rod advice needed . . .

While I fished enough growing up in Florida (my father was an avid angler), I have done almost no fishing over my adulthood.

Now that I’m semi-retired, I am getting into kayak fishing. I went into a Dick’s Sporting Goods in Hickory, NC, and asked the person in charge of the fishing department to help me get all the essential gear - including a rod and reel that would handle both salt and fresh-water fishing - medium weight stuff.

Well, my first time out, on Lake James, I caught a tiny bream - a good omen - though the place seemed dead for wildlife, compared to what’s in the air and under the water in Florida. Then, my helpful wife picked up my rod and walked past me toward the car, but caught my pants cuff with the lure - breaking off the tip of the rod. I couldn’t believe it: it broke with almost no impact or pull at all!

Thinking it was a fluke in the rod, I went back to Dicks and they said I should remove and reset the top loop, but I lost it. They advised against using the shortened rod, so I’m now out looking for a new rod after using my new rod only one time.

I don’t want another weak rod, but I am not into spending a lot of money on some name-brand fancy rig. Can somebody advise me on a good, basic, salt- and fresh-water rod that would be good to use fishing/trolling off my SOT? Also, what would be a good discount site from which to purchase this rod?

Thank you in advance for your wise counsel!

You Can Replace The Tip Guide…

– Last Updated: Sep-24-09 4:49 AM EST –

if have a dedicated fishing store, bait & tackle place, you can take the rod in an try to find the "right" size tip guide that the store will have a supply of. The tip is can be hot glued on anyway. There is no reason to not be able to do that... Except if it's a truly cheapo rod, it may likely break off again. :(

I used to use pretty top of line flyfishing equipment and then tried some Cabela rods. They are actually pretty darn good equipment, at moderate price and with a lifetime warrantee. Heck, one particular size rod, I slammed the car door on the tip a couple of times over several years. Both rods were replaced (not fixed) with no questions asked.

Recently, I have been using the Cabela saltwater spinning combos (because I know they will honor the lifetime warranty). I've caught some pretty darn decent fish on these (big enough to get towed around) and they performed well.

Maintenance/cleaning -- even with salt water reels, you have to rinse out well with warm water after use or you'll see rust stain showing up pretty quickly. With "freshwater" reels in the salt environment -- these won't last too long. I have one that someone gave me and the handle is showing serious rusting only after several trips out in the salt. Now, I soaked all the reels in a bucket of hot/warm water after each trip out.

Rod size -- I found that a 7' rod best in the kayak. This allows you to maneuver a line around the bow or stern of the kayak better if you have to. Medium/fast action for upto one ounce lure/weight, 10-15 lb line, is probably better for all around freshwater fishing. You can cast some decent size lures or sinkers suitable for freshwater ponds/lakes with this. However, I found this to be the minimal size in the ocean (for the striper and blues I have doing). I have moved up and added on a medium/heavy outfit for 20-30 lb line and up to 4 oz lures (for fishing deep in heavy currents). This size rod is also able to take a slamming strike of a striper on a troll (provided a moderate setting on the reel drag to allow show give on the initial hit).

You can go with a lighter outfit but will have to "play" the bigger fish more and also increase mortality for the fish you may not keep. You can move way up in size than what I use but that would bring you more into fishing for significantly bigger fish (think tuna) or more appropriate for deep sea trolling.


Dick’s typical service…
I try to avoid the big box tackle shops like the plague. There are too many good local shops still in business here in North Carolina and I’d hate to lose them.

I use all 7’ to 7 1/2’ rods in my kayak. My rods are all Shimano Teramars and they are paired up with Shimano Stradic and Daiwa Tierra reels. I’m planning on getting rid of the Stradics and replacing them with Teirras sometime soon. I’ve had these setups for over 4 years and never once had a problem with corrosion, breaking, or other areas. I cut the handles down to about 5 1/2" as they were all really long and got in the way in the kayak.

The Teramars have an over the counter warranty that I have verified with several shops. If they break I can take it in and swap it out for another.

If you’re kayak fishing then the 7’ length is important in case the fish runs under the kayak. You can still get the rod around the front and back of the kayak and avoid a hang up. Believe me it will happen sooner or later. I caught a king mackeral once and all he did was loops around and under the kayak. If not for the 7’ rod I would have been swimming.

I can recomend the …

– Last Updated: Sep-24-09 10:45 PM EST –

...... the Shimano Stradic reels . They have been flawless in every aspect for me , still going the distance after more years than can remember , still looking and working as new . Although I've always been tempted by the Stella's , just can't justify the cost and see absolutely no advantage in performance ... the Stradics rule !! You can't beat a Stradic , pay for it once and use it forever !!

The 2500 is a good size for 8-10 lb. mono line (also great with a braided 4 lb.dia./15 lb.test , or 6 lb. mono) , the 1000 is nice for 4-6 lb. mono line , the 3000 is just the 2500 with a larger spool , perhaps better if you like 12 lb. mono (and a few new features) , the 5000 feels like a light salt water reel to me that "can" handle larger fish if needed to , can be used with 15-17 lb. mono lines ... I use the 6000 and 17 lb. mono for saltwater Stripper fishing myself (the nephew uses a 5000) .

Rods are important but not so as the reel , I perefer a fast action rod ... what is important about the rod is that you get a length that is right for what you want it to do (the butt handle has to be considered here as well , because that is part of the total rod length) , a high modulous graphite such as 57 million or higher (fiberglass still has it's place such as saltwater , but graphite has won the day for freshwater) , the butt handle length you prefer (and consider that length if putting the rod in a holder so the reel doesn't touch anything) , the class of rod such as M.(medium) for fish such as Large and Smallmouth bass and the occassional Muskie - which will test a M. class rod , or M.H.(medium-heavy) for Stripers , etc. . one must have a L.(light) rod for pairing with a 1000 (or similar light reel) for times when it's a blast to catch Crappie and such (it's also fun to use this light outfit on 4-5 lb. river Smallmouth sometimes) .

Although there are plenty of guide types available , I perefer the lightest and least bulky for most fresh water fishing , not the old wire type (which in short time show cuts into them from the line) but similar to this are the more durable light guides that are simply plated with a modern alloy that does not cut even with braid lines (no inner fugi ring , ect.) ... On my saltwater rods I prefer heavy tough guides that have a "very" large ring nearest the reel and in like over size graduating smaller to the tip .

Take a look at Berkley Lightning rods for fresh water , and the Shakespere Ugly-Stiks for saltwater , see what you think , I like them .

The line I use 99% of the time is always "Berkley XL" mono , in whatever lb. test required ... change (spool on new line) a few or more times a year as required , and enjoy the rewards of a nice line that cast great , brings in the fish , and is a pleasure to use ... mono soaks up a little water which I like (when the XL soaks up some water during use , it becomes the ultimate in hassle free pleasure)... the florocarbons really don't soak up any water , they cost considerably more , have a bit less friction , and if you ask me - they break easier than same test XL .

Thanks, guys, for the thorough replies.
I’m going to open this up on my desktop and print it out for reference.

My understanding is that saltwater rods and reels can be used in freshwater, but not vice versa (correct me if I’m wrong) so, if I plan to fish in both, maybe I should go for saltwater rods and reels?

(This is a whole re-learning thing for me; my last significant understanding of the technology goes back over 40 years.)

Support local shops
You might pay a bit more for gear from a local shop, but the benefits can be substantial. I can’t answer any salt water questions, but I can vouch for local shops. We have a number of fly fishing shops in my part of the world. They keep chalk boards posted with where the fishing action is best and what fly/lure/bait is working. They have seminars on fishing technique, gear, and locations. You get to talk to knowledgeable people who sometimes work as guides. You can get service rather than be ignored by the big guys.

Fresh/Salt Water Gear
You’re certainly better off with salt water gear, but you can use fresh water rods and reels in salt water. I do it all the time, but you have to make sure to rinse the reels very throughly with fresh water every time you’re finished. However, if you do this you need to invest in better reels as the cheap ones won’t be sealed properly and the internal parts will corrode, even if the reels look fine on the outside.

And , while I agree with other posters re supporting your local shop, Cabela’s, as well as Bass Pro, do have a huge selection of good, moderately priced gear. I’ve never had any problems returning gear to either, and its always been “no questions asked”.

Good fishing…

For fishing both…
Consider what is called an “in shore” combo.

The rest of the advice I have a hard time quibbling with.

Generally, I have some good rods and some rods that I call “kayak rods”. These are rods where the whole combo - rod, reel, and line - cost me under $100. I don’t cry too badly about losing them.

For salt-water I recommend using Penn reels. I have a couple Penn “in shore” spinning reels that have been in service for close to 10 years. Very durable.

For fresh-water I recommend using Diawa or Okuma reels. Those are my preferences. The Okumas in particular seem to stand up well to the abuse of getting awash in gritty water on the deck of a kayak and still operating. I buy spinning reels in the $40 range for my kayaks. When you can find them on sale, you can get a pretty decent reel for $40. Also the Bass Pro Shops Excel reels seem to take what I dish out. I’ve got one each spinning and baitcast. They’ve both been abused, and they both continue to operate well with minimal care.

Here is what I mean by minimal care: rinse any obvious mud or gook off with fresh water during use(river or lake water is fine when fishing fresh, but use a splash of drinking water if fishing salt), when fishing salt dunk the entire reel in a bucket full of fresh water, pick it up and let it drain, then dunk it again, do this two or three times, then spray the whole thing liberally with Reel Magic when you’re done. Clean and lubricate annually (if you remember, which I never do). If you’re fishing fresh, you can disregard the fresh water dunking routine, but you should still rinse under clean running water and spray with Reel Magic.

That’s my advice for reels.

For rods, use what’s comfortable. To start, I’d go with a 7’ Medium spinning reel that balances nicely in your hand. If you’re fishing soft plastics mostly, then I’d go with a fairly fast rod (bends most near the tip). If you’re fishing live/cut bait, then I’d go with a softer action rod (bends up to half-way down the rod under light to moderate pressure). Your mileage may vary.

  • Big D

Industrt rod and or handline
Sorry to hear about your rod. As much as its advertised its a sure fire bet to get an Ugly Stick. My second choise would be a Cabelas Whuppin Stick. Both the Ugly and the Whuppin come in a variety of lengths and weights and are reasonably priced. For an all around rod that telescopes and only four and a half foot long when open, and can carry anywhere (luggage or car) , I would go with a Shakespear ultra light combo, they run around 26 bucks. I’ve had mine in Ireland and carry with me everywhere including the Canadian Artic last week at Arviat, Nunavut Canada. This rod has caught 3 lb brown trout, 4 lb bass and up to 2 lb grayling. I carry a spare spool on it, one loaded with three lb test and the other eight lb test, and the rod has never broken or cracked when playing a fish. I fish out of my kayak with the three rods, out of canoes and just fishing from shore. The last equipment I use is a handline. You can make your own and its a breeze to use from shore (don’t get the distance casting of course) small streams, lakes and from kayak or canoe. My only recomendation with a hand line is to be sure to take a single glove or pair of gloves for bringing your fish in. I am retired and 62 years old, I built my first kayak a canvas on wood frame when I came back from viet nam in 67, and still have and use it, as well as inflatables, and a hard shell sit in, a sit on which I use in the ocean and on lakes also and a plywood canoe build at the North Folk School in MN. I live between California and Illinois, half and half of the year Hope this helps.


playing fish…
When “playing” fish…you might wann try to make the rod’s butt and mid-sections do the work…


Cabela’s Salt Striker Series
I appreciate the concern about large-box stores, but for good, reasonably priced gear I think you should consider the above. The Salt Striker rods and reels have given me solid performance at a good price, and the return policy is - no questions asked.


PS: I echo the comments re Shimano reels. They are bullett-proof.