Favorite Rod Features and Components

If we were to construct the perfect spinning rod based on the best characteristics of the rods in our test, we’d start with the Fenwick Aetos’ guides, which are lightweight yet rugged, with titanium frames and nearly friction-free inserts. A tough tip is a must, and the Kistler Carbon Steel’s 304 stainless-steel frame is nearly indestructible, while its curved shape minimizes braid knots. The St. Croix LegendXtreme’s blank construction fits the bill–from its parabolic flexure to its uniform finish. The ratcheted reel seat on the Shimano Compre offers slip-free operation. A great grip is important, so we’ll take the 13 Fishing Envy Black’s grade-A natural cork handle, which is both sensitive and very comfortable.

The ultimate baitcasting rod is also a composite of many parts. Airrus’ Stargate blank utilizes nanotubes of carbon to maximize sensitivity and strength. The excellent guides on the Lamiglas Infinity provide a uniform bend in the blank, and pressed inserts manage clear lines and superlines without fuss. The Infinity also contributes its woven carbon handle, which makes long two-handed casts a cinch. Again, we’ll take the Kistler Carbon Steel’s tip. Finally, the Quantum PT Tour Tactical’s reel seat does an excellent job of keeping reels anchored tightly.


Favorite Reel Features and Components

A comfortable handle on a spinning reel is a must for long days on the water, and that of the Okuma Helios Hx-25 had the perfect combination of comfort and agile geometry. The Shimano Saros 2500FA’s drag impressed us, remaining smooth no matter the load at the end of the line.

A pleasing profile combines compactness and proper balance. The Quantum Exo PTi’s low profile makes the grade in this department. The Abu Garcia Revo SX30’s center of gravity allowed it to balance on our control rods just right, affording great castability.

Line capacity is crucial for those who battle big fish. The Quantum Exo PTi and Lew’s Speed Spin both offered a generous 180-yard capacity, plenty for almost any application. A light reel ups the enjoyment when fishing all day, and the Okuma Helios Hx-25’s 7.1-ounce weight made it a treat to work over extended periods.

The Shimano Saros’ machined brass roller guide promises a gentle touch, eliminating the line galling that can occur with cheaper reels. A fuss-free bail is equally important, and again the Quantum Exo PTi’s is easily manipulated for quick, fumble-free casting. The Lew’s Speed Spin’s anti-reverse is tight, ensuring solid hooksets without slippage.

As for baitcasting reels, the Abu Garcia Revo Winch’s handle is long with large, easy-to-grip knobs. The Quantum Energy E100SPT’s star drag knob tapers nicely and is easy to grab and adjust in the heat of battle, while the Shimano Calcutta’s drag mechanism pays out line flawlessly across its entire range.

A comfortable thumb bar is a treat, and the scalloped Bass Pro Shops Bionic Plus is ergonomically pleasing with its soft rubber pad. Sitting low on the rod, the Abu Garcia Revo Premier palms easily for great handling. We loved the exceptional balance of the Lew’s BB1.

The Abu Garcia Revo Winch holds plenty of line, whether clear or braid, adding to its versatility in both fresh and saltwater. Easy access to the casting controls is paramount, and we appreciated the oversize knobs of the Pinnacle Optimus. The low weight of the Okuma Helios (6.5 ounces) made casting it for long stretches a breeze.

See the full tackle test: New fishng rods and reels