Choosing a bass rod is a little confusing especially if you are just starting out.
We have put together this bass fishing rod selection guide to help you figure just what type of bass pole you will need.
If you've just discovered the wonderful world of bass fishing you may at first seem a little bamboozled by all of the different techniques, terminology and lure types that make bass fishing the sport it is today.
Bass fishing has more tackle configurations and techniques than any other freshwater fishing species.
Some bass fishermen will have up to twenty rod for different setups on their boat on any given day especially if they are tournament anglers.
For most fishermen that is definitely overkill not to mention expensive.
Types of Bass Rods
The bulk of bass fishing is going to be done on a casting rod or baitcasting rod setup.
The best bass fishing rods will usually be technique specific rods.
Spinning rods are generally used in the bass world for lighter type techniques or finesse type lure fishing such as drop shots, finesse jigs, small soft plastics and walkers/poppers.
Basically anything that requires you to present the bait or lure in a very natural way is where a spinning rod for bass setup will excel.
Saying that a medium power 6'6" or 7' spinning rod can work as a great all rounder especially if you are on a limited budget.
Pair this with a decent spinning reel and all but the heaviest of applications like frogs or large spinnerbaits are available to you.
However, some people quite simply refuse to learn how to use a baitcasting reel and they will stick religiously to spinning tackle.
Choosing to learn how to you a baitcaster removes a lot of limitations and as your skills grow you will over time realize that for specific techniques they really do beat a spinning setup hands down.
Bass Fishing Rod Selection Guide
Lets breakdown rod choice by the different techniques or lures that you will commonly encounter when bass fishing.
This list is not exhaustive nor is it a necessity to buy a dedicated rod for every type of lure you fish with, there will be some similarities and carryover between different bass techniques.
1. General Bass Rods
Let's look at two all rounder that are perfect for those starting out or those on a budget.
If you could limit yourself to just two rods then I opt for:
- Casting Rod - 7' feet in length, medium-heavy power with a fast action
- Spinning Rod - 6'9" in length, medium power, with a moderate to fast action
These two can cover a wide range of applications and are good for most small to medium sized lures.
One important point to make is that for heavier applications like working frogs over deep weed cover or big swimbaits for bass you will need a pole that is specifically suited to that type of fishing.
The casting rod will be useful for:
- Texas rigs
- Small or light frogging work
- Small to medium swimbaits
The spinning rod will be able to handle:
- Drop shots
- Small spinnerbaits
- Light jerkbaits
- Light crankbaits
Crankbaits tend to need a rod that have a medium power and a moderate action. Unlike a lot of other bass fishing rods an traditional fiberglass rod is generally considered best.
- Power - medium/heavy, medium for lighter shallower running crankbaits and medium/heavy for larger deeper running lures especially when near thick cover.
- Action - Moderate action to help reduce setting the hooks too quickly.
- Length - 6'6" for smaller cranks, 7' or 7'6" for larger lures that require a longer cast.
Fiberglas rods of old when compared to graphite were considered to be heavy and lacked any kind of sensitivity. Modern fiberglass rods however a light and extremely sensitive.
Why fiberglass though?
Modern fiberglass or a fiberglass/graphite blended rod blanks allow you a more softer hookset than a graphite rod. With crankbaits you need to allow the bass to take the lure into there mouths before striking.
When a rod has a faster action you can end up loosing a lot of bites as there needs to be a slight pause to allow the treble hooks to catch.
For larger crankbaits a 7 foot rod is ideal. It allows you to really load the rod blank when casting and also gives you a bit more control of the lure when you are working it at distance.
For lighter, shallower diving crankbaits a 6'6" rod is fine especially if you are making short casts in and around cover or structure.
3. Drop Shots
Drop shotting is all about accuracy and light presentation. That usually calls for a spinning rod as the type of bass fishing rod to choose.
- Power - light/medium when using small plastics you need a light rod to help casting lighter gear
- Action - fast action is the way to go when using a drop shot rig
- Length - 7' is probably the best length, if you are using very little techniques then a shorter rod is better especially if you are not casting that far.
When selecting the rod you can use a slightly shorter or longer rod depending on how and where are fishing.
You will want a nice light rod that is easy to cast light gear on and that has enough tip sensitivity to allow lots of feedback through the rod.
Ultimately you are using some form of a finesse rig and that will always call for a light, crisp and sensitive rod that is capable of running light braid fishing line in the 8 to 15 lb rating range.
Frogging is one of those techniques that usually requires a dedicated rod. The best frog rods needs to be capable of hauling frog lures over or through deep weed beds and dense lily pads.
- Power - heavy power rating
- Action - fast and even extra fast action
- Length - Between 7 and 8 feet in length
Your fishing pole will need to be able to handle heavy braid and have enough of a backbone to work lure through thick cover all while having a good casting performance.
A lighter spinning setup is not really an option here as they will not have the backbone for such heavy work.
A heavy power rating is a must and for really large frogs and super dense cover you may even need an extra heavy power rating.
Action wise a fast action is the best choice for really quick strikes especially when working topwater action.
Braid is a must and it needs to be quite heavy, look at 40 lbs at a minimum.
When using lighter jerkbaits a spinning rod can be a good choice however once you move to larger lures then a casting rod would be better.
On windy days and if you are using a small jerkbait then spinning gear can reign supreme. On really windy days baitcasters using braid can fall victim to lots of wind knots.
- Power - light/medium to medium
- Action - you'll want a fast action
- Length - between 6'6" and 7' is the sweet spot
For a jerkbait rod a light to medium rated rod with a fast action and one that is on the shorter side make best choice.
The fast action s crucial as you need to twitch the rod tip to put the action into the lures. A slower action rod will not be suitable for this style of bass fishing as you need to make crisp movement of the rod tip.
With a slower action rod it will just end up absorbing too much of the energy from your arm and will end in both a more tiring day and less than ideal technique.
You'll usually be using line with a rating of about 12 lbs so a light/medium power rating fits the bill just nicely.
Spinnerbaits are the oddballs of the lure world but they are one of the few lures that can catch all season.
They allow you to cover a lot of water on a day out and that usually means a lot of casting, that's why I'd opt for a baitcasting rod. A good spinnerbait rod should be roughly 6 to 7 feet in length, have a fast action and medium/heavy to heavy power rating.
- Power - medium/heavy to heavy
- Action - fast
- Length - 6 to seven feet
Spinnerbaits get thrown around structures and deep cover, not to mention all that drag that the large skirt and blades produce so you will need a rod with a decent backbone to handle all that extra strain.
If you are only ever making short casts that are targeted at a specific structure then a 6'6" rod should be just fine.
However, if you are aiming to cover lots of water then a longer rod will tend to cast better. It will also give you a little more control of your hoot sets from a distance.
Choosing a swimbait rod will depend entirely on just how big a swimbait you intend on fishing. For bigger swimbaits then you'll almost certainly need a casting setup, for smaller finesse style swimbaits a spinning setup can be more than suitable.
8. Flipping and Pitching
For close quarters work you will need a rod than can handle heavy cover and yet have enough tip sensitivity to allow you to sling jigs with pin point accuracy. The best flipping rods will have a heavy power rating, a fast action and be roughly 7'6" in length.
Choosing topwater rods can be a little bit confusing for a lot of anglers as there is a huge variety in the types of lures that fall under this category. A small popper for use in open water and a frog lure for deep cover would both have very different rod requirements.
Medium/heavy with a fast action should cover most bases.