How Do You Select a Good Bass Fishing Rod?

Selecting the right bass fishing rod will help you be a better angler. The fishing rod is one of the most important tools for catching and landing bass. The fishing rod is the foundation of your entire angling setup and can influence your choices in bass baits. In some regard, fishing can be similar to golf where different types of irons, woods and hybrid clubs are preferred for different terrains and distances on the golf course. Likewise, the fishing rod comes in various lengths, materials, power and actions.

Choosing a fishing rod can make your head spin with a variety of things to consider. With that in mind, I’ve summed up the most important things you should know, as well as the pros and cons of various types of fishing poles out there. So let’s dive in!

Dina Emery of GCFA holding a French River Largemouth using a solid bass fishing rod.

 Types of Bass Fishing Rods

Ideally, your boat would be loaded with a wide variety of rods, having a designated rod for every bass lure you fish. Of course, this is not realistic for most anglers and many rods can use similar weighted lures on the same rod. However, some rods you can’t multipurpose; such as trying to use a jig on a crankbait rod or vice versa.

Generally, there are two types of bass fishing rods: casting rods and spinning rods.  

Spinning Rods

Example of Bass Spinning Reels & Rods at a local Outdoor Store

Great for beginners or experienced bass anglers, a spinning or “open-face” reel and rod combo are considered easier to use. They allow anglers to use finesse lures such as:

  •     Soft Plastics
  •     Finesse Jigs
  •     Poppers
  •     Walkers
  •     Jerkbaits
  •     Spinnerbaits

Spring reels used for bass fishing can range from 1000 (light) – 5000 (heavy) with 2 – 14lb line test. If you’re wanting to target smaller bass on lightweight lures, stay within the 1000 – 2000 range for spinning reels. Spinning reels in this range allow anglers to throw lightweight lures at far distances, but struggle on larger trophy-sized bass.

Reels in the 3000 – 5000 range are better equipped for trophy bass fishing. A heavier spinning reel allows you to reel in half-ounce spoons and swimbaits with little effort. You might be asking yourself: what if I want to use something bigger? The short answer is you could but that begins to split hairs on manufacturer’s quality, gear ratio and above all preference. Generally speaking, spinning reels above 5000 are often used for other sport fishing such as walleye, pike and musky fishing.  

If you want a good solid all-purpose bass spinning reel, you’ll want to start with 2500. A 2500 spinning reel is considered middle of the road for bass fishing reels; as they allow you the most options to experiment with a wider variety of tackle and not burn out easily if a monster bass bites your line.  

Casting Rods

Example of Bass Casting Rods and Reels Combos at a local Sporting Goods Store

Loved by many bass anglers, casting rods are the workhorses of bass fishing. Designed for heavier lures and heavier lines with baitcasters; bass fishing casting rods tend to be heavier duty than their spinning rod counterparts. Casting rods also require a little more skill to manage the spool while casting.

In most cases, bass anglers will do the majority of their fishing with a baitcaster. Normally, bass anglers will use 8 – 16 lbs with lures weighing three-eighths of an ounce and up. Baitcasters are stronger than spinning reels and come in two styles: low-profile and round. Depending on the style of the baitcaster reel, a good strength would be 100 – 200 range with low-profile or 1000 – 2000 with the round. If you want to toss heavy swimbaits you can go with either a 300 or 3000 depending on low-profile or round design respectfully. The other advantage going with a larger baitcaster are opportunities to also switch to larger game fish such as pike, walleye and more.  

Solid or Two Piece Rods?

Just like choosing between a spinning rod combo or a casting rod combo; the choices between a solid or two-piece rod comes to preference and lifestyle choices. Two-piece rods as the name suggests separate into two parts and can be reconnected at a later time. Two-piece rods are easier to travel with since they require less space. They’re easier to store in a backpack and carry through the woods. Or being able to store your two-piece rod in tight places of your car’s trunk while travelling.

A huge disadvantage is a lack of personal touch that solid rods have. To clarify, there’s a loss of sensitivity in the fishing rod where the two-piece rod sections connect. For some bass anglers it’s the thrill of the fight they enjoy the most. Feeling the sometimes subtle bite before the explosion of intense action of a bass flipping out of the water. And every twitch and jerk of a thrashing bass splashing about the surface as the angler drags them in. In other words, this sensation may be why someone would prefer a solid rod.

What About Rod Ratings?

Now that you have a good idea of the type of bass fishing you want and rod to choose. How do you select the type of bass fishing rod you’re looking for? Especially when walking through the aisle of your outdoors shop? Simply, almost all fishing poles have clear markings on them with a mix of numbers and letters.

A common rod marking may look like this:
Spin MH 7’0” Line Wt 10-15 lb, Lure Wt ¼ – ¾ oz

The initials near the beginning “MH” stands for medium-heavy which distinguishes a rod’s power rating. A rod’s power rating from lightest to heaviest are:

  • Micro Light
  • Ultra Light
  • Light
  • Medium-Light
  • Medium
  • Medium-Heavy
  • Heavy

Most of the time bass anglers will use medium to heavypower rods. As they’re easier to use baits with treble hooks and pulling fish out of heavy weedy cover. Some bass anglers will use ultra light to medium-light for the extra sensitivity and challenge fighting big bass.

The next indication of the example rod above (7’0”) designates rod’s length. A longer rod allows for longer casts while shorter rods are easier to aim your casts. Just like golf clubs, there’s other nuances to choosing length. From a person’s height and style of fishing, it boils down to situations and of course – preference.

Continuing with our rod example, the next indicator (Line Wt 10-15 lb) suggests line weight. Followed by lure weight ( Lure Wt ¼ – ¾ oz). Both are fairly self explanatory, telling you how heavy of a line and lure you should use with your rod. The weight of the line used with the rod is closely related to the power rating of the rod. Different types of fishing lines stretch more than others. Lure weight on the other hand, is the starting weight your rod will cast. This directly affects how far you can cast, the lure’s action and your hook-setting power. However, this is easy to follow with most bass lures having their weight printed on the packaging.

A World of Options and Final Thoughts

Choosing the best rod for your needs will enhance your fishing and make each trip more successful. While there are more options about the kind of fishing rod you want such as fiberglass, graphite and composite. For now, we’ll leave that discussion for another article.  

To summarize, you’ll want to use smaller reels for tossing lighter lures and catching smaller bass. If you intend on trophy hunting or variety fishing, go with something heavier. While nothing is guaranteed when fishing.  You should be better educated in your fishing section for the right rod and reel combo for your next bass fishing trip.

Article by: Joe Barefoot, M.B. – Published Outdoor Writer and Photographer 


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