1. No. 8 Blackout and Daiwa Aird
The Blackout's ($80; no8tackle.com) medium action and fast taper (rated for 10- to 17-pound-test and 1⁄4- to 5⁄8-ounce lures) give it a "just-right" feel that's perfect for crankbaits, jerkbaits, weightless soft plastics, and light blade baits. The AIRD ($80; daiwa.com) syncs with it nicely, providing a utilitarian 6.3:1 retrieve. Dual casting controls, an oversize handle, and a stout drag round out a solid, value-packed reel.