Rod & Reel
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- Eliminate Malfunctions, Part 1 by Kurt Dove
- Eliminate Malfunctions, Part 2 by Kurt Dove
- Choosing the Right Rod by Kurt Dove
- Gear Ratio? by Kurt Dove
- Putting Monofilament Line of Your Fishing Reel
- Care of Rod Guides and Fishing Line
- Types of Rods and Reels
- Choosing the Right Fishing Rod
Every time I get ready to go out fishing I go through in my mind what techniques, tactics and lures I think should start me off in the right direction. Once I know in my head what my strategy will be I need to prepare my equipment to best facilitate it efficiently and effectively when I hit the water. First thing is to get my line on my reels correctly. It is important to match your line size to your fishing technique.
I will usually have at least one spinning rod on my deck during every month of the year. Spinning reels are some folk’s worst nightmares. Often it is difficult to manage line correctly on a spinning reel simply because of the engineering of how a spinning reel works. So let’s spool it up correctly.
First and foremost, apply some backing to the reel so we aren’t winding on the entire spool of line we just bought from the tackle store… the stuff is expensive. I will wind on approx ¼ of my spinning reel with some type of old monofilament line I have lying in the garage. Run the line through only the first rod guide and wrap the end around the spool of the reel. Tie a few overhand knots and tighten it up to the spool. Then tie on your best braded line to the end of the backing using a double uni knot.
My next step is to wind on the braided line. For most applications, I use 30 lb. braided line on spinning reels - Toray line from Blackwater International is my choice. I will typically use about 100 yards of the braided line for a reel. I only want to fill the spool to about ¾ of the way full. I wind on the Toray line making sure my rod guide is retrieving the line off the spool straight, not swirling off in circles.
My final step is to tie approximately 6 feet of fluorocarbon leader to the braided line utilizing a uni knot. I use 8-12 lb. test depending on fishing techniques and situation. So you ask, ‘why use the braid instead of spooling up mono for fluorocarbon for the entire spool?’ The braid will absorb the line twist of a spinning reel and allow you to be more efficient and effective with it. You only have to replace the fluorocarbon leader for break off’s and fraying of the line. The braided line will last you six months to a year depending on how much you fish it. Trust me… you will like it!
Note - If you are applying just monofilament or fluorocarbon lines to the reel then be sure when laying the spool flat on the ground that the line comes off in a counter-clockwise direction. This will allow for minimal twist of the line. Anytime you are on the water and the line shows signs of twist just remove the lure and let out about 200 feet of line and rewind the spool. This will help remove some line twist.
I hope this helps you eliminate malfunctions of your spinning reels!
Kurt Dove is a pro tournament angler, Lake Amistad
fishing guide and member of the BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff
Last month I wrote about managing your fishing line on a spinning reel and how I like to set that up for success and most importantly to eliminate malfunctions. After all most of us have limited time to get on the water so we need to be sure we make the most of every minute we have available. As I prepare and get ready for my next trip, and I have my line spooled up and the correct rod and reel combinations prepared for the techniques and tactics I believe will produce, I must be sure my lures are prepared.
Here are a couple of tips to get those lures ready for that first cast!
Crankbaits – Be sure you have treble hooks that are prepared to do battle. No rust and good sharp hooks will ensure that you have the best opportunity to turn that fish strike into the first boated fish. This past year I became a pretty big fan of the Mustad KVD treble hooks. Be sure to check them out - I have started replacing all my crankbait treble hooks with them.
Texas rig – Check the forecast so you know how windy it might be for the day you are preparing to fish. Make sure you match your rigged weight for the appropriate conditions. When I rig up my El Grand Lures plastics I typically like to use the lightest weight I can get away with based on the wind and cover I am targeting. This will ensure your Texas rig will have a very natural and enticing fall on that first cast.
Spinnerbaits – Preparation for a spinnerbait is simple but you really need to pay attention to the details. Check the skirt to make sure it is not gummed up and has god separation from each strand of material. This will help it look natural as it pulsates in the water when retrieved. If it needs to be loosened up I like to spray some Reel Magic or WD-40 on it and that will keep it in good working order. I also like to replace the typical rubber band skirt collar or holder many companies use and apply a plastic tie to make sure the skirt does not fall down on the hook shank. The plastic tie will last much longer as well.
Swimbaits – I tend to be fairly particular when loading up my Optimum Swimbaits. I want to have my hook buried in the boat so that it comes out easily once I get the fish on so my bait will ride up my line and the fish will not be able to use the lures’ weight as leverage to throw the hook. I prepare my bait by bending out the treble hook nearly straight so that it will be impaled into the bait. Then the Optimum baits Line Through can do its job with ease… catch monster bass!
Obviously we cannot cover them all here in this column but you get a good picture of how I like to go through my bait selection and eliminate malfunctions before I hit the water. Paying attention to the details before you hit the water will make for great fishing memories while on the water. Thanks for reading and boat safe - wear your life jacket.
Kurt Dove is a pro tournament angler, Lake Amistad
fishing guide and member of the BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff
A few months ago I wrote a tip about choosing the right gear ratio reels. I had some very good response about that little piece of knowledge I was able to pass along. As I answered questions about reels and the correct gear ratio for specific fishing techniques, I noticed I needed to address the same with fishing rods… so here it is!
There are lots of great rod companies out there today with all kinds of varying actions. When shopping for rods realize that one labeled action for a specific rod or rod length may not be the same true action for another company’s rod. An action of the rod is a general rule for its stiffness or limberness but there is no industry standard. The importance to realize it can be different from company to company is critical in selecting the right rod. Understand a particular company’s interpretation when looking at rods.
I try to keep it pretty simple. I use only graphite rods. At one time I would get into using fiberglass rods for specific techniques but with today’s technology I stick with just the graphite. I really feel like there are 5 basic rods you can get by with. The “action” of the rod is important but length is nearly as important.
Rod 1: Flipping/Pitching/Swimbaits. I like a long 7 foot 6 inch casting rod for these techniques that is pretty stout in action like a med-heavy to heavy action. The long rod provides stability for throwing big swimbaits and the power to muscle big fish out of heavy cover with flippin’ and pitchin’.
Rod 2: Texas/Carolina Rigging. I use a 7 foot 3 inch length casting rod. The long length enables me to take up the slack when setting the hook with these two techniques. I use a med-heavy action rod so that I can feel the subtle differences in structure and cover when presenting my lure in the water. I also need a strong enough back bone in the rod so when the fish strikes I can bury the hook properly into the fish.
Rod 3: Topwater/Jerkbaits. I like a 7 foot casting rod for these applications. I use a shorter rod here because the way we hold the rod tip down toward the water when presenting the lure. As I have my rod pointed to the water I need a shorter rod to keep from hitting the waters surface when applying action to the lures. I also use a medium action rod for these techniques so that I can work the lures quickly with less forward movement and the softer tip helps keep the fish hook’ed up when fishing lures with treble hooks.
Rod 4: Crankbait/Spinnerbait. A 7 foot 3 inch casting rod will help me to make longer casts with my crankbaits and spinnerbaits and a heavy medium action rod will allow me to give the fish an opportunity to swallow the lure before applying pressure. Anglers don’t often think a spinnerbait and crankbait rod could be one in the same but I have utilized it this way for many years with excellent success.
Rod 5: Drop-Shot/Finesse. I use a 7 foot spinning rod for my finesse techniques like drop-shotting or shaky head fishing. The spinning rod will allow me to throw lighter lure further and use lighter lines more effectively. I like a medium action rod for these techniques as well. It helps to keep me from breaking off when I have a big fish hooked up to the lighter lines and I also can present the lures in a more natural look with the softer action rod.
Now equipped with the right Rod and Reel we are truly educated to get the best out of the available options without breaking the bank!
Kurt Dove is a pro tournament angler, Lake Amistad
fishing guide and member of the BoatUS ANGLER Pro Staff
So many types of reels these days…with all the new technology it has become difficult to understand what reel to buy when looking at a new purchase. Most importantly what reel and gear ratio do you need to best suit the specialized technique specific rods of the new generation? I will try to simplify what the gear ratio means and what reels are best for specific techniques of bass fishing.
Gear ratio is the amount of turns a reel spool goes around a full revolution with one rotation of the reel handle. This is directly correlated with how much line is recovered with each rotation of the reel handle as well. For instance a 5:1 ratio reel will turn the spool around five full times with 1 rotation of the handle. 6:1 and 7:1 ratio would do the same as compared to their ratios. This is very important to understand as it dictates the movement of our lures at the end of the line we are recovering with rotations of the reel handle. The reason we need different ratio reels for different techniques are to make our lures react correctly and to give us an advantage in different on the water situations we encounter throughout our fishing days. Here are some of my preferred ratios for specific techniques and why.
In nearly all cases I like to use a 5:1 gear ratio reel for swimbaits. This slow retrieve reel enables me to have a slow, subtle and realistic movement with these lifelike lures. Some would say ‘well just get a faster 7:1 gear ratio reel and wind it slower’. After years of fishing I understand and you will too that it’ just not the same.
I really favor the 6:1 gear ratio reels for frog fishing. It has the perfect combination of speed to work the lure properly, and wrenching power to hoist big bass through heavy cover.
In most bottom bouncing lure presentations like Texas rig fishing I use the 7:1 gear ratio reels. Since I do most of my lure movement with my rod tip the faster line recovery allows me to take slack out of line quickly once I detect the strike and it allows for good hook sets. Another advantage it that I can keep good pressure on a fast moving fish once I have surprised it with my hook set.
One technique when you may want a slow speed retrieve at times and fast other times, is using crankbaits. In some instances the faster retrieve reels will help generate quick reaction strikes and can be very effective when deflecting crankbait off of cover the bass maybe relating to. The slower speed reels can be a huge advantage when the need for a subtle presentation is working best.
Pay close attention the speed of your reels for specific techniques and be sure you match them up correctly. It can be the difference of a day on the lake fishing or a day on the lake catching!
Most tackle stores are happy to spool up your
reel, particularly those who have a line winding machine. If you
have the time, and they have the quality line you want, let them
When you're spooling up a bait casting reel, or any conventional reel, put a rod, or even a pencil, through the center of the line spool. Tie the line to the reel with a (Uni-knot or Arbor knot) clipping off the tag end. Snug the knot to the reel spool. One person should reel while another holds both ends of the rod, applying pressure as the line is reeled onto the spool. Fill to about an 1/8 inch from the spool's outer rim. Keep the line away from anything that could cause abrasion.
Use the same procedure with a spinning reel, but reel line so that it comes off the end of the spool. After 15 or 20 turns, if a twist occurs, turn the spool over and continue to fill the reel.
Monofilament will twist. If it happens while fishing from a boat, play the line out with nothing on the end, trolling behind the boat for about five minutes. It is also important to always use a ball-bearing swivel, which will reduce or eliminate line twist. Certain lures or bait tied directly to the line will invite twist. To compensate for this, try lighter line. Just for your own education and enjoyment, go down in line test. You will be surprised that you can catch big fish on line much lighter than you are presently using. It may take more patience and even a little more skill, but you will enjoy it. If fish stop biting, go to a lighter test. The thinner line may get them eating again. The thinner the line, the less likely a fish sees it.
Rod Guides - The guides on your
rods must be checked and kept free of any abrasive areas. Pull a
strip of pantyhose through the rod guides to check for snags, or
a cotton tipped swab. Inspect them before and after each trip. When
trolling, make sure the line is not wrapped around a guide.
Fishing Line - Always check the line for nicks or frazzles or areas of abrasion that will cause a weakness. After every fishing trip, or after playing out a nice fish, cut off approximately ten feet of line and retie, if you have reason to believe it may have been frayed. This is very important.
When fighting a decent fish, in fresh or saltwater, three things can happen: (1) the fish goes deep, pulling the line across rocks, logs or other hard objects, (2) the fish is big and the line will rub across its body or tail, and (3) other things, such as the boat, a jetty, surface objects or dock, or even other fish inthe area, may bump into your line. All three factors will cause abrasion, eventually prompting the line to break. The easiest solution is to cut off the weak line and retie.
Quality monofilament that has not come in contact with the above items does not need to be totally replaced. (We have had saltwater charter boat captains catch over 20 Blue Marlin without respooling new Ande monofilament.) So, if you check your reel's drag system, your rod guides and cut away line that may be damaged, we guarantee you will catch more fish.
Spinning rods and reels are very popular because they’re easy to
use, allow long casts with light lures, and can be quite inexpensive.
The first two or three line guides on a spinning rod are large, because
the line “billows” off the end of the reel spool during the
cast. To cast with a spinning reel, you open the wire “bail”
that wraps line around the spool, holding the line with your index finger.
Release the line as you move the rod forward and with a little practice
you’re casting like a champ. Nylon monofilament line of 6- to 12-pound
test works best on most spinning reels.
Spin-casting: Like a spinning reel, the spin-casting reel has a stationary spool, with line leaving and returning at one end of that spool.
But the spool on the spin-casting reel is enclosed, so you can’t see it. The line is released by use of a thumb-button at the back of the reel.
Bait-casting: These reels differ greatly from both spinning and spin-cast reels because the spool sits perpendicular (cross-ways) to the rod rather than parallel to it. Because the spool moves during casting and retrieving, these reels are often called revolving-spool reels.
Bait-casting tackle requires more practice, patience and skill than both spinning and spin-casting tackle, but once mastered, allows for pin-point casting accuracy and excellent line control when fishing and playing fish.
Fly-casting: As mentioned earlier, artificial flies are very light, making them virtually impossible to cast with most rods and reels. So fly casters use a special kind of line and a certain kind of rod that allow even the smallest of flies to be cast long distances. The line itself provides the casting weight, and the rod’s size and flexibility are matched to the line’s weight for best casting results. Fly-fishing line is thicker and more visible than other types of fishing line, so fly anglers use several feet of monofilament or other low-visibility material as a “leader” between the fly and the fly line.
He shows up with a cheap discount store combo. It has a tiny, plastic ultra-light reel mounted on a rod that resembles a willow switch with guides on it. The rod and reel would struggle to land the minnows you planned to use for bait.
His fishing experience would have been much better had he known what to look for in a rod and reel before buying an outfit.
Beginning (and sometimes experienced) anglers often don't know how to select a rod appropriate for the type of fishing they plan to do. A rod designed for panfish won't work for hauling in big bass.
Before deciding which rod is best, anglers should know the power and action of a rod. These two components often get intertwined and confused, even by experienced anglers.
The action refers to how much a rod bends when you're casting or have a fish at the end of the line. An extra fast action rod bends just at the tip. A fast action bends in the last quarter of the rod. A moderate-fast action rod bends over the last third. A moderate action rod bends over the last half. A slow action rod bends all the way into the handle. Fast action rods put more force into your throw and give you longer casts. Softer action rods are more forgiving and have less tendency to throw live bait from your hook.
The lure weights and line sizes that a rod can handle determine its power. Ultra-light rods are designed for 2-6 pound line and lures weighing from 1/32-ounce to 1/4-ounce. Rods can handle progressively heavier lures and line as their power increases from light to heavy.
All Around Rod Choice
A great choice for all-around fishing in Kentucky is a medium-light power, fast action rod for use with a spinning reel. These reels have an open spool in the front and mount on the bottom of the rod. They are the best choice for fishing situations where the line being used is 10 pounds or less in strength.
This kind of rod is supple enough to enjoy catching small farm pond bass and panfish, while beefy enough to land a large channel catfish or a four-pound bass. Spinning gear is easy to use and allows you to cast light lures a long way. Spinning rods help protect light lines, allowing beginners to make mistakes while landing a decent sized fish without breaking off.
The fast action gives the rod enough heft to set the hook when fishing a plastic worm or jig for bass, or setting the hook on a catfish.
Light Power, Fast Action
For bluegill, crappie and small trout, a light power, fast action spinning rod is a good choice. A quality ultra-light rod also works for these fish, but many ultra-lights are too short and too wimpy. A 4½-foot ultra-light rod with the backbone of a boiled noodle isn't worth the packaging it came in for any species.
Medium Power, Medium Action
For larger black bass, walleye and channel catfish, a medium power, moderate fast or fast action baitcasting rod works well. Baitcasting reels have an enclosed spool and mount on top of the rod. They are the best choice for lines of 10 pound test or higher. They require much greater practice than spinning gear to use effectively.
Moderate Fast Action
Choose the moderate fast action if you plan to fish leeches or minnows for walleye, or chicken livers for channel cats. The slightly softer action usually helps prevent you from throwing off the bait while casting. If you plan to jig and worm fish for largemouth bass and occasionally fish for the other species, choose a fast action, medium power rod.
Get a medium heavy or heavy power baitcasting rod with a fast action for striped bass, muskellunge, flathead catfish and blue catfish. This set-up is also good for flipping or pitching jigs for largemouth bass. Choose a moderate or slow action rod with a medium-heavy or heavy power rating if you plan to use live bait. Again, the softer action protects against throwing the bait off the hook on the cast. These rods possess enough strength to land these fish, but they can also handle the heavy lures and strong line needed.
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