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My Recommended Travel Rods, Reels And Tackle

Ryan Collins

​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.


Travel Rods

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. 

In addition I brought several different Daddy Mac metals a two white Hogy SI Epoxy jigs which I could use to work the entire water column. 


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.​

Terminal Tackle

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 

  1. Ryan, I am fortunate enough to be headed to Costa Rica for fishing. About those Canal Magic Swimbaits… did you use the floating or slow sinking version? I’d like to get a couple before I leave.

  2. Would luv to learn more about fishin /staying on cuttyhunk,costa rica I think is a little costly for me,I am planning to go to the island this year and would love to see any footage you would be willin to share Thanx

    1. Hey Peter,

      For Cuttyhunk check out this guide >

      Costa Rica is of course much pricier than Cuttyhunk, but overall the country is actually quite affordable.

      Tight lines my friend!

  3. as always Ryan another great article with useful insights that can help everyone to enjoy fishing. I took a slightly different approach regarding getting equipment for a trip to the Florida Keys. Instead of taking the equipment with me or shipping it, I went on line before my trip to see if anyone was selling used rods and reels that I could get after I arrived. Sure enough there were several people with listings for equipment that they selling for one reason or another and I was able to get a nice set up with some tackle for a very reasonable price. When the trip is over I will leave the equipment at my brother’s house for the next time I come down to the Keys. If I didn’t have a place to leave it I would probably repost it on line for sale or donate it to a fishing club for use with children in the area.

    1. Terrific strategy Richard!

      Great comment, thank you for posting.

      That is a very smart way of going about it.

  4. Ryan,
    I was reading a thread on SOL about packing for fishing excursions. Several people were concerned that hooks and fishing line would be confiscated by airport personnel due to security concerns. Did you experience any of that?

    1. Hey Dex – I checked the bag with all my hooks and terminal tackle. Did not have any issues. Just make sure you don’t accidentally carry-on any sharp stuff.

      I was told that on my way back into the USA, I would not be able to check a fillet knife which I purchased in Costa Rica. So I just left the knife in CR with a fishing friend.

  5. Ryan
    Do you like the Shimano 10000
    Ultegra? Have you used it much before the CR trip?
    I am looking for long cast spinning reel for my new Ron Arra 11.5 2-6 oz.
    God Bless

    1. When spooled with 40 pound Samurai Braid, the reel definitely casts farther than any other reel I have ever used.

      However I don’t think it is a very durable reel. Treat it like a baby and do everything you can to keep the salt/sand out!

  6. I wouldn’t buy another St. Croix. Mine broke in half casting a 3 oz lure also. Overpriced.

    I bought the OceanMaster you’ve described and got a Penn BattleII with 330 yds of power pro braid silky something. I hope it stands up to a rooster. If there is an ok day, I might give it a spin with a deadly dick looking for a holdover out here somewhere.

    Gotta find a small swimmer like the sebile. just have a big mackerel one.

    Think I’ve got some of the lures you mentioned. Do you think some bass metals like Hopkins or crippled herring are relevant to CR?

    I appreciate hearing what NOT to bring almost as much.

    Leaving for CR super bowl Sunday and don’t feel bad after the loss of 1) the Steelers and 2) the Patriots.

    First 5 days in Play as del coco. Second 5 near Arenal volcano.

    1. The Ocean Master + the Penn Battle + more than 300 yards of braid should do the trick. I think that will work just fine for roosterfish.

      I did not end up using the metals, but I felt confident having them on me just in case I needed to make a super long cast to reach breaking fish.

      The swimmer from Canal Bait worked best >

      Have fun down there in CR! I am really looking forward to hearing about the trip.

  7. Ryan, Did I miss something? Have you caught any holdovers since your return from CR?

    1. Hey Gene, no you have not missed anything.

      I fished the other night from 11pm – 2am which was pretty cool, considering it is January.

      However I have not found any holdovers on Cape….yet. I plan on fishing again this week and will give it hell to try to catch at least 1 before February.

  8. Great info even though we won’t be traveling to CR this info lets us cross reference our upgrades when it comes to fishing the canal or cape cod beaches. Thanks Ryan

    1. Pumped to hear you enjoyed this article Glenn. Folks seem to be finding it helpful which is terrific.

      Spring is coming!

  9. great report, thank you

    1. No problem Predrag!

  10. Great write up! It sounds like a lot of the equipment that works great up here, also is effective down there. Before you broke the St Croix Triumph, what were your impressions of the rod? How fast was it and did you like it?

    1. I thought it was pretty darn good, considering it was a 4 piece 10 foot long rod. The rod had a slow action to it.

      I think it would work well for lures under 3oz.

      1. Ryans,
        The Triumph 4 piece is my travel rod. I have used it during both of our MFCC trips to Cuttyhunk and on a trip this Fall to Nantucket. Packs in a case easy to bring on a plane or ferry. It casts beautifully and gives great action to the Junior Guppy Pencil I primarily used on all three trips. Sadly, I can’t speak of it’s fish fighting capabilities with any certainty as the fish eluded me most of the time.

        1. Ryan,
          I broke a St Croix Legend at the Canal this summer. St Croix had a new one back to me in a week for a $20 handling fee. Impressive!

          1. Good to know Dex, thanks!

            I purchased my Triumph 4 piece through Amazon and was able to return the broken rod for a full refund.

            St. Croix seems to be a very understanding rod company that stands by its product.

            1. Ryan & Dex
              Did/do you have any issues with sections of the 4 piece rod twisting or loosening up after a lot of casting?

              I have a 2 piece Lami that has given me trouble in the past with loosening up, especially when working a pencil for long periods of time. I use paraffin (as suggested by Dex) on the male part, which seems to do the job for the most part but needs to be applied every trip and can sometimes make taking the rod apart difficult. If I had the space and ability to go to a one piece I would.

            2. Yes Ryan I experienced that issue. It happened with the 3 piece Ocean Master rod as well, especially whenever I got knocked over by a big wave.

              I just make sure to check it all the time, and tighten/realign as needed.

    2. Slow action is wher its at. Also love my v. S. 275

      1. Amen to that Art!

        The VS 275 is one hell of a reel.

      2. Ryan T,
        When using any multi piece rod, I also continuously check the pieces to make sure they are aligned and in place. I once broke an 8 wt 2 piece Orvis fly rod on the Vineyard. The sections separated enough so the small part that remained connected couldn’t stand the strain. Horrible feeling when you snap a rod. Very traumatic!

        1. Thanks Dex! I figured you might have to check it constantly.

          Hope your presentation went well last night; wish I could have made it!


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