National Walleye Tour Round 1 with Okuma Pro Dan Hassevoort

         Okuma Inspired Fishing and Savage Gear Pro Dan Hassevoort is gearing up for round one of the National Walleye Tour in Sandusky, Ohio on Lake Erie. The National Walleye Tour is the top stage in professional Walleye fishing and Okuma Pro Dan Hassevoort knows what it takes to be competitive fishing against the world’s top anglers.

 

Okuma Pro Dan Hassevoort

Okuma Pro Dan Hassevoort

Radio: So Dan where is your head at right now just before you leave for a tournament of this magnitude?

Dan: Well, right now it’s all about getting the right gear together to be prepared for anything at this time of the year. You could find yourself jigging on the reef systems for spawning females or trolling deep water for the big females that already moved off the reefs. It’s all about timing and you have to assess the situation once you get there. My trolling arsenal is composed of the Okuma Cold Water Low Pro files CW-354D paired up with the Okuma Dead Eye Trolling Rod DE-CBR-861-MT.

Okuma Cold Water Low Profile Line Counter Reel

Okuma Cold Water Low Profile Line Counter Reel

Radio: Why is this particular trolling combo so important to you and your fishing?

Dan: You need a rod that is versatile so you can be pulling planer boards and crank baits at one moment and then change up to lead core or snap weights. The DE-CBR 861-MT allows me to do all of that. The Cold Water Low Profile CW-354D gives me the perfect retrieve speed to get those big females in without horsing them but not taking too much time to allow the Walleye to work itself free. The low profile has enough line capacity to hold up to three colors of lead core which is more than enough to target the deep water tournament winning walleyes.

Okuma Cold Water and

Okuma Cold Water and

Okuma Inspired Fishing Pro Dan Hassevoort is a former 2008 FLW Angler of the Year so winning is nothing new to this angler.

Radio: I understand that you like to jig deep reefs.  What is the best program for jigging the reefs?

Dan: I like the Trio 20 paired up with the 7 foot Dead Eye Jigging rod DE-S-701-MFT – I like the longer rod because I can vertical jig this rod and  it gives me a good casting range for throwing cranks baits or Savage Gear Fat Vibes over the top of the reefs.

Savage Gear Fat Vibe

Savage Gear Fat Vibe

Radio: What kind of baits will you be using at this tournament?

Dan: Well, with the water being as cold as it is now I think crank baits will probably be the ticket. Trolling the Savage Gear 4 Play on lead core will be a go to bait along with the Savage Gear Manic Prey. If I am fishing on the reefs the Savage Gear Fat Vibes are pretty effective along with the Sand Eels on lead head jigs.

Savage Gear Fat Vibe

Savage Gear Fat Vibe

 

Savage Gear Sand Eel

Savage Gear Sand Eel

Savage Gear Manic Prey

Savage Gear Manic Prey

Radio: Lake Erie is home to some of the biggest Walleyes in the country, so Dan, what is it going to take to win an event against the world’s top anglers?

Dan: Well my target weight for two days of competition for five fish is going to be 40 to 45 pounds which is a difficult task but that’s what it is going to take to win this event along with some long runs across some brutally rough water.

Dan Hassevoort

Dan Hassevoort

 

Dan Hassevoort has been on the Okuma and Savage Gear Pro Staff for a couple of years now, and has made us very proud up in the Midwest. 

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Cody Wakefield Lands 420-Pound Blue Marlin- Solo

Check out this fantastic story from Cody Wakefield. What an awesome email to receive at our Ontario, California headquarters.

I started out in the early morning of October 1st 2015. Headed out of Oceanside Harbor solo in my 20’ Skipjack around 7:00am with only three rods on the boat. Got the killer bait: sardine, anchovies and mini-mack mix. All 4-6 inches, the prime bait for the smaller tuna/dorado that we have been catching at the time.

Thankfully, a radio call was answered or Cody Wakefield might still be somewhere off the coast of California.

Thankfully, a radio call was answered or Cody Wakefield might still be somewhere off the coast of California.

My mind was set on a wahoo. Landed a nice 70#-80# fish two days prior, so i set out with my mind on a wahoo…

Cruised for 25 to 30 miles or about three hours for nothing. Then finally, I ran into two nice kelps about 50-yards apart from each other, so i pulled right in the middle of the two and tossed a few live baits in the water and instantly watched fish boiling on my bait.

Tossed one on a hook and landed a nice 12-15lb dorado, On the second bait that hit the water I landed a 8lb yellowfin tuna. The 3rd bait, another yellowfin tuna- 4th bait yellowfin tuna- 5th, 6th, 7th, every bait that hit the water was inhaled within seconds of hitting the water. Had the tuna wide open in the corner….
Started having fun throwing bait in the corner watching them do what they do and act like piranhas. At this time two big 10 or 12 foot hammerheads are chasing tuna, doing circles around my boat. I’m still chumming the tuna, watching this show in front of my eyes unfold and just enjoying every minute of it. In the meantime I’m rigging up a shark leader, hoping a wahoo is gonna swim through here next and I might just try and bait a wahoo….. DREAMING BIG!
So I get done Rigging a 9/0 hook on a 175# steal shark leader. Tied the shark liter onto a clip swivel to straight 125-pound Spectra with only about 250-yards of line. Tied that onto the heaviest rod I had on the boat, a 5’5” Sabre Stroker Lite, 20-50lb weight with my Okuma Titus TG-15 two-speed.

At that point the two hammer dogs were gone so I proceed to keep chumming the fish in the corner and get them all stirred up and they were still there. I pinned on a bait to catch another tuna to hopefully pin onto my shark rig and hopefully a wahoo would swim by and eat it.. still dreaming big.

My bait is in the water about 10 seconds and not bit. Within the blink of an eye the craziest thing happens. The tuna ball up under the boat and act like a frightened bait ball and swim really fast all bunched up in different directions. Here comes swimming through a massive blue marlin all lit up and colorful under my boat chasing tuna. I wind in my bait the marlin gives it a look as he is now chasing my chum and hanging out around my boat giving me a full show of his magnificent colors. I honestly did not want anything to do with this giant creature, but then again I am a fisherman at heart and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity in front of my eyes….
I pinned on a fresh yellowfin tuna from my fish box that was still freshly colored. I was not gaffing the fish so there wasn’t much blood or a wound on them. I then dropped the tuna straight back under the boat and watched it flutter down with a beautiful shine.  It didn’t get 30 feet under the boat when i see the Blue come cruising through with his mouth wide-open and the tuna disappeared into his belly. I let him eat it for 10-15 seconds and put the reel in gear and set the hook with all i got and it was GAME ON!!!!!

Fish finder lit up with some major fish.

Fish finder lit up with some major fish.

First thoughts that went through my head were “OH SHEEP, HERE WE GO,” I’m in for a long battle. I fought this fish and drove down on him for the next 30-minutes while we fought each other for our lives. At this point It was to hard to drive down and reel on him at the same time. I figured that I had heavy line and a big hook so I pinned the drag down on that Okuma as tight as she would go and let him tow me around.

Titus Gold two-speed getting run out of line by the big blue.

Titus Gold two-speed getting run out of line by the big blue.

It was a battle of a lifetime. I had this fish hooked in the belly and injured him pretty good within the first hour of the battle. He was about 50 feet under the boat doing giant death circles which was a little scary going from one side of the boat to the other. I didn’t have any idea how i was gonna get the fish on the boat so I eased up on the fish and got on the radio on Channel 72 where all the local skiff guys talk. Got Some help from another guy, Kevin Stewart, and about 30-minutes later he boarded my boat.

It's bittersweet when a billfish dies, but the young man won this sea battle.

It’s bittersweet when a billfish dies, but the young man won this sea battle.

I fought the marlin another hour or so and finally reeled him to the surface where he floated upside down and we stuck two gaffs in him, tail wrapped him and tried to get him on the boat but we couldn’t. Kevin Mattson and one of his buddies jumped on my boat and helped us get the fish on.

Adrenaline was through the roof at that point. I literally laid on that fish kissing and hugging thanking it for giving its life… But the fisherman won this battle. 

Blue Marlin

Cody Wakefield weighs his 420-pound blue marlin that died during the fight.

 

New Okuma 350 Low-Profile Baitcast Reels: Drop The Hammer

General Motors introduced the small block 350 in 1967.  Since that time, it’s become the performance standard for speed, power and durability. Surprisingly, it’s taken more than 45 years for the fishing industry to catch up, and for Okuma to release its 350, achieving the pinnacle of speed, power and performance.

Komodo 350

Refined and compact overall, there’s no missing Komodo’s massive drop down gear case. Holding a giant stainless steel main gear, the system offers plenty of room for an inspiring Carbonite drag system, capable of delivering up to 25-pounds of max drag. And to make that drag pressure usable, the levelwind on both Komodo and Citrix are synchronized with spool revolutions as line is both taken in and going out. This feature keeps the levelwind aligned with line on the spool at all times, especially important when fishing high-power braids on hard-running fish as sharp angles in the levelwind system increases actual drag pressure immensely and can lead to break offs.

Engines are most often discussed in regards to horsepower, and the word is also fitting here.  For the Komodo 350, horsepower would be an exceptional combination of line capacity (230-yards of 14-pound monofilament and similar amount of 50-pound braid), 25-pounds of drag output, and stainless steel main gear, pinion gear and drive shaft.  Turn the crank to throttle up and the high-speed 6.4:1 gear ratio eats up 31-inches of line with every turn of the handle.

The great ones are defined by more than the engine, it’s the total package, and here the Komodo 350 does not disappoint. The A6061-T6 machined aluminum spool casts effortlessly, riding on ABEC-5 spool bearings as a standard feature instead of an upgrade. To tame more freespool than most anglers require, the 7-position velocity control system dials-in spool breaking for exact needs.

Overall, the bearing system includes 11 bearings overall, ten High Performance stainless steel bearings and one roller bearing.  Still, when you turn the handle, you’ll feel the gears.  Consider it the low rumble of a sports car’s exhaust, there’s a lot of power in the stainless, there if you need it. Hook-sets and battles are backed by dual anti-reverse systems because redundancy is good when your tied to the fish of a lifetime.

All dressed up, the question is where to go.  Saltwater approved, the Komodo 350 was designed to take on trophy stripers, angry jacks, big bull reds and full gamut of powerful inshore species.  It’s equally at home on freshwater, taking down giant musky, more stripers, trophy largemouth and big cats. When it comes to freshwater, however, the Citrix 350 is an equally formidable option.

Constructed on the exact same platform as Komodo, the Citrix 350 replaces stainless gearing with heavy-duty Dura Brass and drops 10 bearings to eight.  Like Komodo, it still features an aluminum frame, aluminum spool, rigid aluminum handle side side plate and the identical tonnage of line capacity and drag output.

Citrix 350

An overhead shot reveals expansive capacity for monofilament or braid as well a revealing that Citrix, as well as Komodo, is available in left hand retrieve with a massive optional power handle.

One key deviation in the Citrix is the availability of a lower 5.4:1 gear ratio in addition to the high-speed 6.4:1.  Northwest salmon anglers that commonly troll 10- to 16-ounces of lead, big divers and the like will appreciate the extra cranking power, as will the giant catfish anglers.

While on the subject of cranking power, both Komodo and Citrix 350’s are available in both right and left hand retrieve. When it’s time to bear down, you have the option of using your best cranking hand instead of playing the proverbial monkey on the football.  Additionally, both Citrix and Komodo are available with a Power Handle as an upgrade to the standard dual paddle handles.

Be on the lookout for more from this 350 platform. From an excellent foundation, many models will come, just like the cars and trucks.  These reels fit the hand amazingly well, delivering comfort and confidence, and the combination of capacity, strength, speed and power suits an incredible number of fisheries as you explore the potential of the 350.

Preparing for Battle: A Captain’s Formula for Tackle and Rigging for Shark Fishing

By Capt. Rich Antonino

I love shark fishing. I’ve gotten very efficient at it over the course of about 500 sharks. Most of those are released to get even bigger. I’ve learned a lot over the years, from preparation, finding them, chumming for them, catching them, releasing them and staying safe.

Let’s talk today about getting ready, with regard to the gear that you’ll need. We’ll get into the other topics at another time.

I fish on the East Coast, north of Cape Cod, and the sharks we see are typically 200-lb-plus blue sharks. We have seen them pushing 500 lbs. however, and we usually see at least one more than 300 lbs. on every trip. The  Makos we see are typically 85 to 90 inches long and 220 to 300 lbs. They can reach more than  1,000 lbs. in the Northeast. Threshers are usually 200 to 400 lbs. Porbeagle sharks are commonly 300-plus lbs. Yes, we have good sized sharks regularly. Since we often catch 10-20 sharks in an outing, having backup gear and extras is very important.

That being said, I wouldn’t recommend fishing 80-sized reels here as most sharks would be outmatched by them. We have fished Okuma Makaira 50’s and 50-wide 2-speed reels since they were created. They are the perfect reel for this task as they are small enough to give proper battle to the average shark, but they have the guts for any monsters that come our way. We match them up to the Makaira XH Trolling rods. I feel that once again it’s not too much, but enough. I think that attitude fits sharking well – I have enough “just in case.”

What happens if you hook that monster? It’s going to take a ton of line, so be ready. We spool our reels with 600 yards of 100-lb. test Tuf-Line Guide’s Choice hollow core as backing on the reel. Then we splice 200 yards of 100-lb. test mono into it. Like I said – “just in case”. Most sharks won’t get you into backing. On several occasions, however, we’ve needed every bit of backing because a giant tuna took a bait or because that monster mako came into the slick. Extra line equals extra time to get ready (to chase it if you have to or to tire it out if you can’t chase it).

Holding onto a rod with a big shark on the line is tough, so we use a variety of harnesses to make the battle easier. For big fish, we use a Black Magic Fishing Harness. You get to use your whole body to fight the fish. We also use a general gimble belt for smaller sharks and quicker battles. We also use the Cush-It rod butt cushion for more active battles.

For leader, safety is an issue. I like to use wind-on leaders (400-lb.mono). We can reel in the entire leader, getting us within “release distance” to the shark safely. We crimp on a 4/0 snap swivel to the end of the leader. Then we connect our 9-ft.  single-strand 174-lb. or 240-lb. wire leader to this snap swivel. Our hook of choice is a 16/0 circle hook underneath a 13-in. octopus skirt.

Why do we set it up this way? We catch and release a lot of sharks, so quickness and ease is important. Circle hooks do their job by hooking the shark in the corner of the mouth..We cut the wire and leave the hook—it falls out within weeks as they are cheap hooks (never had one break). We cut the wire off as close to the shark as possible and just tie another hook on using a haywire twist. This way, we can catch 5-6 sharks on one leader without having to re-rig. Once it’s “too short”, we start with another 9-ft. leader.

Wearing sunglasses is very important at this stage – when the wire is cut, sometimes it will snap back towards the boat. Spitting blood one day, my mate wondered where it was coming from. It came from his cheek! The wire had pierced his cheek completely. It could have been his eye. Always wear glasses!

Now that you have the rig set up how do we keep the bait at the right depth? We use cheap water balloons and we keep extras in our pockets. Blow them up and tie them onto the line at the right depth. If you are using 8-oz. of lead or less, you can get by with only one balloon. We use these balloons because they tear off of the line easily and because they are so cheap. Speaking of sinkers – we use electrical tape to tape weights onto the wind-on leader just above the snap swivel. It doesn’t bother the line and they are easily removed if you ever want to switch them off.

Our chum is frozen into 4-gallon buckets. We take the cover off of the bucket and invert the bucket into a milk crate box. This way the chum flows out nicely as it thaws and is easily reused if there is any left at the end of the day.

If we are going to keep a shark for the table, I prefer to harpoon them, but a flying gaff is also good. You need a straight gaff to secure the tail as you tail rope it. This is one of the most dangerous parts of the battle that I’ll go over in another article.

If you do keep a shark, we find that the best knife to use is a serrated knife. Serrated knives cut through the skin the best and they maintain their edge very well. They are the best at removing fins, jaws, and head.

In addition to the chum, we have a multitude of different baits that we use. It is nice to have a variety on ice, but an old standby is the rack of a locally caught fish. Sharks are used to scavenging around fishing boats, so having local selection often works. We hook the rack in the tail and hang it that way under the balloon or along the side of the boat.

Hopefully this will give you an idea of how we prepare to target sharks.

Best of luck out there!

Capt. Rich Antonino owns and operates Black Rose Fishing Charters. For more information or to book a trip, visit his website at www.blackrosefishing.com.

Quest for Big Bass at Lake El Salto

On Monday, November 18th, Okuma’s Sam Brenner and I departed Los Angeles International airport destined for Mazatlán, Mexico. On arrival in Mazatlán we met up with our guests Woody Wood, West Coast sales rep for Okuma Fishing Tackle. He was accompanied by our special guest and former professional bass angler John Bidwell of Fisherman’s Warehouse tackle, located in Northern California. All four of us were greeted at baggage claim by Hono Elizalde, owner/operator of El Salto Adventures to start our trip.

Sam with El Salto topwater bass

Sam Brenner, Okuma Vice President of Sales and Marketing, displays one of many eager topwater bass.

Author John Bretza with El Salto Bass

Okuma Director of Product Development and author John Bretza with healthy El Salto bass.

As we loaded our bags and hit the road on a two hour drive destined for the world famous lake, our quest for big bass grew closer. The anticipation and excitement of all four anglers continued to grow as we exited the highway and pulled down a long dirt road. While getting knocked around on the uneven dirt road, we could see a set of lights come into focus in the distance. On approach it was obvious we were not pulling into the Ritz, rather a rustic old world Mexican charm that made this trip so unique and special. As the sun dropped down over the lake and disappeared behind the mountains it was truly pitch black, without a hint of city lights on the lake or in the sky.

The glow of a fire just behind the lodge’s kitchen drew us to the eating area, where Hono and Chef Susie treated us to barbecued steaks and freshly made chips and salsa. The hospitality was exceptionally welcoming. They go the extra mile to make sure that each individual angler was taken care of. It was a great way to kick off the trip and get in the right mindset prior to rigging our tackle for the early morning fishing.

In preparation for the morning events, each boat was well equipped with new Okuma TCS and Helios rods, as well as the latest Helios Air, Helios and Citrix reels. The tackle boxes were overflowing with Savage Gear lures, especially the Top Prey, Sand Eels, Sand Eel Slug and Vibra Prey which have all been proven performers on the lake. With the equipment prepped and anglers ready to rock and roll, we got a short 5 hours of sleep, meeting for a hot breakfast at 5:30am. The meal prepped us for a long day of fishing. A short 50 yard walk in the dark really surprised us, arriving to find two 18-foot Ranger bass boats rigged with Lowrance electronics and Mercury outboards sitting under the lights and ready to take us fishing. All four of us have fished El Salto previously, but the guides have always fished from basic aluminum boats, so this was quite an unexpected treat.

Okuma Fishing Tackle and Savage Gear lures

Each angler would be prepared with an elite level arsenal of equipment.

Grave Sites

Submerged tombstones remind anglers of the submerged city that lies beneath the surface of El Salto.

As we pulled away from the dock in the dark we heard Omar, the lodge handyman yell out “Buenas Suerte”. It was not long before we were fishing as the spot we started at was literally 100 yards from the dock. The first thing we noticed was the famous tombstones that anglers always mention about El Salto, partially exposed in the lake. Lake El Salto was a former town that was flooded by lake construction and all the structures we were fishing was remnants of the city such as the cemetery, houses and school. Hono yelled out, cast the Top Prey toward the Escuela and the action started. Sam and I were in the boat with Hono and we started by throwing Savage Gear Top Prey lures and using a “walk the dog” technique to draw surface strikes. We had several blow-ups on the baits which got our hearts pumping, but it was a strange feeling to think we were casting at half submerged schools and tombstones. It is this type of history and structure that make El Salto truly unique.

John Bidwell of Fisherman's Warehouse with a hefty carolina rig bass.

John Bidwell of Fisherman’s Warehouse with a hefty carolina rig bass.

Woody Wood with El Salto largemouth bass.

Woody Wood hangs a beautiful El Salto bass for the camera.

Woody and John started the day with a different approach. Rather than hammering the shoreline with topwater baits, they started throwing Vibra Preys, picking off a few fish and then their guide Jerry said, “Carolina rig”. These guys fished in 30-feet of water just in front of the resort and found the honey hole. It was Watermelon Sandeel Slug and prototype Savage Gear lizard that were the hot baits. On the radio we heard them report 5-pound fish right off the bat. Woody and John camped out on two spots in the same general area all day and finished with about 60 fish for day one. On the other boat, Sam and I finished day one with just under 40 fish, but the quality level of bigger fish went to John and Woody. Both boats averaged fish in the 3-lbs range, but big fish of the day went to Woody with a 7-pounder.

On day two the schedule was the same, but after talking with all the guys we realized that fishing was tough compared to El Salto standards that guys were used to when they come in the May and June time frames. Fishing in November is always a little slower, but there are always opportunities for quality bass. In addition, we were fishing on a full moon and battling Tilapia nets on every spot. These obstacles made us have to fish even harder and in the end we did well considering the conditions. Sam and I wanted to target big bass on top water again, knowing the numbers may be smaller, but there was a chance to see some big explosions on the surface. I got my biggest fish of the trip on day two, with a 5-pounder and Sam also nailed his largest fish at 4-1/2 pounds. The Top Prey was working and we missed some other truly big fish that exploded on the baits, but just missed the hooks. Our guide and friend Hono was also fishing with us and his Top Prey flew out of the water with an 8-pound bass connected to it, trumping Sam and I. It was awesome seeing these big fish blow up on topwater baits.

Hono with El Salto largemouth bass

Hono lands a slug on the surface with a Savage Gear Top Prey.

Woody and John had another great day on the water with very similar results on the Carolina rig. It was obvious that in order to get numbers you had to go deep and slowly drag the bottom. Not only were there more fish being caught with this technique, the fish were also bigger. John Bidwell commented that night at dinner that this was the best fishing trip he has ever had for multiple quality-sized fish. After fishing two days John had already recorded 7-pound, 8-pound, 9-pound-plus and 10-pound-plus fish. Quite an accomplishment even for a former tournament bass fisherman with several major wins under his belt. It was a great feeling hearing John say this was the best fishing trip he has had for multiple big fish.

Our third and final day of fishing came and we were all excited to see what would develop, especially since we all figured out what the fish were chewing on. Of course Woody and John stuck to their trusted Carolina rig that was a proven producer on the lake this trip, turning in similar result to days one and two. After a morning shot at topwater, Sam and I told Hono we were changing to a Carolina rig to put some numbers in the boat. As Sam was tying on his rig, I fired out a pearl Sand Eel working a ledge and it was an instant fish. Another cast and then another, all producing fish.

Savage Gear Top Prey

Savage Gear Top Prey in one of the many dozens of aggressive topwater fish.

It appeared we may have found the spot we were looking for. Sam finally got the watermelon lizard in the water and before he even dropped the bait down it got hit resting at the surface. It was obvious these fish wanted to chew and we pulled good numbers out of this hole on lizards, Sandeel Slugs and Sandeels. We had some bigger fish busting around the boat, but they were reluctant to hit anything on the surface.This was a mid-day bite in the extreme heat. As the day was slowly coming to an end, Hono said, “let’s see if we can finish off the trip with a top water bite”.

We headed back to an area where I had a lot of luck fishing the Sandeel Slug with the darter head. This was an area just off a cliff where the fish were holding. Sam and I both broke out Top Prey’s in the bone color and it did not take long. We finished off the trip with about a one hour long topwater bite. No monsters, but it was truly fun getting fish after fish on the topwater. We fished this into the dark until we ran out of light for the run back to the lodge.

Main Lodge

Under the beautiful desert skies, the resort offers an experience far away from any distractions.

El Salto is truly a bucket list trip for any angler.  It is a unique fishery that really gives you a shot at both numbers and quality fish. For a company like Okuma Fishing Tackle and Savage Gear, this destination offers us great testing grounds for our tackle with multiple hookups and big fish. Hono Elizalde, official Okuma product tester on this lake allows us to put our tackle to the test on a daily basis. If you are ever looking for a great experience fishing bass in Mexico, El Salto is a destination you should definitely look into.

Goliath Grouper, Blacktips and Hammerheads – Makaira 80W Reels Show True Stopping Power

By Joshua Jorgensen

In the pursuit of big game fishing, one of the most important attributes that an angler should have with his gear is trust. If an angler begins to doubt their equipment, it is in that moment where things can go wrong. Big game fishing is not only a physical battle between angler and fish, but also a mental battle between an angler and their mind. It’s that fish of a lifetime that will always put your gear and all your knowledge to the test.

I have been in many situations where I’ve hooked a monster fish and lost it due to tackle failure. I am talking about a fish so big that it left you completely helpless. The most important tool needed to stop a big fish is your reel. I have used 80 wides with full drag and my fish never slows down. It is a nervous feeling knowing that your reel is maxed out! In this situation, the only way to have more power is by gripping the spool. From a boat, this situation might not be as common unless the battle is vertical. From the beach, this is a potential situation on any day of the week. Not being able to have the luxury of following your fish puts you in a predicament. If you are using the full power of a reel and your fish never slows down, it might be time for an upgrade.

Big Bull Boatside

Big bull sharks also tend to find their way on the end of Jorgensen’s well-placed offerings.

When Okuma released the specs of the Makaira I was instantly impressed. Looking at all the features and the quality of the materials used, I knew that this was going to be a well-built machine. After seeing reports from PEI of anglers catching 1000+lb. bluefin tuna using the Makaira 80WII, I just had to test one out. After catching several large sharks on the Makaira; including an 11’6″ hammerhead, I was fully convinced that this was one of the best leverdrags on the market.

The Makaira 80WII reel has some impressive features; including up to 70 lbs. of drag at Strike and up 100 lbs. at Full with complete freespool. Okuma simply gets it. Other manufacturers fail to realize the importance of having a powerful drag system. The Makaira also comes with a patented T-Bar handle. Before I started using Makaira’s, I would always purchase a T-Bar handle and replace the default manufacturer handle. This has always been an aftermarket purchase for me, but not anymore.

Makaira 80 Doing Work

The author pegged to the rail on a massive Goliath Grouper

Now, let’s talk about the Makaira’s drag system. Most big fish anglers don’t think you will ever need this much drag power, but trust me, you need it.  Using a heavy drag is very important when shark or other true big game fishing. Why? Well there are two main reasons.

Obviously the first and most important is to catch the shark. A heavy drag is needed to stop a big fish. In February of 2013, I hooked an estimated 14-ft. hammerhead that was trying to eat a 6-ft. blacktip shark. I was using the Makaira 80WII and I had the lever set to Strike. To my amazement, the shark didn’t even know that it has hooked. It just continued to swim at the same slow pace. Eventually the shark’s tail cut my 200lb monofilament mainline (the leader was too short for a shark of that size). It was a humbling experience, but it felt good to know that I had an extra 30 lbs. or more of insurance drag power.

Hammerhead beside the boat

Here’s a quick screen grab from a GoPro video the author had rolling while the group brought a massive hammerhead shark boatside before releasing. Using heavy drag pressure ensures a shorter fight and much healthier and successful release of these large fish.

The second is to ensure a safe and healthy release. Sharks need to be landed as quickly as possible in order to have a healthy release. They should never be “played” to the point of exhaustion. Certain species of sharks can potentially die if “played” to the point of exhaustion. This is especially true with hammerheads. Hammerheads have been known to fight to the death. By not using a heavy drag, there is a very high chance of killing a species like the hammerhead. Using a heavy drag will wear out a big shark much sooner and most of the time it will make them easier to handle on the beach or beside the boat.

Goliath Grouper

Big Goliath are an awesome sight to behold. Here, the author gets the chance to get up close and personal with one after using a Makaira 80WII reel to battle the fish to the boat.

Now let’s talk about goliath groupers for a moment. These creatures are one of the heavyweights in the ocean. In order to catch a Goliath grouper, an angler needs to prevent the fish from swimming into structure. Sounds easy right? Wrong! These fish are extremely powerful and sometimes you have less than 40 ft. to stop them from swimming into the structure. Imagine trying to stop a 500-lb. bass with only 40 ft. of line. This isn’t going to happen unless you use some serious drag. When I am fishing for goliath groupers, I usually have the lever set at full on my Makaira 80. It’s quite an experience using extreme amounts of drag in a vertical tug-of-war with a 500-lb. fish. It’s not uncommon for the Goliath to lift you off your feet. Trust me; it’s a nervous experience when this happens. My friend and I put the Makaira 80WII reel at Full and pulled as hard as possible to see if we could remove line off the spool; we couldn’t. Goliath grouper will pull line off the spool like it’s their job.

Overall, the Okuma Reel is an exceptional, well-built machine. It has become the standard for leverdrag reels in the industry. There aren’t too many fish in the ocean that the Makaira can’t handle.

Joshua Jorgensen runs the Blacktip Challenge Shark Fishing Tournament, a land based shark fishing event off Florida’s East Coast. He regularly targets big sharks and huge goliath groupers using Okuma Makaira 80W reels. See more information and videos at www.blacktipchallenge.com.

Cortez Reels: Extreme Versatility In The Salt

In the world of big game and tournament saltwater angling, there’s a ton of specialization with regard to rods and reels. For each species and sometimes even each fishing technique, there are unique constructions, gear ratios, anti-reverse and drag systems that optimize success. Day-in and day-out though, the average angler fishing saltwater is neither a big game angler nor a tournament angler. For these anglers, type III anodized machined aluminum frames are simply not necessary, and in a lot of cases, just not practical.

New Cortez CZ-5CS

With custom graphite frame and side plates surrounding an machined aluminum spool and all-star cast of internal components, the Cortez family of saltwater reels covers angler’s needs from the surf line to offshore waters.

For the everyday angler, a bulletproof graphite-framed reel with a workhorse drag system and top quality internal components serves every need they’ll ever have. And, they want to be able to afford a few of them without making withdrawals from their children’s college fund. To serve this very real need of tens of thousands of saltwater anglers, we designed and built the Cortez.

From surf and jetty, to private boat, to charter fishing, to traveling angler, the appeal of the Cortez is universal.

The Nuts and Bolts

Available in three sizes, a 10, 12 and all-new 5 size, Cortez begins with a custom, corrosion-resistant graphite frame and side plates. For the dollar-conscious, this is the number one area of cost difference between the $145 Cortez and the $290 Cedros star drag. Machined aluminum frames are expensive. For fishing 15- to 30-pound monofilament or 50-pound braid, the lines that cover 90-percent of saltwater fishing, Cortez’ graphite frame is light in the hand and a pleasure to cast for extended periods.

Striper on Savage Sand Eel

Northeast anglers will love Cortez for its ability to cast lures like the Savage Sand Eel for stripers and bluefish, while also having the power and capacity to venture offshore.

In the handle-side side plate is the exclusive Okuma Mechanical Stabilization System, or MSS. Where traditional reels use multiple mounts on the inside of the side plate to anchor and align the spool shaft, pinion gear, pinion gear bearing, drive shaft and main gear, the Okuma MSS system integrates all of these mounts into a single hold plate. When under heavy load, the individual parts of the traditional system move independently and can actually apply pressure against one another. With MSS, all components move in concert with one another, maintaining out-of-the-box alignment and greatly reducing wear over the long-term.

Cortez’ drive system leaves nothing to be desired:  Ergo Grip, anodized aluminum handle arm, XL Gearing, dual anti-reverse systems (mechanical and roller bearing) and four stainless steel ball-bearings on the way to the machined aluminum spool.  With regard to the aluminum spool, line capacities are 315 yards of 15-pound for the size 5, 350 yards of 20-pound for the size 10 and 400 yards of 25-pound for the size 12.  Increase all of those numbers substantially for 30- or 50-pound braid.

Louisiana Yellowfin

School tuna, snapper, amberjack, big jacks, they’re all in the wheelhouse of Cortez, whether fishing live bait or vertical jigs.

The drag system is multi-disc Carbonite, outputting 15-pounds of max. drag from the smallest CZ-5-CS and 18-pounds of max. drag from the larger CZ-10CS and CZ-12CS.

What Makes The Difference

Beyond the powerful gear train, generous line capacity and high-speed gearing, what makes Cortez truly a universal saltwater performer is its magnetic cast control system. Dubbed MCS, the system seals the highly-corrosive magnets within their own environment and any chance of corrosion is eliminated. Outfitted with the MCS, the applications for the Cortez expand far beyond simply a bottom fishing or light trolling reel. Cortez becomes a reel that can go anywhere, from the surf line to far offshore.

In the Northeast, Cortez will accompany surf rods and boat rods alike in pursuit of stripers, bluefish, fluke and school tuna. In the mid Atlantic states Cortez will fish drum, dolphin, blackfin and yellowfin tuna, amberjack and so much more. In Florida and the Gulf Coast, myriad snappers, cobia, jacks, assorted tunas and sailfish, whether bait fishing or vertical jigging. Out West, anglers will use Cortez to cast live baits, bottom bounce California halibut, throw surface iron for yellowtail or swim baits for albacore offshore and bottom fish inshore.

With three sizes and  a focus on fluid casting, internal strength and drag power, there’s little Cortez cannot do.

White Sea Bass

Delivering 18-pounds of max drag from the size 10 and 12, Cortez puts the brakes on structure-oriented fish like this beautiful white sea bass.

T-40X Salmon and Steelhead Rods: Advanced, Precise, Exceptional

A point of separation between Okuma Fishing Tackle and many fishing rod brands available in the United States is simply that at Okuma, we own our factory.  When you purchase an Okuma fishing rod, we built it. There are no sales agents, no middlemen markups, no disconnected factory punching out widgets for some unknown company and end user. We are the factory.

In the development of T-40X salmon and steelhead rods, fishing rod action, sensitivity, responsiveness and durability were the qualities that defined perfection.  Furthermore, we wanted these rods to be accessible to anglers. In the sam manner that SST rods brought IM8 graphite, refined actions and quality components to anglers craving true performance, T-40X would put “premium” within reach.

Clackamas River Steelhead Fishing

T-40X rod development considered every aspect of performance to bring exceptional performance within reach of every day anglers.

T-40X salmon and steelhead rods begin with 40-Ton carbon fiber blanks. Requiring less material to develop the necessary power, the material lightens the rod blanks and increases both sensitivity and responsiveness. Even in applications such as trolling where inherent sensitivity is not necessary to success, when a fish is hooked, every move it makes is telegraphed. The experience is rich.

Of course, for “feel” techniques like drift-fishing, 40-Ton carbon fiber enhances all aspects of sensitivity and speed of response.  In all fishing applications, the lighter blanks are simply more fun to fish.

The guide sets include ALPS Deep Press stainless steel guide frames for exceptional strength in rocky river environments as well as aluminum sleds in the case of the salmon trolling rods. Aluminum-oxide L-ring guide inserts are hardened for a long life fishing abrasive braided lines and any monofilament in existence. Casting rods utilize double foot guide frames for strength while spinning rods utilize single-foot guide frames.

In a radical advancement in salmon and steelhead fishing rods, the handle systems on  float fishing, side-drifting and drift-fishing rods are split grip designs utilizing carbon fiber components. Split grips eliminate weight in what is an unused portion of the rod handle. The grip area remains very comfortable while the conical butt section still lends itself as an easy leverage point under the arm or behind the forearm when fighting fish.  On salmon trolling models, full 1k woven graphite rear grips slide effortlessly in and out of rod holders.

Overall, forward-thinking T-40X handle systems are sensitive, durable and perhaps even more importantly, cleanable in fisheries where the heavy use of baits tend to make a mess of rods and reels.

The T-40X rod series includes 16 technique-specific rod models, each built to excel in the most prominent applications.

The Spinning Rods:

Split grip spinning handles have all the support where you handle the rod and none of the weight were it’s unnecessary.

TX-S-792L- True Southern Oregon Side-Drifting

“Side-drifting” is a blanket term for two different techniques: side-drifting and free-drifting. In true Southern Oregon style side-drifting, baits are basically drift-fished at a about a 45-degree downstream angle from a moving boat. When the bite is felt, the hook is set hard. Boat handlers adjust the amount of weight and distance/angle of the cast for each run fished. Rods are compact, like the 7’9″ length here, to provide control. Casting distance is not a huge issue as the boat operator positons close to the fish. In true side-drifting, the TX-S-792L is the perfect choice. A quick, sensitive tip combines is backed by a substantial butt section. Of course, this rod can serve double duty pitching spinners in the pocket water of small streams.

For the record, Free-Drifting is casting well above the drifting boat and maintaining an upstream line angle at all times. It’s fantastic on the larger, gravel-oriented streams in Northern Oregon and Washington, but can be a very frustrating experience on more compact and bouldery rivers to the South.

TX-S-882ML- Light Drift-Fishing Rod in Spinning

Rated for 6- to 12-pound monofilament line and 8’8″ in length, the TX-S-882 takes on many light-line, smaller stream applications. Most often it’s a manageable length drift rod that excels in lower flow summer steelhead applications. It’s also wonderful for epic battles with fall silver salmon when rivers are down. Ample speed in the tip responds right now to the subtle mouthing of a bait or simple pickup of a spinner. We fish this rod with 6- to 10-pound mono in lower water conditions that demand stealth, or fish light floats with 14-pound braid.  The TX-S-882ML also makes a great pink salmon rod in odd years in Washington, even years in Alaska.

TX-S-902M The Drift-Fishing Rod In Spinning

Just 4-inches longer than the TX-S-882ML but with much more power from its’ 8- to 17-pound rating, the TX-S-902M is the drift-fishing rod for spinning reel anglers. Maintaining exceptional sensitivity when drift-fishing pencil lead or slinkies through rocky runs, the rod delivers a lot of inherent power to drive hooks home and control fish in winter flows. For anglers wanting to multi-task, this is our choice because it’s much easier to float fish with a faster action drift rod than it is to drift fish with a more parabolic float rod. For multi-tasking species, you’d also want to be packing the TX-S-902M for sockeye, pink and silver salmon fisheries.

TX-S-962L- Side-Drifting/Free-Drifting Rod

When you want to toss light free-drifting baits to exactly the right spot, this is your rod. A supremely delicate tip is backed by a moderate action constructed through the 9’6” length of the rod blank. When the fish takes the bait, clear feedback is delivered as the rod loads with the weight of the fish. Hooks confidently find their hold. Rated for 4- to 10-pound line the rod cushions the explosiveness of hot fish with every move they make. Smooth, even pressure makes short work of the largest fish. Split grips are quick and easy in the hand.

TX-S-992ML- Versatile Steelhead Float Rod

In float fishing, the keys to success are a smooth accurate casting stroke and the ability to maintain control over the complete presentation. At a full 9’9” in length and a beautifully progressive action, the TX-S-992ML is a go-anywhere float rod that excels in all but the largest of steelhead streams. Rated for 6- to 12-pound monofilament, most will use 15- to 20-pound braid on this rod for its floating characteristics and ease of mending. Whether a lightweight fixed float and jig, or bait with a bit of weight and a sliding float, casting, mending and fish fighting become intuitive as the rod responds to your every move.

TX-S-1032MH- Big Water Float Rod

In general, the further North you go, the larger the steelhead rivers become.  At 10’3” in length and rated for 10- to 20-pound line, the TX-S-1032 is the big water solution.  40-Ton carbon fiber build keeps the rod extremely pleasurable to fish, while its extended length works bigger gear, bigger water and bigger fish like a dream. The rod also makes a great Spring Chinook rod on smaller rivers like California’s Trinity and Oregon’s Santiam system.

TX-S-1092ML- Long Reach, Light Touch Float Rod

Successful float fishing shares the necessary discipline of line control with fly-fishing.  The better line is controlled to create a drag-free drift of the float, the more successful the angler will be. Reaching a full 10’9” in total length, yet rated for light 6- to 12-pound line, the TX-S-1092ML uses 40-Ton carbon fiber to deliver a float rod with incredible finesse. Use the long length to keep line off the water and effortlessly mend bellies as they develop. In no time you’ll be picking apart distant fish-holding seams with surgical precision.

TX-S-1092M- Long Reach, Big Water Float/Drift Rod

Like the TX-S-1092ML, line management and control over the presentation is the strength of these 10’9″ rods. Where the TX-S-1092M differs is its’ increased power.  Rated for 8- to 17-pound line, this rod will not only power-fish steelhead floats, it’ll also drift-fish and swing spoons with pinpoint control. On Oregon’s Deschutes River and the large rivers of Northern Washington and British Columbia, the TX-S-1092M matches the environment perfectly.

The Casting Rods

Custom reel seats and comfortable trigger grip deliver supreme sensitivity and a rock solid grip.

TX-C-882ML- Summer Run Drift Rod

From small stream to large, high flows to low, there’s a lot of difference in the power requirements to effectively fish for and land steelhead. At a slightly shorter length and rated for 6- to 12-pound line, the TX-C-882ML balances very nicely with light offerings in small streams or lower summertime flows. Many anglers have also enjoyed this rod when used to fish plugs, where a wide spread can be easily achieved.

TX-C-922M- The Drift Fishing Rod

At a full 9’2” in length and rated for 8- to 17-pound line, the Tx-C-922M is the ultimate drift rod. Long enough for exceptional distance and to control the belly in the line while being easy to handle and cast accurately. A light tip is backed with substantial power to move the largest steelhead. Split grips with “Carbon Cone” handles fit the hand perfectly while making the butt section simple to reposition as the fight demands, even with bulky winter clothing.

TX-C-992ML- The Float Rod In Casting 

Spinning rods are often preferred for float fishing because of their ease of use and ability to cast extremely light weights. With the addition of Okuma baitcast reels like the Helios and Komodo that utilize ABEC-5 spool bearings, free-flowing line from a baitcast reel is more achievable than ever before. The TX-C-992ML, rated for 6- to 12-pound line serves double duty as a light drift rod and an awesome float rod for a casting reel. The progressive rod action begins with a light tip and gains power through its length, allowing spirited fish to put on quite a show, while maintaining a tight line at all times.

TX-C-1092ML- Long Reach, Light Weight Float Rod

Make the cast, mend the line, feed the drift- the cornerstones of successful float fishing. Long rods minimize drag and line “belly” on the water. Consistently, anglers want longer rods to ply distant current seams. At 10’9″ in length, we’re not at center-pin length here, but close. Don’t let the medium-light power in the TX-C-1092ML fool you, at this long length, you’ll flat move fish. A wonderful rod for light to moderate flows.

TX-C-1092M- Long Reach, Power Steelhead Float Rod

In bigger water and higher flows, it simply takes more power to fish the gear and control fish. This medium-power version of the 10’9″ float rod is rated for 8- to 17-pound line and will take on any steelhead environment. Additionally, the extra power crosses over as a very capable drift-fishing rod and a primo spoon-swinging rod on large, wide rivers.

TX-C-1032MH- Steelhead/Salmon Float Rod, Drift Rod, Troll Rod

Rated for 10-20 pound line, there’s little this rod cannot do. First and foremost it’s a big water float and drift-fishing rod. However, it’s 10- to 20-pound rating and long action makes it a great rod for trolling smaller spring chinook salmon or silver salmon.  On Washington’s Olympic Peninsula or British Columbia’s Northern rivers, it’s simply a great all-around workhorse for much larger than average steelhead, silver salmon, chums and much more.

The Trolling Rods

Full 1k woven carbon rear grips operate effortlessly with rod holders. T-40X carbon fiber grips are durable and easy to keep clean.

TX-C-992MH- Do Everything Salmon Trolling Rod

The 10-foot plus rods are the rage in herring trolling these days, but the fact is, the long length can be a little impractical in smaller boats.  Finding balance is the TX-C-992MH. At under 10-feet, it’s easy to control and land fish. With a wonderfully progressive action and outstanding power, it’s a phenomenal performer for herring, Kwikfish, anchor fishing wobblers and Jumbo Jet Diver and bait. Also makes a great salmon float rod for larger model chinook.

TX-C-1062MH- The Salmon Herring Rod

More and more of our salmon opportunities are on the big water, requiring powerful gear that delivers a delicate, progressive action that allows fish to commit themselves to a solid strike without pulling the bait away from them. At 10’6” in length and rated for 15- to 40-pound line, the TX-C-1062MH is the rod that will travel with you to every salmon trolling fishery. Built with a full carbon fiber rear grip for easy use in rod holders, the premium materials are quickly apparent as you clearly feel every movement hooked fish make.

The complete line of T-40X salmon and steelhead rods are available in finer stores now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mark Romanack’s Essential Walleye Rod and Reel Combinations

For every fishing situation there is a combination of fishing rod, reel and line that’s “perfect.” In other words, for the specific application, the rod and reel combination do everything right. It’s balanced, both in the hand and with regard to power. If the technique requires sensitivity, the rod delivers. If it’s a trolling application, the rod action and reel’s features and performance enhance success.
Mark Romanack, Jigging Walleye

It’s no secret that the number one essential rod and reel for walleyes is a jig stick.

Through direct contact between members of our Product Development and Pro-Staff teams, new product releases like Dead Eye walleye fishing rods and reels, or Cold Water line counter reels approach fisheries from a broad view, then break them down into their unique characteristics and angler techniques.  What follows are technique-specific products with actions, powers, capacities and features that are constructed to excel in these environments.  Within Dead Eye walleye fishing rods, that selection now includes 30 specific rod models for everything from jigging, to trolling bottom bouncers to big board rods and “slow-death” rods.

This is great for the serious angler.  The deep availability of options allow many choices to fit personal preferences.  For the more recreational angler, however, too many options can lead to confusion, and nobody benefits from that.
For anglers that simply need a place to begin on the best footing, or any angler looking to cost-effectively increase their walleye rod and reel selection, we asked Okuma Pro-Staff member and host of Fishing 411 television, Mark Romanack, to detail his walleye fishing systems. The goal is to provide a place to begin, and a plan to effectively add depth to the selection.
Romanack detailed eight walleye rod and reel combinations, beginning with what he views as “essentials” and advancing from there.
These first three combinations are, as described, the essential, day-in day-out workhorse walleye rods and reels Romanack relies upon.

1) Dead Eye DE-S-701ML rod (7-foot for 4-10# line) matched to new Dead Eye DE-25 spinning reel and 10-pound test super braid. This essential walleye fishing rod and reel is perhaps the most universal combo an angler can own. This single set up is ideal for pitching jigs tipped with soft plastics or live bait, it’s also perfect for casting slip bobbers, casting small crankbaits, slip sinker rigging and for vertical jigging with up to 3/8-ounce jigs.

2) Dead Eye DE-C-861M-T rod (8’6″ telescopic for 6-15# line) matched to the new Cold Water 203D line counter reel, loaded with 12# test monofilament. This rod and reel combination is ideal for trolling with both standard sized and mini in-line planer boards used in combination with crankbaits, spinners or spoons. The backbone of this rod is matched perfectly to handling the resistance of planer boards and trophy sized walleye. This workhorse trolling rod can also be used for trolling lead core line and bottom bouncers. The telescopic feature of this rod allows it to store nicely in the rod locker of any fishing boat.

Cold Water Line Counter Reels

New Cold Water Line Counter reels are available in sizes 15 and up, in both right and left hand retrieve.

3) Dead Eye DE-CBR861M-T bottom bouncer rod (8’6″ telescopic for 6-20# line) matched to the Akena-250 round baitcasting reel loaded with 12# monofilament. The ultimate set up for fishing bottom bouncers and if any rod and reel combination deserves to be designated to a single presentation, it’s bottom bouncing with spinner rigs. Among walleye tournament anglers bottom bouncing with spinners is considered the “money rig” as this simple presentation produces walleye in just about every body of water in North America. The Dead Eye telescopic bottom bouncer rod stores easily in the rod locker of any fishing boat and quickly expands to provide the perfect soft tip action needed for pulling bottom bouncers ranging in size from 1/2- to 3-ounces.

Romanack calls these next three walleye fishing systems “important.”  Not essential, but very nice to have to round out your technique on different water bodies.

4) Dead Eye DE-CSD-1062M Slow Death rod (10’6″ for 8-17# line) matched with a Citrix Ci254v low profile baitcasting reel and 10-12 pound test monofilament. The Slow Death presentation is practiced with a bottom bouncer, 4′ fluorocarbon leader and a single Mustad Slow Death hook baited with half a nightcrawler. This unique presentation catches walleye when other presentations will not. The extra length and super slow action of the Slow Death rod makes this set up especially deadly. The length is important because the Slow Death presentation is normally practiced with a pair of rods positioned in rod holders on either side of the boat. Bites are detected by monitoring the soft rod tip, which loads up when a fish is hooked. The soft action also makes it especially difficult for hooked fish to escape.

Trolling planer boards.

The Dead Eye rod series offers many options for planer boards and open water trolling.

5) Dead Eye DE-CBB-701ML Big Board Rod (7′ for 10-20# line) matched with a Cold Water 203D line counter reel and 12# monofilament or 30# super braid line. Fishing with a planer board mast and ski system requires a rod and reel set up specific to that presentation. The Big Board Rod is short enough to make it easy to reach the rod tip and grab the line which is in turn placed in a line release and attached to the tether line connecting the board to the mast. Secondly, the Big Board Rod features a soft tip that enables the angler to detect hooked fish by noticing an obvious bend in the rod tip. Thirdly, the Big Board Rod has enough backbone to fight stubborn fish flawlessly. Any angler who prefers to troll using a mast system will appreciate the value of the Big Board Rod. Line counter reels like the Cold Water series are invaluable to this style of trolling. Lead lengths are varied and monitored closely. When a fish is landed using a specific lead length, the line counter reel makes it easy to duplicate a productive lead length to other rods.

6) Dead Eye DE-CAP-701M-T All Purpose Baitcasting Rod (7′ for 8-17# line) matched with a Akena-250 round baitcasting reel and 12# test monofilament or 30# test super braid. This 7′ medium action baitcasting outfit will handle a lot of walleye fishing chores including fishing bottom bouncers as a hand-held rod, fishing jigging spoons or blade baits, casting crankbaits, flat-line trolling chores and trolling applictions involving mini in-line planer boards. Because this rod is telescopic it travels well and will fit in the rod locker of any fishing boat. The All Purpose Baitcasting Rod does a lot of things well and fills a unique niche among walleye anglers.

These final two walleye combinations fill in for special situations or provide extensions to specific techniques.

7) Dead Eye DE-601MHFRT spinning rod (6′ for 8-17# line) with Dead Eye DE-25 spinning reel and 10-15# test super braid line. The six foot one piece MH action Dead Eye spinning rod is ideal for some specialized jig fishing applications including rip jigging in weed cover and vertical jigging with heavy jigs often used in deep or swift rivers like the Columbia, Detroit and St. Clair Rivers. For vertical jigging applications the 10# test super braid is the perfect line option. For rig jigging, a little heavier 15# test super braid is a little tougher and better able to tear through weed cover without abrasion issues. In both cases using a short fluorocarbon leader of 8- to10-pound test is a good option.

8) Dead Eye DE-C-701M Dead Eye Crankbait rod (7′ for 10-20# line) matched with the Citrix Ci-254v slow speed (5.4:1) baitcasting reel and 10# test fluorocarbon line. This soft action fiberglass rod is designed for casting medium sized crankbaits, but is also useful for several other presentations. This same rod is a good choice for hand holding a bottom bouncer rig while fishing off the bow of the boat with an electric motor, structure trolling lead core line set ups in rivers or along meandering bottom structure and in a pinch this rod is also a good option for trolling crankbaits or spinners with in-line planer boards.
As gear becomes more technique-specific, there will always remain a core, highly versatile set of rods and reels that have proven themselves to be the most used, most productive gear on the water.
Mark Romanack

The best results come from beginning with a core selection of balanced rod and reel combinations, then adding as angler technique and interest increases.

New Helios and RTX Spinning Reels Showcase Long-Strand Carbon Fiber Frame Technology

Continuing upon a history of technological advancements in spinning reel designs, Okuma once again raises the bar with all-new Helios and RTX families of ultra-light, ultra-powerful spinning reels. Featuring brand new C-40X, long strand carbon fiber technology and an aluminum and brass gear system, Helios and RTX spinning reels are up to 25% lighter and 50% stronger than standard graphite-framed spinning reels.

Helios Spinning Reel

New Helios spinning reels are the flagship for Okuma long strand carbon fiber framing technology, featuring a 10-bearing system, aluminum main and oscillating gears and carbon fiber drag system.

Immediately evident when Helios or RTX is viewed in bright light, C-40X long strand carbon fiber construction is exactly as it sounds. Rather than a standard graphite resin featuring powdered filler for strength, C-40X long strand carbon fiber construction features a mix of long carbon fiber strands, interwoven tens of thousands of times. By greatly enhancing the connecting points between all fibers, strength is increased by a factor of 50%. And because less resin and fiber is necessary overall, weight is reduced by 25% over standard graphite frames.

Helios and RTX spinning reels utilize C-40X long strand carbon fiber frames and rotors. Jumping to brass tacks, our standard graphite frame spinning reels in a 30 size weigh-in at over 8 ounces. Helios and RTX spinning reels hit the scales in the mid 6-ounce range, while also increasing strength by 50%.

Zoom image of carbon frame and rotor.

In bright light the carbon fiber strands are easily available to the naked eye.

With a powerful frame and rotor ready for high stress environments, the internal components of Helios and RTX also take strength to the next level. Traditional brass main gears and oscillating gears have been replaced AlumiLite alloy gears. Harder and stronger than brass, AlumiLite gears allow you to more fully utilize the strength of the framing system.

RTX Reel

RTX spinning reels utilize an 8-bearing system, ultra-smooth Japanese oiled felt drag, and forged aluminum handle.

Points of separation for Helios and RTX are found in the drag, handle systems and available gear ratios. Helios features a full carbon fiber drag system for exceptional heat dissipation under heavy drag loads, while RTX utilizes Okuma’s ultra-smooth Japanese oiled-felt drag.

Helios handle arms feature a woven carbon fiber shaft, where RTX utilizes a forged aluminum handle.

The Helios family is a 10-bearing system and is available in standard speed (5.0:1) in sizes 25, 30, 35 and 40, along with high-speed (6.0:1) models in 25 and 40 sizes. The RTX family is an 8-bearing system and is available in four high-speed (6.0:1) sizes including 25, 30, 35 and 40. High-speed models are noted by an “S” at the end of the model numbers, like Hx-25S and RTX-30S.

Helios and RTX spinning reels along with with Okuma rod families like Helios, C-340X, Citrix, and make 10-ounce rod and reel combinations an attainable reality. Incredibly light and responsive, every aspect of the presentation and landed fish take on new levels of sensitivity, every move a fish makes is felt. Every day on the water is a better experience.