Photo by Nathaniel Welch

These rods and reels are ideal for the following baits and techniques.

1. Weightless Plastics
The 7-foot 2-inch 13 Fishing Envy Green (medium power; 3⁄8- to 3⁄4-ounce baits; 8- to 17-pound-test) is made to throw weightless plastics on light lines a country mile. The spring guides work nicely on both clear lines and braid, while the soft tip imparts a killer twitch.

2. Deep-Water Finesse Baits
At 7 feet, and with an extra-fast tip, the Kistler Helium 3’s (1⁄8 – to 1⁄2-ounce baits; 8- to 12-pound-test) short split grip pushes the rod’s center of gravity forward. As a result, it begs to be paired with a large spinning reel with a fast retrieve ratio for working finesse baits.

3. Flipping/Pitching/Skipping
The Quantum Tour MG is equipped with a flipping switch, but the reel is up for pitching and skipping duties, too–situations when a quick shift to drive is a plus. The lightweight magnesium frame and 6.3:1 retrieve ratio are just right for these techniques.

4. Drop-Shot & Carolina Rigs
The Lew’s Gold Spin is a small-frame spinner with a large-capacity spool and high-speed 6.1:1 retrieve. That translates to 34 inches of line spooled with each turn of the extra-long handle, allowing anglers to efficiently seek out deep fish with drop-shot and Carolina rigs.

5. Jerkbaits
The Okuma Helios Air will prove popular with those looking for a lightweight, super-low-profile baitcaster to snap jerkbaits crisply on the retrieve. The carbon-fiber palming plate is ergonomically excellent, and the 7.3:1 retrieve makes working these long-distance baits a cinch.

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

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