As I was working the reel counter at a local sporting goods store, I had an interesting question asked of me. "Im a beginning fisherman, what rod and reel do I need?" Boy, what a question, how do you answer that. Well for me I simply took the young man aside and asked a bunch of questions. Questions like what type of fishing are you planning on doing? What species of fish? Where will you be fishing? How often will you fish? What types of baits do you know how to use, or have you ever fished at all?
As we were going through these questions I learned that this young man had never fished before in his life, or at least not anything other than a cane pole and bobber type situation. He was planning on bass fishing, and had joined a club in the area. As he had just moved to this area, he figured that was the best way to learn how to fish and make some new friends. He was planning on fishing for bass, but didnt know any specific techniques or ways to fish. He was hoping to learn that from the club members and partners he drew.
He was operating on a fairly open budget, (had a few hundred dollars to spend and wanted a couple of rods to work a few different techniques). He was willing to just start with what he could. Man where to start, I thought. The store we were in had a huge selection of rods and reels, so we started walking through the isles and talked about his choices. We talked about all the techniques that could and would catch fish in Louisiana, and the ease of learning each one. We talked worms, jigs, spinner baits, crank baits, buzz baits, and others. The next question he asked really put me to task. "Cant I just get one rod to do all these things with?"
Here was a challenge put to me that I didnt know if I could answer. One rod for all techniques, that would be hard enough, but matches a reel to that rod, which really put the fat in the fire so to speak. We walked back to the reel counter and I took out a Quantum catalog and opened it. Turning the catalog towards him, I showed him all the different rods and reels for his choice. As we went over the choices I suggested that he go ahead and get the open face bait casting reel. If he is going to learn how to cast, he might as well learn on the bait casting reel. In the long run this would allow him to have more options for baits and techniques. Also I suggest that he go ahead and spend the extra money and pick the best reel and rod he could afford.
We talked about the different reels and reel gear ratios available. As I explained them to him, about how the higher ratio the faster the reel (this should really be measured in Inches Per Turn). IPT, inches per turn, is a much more accurate way of evaluating a reel’s retrieve speed than gear ratio. The IPT number is how many inches of line is retrieved at 80 percent line capacity with one full turn of the handle. Gear ratio is simply how many times the spool turns with each full turn of the handle. While the two designations are certainly relative to each other, IPT is reflective of reel and spool size, whereas gear ratio is not. In other words, two different bait cast reels can have the same gear ratios, but have different IPTs. The larger the IPT number, the faster the retrieve. The lower the gear ratio, the more "power" the reel has. Power gear ratios, like 4.4:1, are better suited for use with big-lipped crank baits or big-bladed spinner baits with lots of retrieve resistance. High gear ratios, like 6.2:1 are fast and work well for fishing lures with little resistance or for gobbling up line fast. What I suggested to him is that he went with the 6.2:1 ratio reel. While it would move the lures with little resistance such as small spinner baits, you can slow your handle turning down and fish the slower power baits as well.
Now we moved on to the rod section and started looking. Generally, light to medium action rods are used for general lure types with medium heavy to heavy actions rods preferred for soft plastic lures, jigs, or for heavier fish species. Longer rods have gained in popularity because they offer the advantage of greater casting distance, greater hook setting speed, and the longer length helps to control and tire the fish more easily. What I suggested to him is that since he is going to be using his rod for mainly spinner bait and crank baits, along with some soft plastic, go with a medium heavy rod. You can fish the crank baits with a light touch and just a steady pull instead of the jaw shattering hook set of a jig. And with the medium heavy rod you will be able to set the hook as hard as need for flipping a worm or jig.
Overall the main suggestion I gave him was to go with a 6 foot 6 inch medium heavy Quantum Tour Edition PT rod and mate the Quantum Energy PT reel in the 6.2:1 ratio. We then took and spool 12 pound test Berkley Transition Line (he thought it was kinda cool the way it changes colors), and sent him out into the world full of fishing armed with his one multi tasking pole.