I am often asked “what kind of rod and reel should I buy to fish in Florida's saltwater”, or “what rod should I bring with me”?
That might seem a difficult question to answer considering all the different species we have that you could fish for. The only tackle you can't use in Florida is your ice-fishing gear! All the other rod and reels you have will work someplace in this part of Florida. Fly, Open-face, and closed-face spinning, Trolling, Bait-Casting, Deepwater, Big Game, Surf, cane pole, and hand lines are all used. That is good to know if you are planning to move to Florida.
But if you are going to buy or pick one rod and reel that will work every place you fish, offshore, inshore, salt or fresh water, it would be a combo with 12 to 15 pound test line. A open-face spinning reel that will hold about 250 to 300 yards of 12/15 pond test line, a 7', preferred one peace rod unless storage is not a problem, then two peace. Balance the rod and reel to your line test. Even if you go big game fishing, this outfit will be good for catching baitfish or some smaller reef fish for the table. In the Sarasota area this size rod and reel is better for surf fishing than the traditional long rods used on the east coast.
Most Florida fishermen or women will have a locker full of different rod and reels. The 15 pound test rig is not good for big fish or in heavy structure, fish like keeper size grouper that run into holes. It is good for larger fish if in open water and that will run in lieu of diving into the holes or around any structure. When fishing from land, although you could hook a large grouper it is not probable and not an issue worth worrying about when starting out.
This combo also works well in freshwater for the larger fish like bass, snook, and catfish exc.
On my charters I use Penn reels model # (550SSG), with Andy Tournament 12# test, Hi-Vis line. For a rod I find a good value in the St. Croix Premier PS70MHF. This is a 7’, fast action, one peace rod rated for 8 to 14 pound test line. At this time the combo cost about $200.00.
I have many different size combos in my arsenal that I use on my charters. This combo gets the most use and I always have it on hand.