Tackle Test 2015: The Best Spinning and Baitcasting Rods

We put the latest crop of fishing rods to the test

fishing rods
From top: Kistler Magnesium TS, G. Loomis IMX, Megabass Stinger Shot, No. 8 Tackle Hellbent Inshore.Nathaniel Welch
ed choice logo

edchoice

Editor's ChoiceOL

Megabass Stinger Shot Spinning Rod
Editor's Choice
$275 / megabassusa.com

The Orochi XX Stinger Shot might be the finest finesse spinning rod ever crafted. It controls baits like it’s an extension of the angler’s arm, and it helps him systematically carve up a piece of water with the precision of a surgeon’s scalpel.

When working finesse-style baits, feel is key and the blank dictates performance. No spinning rod that we’ve tested in re- cent years has the sensitivity of the Stinger Shot. The low-resin, four-axis butt-to-midsection carbon wrap provides a solid foundation for managing husky fish, while the ultrafast taper provides real-time lure feed- back. Billed as a “drop-shot” rod, the Stinger Shot is perfectly suited for any light-lining assign- ment and is sure to impress even the most discerning angler.

Controls **9.6
**Durability
8.8
Applicability 9
Ergonomics 9.2
Fishability 9
Materials 9.2
Construction 9.2
Aesthetics 9
Innovation 8.6
Value 7.8
Overall 89.4

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greatbuy

Great BuyOL

No. 8 Tackle Hellbent Inshore Spinning Rod
Great Buy

$60 / no8tackle.com

Newcomer No. 8 is the budget-minded sister brand of 13 Fishing, and their HellBent Inshore rod is built for the serious angler who isn't flush with cash. Quality components abound, start- ing with a delightful 24-ton graphite blank that has ample backbone to muscle fish, yet
a light tip that induces strikes with an enticing twitch.

The soft-touch reel seat is thoughtfully shaped to comfort- ably accommodate fingers, and a full-length cork handle is perfect for throwing large lures to hungry fish (interestingly, the rod is rated for 3?8- to 3?4-ounce baits despite its medium action). Nine black, single-foot stainless-steel guides with tough zirconium inserts keep the line running true. For just $60, the HellBent is a heck of a lot of rod.

Controls 8.4
Durability 8.8
Applicability 7.8
Ergonomics 8
Fishability 8.2
Materials 8.2
Construction 8.2
Aesthetics 8.4
Innovation 6.4
Value 9.8
Overall 82.2

OL

edchoice

Editor's ChoiceOL

G.Loomis IMX Baitcasting Rod
Editor's Choice

$295 / gloomis.com

Introduced some three decades ago, the IMX choice comes in an astounding 38 models designed for every technique imaginable, from shaky heads to punching.

Today’s IMX is 15 percent lighter than previous builds, and is well appointed with top-shelf components like Fuji k-Frame running guides (which reduce weight while improving rod bal- ance) and an ACS-II reel seat that offers great feel.

A slender, full-length grade-A cork grip gives the rod a retro feel and is large enough for comfortable two-handed casts. Manufactured in the u.S., the IMX has a rich, dipped finish, and gorgeous guide wraps that are a testament to G.loomis’ enduring commitment to quality. A limited lifetime warranty makes this a solid investment.

Controls **8.6
**Durability
9.2
Applicability 9
Ergonomics 9.4
Fishability 9.2
Materials 9.4
Construction 9.4
Aesthetics 8.8
Innovation **6.9
**Value
7.1
Overall 87

great buy logo

greatbuy

Great BuyOL

Kistler Magnesium TS Baitcasting Rod
Great Buy

$160 / kistlerrods.com

Trey Kistler has been great producing high-quality buy semi-custom and custom rods for years. The Magnesium TS (Technique Specific) delivers that same Kistler quality, but at a very palatable price. De- spite its stout appearance, the rod is all-day light and possesses a delicate balance and sublime action. The light tip shines, offering plenty of give when coax- ing heavy fish buttoned to light- gauge wire hooks.

The Magnesium TS’s blank is super responsive, bringing baits to life in the water and perfectly telegraphing their behavior back to the angler. While these rods are advertised as technique- specific, they are in fact extremely versatile. The crankbait rod we tested would be equally capable of throwing shaky heads, light Carolina rigs, or jerkbaits.

Controls 8.4
Durability 8.4
Applicability 9
Ergonomics 8.8
Fishability 8.8
Materials 8.8
Construction 9
Aesthetics 7.8
Innovation 7.2
Value 9.4
Overall 85.6

WE TESTED 22 ADDITIONAL RODS THIS YEAR

SPINNING RODS

fishing tackle test results

spinning reels

Spinning ResultsOL

Shimano Crucial Drop Shot
$180 / fish.shimano.com

Controls 8.2
Durability 8.4
Applicability 8.4
Ergonomics 8
Fishability 8.4
Materials 8.2
Construction 8.4
Aesthetics 8.4
Innovation 6.8
Value 7.6
Overall 80.8

Edge Black Widow
$550 / edgerods.com

Controls 8
Durability 7.2
Applicability 7.8
Ergonomics 8.2
Fishability 7.2
Materials 8.2
Construction 7.8
Aesthetics 8
Innovation 7.8
Value 6.8
Overall 77

Duckett Micro Magic Pro
$159 / duckettfishing.com

Controls 7.6
Durability 7.8
Applicability 7.6
Ergonomics 8.2
Fishability 7.6
Materials 7.6
Construction 7.8
Aesthetics 8.2
Innovation 6.4
Value 7.4
Overall 76.2

Lamigals XLS
$230 / lamilas.com

Controls 8
Durability 7.6
Applicability 8
Ergonomics 6.8
Fishability 8
Materials 7.4
Construction 7.2
Aesthetics 7.6
Innovation 6.2
Value 6.4
Overall 73.2

St. Croix Triumph X
$100 / stcroixrods.com

Controls 7.4
Durability 7.4
Applicability 7.6
Ergonomics 7
Fishability 7.2
Materials 7.4
Construction 7.4
Aesthetics 7.2
Innovation 6.2
Value 8.4
Overall 73.2

**Fitzgerald Stunner HD **
$170 / stores.fitzgeraldrods.com

Controls 7.4
Durability 7.6
Applicability 7.4
Ergonomics 7
Fishability 7
Materials 7.4
Construction 7.2
Aesthetics 7.2
Innovation 6
Value 7
Overall 71.2

**Sewell S1 Inshore **
$140 / sewellrods.com

Controls 6.2
Durability 7.2
Applicability 7
Ergonomics 7.2
Fishability 7.8
Materials 7.6
Construction 7.4
Aesthetics 7.4
Innovation 6.2
Value 7.2
Overall 71.2

**Wright & Mcgill Skeet Reese Victory Pro Carbon Shakey Head/Finesse Worm **
$160 / wright-mcgill.com

Controls 8.2
Durability 7
Applicability 7.2
Ergonomics 7
Fishability 7.4
Materials 7.4
Construction 7
Aesthetics 7
Innovation 6.4
Value 6.6
Overall 71.2

**Quantum Smoke Pt **
$140 / quantumfishing.com

Controls 7
Durability 7
Applicability 7
Ergonomics 7
Fishability 6.8
Materials 7
Construction 6.6
Aesthetics 8.2
Innovation 7.2
Value 7
Overall 70.8

Denali J2 Dropshot
$99 / denalirods.com

Controls 7.4
Durability 7
Applicability 7.4
Ergonomics 7.2
Fishability 7.2
Materials 6.8
Construction 6.8
Aesthetics 6.6
Innovation 5.8
Value 7.4
Overall 69.6

Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series
$150 / basspro.com

Controls 7
Durability 6.6
Applicability 6.6
Ergonomics 7
Fishability 7
Materials 7.2
Construction 7
Aesthetics 7.2
Innovation 5.6
Value 6.6
Overall 67.8

BAITCASTING RODS

fishing tackle test results

baitcastingreels

Baitcasting ResultsOL

Megabass Orochi XX Diablo Spec-R
$289 / megabassusa.com

Controls 8.8
Durability 8.8
Applicability 9
Ergonomics 9
Fishability 9.2
Materials 9.2
Construction 9
Aesthetics 9
Innovation 7.2
Value 7.6
Overall 86.8

No. 8 Tackle Blackout
$80 / store.no8tackle.com

Controls 8.8
Durability 8.2
Applicability 8.6
Ergonomics 8.8
Fishability 8.8
Materials 8.2
Construction 8.4
Aesthetics 8.4
Innovation 7
Value 9.2
Overall 84.4

**Lamiglas Excel II **
$120 / lamiglas.com

Controls 7.8
Durability 7.8
Applicability 7.8
Ergonomics 8.3
Fishability 8
Materials 7.5
Construction 8
Aesthetics 7.5
Innovation 6.8
Value 8
Overall 77.3

**Duckett Terex **
$149 / duckettfishing.com

Controls 8.2
Durability 7.8
Applicability 7.8
Ergonomics 7.6
Fishability 7.4
Materials 7
Construction 7.8
Aesthetics 7.8
Innovation 6
Value ****7.6
Overall 75

**Fenwick Elite Tech **
$150 / fenwickfishing.com

Controls 8
Durability 7.4
Applicability 7.2
Ergonomics 7.8
Fishability 7.6
Materials 7.8
Construction 7.6
Aesthetics 8
Innovation 6.2
Value 7.4
Overall 75

**Okuma Scott Martin TCS **
$140 / okumafishing.com

Controls 7.6
Durability 7.6
Applicability 7.6
Ergonomics 8
Fishability 7.4
Materials 7.2
Construction 7.4
Aesthetics 8.2
Innovation 5.8
Value 7.4
Overall 74.2

**Falcon Cara St **
$250 / falconrods.com

Controls 8
Durability 8
Applicability 8
Ergonomics 7.8
Fishability 7.8
Materials 7.4
Construction 7.4
Aesthetics 7.8
Innovation 6.2
Value 5.6
Overall 74

Edge First Strike **
$400 / edgerods.com
**Controls
9
Durability 7.4
Applicability 7.4
Ergonomics 6.6
Fishability 7
Materials 7.8
Construction 7.6
Aesthetics 7.4
Innovation 7.6
Value 5.6
Overall 73.4

Daiwa Zillion
$180 / daiwa.com

Controls 7.3
Durability 7.7
Applicability 7.3
Ergonomics 6.3
Fishability 7.3
Materials 7.3
Construction 8
Aesthetics 8
Innovation 6.7
Value 6.3
Overall 72.3

Fitzgerald Stunner Hd **
$170 / fitzgeraldrods.com
**Controls
7.2
Durability 7.6
Applicability 7.2
Ergonomics 6.6
Fishability 7.2
Materials 7.6
Construction 7.6
Aesthetics 7.2
Innovation 6.4
Value 7.2
Overall 71.8

**Wright & Mcgill Skeet Reese Victory Pro Carbon Spinnerbait/Worm **
$160 / wright-mcgill.com

Controls 8
Durability 7.8
Applicability 7.4
Ergonomics 6.2
Fishability 6.4
Materials 7.2
Construction 7
Aesthetics 7.4
Innovation 7
Value 7.2
Overall 71.6