Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Shakespeare Firebird Spinning Combo Review

DISCLAIMER:  I have never received products or compensation from Shakespeare.  The combo you see here was paid for with my own hard earned dollars.

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.

Simply put, this combo catches fish without burning a hole in your pocket. If you're looking to start fishing or get a family member into fishing but can't afford a Daiwa Rod or Abu Garcia reel, look to Shakespeare. You won't be disappointed.

P.S. - I'm looking to try a dropshot rig for the first time in the next couple weeks and I'll probably do it on this combo since I've read its good to use spinning tackle. If I have either an awesome or terrible experience, I'll edit. Otherwise, assume it worked pretty well.

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.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I just bought a couple of these for my kids. Found them for $11 at the local Wal-Mart.

Mark said...

No problem, I hope you guys tear 'em up!

brendaleetv70 said...

Well, I have one the same color and all but mine on the second cast it broke, one of the rods that goes inside the other bigger road it came unglued and it came off, but I glued it back with gorrila glue and is fine now!

Mark said...

Thanks for stopping by Brenda, I eventually ended up doing the same thing with Krazy glue, works fine so far!
It's a plus to be able to break down and fit in the trunk for someone with a small car but its not very convenient for the top half to fall off into the lake.

Sprngrdave said...

I have the exact same rod and reel combo and absolutely love it. I've been using it in my backyard pond and have caught hundreds of Bluegill,Bass and Bullhead's with it.

I also had the problem with the top end of the 2 piece rod coming apart. I just put a small piece of fishing line between the 2 pieces to create a snug fit.

Good Luck Fishing - Sprngrdave

Anonymous said...

I also have the same problem of the end falling off but I had the rod for about 2-4 years now. I have my firebird in red. Its a good rod for a cheap price.

Also another thing is that when the reel gets really wet (like it fell in the water) it is so hard to reel. I go perch fishing to and the tip is really flexible detecting a bite easily.

Still all in all a good combo.

Anonymous said...

hey its pretty funny cuz im a kid and this was the first rod my dad bought me the rod is awsome for shore fishing and 25 to 30 yard casting. i have mine equiped with 12 pound test i do have questions does anybody know how to fix the drag i have found that it gets loose easily and the spool once came off when i hooked a bluegill so i keep my drag on super tight and use 12 pound test for my 6 pound 4 pound bass so it wont snap i use monofilament line my dad bought me the firebird in walmart i prefer using a drop shot rig with live bait and a bobber than using lures i use swimbaits as well if you like this rod i recomend the shakespeare mantis i bought it for 15 bucks at walmart and my biggest on that rod was a 5 pound bass. both rods hold up pretty well and my best stratigy for this rod is using a size 4 circle hook with live bait 1 foot above that you add a split shot and add a bobber to ur line depending on the depth i catch my bait fresh from the pond in florida the ponds are full of freshwater fish catch them with a yoyo or cuban reel using a small hook and bread the same technique for bluegill and longear sunfish i hope you enjoy the advice i am a kid but spend praticlly all my spare time fishing. if you got more questions about the rod just txt back.

good luck and happy fishing

Jonathan said...

Try twisting the knob on top of the spool
It worked for me
Mine is in red too!

Anonymous said...

i bearly bought mine ... cant wait to use it!(:

lherr0214 said...

I have the same rod in green and absolutely love her I do cat fishing with it. o'l faithful never let's me down.

rariti said...

I have 2 of the same, one red and one blue. Can someone pls tell me how to switch the handle to the other side? I've pretty much mauled the opposite side of the handle trying to loosen it up. It just wont give. I switched the handles on my others rods easy, but these firebirds won;t budge. Am I missing something? (other than a manual).