How Do I Choose a Saltwater Rod and Reel?

At Eat My Tackle, we understand that the fishing equipment you use can make or break your saltwater fishing experience, which is why it’s important that you pick the right rod and reel. Today’s equipment is made from a wide variety of materials and with precision workmanship designed for specific applications. If you are overwhelmed with all of the options and decisions you have to make, here is a guide to picking the right rod and reel to give yourself the best fishing experience possible! We have been an industry leader in fishing equipment in Destin since 1998, so contact us for industry news and product updates.

 rods in the ocean

Choosing a Rod

Rods are typically made from three different materials with different actions and weights for different kinds of fishing. Here is a general guide:


Fiberglass Rod
  • Fiberglass — Fiberglass is the most commonly used material for its durability and capability. It is able to withstand the abuse brought by sport and game fishing while being flexible enough to cast bait and lures long distances. While it is a very durable material, it is not the most sensitive. If you are looking for a trolling rod or something to pick up undetectable strikes, we would recommend looking at one of the two materials described below.
Graphite Rod
  • Graphite — Graphite is a performance-oriented material and typically is formed into thinner rods. This material is very sensitive and useful for picking up subtle strikes. The feel of these rods also makes for a great experience when fighting different types of game fish. 
Composite Rod
  • Composite — Composite rods are a combination of graphite and fiberglass and are a happy medium of both materials. They combine the convenient size and sensitivity of graphite paired with the durability of fiberglass. If you are looking for a single, all-around rod, this is the material you should look for! Although you can expect to pay a little more for composite rods than fiberglass, this material is great for fishermen searching for a single rod to use in general settings.

If you are fishing for larger game fish, typically rods will be made from fiberglass. For those of you doing a more finesse style of saltwater fishing, check out graphite rods to give you the sensitivity you need to feel under-the-radar strikes.


a reel and rod off the back of a boat in the ocean

Choosing a Reel

The type of reel you use is specific to the kind of fishing you are doing. We will talk through the two basic kinds of reels and their pros and cons.


Baitcasting Reel
  • Baitcasting — Baitcasting reels allow anglers to cast their lures long distances without a twist in the line, giving you a smooth reel when fishing. They can also handle heavier-rated fishing lines than spinning reels. These two traits make them great for sport fishing as they allow for excellent retrieval and durable fishing line. The only downside is that they do require a little more practice to learn to use and, if not used properly, can result in backlash (when the line gets bunched up in the reel).
Spinning Reel
  • Spinning — Spinning reels are best for handling lighter tackle as there is minimal resistance to casting. It is also much easier to use and is the preferred reel for beginners. Many anglers also like the feel of spinning reels, so if you are new to fishing or even if you are an experienced angler who just likes the feel of a spinning reel, this option is for you!

While there are some objective perks to using a spin reel or a baitcasting reel, this choice is often a feel-related or experience-related option, so, choose whichever one feels better for you!

a school of tuna

What is Best For Your Kind of Fishing?

Because each saltwater rod and reel combo has different applications, there are ideal setups for different kinds of fishing. As an example, if you are deep-sea fishing, your equipment will be different than someone who is fishing from the shore. For those of you who want to customize your setup, check out our individual saltwater rods and reels. But, we have created dozens of different combinations to help you decide on what kind of equipment you need and to take the decision-making out of your equipment choice. Here are all of the different equipment combinations we have compiled and what they are used for!

Big Game Combo Rod and Reel

  • Big Game Combos: These combos are ideal for sport fishing and meant for targeting tuna, marlin, and other large fish. Each combo is ideal for different feel preferences and fishing techniques.
  1. Straight Rod & Reel Combos — These combos have a straight butt for those who like the feel of a straight rod.
  2. Bent Butt Combos — These combos have a bent butt for those who like the feel of a bent rod.
  3. Dredge Rod & Reel Combos — Dredge combos are used to attract fish to your boat and reel in your lure very fast.
  • Conventional Rod & Reel Combos — These are standard combos and are designed for all-around fishing applications.
  • Fly Fishing Combos — For those of you looking to fly fish for tarpon or other game fish, these rods are for you. Designed to be flexible and tough, these are longer, lighter rods to help with false-casting and sensitivity.
  • Jigging Combos — Often made of graphite, these combos are sensitive and smooth for optimal trolling performance.
  • Sabiki Combos — Sabiki combos are designed to catch multiple fish at once, oftentimes used to catch baitfish.
  • Spinning Combos — These are basic, all-around combos with a spinning reel instead of baitcasting.
  • Saltwater Angler Starter Kit — These combos are all-around setups designed for those who are new to fishing.
  • Surf Combos — For those looking to fish from the shore, these combos are for you!
fishing rods in the water off the back of a boat

To Combo or Not to Combo?

Combos serve many purposes. The first is for beginners. They provide an excellent opportunity for new anglers to become educated on fishing equipment while purchasing excellent equipment that will last them for years to come. All of our combos are designed for different purposes so no matter what you are looking to fish for or what kind of waters you are fishing in, we’ve got you covered.

They also provide excellent starting points for experienced fisherman to improve their collection or do research into what kind of rods pair well with different reels or vice versa. Many fishermen claim that customizing a setup is always the way to go, but we have found this is not the case, which is why we have created our combos in the first place.

While rod and reel combinations come in any number of shapes and sizes, there is a purpose behind the design.

For those of you looking to fish deeper waters, find a rod and reel combo designed for durability and strength. For those of you trying your hand in a more finesse style of saltwater fishing, look for a rod and reel combo that is more sensitive and light. No matter what your saltwater fishing needs are, Eat My Tackle has you covered. Contact us or check out our combos and get out on the water today!

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