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Three Rod and Reel Combos for Kayak Anglers

Close-up of hand holding reel

On the ocean anything can happen at any time. Anglers fishing salty waters can expect to run into five pounders, thirty pounders, and hundred-pound fish on the same day. In the space of a few hours, saltwater anglers could be called on to cast, jig, troll, and bottom bounce. Kayak anglers can’t carry dozens of rod and reel combos to cover all the possibilities. How do you prepare for anything with a handful of fishing rods?

Penn Slammer reel

The magic number of fishing rods on a kayak is three. First, packing more than three rods adds too much weight. Also, each fishing rod acts like a small sail catching the wind and slowing the boat. And, a full quiver of rods will get in the way of fishing and paddling.

So, the challenge for saltwater kayak anglers is being armed for any size fish with a limited number of weapons. The key is to choose the correct size rod and reel with the best quality and performance to survive life in a little plastic boat.

From coast to coast, north to south, inshore and offshore, these three combos will handle the hard work of bringing any size fish to the kayak: a light spinning setup, a medium action spinning or casting setup, and a heavier casting setup.

Starting with the heavy hitter, kayak anglers can expect to troll big plugs and live bait, soak chunks of bait, and drop heavy sinkers to the bottom. To throw big punches, kayak anglers are choosing the versatility of a PENN Rampage Jig conventional jigging rod matched to a PENN Fathom Lever Drag Two Speed reel.

Penn reel on side of boat

The six-foot, six-inch PENN Rampage Jig Conventional rod is compact for more pumping power to work a big fish from the deep. The moderate-fast action transfers power through the rod blank while aluminum oxide guides and EVA foam grips will take a beating.

A PENN Fathom Lever Drag Two Speed reel offers high-powered features at a great value. Set the reel to high speed to work a jig lightning fast, then switch to low gear to winch in a sea monster. The lever drag allows the angler to adjust pressure from less than five pounds for live bait fishing to over 33 pounds to pull stubborn bottom fish out of structure.

Most anglers spool the reel with 50-pound braided line. For bottom fishing and jigging, tie a three-foot, 80-pound Berkley ProSpec fluorocarbon leader to the braid. For live bait and lure trolling, add a 100-yard topshot of 20-pound ProSpec Chrome monofilament to absorb hard strikes.

Penn Fathom reel

The middle child in the family is a medium-action casting or spinning rod matched to a seven-foot rod for casting big lures and baits. On the West Coast, this combo will cast irons to California yellowtail. In the Northeast, striper swipers use the middle child for casting big plugs and swimbaits to frenzied striped bass. In the Gulf and Southeast, anglers will use the medium action rod for sight casting to cobia and big red drum.

On the spinning side, a seven-foot, medium-heavy PENN Prevail II Inshore spinning rod makes long, accurate casts while the graphite blank provides power and sensitivity. The medium-action combo absorbs abuse with silky smooth Dura-Guides and a graphite reel seat.

For the reel, pick out a PENN Slammer III reel with a sealed body to withstand salt, sand, and sea spray. Dura-Drag and CNC gears provide power to turn a big cobia or redfish while stainless steel ball bearings keep everything running smoothly.

Anglers looking for the longest casts with a heavy lure should check out the PENN Fathom II Star Drag. For maximum casting distance, a live spindle and magnetic brakes reduce friction on the spool. The full-metal body, bronze main gear, and hardened stainless steel pinion are rock solid to support the stopping power of PENN’s advanced Versa-Drag.

Spool the reel with 50-pound ProSpec braided line and a four-foot leader of 50-pound ProSpec fluorocarbon. Braided line provides the longest casts while fluorocarbon leader is abrasion resistant and virtually invisible underwater.

Penn Prevail II rod

Not every fish in the sea is a giant, but the little guys don’t know that. Albacore, bluefish, Spanish mackerel, sea bass, and other pint-sized brawlers put on a big fish fight. Offshore and inshore kayak anglers always carry a light action spinning combo for taming pocket rockets.

Fishing light tackle in big water requires a rod with backbone and a reel with guts. PENN’s Battalion spinning rod matched with a Battle II spinning reel have the power and speed to do both. Long casts and blistering runs create high friction and heat. The Battalion’s Fuji line guides with aluminum oxide inserts and a skeleton reel seat provide a solid platform for the Battle II HT-100 carbon fiber drag and full-metal body. The combo might be light, but it has heavy features to play with the big boys.

On the open sea, an angler never knows what to expect. One minute he could face blitzing Spanish mackerel then turn around to see a giant cobia swimming along the surface. To even the playing field, anglers choose three rod and reel combos to handle everything the ocean can offer. Choosing solid light, medium, and heavy action rod and reel pairings will ensure the angler is ready for anything.

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