Whether you are traveling to a far off country or just trying to figure out essential gear for a road trip to Cape Cod, figuring out what gear and equipment to bring on a long distance fishing trip is not easy!
For my Costa Rica fishing adventure, I spent a lot of time packing and unpacking, and researching different travel rods etc.
I also had to work with a strict weight limit of 30 pounds for 1 checked bag and 10 pounds for my carry-on.
Despite the challenging luggage requirements I chose to bring 3 different travel rods and 5 different spinning reels to cover a variety of different scenarios.
I also brought an assortment of plugs, lures, hooks and other fish catching equipment I hoped would work on different species in diverse environments.
The 3 rods I brought to Costa Rica are below. I also listed the intended purpose of each rod:
- 10' 4-piece St. Croix Triumph Surf Spinning Travel Rod model: TSRS100M4 for surfcasting the wide open beach and other situations where a long cast is needed. Unfortunately this rod would break while casting a 3oz lure. $229.99
- 7' 3-piece Offshore Angler Ocean Master Series travel rod: Medium Heavy 12-20lb, 5/8-2-1/4oz, for boat fishing and fishing inlets, estuaries and other places where a long cast is not required. $159
- 8'6'' Tsunami Surf TSTSS 863H: Action Heavy, 12-25lb, 3/4-3oz. An all around terrific travel rod for surf fishing. Little big for boat fishing but it will work. If you are only going to buy one travel rod, then this is the one to get. Amazing price of $99.
- 6.5' 3-piece Fenwick Eagle model: EA66M-FS-3 for catching bait and any really small fish which would be fun on a real light rod. $65
All of the rods came with a hard tube casing which I feel is mandatory to help protect the rod while in transit.
I chose to bring 5 different reels with me on the trip to Costa Rica. They are listed below along with their intended purpose:
- Van Staal VM275 spooled with 100lb hollow core. I borrowed the reel from MFCC member Cullen Lundholm. This reel can pretty much stop anything in the ocean and I felt good having it "just in case."
- Van Staal VS150 spooled with 30 lb Power Pro braid. I borrowed this reel from MFCC member Matt Bach. Incredible reel for any fishing situation imaginable, including going underwater beneath big breaking waves.
- Shimano Ultegra 10000 XSC model: ULT10000XSC spooled with 40 lb Samurai braid. When paired with the 10ft St. Croix this setup is good for situations in which a long cast is beneficial.
- Shimano Baitrunner 8000D spooled with metered 50 pound PowerPro for live-lining and fishing dead bait from a boat. Paired with the 7ft Offshore Angler travel rod.
- Penn 440SSG spooled with 12 lb test monofilament. I had this old reel in my basement, and when paired with the Fenwick it was not the greatest setup of all time, but it would be OK for catching bait and real small fish.
Plugs, Jigs and Lures
When packing I really had no clue what I was going to encounter, so I chose to pack plugs, jigs and lures to cover each spectrum of the water column.
Topwater plugs were definitely the most effective lures I used in Costa Rica.
For working the surface and just beneath the surface, I used a 6.5 in Canal Magic Swimmer which caught all the big roosterfish.
Guppy pencil poppers also caught lots of jacks and Spanish mackerel.
I also brought two 6 inch Polaris style poppers, and 6 and 9 inch Slug-go’s but I never used them.
To fish the middle of the water column I chose to bring several lipped swim baits like the Daiwa SP Minnow and a Rapala Xrap for trolling in a boat.
For imitating crabs and other bottom dwelling prey I brought several Greg Myerson Rattlebucktails in the 1.5 - 5 ounce range.
The Daddy Mac metals and Hogy Epoxy jig could also be used for fishing the bottom.
In addition I also brought sabiki rigs and an assortment of small kastmasters, Rapalas, Yo-Zuris and 3-4 inch swim shads.
Topwater plugs definitely worked the best.
For the trip to Costa Rica I made sure to bring several 45 pound wire leaders but I never ended up using them.
I also had 80 pound wind-on leaders in case I got an opportunity to fish for big yellowfin tuna or marlin, which I also never used, but maybe next time!
I brought one spool of 30lb Seaguar fluorocarbon which I used everyday.
With just one spool to last the entire trip I cherished every inch of it!
I also brought 50 pound monofilament and a spool of 30 pound Samurai braid, just in case.
On plugs which I thought might catch a tuna or big roosterfish, I swapped out the split rings for Spro Power Pro rings of at least 100lb test.
I experimented with Raptor 4X treble hooks size #4 which are scary sharp, incredibly strong and extremely difficult to bend.
For live bait fishing I used 7/0 and 8/0 Gamakatsu heavy duty circle hooks.
But as fate would have it, I ended up catching all of the big roosterfish with the same Mustad 4x treble hooks many of us here on Cape Cod use when fishing for striped bass.
The Mustad trebles did bend under the pressure of the roosterfish.
Yet despite bending, the hooks held for 3 out of 4 roosters.
What do you think?
Let me know
by commenting below
I’m fortunate to have grown up on the beach, and I’ve been fishing since kindergarten. I have great family, friends and fishing experiences to be thankful for. Just being out there is enough-catching fish is just a bonus!