Ross Essence FW Rod
($229, 4-pieces, 9’, 4.8 oz., www.rossreels.com)
The Essence FW appears to be designed particularly with salmon and steelhead in mind. The Essence FW casts 70’ of line with flawless accuracy. The action is slightly slower than that of the Orvis Hydros rod, however the Essense FW performs with nearly the equivalent performance at less than half of the price. With a simplistically elegent paint finish to round it out, the Essence FW is a well-rounded rod for pursuing big fish. Bottom Line: The Essence FW offers stellar performance at a phenomenal price.
Ross Evolution LT #4 Reel
($315, 3.75”, 4.8 oz., www.rossreels.com)
The Evolution LT is significantly smaller and lighter than all of the other reels that I used. Due to the smaller size I could only put about 125 feet of 20lbs backing, making the lighter weight even more noticeable. The drag system seamlessly engaged when setting the hook. With its minimal weight and impressive drag system the Evolution LT is easily my first choice for salmon, steelhead, pike, and other freshwater fish. I also recommend the Evolution LT for slightly less monstrous saltwater fish, but the limited amount of backing makes me nervous about tackling tarpon or roosterfish on this reel. Bottom Line: Thanks to its light weight, the Evolution LT is the perfect reel for muscle-bound freshwater fish.