The best fishing rods and reels
Whether you’re dragging a single lure behind your boat or actively fishing six or eight lines, it’s important to have a fishing rod and reel capable of handling large fish, which can seriously damage under-equipped gear. and leave you with an even deeper hole in your pocket once you’ve made the necessary repairs or replacements.
As we passed through a particularly remote part of Fiji, our trolling gear gave up and we were reduced to handlines – which work perfectly well, but are not suitable for everyone – and lower tackle up to ‘until we reached New Zealand, where the captain ended up having to invest in all new equipment. We have lost more fish than we want to talk about along the way.
Choosing the right trolling gear can be tricky: too light, and you could destroy your fishing gear, or leave a fish with a lure and spool of line attached; too heavy, and there won’t be much sport involved in retrieving (most) the smaller fish. Determine where you will be fishing most of the time and if the chances of snagging a trophy are worth the extra weight.
If you are trolling inshore and your catch is likely to stay in the 50 pound range (think inshore species like salmon, and maybe small mahi mahi and offshore tuna), the Shimano TLD rod and reel combo will work perfectly.
If you find yourself fishing more offshore, something a little more rugged will save you time, money in the long run, and maybe even a little heartache, which is why I would go straight for one of the Penn’s International Series Coils and associate it with Penn Standup Ally Rod.
Tip: If you are using this setup on a sailboat, consider a short model – either 5ft 6in or 6ft – for better maneuverability around the rig of the boat.
Penn’s International reels have been a favorite reel since my grandpa fished for tuna, and I still have and use a few of his old ones. The modern version of the International V comes with a one-piece machined aluminum frame, which helps prevent salt and sand from entering the inner workings of the reel. The more seams there are in a spool, the more entry points there are for water and gravel to seep in, and in the case of salt water, it can mean the game is over without immediate attention.
Penn’s Ally stand-up series suitable for most uses, but choose the style that best suits you and your boat, and at least make sure you buy a model with a gimbal, which not only locks the rod in its holder but allows it to pivoting in a combat belt or chair – as opposed to, say, your hip or thigh, which can be painful. You can move your rod up or down as needed, but it is best to purchase a rod with roller guides if you are using a test line over 50 pounds, which will wear out the grooves in regular O-ring guides at over time.
Advantages: Most models of both configurations will also work for bait and bottom fishing
The inconvenients: Heavy, bulky to store
Buy the Shimano TLD Fishing Rod and Reel Combo at Bass Pro Shops for $ 269.98 – $ 309.98
Buy a Penn International Series Spool on Amazon, starting at $ 502.71
Buy the Penn Ally Trolling Rod at Bass Pro Shops for $ 66.97 to $ 249.95