We’re lucky in Northwestern Ontario to be able to successfully target multiple species of fish of all sizes; from panfish to large sturgeon and everything in between.
If you’re like most anglers, you probably own a few different rod and reel set-ups for various fish and fishing techniques.
But with the wide array of lures available to anglers today, how do we go about picking the proper outfits to do an adequate job for the technique we are trying to employ to catch the species of our choice?
Most folks will argue that beginning anglers should start off with “push-button” spincast reels, but I have to disagree. I have started off plenty of youngsters with spinning gear and they have these rigs dialed in in no time.
Spincast reels have poor drag systems, problems with line twist, and generally are poor quality. Set up a spinning reel with a six-foot rod and you have a good starting set-up because it is easy to handle in most situations.
It casts well, it can be used for jigging, and it can be used for catching many different species of fish.
As anglers spend more time fishing, they usually will fall for one species as their favourite. This isn’t to say that we all don’t fish for multiple species (heck, on Lake of the Woods and Rainy Lake, we have world-class fishing for seven or eight different species and I fish for all of them at one time or another over the course of a season).
To be successful, we have to match our rod and reel set-up to the species of fish we are targeting and to the presentation we are using.
We have fantastic crappie fishing and I spend quite a few days each season targeting them. That being said, I have a set-up that I like to use for crappies. I use a 1500 series Shimano reel teamed up with a six-foot ultra-light rod.
I can use this rig to pitch small tubes rigged below bobbers in the spring and I can jig deep with small spoons in the fall with this outfit.
I fish for big pike and musky occasionally, so I need a totally different outfit to throw the big baits used to attract these fish. I use a Calcutta 400 teamed up with a Compre Musky Rod—a heavy rod I can whip these big baits around with ease and muscle a big fish.
These different rigs are set up for certain types of fishing to maximize my time on the water by being efficient and effective for the species of fish I am targeting.
Over the last few years, there has been a trend towards anglers using longer rods. There are many benefits to using longer rods: they are far better at casting long distances, they offer more power and control when fighting fish, and they are more sensitive in many situations.
The popularity of braided lines also has led to this trend occurring.
Braid has zero stretch in it, so the longer rods provide more shock absorption for anglers so they don’t break lines on hook sets or rip hooks out of fish’s mouths when fishing with braided line.
By long rods, I’m talking stuff in the seven-foot plus range.
Check out the rods in the boats of most of the anglers at the Fort Frances Canadian Bass Championship this July and I guarantee you most of them will be seven-footers or longer.
There are some general rules to follow when picking the right outfit to match the baits you are fishing. When you are fishing hardbaits like crankbaits and jerkbaits for mid-size fish like bass and walleyes, you want to use longer rods that are on the softer side.
Typically medium action stuff so that hooks are not ripped out so easy and so there is a little forgiveness to make it easier for fish to inhale the bait.
The opposite is true when fishing heavy cover for bass with frogs or flipping techniques. You need a heavy action flipping stick for this situation to bury heavy hooks in the fish and to control fish in cover.
As a general rule, look at the hook you are using and match your rod accordingly. If you have a light, thin hook, you need a light rod so you don’t open up the hook while fighting the fish.
Hope this info helps you pick out a new outfit for the upcoming fishing season.