2018’s best new rods and reels

Great new hardware, including value outfits, tactic-specific rods and really cool reels.

For even more great gear, also see the year’s best new lures, accessories, fly tackle and gear for women.

Best value rods



You don’t think $100 can get you a good fishing rod anymore? Try the Fate Black Gen 2 series. These rods are light and sensitive, with tangle-free guides and cool-looking Evolve seamless reel seats built around premium Portuguese cork. The series includes nine baitcasting and five spinning rods, all with fast-action tips. Despite the name, the rods are actually bright green to differentiate them from a previous Fate Black line.

13 Fishing, 1-800-508-6013; www.13fishing.com

Best reel



When you look inside this revamped Curado, you’ll understand why it won ICAST’s award for best new freshwater reel. For starters, the SVS Infinity centrifugal braking system and internal gearing system feature MicroModule teeth found on reels that cost twice as much, while the multiple steel and carbon washers make the drag system exceptionally smooth. Plus, the reel is now 10 per cent smaller, but with the same line capacity.

Shimano, 1-877-577-0600; fish.shimano.com

Best baitcasting combo



Lew’s Fishing must be doing something right, since this is the fourth year in a row it’s won the ICAST award for best rod-and-reel combo. The 10-bearing Speed Spool reel boasts a multi-setting brake and cast-control system, as well as grippy Winn Dri-Tac knobs. As for the seven-foot, medium-heavy, one-piece IM8 graphite rod, it features a split-grip Dri-Tac handle and innovative Airwave rod guides. In black with orange highlights, this is one gorgeous outfit.

Lew’s Fishing, 1-877-470-5397; www.lews.com

Best drop-shot rod



With help from Bassmaster Elite pro Brandon Palaniuk, Alpha Angler has created an exceptional spinning rod for drop-shotting. The 6'10" DSR is heavier than most drop-shot rods, making it perfect for the half-ounce weights anglers prefer for big bass down deep. Built around a high-modulus graphite blank, the DSR has three stainless-steel Fuji choker guides and five Recoil guides, ensuring your line (and leader knot) cast smoothly.

Alpha Angler, (208) 659-7697; www.alphaangler.com