Rods, Reels, and Tackle

Anchor Fishing

I don't believe there is one formula that works for fishing on a big river like the Mississippi.  There are so many places to fish and so many varieties of areas that you could hardly limit "good" tackle to one set of variables.  That being said, I fish quite a number of different rod and reel setups.
Rods and Reels
A Sample of some rods and reels used on the Mississippi River
On the left is a 7' medium heavy Power Plus Trophy rod from Bass Pro Shops.  It's a cheap rod that does a decent job.  The reel is a Pflueger Contender G30.  I really like the reel but it doesn't seem like parts are readily available for it if a problem comes up.

The center pole is an 8' medium heavy Berkley Reflex rod.  It is a fairly economical rod ($30) with a lot of backbone to it.  Unfortunately, I don't believe they make the rod anymore.  It was replaced with the Berkley GlowStik .  My Dad caught a 71 lb Blue on this Berkley Reflex setup.  Coupled to this rod is an Abu Garcia 7000 reel.  This is the red Wal-mart variety from several years back.  I found it on clearance for $59.99.  I like the smoothness of the reel and the casting of it but the drag system is the worst of all the reels I own.  I have plans to upgrade the drag but I haven't done that yet. 

The pole on the right is a little more pricey than the others.  This is a medium heavy Surge Trophy Catfish Rod ($79).  It is a great rod that I really like.   Attached to this rod is the ever reliable Penn 209 reel.  These reels are workhorses that will last a lifetime and are economical.  They have great drag systems and are easy to work on.  A negative for them, in my opinion, is the 3 to 1 gear ratio.  You have a little more winching power but it takes more turns of the handle to get your line in.  So when you are checking baits, getting ready to move, etc., it is more work and time consuming to reel in.  I much prefer a reel in the 4.0 - 5.0  to 1 range.

Drift Fishing

Most of these rods and reels work just as well for drift fishing.  We have started drift fishing a lot over the past few years.  We started using Larry Muse's roller rods made by Warrior Cat rods for suspend drifting and have enjoyed them quite a bit.
Larry Muse Warrior Cat Roller Rod