The Two-Combo Approach: Covering All Basis - The Fisherman

The Two-Combo Approach: Covering All Basis

slo-fight
The light Slow Pitch jigging combo can be used for not just its intended use but for targeting stripers in an array of different ways.

Two combos that will cover most inshore to midshore fishing scenarios.

“Save money by acquiring top-end gear!” To me, this means more than something we tell our significant other!

Higher-end equipment is something that a lot of us associate with as a luxury item. It’s tough to justify the pricing when we have so many different types of setups we need to get for the different fisheries/techniques and all the other expenses in our lives. I’m here to tell you that we can save money by buying higher-end gear (I swear I’m not a fishing addict).

How is it possible to save money with higher-end equipment? We use high-end gear on my charter boat, the Corazon. It’s atypical on a charter boat because of the abuse, different fisheries we target, and expense.

However, on my boat, we do fish with only high-end gear for several reasons:

  • We want a day on our boat to be as close as possible to ‘skiing at Vail’—who wants to ski an epic powder day with outmatched skis?
  • We want our guests using the gear they may not typically have access to on banner fishing days!
  • We learned that we actually had less gear and fewer expenses when we were using the higher-level gear!
bass-slopitch
Light slow pitch rods will subdue quality stripers in the same amount of time a heavier setup will typically take.

Multi-Purpose Combo

You may think the above sounds off, but a single outfit can span multiple species across a wide spectrum. It all made sense on one of our trips, and it went something like this: I acquired Slow Pitch outfits for fluke/seabass/scup and used them with flutter spoons. We were on a crazy live bait striped bass bite, and my regular live bait outfits were out of service at the moment. DJ (my son and mate) changed over the Slow Pitch rods to bunker rigs, and it was on. We were catching 30 to 50-pound bass on our super light outfits with no issue – the guests did not want to switch back. The fight did not stress the fish more as the durations were about the same. Boom, the light bulb went off; how could I cross over my setups and buy less but higher end?

Here is the secret: We can use setups across multiple species because of the technology. We need fewer setups because a single setup can be used for multiple types of fisheries/techniques. The core reason is that the smaller reels and rods on the higher end of the spectrum have higher drags and backbone – with feather light weight. This allows us to use the rods cross-species while maintaining the positive angling experience because everything is light. Then, we can move up in class with the fish because the backbone and drag of the lighter outfits can control the fish.

slo-sea-bass
You can go straight from striper fishing to sea bass fishing with the same combo. Meaning less hassle, clutter on the boat and more time fishing.

Inshore Setups

If I only had resources for a single setup for all inshore – I would get the following – a ‘heavy’ weight Slow Pitch Rod with a higher-end baitcasting reel. Expect to pay about $350-400. I understand that is a lot of money – but this outfit will be able to handle everything from porgies to striped bass with a top-end experience of the expensive equipment. There is only one outfit to be bought for a myriad of fishing. Multiple outfits to do the below would equal two to four times the expense and would be lower quality.

INSHORE LIGHT SETUP USES

  • Ocean fluke jigs and traditional
  • Bay fluke
  • Bay blackfish
  • Clam chumming striped bass
  • Soft plastic striped bass
  • Popping plugs striped bass
  • Flutter spoons
  • Live lining bunker (calmer days)
  • Slow pitch jigging sea bass
  • Blackfish jigs in the ocean
offshore
Captain Doug puts the ‘screws’ to a yellowfin tuna with his slightly heavier conventional combo. His use of a two-speed reel is key here.

Breaking It Down

The Slow Pitch rod design made the lighter setup possible, which does not always have to be used with the slow pitch technique. The Slow Pitch design is amazing – the rods are physically light and extremely sensitive, and you can really lay into bigger fish because of their backbone. The heavier backbone of the rod is only noticed when the rod is loaded up – otherwise, it behaves like a much lighter rod. A reel with a drag of 20 pounds would be more than enough to tackle bass up to 50 pounds while still having super fun with porgies.

The modern light baitcasting/conventional/lever drag reels are super versatile – small in size and weight, they still have drags that are more than 20 pounds. We can put the ‘screws’ into the fish, staying well within the boundaries of the equipment. They can also be jigged and cast. The kicker is that these setups are super light – coming in at a pound or two. We use 20 to 30-pound braided line with a topshot of 25-pound test monofilament or fluorocarbon.

When we switched over to Slow Pitch setups for our customers, connection ratios absolutely skyrocketed for a fluke. This was a total game changer – and while expensive, it was worth it. Then I figured out the crossover opportunity – and we fully committed to these outfits. The Slow Pitch rods we use can handle 1 to 8 ounces of weight. Most of the time are fishing 2 to 6 ounces. This perfectly handles all of our inshore trips. What remains truly remarkable is that when the rod is not fully loaded, it still is fighting fish like fluke, porgies/scup, as well as any ultra-light outfit.

This setup on the Corazon is the Daiwa Harrier Slow Pitch HSP66HB rod matched with a Lexa 300 LX-HD300HS reel. Other brands will work well, and you can mix and match. There are many Slow Pitch rod choices – Centaur, Palmarius, Black Hole, Shimano, and Penn, to name a few. I like to stick with the major reel manufacturers as parts and availability are consistent – besides Daiwa, there is Shimano and Penn. You can even switch the reel out to a traditional lightweight conventional or lever drag, e.g., Accurate – just keep it light.

I personally like conventional/baitcasting reels if I am limited because they are more versatile in my opinion. I can cast, bait fish, jig etc. while controlling my line. The spinning gear has evolved and certainly the same concepts can be applied. Slow Pitch rods with a higher drag smaller reel. The biggest coverage challenge would be for the inshore trolling category.

bass-mid-shore
The heavier of the two-combo approach will cover your plan of attack on larger ocean running bass.

Large Inshore to Midshore Setups

The list above is quite extensive – how can a single outfit catch a false albacore and get taken 65-miles offshore? It’s all about the technology – and I figured this out after we had my inshore outfits dialed in.

LARGE INSHORE TO MIDSHORE USES

  • Live line striped bass
  • Mojo striped bass fishing
  • Cobia
  • Sharks, e.g., blacktips, inshore sharks (not large threshers)
  • Trolling inshore pelagics – bonito, Spanish mackerel, false albacore
  • Trolling school bluefin tuna (up to 50 pounds)
  • Jigging yellowfin tuna up to 60 pounds
  • Chunking Tuna up to 60 pounds

Once again, I use ultra-light gear, which consists of small two-speed reels with light jigging rods. The outfits are super light – to the point that we share with our customers how light the gear is to use for striped bass (which is the same gear we will break out for the yellowfins). Now the kicker – the jigging rods are light, but they load up at the bottom end of the rods (sound familiar). The angler feels every swipe of the tail while fighting a striped bass but can also control a wild yellowfin tuna chunking at the Bacardi. The two-speed option helps control epic large fish and is not much more expensive.

The reel technology is most impressive – We use small two-speed reels that have 50-pound lever drags. When striped bass fishing – the reels are small – so we back the drags down a bit, and the angler has a great experience.

We thought the 2 speed part was only going to be used offshore – but here’s another thing we learned – it’s way easier to reel a mojo in to check the rigs with the boat in gear in the low speed. My mates thanked me for that one! The lever drags make striped bass live line fishing on windier days great because we bump the drags up a bit to keep the baits from constantly pulling line.

These outfits are a bit more – the outfits on my boat cost around $750. I understand this is a lot of money – but it comes in less than buying different outfits for all the species above using multiple traditional outfits. I would end up doing the following:

The big difference when comparing the above is that your single outfit is a top-end gear outfit instead of using the lower models. The drags are smoother, the overall weight is lighter, and the outfits can put up with more than normal abuse. What we also found is that the higher-end non boutique gear endured beatings better than the lower-end gear.

combo-1
The lighter combo consists of a baitcasting reel on a Slow Pitch jigging rod

Heavier Setup Options

This setup on the Corazon is the Harrier X Jigging Rod Series HRX58XHB rod matched with a Saltiga 2-Speed Lever Drag SAGLD35-2S reel. Other brand’s rods are in the Shimano and Penn line – you don’t need to spend as much on the rod – the reel is what makes this outfit versatile. Other reels to consider are in the Shimano line – Talica 2sp 16s or Accurates. If you want to save a bit of money, you can check down to a Daiwa Saltiga 2 sp, Avet 2sp, and other reels in this class.

The spinning reels again make it harder to troll. In addition – the jig and pop reels for the pelagics make it harder to cross over to the other species, but that does not mean you can’t find a combo that works for you.

combo-2
The heavier inshore to midshore combo is also conventional but the use of a two-speed reel really makes it extremely versatile.

Bump It Up

As we start to move up in class the opportunities start to narrow. I do use super light reels to troll and jig – we use SAGLD55-2S Saltiga 2-Speed Lever Drag SAGLD60-2S and the Talica 20/25s would be another option. These reels have lugs so they can be fought out of belts and harness combos. We have also used these reels for shark fishing.

There is no rule to follow – just try and think about how you can use a single setup to do multiple things and use the savings to up the level of setup that you would consider. I will leave you all with this – Although it’s fun to talk about the gear to use, the most important thing is to spend your thought cycles on where the fish are! Please make sure you do that before obsessing over which outfit to buy.

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