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Best Musky Spinning Reel & Rod Combo

Eternal Angler

Eternal Angler

Oct 28, 2019
So I've probably been fishing with the Stradic C5000 for a good three years now and I must say I'm quite impressed with the resiliency of this spinning reel! Made more for saltwater species such as cobia, redfish, inlet snook, and small tarpon. I thought if it's good enough for these tough fighting saltwater species of fish, along with withstanding the corrosion from saltwater itself, it would be good enough for musky. But believe me, I wasn't just pissing in the wind when I finally decided to purchase this reel, I looked up what saltwater and musky fishermen were recommending on the forums. And I think it's already well known that Shimano makes some of best spinning and baitcasting reels.

Rated at 41 inches per crank, the Stradic C5000 is perfect for burning those bucktail spinners pretty fast, right up there with the Tranx or Beast. And it seems to me, even though these baitcasters are considered almost bullet proof for musky fishing, I think a spinning reel like the Stradic C5000 has less parts prone to breaking. I still hear of musky fishermen breaking both Tranx and Beast reels on the musky forums, even though many claim the Tranx is indestructible. After three years, I still get the same smoothness I did the day I bought this reel.

I absolutely love how light it is, which can be an important factor when casting for 8 hours straight for each and every musky trip. I bought a Quantum Boca before this because everyone was talking about how strong and resilient it was for saltwater fishing, but I noticed soon as I started casting with it, I started getting very fatigued and having lower back pain after 2-3 hours of casting. The Boca is a brick shit house, but it's also very very heavy. So finding a very light yet strong spinning reel might be something to consider when musky fishing, even if you're looking for a baitcaster, those few extra ounces might make a big difference in casting stamina and longevity.

Other problems with the Boca is sometimes the bail would flip back when I cast pretty hard with some of the musky baits, I had this problem with the Penn Battle as well. The bail on the Stradic C5000 hasn't closed one me once, this can become a big problem for some musky and saltwater fishermen when they lose very expensive lures. I absolutely love the large knob on the crank, very comfortable and huge, something that gives me leverage even when I'm setting the hook on musky.

It really wasn't that hard finding a solid spinning reel for musky fishing, it really wasn't. What's tough is finding a spinning rod that's around 9 feet long, has enough backbone and not too flimsy up top to throw the heavier musky sized fishing lures. Look I wasn't expecting to throw pounders, but I'd be happy if I was able to through the traditional big rubbers such as the Poseiddon, Medussa, and Bull Dawg. And while the Penn Squadron 2 is rated up to 3 ounces in lure weight, it still casts these 6-7 ounce lures pretty darn good. Look it's a $50 rod, if it breaks within a year or two, it's really not that expensive to replace. And so far the Penn Squadron has held up pretty good throwing everything from 1-4 ounce bucktails, spinnerbaits, crankbaits to big rubber like the 6-7 bull dawgs and medussas for about 2 years until I popped out a top guide after catching a tiger musky at Metro Park. I think that's pretty darn good mileage for a $50 surf rod! It's two piece too, which I was concerned about with the middle being a weak point, but I have yet to see any cracking or splintering.

I love that the Squadron is 9 feet long and has a knob at the end which making doing the figure 8 pretty effortlessly. And the rear grip is completely bare in back, exposing the rod blank so you can basically tuck it underneath your arm pit and when musky hit, you feel the strike vibration through your whole body, instantly triggering you to rip the rod and set the hook. The first day I bought it, actually landed a nice tiger musky on the Penn Squadrone 2, so right off the bat I knew I had found a top notch spinning rod for musky fishing.

Bottom line, I'm not going to sit here and recommend a spinning reel over a baitcaster, if you have the money for a Beast or Tranx, purhase one of these reels immediately. However, if you're lacking the funds and more comfortable using a spinning reel, I think a saltwater spinning reel rod combo like the Shimano Stradic C5000 and Penn Squadron 2 is a great choice for the money. There are some benefits to a spinning reel compared to a baitcaster, like I said in this post about musky shore fishing versus boat, the first one right off the bat is no resistance on the spool. You're going to be able to cast farther with a spinning reel like the Stradic versus the Tranx, why? Because you don't have your thumb on the spool causing resistance when you cast! Believe it or not, those few extra feet in casts from the shoreline might make a huge difference when locating musky at drop off points.

A big drawback of course is comfortability and throwing the larger lures with a spinning rod and reel. You can rap some hockey tape around your finger to prevent slicing open your skin... Also press your thumb against the spool when you casting a big rubber out to prevent a big rubber from tumbling in the air, where the line will end up wrapping line around the treble hooks of your bait. This is where a baitcaster prevents all those problems instantly! But hey, not everyone likes throwing big rubber, some musky fishermen are happy with just casting the lighter bladed baits and hard baits, and still do just fine. And really, I think a spinning reel is a lot more intuitive than a baitcaster, so if you're starting off, just know you have this option available.

I for one, am planning on upgrading to a baitcaster soon to throw big rubber like the pounders. But I know anytime I plan on throwing bucktail spinners or crankbaits from the shoreline like the Strike King Magnum 8.0, I will be using my Stradic C5000 and Penn Squadron 2 over a baicaster any day. I believe covering as much ground as possible is a very important factor when shoreline fishing, getting the longest distance casts is going to result in catching more musky!
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