How do you strike a happy medium between an exhaustive complement of rod-and-reel combos and a one-rod workhorse? Here’s our four-rod arsenal of favorite walleye fishing weapons that will help you master nearly every imaginable angling scenario.
Best Suited For:
Big Swimbaits and Wake Baits, Alabama Rigs, Frogs
Yanking chunky fish out of matted vegetation or pulling heavy swimbaits requires stout gear.
Our industrial-strength rod-and-reel combo includes a 7-foot 6-inch Castaway Invicta rod and an Abu Garcia Revo Beast reel. Though robust, the Invicta is surprisingly sensitive and easily handles big baits and magnum fish without fuss. The Winn nonslip split grip is impervious to wet, nasty conditions and provided enough leverage to muscle fish from cover.
With 22 pounds of drag force, the Abu Garcia Beast is a stout cranker. In our test punching the thickest hydrilla, dragging deeply wedged fish (up to 9 pounds) out without a hitch. (rod: $250, castawayrods.com; reel: $350, abugarcia.com)
Best Suited For:
Spinnerbaits, Jigs, Worms
While road-testing this featherlight combo this outfit excelled at bouncing spinnerbaits through standing timber and creeping jigs through shoreline brush piles.
The 7-foot Fenwick Elite Tech medium-heavy rod let me get on top of long casts and cover plenty of water while burning spinnerbaits in search of scattered fish. With a retrieve ratio of 6.2:1, the Shimano Chronarch 150 Ci4 reel was ideally suited for working weighted baits in the majority of fishing situations. The extra-low profile made palming the reel easy, which is a great advantage when working contact baits such as jigs and worms. (rod: $150, fenwickfishing.com; reel: $269, shimanofishing.com)
Our hard-bait combo consists of a 7-foot 3-inch Kistler Helium 3 rod and a Lew’s Lite Speed Spool TLL1H baitcasting reel.
The rod’s action is what sets it apart from others. The extra-fast taper of the Helium’s tip is subtle, flexes flawlessly, and keeps fish buttoned up on the light-gauge wire hooks typically found on topwaters, crankbaits, and jerkbaits.
The Lew’s Lite Speed Spool retrieves 28 inches of line per turn and offers a perfect compromise between a slow, pure cranking reel and a high-speed burner. It has plenty of low end for cranking down deep-diving crankbaits while still managing topwater retrieve cadences. It easily handles the light lines often used with hard baits. (rod: $260, kistlerrods.com; reel: $239, lews.com)
When fish shut down, specialized gear is required to manage the thread-thin clear lines and micro-size baits necessary to turn the bite back on.
Our finesse rig includes an Edge Black Widow DSR 6101 rod and a Pflueger Patriarch spinning reel. The Edge’s supple tip allows users to paint the bottom with tempting morsel-size baits and features a gentle butt section for maneuvering big walleye once they’re hooked. When a cold front drove fish to deep shoals during our field test, the rod’s limber tip proved perfect for drop-shotting inactive fish from deeper water.
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