Buyer's Guide 2003 - Rods & Reels

Thinner, lighter rods and reels with quality design.

Field & Stream Online Editors

1. G. Loomis | Crankbait Rods
When you're casting crankbaits, you need a deeply flexing rod that can absorb a quick strike and keep the lure in the fish's mouth. But unlike fiberglass, graphite has always been too stiff. Not so these new graphite rods, which emulate the softer action of fiberglass in a unique design that allows exceptional flex well into the midsection. They're also incredibly light, enhancing sensitivity so you can feel just when to set the hook. $185¿¿¿$220; 800-456-6647; www.gloomis.com

2. Fenwick | HMG Spinning Rods
The makers of America's first graphite rods have reengineered the HMG Spinning series to be stronger, yet substantially thinner and lighter than earlier models. The titanium-alloy guides are light but strong, and the reel seats are now up-locking for a more comfortable grip. With more than 20 one- and two-piece freshwater rods to choose from, you won't find a lake, river, or pond that can't be successfully fished with an HMG._ $110¿¿¿$120; 877-336-7637; www.fenwickfishing.com_

3. Abu Garcia | Cardinal 600 Series Spinning Reels
A one-piece aluminum frame makes the Cardinal 600 reels lightweight but extra rigid for added strength and stability. Factor in the large-diameter spools that provide increased casting efficiency and the oversize washers that add more power and smoothness to the drag, and you've got a high-performance reel for a very affordable price. $55; 800-288-4272; www.abu-garcia.com

4. Shimano | Stradic Spinning Reels
Long a benchmark of quality design, Shimano's Stradic spinning reels have always been smooth, silent, and strong. But now they've been redesigned to circumvent some of spinfishing's little hassles: There's a new roller that reduces line twist, a bail modification that cuts down on line loops and tangles, and maintenance ports for easy lubrication. $120¿¿¿$160; 877-577-0600; www.shimano.com