Our testing was a multipart process carried out over the course of a month, with each portion specifically designed to evaluate different aspects of a rod and reel important to anglers. First, we fished all the rods and reels from a boat in a bass lake, then from shore at a bass pond, to gauge how they performed in real fishing situations when paired with the lures that matched their factory ratings. Next, we marked out a field in 25-foot increments to 150 feet to test casting distance. To rate accuracy, each tester made a series of casts using low-hanging limbs and laydowns as obstacles and targets. After the first two rounds of field-testing, all the reels were subjected to a drag test using a 2,900 rpm drill. This was fitted with an improvised bit that secured and held the line when run at full power. The drag strength of each reel was calibrated to half its max with a digital hand scale. Using 30-pound braided line for each spinning reel and 50-pound for each casting reel, the high-intensity test was used to evaluate drag consistency, smoothness, heat, and any play in the spool. Finally, we jumped on a charter boat on the Jersey Shore and spent a day pushing the limits of this largemouth-caliber tackle during an incredible striped bass bite. The average fish measured 24 inches, with bass up to 20 pounds mixed in. Construction, overall feel, and perceived durability were ranked with consideration to performance in all of our tests. The highest-scoring rod and reel in each category won our Editor’s Choice award. The rods and reels that offered the most bang for your buck won the Great Buy award.