Best Musky Rods and Reel Combos
Looking for the best musky rod and reel combos?
Your gear is going to feel the punishment and if it’s been misused, improperly cared for, or just not up to the task… you’re going to lose the fish, or your rod tip.
The fish are built different, so your gear needs to be built different, too. Trying to get on the lake with your bass gear may work for some people (when they’ve spent hundreds of dollars on the highest quality they can get) but for you…?
You want to make sure your gear is still around 20 years from now. That means avoiding the junk and imitations at all costs. Which is exactly what we’ve done.
Tackle.org is proud to present the Best Musky Rod and Reel combos in 2019, judged by our proven-to-destroy-gear team of hard knock anglers. If our recommendations can survive the most punishment an editor can put one through…
They’ll survive you, too. Tight lines, friends.
Here’s a quick list of recommended musky rod and reel specs:
- Baitcasting Setup – While you may see a few anglers using spinning gear, it’s generally accepted that a good baitcaster with a high-pound drag is a good way to stay fishing.
- Gear Ratios – If you fish with topwater and jerkbaits, a 4.6:1 reel is great. For gliders, crankbaits, jerkbaits, AND topwaters, up the speed with a 5.1:1. Finally, if you’re only fishing crankbaits and need the speed, a 6.4:1 and higher reel will work amazingly.
- Rod Power – Heavy, or Extra Heavy only. The longer the rod and heavier the power, the more cushion you’re going to have during aggressive strikes and runs. A 7’6” to 8” rod is a good length and gives you stellar casting distance so you cover large areas quicker.
- Construction Materials – Graphite only. Fiberglass rods do work if it’s all you can get your hands on, but graphite rods have proven to withstand the destructive power muskies and pikes deliver.
Best Musky Rod and Reel Combos of 2020
|1||St. Croix LM86MHF Legend Tournament Graphite Musky Fishing Rod with Art and IPC Technology, 8-feet...||$379.99||Amazon|
|2||SHIMANO Tranx 400A HG Lowprofile Baitcasting Freshwater Reel||$299.99||Amazon|
|1||St Croix Mojo Musky Rods (HF, 80)||Currently not available||Amazon|
|2||Shimano Corvalus 400, Round Freshwater Fishing Reel||$90.00||Amazon|
Best Musky Rods In 2020
St.Croix Legend Tournament Musky Casting Rod
- Premium-quality SCII graphite used during construction.
- Specialized Musky series designed for superior performance.
- Kigan Master 3D look good and simply work. They don’t let go!
- One-Piece Design for increased durability.
- Lengths: 7’6” to 8’6” available.
- Power: Heavy, Action: Fast
- Line Weights: 30lb to 65lb test.
- Lure Weights: 3/4oz to 3oz maximum.
For casting heavy baits we recommend a longer version in a fast action with heavy power. Compare these to the Legend Tournament line of rods and you’ll see that the difference, for muskie fishing, isn’t all that great. At more than double the price, the St. Croix Legend is hard to beat.
|St. Croix LM86HF Legend Tournament Graphite Musky Fishing Rod with Art and IPC Technology, 8-feet...||$390.00||Amazon|
There aren’t many specialized rods built solely (or primarily) for muskie fishing out right now.
That doesn’t mean you still can’t get everything you need without turning your wallet upside down and letting your favorite company take off with all of it. If you want a little more than what the St. Croix Legend line of rods can give you, the Tournament Legends are worth looking at.
They feature the same high-quality graphite, Fuji Torzite guides, and guide frames made from titanium to reduce the heat and friction on your line during hard runs. A big musky taking out 50 yards of line can put your rod guides through their paces, but titanium fixes it completely. No more broken-off fish and expensive lost lures again.
They’re also worthy of the Field and Stream Best Musky Rod in 2016 award. While they are double the price of the Mojo line, the 15-year transferable warranty is a huge selling point.
- Available in both Split Grip and Full Cork Grip configurations.
- High-modulus, high-strain SCIV graphite with FRS construction.
- Fuji K-Series tangle-free guides with titanium Alconite rings and matte frames.
- Designed and hand-built in Park Falls, United States of America.
- 15-year transferable warranty backed by St. Croix Superstore.
|St. Croix LM80MHF Legend Tournament Graphite Musky Fishing Rod with Art and IPC Technology, 8-feet||$360.00||Amazon|
Shimano Sojourn 1-Piece Casting Muskie Rod
- Super-sensitive graphite composite rod blank.
- Lightweight aluminum oxide guides resist rust.
- Exposed reel seat blank keeps reel in direct contact.
- Cork handles contoured for extra power and comfort.
- Hook keeper built into reel seat for added convenience.
- 8’1” length in a fast action, heavy power construction.
Shimano is legendary when it comes to quality and craftsmanship. The Sojourn line are built specifically for musky, made to deliver heavier lures right where you need them and, when paired with a balanced baitcaster, can help you cast football fields.
|SHIMANO American Corporation SJCM80HA Sojourn Piece Muskie Casting Rod, 8'1"||Currently not available||Amazon|
If you’re trying to find a rod that will stand the test of time (as long as you don’t beat it up every time you take it out and store it!) the Sojourn is a good choice. You pay for the quality upfront, but when you can grab the same rod 10 years from now you realize you made the right choice.
Okuma EVx Musky Telecopic Rod
|Okuma EVx-C-861XHT-FG EVx Musky Telescopic Rod with Xtra Heavy Action, 8'6"||$121.79||Amazon|
Compared to other brands, especially brands that build rods specifically for muskies and pike, Okuma is relatively new to the industry. That doesn’t mean they haven’t figured out what works, though, because their EVx-C line of rods are proof they listen to what we need.
And then they delivered.
The Okuma EVx-C Musky telescoping rod is perfect when you want to keep a rod in the truck but an 8’ won’t fit or break down. Not to mention actually breaking it, while storing it. Okuma cornered a small piece of the market, but they did it right.
The 24-ton carbon rod blanks are ultra-responsive and durable, with a reinforced rod tip that helps when you’re lifting and netting fish, and when those bigger fish take off for the depths.
If you want portable and sturdy at the same time, the extra heavy power and stainless steel sea guide frames give you consistently and reliability, without busting your wallet. It’s not often you find a rod that gets everything right, so if a telescoping rod is a requirement, the Okuma EVx-C is built specifically with you in mind.
Then you think about the lifetime warranty. If it was a 1-piece or 2-piece it would be #1. Hands down.
|Okuma EVx-C-861XHT-FG EVx Musky Telescopic Rod with Xtra Heavy Action, 8'6"||$121.79||Amazon|
Abu Garcia Veritas Toro Rod
Do you prefer a shorter rod? Constantly finding yourself back in the thick of it? There’s times when those 7’0” rods come in to save the day, but most people still refuse to look at them.
Thankfully for you, we’ve looked at the Abu Garcia Veritas Toro rod and realized what went into the specifications that so many anglers disregard as a catfishing rod or a heavy action bass rod.
Before we do, here’s the specs:
- 30-ton graphite perfectly balances the length.
- Spiral carbon core construction greatly increases break strength.
- Fuji reel seats give you a direct connection to the rod.
- High density EVA foam grips deliver high-sensitivity and comfort.
There’s a few times a shorter rod will be the one to reach for. If you’re fishing in heavy vegetation, timber, or other structure, getting fish out fast is the name of the game.
Likewise, if you’re throwing heavy lures all day, fishing in smaller areas, or deal with dinner-sized fish, casting on a 7ft rod all day will save your wrists, elbow, shoulder, and your neck at the end of the day. Throwing heavy lures on long rods wears you out!
The Abu Garcia Veritas Toro is one that’s been dubbed the “musky killer” because Abu Garcia carved out a perfect spot for it, and we’ve found out it does deliver.
With the Abu name behind it…? I don’t think it’s possible to go wrong. The length being niched for a smaller section of anglers is what kept it from ranking higher on our list.
Best Musky Reels In 2020
|1||SHIMANO Tranx 500 HG Lowprofile Baitcasting Freshwater Reel||$499.89||Amazon|
|2||Daiwa LEXA-HD400PWR-P Lexa Type HD Baitcasting Reel, 5.1: Gear Ratio, 27.10" Retrieve Rate, 25 Ln...||$299.99||Amazon|
|3||Shimano Corvalus 300, Round Freshwater Fishing Reel||$84.89||Amazon|
For musky fishing, you’re usually going to be in one of two different groups — either power ratios or high gear ratios. Power models tend to pull in line slower, giving you extra control and torque, while the high gear models can bring a fish in, in a hurry.
The VBS brake system in the Shimano Tranx 500PG gives you plenty of line control during your casts, helping eliminate bird’s nests, with a low-profile design that’s comfortable enough to palm during longer trips.
X-Ship and HEG technologies deliver smooth retrieves so there’s no jarring and bumping the line with trophies on the end of it. Dual dartanium drags help you dial in the drag while preventing overheating during longer runs.
|SHIMANO Tranx 500 HG Lowprofile Baitcasting Freshwater Reel||$499.89||Amazon|
Daiwa LEXA HD400PWR Lexa Baitcast Reel, Paddle Handle
The price is dead center, you can pay a lot more and get a lot less, or you could save some bucks and not get as many trips out of it. With tournament-grade features and a 5-year warranty, take a closer look at the HD400 Power version of the Lexa line of reels.
It features an aluminum frame and side plate to reduce internal heat, so your drag doesn’t burn up on long runs, snapping the line as it goes. It’s also built with a 120mm handle for increased line pickup and extra capacity for heavier test lines. Infinite anti-reverse, an aluminum spool, and lightweight aluminum body make it fun to hold in your palm.
The Lexa HD400 Power line has a slower retrieve, of 25-33 inches per turn which, when coupled with the wider handle, gives you plenty of power when you need it, finesse control when inches matter, and enough speed to take advantage of the fish after they run.
|Daiwa LEXA-HD400PWR-P Lexa Type HD Baitcasting Reel, 5.1: Gear Ratio, 27.10" Retrieve Rate, 25 Ln...||$299.99||Amazon|
Shimano builds timeless reels. The Corvalus is proof. The one-piece die-cast construction is all-aluminum, making it an amazing heatsink for the carbon drag. Super Stopper and Assist Stopper help you setting the hook, and hasn’t been known to fail unlike most “gimmicks”.
A variable braking system keeps the bird’s nests at bay and helps deliver more consistent spool speeds, taking advantage of the reel’s design and giving you maximum casting distances as a result. The casts almost feel effortless, and worrying about spool speed isn’t a concern.
You want a reel that’s strong, but still lightweight enough to let you make repeated casts throughout the day without causing fatigue in your wrist and hands. Unbalanced reels will leave you hurting at the end of the day, but Shimano found the sweet spot at 11 ounces.
For weekend warriors, this is an amazing reel at a great price. You will have a hard time finding one near this price range with the quality that the Corvalus reels are known for.
|Shimano Corvalus 300, Round Freshwater Fishing Reel||$84.89||Amazon|
Abu Garcia Revo Toro S Low Profile Reel
We almost didn’t include a #4 but Abu Garcia came in under the radar again. Their Toro S line of reels are built with musky anglers in mind. They feature 4+1 stainless steel HPCR bearings for ultra-smooth casting and retrieval, along with a Power Stack carbon matrix drag system.
When you think about the pressure and force exerted on and through your drag system, you’ll start to realize why attention to detail, where it’s concerned, is critical. Abu Garcia are long-known for producing some of the highest-quality drag systems you can get in a reel.
The Toro S is no different.
Corrosion resistance inside and out, with aluminum in the right places, the Magtrax brake system couples perfectly with the drag to keep your casts smooth, and let out line during a fish’s run without jerkiness or hesitation. They’ve put work into this reel, you can tell.
Here’s where we love Abu for what they do. They advertise a maximum 25 pound drag force rating, but users have reported it going far behind and still holding up. When you extend the handle, and dial in the MagTrax magnetic brake, it’s a winning recipe.
It’s time to mix and match for the perfect rod and reel combo for musky and pike.
Depending on your budget, here’s the rods and reels we’ve featured today:
How To Choose The Best Musky Rod and Reel Combo
When it comes to making sure you get exactly what you need, and don’t risk breaking off fish or busting your rod tip the next time you hook up, there’s 4 main factors to consider.
First, you need to choose the type and style of reel. Baitcasting are preferred, because of their design and higher drag limits, but spinning and open-faced reels work just as good and are often priced far cheaper than their similar-quality baitcasting counterparts.
Then, you need to consider the gear ratio. In general, a higher ratio (7.5:1) is going to drag in twice the amount of line per turn of the handle as a reel with a lower ratio of, say, 3.8:1.
If you want something to compare it to, think of the number in the inches of line that gets taken in each time you make a full rotation with the handle on the reel. For instance, on a 3.8:1 ratio reel, you’ll pull in 3.8 inches of line for every one rotation of the handle.
Next, you’re going to need to figure out which action rod you want. You can get away with a medium action rod (typically used for bass and catfishing), but we highly recommend at least a medium-heavy. To be safe, heavy and extra-heavy rods will give you enough backbone to pull even the biggest deadweights from the depths.
Finally, think about the construction of the rod and which materials were used. There’s two main types you’re going to encounter, graphite and fiberglass. You can use fiberglass rods, if you want, but bigger fish like Muskellunge and Pike will break them sooner than later.
That’s why we recommend graphite construction. It has a lot of the properties you need in a rod, good flex, plenty of linear strength, and enough backbone to cushion the aggressive strikes and runs that musky and pike are known for.
So what is the best Musky Rod And Reel combo In 2019?
That’s up to you to decide. We’ve picked our winners, here. Now it’s your turn.
Our Top Combo Picks for 2019
|1||St. Croix LM86HF Legend Tournament Graphite Musky Fishing Rod with Art and IPC Technology, 8-feet...||$390.00||Amazon|
|2||SHIMANO Tranx 500 HG Lowprofile Baitcasting Freshwater Reel||$499.89||Amazon|
|3||St Croix Mojo Musky Rods (HF, 80)||Currently not available||Amazon|
|4||Daiwa LEXA-HD400PWR-P Lexa Type HD Baitcasting Reel, 5.1: Gear Ratio, 27.10" Retrieve Rate, 25 Ln...||$299.99||Amazon|
Keep in mind, heavy power, fast action, 7’0” to 8’6” length, and balance the rod and reel to your budget, first and foremost, and then to your hand. Most anglers have to focus to tell the difference, but all anglers can feel the difference after a 12-hour day.
Just about every combination of rod and reel we’ve featured here can be balanced with each other, giving you plenty of options and arrangements to build the perfect setup for the type of fishing you enjoy most often.