Any fish that is considered protected or a “Species of Concern” is just fine to catch with a rod and reel — as long as you release it, and as long as you did not set out to catch that species — whereas authorities would not be so sensitive to a spear through the fish. An example of such a fish is the Bull Trout in Montana. If you catch a bull trout, you must release it immediately.
This certianly can change from state to state. I would reccomend that you take a look at the Fishing Regulations for whichever state you are particularly interested. In some states, spearfishing is not a legal “method of take”. In those instances, all species would be illegal to take with a spear while many species would be legal with a rod and reel.
It may be important to also note (in regards to the comment by “whitefish”) that in some instances, a state will restrict particular baits (e.g. live bait) or tackle (e.g. use of barbless hooks only) to further minimize the potential for impact on species of concern in a particular water. I am sure Whitefish new this as their answer was a quality one, I just wanted to point this out as well.
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