|My first post here so hello to all from the UK. I have enjoyed reading a lot of the good advice on offer and it seems to be a great place to share ideas.|
I may have my first opportunity at strong tropical saltwater fish this winter i.e. Big Snook, small-med Tarpon, jacks, perhaps some small king mackerel/dorado/albacore/YF Tuna/Wahoo if I'm lucky. I am looking to get together a strong and reliable kit and am aiming at #10 (or maybe #11 if necessary) to give strength but still hopefully allow some presentation and avoid rotator-cuff injury if at all possible! The key issue here is money - very tight for me at the moment so I need to get gear that won't break the bank, especially as this might be an experiment that I don't repeat. Primarily this means rod and reel as hooks, fluoro etc wont be a problem, I tie my own flies and I hope to pick up some decent lines cheap from tacklebargains here in the UK.
I already have #9 gear for Pike and the rod (Vision GT4 SW med-fast) has proven itself many times with big double figure Pike both on their initial hard run and pulling dead-weight out of weed and snags and I trust it, so this covers my lighter rod. My choice for the heavier rod from a lot of research & discussion (but no opportunity to cast alternatives unfortunately) is a TFO Axiom #10 which has a reputation for toughness, good casting if you like a faster rod and being more like a #10/11 in terms of strength. I have a blank on the way and so am building that soon - with lined rings throughout. I have cheaper backups for both rods.
I am aware that Abel, Tibor, Ross, Nautilus, Danielsson, Shilton will be recommended for build and drag quality and I understand completely why, but I simply can't stretch to two reels and a couple of spare spools at those prices. However, I'm going to be a looong way from a tackle shop (or even a good postal service) so I want something tough and easy to maintain. So with this in mind I have been doing some research and the two that seem to be most liked are (in their largest sizes):
Shakespeare Pflueger Trion or President - few seem to have a bad word to say about these, the design/build tolerance/drag is rated highly by everyone as far as I can see and they available at very reasonable price. One person has broken two Trions in the same day on Albacore however...
Lamson - look great and have a very good drag apparently, though I have read reports of the drag becoming contaminated with grit and the one-way bearing failing from corrosion which makes me nervous for serious saltwater work.
Does anyone here have any other thoughts? Colton is new but has some models which look very good on paper. Teton have started producing again apparently. The Okuma Integrity 10/11 has a good reputation for a cheap reel but not sure if the one-way bearing and drag will deal with abuse in the salt.
Some have suggested that I stick to my Okuma 7/9 reels for the smaller rod and Snook/Jacks/Bluefish/Bonefish/Baby Tarpon and spend the money on the bigger reel which will get the serious stress from Tarpon/Albacore. The stainless/teflon drag on the Okuma has dealt so far with some big Pike with no problems at all and I know people that use them for Bonefish. I would avoid dunking this reel as I'm sure the one-way bearing would corrode and the drag does become less effective when wet.
Sorry for the length of this post! One last thought - regarding reliability and maintenance I am definitely leaning towards the pawl & cork drag type of design like Tibor and Abel, so if anyone knows of 9/11 models like this but without their price tag that could be a good start.