Best rod and reel for inshore saltwater fishing
Anglers fishing the inshore saltwater of the United States will need a good outfit in order to be successful. There are many choices out there. In fact, there are so many choices that it can be overwhelming. However, there is one rod and reel combination that is perfect for this type of fishing.
The best rod and reel for inshore saltwater fishing is a 7′ spinning rod with a 3000 series reel. This combination is perfect for the vast majority of saltwater anglers. It is light enough to enjoy the battle of a smaller fish while being stout enough to handle a larger fish.
My name is Capt Jim Klopfer and I have been a fishing guide in Florida since 1991. Also, I grew up fishing Chesapeake Bay, having decades of experience and having used a lot of different tackle. I will share my opinions and experiences in this article.
Best fishing rod for inshore saltwater
There are a wide variety of fishing rod options for inshore saltwater anglers. Not all rods of the same length are the same. The “actions” vary, depending on the rod materials and design. There are stiffer rods and soft ones, and those in between.
The best rod for inshore saltwater fishing in a 7′ medium weight spinning rod with a “fast” action. This means that the rod is designed to be used with 8 pound to 17 pound monofilament line or 10 pound to 20 pound braided line. This covers almost all fishing situations inshore anglers will face, short of chasing very large species such as giant striped bass. Most rods are built using this formula.
A fast action rod has a stout section for most of it’s length then tapering fast (thus the name) to the tip. This has several advantages. The light tip allows for casting of smaller lures and feeling light bites. The stiff section allows for solid hook sets along with the power to handle a decent fish. It is definitely my favorite rod for inshore saltwater fishing.
Best reel for inshore saltwater fishing
The above 7′ medium action rod needs a matching reel. In most cases, a 3000 (or 30, depending on the manufacturer) is the best choice. Anglers fishing live or cut bait near heave cover can step it up to a 4000 series reel if needed. The reels are all similar, especially in a given price range.
Anglers can purchase Capt Jim’s E-book, “Inshore Saltwater Fishing” for $5 by clicking on the title link. It is 23,000 words long and covers tackle, tactics, and species.
Spinning reels are the most versatile reels and are the best choice for most anglers. I use them on virtually all of my fishing charters. I like reels with large handles. Saltwater reels come with components that resist corrosion, large capacity spools. The reel features will improve with the price, however anglers do not need to spend a lot of money for a quality combination.
Best rod and reel combinations for inshore saltwater fishing
In this section I will discuss several rod and reel combinations along with the approximate cost and the benefits and drawbacks. Like everything, they are compromises to be made, especially considering cost.
St. Croix Triumph/Daiwa Black Gold rod and reel combination
Right now I am using the new St. Croix Triumph line of inshore saltwater rods. They are light and available in several models. I am using the TSR70MF rods and I really like them a lot. The tips are soft enough for casting light lures and baits. I match this rod with a Daiwa Black Gold 3000 reel. The combination costs around $220
Penn Fierce rod and reel
I used Penn Fierce reels for several years and still like them, they are just a tad heavy. However, they held up pretty good under hard use and I will probably use them again. In fact, I still get them out when bottom fishing for sheepshead and other species. I had them on Shimano Convergence rods. It is an excellent combo for less than $150. There was an issue getting the rods, which is one of the reasons I switched.
Anglers seeking a very affordable Penn Fierce combo can go with the Penn Fierce 3000 rod and reel. The reel is fine, but the rod is not quite as good as the other options. It is heavier with a fairly long butt section, making it tough to cast jigs and other lures. It is fine for live bait fishing and at less that $100, it is hard to beat.
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Penn Conflict rod and reel
I really like the Penn Conflict reel and I use them for my river snook fishing. They are strong and light and do well with braided line. The weight really makes a difference when casting plugs for several hours. I have used them on St Croix Premier rods and really like them combo.
Penn also offers the Conflict as a rod and reel combination. The rod they use is much better than the one used with the Fierce series. This rod is light with a VERY fast action! It is quite stiff up to the tip, but is a good value at $230.
Click the link to shop Amazon for a Penn Conflict 3000 rod and reel combo
More inshore saltwater fishing rods and reels
There are certainly more choices when when it comes to inshore saltwater fishing rods and reels. Some of the options listed I have personally used, others I have not. I will state this with each rod or reel.
Shimano fishing rods and reels
Shimano offers anglers a wide selection of saltwater fishing rods and reels. They do get pricey at the upper end, for sure. I have personally used several of their products. The Shimano Stradic is a very popular reel for inshore anglers, retailing for around $225. I have had them in the past, and they are OK. I have also used the Sedona, more moderately priced at $85 or so.
For whatever reason, these reels did not hold up as well for me. They seemed to come out of the box lacking enough grease and got noisy too quickly. Maybe they have improved that of late.
Shimano offers quite a variety when it comes to fishing rods as well. The Teramar series has a ton of options and is popular among saltwater anglers. It is often paired with a Stradic reel for a pricey $75 combo. I have personally used the Convergence and Clarus rods, even though they are listed as ‘freshwater” rods, and liked them, especially at the price of $80 or so.
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Quantum offers anglers several quality saltwater spinning reels, with the Smoke and Cabo reels being the most popular. I used the Cabo reels for a couple of years and really liked them. However, they discontinued the 30 size. They do offer the Smoke reel in the 30 size, but I have never used one. Cost is around $200 for either.
More Penn inshore saltwater spinning reels
Penn has a serious lineup of inshore saltwater spinning reels at a wide variety of prices, click the Penn spinning reels link to view them. I used the Battle 3000 series reels ($130) and liked them fine, they are just a tad heavy for the fishing that I like to do. The Spinfisher series ($180) is quite popular, but I have not used one in years, since they redesigned them. The Clash is an upgrade, at around $210.
Lew’s inshore saltwater rod and reel combinations
Lew’s offers anglers some quality inshore saltwater rods and reels at a reasonable price. I have personally not used them, but friends on social media really seem to like them. One great aspect is that they offer rod and reel combinations, which saves anglers money.
Click the link to shop Amazon for Lew’s inshore combos
Star rods are quite popular here in Florida and offer anglers a quality rod that does not cost too much, retailing for around $100. They have a great warranty and hold up well to the rigors of saltwater fishing. Most local shops sell them.
In conclusion, this article on the best rod and reel for inshore saltwater fishing will help anglers choose the best outfit in order to be successful!