blue fish, inshore fishing
Photo credit: Elliott Stark

How to Put Together an Inshore Fishing Setup

Advances in line, reel, and rod technology make it possible to create fun outfits that can tackle big fish. Here’s our all-around inshore fishing setup!

Saltwater fishing has tons of opportunities to put a fish on the end of your line. But inshore fishing is both affordable and accessible — it’s simple to execute and offers spots that are easy to get to and plentiful in species.

Inshore fishing typically refers to fishing within a few miles of shore or at spots up to 30 feet deep. You can easily fish inshore from a kayak, small seaworthy boat, or a SUP if you’re adventurous. But before you head out on the water, you’ll need a rod, reel, and line set up for the job.

Fifteen years ago, it took a few different setups to get the job done. But, thankfully, innovations in line, reel, and rod technology make it possible to put together inshore fishing outfits that are fun to handle and can tackle fish big and small.

Here are some pointers on constructing a good, all-around inshore fishing setup.

All-Around Inshore Fishing Setup

Braided Main Line

snook, inshore fishing
Snook caught while inshore fishing; photo credit: Elliott Stark

History & Advancements

When it comes to putting together an all-around combo, braided fishing line opens a wide range of possibilities.

Spool capacity and line strength limit the ability of light-tackle outfits to handle big fish. Before braided lines became a popular alternative, monofilament lines dominated the market. Light-tackle outfits were spooled with 6-, 8-, or 12-pound test lines.

If you spooled your reel with line that was bigger than this, you couldn’t fit much on the reel. And it was also likely that your reel wouldn’t be able to put enough drag to stop large fish.

Braided line is now an increasingly popular alternative to monofilament. For a good, all-around outfit, it provides many advantages.

The first is its smaller diameter. While there’s a bit of variance between brands, for comparison’s sake, here’s how the diameters compare: 8-pound braid and 1-pound mono, 10-pound braid and 2-pound mono, 15-pound braid and 4-pound mono, 20-pound braid and 6-pound mono, and so on.

Different Options for Braided Line

There are a variety of good braided lines on the market, including PowerPro, Spectra, and Spider Wire. In addition to their smaller diameters, braided line has improved abrasion resistance and can cast farther than mono.

The ability to pack more and stronger braided lines on small reels is perhaps the most important aspect of versatility. Packing 300 yards of 10-pound braided line onto your light-tackle spinning rod allows you to catch the occasional bull redfish while speckled trout fishing, a grouper while yellowtail snapper fishing, or a tarpon while throwing plugs for snook.

Because braided line is made of nylon, you’ll need to use a mono or fluorocarbon leader. This involves tying a section of mono or fluorocarbon line to the end of your braid and to your bait or lure. The size and length of your leader will depend on the type of fish you’re after and the water conditions you’re fishing in.

power pro, spectra & spider wire
Photo credit: Amazon

Reel Technology

History & Advancements

Reel performance has increased quite a bit in the last decade and a half. The most obvious example comes from the size of the reels used to target marlin and tuna offshore.

Fifteen years ago, Penn International and Shimano Tiagra 50- and 80-wides were the norms. These large reels not only had the capacity to hold lots of mono, but they could also put more heat on fish than did smaller reels. The reels were so large, in fact, that most of the fish were fought from fighting chairs because it was difficult to fight fish standing up.

These days, the Shimano Tallica is consuming an increasingly large market share. Despite being much smaller in size, the Tallica can exert the same drag pressure. And, when spooled with braided line, it can match line capacity as well. Its smaller, lighter frame makes it easier to fight standing up. It also allows the angler to maneuver before and during the fight.

The same advances have taken hold of reels across fishing — including the inshore saltwater market. A spinning reel that would have been small enough to have been “light tackle” 15 years ago can now provide a good, all-around inshore option.

The two main changes involve line capacity and drag systems. No matter the brand of reel you prefer, you can find one that suits your needs.

Solid Reel Options by Brand

Shimano’s Stradic series is a great option for your do-it-all inshore outfit. Shimano is also reintroducing its Ultegra line as a solid multi-species inshore reel.

The Battle series of spinning reels from Penn provides a midprice option. They provide a similar all-around ability at around $100.

If you’re a Daiwa fan, check out the Procyon and Fuego series of spinning reels.

For any of these options, you can scale up or down in size depending on your normal fishing adventures. Mainly, consider whether you’d rather have a larger reel capable of catching smaller fish or a smaller outfit that’s ready for the occasional bruiser.


inshore rods
Photo credit: Elliott Stark

Choosing a Rod

Selecting the right rod for your inshore outfit really depends on what you’ll be using it for and where you’ll be fishing. The main points to consider are the flexibility and feel of the tip and the power the rod has to pull on a fish.

A rod with enough backbone to winch a 20 snook out of the mangroves might not have the flexibility in the tip you’d like for catching mangrove snappers. Likewise, a flexible-tipped, light-action rod might not have the backbone to put heat on a larger fish.

To find the right rod for your scenario, balance the backbone-versus-flexibility relationship and simply match the rod to the line you’ll be using. If it’s 10-pound braid, buy a rod rated for 8- to 12-pound test.

Also, consider how you’ll use this setup. If you’ll be casting lures or baits and need distance, you might consider a rod of 6’6” or 7’ in length. If you’ll be packing it into and out of your car or fishing with kids, you might consider a shorter rod — something in the neighborhood of 6’.

Rod Options by Brand

Every major reel brand will offer serviceable rods that can be paired to your inshore reel. There are also several great custom rods.

Here are a few good options:

  • G. Loomis: The E6X Inshore rods from G. Loomis are a great option. They’re longer, designed for casting, and cost about $200.
  • Daiwa: The Procyon series from Daiwa is among this brand’s offerings of inshore rods. They’re a good option as well.
  • Penn: Penn offers a wide variety of inshore rod options. These range from economical to higher-end options.