Selecting your first fishing equipment can be a daunting task! There are so many products on the market, so many species to fish for and countless ways to do it. This article will serve as a guide for your first purchase of rod and reel. Let us peruse the vast sea of options, so that first time on the water will be as memorable as possible.

Before you go shopping!

Inside view of Bass Pro Shop store

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You should be aware, there are different rods, reels, lines and terminal tackle for all species of fish – freshwater and saltwater! Decide what fish you want to catch first, before you do anything. Also, have a piece of water in mind whether it’s a lake or a river. What species dwell there? How far from the shore need your casts to be? Inform yourself before you buy anything, so you don’t waste money on needless equipment.


Fishing rods lined up in a row

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When it comes to your first rod and reel, lets start with spinning reels. They are versatile, you can use them for almost any species and any fishing technique. There’s nothing wrong with all-around spin reels that fit more types of fishing, but if you know what species you want to catch, a way better decision is to buy a specific reel for your needs. The most important thing when buying new tackle is rod-reel balance. If the pairing of rod and reel is on-point, your casts will be more accurate and retrieves, as smooth as butter!

Top choice

Shimano Spilling reel and rod

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Daiwa a good first choice along with Shimano, both are top manufacturers of rods and reels. Take the Daiwa Exceller LT 4000 D-C, for example. For a reasonable price, you get a product that can last a lifetime. LT stands for light and tough: with a weight just a little bit over half a pound, this reel has exceptional abilities toughness-wise. An aluminium air spool and other minimalistic parts form a compact reel.

In the entry-level price-range, the Shimano Sahara is another solid choice! Another rear drag style fishing reel with solid build frame, and 3 metal encased bearings for good wear and tear! The Sahara also features a multi-disk rear drag usually only found on higher-end fishing reels make this one a good bang for your buck!

Reels for big-game

Large trolling reel for fishing

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Once you’ll try those Ferrari’s among surfcasters, you won’t turn back. For a proper rod (10-13ft) you’re going to need something a bit more bulky. My top choice here is the Daiwa Emblem 45 SCW QD OT. I’ve used so many big pit reels, and none came even close to the Emblem. No distance is too far, no fish too big. A reel as smooth as it gets. Even the design is super appealing. In Shimano’s corner the Ultegra Xse Competition Surfcasting reel is another fine choice in heavy spinning reels. Penn’s Surfblaster reel is another good choice in the same price range, with a long reputation of saltwater experience, Penn reels will last nearly a lifetime!


Fishing rod selection at Bas Pro store

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You can use one kind of rod for more fish species. If you fish for a top predators, a bass rod cannot withstand the pressure and power of a pike, or musky. You’ll have a harder time fighting the fish. Pike and Musky rods are usually much stiffer, because you are on average casting heavier lures. Also playing bigger fish becomes easier with tougher rods. The bigger the fish you are targeting, the stiffer the rod you’re going to need when looking for your first rod and reel.

Tip: always try to buy your fishing tackle in person, feel the rod’s blank and grip, you have to be comfortable with it. Try to balance your rod and your reel. You will know when the right combination is in your hands.

Top choices for rod types & combos


Fishing rod and reel combination

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Rod Action

You need to be aware of rod action (relative stiffness). A fast action rod, has a stiff lower part, and a flexible top. Suited for bigger lures or heavy leads in carp fishing. A medium action rod bends a little further towards the butt of the rod and a light action rod bends even further. Faster action means heavier casting weight.

Carp fishing rods have faster actions as lure fishing rods. For example: a standard carp fishing rod’s action is between 2 and 3.5lb. A standard musky rod has a test curve around 30-60 grams.

Carp rods are much longer, since you need to cast further. Standard rods are 10-13ft long. Pike rods for example are way shorter, that’s because you cast lighter weights. A shorter rod length gives you more contact with the lure, that’s why you are able to guide the lure in any way you want through the water.

Tip: Telescopic rods are much easier and more convenient for transport, but lack in toughness and versatility.

Tip: Don’t always go for the cheapest products. You also do not want to spend $300 for a fishing reel, but  a $20 product simply will not. Go with proven manufactures such as; Daiwa, Shimano, Penn etc.

Final Word

Now you’re set to go! Remember, There is no guarantee that more expensive gear will bring you more fish. Reels, rods and terminal tackle are only utilities, so it’s up to you, how they are going to be used. Happy shopping and fishing!