MIAMI - (MCT) Even the most knowledgeable recreational anglers can be flummoxed when trying to select the ideal rod, reel and lure combination for targeting inshore saltwater species.
The Ultimate Angling System from Shimano and Rapala takes the guesswork out of matching those elements. It consists of the Shimano Scimitar graphite rod, Shimano Symetre Fl spinning reel and the Rapala X-Rap SubWalk 9 lure.
"The rod is designed to help the action of the lure, matched to its weight," said Glynn Austin of Palm Bay, who helps manufacturers test marine angling products. "And the way the line winds on the spool is to reduce wind knots when you are casting and retrieving constantly."
The combination worked well for Austin and me on a test trip on Sebastian's Indian River recently. With the wind howling out of the east, we stuck to the flats on the lee side of the river whenever possible. Austin said there was a great chance of catching sea trout, but our other two targets - snook and redfish - were less certain.
Drifting over a grass flat, we cast a black-and-white X-Rap SubWalk and a chartreuse-red-white model. I had never fished with these lures before and was impressed at how they tracked consistently about a foot below the surface. The lures sink slowly, so it is easy to retrieve them two feet deep. Occasionally, the treble hooks became snagged on the grass, but not big handfuls, and not every cast.
One of our reels was filled with 10-pound braid, the other with comparable mono. Austin said he likes the braid better because it gets better action.
I watched him perform the "walk-the-dog" retrieve of twitching the rod tip back and forth while reeling constantly. It didn't take long for him to catch a 3-pound trout on the chartreuse X-Rap. I followed with a similar-sized trout on the black-and-white. We probably caught a half-dozen in the first hour of fishing.
Then we decided to look for the other two elements of the flats slam. We saw snook and redfish in the flats near a spot the locals refer to as "Honest John's." But the blustery wind tended to push Austin's skiff so fast that we were on top of the fish before we saw them. Of course, they beat a hasty retreat.
The Shimano and Rapala folks say these shallow-diving outfits work great for catching suspending fish in deep water. But weather conditions prevented us from testing that claim. And the lures come in a dozen color patterns, of which we only tried a handful.
© 2008, The Miami Herald.
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