Author: Sandesh Sukhdeo
When you are snook fishing having the right equipment is key. Having a sturdy rod with a good reel can make the difference between loosing the fish of a lifetime and landing it. You need a sturdy rod and reel that can handle big fish and that has a good drag and good frame construction. These big fish will test your tackle and if you don't have the proper equipment you will get wrecked by these fish.
When selecting a snook reel you want to have a good amount of drag as well as having a good line capacity. A few popular reels that snook fishermen use are Van Staal's , Shimano Saragosa's and Penn Slammers. However this doesn't mean you cant use your Penn Pursuit 5000 or Tsunami Sheild 6000 to catch some fish. Snook fishermen turn to these reels because of the construction and features of them. The Penn Slammer and Van Staal offer a full metal body and it offers seals in the reel to make them waterproof/water resistant. The fact that these reels have metal bodies adds to the durability of the reel, you don't have to worry about bending the body of the reel or damaging the reel under heavy loads of pressure. The Sealed aspect is also a great feature when you decide to hit the beaches in the summer to target breeding snook, it will keep the sand and saltwater out of the reel, adding to the life of your reel. Another great feature of these reels is that their main gear is made out of cold forged and pressed aluminum. This adds to the strength and rigidity of the gear, meaning you can crank down and pull the fish away from cover without damaging your main gear or any components in your reels. The drag on these reels is one of the most important things you can have while snook fishing. The Penn Slammer 4500 and 5500 has 30lbs of drag which is more than enough to turn big snook and get them away from the pilings The Van Staal VSX 150 has around 40 pounds of drag as well and the VSX 200 has around 50. Personally you only need 15-20lbs of drag when doing this kind of fishing but it is nice to have a little extra just in case you hook into a monster. Line capacity is also a key component in selecting a snook reel. You want to look for something that holds at least 230 yards of 30lb braid. The Penn Slammer 4500 can hold precisely 230 yards of 30lb braid and the VSX 150 holds 440 yards of 30lb, which is plenty but you can also step up on braid size and fish 40lb if you needed to.
Another Category of reels often overlooked by many fishermen are baitcasting reels. A baitcaster can be a crucial tool for swimbait fishing for snook. A few baitcasting reels for snook fishing that I like are, Shimano Tranx 300, Abu Garcia Revo Toro Beast and the Daiwa Lexa 300/400. I have owned the Shimano Tranx and the Daiwa Lexa 400 and they are great choices for snook fishing. They both had low gear ratio's and that is one of the key points in fishing a baitcaster. The gear ratio on Shimano Tranx was 5.8.1 and on the Daiwa Lexa it is 4.9.1. These low gear ratios allow you to have more cranking power as well as keeping the bait in the strike zone longer. Another added benefit is that you can run the line of the baitcaster over your fingers which gives you more sensitivity, you can feel what the lure is doing and you can really feel it when you get a strike. The last benefit of fishing a baitcaster is torque. If you look at the way a bait caster bends you can tell that it will be harder for a fish to work against the rod due to the way it bends. You will be able to wrench the fish out of heavy cover and land it.
Currently my current 2 snook set ups are:
1. Shimano Twin Power SW8000 (62lbs of drag!) on a 9ft Custom Liberty 20-40lb with 40lb braid. ( Large Swimbaits over 1/12 oz and Flairhawks 1.5 -3oz.)
2. Shimano Twinpower SW 5000(29lbs of drag) on a 7'11 Custom Phenix 7'11 M1 Inshore 10-25lb with 20lb Braid. ( Swim baits 1.5oz and under and Flair Hawks 1oz and under and Windcheaters and Plugs as well as live Bait.)
I normally fish 50-80lb leader and these rods and perfectly matched up to the reels. The amount of backbone and pulling power I get are great and I love using rods that I built with my own 2 hands.
Good Luck and Tightlines
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