1. - Rod and Reel - A 6.5 - 7.0 foot rod with a spinning reel with a good drag works very well fishing a shad spoon or a shad dart. Using 6 lb test mono line performs well for most conditions. If more casting distance is desired use 8 or 10lb braided line with a length of leader at the end. This facilitates tying on darts as well as a shad spoon rig. An 8lb test leader is my choice, but I will drop down to 6lb if the fishing is tough. A double uniknot work nicely for attaching the leader to the braided line. Guys boat fishing often us conventional reels since they are not casting.
2. - Fishing from shore - Since the shad spoon is very light, in order to cast the lure into the river a weight of some sort is required. There are many rigging methods to accomplish this. I use a shad spoon 1/4 - 1/2 oz. weight from Woo's Lures or a beaded keel sinker tied directly to the 6lb test line that I normally use. To the weight I attach a 24 - 30" leader with a small duolock snap on the end. The snap is handy to change the spoon you are using without retying. With the snap there is no need for a split ring on the spoon though the split ring can still be used if you wish. Below is a picture of this shad spoon rig. Another option is to use a double rig where a shad dart provides the weight to propel the spoon during the cast. A 1/4 or 1/8 oz. shad dart works very well with this rig. The dart is at the top of the rig 6" from the swivel and the spoon is at the bottom about 18" from the swivel. This rig can also be fished with a large and small dart instead of a dart and spoon. Some fishermen tie a leader on the hook of a dart and attach a spoon to the leader. This set up I find does not cast as well as the double rig. If you are fishing mono, the spoon can be tied directly to the end of the line using a split ring or a snap. A rubber core sinker or a split shot can be attached about 24 inches up the line to provide the weight needed to cast the spoon. Another method is to tie a swivel on the line with an egg sinker of 1/2 oz. above the swivel. The egg sinker will slide on the line unless it is fastened in some way. To the swivel is attached a 24 inch leader with the spoon on the end as with the other rigs. With any rig that is used the line should never be attached directly to the hole in the spoon. With such a setup you risk cutting the line because the spoon hole is sometimes sharp. Always use a split ring or a small duolock snap or both.
Shad spoon rig with 1/2 oz. shad spoon weigth. Leader should be 24 -30 inches. Shortened for picture.
Double shad rig. Leader to spoon shortened for picture.
3. - Boat fishing - If you plan to cast from a boat any of the fishing from shore rigs will work. If you troll, a swivel attached to the line before the basic shad rig is a good idea to avoid twisting the line. The same setup will work if you anchor and use the rig on a down rigger. Without a down rigger you will have to use a weight of whatever weight needed to get you to the depth you want to fish. Trying different depths is advisable until you find where the fish are hitting. Anchored Boat fishermen have found the shad spoon to works very well since it has an enticing wobble in the current when dead sticking (rod in the rod holder). As with other forms of fishing using florcarbon leaders can be an advantage.