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Selecting Your Fishing Combos

Whether you are an experienced fisher or a beginner, finding a quality fishing rod combo set is always a good investment. Combos combine a reel and rod and are designed to work in harmony with each other.

Fishing rod and reel combos allow you more versatility when preparing to venture out onto the water. You will take the guess work out of trying to match your rod with the proper reel. At DICK'S Sporting Goods, we will provide you with the perfect rod and reel combo for a winning fishing experience.

Links to Combo Information
ConventionalFly FishingIce Fishing

Freshwater/Saltwater Combo Construction

Finding your ideal material is an important factor when looking to match up with the perfect rod and reel combo. You can choose from bamboo, graphite, fiberglass or composite. Materials affect the rod's action and should fit your experience level and the type of fish you are looking to catch. Here are the three types available:

  • Fiberglass: Typically geared towards beginners. These rods need little maintenance, have an average weight and solid rod strength. If you are fishing for larger fish such as muskie, walleye or pike where you need a heavy, durable rod for retrieving the fighting fish, fiberglass rods work best.
  • Graphite: Usually preferred by advanced anglers due to their superior strength and lightness. The lightweight graphite handles suite most fishing situations well, providing more fighting power in the rod.
  • Bamboo: Usually built from Tonkin cane. It produces a smooth, fluid back cast which provides its own dampening effect at the end of the back cast, featuring the highest quality built from Tonkin cane.

Find Your Perfect Freshwater/Saltwater Combo

Every fisher is unique which means a combo package requires understanding your experience level, the body of water you will be fishing in, and the species of fish you're looking to catch. The reels and rods come in three central styles: baitcasting, conventional, spinning and surfcasting rods. Being prepared with the proper equipment will give you confidence on the water. Below is a breakdown of the styles available:

Baitcasting Combos: In saltwater, larger baitcasting reels and longer rods are preferred where distance is often a factor.

  • In freshwater, shorter rods and compact reels provide accuracy that could produce a strike instead of a snagged lure.
  • Most baitcasting reels now incorporate a drag system designed to adjust the resistance, or drag on the spool to control how much resistance is needed to pull the right amount of line off the spool.
  • Many fishermen prefer bait casting for fighting bigger, stronger fish over an extended period, especially big game fish in saltwater.
  • Baitcasting reels are offered in one-piece designs, which lessen the corrosive effects of saltwater.

Conventional Combos: Designed to have the reel and guides on the top, casting rods are effective for anglers looking to cast several hundred times during a fishing trip.

  • Generally match up best with casting rods because they sit on top of the rod and are designed to fit this way.
  • Most casting rods can handle heavy line and fish in dense cover.
  • Work with the weight of the bait or lure as it pulls on the line and turns the spool to release more line. These are typically preferred by more experienced anglers, especially when using heavier lures and lines designed for bigger fish.

Spinning Combos: Ranging in length from 5 to 8 feet, spinning combos position the reel and guides on the bottom of the pole to provide smooth, accurate casts. Features graphite or fiberglass with a cork or PVC foam handle:

  • Longer spinning rods with elongated grip handles for two-handing casting are frequently used for saltwater or steelhead and salmon fishing.
  • Spinning rods are commonly used for trolling and still fishing with live bait.
  • The handle length is balanced against the rod's length.
  • Spincasting rods are designed to hold a spincasting reel, which are normally mounted above the handle.

Spincasting Combos: The spool remains stationary until you use a thumb button to cast. When you release the button, your bait or lure propel your line. The ease and reliability of spin casting combos makes them a good choice for kids and beginners.

Please see chart below to easily determine your appropriate fishing needs:

Rod LengthPowerActionFish
5'6" - 6'0" Spincast rodLightSoftPan Fish and walleye
7'0" Spinning rodLightSoftPan fish and early season walleye
6'6" - 7'0" Baitcasting rodMedium - Medium HeavyFastBass and northern pike

More features and benefits of Spinning Combos:

  • Spinning reels can handle smaller bait, featuring anti-reverse, a simple mechanism you set by letting go of the bail wire after casting. This keeps your line from spooling off once you get a strike from a fish.
  • The anti-reverse lock is usually a lever mounted on the gear housing cover, preventing the reel handle from turning in reverse when you hook a fish and it runs or when you are trolling. This feature is on some of the best spinning reels.
  • Saltwater Tip: In saltwater spinning reels, you may prefer a skirted spool which increases line capacity, allows longer casts and reduces tangles. It also protects the reel's inside workings from the saltwater and moisture.

Saltwater Casting/Conventional Combos: The reel and line are seated on top of the rod and the trigger grip lets you hold the rod securely while releasing the thumb bar/line release.

  • A quick taper design at the rod tip allows for more accuracy and a large backbone at the lower portion of the rod provides stability.

Saltwater bait-casting rods can be made from fiberglass or graphite:

  • Fiberglass is more durable and has greater lifting power than graphite, which makes it a preference for larger fish such as tuna and yellowtail.
  • Graphite rods are more bait-sensitive and work well for surf fishing and open water when bait is cast over a greater distance.

Saltwater Surfcasting Combos

If you are new to saltwater fishing, combos are a great way to start:

  • Profile: Surf combos look like oversized spinning rods or bait casting rods with long grip handles for two-handed casting techniques.
  • Long Rod: The advantage of a long surf rod is great casting distance, also helping to fight the big game fish without breaking a fishing line.
  • Short Rod: You have much more control on the fish and it allows you to use lighter line with a longer rod.

Fly Fishing Combos

Fly fishing rod and reel combos are designed to serve three functions: casting, line control and landing a fish:

  • Line control is executed with the rod tips and takes place after the cast as the line is floating on the water.
  • Striking and landing a fish requires a flexible, strong rod as you time the hook set and prevent the fish from breaking the line.
  • The combo kit features a balanced system consisting of the fly line, leader, tippet, fly, reel and rod.
  • Having a balanced system will make it easier to learn proper casting techniques.

Saltwater Fly Fishing Combos

Saltwater Fly fishing combos are larger in diameter than most freshwater fly reels in order to provide a large line and backing capacity for the long runs of powerful ocean game fish. Below is some additional information:

  • To prevent corrosion, saltwater fly reels often use aerospace aluminum frames and spools, electroplated and/or stainless steel components, with sealed and waterproof bearing and drive mechanisms.
  • The combo package offers you a balanced system that can increase your chances of landing fish and enhance your enjoyment of the sport.
  • If you want an all-purpose combo, look for 5- or 6-weight rod and reel with an 8- 9-foot rod with a medium to medium-fast action. This combo will tackle nearly all fly fishing situations you may encounter on the water.

Ice Fishing Combos

Ice fishing rods and reels come in several different types. Spinning, spincasting and bait-casting rods and reels are commonly available in sizes and weights for ice fishing. Check out some of the features and benefits:

  • Spinning reels with high gear ratios and an open spool design work well with lighter lines.
  • Fully enclosed spincasting reels are more weather resistant and effectively handle light- to medium-sized game fish.
  • For ice fishing gear to work at its best, you must find a good balance between the ice fishing rod, reel, line and lure.
  • The rod should be stiff enough to provide sufficient strength when handling a fish, while sensitive enough to know when a fish lightly nips.
  • Use ice fishing rods and reels to fish with jigs, spoons or other artificial or natural baits at different depths within the water column through a hole in the ice.
  • For fishing in deeper water, use rods and reel combos with higher gear ratios to provide faster line retrieves, which help keep a tight line and prevent a fish from throwing the hook.

Shop our great selection of Reel and Rod Combos.

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