One fishing rod to rule them all

By: Steve Starling

Snapper style medium spinning rig A snapper-style medium spinning rig is perfect for firing lures at surface-feeding pelagics such as this plump skipjack tuna. Snapper style medium spinning rig
Light spinning fishing outfit A light spinning outfit or “flick stick” is perfect for “finessing” a whole range of smaller species, including the wily bream. Light spinning fishing outfit
Medium weight spinning gear Medium-weight spinning gear is ideal for lure casting, light jigging and bait fishing for a huge range of species: north and south, fresh and salt. Medium weight spinning gear

Is there such a thing as one fishing rod to suit all occasions? Steve Starlo presents his minimum quiver of outfits to cover the widest range of boat fishing.

One fishing rod to rule them all
A multipurpose jig/troll outfit based around a sturdy overhead reel and 15 or 20kg line will easily handle a range of offshore targets, including the likes of this lovely wahoo.

There’s an old saying in hunting circles that goes along the lines of "beware the shooter with one gun". The implication is that he or she probably knows how to use it. Funnily enough, in the fishing world, the opposite assumption generally holds sway. An angler with a swag of different rods and reels is more likely to be regarded as an "expert" by his or her peers. He who dies with the most toys wins and all that!

Nice as it is to own heaps of different outfits and have something specific to suit every possible fishing niche – literally from mullet to marlin or trout to tuna – it’s a total pain in the butt to drag this veritable tackle store of gear around the country with you. So, while most of us who’ve been badly bitten by the fishing bug spend a lifetime accumulating gear, many also secretly yearn to downsize and simplify things. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to be able to do it all with just one rig?

Sadly, just as there’s no single boat hull that performs every job equally well, nor an outboard motor perfectly suited to all conceivable on-water conditions, there’s actually no such thing as an all-round rod and reel combo. A setup ideally suited to flicking lightly-weighted baits or tiny lures for trout and redfin perch in a creek you can barely turn your car-topper around in will be found sadly wanting out on the continental shelf. But while the true "all-rounder" is a mythical beast, there are definitely versatile options that tick a number of boxes rather than just one or two.

These days, I reckon I’d be happy enough to travel our sunburnt country with only three rod and reel combos. That modest quiver of tackle mightn’t cover every base, but it would certainly handle 90 per cent of the fishing scenarios likely to be encountered, from Darwin to the Derwent and Byron Bay to Busselton. Here they are:

Firstly, you’ll definitely need a light or ultalight "flick stick" style outfit, based around a six-and-a-half to seven-and-a-bit foot (1.9 to 2.2m) spin rod with a nice, light tip, matched to a 1000 or 2500 size threadline or spinning reel spooled with 2 or 3kg line (braid or mono). This will be your weapon of choice for catching trout, perch, bass, bream, whiting, flathead, garfish, tommy rough and a host of other smaller targets on baits or lures, in both fresh and salt water. It’ll also be perfect as a bait-catching rig if you get the chance to head offshore chasing larger fare.

The second essential boat fishing combo on my very short list is best described as a "snapper outfit", even if it often ends up being used on many other fish species. This rig is most often a seven to eight foot (2.1 to 2.4m) rod with a reasonably light tip but a fast taper that produces a stiff, powerful butt end. Such a rod will typically be rated for lines from about 5 to 9kg and casting weights from 15 to 50g or thereabouts. I’d match a rod of this ilk with a 4000 to 6000 size spinning reel, although some anglers may feel more comfortable with the added line capacity of an 8000, especially if tuna, mackerel and big trevally are likely to be frequent items on the menu.

Line strengths chosen for the ubiquitous "snapper outfit" could be anywhere from 5 or 6kg up to 15kg or even slightly more, depending on exactly what your chasing and where (having a spare spool for the reel loaded with a different line strength is a great idea). Obviously, such an outfit is extremely versatile and can even be pressed into service targeting barra, big Murray cod and the like, if needs be.

Finally, I’d spoil myself by packing a high-quality medium-weight offshore jig/troll/live bait outfit. This rig could be based on either an overhead reel (my personal preference) or a big threadline (spinning reel) capable of holding at least 350m of 10 to 20kg line. The rod itself will likely be about six or seven feet (1.8 to 2.2m) long, with a bit of stiffness and once again, a relatively thick, powerful lower end. With this outfit you can troll, jig or bait fish for kingies, big snapper, mid-range tuna, mackerel, cobia, mahi-mahi, wahoo and so on, and even be in the running to subdue a decent billfish, jumbo tuna or heavyweight shark, if one ever happens along.

Not exactly one rod to rule them all but certainly three outfits and a multitude of fishing opportunities. You’ve got to love that!


See the full version of this review in Trade-A-Boat #474, on sale January 28, 2016. Why not subscribe today?


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