Stan Fagerstrom is a member of both the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame as well as the Bass Fishing Hall of Fame. Stan is also known internationally for his casting skills. Stan welcomes your e-mail comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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September 04, 2014
Which Rod Will Be Right? — Part 2
by Stan FagerstromMy companion didn't quite manage to turn a cloudy sky blue, but the cussing he was doing must have come pretty close.
Ever find yourself fishing in some far off part of the world and the rod and reel you're having to work with just won't get the job done? That's where my friend found himself on the morning he was doing such a thorough job of practicing his profanity.
If he'd been as good at listening as he was at cursing he wouldn't have been in such a foul mood. I'd done my best to convince him that a spinning outfit was likely to be his best bet when we finally got to where we were going. He wasn't having any part of it.
"Spinning isn't for me," he'd snorted when I had mentioned my own plans. "If I can't get fish with my bait casting gear, they just ain't there to be caught."
I suppose few fishermen have spent more time with a level wind reel in their hands than I have over most of the past century. I managed to make a living demonstrating and talking about them around the United States---and often in foreign lands---for a long, long time. And all that demonstration time was in addition to countless hours of actually fishing. Nobody loves a level wind reel and a casting rod more than I do.
That said, let me add something else. It's simply this: If you're stuck sometime with taking just one outfit along on a trip where you're not certain what kind of fishing you'll be doing, then a spinning outfit might very likely be your best bet.
I've had this brought home to me again and again over more than a half century of fishing and writing about it. One thing I touched on in my last column was fishing in the Amazon.
I've had the good fortune to make three fishing trips into that fascinating part of the world. The last time, a time when I knew I would be fishing for nothing but those wild-eyed peacock bass, I carried only a pair of my favorite G. Loomis casting rods and level wind reels loaded with lines strong enough to handle them.
The two previous trips into the jungle years ago I also wound up using my spinning outfit a good bit. The piranha down there in that beautiful but potentially dangerous country remind me of a bluegill with dentures---sharp dentures. They often grabbed the same light lures I like to use hereabouts for panfish. I sometimes didn't get them in the boat because their razor-edged teeth sliced my line like a sharp pair of scissors.
If you're interested in specifics, the spinning rods I pack most often are the G.Loomis SJR700, SJR 721 or SJR 722. If you're interested in taking the same route you can check the details on these rods in a G.Loomis rod catalog or at the G.Loomis web site. There's a wealth of solid information on these rods in the company's catalogs or web site and you'll do well to study it carefully. The same can likely be said for the other top quality rod makers.
Did I hear someone say the SJR 700 is too light for most freshwater fishing? Well, I've caught largemouth bass to 7-pounds on that wonderful little stick. Admittedly, the fish dictate what happens for awhile, especially if you hook a good one in heavy cover on that lightweight rod. Be assured I was very busy for awhile with that beautiful 7-pounder. That fish went where it wanted until it finally pooped out.
You step up in rod strength with the SJR 722. It didn't surprise me when I checked several years ago that the SJR 722 was the most popular spinning rod for warm water angling that G. Loomis marketed. Things may have changed but I doubt it. I used a casting version of that powerful stick to boat a 10-pound, 4-ounce largemouth once at Mexico's famed Lake El Salto.
I recall trips I made for sea run cutthroat on Washington State's lower Cowlitz River when I lived in that part of the world. I often went out with one of the most knowledgeable cutthroat anglers from that part of Southwest Washington. We cast small spinners up under the willows along the river's shoreline. The outfit I used on those trips was an open-faced reel and the G. Loomis SJR700.
I caught my share of cutthroat with that outfit on the Cowlitz. I had similar success with it on those New Zealand adventures I mentioned in my previous column as well as elsewhere. In New Zealand I used that same rod with 4 or 6-pound line on my open-faced spinning reel. It was a great outfit for getting the distance required with the lightweight lures we used. I'll never forget the beautiful 7-pound rainbow that grabbed a little curly tailed grub I pitched up under a waterfall on the North Island.
I've used monofilament line heavier than 10-pounds on a spinning outfit, but I always do so reluctantly. The lighter the line, the more enjoyment you'll get out of spinning tackle. For years now, however, there's been a way around that problem. I've also done lots of fishing using braided line on my spinning reels since the great new quality braids came to market.
My favorite of the different braids I've tried is Shimano's Power Pro. Even in tests up to 20-pounds this braid is small enough in diameter to handle well on an open-faced reel. A note of caution is in order where these braided lines are concerned. Remember just how strong Power Pro is despite its small diameter.