/2 $200 B+ B+ B
Pflueger Purist *** $80 B B B+

Editor’s Take
In this space a year ago, I wrote about how far the quality of fishing tackle has come in the past decade. I concluded by saying, “It’s exciting to think about what might be on the horizon.” Little did I know that what lay in store was a nearly across-the-board increase in the prices of rods and reels.

The average price of a baitcasting reel has dropped $14 since last year, but every other category has seen an increase.

While manufacturers have not taken their collective foot off the innovation pedal in 2013, it seems to me that they’ve been so busy improving the quality and performance of their products that they’ve taken little notice of the economy and the fact that fishermen’s disposable income isn’t what it once was. —John Taranto

The Test Team

– Gerry Bethge is Outdoor Life’s fishing editor.
– Captain Joe Dimarco is a longtime guide at Cajun Fishing Adventures, and runs his own fishing guide service, Pisces Charters.
– Todd Kuhn is Outdoor Life’s fishing tackle guru and holds a doctoral degree in engineering.
– Captain Ryan Lambert is owner and operator of Cajun Fishing Adventures in Buras, Louisiana (cajunfishingadventures.com). Captain Lambert spends more than 320 days a year on the water.
– Captain Ross Montet is also a guide at Cajun Fishing Adventures, and logs more than 280 fishing days a year.
– John Taranto is Outdoor Life’s gear editor.