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For the last several weeks, I’ve been pondering on which products to choose for the Top Five Tackle Buys of 2018. There are some really great items to choose from. Rods, reels, fishing accessories, etc. I’ve found some great ones this year!
So let’s take a look through the reviews from this past year and pick the 5 best of the entire year. I’ll start with #5 and work my way to #1.
Choosing the Top Five Tackle Buys of 2018 will be based on the overall value of the product. This will be determined by looking at the product’s price, quality, my customer service experience (if any) and some other factors that I’ll talk about along the way.
So Let’s Get Started!
#5 – Jackall Pompadour Topwater Lure
I reviewed the Jackall Pompadour back in April. As I mentioned in that review, this lure really impressed me.
Its design wasn’t anything extremely radical. In fact, it’s really a modern-day takeoff of the old school Crazy Crawler that Heddon released over 40 years ago. But the Pompadour kind of took things to the next level.
First, it’s a larger body than the Crazy Crawler. In my opinion, large is better in many cases. Especially after dark.
But more than being bigger, it also features a body that’s less cylindrical in shape and has a flatter belly. This gives the lure much better stability and creates a larger silhouette on the water’s surface. Again, some big improvements over the Crazy Crawler.
The wings on the Pompadour are also larger. They move more water and they create more noise. On the darkest nights, this is pretty important, as it gives the bass more to home in on, as they target whatever it is that’s creating a commotion over their head.
Two other important features are the internal rattles and the tail prop. Both of these features help the bait make more noise and attract more fish.
The Pompadour retails for $22.99. That’s more that I typically like to spend on a bait, but this one is definitely worth the money, and I highly recommend it if you enjoy catching big bass on the water’s surface.
#4 – Accu Cull Elite E-con Cull Tags
Earlier this year I decided to start looking into getting a set of non-piercing cull tags. My club doesn’t require them (yet), but I just liked the idea of being proactive and using something that doesn’t harm the bass.
I did some homework and found it to be a bit overwhelming. There weren’t a lot of options to choose from. And the reviews I read on most of them seemed split right down the middle.
Some people loved the product they bought, while others hated them. It didn’t seem to matter what brand I read about, the consensus was the same. And some of the negative reviews even mentioned bass dying from the new cull clips they had tried.
But the Accu Cull Elite E-con cull tags didn’t have any horror stories about bass dying or bass being injured by them. No, they weren’t perfect. There were some people who had a few complaints. But most of them stated that the problems had been resolved by the product creator.
So I bit the bullet and chose the Accu Cull system. And I’m glad I did. Not only did I get a set of very high quality non-piercing cull tags. But I got something that’s 100% made in the USA and is backed by the product creator/company owner with customer service that’s outstanding.
Yes, I had a couple of issues with this product. But both of those issues were resolved as quickly as humanly possible. And they were resolved because the product creator spent time developing a permanent fix for the problem I encountered, instead of just sending me a replacement product with the same problem.
The Accu Cull Elite E-con Cull Tags sell for $42.99. Yes, that seems expensive at first. But once you have used them and have seen how great they are, you’ll quickly forget how much they cost you.
These cull tags are top notch and the customer service (if needed) is incredible. Definitely a top buy of 2018 in my book.
#3 – KastKing Stealth Baitcasting Reel
The KastKing Stealth baitcasting reel was probably one of my most pleasant surprises of the 2018 season. I bought one because I wanted a lightweight carbon baitcasting reel to pair with my Lew’s Carbon Fire baitcasting rod. So I figured I’d give this one a try.
I also bought and tried a KastKing Assassin baitcasting reel, which is also made of lightweight carbon. The Assassin is also a great reel. But I like the Stealth better.
I ended up buying two of the Stealth baitcasting reels. I use one of them on a Lew’s Carbon Fire medium action baitcasting rod, primarily for fishing stick worms. The other one is paired with a Lew’s Carbon Fire heavy action baitcasting rod and is used mostly for heavy 3/4 – 1 oz. spinnerbaits after dark.
This reel is super smooth and quiet. It casts incredibly far and has an excellent braking system. It also features 11 stainless steel ball bearings and a roller bearing that powers the instant anti-reverse. Everything about this reel, including the drag, is very smooth.
It palms well and is comfortable to use for house at a time. And a weight of 5.98 ounces makes it incredibly lightweight for a reel of this size.
This reel is sold on Amazon for just $56.98, which is a crazy bargain for a reel of this level of quality.
#2 – Abu Garcia Revo4 X Baitcasting Reel
I read the specs and they looked good. Then I saw the price tag at $99 and knew I had to give this reel a try. The specs for the price were really good. And the fact that it was made by Abu Garcia, a super-well-known company that’s been around literally for decades, let me know that if I did experience any problems, I would have no trouble getting the reel repaired or replaced.
When the new reel arrived in the mail, I quickly mounted it on one of my Lew’s Carbon Fire medium-heavy baitcasting rods and spooled it up with 17 lb. Sufix Siege mono. I already knew that I’d be using this setup for spinnerbaits.
It didn’t take me long to fall in love with this reel. It was smooth and cast easily. The brakes were easy to adjust and the bearings made this reel quiet and smooth.
The drag works really well. And I was able to really put it to the test within the first week or two of owning the reel when I landed some big bass after dark on spinnerbaits. One of those bass weighed between 5 1/2 and 6 lbs. and pulled like a freight train. The drag on the Revo4 X handled that fish with no stress at all, smooth as butter.
I ended up liking this reel so much I bought 2 more of them. They replaced my Abu Garcia Pro Max 3 reels on my most-frequently-used rods.
If you’re in the market for a nice baitcasting reel under $100, you can’t go wrong with the Revo4 X.
#1 – Lew’s Carbon Fire Baitcasting Rod
I had no trouble at all choosing this as my #1 product for 2018. The Lew’s Carbon Fire baitcasting rods are top notch for the money. They’re lightweight, strong and sensitive. And they’re priced at under $80.
I bought my first one back in the Springtime. I hesitated to spend this much on a rod. But the rod felt really good in my hands at the store. It was super lightweight and it felt like a quality-made rod from top to bottom. So I bought one and gave it a try.
I ended up absolutely loving that rod. And now I have 5 of them! I have 1 medium action, 3 medium heavy action and 1 heavy action. They have become my go-to rods for my most frequently used bass fishing techniques.
As I mentioned, they’re super lightweight. The carbon material is strong, but very light. It is also very sensitive. I have landed bass up to just under 6 lbs. on them and they handled the fish with no problems at all.
I’ve used them for various techniques, such as stick worms (Senko style worms), spinnerbaits, bladed jigs, underspins and some larger topwater baits (on the heavy action rod). And they work great for all of those types of presentations.
I have zero complaints about these rods with regard to their performance or their value. I do despise the poor excuse for a hook keeper, which is a hole in the rod’s trigger. But the rods themselves are tough to find anything to complain about. They just plain work well and are a great value for the price.
Again, I had no trouble at all choosing these rods as my #1 pick for 2018. And I know you’ll love them too.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this summary of my Top Five Tackle Buys of 2018. It’s been fun to use and test all of these great products, and fun to write about them too.
Here’s hoping 2019 has many more great products to test and write about!
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And feel free to leave comments below.
Good fishing <><