Around November of last year, I started field testing some Shimano product.  In total, they gave me 5 rod/reel combos to check out.  Different setups for different applications.  Lately, I’ve noticed that one particular setup has been edging its way into my starting lineup.  On my trip last week on the Ranger 85, it kicked in the door.  I’m talking about the Teramar/Calcutta combo.

What’s it replacing?

Gitzem got him

Gitzem got him

If you check out my Gear Lineup page, you’ll see that I subscribe to the premise (outlined by Brandon Hayward in the Southern California Angler) that 3 main setups will cover the majority of fishing situations we encounter here in Southern California.  The Teramar/Calcutta combo is getting used in place of the 12-20 rig (Shimano Crucial / Abu Record combo) that I consider my “inshore” or “bass” setup.  I’ve had some nice wins with that combo…my personal best 31 lb. halibut was taken on that combo, and also a nice yellow at Clemente on the Freedom.  It’s been my setup for everything from twilight leadhead and squid bass fishing, calico fishing the kelp line, shallow water rockfishing/sculpin, pier/jetty fishing etc.

The Crucial (7’11” H) is rated 15-30 (mono line rating).  Its specific purpose is to throw big swimbaits, like the MC Swimbaits weedless that are my only saving grace when fishing heavy kelp.  I haven’t had opportunity to throw swimbaits much yet on the new combo, but I’ve spent enough time with it at this point that I wanted to write about it.

Field Testing

The corb

The corb

Towards the end of last year, I started surf fishing.  It’s been a lot of fun learning to be proficient in a new aspect of saltwater fishing.  One thing I’ve learned is I can’t fish the beach or rocks like I fish off a boat.  On a boat, I’ll bring 5 or 6 rods sometimes to cover a wide range of fishing options.  I know I said you can cover most scenarios we fish with 3 rods, but I like to have different rigs setup so that I can just grab a rod off the rack and fish.  If you are in a hot bite, and need to switch things up, having that setup waiting for you could mean a lot more fish in the sack.

On the beach or rocks though, I like going as minimalist as possible.  One rod and reel…just changing up leaders/hooks/lures etc. as needed.  Like the Crucial, the Teramar is rated 15-30.  Using this setup is way overkill for surf perch, but I was really happy to be using it when I finally caught my corbina last month.  It’s not so stiff that it’s hard to throw a 1/2 oz. Carolina setup, but stiff enough that I can control exactly where I want to place my casts.  If I fish a really light rod for surf perch, I feel constrained from doing anything else.  With this setup, if I see birds working further out and want to go heavier to reach them, or if I pickup a bait fish and want to fish it…I can do it.

Something that I really prefer for my light setup is a star drag.  It’s nice to keep the drags real low to enhance the fun factor, but if you get picked up by something bigger it’s easy to add more drag pressure fishing a star (vs. a lever drag).  Both the Calcutta and Record are star drag reels, but something I like a little better with the Calcutta is that it has a bigger handle…both in the size of the paddles themselves and the the spacing between them.  In the scenario where I’m fighting a bigger fish, it’s much easier for me to reel.  I also like how the drag has an audible click to it.  I doubt it makes any working difference, but it just feels better.

IMG_4132I put this setup to the test last week on my Ranger 85 trip.  It was the afternoon of the first day.  We’d gotten a decent number of white seabass onboard the boat, but I had not personally scored.  We were about to conclude our second drift in a particular spot (by Eagle’s Nest at Santa Rosa) and an angler in the bow got picked up on his dropper setup about halfway up on his retrieve.  Deckhand Nick Mendoza told me about it.  Hmmm.  “May want to go with your bass gear and either a light leadhead or sliding sinker setup.” Nick advised.  I liked the idea.  Seeing as how we were in the afternoon anyway (not primetime), I thought at the very least it would give me an opportunity to cover more water.  I switched up.

I grabbed the Teramar/Calcutta combo.  I was fishing about a 5 ft. topshot of 25lb. fluoro, to a 1/2 oz. Gitzem leadhead.  I pinned on a squid as we setup the next drift.  On the next drift, Capt. Dustin was fishing on my right.  He was fishing a sliding sinker setup.  Most of the other anglers were still on the dropper.  I looked over and I see a twitch at the end of his rod.  “Got something going there skip?”  “I’m getting licked, but it won’t bite.”  His rod stopped.  Shortly after, I’m getting sniffed.  “C’mon baby bite…Fresh one!”

I didn’t have to move that much.  Went up the rail a little ways to my left and the fish mostly stayed right in front of me from there.  The rod definitely got bent.  The drags were strong and smooth on the Calcutta.  Between the two, I was able to put a lot of pressure on that fish.  He didn’t last long.  It was probably only a 13 lb. fish.  It was a relief though to finally put one in the bag and cool to catch it in that fashion.

Conclusion

I felt like the combo could’ve easily handled more.  I never felt overmatched.  I plan to try and get down to SD soon.  Offshore has started, but I also want to fish local San Diego…in the bay for halibut and in the Point Loma kelp for calicos.  This setup is going to see a lot more work.  Would I like another lighter rod for fishing the surf?  Yes, but I’m not in a hurry to do so.  If someone were to ask me for a recommendation on a setup to handle the bass/inshore role in their arsenal, I’d easily recommend this one.  Tight lines!

Capt. Dustin sticks the fish I caught on the Teramar/Calcutta combo

Capt. Dustin sticks the fish I caught on the Teramar/Calcutta combo

 

 

 

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