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Saltwater Spinning Rods and Reels

Match the catch with saltwater tackle.

by Gibbs Milliken

Many saltwater fishers are setting aside their heavy, stiff-action rigs in favor of lighter rods, reels and lines that provide more sport. The G. Loomis 7-foot Escape Rod and Shimano Stella 2500FA Reel is just such a combination, joining one of the best three-piece, fast-action rods with Shimano’s finest ultra-smooth spinning reel. This outfit can be cast all day without causing fatigue. Despite its lightness, it has the backbone and drag necessary to handle the toughest game fishes in Texas bays. ($245, Escape Rod, #ETR84-3 LS-6, G. Loomis, (800) 456-6647, www.gloomis.com $499.99, Stella 2500FA Reel. Shimano, Inc., (800) 274-4626, www.shimano.com)

New this year is the Airrus Series of award-winning rods. The 71⁄2 foot spinning model features a lightweight, blended graphite blank, comfortable non-slip grip, and powerful butt section that balances perfectly in the hand with the sturdy saltwater-resistant Shimano Sustain 5000FD Reel. Both rod and reel are carefully finished and sensitive to even the slightest touch of an obstruction or bite on the retrieve. ($109.95, Airrus Rod, Model: AS761MH, Airrus, (702) 395- 2173, www.rodsbyairrus.com $249.99 Sustain Reel, #5000FD, Shimano, Inc.)

In the surf, catching big sharks, jacks and bull reds requires lots of tough line on reels with strong drags and a rod that will cast that extra distance and stand the strain of powerful fish. This means upsizing to a combination such as the 11-foot Team Daiwa Surf Rod and multi-bearing Daiwa Surf/Inshore Reel ($179.95, Daiwa Rod, Model: 1102HMRS-C and $549.95, Surf/Inshore Reel, Model: TD-X6000HIAU, Daiwa Corp., (562) 802-9589. www.daiwa.com).

The most unusual surf rod is the two-piece, 11-foot-long Daiwa Interline. This design dispenses with conventional line guides. Instead, the line runs inside the front rod section on raised spiral rifling that allows the line to shoot freely down the interior of the rod blank. This eliminates guide fouling, reduces line friction, and creates an even flex in the blank. In our field tests, the Interline proved a very efficient long-distance caster with 30-pound thin-diameter braided line on a Team Daiwa-S 3500CU Reel ($229.95, Interline Rod,#TX-X S1102HNRS-I and $184.99, Team Daiwa Reel, #S3500CU, Daiwa Corporation)

Want a really big rig to throw and hold heavy weights and large baits in turbulent waters? Try the 14-foot tubular glass Shakespeare Alpha Bigwater Rod to do battle with any giant that swims the channels and surf. This time-tested rod is inexpensive, durable and breaks into two sections. The secret is equipping it with a high-quality reel that holds many hundreds of yards of 65- or 80-pound Stren SuperBraid Line. ($39.99, Alpha Rod, #ABWS 514-2M, Shakespeare, (800) 334-9105, www.shakespeare-fishing.com. Stren Super Braid is available in Lo-Vis Green or Hi-Vis Gold. Prices vary with line size and yardage. Stren, (800) 243-9700, www.stren.com).

On the Texas Coast, match the catch by downsizing your tackle for more sport in the bays and upsizing for bigger fish in the channels and surf.

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