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Thread: Newbie Rod and reel questions

  1. #1
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    Newbie Rod and reel questions

    I'm a novice to muskie fishing, went on a charter and had a bunch of fun and want to get into it regularly. I troll for salmon and trout on Lake O occasionally and am familiar with the basics. I have a ton of salmon trolling gear and a big net and hook cutters, Big needle nose pliers, lots of lures between bulldogs, bucktails, etc. I am looking for my first muskie rod and reel setup. I will be casting but here's the "catch" I'm only 5'4" tall. I guess the long rods are the best but if I'm going to spend the day casting for muskie or tigers I am going to be dying with these monster things I imagine. Anyone got any good suggestions? I am considering the 9 ft TI but I am thinking these things are pretty intimidating as it is. And I am not very good with the bait caster reels but I understand they are the tools of the trade. Anyone recommend a good combo for a shorter dude who is just starting, to go out and hammer some fish with? I get a lot of my equipment used so preferably not super expensive brand new. I know it's an expensive sport to get into and don't want junk but for someone that might go out for them 6 times a year or so I don't wanna break the bank. Thanks for any suggestions.

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    Senior Member Steve Heiting's Avatar
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    Don't worry about longer rods being difficult to use. My oldest grandson is about 4-foot-2 and can cast an 8-foot rod with no problem. By those parameters, you should be fine with an 8-6 or 9-0. There are lots of advantages to longer rods -- longer casts, better lure manipulation, better hooksets, they're more forgiving at boatside, and they make bigger figure-8's. There are a lot of good rods on the market, and I've used St. Croix for nearly 30 years. For someone getting into the sport, Croix's Musky Mojo lineup is an outstanding value for the money.

    Re: baitcasters, don't worry about them, either. Everybody has to learn sometime, and today it's so much easier to learn than it used to be. Newer reel models are much more forgiving than the old, and the braking systems of some models can be so dialed in that you don't have to worry about backlashes at all. Start out by tightening up the braking systems per the owner's manual, and then as you get more comfortable with the reel you can start loosening things up. Abu Garcia, Shimano and Daiwa all make very good products. For an all-around reel, you'll want something with a retrieve ratio in the 5:1 ballpark.

    Musky fishing is just like everything else -- you get what you pay for. You may start with relatively inexpensive equipment, but as you get more into the sport you may want to upgrade and you ultimately end up spending more than you would if you just bought good stuff in the first place.
    Steve Heiting

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    Thanks steve. I had a baitcaster i bought to try for bass like 15-20 yrs ago and i tried it a few times and got sick of birds nests and sold it in a garage sale for like $3.00 lol. I ended up getting a 9ft rod now on to researching the reels. Any other advice?

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    Senior Member Steve Heiting's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CNY Slammer View Post
    Thanks steve. I had a baitcaster i bought to try for bass like 15-20 yrs ago and i tried it a few times and got sick of birds nests and sold it in a garage sale for like $3.00 lol. I ended up getting a 9ft rod now on to researching the reels. Any other advice?
    One other thing about backlashes with baitcasters -- if you're used to the reel and all of a sudden it starts producing backlashes for no apparent reason, it likely needs oil. Always keep a bottle of reel oil with you, and until you learn where to oil the reel, keep the owner's manual handy.

    Reels ... the best of the inexpensive reels is Shimano's Cardiff but it's not going to last as long as reels that are in the $200 and up ballpark. Shimano's Calcutta series (B, D, Conquest) are great, as are Abu's Toro series (Winch, Beast, etc.) and the Daiwa Millionaire CVZ series.
    Steve Heiting

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    Quote Originally Posted by CNY Slammer View Post
    Thanks steve. I had a baitcaster i bought to try for bass like 15-20 yrs ago and i tried it a few times and got sick of birds nests and sold it in a garage sale for like $3.00 lol. I ended up getting a 9ft rod now on to researching the reels. Any other advice?
    Seeing you already got the rod, I recommend a Daiwa Lexa 300 or 400, depending on the rod you purchased. If a "heavy" or "extra heavy" action rod, consider the Lexa 400 reel, and if a "medium heavy" or "heavy", then the Lexa 300. Both are available in 5.1, though I've got the 5.1, 6.2 and 7.1:1 Lexa 300's, and like the 6.2 best of the three. The 5.1 is good for slow surface baits, and will retrieve a DCG or similar just fine, but the 6.2 is really nice for smaller bucktails and most anything else I throw.

    I've got a 400 in 6.2:1, but use the 300's most of the time, noting the 300's weigh substantially less, and still have sufficient spool capacity.

    I recommend the Daiwa largely because of the magnetic cast control. You mention having issues with backlashes, and this will pretty much fix that issue. Also, you can buy them for substantial savings online. (eBay or Amazon)

    The only negative I have on the Lexa's in that they don't have a line-out clicker for sucker fishing, if that is an issue.

    Whether you select a Lexa 300 or 400, use 80 or 100 lb test superlines, though 65 is perfectly fine on a MH or H rod.
    Last edited by BLL_BIGFISH; 04-21-2016 at 03:59 PM. Reason: add

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    Thanks Bruce, the rod i bought is a 9ft TI XH. If that helps. Just looking for a good all around reel

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    Quote Originally Posted by CNY Slammer View Post
    Thanks Bruce, the rod i bought is a 9ft TI XH. If that helps. Just looking for a good all around reel
    I've got a TI XH telescoping rod myself, and use my Daiwa Lexa 400 6.2:1 ratio reel on it most of the time. The 5.1:1 reel has a higher retrieve rate on the 400 than the 300, and I'd decide which ratio based on the type of lures you will use. I'd probably default to the 5.1:1 if unsure, but love the 6.2:1 for my own use. In my opinion this reel is what you want if you hook into a really big musky, though it's probably overkill for average fish. I use my 300's more than the 400, noting they have a strong drag and sufficient spool capacity.

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    So i got the 9 ft xh ti rod and the revo toro s. I bought 100 lb power pro 300 yds to spool with. What do i do for a leader? My first "adventure" will be fishing a small reservoir for tiger muskie from an 8ft inflatable boat within the next few weekends. Looking to get dragged around, any suggestions on a few lures to bring as obviously space is limited. Thanks again

  9. #9
    Senior Member Steve Heiting's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CNY Slammer View Post
    So i got the 9 ft xh ti rod and the revo toro s. I bought 100 lb power pro 300 yds to spool with. What do i do for a leader? My first "adventure" will be fishing a small reservoir for tiger muskie from an 8ft inflatable boat within the next few weekends. Looking to get dragged around, any suggestions on a few lures to bring as obviously space is limited. Thanks again
    Every leader you could possibly want for musky fishing (and more) is produced in quality by Stealth Tackle. http://www.stealthtackle.net

    For baits, tigers tend to like smaller, flashy stuff. Any of the metal-bladed Mepps spinners will do. Otherwise, tigers are typically stocked in waters where their intent is to remove some unwanted fish, like stunted panfish, suckers, squawfish, etc. Choose a couple of minnowbaits and jerkbaits that match the hatch, so to speak, and you should be set.
    Steve Heiting

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