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By Derek Benoit August 11th, 2021
What You’ll Learn from This Article:
- The argument for multiple rods and reels
- Selection philosophy for my gear
- Creative thoughts on presentations
- Rods and reels I like now
- The Line that’s treating me the best
- Future purchase ideas
When you pick up a light or ultralight rod and reel, you travel back in time. You journey back to the days of childhood. The thrill of light line fishing is feeling the full power of every fish, regardless of size. Consequently, even a bluegill of only a pound or so gives and amazing fight.. Bass, trout, and many other species add to the challenge with varied styles of fight.
Advantages to Multiple Setups
Clearly, a selection of light gear will make anglers well rounded. As a result, you’ll have better tools for most situations you’ll face. Of course, the types of light line fishing you do will determine the number and types of outfits you use. I’ll dive deep into what I’m doing right now:
My Personal Light Line Applications
Firstly, my main light line targets are bass and panfish. Specifically, I chase largemouth bass and bigger specimens of sunfish. Most of this is from shore, but hopefully I’ll soon join the kayak club. Secondly, there are carp and crappie around, but the latter are quite scattered here in eastern Massachusetts.
Rod Combinations I’m Using Right Now
I have three light line outfits at the time of this writing: one 4 ½ foot ultralight combo, and two 6 ½ foot light combos. Two similar light setups are available to keep my options open. One combo is for fishing with a float and a slip shot with bait. I prefer to use a slip bobber setup, as it allows for quick depth adjustments. This preserves the line better than the “clip” style bobber, with many sizes and shapes to match bait size and total rig weight. Both light combos handle the total weight of the slip bobber rig more effectively than an ultralight.
My primary slip bobber is an earlier version of Bass Pro Shops’ Microlite spinning combo. The current versions have fewer rod length choices, but 6 feet is a good all-around length. I feel that this allows better balance than the longer, older version of this combo I have. Either way, I’d go with the 1000 size reel but test for your own preference. The new combo retails at $49.95.
What’s Your Measuring Stick for Rod Length?
It should be noted that rod length is a very personal choice, determined by the waters you fish most often. Since I’m fishing from shore virtually all of the time, I must consider how much cover is along the bank. If quarters are tight because of brush or other vegetation, then a shorter rod should get the nod. It’s just easier to manage without catching on everything around you. Longer rods are better for more open areas, where you can take best advantage of casting capabilities. Never underrate casting distance with the light stuff. Also, longer rods are better for a sneaky vertical presentation, especially in clear water or other tough conditions.
Getting Creatively Jiggy With It
Consider the rods crappie anglers use for jigging brush piles, trees, or thick vegetation. Depending on the venue, you can emulate this style more often than you think. Hence, scout your local waters with that in the back of your mind. You can move quickly from shore spot to shore spot rather quickly, covering more water. This is even better for small waters that have steep bank sections. However, you have to do a good job of figuring out just how long of a rod (two piece, trust me) you’ll need. Plus, you can even use a pitching or flipping presentation to reach spots that are a bit too far to vertically jib.
It’s Okay to Play Favorites
Although the first light combo is capable of fishing lures just fine, the second one is reserved for jigs, plugs, and topwaters which the ultralight rod’s rating. This second combo is a St. Croix Panfish Special rod coupled with a Shimano NASCI 100 reel. It’s more expensive than the other light combo, but performs flawlessly. It retails for $99.99 If you’re only going to with one light combo, I’d splurge a bit for the St. Croix NASCI and St. Croix pairing.
There simply isn’t much this rod and reel won’t handle within reason. Specifically, the tip is stiffer than the other combo’s rod which fishes jigs more efficiently. It’ll still handle swimming plugs and top water baits just fine. The reel is better made than the average light stuff, with failure not likely any time soon. Just be sure to do basic reel maintenance.
My 4’6” ultralight rod is a Bass Pro Shops Microlite Graphite. This rod is priced at $59. The reel choice is not finalized. However, I’m leaning toward a Pfleuger President OR President XT reel in size 20. The drags are smooth, and the prices are reasonable at $59.99 and $89.99, respectively. With basic reel maintenance you will see years of solid service.
Other Alernatives and Price Points:
|Model||Price||Average BPS Cabelas Rating|
|Bass Pro Shops MicroLite Graphite||$59.99||4.0|
|Bass Pro Shops Panfish Elite||$79.99||4.4|
|St. Croix Triumph||$89.99||4.9|
|St. Croix Panfish Special||$109.99-$129.994.5||4.5|
|St. Croix Avid||$159.99-$229.99||4.7|
|Model||Price||Bearings||Average BPS Cabelas Rating|
|Bass Pro Shops TinyLite||$19.99||2||4.0|
|Bass Pro Shops MicroLite||$34.99||4+1||3.9|
|Pfleuger President||$59.99-$69.99||6+1, 9+1||4.5|
|Team Lews Custom Pro Spin||$129.99||11+1||4.7|
|Model||Price||Bearings||Average BPS Cabelas Rating|
|Bass Pro Shops Tiny Lite||$29.99||2||5.0|
|Quantum Bill Dance Special Edition||$44.99||3+1||3.7|
|Bass Pro Shops Crappie Max Quick Tip||$64.99||4+1||3.3|
|Bass Pro Shops Micro Lite Elite (Light only)||$74.99||6+1||3.8|
|Pflueger President Bass Pro Shops MicroLite||$89.99-$99.99||4+1||3.9|
Line: Your Key Connection to the Fish
My preferred line for light freshwater is Suffix Advance Hyper Copolymer. I fish 4lb line most of the time, regardless of rod action. Moreover, the heaviest I’ll use is 6lb test. It knots well, and is low visibility. Additionally, it has enough abrasion resistance for use around moderate cover while allowing for delicate presentations. I’ve tried fluorocarbon lines and I’m not a fan of them for light applications. Comparatively, this stuff handles much more easily.
Future Considerations for Rod and Reel Combos
I would like to add to my collection to allow even more flexibility. Firstly, you need to know the waters I fish. Such are relatively shallow, with much isolated cover, easily reachable from shore. With this in mind, I’m looking at two piece crappie rods, OR a longer ultralight rod. Again, these allow for a vertical fishing style, even from shore. Just how long and what action is to be determined. However, I DO know that jigging will be the main use. Live minnows or worms are certainly an option. My plan is to use this in a run-and-gun style, hitting as many individual bits of cover, just like a crappie fisherman would do from a boat.