Rods & Reels

Field & Stream Online Editors

**1. Airrus Tradition Spin/Fly **
When it comes to innovation, nothing tops this rod. The material used to wrap the blank has been extended and enlarged to form the rod grip. In finesse applications such as drop-shotting for bass, the resultant sensitivity is unreal. Further, there is a fly-rod reel seat that can be drawn out from inside the end of the grip. Switch the spinning-rod tip with the fly-rod mid- and tip sections, and you've got a 9-foot, 3-piece fly rod. $130¿¿¿$200; 702-395-2173; www.rodsbyairrus.com

2. St. Croix Legend Tournament
Fifteen models of spin- and baitcasting bass rods are available in this realistically priced group-each designed and named for a specific technique such as flipping or fishing topwaters. $200; 800-826-7042; www.stcroixrods.com

3. G. Loomis Jig & Worm
These rods are light, sensitive, and a dream to cast, if a little pricey. The series includes a 7-foot 1-inch model rated to 1-ounce lures for serious hauling of big bass from heavy cover. $345¿¿¿$370; 800-456-6647; www.gloomis.com

4. Daiwa Tough & Light Bass
Tip your lucky fishing hat to tackle-giant Daiwa for the truly innovative reel seats on these rods. The custom seats are extremely functional and super comfortable. On the baitcasters, the exposed, blank-style reel seat also creates a broad surface that rests well against your index finger, helping to tame unwanted rod rotation. The spinning model, meanwhile, fits your palm like a second skin. $120¿¿¿$130; 562-802-9589; www.daiwa.com

**5. Shimano Crucial **
This top-end series of 46 models is the latest result of some aggressive design and marketing tactics. Shimano has adapted spinning and casting models to specific freshwater techniques, all featuring high-modulus graphite. $120¿¿¿$160; 949-951-5003; www.shimano.com

[NEXT "Click Here for REELS"] 1. Abu Garcia D6 Baitcasting
Centrifugal and magnetic braking systems, combined under a single external control knob, might make this the easiest-to-use baitcaster ever made. It reliably tames backlash and is perfect for novices. $95¿¿¿$105; 800-228-4272; www.abugarcia.com

2. U.S. Reel SuperCaster 225 Spinning
Bass anglers take note: The unusually large spool diameter of this new model reduces line twist and allows longer casts. It also handles heavier monofilament-to 15-pound-test or more-than most other spinning reels. $130; 314-962-9500; www.usreel.com/about.htm

3. Daiwa Sol Baitcasting
As many high-tech baitcasting rods have become lighter in weight, older-model reels have begun to feel heavy and clunky. Enter Daiwa's new low-profile Sol. Weighing in at a paltry 7.4 ounces, it matches the new rods perfectly. $230; 562-802-9589; www.daiwa.com

**4. Shimano Chronarch B Baitcasting **
These low-profile reels won Shimano a Best of Show award at a national fishing trade show last summer. One of their notable features is a small switch that allows the reel's left side plate to swing open while remaining attached, giving instant access to the variable centrifugal brake system. Brake blocks can be adjusted in 10 seconds or less. $270; 949-951-5003; www.shimano.com

**5. Daiwa Saltiga Spinning and Conventional **
These ultra-high-end reels for nearshore saltwater are a unique blend of elegance and toughness. By making them superbraid-friendly, Daiwa substantially increased the product's stated line capacities and made it blue-water capable. $670¿¿¿$800; 562-802-9589; www.daiwa.com

Return to Buyer's Guide 2004