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Hey everyone, I've been waiting forever to do this - finally took my new fishing kayak out (Feel Free Lure 11.5 which I am in love with!). It is what I was waiting for to break out my new setups purchased over the winter months.  

 

I've been an avid bass fisherman my whole life, but only carried one setup with me for a good 20 years - a quantum ac500pt baitcaster on a bps bionic blade (6'6" M/F).  That setup is still going strong after some winter tlc but now gracefully retired.  Only last summer after getting back into bass fishing full on, did I purchase a second setup - a used version of my quantum and a used bionic blade, this time a MH/F (I wanted the same models/years/style). 

 

Well, needless to say, I really embraced the sport as I did when I was a child, and moved on to purchase some nicer equipment this winter, during sales and plenty of online shopping around.  Here's what I ended up with along with reviews from my outing today:

 

1. Shimano Metanium 100 on a Shimano Expride 170MGA - 7' Glass composite Cranker; What can I say, this thing is a dream upgrade.  Definitely my smoothest reel, casts effortlessly, and just a joy to use.  With fishing being one of my main past times and way I rejuvenate for work and school, this was an investment worth making, and I'm so glad I did!  I'm a big fan of the centrifugal braking system that Shimano has - feels more natural and smooth.  Definitely different than magnetic braking, and once it's tuned, it's super smooth.  The rod and reel combo felt like my lightest setup, but that could have also had to do with the balance, which is amazing.  Slung my the lipless cranks I was using (1/2oz) the furthest I've ever casted that lure in that weight.  Don't hesitate to ask me if you have more questions about this combo.  Strung up with sufix 832 #30, which is an excellent line that casts super smooth - was super windy today so had a couple backlashes due to liberal tuning but the line barely dug in and was easy to fix.  I had been using original Power Pro #30 on my old setups which is a strong and durable line, but does dig in more than the sufix.

 

2. Shimano Metanium 100 on a BPS Johnny Morris Signature series 7'2" MH/F.  Well I've already told you about the reel, but I'm also in love with this combo.  I had to get the JMSS to stay true to the power hump I've used for almost 20 years on the bionic blade.  The JMSS is a decent upgrade from that with better blanks, and it is super light and comfortable.  I had to have one power hump rod in my lineup!  This rod loads more like a Moderate Fast, which I am really happy about as I was using it with a heavier, 3/4 lipless - again, this combo casts and performs amazingly! 

 

3. Shimano Curado HGK on Shimano Curado rod - 6'10" MF.  I had to pair these two together - how could you go wrong here?  At first, I was concerned that I would be spoiled by my Metaniums and not end up liking this reel, but it is somewhat different.  It is still smooth - not as smooth as the Metanium of course, but it's a great reel nonetheless.  I'm really at odds between which one I like more, this or my Daiwa Tatula SV 103H that I'll review in a bit.  I like that the side plate stays connected...definitely felt more comfortable adjusting it while on my kayak on a windy day than my Metaniums - talk about nerve wrecking lol.  With it being so windy, I had to move my internal breaks to 3 versus my Metaniums which were on 2; however, I was also using a plastic worm with a weighted hook, so it was lighter and had more drag for the wind to carry.  I was back lashing at first, but after setting internal brakes to 3, I was good to go.  I think it can be said that the Metanium is an upgraded version of the Curado - both are very similar in look and feel with the Metanium being smoother and with better performance - and rightfully so.  Am I glad I got the Curado?  You bet I am...especially along side its counterpart rod.  It's hard to compare to the looks of the Metanium and Expride combo, but the Curado combo is one of the best looking setups in my opinion.  Super light setup (maybe not as balanced and as light as my Met combo's, but for the price it performs well).  Hard to be disappointed with this one.  

 

4.  Daiwa Tatula SV 103H on a Dobyns Fury 705CB  - so glad I got this setup!  I feel like these two are a great match.  I wanted a MH/MF setup (7') for chatterbaits/spinnerbaits mainly (and heavier cranks if need be) and with the SV in the mix, this fit the bill perfectly.  Casted my chatterbait well with wind over 10mph and gusts up to 20mph.  Granted, I wasn't casting into the wind, but I wasn't always casting with the wind either.  The reel setup is super easy with just an outside dial to work with.  I will say, as I mentioned before, the magnetic brakes on this are definitely different from the centrifugal ones on the Shimanos.  They have more of a mushy or spongy (magnetic) feel, which is the best way I can describe it.  Regardless, this setup was super smooth, and just ideal for chatterbaits.  I paired the SV here, because I figured the SV braking system would be a good match for the higher drag baits I planned to use.  I don't think I back lashed once with this setup, but I was also playing it conservatively with this one given I was using a skirted bait in high winds.  When the wind dropped I was able to go down to 6 on the brakes, and averaged around 8.  I might have been able to go lower, but didn't want to push it too much with the conditions.  I've heard so many good things about Dobyns rods, I had to have at least one in my new lineup - they make amazing rods - light, sensitive, and high quality.  Again, very happy with this purchase.  

 

5.  Abu Garcia Revo X Winch on an Okuma TCS Frog/Swimbait rod (7'3" H/F).  This is my dedicated frogging setup and also reserved for punching mats.  Spooled with original Power Pro #50.  This one surprised me, guys.  I wasn't sure how this one would perform, given the price difference from my other setups, but it casted just as far as my other setups today - this was with a 3/4 jig, however.  Still though, it casted very well with no backlashes and I feel confident with this setup for heavy vegetation and pulling big ones out of it.  A lot of people might wonder why I went with such a low gear ratio - I feel more confident with this setup as it is more likely I'm catching 10+ lb snakehead on this in heavy vegetation, and I just wanted a very low gear setup in my arsenal (will double as a deep cranker).  The heavy rod performed well, and slung the 3/4 oz jig effortlessly.  The reel wasn't as smooth as the others, but for the price, it did just fine.  Happy with this setup as well!  

 

Well, that's what I have for now.  I may edit this later as I try them some more, and might add some calm weather comments.  If anyone has any specific questions for a reel, rod, combo, or comparison, please do not hesitate to ask!  

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Nice combos.  Have you ever thought of swapping the Curado with the Met for the heavier lures?  Nothing beats the MGL spool for throwing the lighter stuff, and the Curado would be perfect for throwing the heavier stuff especially at 3/4 oz I don't think you'd be shorting yourself an inch of distance.  I've always had a spinning set up for weightless plastics but since I picked up a Chronarch and Met with the lighter spools I don't use the spinning set up nearly as much as I used to.  

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4 hours ago, Maverick said:

Nice combos.  Have you ever thought of swapping the Curado with the Met for the heavier lures?  Nothing beats the MGL spool for throwing the lighter stuff, and the Curado would be perfect for throwing the heavier stuff especially at 3/4 oz I don't think you'd be shorting yourself an inch of distance.  I've always had a spinning set up for weightless plastics but since I picked up a Chronarch and Met with the lighter spools I don't use the spinning set up nearly as much as I used to.  

Yes, definitely - I think what had me going with lighter on the Curado was that the rod is MF as opposed to the metanium rods being M/M and MH/F.  Anyhow, once my settings were straight, the Curado casted the worm really well.  

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