Balance is KEY! Matching The Right Size Spinning Reel With The Right Size Rod

Balance is KEY! Matching The Right Size Spinning Reel With The Right Size Rod thumbnail

A spinning reel ranks as my top choice for pursuing a variety of freshwater game fish because of the wide range of reel sizes available. I can match a small reel with an ultralight rod for trout and panfish or I can opt for a mega-sized reel matched with a big surf rod for chasing trophy catfish. Reels generally are rated differently in size by each manufacturer so there is no uniform numbers for the various sizes. Some manufacturers might list their reel as a size 25 whereas another manufacturer will list the same size reel as a 2500 model. The best way to determine size then is the smaller the model number the smaller the reel.

Here’s the lowdown on spinning reel sizes and how to match each size reel with a compatible spinning rod for freshwater fishing. The 1000 or 10 size reel is ideal for fishing with 2-to 4-pound test monofilament line. I pair this reel with an ultralight rod measuring either 4 1/2- to 5 1/2- feet long. This is a great combination for trout fishing and small panfish such as bluegill and yellow perch.

Small Spinning Reels

I opt for a 2000 or 20 size reel when I am fishing for crappie and white bass and use lines ranging from 4- to 8-pound test. I combine this reel with a 6- or 6 1/2-foot light or medium-light action spinning rod. This is also a great setup for trout fishing with jigs, jerkbaits or drift rigs with bait.

Medium Spinning Reels

Pflueger President Spinning Reel

The 2500 or 25 size reel is my choice for dock shooting for crappie or finesse tactics for bass such as drop-shotting. I spool the reel with 6-pound line and match it with a 7-foot light action rod for dock shooting. For drop-shotting, I use 8-pound fluorocarbon line and a 6 1/2-foot medium action rod. My choice for working jerkbaits, wacky rigs and shaky head worms for bass is a 3000 or 30 size reel. This reel works great with 10- and 12-pound line and a 6 1/2- or 7-foot medium or medium-heavy action rod.

Large Spinning Reels

Ardent Arrow Spinning Reel

There are multiple sizes of larger reels primarily used for saltwater fishing, but the largest I use for freshwater fishing is the 4000 or 40 size reel. I fill this reel with 20-pound test monofilament and fish for catfish with an 8- or 10-foot light surf rod.


Shimano Introduces New SKIXX Musky Rods

Shimano Introduces New SKIXX Musky Rods thumbnail

Fishing for freshwater’s apex predator is always a marathon, never a sprint. It’s casting big lures with big, powerful reels and rods that take a toll on an all-day fishing adventure.  While they won’t make a musky follow or engulf your lure, Shimano’s new SKIXX rods offer a slew of performance features, most notably the combination of Spiral X and Hi-Power X blank construction, to provide an edge for more success.

Offered in seven casting models in sizes from a heavy power eight-footer up to an extra-heavy power nine-foot-six, the new SKIXX musky rods will officially be introduced on January 23 at the Chicagoland Fishing, Travel & Outdoor Expo at the Schaumburg Convention Center.  Noted ‘musky hunter’ Jim Saric – who played an integral part in developing the new rods, will be in the Shimano booth at various times during the show to talk musky fishing and about the new SKIXX series.

Shimano’s latest advancement in fishing rod technology – first showcased in its saltwater rods – gives anglers the ability for both longer and more accurate casts, increased fish-fighting ‘catching’ power and control, along with added blank durability. According to Trey Epich with Shimano’s product development team, Spiral X provides the foundational basic structure to the rod, where an inner and outer layer of high-strength carbon infinity tape is tightly wrapped diagonally in opposite directions with a vertical sheet of carbon material in between. This allows Shimano to build thin, strong, and lightweight blanks that prevent rod twist to improve casting distance, accuracy, and control and also prevents blank ovalization for better lifting power and blank strength.

Hi-Power X is the reinforcing structure to the SKIXX rods, contributing to the lightweight blank construction, along with enhancing torsional rigidity from carbon tape being wrapped diagonally on the outer layer of the blank.

“With how the SKIXX rod blanks are made, not only do I notice added casting distance with less effort, it also eliminates any lateral vibration and provides more control while fighting muskies,” explains Saric. “From all my field-testing over the past year, what I really noticed is with the rod not twisting, all the rod’s energy is focused on direction and distance. In most conditions, I was seeing casts going 20-percent further, and was able to it without being completely drained at the end of a long day on the water.”

While the SKIXX eight-foot heavy and extra power rods are one-piece models, the eight-foot-six heavy and extra heavy power, and nine-foot medium-heavy and extra heavy power rods feature a two-piece handle. This unique construction process – proven with saltwater rods – solidly joins the pieces at the foregrip, “delivering strength and performance rivaling any one-piece rod,” Saric said. “Plus, the added bonus makes these longer rods easier to transport or store in any rod locker or vehicle, which was also considered by making the longest rod in the series – the nine-foot-six SKIIX 96HX – with a telescopic handle.”

Shimano SKIXX Musky Rods Payne OutdoorsWhen casting up to one-pound soft plastics, Saric recommends SKIXX 90XH paired with a Tranx 400. For big bucktails, he said the SKIXX 96XH with a Tranx 400 equipped with a power handle is a treat to fish with, “and when I’m using Top Raider or any other topwater prop baits, I’m rigged and ready with SKIXX 90MH with a Tranx 400.”

All the SKIXX rods feature Fuji Alconite guides and premium cork fore and rear grips. Except for the biggest SKIXX 96XH with a Fuji reel seat, the other SKIXX rods are all designed with Shimano’s CI4+ reel seats to further reduce overall rod weight.

Shimano SKIXX Musky Rods Payne OutdoorsTo see the SKIXX rods in action and learn more, watch Jim Saric here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=o7PF2Jn36VI&feature=emb_logo.

For more information on Shimano’s new SKIIX musky rods featuring Spiral X and Hi-Power X rod blank construction, visit your local tackle dealer, or visit the SKIXX page on the Shimano web site at: http://fish.shimano.com/content/fish/northamerica/us/en/homepage/NEW_PRODUCTS/NEW_PRD_TEMPLATE21.html.

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Dakota Lithium Power Box 10 Review

By Walker Smith

As much as we’re always on the water, the Wired2fish crew is always on the go. Whether we’re deer hunting, turkey hunting, kayaking or hanging out at a tailgate with buddies, it seems like we’re always outside. When I got the chance to test the Dakota Lithium Power Box 10, I immediately began thinking of all the applications it would have in my life. I had never heard of the company before and I’ve never owned something like this, so I really had no expectations. I went into this review pretty blind.

Todd and I have been using it a lot lately and have been quite impressed by how versatile it is. Quite honestly, I never thought I’d use this thing as much as I have; that’s no joke. If you’re an outdoorsman like we are, you should see what this small, compact box can really do.

I’ll break it down for you.

(1 of 7)EASY TO CARRY AROUND

Don’t let the rugged exterior of this device fool you. I figured it was going to be heavy and clunky, but the Dakota Lithium Power Box 10 only weighs 4 pounds. It’s nothing like I expected, to be honest.

It has a really convenient carry handle on the top of the box and I’ve been able to put this thing just about anywhere. I can fit it in my hunting duffle bag, my truck tool box and even the back compartments of my bass boat.

Whether I’m going to a cookout or to the deer stand, I have been carrying this little box with me everywhere.

(2 of 7)CHARGES ALL OF YOUR DEVICES QUICKLY

Like I mentioned earlier, we’re always on the go. I’m constantly riding around to different lakes and ponds to test new lures and shoot photos, so I’ve had a bear of a time keeping all of my stuff charged. I need to be mobile, but I also need to be close to my laptop at all times. If a breaking news story happens, Wired2fish needs to be the first to publish the article and that’s hard to do from a phone or tablet.

With dual USB charging ports and a 12-volt car plug, I’ve been able to get off the grid a little more without worrying about battery life.

Also worth noting is how quickly the Power Box charges everything. It’s not a wimpy charge like you get from those gas station phone chargers. From what I’ve experienced, it’s just like plugging your charger into the wall. Just last night while I was outside tinkering in my shop, I charged my iPhone from 12% to 94% in about 30 or 40 minutes.

(3 of 7)REALLY HANDY LED LIGHTS

This is a feature we didn’t really expect to utilize very much, but we were proven wrong. This Power Box has two super-bright LED exterior lights that act as a legit flashlight when you need it. There’s a separate switch for ’em, so they don’t always stay on. But Todd and I have used it while walking to and from the deer stand at dark and I’ve been using it around the yard in the evenings.

And because of its compact profile and weightlessness, it’s really no heavier than your heavy-duty flashlight.

(4 of 7)IT’S TOUGH TO KILL THIS BATTERY

The Dakota Lithium Power Box 10 can charge an iPhone more than 11 times, a laptop almost 3 times and even run a fish finder for more than 50 hours.

(5 of 7)MOBILE OFFICE? NO PROBLEM.

I have loved how mobile I can be now. No matter what, I have full confidence that all my stuff is going to be charged. I’m not one who is glued to my phone constantly, but man, I am pretty paranoid about it being fully charged.

What if I fall out of my deer stand? What if my 21-year-old bass boat breaks down 10 miles up a river? What if some sort of family emergency happens? I need to be able to contact my wife and first responders at all times, no matter how deep in the woods I am.

(6 of 7)WORKS EVERY SINGLE TIME

I have tossed this Power Box around in my UTV, truck and boat. It has been well used thus far and it works perfectly each and every time I plug something into it. I have developed a lot of confidence in it.

(7 of 7)FINAL THOUGHTS

Like I said, I had no idea this thing existed. But after testing it for a while and putting it through the wringer, I’m actually thinking about buying one for my dad for Christmas. With him being 67 years old and stubborn as a mule, I want him to have a full charge on his electronics when he’s in the woods or fishing by himself. For me, it’s a peace of mind thing.

1 Tactic And 5 Lures That Will Catch Bigger Fish

Would you rather catch 100 small fish or one big one? If you are fishing for glory, one way to weed out the little ones is using a big bait. Not only do big fish look for large meals, but a bigger lure will keep smaller fish from getting in the way. We’ve loaded a box with five of our favorite mega plastics. Glory not guaranteed.

Hogy Pro Tail

$6.99 | hogylures.com
From mountain lakes to the coast, big striped bass are looking for a big bait. Hogy’s Pro Tail swimbait has a wide profile and slow, rhythmic swim. Work it at any level of the water column by changing the retrieve speed.

Striped bass, and other predators, often feed at dawn and dusk. Hogy uses ultra-violet, heavy-duty plastic for improved low-light visibility. High-quality, VMC hooks have been tested on the meanest sea monsters.

Ron-Z Original Series

$8.00 | ronzlures.com
When you spot a huge, brown cobia cruising just below the surface, try not to freak out. Cast a Ron-Z Original Series a few feet ahead of the fish and draw it into view.

Calm your nerves, as the cobia swipes at the lure. If it misses, pause the retrieve and let the lead head dive. When the line goes slack, come tight. You got a cobia on!

Owner 3X hook makes sure the trophy stays glued. Ron-Z’s famous wedge-shaped lead head and streamlined rubber tail streaks through the water and dives fast.

Z-Man StreakZ XL

$4.99 | zmanfishing.com
Who said a big guy can’t be sensitive? Z-Man’s StreakZ XL is eight inches long, but the 10X Tough ElaZtech rubber jiggles like jelly to seduce finnicky largemouth bass. Rig on a jighead, weightless, weedless hook or behind a Carolina or Texas rig.

Pause the StreakZ and the ElaZtech does the rest. The slightest touch sends gyrations up the tail. The StreakZ XL is salt impregnated to add weight for longer casts and quicker descents.

Sebile Magic Swimmer Soft

$7.99 | sebile.com
A weedless jerkbait is perfect for pulling largemouth bass or speckled sea trout out of the grass. Sebile took the concept and pumped it up. The Magic Swimmer Soft is a 4 1/8-inch jointed soft plastic jerk bait with a recessed, weighted, weedless hook hidden inside the body.

Perfectly balanced to hover in the water and dart erratically. When a fish strikes, the rubber body slides up the line and out of trouble. Rig it Texas or Carolina style for a deadly bottom bait.

Live Target Swimbait

$10.98 | livetargetlures.com
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Well, mullet, menhaden and croaker must be flattered with Live Target’s Swimbait. Designed to be anatomically correct with color schemes perfectly matching an actual baitfish, the Swimbait looks like the real deal.

The true test is in the water. Making a bait look like a fish is easy but moving like a fish is tough. Live Target’s oscillating tail swings with a tight vibration giving the bait a life-like wobble. Big lures are easy to snag, Swimbait’s heavy-duty EWG hooks is protected by a dorsal fin doubling as a weed guard.

Plano Custom Divider Stowaway

$13.99 | planomolding.com

Plano’s Custom Divider series is designed for big plastics. In addition to straight dividers, the Custom Divider has angled dividers to create more space for odd-shaped lures. Clear plastic provides plenty of light and heavy-duty construction will secure heavy hardware.

The low-profile latches flip down to avoid accidentally opening the box. The Custom Divider comes in a variety of sizes, go with the Ruststrictor model for an added layer of corrosion protection.

Gear Review: Yeti Crossroads Backpack 23

WHAT IS IT?
Yeti Crossroads Backpack 23

WHAT SETS IT APART?
A convenient size with lots of storage-minded elements, the Yeti Crossroads Backpack 23 looks like a good fit for a quick weekender where you might carry a single tackle tray, a few packs of plastic baits, light tools and a tablet to scout new spots on Google Maps. Made from durable, 1000D Nylon material lined with 420D Nylon ripstop, the space-efficient design holds a rectangular profile that will fit under an airline seat and won’t whack folks near you every time you turn around.

HOW DO I USE IT?
Measuring 12 1/2 inches wide, 18 tall and 7 deep, the Yeti Crossroads Backpack 23 features a roomy top pocket for smaller items like pliers, sunglasses, wallet and keys and two exterior bottle pockets that remain magnetically collapsed between use. The interior design features a main compartment with multiple organizational elements that will hold tackle trays, rain gear, leader spools, etc., and a rear padded pocket for a tablet or a laptop up to 15 1/2 inches. Yeti’s Structure Arc design feature keeps the bag upright and opens wide for loading/unloading, while an articulated back panel adjusts to the user’s shape.

HOW MUCH?
$199

MORE INFORMATION:
Yeti.com

ANGLER’S INSIGHT:
Right out of the shipping box, the Crossroads 23 stands up with no additional items to weigh it down, while the weatherproof bottom material helps protect your possessions wherever you need to sit the backpack. Wide, well-padded straps have a firm feel with smooth edges for a comfortable wear and cleverly concealed attachment loops beneath the exterior fabric. The hidden zippered stash pocket on the back is a nice touch and a convenient reach for passports, cellphones, etc.

Evolution Fishing Mossy Oak Elements Bait Binder Review

By Walker Smith

I like practical fishing products. I’m not the kind of guy who gets enamored by useless bells and whistles and high price points. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it’s just not my personality.

For instance, I always keep a pond-fishing kit in my truck at all times. Whenever I’m near a pond I have permission to fish, I’m always ready to make a few quick casts. Until recently, I’ve pretty much been using my truck door pocket to cram a bunch of plastics, hooks and weights into. But I have found out that my wife doesn’t like having to move a bunch of stuff when she hops in the truck. She has a point.

So when I recently got the Evolution Fishing Mossy Oak Elements Bait Binder, I knew exactly what I was going to use it for. I was going to consolidate my pond-fishing kit and clean up the mess in my truck. There’s nothing inherently fancy about this bait binder, to be honest. But its design makes sense, it’s reasonably priced and I flat-out love it.

Here’s what I like most about it.

(1 of 7)HERE’S WHAT I STARTED WITH

My wife’s car is our “going to town” car. That leaves my truck as the boat puller and hunting/farm truck. But the mess in this photo was even getting on my nerves. If I closed the door too hard, stuff would fall out and I got tired of digging through it all.

The next photo will show you the consolidated version of my pond-fishing kit.

(2 of 7)HERE’S HOW NEAT AND COMPACT IT BECAME

That’s my entire pond-fishing kit in one Evolution Fishing Mossy Oak Elements Bait Binder. The wife is happy that she doesn’t have to dodge fishing hooks in my truck and I’m glad I don’t have to look at that mess anymore. I can slide this bait binder underneath my back seat and it’s completely out of the way.

Now let’s look at the features I like the most.

(3 of 7)OVERSIZED ZIPPER PULLS

Yes, I know it’s a simple feature. But I honestly didn’t know how much I’d like these dang zipper pulls. They’re comfortable, easy to operate and I don’t have to pull too hard to zip it closed when the binder is jammed full of fishing tackle.

So far, they’ve held up quite nicely. No fraying to speak of and the rubber remains perfectly intact.

(4 of 7)ALL SORTS OF ROOM

I can fit everything I need for a day of pond fishing in this bait binder. I was even able to fit my Rapala digital scale in there, which is a huge help. It seems like every time I catch a giant, I never have a scale. I won’t have that problem anymore.

This interior mesh compartment is also where I store all of my hooks, weights, weight pegs and pliers. I’ve put just about as much as I can fit into this pocket and the Evolution Fishing Mossy Oak Elements Bait Binder still closes very easily.

(5 of 7)8 REMOVABLE SLEEVES

This is where I put all of my soft plastics. The sleeves are removable, so you can take a few out if you need a bit more room. I can fit two bags of plastics comfortably in each sleeve. You could maybe cram three in there, but I don’t know how well the binder would close.

You’ll also notice the metal rings on the sleeves. This ensures that there won’t be any ripping or premature wear.

(6 of 7)THE SLEEVES CLOSE EASILY

Every angler has been there: Your hands are slimy or wet and for the life of you, you can’t get the dern bag to seal shut. Fortunately, you shouldn’t have that problem with these sleeves. They open and close quite easily and they stay shut when they need to. You won’t have a bunch of baits falling out of them. They seem to be very sturdy and well made.

(7 of 7)FINAL IMPRESSIONS

I will be ordering more of these this week. Jason and I were talking last night about these binders and we might actually start storing all of our soft plastics in these while we’re in our bass boats. I think it could save a lot of room and really simplify things for us. I’d give ’em a shot if you want to get things cleaned up and organized a bit.

LIVETARGET Freestyle Frog

The Freestyle Frog features LIVETARGET’s Injected Core Technolgy that provides protection and extraordinary realism. A durable Exo-Skin surrounds the frog, while an Inner-Core presents an ultra-realistic profile. The Exo-Skin adds weight to the frog, which helps you cast it further during windy days. The frog’s submarine-shaped body and V-shaped legs help it come through cover incredibly well, and it doesn’t blowout during a fast retrieve. Both the nose and belly feature a pre-made hole for precise rigging. Currently, the Freestyle Frog is available in three different sizes: 3-, 3 1/2, and 4-inches. All models are slow sinking and come in packs of two. $9.99 | livetargetlures.com

Gear Review: Booyah Covert Spinnerbait Series

WHAT IS IT?
Booyah Covert Spinnerbait Series

WHAT SETS IT APART?
Driven by the belief that there is an ideal spinnerbait for every situation, Booyah has assembled 72 specific skirt, head and blade combinations to address a wide range of spinnerbait scenarios. Utilizing elements such as red and orange heads for early spring and high or dirty water, the Covert Series adds white and chartreuse-based skirt patterns to match forage and complement head colors. Certain models also feature an orange kicker blade for low-visibility.

HOW DO I USE IT?
Covert Series spinnerbaits include non-plated 17-7 stainless steel bronze wire for increased durability and enhanced blade vibration. The wire also promotes corrosion resistance, while a formed wire trailer keeper holds any soft plastics in place. Covert Spinnerbaits come in 3/8-, 1/2-, 3/4- and 1-ounce sizes. The 3/8-ounce model is fitted with 4/0 hook, while the others include a 5/0.

HOW MUCH?
$8.99 – $9.99

MORE INFORMATION:
BooyahBaits.com

ANGLER’S INSIGHT:
Like most common bait categories, there’s a reason some anglers consistently turn in greater spinnerbait productivity, and the secret typically rests in the specific details of when to employ which options. Booyah has covered more bases than most have even considered, but anglers should appreciate the options. Also nice are the top quality Hildebrandt blades and a modified head design that features a special raked-out gill to offset the blade torque and keep the bait running true.

Gear Review: Humminbird Mega 360

WHAT IS IT?
Humminbird Mega 360

WHAT SETS IT APART?
How do you make a great view even better? Humminbird answered that question by extending its Mega Imaging to its 360 Imaging transducer. Boasting sonar clarity more than three-times traditional 455 kHz frequencies, Mega imaging delivers a level of detail that enables anglers to visually pick apart their underwater playing field. Adding this feature to the 360 Imaging transducer applies this extreme clarity to a full circle of view, or customized views of up to 125 feet from 10-360 degrees.

HOW DO I USE IT?
Independently mounted on bow mount Minn Kota Ultrex, Fortrex or Maxxum trolling motors, Humminbird Mega 360 Imaging directly connects to all Solix model fish finders and Helix models equipped with Mega Imaging+ capabilities. (Mega 360 imaging data can be shared over ethernet to all Solix models and Helix G2N and G3N units.) Mega 360 Imaging can be viewed side-by-side with Dual Spectrum CHIRP sonar or mapping.

HOW MUCH?
$1,199 (available December 2019)

MORE INFORMATION:
www.humminbird.com/MEGA360

ANGLER’S INSIGHT:
And I thought putting peanut butter and chocolate together was awesome — and it was (thank you, Reese’s). But adding Mega Imaging to 360’s ‘round the boat views pretty much tops even my sugar-laden fave. Anticipation and timely responses are integral elements of capitalizing on opportunities, so spotting fish, structure or bait more quickly and clearly advances this objective. Anglers should appreciate how Mega 360 allows full use of the trolling motor features, including Spot-Lock, while complementing Humminbird and Minn Kota’s One-Boat Network.