For my first review I wanted to talk about the piece of fishing equipment that I’ve had the longest. I can’t find the Firebird Spinning combo for sale online anymore but I have seen several Shakespeare spinning combos that seem to be of about the same size and price range so hopefully this will give an impression of these types of rods in general.
As I stated in my first post, I was out of the habit of fishing for quite a few years. During this time period I would usually only fish with my dad on or around Father’s day as a yearly tradition. About four or five years ago, I decided to buy a cheap rod of my own for these rare occasions. I stopped by Walmart and picked up the Firebird spinning combo for about $25. It has exceeded all expectations so far and has gone a long way in these past few years.
I believe the combo was meant to be marketed towards younger anglers as it is only 5’6″ long and is blue in color. I didn’t really care as to the color and length because I was planning on only using the rod once or twice a year to catch a few panfish at the time. I haven’t found the length to hinder my cast at all. I can still get a smallish jig out about 20 yards, which is all I really need since I fish from shore. If it’s really windy out or I need to add a little distance, I might put a splitshot or two on the line.
The Rod is Medium action with a very flexible tip (which I believe helps the distance of your cast by loading more energy into the lure, correct me if I’m wrong). I was brought up on heavier action rods meant to be able to handle the big catfish and carp that we sometimes catch on the Rock River, so Medium action is alot of fun for me, especially when I hook into a nice size bluegill or one of the couple bass I’ve caught on this combo. You can really feel the fish and on a day that I can’t get the bass to bite, a big bluegill smacking my beetlespin has turned a couple days of fishing around for me.
The reel has the ratio of 3:6:1 printed on it. I have no idea what that means. I’m guessing it’s not the best speed because I have to crank pretty quickly to keep a couple baits off the bottom. This isn’t really an issue other than maybe wearing out my arm after an hour or two of use. Thats what you get for a $25 combo I guess.
The one real complaint I have about the reel is the drag. I was taught to test a drag by holding the rod by the handle in one hand, grabbing the line in the other and pulling smoothly but strongly. It seems when I do this to ether come out way too easy or to come out in little spurts erratically. No matter how small of an adjustment I make, it seems to be one or the other. I can’t seem to find a nice smooth motion like I can with my recently purchased baitcaster or my fiance’s spincaster. (If anyone knows of a better way to set the drag, please let me know. That way seems kind of imprecise.) I usually set it on the side of more resistance and it’s usually not a problem but I’m thinking of using this combo more as I’m getting ready to try drop-shotting and using small jigs for bass and I’m a little worried about a nice sized bass snapping my line because of a faulty drag.
It came spooled with 8# test monofilament. It wasn’t clear what brand. The original line stayed on until this past week when I noticed it was holding a curl from the reel when it wasn’t taut. I took this as a sign to respool so I picked up some 6# test Stren mono. I’ll update with an edit if this makes any big difference in how it casts or fishes.
I’ve used the Firebird combo for quite a few different fishing techniques. Everything from a bobber and redworm to a nightcrawler on the bottom to my current 1/16th ounce jighead and Powerbait Ripple Shad 3″ swimbait (which, I might add, caught two bass just under 12″ last weekend):D. It has handled everything pretty well. If this rod were still available, I would recommend it to anyone wanting to fish on a budget or anyone looking to purchase a rod for an older kid or teenager. Because I had such a good experience with this combo, I looked to Shakespeare when I bought my first ever baitcaster (review coming soon) and a spincast combo for my fiance.
EDIT: About two weeks after I made this post, I switched out the line that originally came spooled on the reel and put on Stren Original 6 lb test. I don’t know if the old line was too old or if the Stren is better but after changing line, my casting distance more than doubled with this pole. I can whip a jig about 30 yards now with ease. However, this led to my only other negative that I found: While “whipping” the top half of the pole can sometimes come off and fly into the lake. This hasn’t been a huge problem so far as it’s only gone into about 6 inches of water but it’s pretty damn embarrassing. That said, I am a very large man and I believe this rod was designed with kids in mind so don’t let that weigh too heavily into your decision if you’re buying for your kids. I can’t see too many kids looking to blast a jig out 30-40 yards out. Still a great rod and reel and I still highly recommend it.
EDIT DEUCE: Since this is by far the most visited page on my blog, I thought I’d give people a link to a rod/reel combo that looks to be along the same lines as the Firebird. I checked out Amazon and the closest thing I can find is this:
The only difference is it’s light action instead of medium. Rather than view this as a downfall, I’d say it’s the opposite (an upfall?). Light action will let kids or people just starting out to really feel a fish fighting, even if it’s just a smaller bass (my specialty) or bluegill. Lighter action also instinctively teaches new anglers to “play” a fish. That is, not just horse it to the dock/boat but let the fish wear itself out. It adds alot of enjoyment, especially when you can only get the little guys to bite. Hope it helps!
Disclaimer: I am not associated in anyway with Shakespeare. I received no compensation for this review, either monetary or equipment. All opinions expressed are my own.