For the cost-conscious angler, a spinning combo – a matched and balanced spinning rod and reel, is the ticket to better quality at a bargain price. However, just like many deals portrayed as “bargains,” the admonition of “buyer beware” still applies. Here’s how to pick the best fishing spinning combo while not getting ripped off.


1st Rule

Never grab a spinning combo based on price alone. Do research! Before buying any fishing gear, determine what kind of fish you are going to target, where they live, and how you will fish for them. In effect, start with the fish and work your way back to your hand! Here’s the value chain that should drive the thought process. Target the fish, understand the types of lures/terminal tackle, pick the line, pick the rod, pick the reel.

So, it’s back to basics. The rod must have the right power, action, length, composition, and construction for the targeted fish and technique. While that ultralight rod might be perfect for small trout or panfish, it will disappoint when pursuing largemouth bass. Step through each of these criteria to identify the right spinning rod for your spinning combo.

4 Criteria for a Spinning Combo Rod

  • Power: Refers to how much pressure it takes to flex the rod (often referred to as it’s lifting power). The bigger the fish you are after, the heavier power rod you will need.
  • Action: Describes how and where the rod flexes when there is pressure applied to the tip.
  • Length: Longer spinning rods cast farther. Shorter rods are better and more accurate for tight environments.
  • Composition: Look for graphite because it is lightweight and sensitive. A good graphite rod has a minimum rating of 24-ton

While the rod is the most critical component since its performance has a more significant impact on casting and handling a fish, do not ignore the characteristics of the reel. While there are 11 things you should consider when buying a spinning reel, take a look at the most important aspects.


4 Criteria for a Spinning Combo Reel

  • Spool: When you load line on the spinning reel, it should lie flat and level from top to bottom.
  • Bearings: Generally speaking, the more bearings a spinning reel has, the smoother it will crank.
  • Gear Ratio: This refers to how many times the bail rotates with each handle turn. For instance, a 6.2:1 gear ratio means that the bail rotates around the spool 6.2 times with 1 complete handle turn. A faster gear ratio allows for rapid lure retrieval, so they work great for fishing fast. However, lower gear ratios do provide more torque for reeling in bigger fish. A gear ratio between the range of 5.2:1 to 6.2:1 is a good start.
  • Frame Construction: Spinning reels can be aluminum, graphite or magnesium. Aluminum frames are stronger and more durable than graphite, but graphite is lighter and more resistant to corrosion.


In Conclusion

Once you have thought about these characteristics for your spinning combo, you can now focus on choosing which combo offers the best quality within your budget. Some manufacturers will “cheap out” on either the rod or reel; do not make the mistake of selecting the combo based on one component. Just as the rod and reel must be balanced, so must the allocation of quality to each component appropriate for the price point. A lousy rod with a high-quality reel will only disappoint (and the rod is where many combos go cheap)!

Evaluate each candidate spinning combo against the requirements you determined for the rod and reel. That way, you can maximize the quality of both. Along those lines, avoid a manufacturer who only offers  spinning combos in only one or two configurations. Fish come in all shapes and sizes, and a reputable manufacturer will have spinning combos featuring the entire range of rod options and matched reels. Those who do not offer diversity may configure an oversized reel onto a smaller power rod or vice versa. It might balance when you hold it, but it ends up being awkward when on the water.