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I really don't know what to look for when selecting a rod/reel combo. I mainly fish from the pier,sometimes from a boat and rarely from surf.

Right now I have one of those surf and pier combos from wally world that comes with the lil kit. I have caught lots of croaker and spot with it but it really only works best for dropping down within a short range.

Looking for a couple different setups:

1) tossing gulps and other lures
2) better setup for casting cutbait
 

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I really don't know what to look for when selecting a rod/reel combo. I mainly fish from the pier,sometimes from a boat and rarely from surf.

Right now I have one of those surf and pier combos from wally world that comes with the lil kit. I have caught lots of croaker and spot with it but it really only works best for dropping down within a short range.

Looking for a couple different setups:

1) tossing gulps and other lures
2) better setup for casting cutbait
You didn't say if you preferred spinning or conventional but for the pier and especially for plugging, I'd recommend a spinning outfit. Actually I'd recommend two spinning outfits, depending on your budget. For cut bait, I'd go with a "baitrunner" type reel...Shimano BTR, Penn Slammer 560L, Or (a little cheaper) a Daiwa Regal Plus "Bite N Run". I'd stay away from the Penn Captiva "Live Liner". For tossing artificials, try a Shimano Saros or Stradic, or again, if on a budget, a Daiwa Black Gold. I'd also recommend spooling up with braid on your plug reel at least. If you are REALLY on a budget, I'd start with a "Store Brand" reel from places like Cabelas or Bass Pro Shops. As for the rods...I may be criticized for this, but I'd go toward the cheaper end for now. The above mentioned stores have their own brand that are pretty good. Shimano and Daiwa also make some pretty good "inexpensive" rods. The reason I say go cheaper on the rods is that on a pier or bridge, they are going to get beaten up quite a bit. Just match the rod to the weight you are going to be tossing. I would not go over 8' on the rod. Just my .02 off the top of my head, but you'll probably get some other good suggestions as well. You also may want to give Greg a call at Greg's Baitshack. He's a sponsor on here of the VA board, and has a link at the top of that page. Tell him your budget and what you are fishing for and where, and he can probabvly outfit you with something. He isn't that far from you either, so you can pay him a visit. Let him know you are from Pier and Surf.
 
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