Tackle Test 2014: Best Rod-and-Reel Combos

Photo by Nathaniel Welch

Finding a good rod-and-reel combo needn't be complicated. When shopping for a new rig, first decide what it will be used for most (spinnerbaiting, crankbaiting, worming, etc.). Look at rods that fit the action, line, and lure-weight requirements for that chosen technique.

Once you've found the right rod, choose several reels that have retrieve ratios and speeds that will properly work your intended bait. Mount each of them to the rod and check for overall feel and balance. Nine times out of 10, one combo will stand out.
Here are two perfect pairings from our test tackle.

1. Casting (top)

We're typically not fans of prefab combos, but we were impressed with the Browning Superlight rig, which is being marketed by Bass Pro Shops.

As the name implies, the combo is lightweight. The reel is plain-jane but capable. At 6 feet 6 inches, the medium-heavy rod is a generalist suitable for throwing worms, spinnerbaits, and jerkbaits.

2. Spinning (bottom)

The St. Croix LegendXtreme Inshore and Cabela's Verano 2500 is a perfectly balanced rig for either fresh or saltwater.

The Verano, with its quality drag, is suitable for all bass and most light inshore assignments. The LegendXtreme's full-size guides match well with the Verano's oversize spool, accommodating a wide variety of line classes.

See the full tackle test: Best new rods and reels.