It’s Time To Get Salty!

There have been many new models of rods and reels introduced recently - or coming soon - and these are some of our favorites for saltwater anglers around the world.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2023 edition of Fishing Tackle Retailer.

Saltwater fishing demands the very best in rods and reels. Having the right tackle for the job means being able to both handle the size and power of giant, hard-fighting fish, as well as combat the challenging and corrosive nature of the marine environment. Technology keeps improving at a break-neck pace, and today’s saltwater rods and reels are incredibly refined, super tough, and extra durable. Further, technology keeps trickling down to more budget-friendly models, allowing any angler to access top-notch features and longevity.

PENN

One of the leading names in saltwater rods and reels, PENN has introduced several new products this year. Please note, all reels here are also available as combos, paired with a perfectly balanced rod straight from PENN.

The Spinfisher VII reel is a perennial favorite of saltwater anglers. New upgrades include the CNC gear technology, featuring all brass gearing for added smoothness and durability, and 5+1 sealed stainless steel ball bearings to take on big saltwater fish. The reel also has a fully sealed HT-100 carbon fiber drag system, which offers powerful stopping power. The Spinfisher VII is available in 18 models, from the light tackle 2500 size to the 10500 for offshore big game, and offers Long Cast, Live Liner, and Bail-less variants. The Spinfisher VII has an IPX5-rated sealing system that protects it from exposure to splash and spray, one of the features the Spinfisher is now best known for. MSRP $179.95 – $289.95

The Squall II LD reel is an end-to-end reel design meticulously crafted to cater to the needs of avid anglers. It boasts a one-piece graphite frame and side plate, as well as reduced frame weight and increasing strength. It has a robust stainless steel main and pinion gear, ensuring a smooth and durable gear train. The inclusion of the revolutionary Dura-Drag system makes quick work of heavy blue-water catches. This reel showcases a pull-to-turn preset knob that, once dialed in, remains immovable, enabling anglers to establish their desired settings without concerns of unexpected drag hiccups during critical moments. Reel models span an extensive range from 25N to 60. MSRP $189.99 – 209.99

The Wrath II reel is built on an affordable platform with a lightweight design and user-friendly features. It is built around a corrosion-resistant body and a precision-machined, anodized aluminum spool; this reel provides impressive power for fishing in various environments with its 2+1BB design. The reel is offered in a range of sizes with upgraded aesthetics, catering to a diverse range of fishing preferences. MSRP $49.99 – 69.99

Finally, Penn also introduced the Carnage III Offshore Rods featuring LS2 construction developed specifically for the brutal offshore environment. It combines a carbon and glass composite unidirectional core with an outer carbon spiral wrap, reinforcing the core and enhancing the hoop strength, thus increasing the break strength while keeping it lightweight. There are 17 total models, with ten of them in a blade-only design. The blade-only design allows anglers to customize the butt section of the rod according to their preferences in technique and boat configuration. The remaining non-blade rods come with slick butts, except for the white marlin rod, which features an EVA butt. MSRP $199.95 – $699.95.

Penn

Hardy

Taking home the prestigious ICAST Best in Category for Fly Rod Award this year, the new Marksman Z fly rod from Hardy stands up to the most demanding saltwater conditions. The rod is built with Sintrix FLT that is applied to an updated mandrel design, offering the reliability needed for everything from Gold Cups to Grand Slams. This premium rod will be your steadfast companion in the saltwater world, no matter where it takes you. MSRP $995.00

Hardy

Daiwa

Daiwa is proud to introduce significant improvements to its ultra-popular Exceler reel family. These reels are top-notch reels that offer striking good looks, smooth performance, lots of power, and confident drag for around 100 bucks. Available in sizes from 1000 to 6000, Daiwa went back to the drawing board with the Exceler in 2023. They now have an upgraded carbon fiber body – Zaion V – so the new version is lighter than the out-going model. They also went to an Airdrive Rotor, which, versus an air rotor, are much lighter. They also changed the bail to a thinner, lighter (yet solid) Airdrive Bail. Daiwa also selected a solid bail wire for its rigidity and resistance to bending during normal use; the thinner, smaller wire is also lighter, which reduces the weight of the rotation, thus reducing the weight of the reel. Its machined aluminum handle is a comfortable, strong connection to the main gear. And the retooled Exceler is extremely smooth, utilizing five ball bearings and one roller bearing to maximize performance. MSRP $99.99 – $119.99

Daiwa introduced new sizes for their Free Swimmer reel in 2023. The new 3000- and 5000-sizes are perfectly proportioned for many saltwater anglers around the globe. The Free Swimmer is designed to be the ultimate saltwater spinning reel for live-lining fish. Surprisingly lightweight yet exceptionally powerful, the Free Swimmer features an Automatic Bite N’ Run clutch at the base of the body, allowing anglers to instantly disengage the spool so the line can peel off with little or no resistance while the bail is closed. A small Tension Control Knob at the back of the reel makes it easy to adjust spool tension to control the speed at which line plays out. The 100% authentic looks and locomotion of the Free Swimmer is unmatched.

Looking to go one step further with your live-lining (in saltwater or fresh)? Then look no further than the Free Swimmer EX reel. The Free Swimmer EX is Daiwa’s next level reel in this category – available in 8000 and 10000 sizes – upping the ante of the original Free Swimmer. It includes an upgraded Air Rotor and Air Bail and a waterproof carbon Automatic Tournament Drag (ATD) system. ATD uses an improved drag grease with low viscosity at rest that becomes more viscous immediately after drag start-up. The Free Swimmer EX also sports a corrosion resistant frame, Magsealed technology at the main shaft, and Digigear technology which all fight the elements and provide smooth operation. Add in a Machined Aluminum Screw-In Direct Drive Handle with a large aluminum handle, and the power is in your paws. MSRP Free Swimmer $149.99; MSRP Free Swimmer EX $299.99

Daiwa’s new SALTIGA Lever Drag (LD) 55JP reel is exquisitely engineered to better your performance while reducing angler fatigue during athletic bouts of jigging offshore. It’s the perfect jigging reel, with serious line capacity and power. Whether it’s big west coast tuna, giant jacks, deep reef grouper, or other sizable species, this reel will get them off the bottom and to the boat- even if that’s 1,000 feet below. Intelligent design is at the core, starting with the Saltiga LD 55JP distinctive profile. Taller than many other reels, it has an upsized spool with massive line capacity for deep jigging. The taller-but-narrower-spool vastly reduces line piling on one side or the other. Moreover, it contributes to the inches-per-crank and the power to speed ratio. Externally, the Saltiga LD 55JP features a one-piece machined aluminum frame with side plates for unmatched strength. Its easily thumbed lever-drag calibrates effortlessly for quick tension adjustments without awkward reaches. Jiggers will also appreciate the feel of the Offset Power Handle with oversized, soft-touch handle, which yields a confident grip. MSRP $749.99

But it isn’t just reels Daiwa has updated or introduced this year, the new SOL AGS Inshore Rods are an exciting addition to the Daiwa tackle line-up. Providing the best in sensitivity and durability, and featuring flagship series components, Daiwa offers the right spinning rod for any avid inshore saltwater angler. A six-rod, one-piece, fast-action lineup is available to target everything from redfish, sea trout, snook, permit and even tarpon. Each rod is reinforced with the HVF Nanoplus blank technology and Braiding X and X-45 construction. The exclusive carbon-framed Air Guide System (AGS) guides are some of the lightest and most sensitive on the market. This all leads to a premium, top-shelf line-up of rods from medium-light to medium-heavy action. MSRP $349.99

Daiwa

St. Croix Rod

Dramatically re-engineered for 2023, the next generation of St. Croix Avid Inshore Rods includes 23 dialed-in models – 17 spinning and six casting – handcrafted in the USA on stronger and lighter SCIII+ hybrid carbon blanks and incorporating all top St. Croix technologies. Angler-driven ergonomic improvements include all-new full-handled grip designs crafted from new, ultra-durable agglomerated cork. Lengths, powers, and actions have also been updated to better support popular and emerging inshore techniques and presentations. These rods feature a 15-year warranty. MSRP $240.00 – $320.00

St. Croix Rod

SEVIIN REELS

The all-new SEVIIN GSW Reel Series encompasses fourexceptionally smooth, powerful, and versatile saltwater spinning reels. The reels, available in sizes 3000 to 8000, are precisely designed and crafted to elevate the saltwater fishing experience with uncompromising performance and reliability. Features include lightweight, strong, and durable aluminum bodies and side covers, 6+1 shielded stainless-steel bearing system, multi-stack carbon and stainless-steel drag, S-curve slow oscillation, precision-hobbed hard brass pinion and diecast drive gear, aluminum spool with braid band, and premium, machined accents. GSW reels are sealed with fully gasketed side plates and blade seals on the spool shaft to lock out corrosive salt spray while supporting regular freshwater rinsing after use. Available in February 2024. MSRP $160.00 – $200.00

SEVIIN Reels

OKUMA

Okuma introduces the new Inspira ISX Reels. The Inspira ISX’s is constructed using diecast aluminum Torsion Control Armor technology and boasts a proprietary Flite Drive system that enhances gear stability and smoothness. The Inspira ISX’s multi-disc Carbonite and stainless-steel drag washer system, along with 8BB+1RB stainless steel bearings ensures ultimate smoothness. The Inspira ISX’s oversized HDGII main gear with a machine-cut brass pinion gear ensures supreme reliability. The reel showcases an extra-light, machined aluminum, braided line-ready spool equipped with a rubber spool band to prevent line slippage. There are four total high-speed models within the Inspira ISX “A” lineup of spinning reels. MSRP $93.99 – $104.99

The Tesoro Jigging Rods are also new-and-upcoming from Okuma. They feature 24- or 30-ton carbon blanks for slow pitch rods, and 24-ton carbon rod blanks for speed jig bottom fishing rods. These premium blanks are constructed with Okuma’s proprietary UXR Multi-Directional Fiber Technology, which enhances their durability, strength, and responsiveness. The Tesoro jigging family includes a total of seven models ranging from heavy to extra-extra heavy. The family of rods also features two casting and two spinning slow pitch rods medium-light and medium actions. Slow pitch rods models feature spiral wrapped guides to reduce torque, as well as split rear grips with custom protective spacer to provide comfort. MSRP $169.99

Okuma

SPRO

Spro introduced the Musketeer Slow Pitch Jigging Rods this year. These rods are designed for optimal Slow Pitch Jigging. While slow pitch jigging first gained popularity in Japan, these rods were designed with US specific actions and constructed with premium, Toray Graphite blanks. The superior blank construction is completed with Premium Fuji Components and spiral guide design which helps prevent line wrapping around the tip of the rod. This allows for enhanced sensitivity and accuracy for precision jigging techniques. Five casting models make up the series with lengths from 5’8” to 6’8”. MSRP $249.00

Spro

MUD HOLE

Mud Hole is excited to expand the new MHX Rod Blanks to include the ever-growing micro jigging techniques. With 20 models allowing anglers to fish micro jigs weighing as little as 20 grams all the way to deep dropping 500 gram jigs, the MHX lineup is one of the most complete Slow Pitch Series in the industry. Designed around jig presentation and constructed with Toray woven fibers and Nano resins, the blank materials give these rod blanks a unique, moderate recoil action that allows anglers to precisely control their jig. The new additions bring micro jigging to the forefront and give anglers the same unique action for smaller, shallow water jigs when targeting not only saltwater fish, but now popular freshwater species as well. MSRP $109.75 – $147.25

Mud Hole

ZENAQ RODS

The ultra-quality rod builder Zenaq introduces the Tobizo offshore casting rod. This series boasts the highest level of performance in terms of all elements: distance, power, and action. It fully incorporates the expertise developed over the past 20 years since Zenaq released their first innovative offshore casting rods. The Tobizo TC84-100G excels in the long-distance casting of 60- to 150-gram lures, and can aim at certain spots in baitball never reached before. In a tuna casting game, even with a light lure of 40-grams, the Tobizo can achieve sufficient casting distance and attractive lure action. It has power to match its main targets- 60- to 150-pound tuna. In addition, assuming a long fight particular to tuna, it has an ability to minimize the burden on the angler’s body through its well thought-out design. MSRP $999.990 – $1,014.99

Zenaq

TSUNAMI

Tsunami is excited to announce the upcoming release of the new SaltX II Surf Rod series. These rods have been engineered from the ground up to provide class leading casting performance, power, and sensitivity. These amazing rods incorporate high density 30-ton carbon fiber, tip-to-butt 100-percent carbon fiber scrim, and a tip into butt configuration. The SaltX II Surf rods and Surf Blanks are able to achieve significantly increased lifting power, while simultaneously reducing overall weight and diameter in comparison to traditional tip over butt designs. Finished with top-notch components, these rods are ready for anything a shore-angler will encounter. All models come equipped with Fuji Titanium Slim SiC guides which drastically reduce weight at the tip, improving overall balance, increased tip recovery, and dampening. With strategically placed ultra-premium components these high-end rods are feather light, ultra-sensitive, “missile launchers”, with power to turn big fish out of even the nastiest current or structure. Coming soon.

Tsunami is also soon bringing the new Forged Surf Rods to anglers across the country. These rods are breaking new ground by offering performance never before achieved at the price point. These rods utilize the same ultra high performance 30-ton carbon fiber blank technology and 100-percent carbon fiber scrim as implemented on SaltX II rods. The Forged surf rods feature Fuji’s top of the line stainless steel framed guides in favor of exotic titanium, allowing us to achieve maximum performance at utilitarian prices. Sculpted ergonomic grips increase ergonomics, and textured rubber shrink applied to all contact surfaces provide sure grip even in the snottiest conditions. Coming soon.

Tsunami

CROWDER RODS

From jigging for grouper, snapper and amberjack, to pitching baits to schooling fish, Crowder Rods’ E-Namic Series is designed for fishermen seeking a rod not limited to a single application. Our custom-designed blanks provide an excellent strength-to-weight ratio through a combination of an increased wall thickness and a smaller overall diameter. Crowder Rods then uses expert rod building techniques to combine quality workmanship with quality components giving the E-Namic Series the strength and power to handle a multitude of species.

Crowder Rods

13 FISHING

13 Fishing is excited to bring the new AL13 reel to anglers world-wide. This reel is a professional-grade saltwater spinning reel built from top to bottom like a tank, using ultra-tough aluminum construction. Full of saltwater features, the AL13 features a sealed aluminum gearbox and ceramic line roller. When you hook up, enjoy the strong, smooth, and patent-pending Coolstop drag system. 13 Fishing understands what it takes to be a pro: you need a tool strong enough to handle fishing day after day, week after week, year after year. Tested in the harshest saltwater conditions and designed to last with minimal maintenance, the new AL13 can be that reel. MSRP $170.00

13 Fishing

CASHION

Ned rigs are all the rage in freshwater fishing, but they’re becoming hot in the saltwater world, too. Cashion is excited to introduce saltwater-grade rods designed for Ned fishing inshore. The ICON Salty Ned Rig Rod is the first of its kind and is built on Cashion’s CR6r carbon fiber blank which means this is one sensitive fishing rod! The CR6r blank is rolled unidirectionally, ensuring that all fibers are running in the same direction to transmit vibrations from the tip of the rod to the tips of your fingers. It also includes hand-made carbon grips for secure handling and ultra-sensitivity. The rod also has Cashion’s all-new hybrid gimbal butt, and Fuji K Frame Flagship Tangle Free Series guides perfectly curated for salty conditions where Ned fishing is the go-to. MSRP $234.95

Along the same lines, Cashion has also introduced the new ICON Salt Finesse Multi-Purpose Rod. Designed with light power and fast action this 7-foot rod is ideal for fishing Ned rigs, micro jerkbaits, and other finesse style baits from 1/16- to ⅜-ounce. It is also built on the incredibly sensitive, unidirectionally rolled CR6r carbon fiber blank and features a perfectly placed hook keeper, and an EVA foam grip for comfort and practicality. It also features their hybrid gimbal butt, and Fuji K Frame Flagship Tangle Free Series guides. MSRP $234.95

Cashion

CHEEKY

Cheeky builds on the new Spray series with the Spray 400 and 450 fly reels. The new Spray 400 and 450 are premium reels engineered and rigorously tested for performance and efficiency. With a new and improved Gasket Drag System (GDS), all new light-weight design, improved feature benefits, and exciting colors, the Spray is up to the task for any fly-fishing adventure you throw at it. Designed to deliver superior performance, the Cheeky Spray 450 fly reel features a new updated frame and spool design for improved strength and reduced weight. With two new anodized color combos, a bold look and feel, plus an improved reel foot design with a hook slot, this top tier fly fishing reel is ideal for any angler in the salt.

Cheeky

DARK MATTER

Dark matter has introduced two new rods, the John Skinner Inshore spinning rod, and the Fishaholic Inshore spinning rod. The John Skinner inshore rod was built with John’s legendary input for those fishing from boat or kayak, up and down the coast, for multiple species. It’s built on a Dark Matter M3 Nano Carbon blank with Fuji Alconite K guides and a Fuji barrel reel seat. Cork grips with burnt sections and a fire engine red blank make it easy to spot. Like many Dark Matter rods, this is not a series but a singular model. A 7-foot, 1-piece medium power fast action rod that excels at throwing lures from 1/8-1 oz, it’s the perfect rod for many different species. MSRP $199.99

Rich “Fishaholic” Janitschek fishes hard! When he asked Dark Matter for a heavier power rod for targeting tarpon and bigger fish in Florida, they took their 7-foot heavy inshore rod as a template and went to work on the Fishaholic Inshore spinning rod. They beefed up the reel seat with a Fuji barrel reel seat, lengthened the butt two inches and added a gimbal. Keeping the Fuji Alconite K guides and cork grips was a no-brainer. Dark Matter likes to make colorful, good-looking rods so they painted the blank avocado green with yellow and dark green accents. The result is a stunningly beautiful, eye catching rod that is perfect for plugging trophy-sized striped bass and tarpon. MSRP $209.99

Dark Matter

GAME ON

The Carbon Black Inshore Spinning Rod was designed for targeting striped bass, bluefish, reds, snook, fluke, weakfish, seatrout and more. With great strength, sensitivity, and hook-setting power; this rod excels at inshore fishing with artificial lures. The fast action is a perfect match for soft plastics, topwater lures, and other casting baits. Engineered for durability and casting performance; specifically, when using braided line. The strong and sensitive blank is equipped with Fuji K-Series Alconite guides, Fuji Deluxe Reel Seat, Premium AAA Cork Handle for all day comfort, and a hook keeper for convenience. Available in four models ranging from Medium-Light to Heavy. MSRP $169.99

Game On

G. LOOMIS

G. Loomis continues to be a heavy hitter in the saltwater rod world with the introduction of the new NRX+ inshore rods. Meticulously crafted to meet the needs of elite inshore anglers, the NRX+ INSHORE series includes ten casting and spinning rods specifically designed to be technical lure rods with refined actions suited to conquer any inshore situation. Each rod begins with an American-made blank rolled with Spiral X technology to provide ultra-fast recovery for increased casting distance, heightened sensitivity, and drastic weight reduction. A custom CI4+ reel seat maximizes an angler’s connection to the blank for unsurpassed bite transmission and all-day comfort. MSRP $625.00-$650.00

Excitingly, G. Loomis has also introduced the new IMX-pro Offshore rods as well. This full lineup of purpose-built 20- to 80-pound class rods has actions designed for West Coast Techniques and to boost angler performance no matter the tactic of choice. Featuring multi-taper design and performance, these rods are as tough as the anglers that wield them. MSRP $575.00

G. Loomis

SHIMANO

Shimano is excited to introduce three new products for the salt. First up, the flagship Terez BW BFC rod series was designed with guidance from tournament-winning captains to perform at the highest level. Composed of both conventional and spinning rods, these premium-quality rods include only the best Shimano technologies- Hi-Power X, Spiral X and UD glass blank construction. These ready-to-rumble rods are designed specifically for anglers trolling ballyhoo or kite fishing off the edge. MSRP $449.99 – $699.99

The benchmark for small 2-speed lever drag performance, the all-new Talica 12IIA and 16IIA reels offer ultra-smooth reeling and powerful drag performance. The addition of Shimano’s innovative Infinity Drive technology leverages a new drag design to increase drag force while reducing side-load pressure to produce up to 30% lighter rotation during tough battles and high-drag situations. The new generation of Talica now features X-Protect technology to boast high-level water resistance in vital areas to improve durability without sacrificing a light gear feel. The new HAGANE Body made of highly-rigid aluminum reduces the reel’s overall weight while eliminating reel body flex, warp, and distortion to allow for smooth reeling with minimal power loss during challenging battles. MSRP: $599.99 – $609.99

Showcasing reel technologies passed down from Shimano’s flagship spinning reels, the redesigned Stradic FM spinning reel is a tool for serious inshore anglers. Built to withstand extreme salty conditions, this legend of the inshore scene comes standard with Shimano’s X-Protect water-repellent coating and water-channeling labyrinth construction. A gift that will perform under any conditions, no matter what you throw at it! MSRP $229.99

Shimano

STAR RODS

Get ready to get pumped for the new saltwater Sequence jigging rods from Star Rods. The Sequence series has always filled the gap of action, components, and lengths within existing Star Rod series. Sequence rods feature an extra layer of graphite for added strength and endurance. Now, Star Rods is proud to announce the addition of two new jigging rods to their Sequence series. Powerful and durable enough to handle some serious jigging while staying sensitive enough that you can still feel your lure as much as possible, these new Sequence jigging rods feature the classic Sequence graphite rod blank, Fuji guides, and EVA comfort grips and coming in multiple lengths and actions. These new Sequence rods still come with a limited lifetime warranty, as do the majority of Star Rods’ products, ensuring these are products you can buy with confidence.

Star Rods