Gearing Up: Leaders of the Pack

Powerful, portable, affordable travel rods.

Field & Stream Online Editors

**1. Bass Pro Shops Extreme XPS **
These 61/2-foot spinning rods break into three pieces for fly-in or pack-in ease. The graphite blanks extend through the handle for horse-'em-in strength, and the superslick Fuji Hardloy Concept guides maximize casting distance. Each rod is drilled for the XPS weight balance kit (sold separately), for greater sensitivity. A nylon rod sack and crushproof rod tube are included. Available in medium and medium- heavy actions. About $100. 800-227-7776; www.basspro.com

** 2. St. Croix Premier Traveler **
This 6-foot, four-piece fast-action spinning rod is built for 4- to 8-pound- test lines, but it's a heavyweight performer. It's sensitive enough to send tiny spinners into tight pockets, but it has the backbone to throw a big crankbait across the far reaches of the pond. About $120. 800-826-7042; www.stcroixrods.com

3. Winston XTR5
If you want to cast big flies for pike or stripers, or chuck lead-core lines into roiling salmon rivers, the XTR5 series (in line weights 6, 8, 9, 10, and 12) has all the power you need in a five-piece package. With a stiff torso and tip, the rod action is very fast and not for the faint of forearm. This is an extreme-wind, long-range fly rod, with a durable finish that is second to none. About $695. 406-684-5674; www.winstonrods.com

**4. Redington Wayfarer **
How about a sweet seven-piece, lightweight, truly packable fly rod for half the cost of similar rods? Built for 5-, 6-, and 8-weight lines, the Wayfarer series has the balanced power and feel of high-modulus graphite blanks. Sleek and designed with a medium-fast action, these rods come in a 19-inch crushproof tube. About $250. 800-253-2538; www.redington.com