Suggested Gear

I am often asked what type of gear I suggest/prefer to properly fish my swimbaits. My lures are large, and heavy, and without the proper tools you may find yourself fatigued or unprepared when that fish of a lifetime strikes. The following equipment is what I have found to be the best, and is currently what I am using.


There are 3 major considerations I look for when purchasing a rod:

1. Length - Casting heavy baits without the proper equipment is inefficient and can be fatiguing. With the right rod length and handle arrangement you can and will be able to cast big baits further, and for a longer period of time. Also the extra length helps greatly on hooksets, especially those far away from the boat as the extra length will pick up a lot more slack and provide more leverage on the fish.

2. Action - Along with length, action plays a crucial part in casting heavy baits for long periods of time. The rod should load up properly, and not be overwhelmed by the lure weight, resulting in efficient casting. I prefer fast action rods for the majority of my fishing.

3. Power - The final consideration is power. This is important because these lures are big and heavy; and you will need a rod that will have enought power to move these baits once a fish strikes, in order to achieve a good hookset. They cannot simply be bogged down by the weight of the lure or of the fish at the initial hookset. (This is one area where I believe musky rods are well ahead of bass rods) Also when that trophy strikes you need confidence in your blank that you can put pressure on the fish rather than letting it overpower you.

Taking these considerations into account, and after trying just about every major manufacturer of fishing rods out there, I personally use St. Croix. I purchased my first one more than 12 years ago, and while I experiemented with pretty much every other major rod manufacturerer since then, I keep returning to St. Croix rods as they are simply the best tools for my needs.

For the largest of baits (this is what I throw the El Grande, Cisco, other large yet to be released baits, and occasionally the 11" trout with) I have found that the Legend Tournament 8'6" Big Dawg (Model # TMXHF86) rod to be supperior above all else. It is rated for up to 10oz. lures but can handle baits up to 16 oz. with ease. This rod was geared towards musky fisherman to keep up with the growing trend of throwing large 15-17 oz. rubber baits (one of which is called a bull dawg). This rod has it all, the right action to load correctly with a large bait and more than enough power to adequately set the hook and land a fish of a lifetime. This particular rod is expensive however, it does its job better than anything else, carries a lifetime warrently, and is made here in the U.S.A; so justifying this rod isnt too difficult.

New this year, St. Croix has included another 8'6" rod in the Legend Tournament series called the Sling Blade (Model # LTM86HF). It is touted as having a Heavy Power designation as opposed to the X-Heavey Power that the Big Dawg rod has. From what I have seen it does flex a little further down in the blank and loads up a little quicker/easier than the Big Dawg rod as well. I have yet to use one so I cant say for sure how it will perform at this time, but it looks extremely promising. This rod along with the Big Dawg rod can also be made with a split grip.

For the 11" Trout, Shad and Bluegill I primarilly use a St. Croix Premier Casting 7'6" (Model # PM76HF) I absolutely love this rod! I know that there are rods in Avid and Legend Tournament Series that are comparative to this rod however I am simply just comfortable with this specific item. I usually have 4 of these rigged and ready to go on the deck of my boat at all times. I have used them for just about every bait and type of presentation I can think of and have been completely satisfied, it is truely one rod that can just about do it all (really big baits might be pushing it).

An 8'0" heavy power and 8'6" extra heavy power rod have also been added to the Premier Casting Series lineup this year as well, however I have yet to see one, yet alone have a chance to see how it feels or performs. However if they are anything like the 7'6" they should be great!

St. Croix produces a numer of other rods specifically geared toward Swimbait and Musky applications, while I mentioned my two favorites above, all of these rods are made with the same quality and precision. For the most part they are meant for a slightly lighter application, however if matched up correctly with your style of fishing I am confident you will be more than satisfied.

St. Croix Swim Bait Models:
California Retailers:

LTBC79HF (Legend Tournament Bass)

Kittles Outdoor & Sport Co.
LTBC80XHF (Legend Tournament Bass)
Phil’s Propeller
MBC79HF (Mojo Bass)
Great Outdoors
Red Bluff Sporting Goods
Red Bluff
St. Croix Musky Models Ideal for Swim Baits:
Limit Out Bait & Tackle
Clear Lake
LTM86HF (Legend Tournament Musky / Sling Blade w/ split-grip handle)
Outdoor Sportsman
TM86HF (Legend Tournament Musky / Sling Blade w/ traditional handle)
Walton’s Pond
San Leandro
LTM86XHF (Legend Tournament Musky / Big Dawg w/ split-grip handle)
Outdoor Pro Shop
Rhonert Park
TM86XHF (Legend Tournament Musky / Big Dawg w/ traditional handle)
Outdoor Pro Shop
PM76HF (Premier Musky)
Tracy Oasis Marine 
PM80HF (Premier Musky)
Hi’s Tackle Shop
S. San Francisco
PM86XHF (Premier Musky)
The Elegant Iris- Men’s Den
Escalon Bait and Tackle
Anglers Marine
Anglers Marine
San Diego
Herb Bauer Sporting Goods
The Tackle Box
Hook Line and Sinker
Valley Rod and Gun
Mel Cottons Sporting Goods
San Jose
Bay Tackle
El Cerrito
Taylor’s Tackle
Canoga Park 
Selected Sport Chalet Stores