Monday, I grabbed my rod and tackle box and headed to the neighborhood bass pond. Tuesday, I packed the same rod and tackle box and dropped into the closest salt marsh. Wednesday, the combo carried me to a mountain river for smallmouth bass. Three days, three target species, one combo and a handful of lures.

What makes the ultimate kayak fishing rig for freshwater or salt?

1. St. Croix Mojo Yak Fishing Rod

$159.99 | www.stcroixrods.com

Photo: Rig Burnley
Mojo Yak by St. Croix. Photo: Rig Burnley

St. Croix does one thing: make fishing rods. They do it well. Now they’ve taken their singular passion to kayak anglers. The Mojo Yak is the latest edition to St. Croix’s line of sport-specific rods priced within reach of the average angler. Their Integrated Polycurve Technology employs a smooth mandrel for reduced wall thickness making the high-modulus SCIII graphite lighter and stronger with increased power. To accommodate a bulky life vest, St. Croix shortened the rod butt. The rod features top-of-the line Fuji reel seats and Kigan Master Hand 3D guides and hook keeper. Inspired by golf clubs, Winn Grips improve sensitivity, reduce weight and increase grip whether your hands are covered with speckled trout slime or smallmouth bass goo.

2. Shimano Curado DC Reel

$249.99 | www.fish.shimano.com

Photo: Rig Burnley
Curado DC by Shimano. Photo: Rig Burnley

The future is here, finally. After several years gaining popularity in Japan, Shimano brought the computer cast-controlled Curado DC to North America. Instead of educating your thumb to avoid a backlash, a tiny computer brain does the thinking. The result is virtually backlash-free casting. Wing the lure as hard as possible and don’t touch the spool, the brain applies brakes to manage the line. To fine-tune the brake, the reel has four presets to handle anything from light worms to heavy swimbaits. To further increase cast control, adjust the spool-tension dial. Shimano poured in their best features. Micro gears provide a smooth retrieve and carbon drag puts on the pressure. The tough and stiff Hagane body and shielded bearings resist salt and sand. The computer brain reliably prevents backlashes but does slow down the spool, slightly affecting casting distance. In this case, thumbs are smarter than computers.

3. PowerPro Super Slick 8 Braided Fishing Line

$19.99 | www.powerpro.com

Photo: Rig Burnley
Super Slick 8 by PowerPro. Photo: Rig Burnley

To get the most out of a high-quality reel, match it with a high-quality fishing line. PowerPro Super Slick 8 consists of eight threads weaved together under high pressure for a thinner, smoother line without compromising strength. The line also reduces casting noise, for stealth presentation. We’ve noticed the Super Slick 8 cuts the number of line tangles. Combined with the DC Curado, the line helps prevent backlashes. The silky smooth surface holds knots better too.

4. River2Sea Whopper Plopper Fishing Lure

$16.99 | www.river2seausa.com

Photo: Rig Burnley
Whopper Plopper by River2Sea. Photo: Rig Burnley

Designed by globe-trotting television angler Larry Dahlberg for muskie fishing, the Whopper Plopper has gained fans from bass to redfish fishermen. The lure flies through the air, lands with an attention-getting kersplunk
and dangles its hard, propeller tail like a pair of seductive legs. Give it a jerk, and the Whopper Plopper makes a deep, gurgly pop. Retrieve the lure and spray flies as the propeller plops, plops, plops across the surface. The action and sound drive fish crazy and make fishermen happy.

5. Z-Man ChatterBait Fishing Lure

$4.99 | www.Zmanfishing.com

Photo: Rig Burnley
Chatterbait by Z-MAN. Photo: Rig Burnley

Z-Man’s ChatterBait hit the water with a splash by winning tournaments on famous bass lakes and infamous redfish flats. Combining the flash of a spinnerbait or spoon, vibration of a crankbait and profile of a jig, Z-Man’s ChatterBait can be worked near the surface, mid-water column and deep. Add a variety of jig tails to change the look and action. On a fast retrieve, the lure stays just below the surface. Bounce the ChatterBait on the bottom and it won’t get caught on rocks or weeds. A wide variety of colors and models makes it a perfect fit for any inshore or backwater species.

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