Fishing is many things to many people, and there’s not one perfect way to do it. Our suggestion? Consider what’s best for where you live and plan to fish, and of course, what it is you want to do. Tight-looped backcasts on the Blackfoot? Better start reading up on fly fishing. Casting to feeding blues along a tidal break? Slap on some sunscreen and surf fish. Hauling largemouths out from beneath the lily pads? Spinning or baitcasting is your game. Before getting on the water, you need the right gear for your fishing goals. We’ve got you covered with affordable, mid-priced and dream setups for all walks of the water below.

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Fly Fishing

A River Runs Through It sparked a boom for fly fishing in the ’90s and early 2000s, but people have been practicing their tight loops since before the 15th century. This is a sport of enthusiasts and, some would say, a way of life. Know what you’re getting into: this isn’t easy. But it is fulfilling, and filled with great people who love the sport, along with a rich history and culture. Grab the right rod and reel from a local fly shop and you’ll likely find a number of friendly guides ready to help you through the gamut of lines, leaders, flies, vests, waders and more.

Note: Fly fishing isn’t just for trout, and is a great way to catch any species of fish on earth. You’ll need a variety of rigs, though; the three above are all-around rods for the basics.

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Ross Flystart #2 ($64) | Redington Path ($110)

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Orvis Superfine Glass 5 Weight ($395) | Hardy Ultralite DD Series ($225)

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Tibor Signature Series 5/6 weight ($685) |
Scott Radian 5/6 weight ($795)

Surf Fishing

Surf fishing is great because it can be easy and relaxing or an enormous challenge — and either way, it’s set in one of the most picturesque locales in the world. Post up with your feet in the shallows, heave your heavily weighted bait fly, and then take in the view. Depending on your setup, you can set your rod in a holder in the sand and wait for a fish to hook itself, or actively feel for strikes, or cast to feeding predators like bluefish and stripers with plug baits and spinners. The name of the game here is heavy gear.

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| Shakespeare Two-Piece Ugly-Stik Bigwater Spinning Rod ($45+)
Shimano Socorro 1000F Saltwater Spinning Reel ($80)

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Cast Pro Series Factory Built Rod ($210) | Akios 656 S-Line ($160)

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CTS Vapor Trail ($380+) | Akios 656 LSI ($380)

Spinfishing & Baitcasting

Spinning is the the most ubiquitous kind of fishing, and perfect for fishing every nook and cranny of water in the world. These rods and reels can be used with nearly any bait for any fish. Baitcaster setups, while easier than ever to use, still have a trickier casting technique and are best for fishermen with some experience. Generally, baitcasting works better with heavier line, baits and fish. Most rods work with both types of reels, but again, most baitcast experts recommend a medium heavy or heavy rod with that type of setup.

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Shakespeare Ugly Stik Inshore Select ($50+) | Pflueger President ($60)

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Seeker Bushido ($160+) | Mitchell 300 Pro ($70)

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Cabela’s Tournament ZX ($100) | Quantum Tour MG ($280)

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