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Best Jerkbait Rod 2019 [Buyer’s Guide]

best jerkbait rod

​Twitching a jerkbait can bring out the predator in some fish especially if they are fished in the top few feet of the water column.

Arming your self with the Best Jerkbait Rod is crucial to getting the very best action out of these lures.

Jerkbaits need to be worked by the angler as the have very little if any natural action themselves.

All of that flicking and twitching means you need a rod that is has a fast action for better feedback and is not too long so that you can get some quick ​motion through the tip.

A good Jerkbait rod needs a fast action, roughly six and a half feet in length with a light to medium power rating.

Jerkbaits as the name suggests get their swim action from jerking the rod tip and then pausing.

This action is intended to imitate an injured minnow or any other small bait fish.

By themselves these lures have very little if any natural action. However some of them will have a dive lip just like a crankbait that will help it have a bit of action.

For the most part though it is the jerking of the rod that gives them there injured fish movement.

Unlike say a swimbait rod for larger lures you can use either a spinning or a baitcasting rod for you setup.

Jerkbaits are usually quite light especially the floating variety and when you are using them in smaller sizes then the lighter spinning rod will have an advantage.

​Best ​Jerkbait Rods 2019


​This ​KastKing speed Demon is hands down the best jerkbait rod for the money. It is built on a rod blank that higher end brands would be proud of.

​There are a number of different models to choose from each targeting a specific setup.


This is a fishing rod you can really be proud of. It is made with Elite Carbon blanks, and the rod also makes use of Carbon NanoTube resin which helps you keep the weight reduced and increase the breaking and lifting strength of the rod.

The rod comes with Fuji Guides, Reel Seats and Winn Grips. These are only the finest guides and reel seats-they help everything stay in place. Plus, your lines are never weakened or slowed down by poor quality guides.

This rod is very light and made of high-quality materials. The guide lay is absolutely a dream and the blank is pretty beefy. The tip and the guides are tough, and your line will absolutely stay in place.

Not a single one of them will bend or crack, plus the epoxy they use to attach them is strong and looks great.

The rod blank is rather stiff despite the rod being so lightweight. The rod guides and parts are in line with the spine of the blank which is a huge plus. The grips on this particular rod are amazing.

The Fuji reel seat is top notch and does just what you want it too when it comes to securing the reel foot. Be sure you note that the trigger grip and the reel seat have what is known as a soft touch coating over the plastic.

This is great because it feels good in your hands, but we noted this could probably wear off over time.

The WINN grips are a wonderful material that is tough but easy to hold onto, and we noted that it was often found on some different brands of rods (think Daiwa and Lew's)-but KastKing has found a way to add it to their rod and it feels fantastic.

Specifications:

  • ​Elite carbon rod blanks
  • Fuji guides and reel seat
  • WINN grips

​Lew's are already known for their great reel range, but ot is there casting rods that are really starting to take a bit out of the already established brands.


First off, the rod is made of IM8 graphite, and this makes it feel like a serious high-end quality rod. The Winn-Grip handles are a tried and true favorite that we have seen on other rods, and the rod also features American Tackle Microwave Guides that allow you control over your line and a serious feeling of sensitivity.

The custom skeletal SoftTouch graphite reel seats will aid in weight reduction but also bring you serious comfort as you work on your catches.

We purchased this rod only about two months ago but have used it plenty of times. We really liked what we read when researching for this particular product, but actually holding it in our hands and trying it out was a different story.

The Winn grips are definitely a favorite among anglers, and it is not hard to understand why. They feel comfortable and the rod, as strong as it is, is very lightweight and a real pleasure to hold.

We have caught a few bass with it weighing about 5-8 lbs., but we feel this can confidently handle just about anything you throw at it. This rod might cost a little more than you might expect to pay, but it is really worth it.

The rod itself casts really far, and we did not have to put in a lot of effort to get that to happen. But let’s talk a little more about the sensitivity factor for this rod.

Lots of other rods might advertise sensitivity, but none of the others really compare to what we felt using the Lew’s. This handle jigs up to .5 oz with ease, so it is just perfect for those moments when you come into contact with the bottom.

In sum, this is a rod we would not sleep on, it’s got all you want and more.

Specifications:

  • ​IM8 graphite rod
  • Microwave line guides
  • Graphite reel seat

​Our first spinning rod in this line up and it's one of the most popular mid-market spinning rods ever.

The St Croix Triumph has made a serious name for itself as a one of the best trout rods available, it also makes a mean jerkbait rod especially for lighter lures.

​For this rod you can look forward to hard aluminum oxide guides that come with black frames. The Fuji DPS reel seat is a signature of great quality materials, and some of the other models feature Fuji ECS or TCS reel seats (if you get a casting model).

The rod itself is made of top grade SCII graphite. Combine this with the two coats for each model of Flex-Coat slow-cure finish, and the five-year warranty, and you have yourself a real winner.

Even if you have never had the pleasure of casting with a St. Croix before, you should start now-you will immediately be taken by the sensitivity of the rod.

The construction and durability of these rods are well loved by anglers everywhere. This one helped us land some pretty good walleyes and even some panfish.

Some anglers may question if they should buy when they hear the rod is made in Mexico, but there is nothing to be concerned about. Performance is unmatched and plenty of favorable user reviews reveal the truth about this rod.

This is a fast-action and lightweight rod, and it is all you need for detecting those super light bites. This one is just perfect for travel and will help you feel confident when jigging and casting.

All in all this is a great rod for any purpose, we used it as a light-load rod for the small saltwater lures. It casts really well and the guides keep everything in line. We used ours with 20 lb. braid which is really great at picking up light bites.

All in all the price is right, the fish we catch are great (so far we tried it with saltwater lures as well as fishing for walleye and trout). Don’t question whether or not to get this rod; just go for it and see the quality for yourself.

Specifications:

  • ​SCII premium graphite rod blank
  • Aluminum oxide guides
  • 5 year warranty

​Ugly Stik is a brand we know and love when it comes to fishing, so we were really glad to try out and review this particular rod.

We liked the trademark UglyTech construction that features graphite and fiberglass that makes the rod very strong but sensitive to those bites. 


The UglyTuff stainless steel guides are also great-the durability is tops and you don’t need to worry about insert pop-outs.

They have their own reel seat, but that doesn’t mean you should worry about its integrity. Lots of anglers have loved the UglyStik brand for generations, and it is easy to see why.

At first when we held it, we did not know what we would say about the weight. It sure didn’t feel as light as some other rods we held in our hands, but as soon as we tested this thing out, we found that it met all of the expectations we set and more. We did some live bait fishing with it as well as some trolling and casting.

Ugly Stiks simply do not break when it comes to putting them to the test. We knew of one angler who was able to catch a 70 lb. plus Surubi Catfish, and even though it took him 30 minutes to land the monster, his rod held up with no problem at all.

This is not only great for using jerkbaits, but for any type of light fishing, really. One thing we liked was the way the color pattern was different at the tip of the rod, so it is much easier to see when the fish is on the line.

All in all, it’s a great rod and you can pair your favorite reel and line with it, you will feel happy with the results and how it feels. The handle is nice and large, and it is so easy to hold. You will absolutely feel confident and land all the fish with it.

Specifications:

  • ​Ugly Tech graphite and fiberglass blend
  • Ugly tuff one piece guides

​This is a super rod that combines power but is also very sensitive to those nibbles you get on your line.

The frame guides are made of super tough titanium, and they are very lightweight. Teh EVA and TAC handles make sure that your grip stays PUT even when putting up a fight, and the handle gets wet.

​The hidden handle style reel seat is perfect because comfort as well as practicality come together with no compromise to the quality of the rod. And lastly, the rod is made of super tough graphite and can stand up to any test of strength.

We noted that the rods were strong, flexible, and at the same time sensitive. You can put on any rod that you like, but we used a Quantum Smoke reel and tested it out catching some smallies in the 3-5-pound range with absolutely no worries. You can also go ahead and use a size 30 reel as well if you like.

We found that while using it the handle construction and the guides involved made it well worth the price all on its own, so even though it may be tempting to buy a cheaper rod we advise you to go the extra mile and opt for something great like this.

Once you feel those small bites and grip that comfortable cork-material handle, you will be so glad you put forth those extra dollars.

One thing we liked that we discovered by accident was that these rods float. Accidents happen and to lose a rod is a huge deal, especially if you’ve spent some money on it. These thankfully stay floating and you can absolutely retrieve them.

Altogether we were very pleased with this casting rod and would recommend it to any angler, old or young.

Specifications:

  • ​Titanium frame guides
  • Hidden handle design reel seat
  • ​High end casting rod

​This is definitely a rod you will pay top dollar for, but at the same time you are getting a tournament-quality piece of equipment.

There are plenty of rods available for specific actions if you like this particular one.

​ We found the rod to be lightweight and very sensitive when using it. The rod itself is built with hybrid high-module carbon complete with blanks made of nano-resin, so you get strength plus that great sensitivity you need to notice even the smallest bites.

Fuji reel seats, a favorite among anglers everywhere, are used for this particular rod. They are rubberized and soft to the touch so that your comfort is always on point during long fishing trips.

And the guides are on point too. Fuji tangle-free guides made with alconite rings create very minimal friction and give you the long casting distance and line life you desire. The features are high-end, and really set the bar high for casting rods.

After all, the rods have solid cork grips, and tough handles on the casting rods. The hardware is really something to smile about, once again those Alconite guides as well as the rubberized reel seats provide a rare blend of comfort and functionality.

Certainly, these rods are not flashy by any means, but when we tested them out, we found they work better than their appearance gives them credit for.

You might not find them to be of the same quality as some of the bigger names out there, but you can use these days after day and expect the same good performance each time.

For a cast that goes far and a rod that won’t quit, go for this Shimano. It will serve you well whether you seek to use this in a tournament, for fun or just to try something new out.

Specifications:

  • ​Hybrid high modulus carbon rod blank
  • Fuji Alconite Guides
  • High quality cork grip

​These rods are made to make you look, but not put it back, because it gives you all you want in a casting rod, minus the huge price tag.

These rods are known for their high modulus graphite blanks that give the angler the highest sensitivity you ever dreamed of.

​The guides are wrapped in Kevlar, the rod features a Fuji reel seat, and there are also comfortable AA cork handles to grip when things get serious. If you end up loving your Dobyns Rods Fury casting rod, you will love the other rods they make for other actions, too.

This rod has awesome action and is just so comfortable to hold. It is also lightweight and constructed for toughness and lots of use. The rod tip is very sensitive, and you will feel absolutely everything going on in the water.

To set the hook on a ​jerkbait bite is ideal when you do it with this rod, and it has heaps of “spine” to get those hooks into the mouth of a bass while at the same time soft enough so as to allow the crankbait to not get torn out, or otherwise stick to a cover or other item you might be pulling the line around.

One thing we did notice was that the reel seat threads are a bit on the short side. It is rather noticeable how short the reel seat as well as the threads are on this particular rod. Also, the rod butt is a bit shorter if you are used to having a longer one, but all in all, this rod has been balanced pretty well.

So, in closing, we would recommend this rod wholeheartedly, especially if you are into ​jerkbaits. The weight and the balance are much better than what we would expect for a rod of this price range.

Specifications:

  • ​High modulus graphite blanks
  • Kevlar wrapped guides
  • Fuji reel seat

​This rod was made from 24-ton carbon and features skeleton style casting and spinning reel seats complete with cork inserts.

Aluminum oxide guides make sure that your line will see a reduction in the amount of tangles.



The rod itself is very durable and responsive to all that happens when you cast and hook a fish with it thanks to the Unidirectional Fiber reinforced rod tip technology.

It is also this same tech that enables you to increase your rod tip lift power by more than two times! Don’t let those heavy fish intimidate you-get this in your arsenal.

What we liked about this particular rod was the fact that it did not cost a bundle, but instead offered the quality we wanted at a good price. The secret behind Okuma rods is that the designers took the actions from premium rods and brought them down to a price point we all could afford.

Let’s focus a little more on that lifting power. The Reflexions feature unidirectional fiber construction (UFR) so the tip can lift three times more. That means all the fish, no matter their weight, will be yours.

The guides are slick too-aluminum oxide inserts are built so that the angles are precise and therefore minimize the chance that your line, whether monofilament or braided, will wrap around the guide frame.

We would also like to say that we caught many carp with this rod-some weighing close to 30 lbs. The backbone of this rod is really amazing and kept them on despite the harshest pulls at some pretty extreme angles.

The line also did not get tangled up, thanks especially to those amazing guides we cannot say enough about.

Nobody knows how Okuma was able to pull off this amazing feat of value and quality, but don’t question it-just get your hands on this rod and get those fish.

Specifications:

  • ​24-ton carbon blank
  • Unidirectional reinforced rod tip
  • Medium/Light power rating

​Jerkbait Rods

​As we have mentioned above the best jerkbait rods for the money will tend to be quite specific in terms of their attributes.

Can you buy a good jerkbait rod under 100 ?

Yes absolutely.

​You don't need to spend a fortune when choosing a rod for jerkbait fishing. All good jerkbait fishing rods will fall somewhere within the following ranges:

  • Type - either a spinning or casting rod.
  • Length - between 6 and a half and 7 feet long.
  • Action - fast, as you need to put some action through the tip.
  • Power - light to medium.

Type

You can use either a spinning rod for jerkbaits or a casting rod. For the smaller sized lures a spinning rod with a light weight reel will be the best option.

Also if you are a beginner as spinning setup may be the better option. A baitcasting rod and reel has a steeper learning curve when it comes to casting than a spinning rod.

For larger, heavier lures the baitcasting rod and reel combo will truly start to excel.

Baitcasters are much easier to work with especially if you are casting all day long. Once you learn how to use them they really are a game changer.

Length

As we have mentioned above the best length rod for jerkbaits is roughly six and a half feet.

​Although some will always prefer a seven foot rod when casting a lot(as a longer rod will cast slightly further all things being equal) twitching and jerking a long rod is a sure fire way of tiring your arms and shoulders out.

If you like to put a lot of action into your lures then the shorter length rod of six and a half feet will make it easier to get a snappy twitch to the rod tip than a much longer one. Due to the fact that you will be moving a longer level you won't be able to move a rod of over seven feet with as much speed or accuracy.

You may be tempted to drop down to using a rod that is under six and a half feet in length but the problem that you will face will be one of reduced casting distances.

If you are trying to work a lot of water all day on a lake those extra ten feet or so of casting distance can make a massive difference.

Action

Action and power are often confused....

​When we talk about the action of a rod we are describing where along the rod blank does the rod start to bend when it is being loaded.

​Action is graded from slow to fast, there are a lot of actions in between the two such as moderate/fast.

​When a rod is described as having a slow action it means that it will start to bend lower down near the butt of the rod.

A fast action rod will usually bend in the top one third of the rod blank up towards the rod tip.

Faster action rods have much better tip sensitivity than slower action rods. However they will not cast as well as a slow action unless you know how to really whip the lure back during the back portion of the cast.

A slower action rod is not a sensitive as a faster action rod but it will have a lot more backbone and can handle be loaded by a much heavier lure. They will usually cast much further distances especially in longer lengths than a fast action.

The best action for a jerkbait rod is going to be a fast action. You need to know what is going on with the lure as you jerk it through the water.

A slow action would not be sensitive enough and you would feel somewhat disconnected from the lure.

Power

You should always choose a jerkbait pole that has a medium power rating.

If you usually find yourself fishing with smaller lighter jerkbaits then you could drop down to a light/medium power rating.

Heavy power rating are all well and good for a frog rod, but when it comes to lighter jerkbaits then the medium power rod will allow you to still get some feed back as to what is going on in the water with your lures.

A heavier rated rod will also affect how good an action you can get from your twitching of the rod tip so always stay below a medium rated rod.

Line

​When using a jerkbait rod for bass most fishermen will stay in the 10 to 15 lbs of monofilament. Then size of lure that you are using should determine how heavy your line is. The line will then need to match the rating on the rod and you'll need a suitably sized reel also.

Best Line for Swimbaits

Best Line for Swimbaits

​Choosing the best line for swimbaits will depend on a number of factors. There is no single line that is the best choice in every situation.

The size of swimbait, depth you are fishing, types of structures and the species of fish that you are targeting can greatly affect which line to select.

Most fishermen will tend to opt for the large style swimbaits. This means casting large lures long distances.

All that work is usually rewarded with bigger fish. I fact on waters where it is known that larger specimum bass and musky are lurking throwing swimbaits in the larger sizes is usually the go to tactic.

​Best Line for Swimbaits

​The best fishing line to use for swimbaits will depend on where exactly you are fishing in the water column. In shallower waters monofilament is the go to choice, whereas in deeper areas straight flourocarbon will work much better.

​1. Monofilament

​If you are working your swimbaits in the top 5 feet of the water column then the best option for a swimbait line will be good old fashioned monofilament.

Mono has better floating properties than flourocarbon as it is less dense.

Mono will help to keep the swimbait up a little as you are fishing over shallows and weed-beds. It also has a lot more stretch than the other two lines so when setting large treble hooks you have less of a chance of ripping a lip.

Most swimbait reels will have their line capacity quoted in lbs for monofilament.

​2. Flourocarbon

​Flouro can be used when you intend on working a swimbait into deeper waters. Because it is more dense than mono it can help to get your lure a little bit deeper. 

It will not stretch as much as mono and as a result you may not get as good of a side to side action from the lures especially if they big glide baits.

I have found that the extra stretch that mono gives you acts as somewhat of a spring, and if you have selected the correct action on your swimbait rod the you can work them back and forth to great affect.

​3. Braided Fishing Line

​There are two scenario's where I would use braid for swimbaits:

  • ​Targetting large species like pike or musky
  • Working weedless swimbaits over thick cover

​Note - braid has a higher risk of snapping especially when using really heavy lures. As you retrieve the top layer of braid can and does get bedded down into the previous layers that are already on the spool.

The consequences of this is that your cast may stop dead in mid flight if it is bedded in too tight, this can result in the line snapping and you losing your big expensive swimbait.

The advantage that braid gives you is when you are using a weedless swimbait.

Due to it's smaller diameter braided fishing line will slice through weeds much easier than mono of flourocarbon.

​So when working large weed-beds and lilies I'd opt for braid as the go to line for larger swimbaits.

Generally you'll want to pair the braid main line with a flourocarbon leader. If you happen to snap the line chances are it will be on the leader.

When fishing for larger pike or musky then you really should use a wire leader to the lure.

Swimbait Setup Guide for Beginners

Swimbait Setup

​Choosing the right swimbait setup means matching you rod, reel and line to the size and weight of the swimbaits you are looking to fish with.

A lot of people may think you just cast them out on a normal bass spinning rod and reel and retrieve, but things are a little more complex than they seem when using swimbaits.

There are a tonne of different swimbaits available to buy in all different shapes, colors and sizes.

​In recent years the larger swimbaits have become extremely popular and throwing them on the wrong setup is a recipe for disaster.

​Swimbait Setup

​Matching your rod, reel and line is paramount to perfecting your swimbait setup. Ultimately your choice of tackle will be determined by how big the lures are that intend on fishing with.

Medium to large sized swimbaits will need a setup that lies somewhere in the following ranges:

  • ​Rod - 7' to 8' in length, fast action, medium to heavy power
  • Reel - 300 or 400 sized baitcasting reel
  • Line - Braid or mono to match your reel size

​Rod 

​The best swimbait rods will usually have a fast action and a medium to heavy power rating.

Again what you should choose will depend on how big and more importantly how heavy the lures you intend on fishing with.

If you are using swimbaits that are six inches or less in length then chances are you won't need a dedicated rod. 

Once you go a little bigger with lures then it's time to start looking at a purpose built rod.

Personally I think the sweet spot in length is about 8 feet long.  

There are plenty of big brands that offer rods specifically for the larger lures and they are preferred over a normal small casting rod.

You'll want something with a rarely beefy backbone so look for a rod with a power rating of medium to heavy.

The heavier rod give you a much better hookset. Plus you will be targeting bigger fish so the extra resistance through the rod blank will be needed.

Action wise you'll want a fast action. A fast action means much better casting and it also gives that little bit more sensitivity through the rod tip.

Setting the hook right with big ​swimbaits can be a little bit difficult to judge, if you were to use a slower action rod then you would have even less feedback through the rod tip.

Reel

The best swimbaits reel for your setup will most probably be a sized 300 or 400 baitcaster.

​A baicaster is the preferred choice to a spinning reel as you can generally get a longer cast and you have perfect control of where the lure stops in mid-flight due to the thumb control on the spool.

Larger swimbaits will almost certainly require a size 400 baitcaster, some fishermen when throwing the giant swimbaits will even use a size 500.

The larger reels tend to be available in either a high or a low gear ratio.

The lower gear ratio gives you a lot more power for cranking really big lures. Larger lures do create a lot more resistance in the water as they are retrieved.

A higher gear ratio will give you a much quicker retrieve but at the expensive of power. Line per turn is usually measured in inches and you will often see manufacturers quote it this way.

​A strong drag and a high quality spool brake are also crucial. Cheaper reels will generally use weaker materials and have poor engineering tolerances when compared to the top brands.

When throwing swimbaits chances are that you are targeting the bigger fish. A robust drag built from high quality components is crucial. 

​Lower quality drags will almost always end up seizing on you and buckling under the pressure of a large fish.

Learning how to tune your reel correctly is crucial to getting the best performance out of it when using larger lures.

The braking system on the spools needs to be adjusted and the best way to do this is by experimentation. Dedicate half an hour to make a lot of casts whilst making small adjustments to the brake pressure setting.

Once you find the best balance between distance and risk of over-run then record what the setting is for a variety of different lure weights.

​Always favor spending more money on the reel rather than the rod. Rods get broken regularly, reels however if looked after and servived ever couple of years should last at least 10 years of for even the heaviest of users.

Line

The age old choice between mono of braid rages in the swimbait world just the same as in most other forms of bass fishing.

Most anglers end up having a preferred choice and will use it almost exclusively for just about every style and setup that they choose to use.

If you are using mono then for medium to large swimbaits 25 to 30 pound monofilament is probably the what you should spool your reel up with.

For braid you can usually double the breaking strain for the same amount of mono, so 50 to 60 pound mono.

Using mono fishing line for swimbaits allows you to have a little bit more stretch in the line which can act as a great shock absorber when targeting really big fish.

Braid however has very little stretch and you can generally get a little bit more casting distance out of it.

Braid will also slice through weeds much easier than mono. So, if you are working your lures in and around or over large weed beds than switching to braid may be the better option.

A great compromise is to use braid as the main line on the spool and then to use either a monofilament or a flourocarbon leader of between 5 and 8 feet.

This type of line setup for swimbaits gives you the best of both worlds, the casting and slicing performance of braided fishing line with low visibility and stretch of mono.

  • June 24, 2019
  • Bass

Best Swimbait Rod 2019 [Buyer’s Guide]

best swimbait rod

​Although any decent casting or spinning rod can throw small swimbaits, once you start hunting large bass with big swimbaits a normal crankbait or baitcasting rod may not be up to the job.

So what kind of rod do you need?

The Best Swimbait Rod will have a medium to heavy power rating with a fast action

Larger swimbaits cause a lot of drag when they are retrieved. That swim action needs a solid swimbait reel combined with a rod with a lot of backbone.

​When your lure weights get upwards of 8 ounces it is best to be equipped with a dedicated swimbait rod and reel that is perfectly suited to handle these big lures.

It is not uncommon to see a bass boat with at least five different rod and reel combinations, and usually you will see a combo that can handle big swimbaits.

Swimbait fishing has exploded in recent years and more and more brands of super realistic lures are being launched every year.

Some of those brands will contain some monster lures with big paddle like tails. Anything over 6 inches in length will need a rod blank with considerable backbone.

As a general guide you will need a rod that falls somewhere in the following ranges.

  • Power - medium to heavy power rating
  • Action - fast action
  • Length - 7 to 8 feet in length
  • Materials - high modulus graphite rod blank

The numbers quoted above are not absolutes and if your goal is to throw finesse lures of 2 ounces or lower then you need some thing a little lighter and shorter.

Move up to some monsterous 8 ounces paddle tail swimbaits and you need to stick to the higher end of scale when it comes to swimbait ​pole choices.

​Best Swimbait ​Rods 2019


​This is a rod which comes in at 8 foot long, is heavy-duty, and is constructed of quality materials. Did we also mention it’s very affordable? 

​This is a rod that is perfect for large swimbaits or other heavy baits of your choosing.

It is rated for lures in the 2 to 8 ounce range, which ultimately makes it a great all rounder esecially for those that are just trying swimbaits for the first time and are not looking to throw massive lures all of the time.

The rod itself is constructed of graphite blank as well as Kevlar wraps. This rod features a Fuji reel seat and thus is indicative of this rod’s ability to handle some tough fishing action.

This rod can stand up to about 15 to 30 lb. fish, and you can choose green or black for the rod color.

Compared to other Dobyns rods, such as the Champion XP and Champion Extreme, this rod is a lot more affordable and lets pretty much everybody in on the greatness and quality that Dobyns are known for.

The rod puts the most important features first. Sure, you may not get all the bells and whistles that you would with a higher-priced Dobyns rod, but this is a great one to have in your toolkit.

The end result is a rod that is durable, clean and stylish, painted in matte black or green. They stand out on your rack and let people know you are serious.

This is a great rod if your goal is to throw baits weighing up to five ounces. This one is definitely a way to get into swimbaits and a great way to get yourself a quality rod without spending too much money.

It also works great casting frogs and big jigs, is light and easy to hold, and has the power to reel in the biggest pike, bluegill or muskies your local lake has to offer. Hook it up with your favorite reel and get ready to win all the tournaments!

Specifications:

  • ​7'9" in length
  • Medium/heavy power rating
  • High modulus graphite blank
  • Fuji reel seat
  • Kevlar wrapped.

​This is perfect for casting larger swimbaits as well as umbrella rigs that tend to be smaller. It holds up pretty well.
The dark-blue coloration is enough to make heads turn but also looks great in your rod locker. 

​It comes in at 7.5 feet and has quality materials at a price point you simply can’t beat. IT features a great cork handle that is comfortable to the touch, IM8 Graphite body, and Fuji-brand guides made of aluminum oxide. The result is a rod that is heavy but not so unwieldy that you lose what you hooked.

We noted this particular rod feels a little heavier than other blanks, and there was also no indication of the recommended line size or lure weight. Therefore, you will need some experience to safely judge what the ideal weight should be.

Although the name of the rod includes ‘swimbait’ in the title, we would not put anything more weighty than .75 oz or 5 inches in length. Smaller baits than this will work really well. Frogs with thick cover also handled like a dream.

The price point on this particular rod is very reasonable, and the quality is there but without the need to break the bank.

One thing that we would have improved upon is the guides. They are aligned a bit to the right of the reel seat, more than we would have cared for, and we could feel a difference in how the rod performed. If you will be casting near close targets, you will really feel this.

This rod is great all things considered. The balance is spot on and the weight of the rod is easy to hold. Performance is good for the price and while you may be able to find much better swimbait rods, this is good for a beginner or a veteran who just wants a good product at a superb price.

Specifications:

  • ​Top notch IM8 graphite rod blank
  • Aluminum oxide Fuji guides
  • Pac Bay reel seat
  • Split grip with cork finish

​Here is a rod that every fisherman is hoping to add to their arsenal, and for very good reason.

It features a Fuji DPS reel seat, Fuji K concept guide frames, and lightweight but tough carbon blank construction.

​This is one of the newest Okuma Select Rods and is perfect for baits weighing in at 2 to 10 oz. This rod loads very well, and the right reel will make the cast a real pleasure; if you’re like us you will hardly feel that line go out.

We tried a few different swimbaits out when using this rod, and we feel that things really start to get good once you hit 3 ounces.  The heavier baits seem to reduce the efficiency of the rod, but they still work pretty well. 3 ounces, we feel, is the “magic number”.  If you own an 8” Hudd, this rod handles it like a dream, and that is what gets us those prize bass weighing over 10 lbs.

The manufacturers have labeled this as a “swimbait rod”, and that is indeed the ideal application for this one. After all it really excels in handling our swimbait, but we think it can handle an Alabama rig, maybe even an umbrella rig.

Consider the A-rig with a head weighing in at ⅜ of an ounce and then a few different swimbait heads, and then the weights of everything else (plastics)- getting to a weight of about 3 oz plus is not going to be hard at all. So, all you A-riggers out there, go for it.

All in all, the price is good for what you get. This thing won’t cast 1 oz swimbaits, nor will it work for a 5 oz swimbait with a .5-ounce jig head. However, if you need a rod that can handle the huge baits and lead you to big bass, this is going to be the rod to do it.

Specifications:

  • ​Fiber reinforced blank
  • Uprated model of previous Guide Select Rods
  • Increased lifting power
  • Fuji K-concept guides
  • Fuji reel seat

​So, we’ve been testing this guy out for a while now and decided to compile our thoughts into one review.  Come discover what we found during our testing.

​For starters, the ring locks located on the grip are great and you can tell they mean business. They are tough enough to securely hold a large swimbait reel to the side of the rod with no trouble at all.  

The reel seat is air-foil carbon, there are stainless steel line guides, and there are 36-ton Japanese Toray Blanks included also.

After all, putting a lot of your power into holding the rod is harder on the hands than we like to admit, especially when you’ve hooked a big one or are casting. You can also easily put these under your arm during retrieve, makes it easier to set the hook and more comfortable also.

These rods might look like something you’d play billiards with, but they are easier to handle than you think. They handle the weight of the cast with ease, and the tip bends just right, giving you a flexible rod experience and not the feeling of handling a broomstick like some others we’ve had in the past.

Not only will you love the flexibility, but the construction and hardware of this rod is tops. It is all heavy-duty stuff, designed for ease of use. These rods are powerful, and they handle the heavy stuff with ease-don’t worry about hooking and landing a huge 10 to 20 pounder when using this rod. It’s designed to bend and work with you in making sure you land your catch.

The landing will be comfortable, too-you can keep your hands and wrists all in line as you retrieve while using the Muse.

All in all, it works best with 2-4-ounce swimbaits if you or somebody you know is looking to start off with big baits, try this rod out.

Specifications:

  • ​36 Ton Toray rod blanks
  • Carbon reel seat
  • Zirconia guide inserts
  • SIC rod tip

​Here we have a carbon-blank constructed rod that features premium Zeus titanium guides, these are actually 43% lighter than the usual stainless-steel ones we usually find on rods like this.

There are also Fuji trigger reel seats on these models, and best of all it all comes backed with a limited lifetime warranty.


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that this rod means business. The super responsive 24- and 30-ton carbon is second to none, and the Sea-Guide RS inserts are harder than quartz. Inserts that are made from the RS material provide you a larger opening in which lines as well as knots can easily pass through.

The carbon-fiber grips are also worth noting. This is un-coated material, so you get to hold a very fine and pleasing texture that will have you gripping the rod with comfort and ease. The fore-grip is actually crafted as part of the reel seat, and it aids in securing the reel plus covers up all the reel threads, so your hand is comfortable for long periods of time.

These rods are great, and it is likely you will want multiples of them. They work really well when it comes to swimbaits for bass, and you might even want to get one for others, like muskies. The quality is second to none and is rated for 2 oz to 10 oz when it comes to lure weight. For the line weight, the rating comes in at 15 to 40 lbs., so even the heaviest of the fish can’t get away.

In sum, this rod does everything and more-it is very sensitive, and the grips are to blame. Vibrations are handled a lot easier thanks to this, and you can more easily sense a bite. This rod looks sharp and is a real pleasure to use.

Specifications:

  • ​24 Ton graphite blanks
  • Fiber reinforce tip
  • ​Titanium guides

​Once again, we have a top-quality rod from Abu Garcia. This is a rod you will get excited over when you learn it is made of tetra axial carbon construction, which increases its durability as well as its overall strength. You will definitely appreciate the Alconite guides.

​The Fuji reel seat makes sure your experience is comfortable. And best of all you get a five-year limited warranty. The rod is coated with a cool gloss finish the lower third which helps to make it look great, but also has a raw sanded blank for the rest of the rod.

The grip is certainly comfortable, as it is made of EVA foam and has a split rear grip but a full foregrip.  When we first got this rod and took a look at it, we were happy to see that the guides were perfectly in line, and the thread wraps were secured neatly. This build makes us confident in knowing we can throw big baits with it.

When it came time to test out the baits, we found this rod was rated for weights of 1-4 oz. It handles lures of that size with ease. We tested a one oz lure all the way up to a six-ounce lure to which it did a fine job when we did a lob cast.  However, it is best if you stick to the proper weights for best results.

We were also pleased with the sensitivity of this rod. It’s average at best, but still good. Given the size of the stick, it’s hard to find ones that are super sensitive, especially when it features all that good hardware.

This rod was originally going to be for use in Japan, but thankfully was brought to the USA for others to enjoy. This is a sizable broomstick you will enjoy using for your big baits.

Specifications:

  • ​Tetra axial carbon blank construction
  • Fuji alconite guides
  • Fuji reel seat
  • 5 year warranty

​This is a rod that features Daiwa’s signature Super Volume Fiber graphite build, x45 bias graphite fiber construction allowing superb flexibility and strength, and a Daily custom carbon air reel seat as well as an aluminum reel clamp nut.

​The split grip EVA foam design plus hook keeper is comfortable, and the micro pitch blank finish looks good too.

Coming in at 8 feet, this rod is a total winner. This is great if you seek to use the biggest lures out there, and there’s really nothing this guy can’t handle. Provided you add the right reel to this, you are going to be the proud owner of a rod that can handle the largest swimbait without too much trouble.

The aluminum oxide guides plus that carbon air reel seat add to the ease of use. Even though this rod is a pretty large broomstick, you don’t need to do a lot of crazy casts in order to get it to fly.

We tested it out in terms of the baits it can handle; and we found that 2-5 oz was just perfect for this particular rod. It handled the casts naturally and easily. We even tried out the Hudd 8-inch Rainbow Trout, as well as the 7-inch Century Triple Trout. It handled them like a true pro.

 The rod itself felt natural and light but also balanced when we held it, and honestly it feels more like a flip stick instead of a swimbait rod.  However, do not try to flip or pitch this thing like we did.

The tip does a great job of handling jigs and plastics that weigh a half ounce quite well. However, we did have some troubles with the really long handle. By flip stick standards, it’s really long and a bit awkward.

All in all, it’s a top rod and if you can get your hands on it, we highly recommend it.

Specifications:

  • ​x45 graphite fiber construction
  • ​Carbon Air reel seat
  • Split grip EVA foam handle

​Swimbait ​Rods

​As mentioned above when choosing a rod for swimbaits there are a few basic requirements that will that you need to take into consideration.

Firstly it really is the size and weight of the lures that you will be fishing with that should determine what kind of rod is best for swimbaits.

The following list of attributes are what you need to pay close attention to when selecting a rod for swimbait fishing:

  • Power - medium to heavy power rating
  • Action - fast action
  • Length - 7 to 8 feet in length
  • Materials - high modulus graphite rod blank

Personally I only use a dedicated swimbait pole when using the bigger lures. On the lighter to medium sized lures a good crankbait rod is just as usable.

​Power 

The power of a fishing rod will normally describe how strong the rod is or what weight lure that it is has been designed to be used with.

You'll usually find a power rating stamped on the rod blank. They can either be quaoted in what ounce lure to use with it or one of:

  • ​Ultralight
  • Light
  • Medium
  • Heavy
  • Xtra heavy

There are of course some ratings that fall in between those listed above such as light/medium, medium/heavy etc.

You will also get a line rating that the rod will work best with. These rating are normally ranges between two extremes.

For swimbaits you need a rod with a line rating of at least 20 lb. Power wise you should choose a rod that is rated medium to medium/heavy.

​Action

​Rod action is often confused with rod power. But, the two are very different things.

​A rod's action describes where exactly the rod will start to bend when put under pressure.

A fast action rod when pull against will have it's bend start higher up near the top two thirds of the rod blank. 

Whereas a slow action rod will start to bend much lower down near the reel seat.

For much lighter lures a fast action with a light power rating is usually suitable.  Once you start to use bigger lures though you will need to combine a fast action with a medium to heavy power rating.

A slower action can give you a better casting distance as you can load the full length of the rod blank during your casting swing, but they are also mush less sensitive when compared to a fast action.

The tip on a fast action rod is more sensitive and gives much better feedback down through the rod and into the handle.

​Length

​The right length rod for swimbaits roughly around 7 and a half feet. Shorter rods are really not that suitable with large lures.

​But if your lures are quite small at under two ounces then a shorter rod can be better especially if you are casting in a confined space like on the banks of a small river or stream.

Smaller rods are also considered more accurate so if your goal is pin point precision with light to medium sized lure then a good length for a swimbait fishing rod would be seven feet. You can go smaller depending on the situation.

​If you are using some of the bigger swimbaits then do not hesitate to use an eight foot rod. That extra half a foot can make a real difference particularly to casting distance.

​Materials

​E-glass was traditionally the go to material of rod builders many years ago but advances in materials over the last twenty years have resulted in lots of super light rods.

These rods are normally built from graphite or some form of graphite blend.

They can be blended with either e-glass, s-glass or carbon fiber if you are looking for a truly high end rod.

Graphite is a lot more sensitive than e-glass and it is also a lot lighter. So if you are casting large lures all day a lighter rod can make a massive difference in just how tired you will be by the end of the day.

The lightness does come worth a price though, they are more brittle and will break a lot easier than a fiber glass rod blank.

If you do buy a ​high end rod then it is certainly worth the extra expense to buy a decent rod tube so that it can be protected during transit.

​Miscellaneous

At a minimum you'll need 20 lb monofilament or 40 pound braid. Again this is where it is crucial to pair you rod and reel with your line. All of that stems from your choice of lures though.

​The line guides on the rods listed above are all of a high enough quality as too are the reel seats.

You should regularly inspect your line guides for wear and tear. Any kind of detects or sharp edges on them can ruin your fishing line especially braid.

If you do see and issue best to get either a new insert fitted of have the full line guide replaced.

The choice between a cork handle or a foam one really does come down to personal preference.

Just be sure that your rod and reel are compatible. Some of the very low profile baitcaster reels can have a issue in that the handle may end up rubbing against the line as it moves over it.

This is not always apparent when you purchase a rod.

Best Swimbait Reel 2019 [Buyer’s Guide]

Best Swimbait Reel

With the surge in popularity of large swimbait fishing fishermen need to up their tackle considerations when it comes to getting the best casting performance from their setup.

​Choosing the best swimbait reel for you rod requires that you understand the relationship between the size/weight of the lure and how that affects your casting and retrieval.

​Swimbait Reel Gear Ratio

​The best gear ratio for swimbaits is ​one that is matched to the size of the lure, a larger lure should have a lower gearing, and for a smaller lure you can use either low or a high gear ratio.

There is no "best"...

​So;

You need to match the gear ratio to the size of the swimbaits that you intend to use.

The larger the swimbait the harder it will be to pull through the water.

For example, if you are casting all day a higher gearing and large lure will become very tiring on your arm. And a high speed reel will tend to wear out a little quicker

A good rule of thumb is that larger the lure the lower the gear ratio should be.

​Size & Shape

​The most common sizes or swimbait reels are usually either a 300 or 400 sized baitcaster reel.

You can use a 200 but it will have reduced line capacity and larger lures need heavier line.

There are usually two types of reels used for swimbait fishing:

  • ​Old style rounded baitcaster
  • New style low-profile baitcaster

Just be aware that not all low-profile baitcasters are suitable. With a low profile reel the line will sit pretty close to both the handle and rod blank so just be sure that if your swimbait rod has a fore grip that the reel is not too low.

​A spinning reel is rarely used but if you are casting very small swimbaits then it can work quite well.

​Best Swimbait Reels 2019


The Okuma Citrix 350 is the best swimbait reel for the money.

It manages to combine silky smooth casting performance, big line capacity and a powerful drag system all at a really great price point.

​Gearing

The gear ratio on the Citrix is 6.4:1 which is neither low or high making the 350 usable with a wider range of lures.

You get about 31 inches of line retrieved per turn of the handle.

Sure you don't get the cranking power of a 5.3:1 like the Abu Garcia Toro S below nor the high speed of something like a Shimano Curado (also below) but I would consider those reels as a lot more specialized.

The Citrix is much more of a all-rounder and if you are just starting out with choosing your first swimbait reel then it's a solid choice. 

Bearings

​Okuma have engineered the Citrix with a massive 8 stainless steel ball bearings. 7 main bearings and 1 reverse helping the spool to run real smooth. The more bearings the better in my book.

Spool

The spool is one of the main components on a baitcaster that needs to have really tight engineering tolerances. And ​the Citrix it is made from anodized A6061-T6 machined aluminum making it super light weight and strong.

There is also a spool access port which allows you to easily adjust the 6-pin centrifugal braking system for better and more precise spool control.

It also allows you to easily swap out the spool. So, if you happen to use the Citrix on a number of different rods you can swap out a spare spool for one with a different line on it.

Drag

​Most high performance modern baitcaster will tend to use a multi-disc carbonite drag system and the Citrix is no exception. Carbonite drags tend to heat up less and still retain there stopping power under high loads.

Line Capacity

​One of the Citrix's main selling points is it's line capacity. It can hold a whopping 230 yards of 14 pound monofilament.

And if braid is your line of choice then you can hold the same 230 yards of 40 lbs braided fishing line.

Specifications:

  • ​6.4:1 gear ratio
  • 25 lb max drag
  • Retrieve per turn 31 inches
  • Multi-disc carbonite drag system
  • 8 stainless steel bearings

The​ Shimano Calcutta is an older style round baitcaster, this shape allows you to palm the reel as you retrieve.

Whether you like to palm the reel as your preferred grip is usually a personal preference, either way the Calcutta is one hell of a workhorse.

​There are two sizes commonly used in for swimbaits, the 200 for smaller applications and the 400 size which is suitable for throwing much larger lures.

The 400 packs a mean punch and although it has "only" 3 main bearings it is just as capable as casting heavy swimbaits as any ultra-modern low-profile reel. 

The body is built from forged aluminum frames and side plates giving a light yet super solid reel.

​It has a super smooth drag that tops out at around 17.5 lbs.

Where the Calcutta 400 really distinguishes itself is in how low the gearing is.

At 5.0:1 it is one of the lowest you will find. Gearing that low gives you a heck of a lot of cranking power, perfect for moving large swimbaits at a nice and steady slow speed.

Specifications:

  • ​​Low 5.0:1 gear ratio
  • Max drag 17.5 lbs
  • 24 inch retrieve per turn
  • 260 yards of 14 lbs mono
  • Forged aluminum frame and side plates

Th​e Shimano Tranx 300 and 400 are the smaller siblings to the much lauded Tranx 500. The 500 is an absolute beast if your aim is to throw really large lures a long way.

​Either of the Tranx 300 or 400 range has a great choice of either fast or slow retrieves depending on the gear ratio's.

Among the 300 and 400 the high gear models are denoted by a HG on the model number. For example the TRX300AHG is the High Gear model and the TRX300A is the lower geared one.

​For the larger 500 models they use either HG(high gear) or PG(power gear).

The Tranx comes with 5 main stainless steel bearings and one reverse bearing that are shielded on both sides by a stainless steel shield.

The breaking system utilizes a centrifugal force break as opposed to magnets as you will find on a lot of reels. This system greatly reduces backlashes as it applies just enough force to the spool during the initial stage of the cast. 

The drag uses carbon fiber washers which are positioned either side of the main gear resulting in even better pressure.

The internals of the Tranx line up are built with precision and are designed to reduce flex and friction. The result is a smooth turn on the crank even when under a really heavy load.

​The lower geared models come with a double handle. Each turn of the handle will take in 30 inches of line.

Whereas the higher geared models come with a single handle and will take in a shopping 40 inches per crank.

Specifications:

  • ​High and low geared models available
  • Hagene body body for stiffness
  • X-ship internal gears
  • Big line capacity
  • Single or double handles

​Lew's line of SD(super duty) reels are built for hauling big crankbaits and ​swimbaits at low speeds over long distances.

The lowest geared model ​in the line up has a 5.1:1 gear ratio and pulls line at 21 inches per turn of the handle.

​So if you are looking for a large capacity baitcasting reel with a gear ratio low enough to pull giant swimbaits then the Lew's Super Duty is a pretty solid choice.

The range does however go up to a 8.0:1 which is one of the highest gear ratio's you are likely to find.

Specifications:

  • ​One piece aluminum frame and side plate
  • 10 double shielded stainless steel bearings
  • High capacity braid ready spool
  • 5 different models available

​With the introduction of the Curado DC Shimano have finally placed some of their high end casting technology into a mid-priced reel.

​The Curado reel range has built a solid reputation as an everyday workhorse reel. They can take a lot of abuse and still perform day in day, whether that's for light inshore work or all day casting for bass.

​The DC in the name stands for Digital Control. During casting the spool is digitally controlled by an onboard computer chip to give the best distance and control possible whilst almost eliminating the chances of a backlash.

The DC is actually powered by the spools rotation, having a completely self powered system does away with ever needing to replace a battery.

​The previous models to get this feature such as the Calais DC had up to 8 different settings. To make things a little simpler and more affordable the Curado DC has 4 different settings or modes which allow you to tune how the microproccessor controls the spool during casting.

The different modes:

  • Mode 1 - Maximum casting distance(lowest amount of brake applied)
  • Mode 2 - Geared towards casting with braided line
  • Mode 3 - For flourocarbon line
  • Mode 4 - Highest braking level, sorter casts with better control

Specifications:

  • ​DC(Digital Control) electronic braking system 
  • 4 different casting modes
  • Reduce the risk of backlashes
  • Rigid Hagene body
  • 6 stainless steel bearings, 1 anti-reverse bearing

​Like all the models in the Abu Garcia Revo range the Toro S is built for power. These reels are big and sit well on a swimbait rod.

There are 4 models available, basically two different sizes an S50 and S60 in either a left or right hand variation.

​Everything component put into these reels is about handling maximum power, so if big swimbaits is the game you are playing then you'll have both the power and the line capacity for a heavy duty setup.

​They all share the same low 5.3:1 gear ratio and come with 4 HPCR bearings and a super strong Power Stack Carbon Matrix Drag that tops out at 25 lbs.

The S50 can handle 210 yards of 14 lb mono and has a retrieve rate of 26 inches per crank, whilst the S60 holds 250 yards of 14 lb mono and has a retrieve rate of 29 inches per turn of the handle.

Specifications:

  • ​Heavy duty baitcaster
  • ​Size 50 extended bent handle, 210 yards of 14 lbs mono
  • Size 60 casting power handle, 250 yards of 14 lbs mono
  • Carbon Matrix Drag
  • ​Alloy frame and side plates


The ​Luna is a replacement for the much loved Millionaire line of rounded baitcasters from Daiwa. It can be seen as a competitor to the Shimano Calcutta above.

Just like the Calcutta the Luna has a simple but very sturdy design.

​It is ​machined from solid aluminum which includes the frame and the side plates. This gives you a lot of strength and rigidity, unlike a lot of other reels were only the frame is machined and the rest of the housing is forged.

It has 5 Super Corrosion Resistant ball bearings and also one anti-reverse.

​The 300 size reel can hold 320 yards of 14 lbs monofilament fishing line. It has a 5.1:1 gear ratio for lots of low end power and will pull in 23.6 inches of line per handle turn.

Max drag is 15.4 pounds.  

Specifications:

  • ​Machines from aluminum bar stock
  • 5 stainless steel bearings
  • Free floating spool made from aircraft grade aluminum
  • Multi-disc rag with fiber composite and stainless washers

​Swimbait Reels

​Swimbaits reels are mostly about pulling power and line capacity. 

Pulling swimbaits all day does put a lot of pressure on the internal components of a reel so the tighter the tolerances and the higher the quality of the materials used the better.

​Size

​The first question you need to ask is:

What size swimbait reel do I need?

​The size of reel for swimbaits that you get will usually fall somewhere in the range of a 200 sized baitcaster up to a 400.

However I no a lot musky fishermen who swear by the likes of a Tranx 500 when throwing mammoth swimbaits and bucktails.

A 500 sized reel is a bit specialized not to mention expensive so for most people they will generally want something a little smaller.

If you need a swimbait reel for bass however you won't go far wrong with a 300.

​Gearing

​As we mentioned above gearing is one of the most debated aspects of choosing a baitcaster for swimbaits.

Large swimbait reels will have a low gear ratio unless they are specifically designed to be igh speed reels.

If you are a biginner then a reel somewhere in the middle, roughly 6.5:1 ratio is good.

For a big rod and reel that is targetting large fish with heavier lures then you may need to go as low as 5.1:1 ratio.

This lower gear ratio is best for very large swimbaits.

​Line Capacity

​This will mostly be determined by the size of reel you choose. However there are some large diameter reels that can hold a considerable amount of line.

You really need to ask yourself just how far will I be realistically casting and how much line could the fish that I am fighting possibly run out.

​Drag Rating

​Drag rating will also be related to the size of reel but even among the same size reels you can have a considerable difference in the amount of stopping power the drag has.

Larger reels that are intended for heavy use and bigger species of fish will have a drag rating of around 25 lbs on a 400 sized baitcaster.

On lighter reels you will usually see a reel rating of between 12 and 15 lbs.

  • June 24, 2019
  • Bass

Best Topwater Lures for Bass

topwater lures for bass

Fishing topwater lures for bass is definitely one of the most fun and exciting way to target bass. The best topwater lures will force a bass to strike hard from below.

Nothing beats seeing a lure hit hard as a bass moves quickly up from the depths.

Topwater fishing is one of the most visually rewarding ways to fish for bass.

For a lot of fishermen however it can also be one of the most frustrating.

If you have ever targeted bass in this way you will know that you need to use the right lure at the right time and to use it in such a way that the bass cannot help but hit it hard.

​Best Topwater Lures

There are a number of different types of topwater lures available they all have one thing in common; they try to imitate some form of natural food that a bass might feed on.

You can find a lot of lures that are designed to imitate an injured baitfish that is making small disturbances on the water surface. These can be called poppers/chuggers or walkers.

Then there are those that directly imitate a type of small animal of insect that bass feed on like frogs, small ducks, grasshoppers and jitterbugs.

1. Poppers/Chuggers

​Chuggers or poppers have a small concave shaped mouth on them that as they are retrieved causing the lure to make a small splash and a little noise referred to as a pop. The pop is caused by the shape of the head of the lure and the noise that the bubbles it forms make.

The attachment point for your line is actually in the concave mouth which helps to give them their distinctive movement.

​Both popper lures and chugger lures are usually fished quite slow in comparison to most other bass lures.

2. Walkers

Walkers as the name suggests are designed to be “walked” along the surface by flicking your wrist as you reel them in. The flicking causing the lure to dart from side to side. The darting makes a small wave on the surface of the water which the bass are attracted to.

The are commonly called "walk the dog" lures. The swim action is caused by flicking and jerking the rod tip. The end result is that the lure will dart from side to side.

Although the are shaped like a stickbait or long thin crankbait the absence of any lip(or dive bill) stops the from diving when being retrieved just like a crankbait would.

​3. Imitators

Small plastic frogs and other such imitations are really great for bass. The bass will tend to strike these types of lures really hard as they are generally larger than the poppers or walkers above.

Frog lures will come with different build designs like soft body or hard body. Some will include an internal rattle to help attract the bass.

The soft bodied lures can have the hook hidden. It is only when the bass actually strike the lure that the hook is exposed.

This makes the great for working over deep vegetation and cover, without running the risk of snagging any weeds.

Other types food they will imitate would be small mice, ducklings and other such aquatic amphibians or small mammals.

4. Prop Baits

The bass lures as the name suggests have a small spinning blade or propeller on the back and occasionally on the front. The propeller will spin as you retrieve the lure through the water.

The propeller creates a small wake behind the lure as it runs just under the water surface. This disturbance in the surface will drive a bass crazy. 

It is both a visible stimulus and also the bass can feel the vibrations that are given off.

The best time to use a topwater lure like a prop bait is generally on a calm day without much surface ripples or waves.

5. BuzzBaits

Buzzbaits are probably some of the weirdest looking freshwater lures you are ever likely to see. 

The lure is nothing more than a shaped piece of rigid wire with a blade and a rubber or plastic jig at the hook.

They have a spinning blade or propeller just like on a prop bait,  that is used to create a small wake through the water. 

The bass will actually strike the smaller squid like jig that hides the hook in it's skirt.

When to Use a Topwater Lure

Traditionally the main times of the year to use a topwater lure is late spring and early summer. This is when bass can be at there most active.

The reason why bass are most active during these times is mostly down to water temperature. They tend to be quite inactive below 55 degrees and above 80 degrees.

Between these temps and during late spring and early summer is when bass will tend to reproduce or spawn. During this time the male bass become very territorial and will strike hard at any kind of intruder near their nesting area.

The best time of the day to fish a topwater lure is either dawn or dusk. Bass unlike other fish and mammals cannot adjust their eyes to the changes in light from the sun during the day.

At the height of the sun between morning and evening bass will generally hide in the shade away from the intense bright light of the midday sun.

You can of course target them here but you will have much better luck by getting up early or waiting until later in the evening.

Ultralight Bass Fishing – Fun on Light Gear

ultralight bass fishing

Fishing for bass is mostly done on a baitcasting setup using medium to small sized lures. However it is possible to use some very small lures if you have the right tackle setup.

A good ultralight spinning setup is much better than any baitcaster at throwing light lures right where you want them.

That is mostly down to the reel as a baitcaster does need a little bit more weight to get it moving that it does to pull line off of a spinning reel spool.

Ultralight Bass Fishing

Ultralight bass fishing is mostly performed on light spinning tackle not a more conventional baitcasting one that bass anglers usually favor.

Reels

In general you are going to want to choose a spinning reel of not more than 2500 in size.

Depending on just how light you want to go a 1000 or 2500 sized reel is best.

Personally I always find you get the best value out of fishing tackle if you go for the mid-range priced offerings from the main manufacturers.

Most manufacturers start their spinning reel sizes at 1000. These reels are designed to take line in the 2 to 4 lb breaking strength range.

Something like a 2500 can handle up to 8 lb with ease. Once you go beyond these sizes you'll find that the reels become too heavy and you need to beef your rod up.

Once you start to do that your ability to throw lighter lures will be diminished.

Rods

A rod that is best suited to ultralight fishing for bass is going to be about 6’6″ in length and have a fast action with a light or ultralight power rating..

You’ll not need a line rating any higher than 6 lbs. Ultralight rods are always spinning rods so if you are tempted to use a baitcasting rod then that won’t work with a spinning reel.

Spinning rods have a larger diameter line guide close to the reel to account for the spiral motion that the line takes as it runs off the spool.

A baitcasting rod however has much smaller line guides that are closer to the rod blank, this is because the reel is usually lower to a spinning reel and the line is fed out in a straight line.

Line

Monofilament is the go to line of choice for light tackle. Braid is really not that good in really lighter weights.

Rating wise you need to go with 6 pound or less. The rod and line rating should always be matched if you want to get the very best performance from you casting.

Be careful when working lighter line as the chances of breakages greatly increase. Always be aware of where the under water structures are like weed beds.

Once a bass strikes it may dive down aggressively to deep cover. Once in there it can be very easy for them to snap off your line.

Lures

The whole point of using an ultralight spinning setup for bass is so that you can use light and small lures.

​Some lures such as large swimbaits and heavy spoons just won't be suitable.

Spinners, although spinners are mostly used for trout you can still catch bass on smaller inline type spinners.

Look out for Mepps, Short Strikers and Panther Martins are the go to lures here.

You can vary the body color and the blade colors, but in my experience a silver blade seems to work best for small-mouth bass.

Depending on the time of year and the water color you can also use a dressed treble hook on your spinner. This are already included with the Panther Martins. Black and dark olive/green are the best colors to use on the dressing.

Crankbaits in the smaller sizes can be extremely effective for bass right after spawning season as they are quite aggressive when protecting their nesting spots. You can use the usual bass crankbaits only in smaller sizes.

The smaller sized crankbaits will tend to run quite shallow so there are best used close in beside weed beds and other underwater structures.

Look for lures like Rapala's and Salmo Hornets in natural color patterns.

Topwater lures like walkers or chuggers can be used on ultralight tackle. However, larger lures like frogs are ot really that suitable.

Topwater lures for bass in small sizes can be lots of fun on light gear. Just bear in mind that a lot of these lures are intended to be worked beside or over large weed beds and light gear does not do very well with snagging on such structures.

Other Considerations

Bass fishing using light tackle can be a heck of a lot of fun if you are prepared to get your tackle right and you target the fish in the right spots.

Make sure to always be very quite when fishing with light gear. Chances are the bass are near the surface of the water. Surface fish will tend to spook a lot easier so being quite and not wearing anything that is too bright is the best approach.

Most of this type of fishing will generally be done in the warmer summer months.

You should always try to be as quite as possible and to wear darker clothing.

The best time of day will generally be in the morning and evening when the sun is at it's lowest.

Bass are generally quietest around mid-day due to the high amounts of sun light and glare on the surface.

You may also want to get a good pair of fishing sunglasses that are polarized to help reduce surface glare.

Big Swimbaits for Bass

Big Swimbaits for Bass

​Although big swimbaits for bass were first introduced in California they have now gone mainstream throughout the US.

​I would like to explain what I learned and what is meant by the term “big swimbait.” I am sure many of you have read articles about anglers using swimbaits 12”-16” in California to land giant bass. 

However, I have learned that the word “big” is relative to where you are fishing and this could vary from waterway to waterway. Basically, I found that the term “big baits” meant 6”-10” lures and this not only meant swimbaits, but all baits.

Big Swimbaits for Bass

​When I first started out the results were very disappointing, after using the big swimbaits for a while I would go right back to normal baits, spinnerbaits, senkos, etc.

This went on for almost a full season. So it was back to the classroom so to speak. I had been putting all my time and effort in the physical aspect of fishing “big bass baits” so I completely ignored the mental aspect!

I am in no way saying the mechanistic part of this sport is not important because they are. However, I would say after experimenting with this for almost five years now, the mental aspect is about 75% of fishing “big baits”!

Big swim bait fishing for bass is a mindset! I knew at this time some changes were in order to be successful at this.

I made several changes before my next time on the water. Instead of trying to make this big bait theory work on every body of water, I chose one to learn, the Oswego River, Minetto to Fulton Pool and the Fulton to Phoenix Pool.

Even choosing only one body of water, those sections of the river offered approximately 12 miles of water to learn and about every type of structure and cover combination possible.

Another change I made was I took all other tackle out of my boat except the big bait tackle I was going to be using. When you are holding a bait that is 6 inches or larger in your hand, it is very hard to imagine a bass hitting something so large. 

​And I bought a dedicated swimbait rod, swimbait reel and only a tackle box full of swimbaits.

When I first started using big baits I really wished I knew how to use them, the wish grew into a desire and the desire grew into an intention. No matter what the cost I would not only learn how to use big baits, but be successful at it as well.

After all, that’s what it is all about. From the summer of 2006 to date I have spent every spare moment on the river. That meant spending from the time the ice thaws to the time the river freezes again.  

My time on the water is when hunting season starts. There were many days when I was the only one out there. Many days were spent just riding up and down the river monitoring the depth finder and once I found a promising area, I would dissect it and completely map it in my notebook.

Another important tool is an underwater camera, just be sure it’s one that has a video out port so you record what your looking at on a camcorder. It is also an advantage to have a depth finder that can record what you’re looking at on a memory card. 

Does this sound too much like work? Not if you are determined to succeed.  Equipment selection like your rod, reel and line are critical. My suggestion is to use equipment that “you” are comfortable with because throwing these large swim baits can get very tiring.

I could tell you some of my exact locations that I have done the best. However, that will not help you at in learning how to use big baits. There are some keys that will help you concentrate your efforts and things to keep in mind. One key is current. There are basically four types of current: 

  • No current: No flow of water is definitely something to be aware of.
  • Natural current: This can vary at any moment.
  • Wind current: This can position fish in the most unlikely places.
  • Back current: This is what I call it when they open the locks on the dams and the water flows backwards.

Another important key is light or lack of it. There can be different degrees of light from sunny to dark and everything in between. Now, I can start putting together a pattern with the varying degrees of current and light. One of the most important keys is angles!

Remember to always work your lure with the current because that is the direction the bass would be facing?

Again, someone forgot to tell the bass about this theory. Did you notice that I didn’t mention temperature or the color of the bait as a key? You know why? Because it doesn’t matter how cold the water temperature is or what the color of the lure is when you place the lure in the right area. The bass don’t care as well! These keys only scratch the surface of big bait fishing.

The most important key in using big baits for bass is having the right mindset! Remember, the beginner’s mind I mentioned in the beginning of this article. That is exactly what you need to fish big baits.

Always let the fish tell you what is right or wrong, never determine that yourself. Remember to remain 100% focused on the job at hand, which means don’t be thinking about the last cast or the next cast, put your entire concentration effort into the current cast.

Dedication to the job at hand, determination to succeed and persistence until it happens, is how I learned how to fish big bass baits.

Tackle Considerations

Throwing these larger swimbaits will mean that your tackle has to be ale to withstand the extra pressure that is placed on them.

An ultralight bass fishing setup is really not going to cut it here.

Reels

A good swimbait reel will need to be able to handle a lot of larger diameter line. It will also have to be strong enough to pull large lures at speed if need be.

Look for baitcasting reels in the 200 to 400 size. They will have to have the correct gearing to match your lure. For larger lures a lower gearing is favored as you will need some extra cranking power to fight the drag that a larger lure creates as it is reeled in.

Rods

A good swimbait rod for such large lures will need to have a medium to heavy power rating, a fast action and have fall somewhere in the range of between 7 and 8 feet in length.

Lake Ontario Bass Fishing

Bass Fishing lake ontario

With all the different baits and techniques on the market it’s easy to get confused, feel overwhelmed and lose sight of the simple pleasure of bass fishing. 

Whether it’s tournament fishing or guiding on Eastern Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, I employ three user-friendly techniques that my clients can easily master with a minimal amount of instruction.

Lake Ontario Bass Fishing

The first technique is drop-shotting.  Drop-shotting is a simple variation of an old live bait rig where the weight is anywhere from three inches to three feet below the hook. I usually rig my weight about one foot below my Gamakatsu / wide gap#1 or #2  hook. The drop-shot rig is generally fished vertically under the boat in water from 15 to 50 feet, but can be cast and slowly dragged or jigged back to the boat.

The key here is a slow presentation; the bait does not need a lot of action applied to it. Whether fished deep or fished shallow, maintain bottom contact. Let the weight bounce along the bottom as the bait seductively hovers over it. To rig the drop shot, tie a polymer knot, clinch knot, or whatever your personal favorite is, and leave a long tag end to attach to your weight.

Weights designed for drop-shotting have a clip on them that attaches to the line without having to be tied. Other weights will work, like split-shot, a pegged bullet sinker, or a regular bank sinker, but the clip-on style will slide off the line when hung on bottom so you won’t have to retie an entire rig.

My choice of baits for drop-shotting is usually minnow imitations in the three- to four- inch size. Kietechs’ Shad Impact was my personal favorite last season. Rod and line choice for all three techniques is a spinning rod medium power with an extra fast action and 8- to 10- pound test fluorocarbon or monofilament line.

​Another very effective bass-catching method is the wacky rig. My personal preference is the five inch Gary Yamamoto Senko with the hook impaled in the center of the body of the worm.  I prefer a Gamakatsu 2/0 straight shank worm hook. It seems to hold better in the fish’s mouth and I don’t seem to have as many come unbuttoned. I have tried the shorter shank finesse hooks and find I don’t seem to get the hook penetration that I get with a longer shank hook.

I stay with darker natural colors. When fishing a wacky rig, I don’t feel color is as important as it is with other techniques. Many times when I am tournament fishing I will put three different colors:  green pumpkin, watermelon red flake, and black with blue flake in my pocket and blindly rebait my hook as needed.

When fishing a wacky rigged worm, simply cast the bait near visible cover like docks, rock piles, stumps or a weed edge and let it fall naturally on a semi-slack line without imparting any action to the bait. The slow undulating action as the worm free- falls to the bottom is what triggers the strike. After the bait has reached bottom, which will take several seconds with this weightless presentation, snap your bait off the bottom about a foot and let it settle again. If no strike occurs, reel in and make another cast. Wacky rig fishing is a real do-nothing technique requiring little angler skill, making it perfect for kids, novice anglers or anyone making the transition from live bait to artificial.

​Wacky rigging and fishing a drop-shot rig will catch both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Dragging a tube bait is primarily a smallmouth technique that can easily be mastered and may put some of the biggest bass in the lake in your boat and is effective in shallow and deep water.

The action of the tube slowly crawling along the bottom and occasionally deflecting off of a rock, boulder, or wood structure will trigger a reaction strike from smallmouth hungry for crayfish. Tubes that resemble Gobies and crayfish in the three- to four-inch range in hues like green pumpkin, smoke, watermelon, and root beer with various flake combos are my preference. Tube jigheads come in a variety of styles and sizes but I prefer a cylindrical shaped head with a 90-degree hook eye. It will kick out and deflect when it strikes an object, giving the bait a more erratic action.

It is important to have a quality hook that won’t straighten if a giant bass is hooked. The weight of the jighead will depend on factors such as depth, wind, and current. Usually 1/8- to1/4- ounce jigheads are best for water less than 10 feet. I will go as heavy as 3/4- ounce if fishing very deep or in heavy current. Remember, when deciding how heavy a jighead to use that the tube should gently tick across the bottom, not dredge it.

Try these three techniques that anyone can master and enjoy the simple pleasure of bass fishing. Remember to release the fighter so others can experience the thrill of this beautiful game fish.