Here’s a Swiss Army knife of rod and reel combos.
I have separate reels and rods for fishing tuna on the chunk, while jigging, and for trolling. I have other gear for white marlin, blue marlin, shark fishing, and more. So last season I decided to simplify at least my inshore setup by finding a rod-and-reel combination that I could use for a variety of near-shore fish, such as fluke, striped bass, tautog (blackfish), sea bass, and the like. I also wanted a reel that I could load up with braided line.
After lots of looking around, I settled on the Tekota 500 reel from Shimano, matched to a seven-foot long Shimano Talavera Aeroglass composite rod rated in the 15- to-30-pound class. I quickly spooled up the reel with 30-pound braided line and put this combo, which retails for around $300, to the test. The Tekota 500 also features a one-way ball bearing called the Super Stopper, which prevents it from backsliding and improves the hook set.
My first angling adventure involved some fall striped bass jigging where I found that the lightweight and tapered rod and easy-retrieving reel (4.21:1 gear ratio) made my lure dance as if it were alive. I managed to catch 30 stripers up to 38 inches on that trip. The Tekota 500 stayed firm in the rod’s graphite reel seat all day, and the ten stainless steel ball bearings, which are treated to enhance the reel’s anti-corrosion properties, made winding in the last fish as smooth as bringing up the first one.
I took this setup out repeatedly during the fall and winter for bottom fish, and between the reel’s performance and the Talavera rod’s backbone, I pulled many blackfish out of holes and wrecks, as well as many more stripers. After a cold and salty winter, I have to say that the reel’s die-cast aluminum frame looks as good as the day I bought it, the drag is still silky smooth, and the rod is equally fit. I’m still keeping my offshore gear, though. PMY
This article originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.