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Budget Challenge: $140 For A Killer River Fishing Setup

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The day before Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law sent me an unexpected message.

Brother-in-law: “I’m giving you $140 to…purchase one rod and reel that I can use for the rare times I go fishing…”

Me: “I’m in!!!”

I was given $140… to buy a fishing setup for somebody else!

This glorious opportunity spawned the burning question in my mind – how much fishing tackle can you actually buy for $140?

Welcome back once again to Jig Is Up Lurecraft.

Today, I am going to share with you how I embraced the opportunity to construct a complete fishing setup for $140. In the process, I’ll demonstrate how you too can put together a killer river fishing setup on a budget!

$140 Budget Challenge – The Mission

As I stated a moment ago, my brother-in-law asked me to outfit him with a fishing setup so that he would no longer have to borrow any of mine.

But before I went wild buying fishing tackle, he laid down what he wanted to do with this fishing setup.

To begin with, he wanted this setup to be strong enough to handle salmon or steelhead. 

Those of you who are acquainted with these fish can attest that extra long, strong rods are the norm for these brawny species.  

Sockeye Salmon

These fish regularly traverse across surging river currents, and have the thick muscle to prove it. 

With that in mind, I decided it would be necessary to get a long, strong rod and a reel with a quality drag system. That class of tackle offers a lot of leverage when fighting these river bruisers.

I also settled on making the setup a spinning combo.

Baitcasting gear is strong and very much has its place in the world of fishing.

But baitcasters bring with them a significant learning curve. Since my brother-in-law only fishes occasionally and already has experience with spinning tackle, spinning gear is a no-brainer for him to use.

Now comes the tricky part…

He wants to use this setup for trout fishing as well.

Unlike big bruiser salmon, most trout are lithe river acrobats. The best rods for this application typically have considerable bend in them. 

a brown trout, with a pink worm in its mouth, held by a person's hand
Brown Trout

This bend helps keep the hook in the trout’s mouth as it jumps and darts during the fight. In fact, small ultralight gear is widely used by trout anglers in their chase for this wary species.

With these needs in mind, I set course for my local Bass Pro Shops to find the perfect tackle for this budget challenge.

$140 Budget Challenge – The Shopping Spree

Rod and Reel

Finding a great rod and reel combo for $100 or less can be challenging at times. At $100, you are typically looking at a combo that has a $50 rod and a $50 reel.

But sometimes, a combo gets you a $80 rod and a low quality $20 reel. This is a scenario I typically try to avoid, because I prefer to have a better quality reel with my fishing combos.

With that said, I was very fortunate on this particular shopping spree.

Since my shopping was happening the day before Thanksgiving, Bass Pro Shops had great pre-Thanksgiving sales to offer.

I took full advantage of these sales and hit pay dirt!

When looking at rod and reel combos, I stumbled across the Bass Pro Shops Extreme Spinning Combo. Normally this combo retails for $119.99.

But on this day, the combo was on sale for $79.99! 🥳🥳

Keeping in mind the needs this combo would have to fulfill, I selected the 7 foot, Medium-Heavy model. The length and power of this rod would provide ample leverage for fighting salmon and steelhead. 

At the same time, this rod has the flex we need for catching trout.

Holding this combo in my hand, I find the BPS Extreme Spinning Rod to be as light as a feather. Not only is the rod light, but it comes with super comfortable Winn Grips on the handle.

Both of these features combine to make this rod very comfortable and pleasant to fish with for many hours out on the water.

Fishing Line

Now it was time to decide which fishing line to spool onto this setup.

Again, I needed line that could handle a 15 pound salmon without incident.

At the same time, this line had to be super thin and virtually invisible to wary stream trout.

Rather than try to fill both of these needs with the same line, I decided to go with a braid-leader setup.

Braid-Leader Setup

A braid-leader setup consists of a reel filled full of braided fishing line. At the end of the braided line, a length of fluorocarbon or monofilament fishing line is tied on.

Braided line is fantastic because it is very thin, while also being extraordinarily strong. With that being said, braided line is unfortunately very visible to fish underwater.

The strength of braided line makes it a fantastic choice for salmon fishing.

However, trout are famously regarded for getting spooked when they spot fishing line underwater.

This fact makes braided line a poor choice for trout fishing. Braid is very visible to both man and fish while it is underwater. 

To make the setup viable for trout fishing, a leader line is a must.

Leader line is typically composed of either monofilament line or fluorocarbon line. Both of these lines are difficult to see underwater, making them much more suitable for trout fishing.

By employing this braid-leader setup, my brother-in-law would be able to fish with a strong braided line for salmon. 

At the same time, he’d be able to use the same setup for trout simply by tying leader line to the end of the braided line.

For this setup, I went with 20 pound PowerPro Braided Line in moss green. 


PowerPro is arguably the most popular braided fishing line currently in existence, and has a stellar reputation among both amateur and professional anglers.

For the leader line, I selected six pound CX Premium Copolymer Line in clear fluorescent.

PLine CX Premium

CX Premium is in fact my favorite fishing line. I use it on all my personal fishing setups, due to its ease of use, affordability, and sensitivity. 

These features make this line the perfect choice for trout fishing.

The PowerPro line costs $27.99 for a 300 yard spool. In comparison, the CX Premium line costs $7.99 for a 330 yard spool.

I’m definitely spending a chunk of change on fishing line for this rig.

With that said, the fishing lines I picked out will make this setup more flexible to use for different fish species.

Fishing Lure

At this point, I’ve found a great spinning combo and some quality fishing line.

All that remains is to pick out a great fishing lure!

For this setup, I narrowed the decision down to a single timeless lure – the Rapala X-Rap Jerkbait.

As I wrote previously in my How To Catch Trout article, Rapala jerkbaits are fantastic trout-catchers. 

Not only do they hook trout, but they are remarkably effective at landing bass and salmon all year round.

For this challenge, I specifically picked the X-Rap due to its aggressive slashing action in the water as it is twitched and jerked back to the angler. This aggressive action is fantastic at triggering fish to bite!

The X-Rap is available in several sizes and colors.

This particular X-Rap is painted in a high quality Perch color pattern. Furthermore, it weighs ¼ oz and is 3 and ⅛ inches long, which is the perfect size for both salmon and big trout.

Total Cost

At checkout, my costs were

Spinning combo = $79.99

PowerPro Braided Line = $27.99

CX Premium Line = $7.99

Rapala X-Rap = $11.99

Total Cost = $136.92

All told, I spent $136.92 on this fishing setup.

In other words, I not only successfully met the budget but also managed to walk away with $3.08 left! 🥳

$140 Budget Challenge – Putting The Gear To The Test

The looming question remains – will this fishing setup actually catch fish?

To prove the gear I bought would catch fish, my brother-in-law and I went trout fishing in a river a few hours from where we live.

The spinning reel was fully spooled with 20 pound braided line.

At the end of the braided line, I attached a seven foot length of six pound CX Premium line using a double uni knot.

Although I have several spinners and jerkbaits in my tackle box, the first bait I tied onto this setup was our Perch-colored Rapala X-Rap.

Using this rig, my brother-in-law set out to catch some trout. I set foot alongside him with one of my personal rod and reel setups.

It didn’t take long for vindication to arrive…

On his fifth cast, my brother-in-law hooked and landed this beautiful rainbow trout!

Conclusion: Budget Challenge – $140 For A Killer River Fishing Setup

With a $140 budget, I constructed a fishing setup that is an absolute blast to use.

This setup works for multiple species and is beautifully simple to use.

Best of all, it catches fish!

If I can do it, you can do it too.

My advice:

  • Watch out for sales at your local Bass Pro Shops or Cabela’s.
  • Get fishing line and lures that will work for all the fish species you want to fish for.

With these points in mind, try doing your own fishing budget challenge!

Send me an email at blaine@jigisuplurecraft.com or instant message me on Instagram and tell me how you enjoyed the experience!

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