Hot Tackle 2004

Innovative lures and bulletproof reels that stand out in the crowd.

Field & Stream Online Editors

1. Abu Garcia Ambassadeur D
Series Abu Garcia's two new Ambassadeur D baitcasters also offer backlash reduction, but for much less money than Shimano's TE DC. The D5 models have a single dial for both the magnetic and mechanical spool brakes. With no secondary knob to turn, you can quickly fix braking tension for no-backlash casting. $95¿¿¿$105; 800-228-4272; www.abu-garcia.com

2. Shakespeare Catera Series
Slick design and an astoundingly low price make the new Catera spinning reels a remarkable value. Available in three rear-drag and four front-drag models, the Cateras have long-cast aluminum spools and multidisc drags. This is as smooth and as easy to operate a spinning reel as you can find. $30; 800-347-3759; www.shakespeare-fishing.com

3. Quantum Cabo PT and Boca PT Series
The new Cabo PT (with eight or nine ball bearings) and Boca PT (with five) saltwater series are the Hummers of spinning reels, with multiple layers of corrosion protection, nickel-titanium parts, and epoxy coating. You could knock a barracuda on the head with one of these reels if you had to. $120¿¿¿$200; 800-588-9030; www.quantumfishing.com

4. Storm WildEye Soft Shad
With its holographic, hard-body interior and soft-plastic skin and fins, the WildEye Soft Shad has a flashing, iridescent look and fleshy twitch that bass will find irresistible. The 23/4-inch-long hybrid lure comes in eight color patterns. $4; 952-933-7060; www.stormlures.com

5. Lucky Craft Live Pointer 95SP
This innovative lure has 13 individual body segments, attached by stainless-steel wire. The limber result flaps and bends like a real fish. The 4-inch Pointer works for trout, bass, pike, and just about any other gamefish. It's a bit pricey, but wicked. $17; 800-270-3117; www.luckycraft.com

6. Shimano Calcutta TE DC Series
The TE DC baitcasters possess the greatest innovation in reel technology in years: a computer chip programmed with an array of spool-braking patterns to match lure weight and spool speed. You can cast farther than you ever have before and put an end to backlash. Think of one of these as a Rolls-Royce-very nice to have if money is no object. $500; 877-577-0600; www.shimano.com

7. Norcross HawkEye Portable Sonar System
No bigger than a small flashlight, the HawkEye Depth Sounder can read water depths from 21/2 to 100 feet, allowing you to scan for dropoffs, ledges, and holes. It also can scan through ice. Powered by a 9-volt battery, it comes with an illuminated display for night use. $119; 888-667-2767; www.norcrossmarine.com