Walleye Fishing Rods, Reels and Line

February 21, 2009 by  

By Eric Hustad

The story goes like this: I was fishing with my dad last spring for walleyes. I was talking up the new rods I had picked up for feeling those light walleye bites while dad was using his “old faithful.” I kept giving him a hard time because “old faithful” doesn’t have as much feel to it because it’s so stiff. As it turned out the walleyes were biting very lightly and I managed to boat a lot of fish by being able to feel those subtle nibbles. Now to dad’s credit, he did pull in a few nice fish, but it was one of those times where a son can smile and tell dad “I told you so!” Even though dad is still resisting adding a couple of rods to his arsenal, I think I am making progress on him seeing the light. After all, the fishing season is short enough, so you might as well make the most of your time on the water. Along with having the right rods a person can’t overlook the importance of a good reel and dependable fishing line. I also want to let people know that I don’t endorse one brand over another, and have no incentive to use any one companies products over another. I want to give straight out fishing information on what I have had success with. With that said let’s take a look at some of the tools I have been using to help bring in more fish. 

There are a lot of rod options out there in a variety of price ranges and models. I started out using an Eagle Claw rod that was medium light and had a fast action. It was a good rod for starters, but it just didn’t hold up for those long fishing days. A couple of years ago, I was looking for a good walleye rod for jigging. After comparing different rods, I decided on Cabelas XML Walleye series rod. The one I bought was a six foot, medium light, fast action rod. The rod is rated for 4lb. to 10lb. which is perfect for jigging. I also feel most comfortable using a 6 ft. rod. The action of a rod will vary with different rod builders, so it might say fast action yet be more stiff than another brand with similar ratings. Needless to say the rod worked great and held up perfect for the season. Last spring, I bought Cabelas XML and Platinum ZX to add to my arsenal and I really fell in love with the ZX. This was again a 6 foot medium rod with a fast action, and it was the light feeling of the rod that I really liked. The XML was a similar model, but felt a little heavier to me although I really liked this one as well. I have really had good luck with these rod models, and have also heard some good feedback on Cabelas Fish Eagle model, which doesn’t cost as much as the XML series. Now to be fair I have added St. Croix, G.Loomis, and Fenwick rods for the upcoming summer and will give a report on these in my June column. With all this said, perhaps its time to move along to putting something on these rods.

Along with a few good rods comes reels to compliment them. I started out using an Abu Garcia reel and eventually bought a Mitchell spinning reel. Both were good reels when it came to price, however neither made it past a couple of summers so I thought it was time to upgrade. I switched over to Shimano’s Stradic and I must say that it’s been a great reel. I have the 2000 series so it will hold quite a bit of line; 100 yards of 10lb. test, which is probably overkill as far as capacity, but I have used it for trolling cranks as well. Besides the Shimano, I also bought Cabelas platinum ZX reel last spring, and again in the 2000 series holding roughly the same amount of line as the Stradic. The one thing I found with the ZX is the drag system is better than the Stradic. However both reels worked great and with anti-reverse there is no bail slipping when I set the hook. For this year, I have added a couple of reels to go with the rods I plan on using. The first is Shimano’s Sustain, which I love, but this one is in the 1000 series. I plan on using it with a St. Croix rod for jigging and also for Lindy rigs. The reel is a little smaller because I don’t need as much line capacity. I have also added Shimano’s Calais for trolling and casting cranks. Since all these reels can get up there in price, I would also like to include Cabelas Fish Eagle Tournament II reel. I bought the combo with this reel for Chris last year and he said he really the combo. I will give a report next month on how these new reels hold up for early season walleyes. The important thing is to get out and shop price etc., but a good rule of thumb is to look for a reel with five bearings or more.

When it comes to fishing line I have to admit that I am a person of habit. I have been using the same combinations of fishing lines for the last three or four years, but have added some new lines also to play with for the upcoming season. In the spring for crappies, I rig up the reels with Berkley’s Sensi-Thin line in the 4lb. test. The line is strong, yet has great sensitivity while blending into the water to help fool the fish. For early season walleye, I use Berkley’s Fireline for jigging because I like the feel I get when those walleyes barely nibble. Along with the Fireline, I also use their Vanish line as well. I tend to use Vanish with my Lindy rigs because it just seems to move better with the rig. Now as summer goes on and I do more cranking, I will use Berkleys Trilene Premium Strength line. Being a creature of habit, I have tended to stay with Berkley lines because I have had good luck with their products. For this season I am going out of the Berkley lineup to include Silver Threads mono because I have heard that is has great strength and is really sensitive. I will also be giving a review next month of Silver Thread’s line to see if it lives up to the hype. We’ll see.

In this article I have covered some equipment that can really make or break the fishing season. My goal in this article was to provide you some info on products that I have had good success with and that have held up to long periods of hard fishing. It seems to be getting harder to find quality products that really stand up to the rigors of a long day of fishing and the items I have mentioned above have done just that. I have also added some new items for this upcoming season, and plan on giving a review of these items in my June column. I also invite all of you to send me an email to let me know what has worked for you, and please feel free to send any questions you might have to [email protected]. I will be using everyone’s feedback in my June column and will put some of these higher priced products to the test to see if they stand up to their hype, or if they are a waste of good money. The best month of the year is upon us, and nothing beats that first walleye of the season. Tight lines everyone and please keep a few for the frying pan, but put most back for the kids!!!!!


2 Comments on "Walleye Fishing Rods, Reels and Line"

  1. Roy Rainey on Thu, 3rd Jun 2010 1:42 pm 

    Can you tell me how you put new line on a Mitchell open face reel. Mitchell 303s

  2. JOLA on Tue, 17th Jan 2017 7:25 pm 

    Awesome! Thanks!

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