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NY, NJ, CT, RI Edition
July 26, 2011
Volume 22 � Number 5


The Best of the Best
by Chris Grech
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It's time to highlight some of the best products available that will help you catch more fish in 2011 and for many years to come. Whether you're a die hard surf rat searching for big bass, a boat angler still looking for a 10-pound doormat fluke or even if you travel offshore hunting down sharks and tuna, I have something for everyone here. I have put together my Best of the Best picks for rods, reels and line that will please people on a reasonable budget as well as anglers who must have the very best products available. The best gear is almost always on the higher end of the price scale but often you only have to buy it once and it will last you a lifetime if you take care of it. This will actually save money over time. You get what you pay for and if you take fishing seriously, you should consider buying quality products the first time around. Yes, you can go with cheaper equipment and it may get the job done for the time being but it will usually break when you need it most. Buying quality is the key and it will actually save you time, money and frustration in the long run plus catch you more fish to boot. Need some help choosing a well made surf reel or deciding what line to spool up when you go sharking? Have no fear…The Best of the Best is here!

Surf Fishing

What better place to start than from the abundant beaches and jetties that make up our highly productive coastline. If you're looking for an excellent rod without breaking the bank on a custom piece, you can't go wrong with a Lamiglas Tri-Flex Rod. These lines of rods have been tested throughout the years and have earned a reputation of being extremely strong and durable while maintaining sensitivity, balance and an extremely fast recovery rate. The tri-wall construction starts with a lightweight graphite base, adds a fiberglass overwrap, then a second graphite reinforcement through the butt and mid section. These 2-piece rods range from 8'6" to 10', with the latter (TS10MHS) being a great all around choice with moderate action. As for a reel, strap on an affordable Daiwa Saltist for a great performing reel with all metal construction. They also feature 6.2:1 gear ratios, five CRBB corrosion resistant ball bearings, Digigear digitally designed and machined gearing, tubular stainless air bail and a sealed waterproof drag. With five sizes available, my choice would be the mid-sized 5000H that can be spooled with either 240 yards of 20-pound test mono or 440 yards of 50-pound braid. Speaking of line, most surf anglers, especially those who sling lures, have made the switch over to braided line. Power Pro is one of the most popular since it has earned a great reputation over the past decade. Green Power Pro Braid in 50-pound test will handle virtually anything from the surf and will still cast very well. If you prefer monofilament line, or do mostly bait fishing, I would recommend Momoi's Diamond Hi-Catch mono in 20 or 30-pound test.

Quality Surf Fishing Combo

Lamiglas Tri-Flex Surf Rod - TS10MHS

Daiwa Saltist Spinning Reel - 5000H

Power Pro Braided Line – 50lb green

If you want the very best surf gear available, go with my Best of the Best surf fishing combo. The custom rod of choice is the SP Jetty Series from White Water Outfitters. These custom blanks are simply the best jetty rods around since they provide a lot of backbone while maintaining precision sensitivity and rock solid durability. They are strong enough to swing a double digit striped bass or bluefish up onto a jetty yet still sensitive enough to fish a ¾ to 1-ounce bucktail comfortably and accurately. The SP Jetty Series are made with your choice of Fuji Alconite or SIC guides, which are made of different ceramic materials, and come in 9, 10 and 11-foot lengths. Again, you can't go wrong with a surf rod in a 10-foot length. Moving onto the reel, the best out there, hands down, are the Van Staal VS Surf Spin series. These top of the line reels feature the exclusive sealed and waterproof drag system for the ultimate in strength and reliability. Six sizes are available ranging from the small VS100 with a 2-inch spool diameter and 4.75:1 gear ratio to the big VS300 with a 3-inch spool diameter and 4.25:1 gear ratio. They all come in black, gold or silver and my choice would be the black VS275 which can hold 425 yards of 25-pound mono or 350 yards of 80-pound braid. As for braided lines, Sufix has quickly become the top choice for many die-hard surf anglers. There are many options available including Sufix Performance, Performance Fuse, Performance Stretch Braid and even the new Performance Ice Fuse. The Sufix Performance in Lo-Vis Green will work well in 50-pound test, which is equivalent to the diameter of 12-pound monofilament line.

Best of the Best Surf Fishing Combo

White Water Custom SP Jetty Series Rod – 10'

Van Staal VS Spinning Reel - VS275

Sufix Performance Braided Line– 50lb Lo-Vis Green

Inshore Fishing

Whether you're fishing inshore on your boat, a friend's boat or a party/charter boat, you need quality equipment to help you consistently catch fish.

When that inferior reel seizes up while fluking or you can't feel a blackfish bite and set the hook properly, you will quickly realize the importance of quality fishing gear. It's happened to everyone at some point in their lives, including yours truly, so learn from your mistakes (and mine) and buy the best fishing tackle that you can afford. Since fishing various inshore species such as fluke, sea bass, striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, etc, has brought a lot of specialized fishing rods and reels for different situations, I will choose an all around inshore fishing setup that will catch just about anything.

When choosing a quality inshore rod on a budget, check out the Lamiglas Tri-Flex Graphite Inshore Series. They feature cork handles and come in six casting models and two spinning models in 7 and 7-1/2 foot lengths. The TFX7030CT is a great choice with its 7-foot length, good backbone and fast action. Match that with a Newell conventional reel and the possibilities are endless. Newell reels are made of lightweight graphite and stainless steel right here in the USA. They are also super tough and have an excellent reputation for reliability. Newell reels feature hard polished stainless drag discs, stainless reinforced graphite side plates, lifetime lubricated bearings and an oversized drag that's built to last. Ten sizes are available with my choice being the Newell 235 with a 5:1 gear ratio that handles 225 yards of 30-pound mono yet still weighs only 14.3 ounces. Just add some Power Braided Line in 50-pound test and you're good to go.

Quality Inshore Fishing Combo

Lamiglas Tri-Flex Graphite Inshore Rod - TFX7030CT

Newell Conventional Reel - 235 with 5:1 gear ratio

Power Pro Braided Line – 50lb green

When assembling the Best of the Best inshore fishing combo, a custom rod is a must. Since this is the largest segment of custom rods with an overwhelmingly wide variety of choices for specialized fishing situations, I would strongly recommend speaking with a local custom rod builder. Before your visit, decide what the primary use for the rod will be. Will you be bucktailing fluke and striped bass in the shallow bays? Maybe the rod will be mainly used for wreckfishing for sea bass, porgies and ling at depths averaging 30 to 60 foot. Maybe you want to fish deeper for blackfish in late fall at 100 foot but want the rod to serve double duty for some light codfishing? These are the questions you need to ask yourself first. Once you have set your goal for the specific job of the rod, speak with your local rod builder and he or she will design a perfect rod built specifically for your needs. Match that up with an Avet MX series reel and you'll have a quality setup that's made in the USA. The Avet MX reels boast precision machined 6061 T-6 marine grade aluminum and stainless steel components, anodized bodies, true one piece frame for the ultimate in strength vs. weight, powerful lever drag system with adjustable pre-set, stainless steel gears, silent dog and anti-reverse system and 8 sealed stainless steel ball bearings. They come in eight different models in standard colors of gold, silver and blue and even custom colors like gunmetal, raptorskin and camo. The blue MXJ 6/4 M.C. is a stellar choice. Once again, 50-pound Power Pro braid is a winner.

Best of the Best Inshore Fishing Combo

Custom Inshore Rod – See your local professional rod builder

Avet MX Reel - MXJ 6/4 M.C.

Power Pro Braided Line – 50lb green

Offshore Fishing

When it comes to offshore fishing, you need the best gear you can afford in your arsenal. Sometimes when fishing from the surf or inshore, you can sacrifice quality and still "get by". Offshore is a different ball game all together. You need the equipment available to fight the tackle busting fish you will eventually encounter. Offshore fishing is a large investment of money, time and hard work, so make sure your tackle selections are up to the task and always expect the unexpected. When that 200-pound bigeye is screaming line or you set the hook and see a 300-pound mako that's going ballistic, you need the Best of the Best combo to finish the job.

Custom offshore rods are always the way to go. With that said, if you still want something off the shelf, the Shimano Tallus is my top pick. When choosing a rod from the wide variety offered, the Shimano Tallus Stump Trolling Rod (TLTSTHW) is a superb weapon for the fight. It is 5'6" of heavy power and fast action with a line rating of 40 to 80-pound mono, 10-inch foregrip and 5 guides plus the tip. Details include Shimano TC4 construction, triple wrapped AFTCO heavy duty roller, triple wrapped Gudebrod thread wrapped guides and a limited lifetime warranty. As for a matching conventional reel, the rock solid Shimano Tiagra series are a tough one to beat. They feature machined aluminum frames and sideplates, cold forged aluminum spool, 4 anti-rust bearings, ratcheting drag lever and twin pawl anti-reverse system. The Shimano Tiagra 2-speed 50W is an excellent choice for the rod mentioned above that can hold 850 yards of 50-pound mono or 1235 yards of 100-pound braid. Max drag at full is 37.5 pounds and 28.5 pounds at strike. The 3.1:1 high gear ratio pulls in 37 inches of line per crank while the powerful 1.3:1 low gear ratio retrieves 15 inches per crank. To finish it off, spool up with 130-pound Jerry Brown backing with 80-pound Momoi Diamond Hi-Catch monofilament top shot. This killer combo is a great all around offshore rod that can handle chunking for sharks and trolling for tuna and everything in between.

Best of the Best Offshore Fishing Combo

Shimano Tallus Stump Trolling Rod - TLTSTHW

Shimano Tiagra 50W 2-speed – TI50WA

Jerry Brown Line One Spectra – 130lb backing

Momoi Diamond Hi-Catch Monofilament – 80lb topshot

Top anglers use quality rods, reels and line. I always recommend buying the best products that you can afford and taking care of them before the trip, after the trip and especially during the off-season. If you take care of your equipment, it will always take care of you. Another positive to buying quality rods and reels is that you can use them for other applications. For example, the Van Staal spinning reel (VS275) mentioned prior may be the ultimate surf reel but take it offshore and it can handle pitching bait and jigs to mahi and tuna without even breaking a sweat. Another example is the Lamiglas Tri-Flex Graphite Inshore Rod (TFX7030CT). It can just about do it all inshore depending on the size you choose. If you want to buy several rods and/or reels on a budget, it's often advantageous to buy just one top quality rod/reel combo rather than two or three inferior setups.

Last but not least, I want to stress the importance of buying locally. Let's continue to keep our local tackle shops in business by purchasing our fishing gear locally rather than online. Remember, you can't buy fresh bait online.

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