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I usually sink most of my budget into a nicer reel and have no problem using rods in the $50 and under category.  I'm a huge fan of the Berkley Lightning Rods and Cabela's Tourney Trails.  Been using them for years and they have never let me down.  Having said that, some of the most proficient fishermen I know use only Ugly Stiks.  Be it bass, walleye, musky, panfish, salmon, or steelhead, that's what they prefer.  I feel having the ability to read water conditions and knowing which baits to use in those conditions have a far greater impact on success than what you're using to throw those baits.

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The four rod and reel combos I fished with the most last year . Yeah I go cheap and look for bargains 

 

1  rod : Bass Pro Qualifier IM8  purchase  as a combo with a pro qualifier reel for 100 dollars . reel Daiwa lexa  traded for . 

 

2  rod Shimno Compere 100 dollars . reel Daiwa Lexa trade for .

 

3 Berkely TGS . clearance 20 dollars . reel  Quantum kinetic traded for  

 

4 rod  Gander   Mountain Lady Guide Series   clearance 20 dollars . reel Johnny Morris on sale for 100 dollars .

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Maybe the question is this. Will it make a difference, between a cheap rod and a high priced one? Not for everyone. For experienced fisherman, probably so. For a novice- not. My wife goes crappie fishing with me. She doesn't fish for bass. She does fine catching panfish with light jigs, but give her a 400.00 bass rod and some plastics, and she still won't feel the strikes. It's just not her thing. But a good bass fisherman can catch fish on a cheaper rod, because he knows what a light tap feels like. Fish whatever tackle works for you.

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11 hours ago, slonezp said:

So, I would never own a G Loomis or St Croix. They won't make me a better fisherman, help me connect more, help me land more fish, and the "fatigue" factor is negligible. That being said, the only good Ugly Stick currently made is their trolling rods. The rest are sub par to say the least. Try yourself a $100-$150 rod that is not St Croix or G Loomis. You'll be surprised.

Hoping to do that at the New England Fishing Expo this weekend :thumbsup:

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The #1 key to consistently catching bass is between your ears not between the folds of your wallet.

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1 hour ago, Catt said:

The #1 key to consistently catching bass is between your ears not between the folds of your wallet.

What is that? Nose? Mouth? Shoot I don’t have brain lol.

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This is just my opinion and I have no way to quantify it.  I would say that the difference between a $1000 combo and a $150 combo in terms of fish caught is very near zero.  I expect quality equipment to last longer.  I  appreciate craftsmanship and get some pleasure from using quality equipment but I don't expect to catch more fish using it.

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New 6' MH Berkley Lightning $17 (plus $1.02 tax) and new Procaster $30 on closeout.  This is my least expensive baitcast combo.  Dedicated (so far) to spinnerbaits.  Combo jumps in my hand using a 1/2 oz. spinnerbait with Colorado blade.  Tough to miss feeling a strike on it no matter how new you are to fishing.

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14 hours ago, MN Fisher said:

I think the whole point of this thread is to show that you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars to get a rig that will work.

You are probably right.  But I am terrible about staying on point.

MY point to OP is different.   Something along the lines of 'Who cares?'

 

See....I decided some time ago that if I don't know (or don't respect) someone....I am perfectly content to totally disregard their opinions as they relate to me...even those that might have boiled my blood in my younger days.

 

Spend what you want.  Use what you want.  Say what you want.  I'll just go fishing.    I'll try to refrain from judging you...much. :)

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The two main rods I use for moving baits, and some topwater baits, is a BPS Tourney Special and a BPS Bionic Blade.  They're strong rods and they have a good bend to them. 

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I truly believe an angler can build a quality number of set ups buying pre-owned gear. It takes a little time but it's well worth it.  Fish what you've got, take care of it and learn to use it to it's full potential.  You can buy the most expensive line on the market and means nothing if you don't check your line or tie a good knot.

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Yeah so getting back to my original point, I absolutely don't care what anyone else uses but neither do I advocate for cheap gear if one can afford better. I make recommendations based on given budgets. Point is, cheap, modest, or expensive, they all catch fish. Other point is, the same guy who crapped on another guy for cheap gear has a problem with my squarebill and lipless setup of choice. I could pay 400 bucks for something better, but I'll be damned if anyone is going to be able to tell me that FOR ME the Lightning Rod and Silver Max doesn't just feel and fish those baits spectacularly. But guys like that don't consider that maybe, just maybe, someone bought something less expensive because it was actually ideal for that person, price didn't matter. Just an elitist attitude I can't vibe with. 

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17 hours ago, slonezp said:

A hundred dollar rod feels better, more balanced, more refined, than a $50 rod, depending on the brand. I'm partial to Fenwick. My opinion is it's the best bang for the buck. A $100 dollar St Croix feels like a $40 Ugly Stick. A $100 Fenwick feels like a $300 St Croix.

That's really what it's all about. Finding the best bang for the buck.

 

I try and find that sweet spot between quality and affordability. Gear that is at a good price but performs and lasts longer than that price point would have you believe. 

 

Only lately have I been upgrading my gear to higher quality and higher priced options. I still purchased those on sale being the frugal fisherman I am. 

 

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In the past my go to reels saltwater reels were Penn Internationals, but since I'm no longer fishing saltwater they stay in the garage.

 

Freshwater my reels were the low end Shimano and up to a Stradic Ci4+ RD which is no better than my $45 models, all on Ugly Stik rods. Nowadays It's Daiwa Sweepfire 2500 RA's and I have no problem catching fish. The truth be told, the Daiwa is so smooth I have to often check that my line isn't broken, no higher end Shimano was ever so well done.

 

I think my current three rods with reels were something like $70 each.

 

 

 

 

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Reel: Kastking Spartacus on Aliexpress for $35 free shipping.  Graphite plastic frame, dual brake reel with decent centrifugal brake.  Brass gears and handle shaft. Looks good with lots of dual anodized parts and performs well above it's pricepoint.  Some known issues with line lay and clutch.  Hit or miss.  Mine is fine.

 

Rod: Berkley Lightning rod $40 at your local Walmart.  Rubberized cork grip.  Light weight and balanced.  Ceramic guides with painted guide seats.  Nice reel seat.  

 

Line: Daiwa J Braid 8 carrier.  Good performing value priced braid.

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I’ve seen co-anglers  with $100 dollar combos outfish boaters with $500 combos....the cost of the sporting equipment doesn’t always equate to success unless you are cycling in the Tour de France on a $500 bike against a cyclist on a $30,000 bike....but fishing is a very different sport and one where the common angler or advanced angler can always compete using budget equipment !

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46 minutes ago, BaitFinesse said:

 Rubberized cork grip. 

Honestly at this point I prefer  rubberized cork to natural. Even on super expensive rods the cork is usually so full of filler that I’d rather have the more durable rubberized version.  

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This is a very interesting topic and I have to bring something up.

 

As someone who's owned and purchased cheap gear, and also owned and purchased high end gear... the big dirty secret most "cheap gear" people may not know about is about the giant FAT discounts you can get on high end gear if you have the right pipelines. For instance, most people may covet a Gloomis rod that runs over $400 right? Many shops can give 40% discounts on these rods without blinking, and even more if you buy several. When I see a guy with a full rod locker of high end gear I used to think "oh that guys loaded" but now I go "oh that guys got a good hookup". Nobody pays full price for a rod locker full of NRX's or Dobyns Extremes. 

 

The markups on high end gear are quite large, so shops/dealers can really slash the price if you have the relationships. I know guys that get 50% off anything they want because they are frequent customers or they cycle their equipment every few years. 

 

Sure a Metanium MGL is $419 dollars off the shelf, but if you call up a tackle shop and tell them you want to buy 12 of them suddenly they become $250 reels. 

 

You don't even have to be a 'sponsored' angler to deep discounts on high end gear, just be a guy that a shop KNOWS will be back time and time again and will buy 'the good stuff'. 

 

Once you have a hookup to these discounts, you can then resell your high end gear for basically what you paid for it, then turn around and use that money to buy the latest-greatest models with the same big discount. 

 

My point is a lot of people get high end gear at mid range gear prices. 

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3 minutes ago, punch said:

The markups on high end gear are quite large, so shops/dealers can really slash the price if you have the relationships. I know guys that get 50% off anything they want because they are frequent customers or they cycle their equipment every few years. 

 

Sure a Metanium MGL is $419 dollars off the shelf, but if you call up a tackle shop and tell them you want to buy 12 of them suddenly they become $250 reels. 

That's fine if you have the money to do that...there's a reason two of my rigs are 30+ years old. Last year I budgeted to get two new spinning rigs...total cost was under $150. This year I budgeted to get a decent quality rig for flipping/pitching/etc...again about $150. Then I found out the Ambassdeur rig that I'd had for 20 years needed replacing...I scraped/clawed/sweated enough to get $100 to replace it.

 

Some of us CAN'T even imagine dropping $250 for a single rig much less a reel alone. That's why we 'settle' for the low-mid range...it's all we can afford. Replacing rigs every few years is out of the realm of possibility for me. I'm going to maintain the rigs I have now and hopefully when I retire from fishing all together in 15-20 years, they'll still be salable.

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18 minutes ago, MN Fisher said:

That's fine if you have the money to do that...there's a reason two of my rigs are 30+ years old. Last year I budgeted to get two new spinning rigs...total cost was under $150. This year I budgeted to get a decent quality rig for flipping/pitching/etc...again about $150. Then I found out the Ambassdeur rig that I'd had for 20 years needed replacing...I scraped/clawed/sweated enough to get $100 to replace it.

 

Some of us CAN'T even imagine dropping $250 for a single rig much less a reel alone. That's why we 'settle' for the low-mid range...it's all we can afford. Replacing rigs every few years is out of the realm of possibility for me. I'm going to maintain the rigs I have now and hopefully when I retire from fishing all together in 15-20 years, they'll still be salable.

I totally get it. This is a sport where you can have just as much fun with a Walmart setup as a Loomis. One of the reasons we all love it! 

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Here's the truth for me: I have a few $400 combos. I'm a gearhead so I'll probably invest more eventually. I have a few $300 combos, and down the line. I have some budget gear, less expensive reels and Ugly Stiks, for fishing certain lakes lined with trees. It's almost impossible to not swat branches occasionally in these spots. If I'm wading, or on boat, or at a lake where I'm less likely to blow up a rod, then I'll bring my better stuiff. I appreciate how it feels and fishes. However, the buzz of actually hooking and landing a fish is no different than the with the bargain gear. I feel the same exact pump at that moment, FishOn!, regardless of the pedigree of the gear I have at the time. I'm not contemplating any of that. I'm just riding the adreneline rush of the moment.

 

It's a pretty cool hobby where anyone with any budget can experience pretty much the same exact thrill.

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I have a +20 year old Ugly Stik rod that has caught me more 8 pound or better bass than many people have caught in their lifetime of bass fishing. I still fish with that rod every once in a while for freshwater/saltwater fishing and it goes to show you how well Ugly Stiks rods are made. Got other old Ugly Stiks that have caught me lots of fish throughout the years. I use the money I save for lures, other tackle, and gas for my trips.

13 hours ago, redmeansdistortion said:

I usually sink most of my budget into a nicer reel and have no problem using rods in the $50 and under category.  I'm a huge fan of the Berkley Lightning Rods and Cabela's Tourney Trails.  Been using them for years and they have never let me down.  Having said that, some of the most proficient fishermen I know use only Ugly Stiks.  Be it bass, walleye, musky, panfish, salmon, or steelhead, that's what they prefer.  I feel having the ability to read water conditions and knowing which baits to use in those conditions have a far greater impact on success than what you're using to throw those baits.

Berkley Lighting rods are very good rods for what they cost. Pat Cullen is one of the best trophy bass fisherman that has lived and his favorite combos where Ugly Stiks with Abu Garcia baitcasting reels which he used to catch +1,100 bass each over 10 pounds.

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1 hour ago, punch said:

I totally get it. This is a sport where you can have just as much fun with a Walmart setup as a Loomis. One of the reasons we all love it! 

Some of my best days fishing ever were on $35 ugly stick combos, or with a $20 Berkeley rod and the old $20 trigger Shimano Quick fire II spinning reel. 

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I think the best combo is something that your not afraid handling pretty rough without cringing but still fishes and feels nice to you. So that's different for everyone. I'm sure some guys don't mind treating a $600 combo rough when another guy with the same combo hardly fishes it cuz they're afraid of it getting scuffed up. So yeah, for me I have a $100 lews reel on a $110 Powell rod that I love to fish with cuz it's light and sensitive and powerful but I still don't mind if it gets roughed up like bunching it up with a bunch of other rods and carrying them out to the boat or setting down on the bottom of the boat without a sleeve while I fish with something else.

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