There is little doubt in our minds that both largemouth and small black bass are the freshwater fish species in the US that so many anglers are aiming to catch.
Anglers across the US spend thousands of dollars every year in buying the best possible gear, boats, lures and gadgets to enable them to have a better chance of catching more of this species of fish. Of course, the most important item in your fishing gear set is always going to be the rod.
Your fishing rod doesn’t just give you the ability to reel the fish in. Your rod is going to affect how accurate your casting is going to be, along with affecting how you play your lure, your ability to detect a bit and the hook set.
Making sure that the rod you get is the right one is going to do wonders for your success while bass fishing, more so than any other piece of fishing gear.
There are a lot of companies, both small and large, that have reputations for making fantastic fishing rods. Of course, the price is going to vary a lot, but the same can be said for the quality.
If you are in the market for a good bass rod, then the first thing you have to do is make sure that you understand what makes a good bass fishing rod.
To get some more detailed and comprehensive product reviews on some of the best bass fishing rods out there, keep reading to hear our take.
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Best Bass Fishing Rod - Reviews
If you’re a seasoned angler then you’ve likely heard of Loomis. This brand has been considered one of the world’s best rod manufacturers, and this is likely why you see them on pretty much every pro tour.
The brand were bought out by the big name fishing brand Shimano back in the 90s, and since then they have gotten better and better. Out of the models they make, the GLX series is generally thought to be the best example of peak performance.
This rod has been made in both a spinning and a casting model. Both of them are great at their particular job, but the spinning model is much more versatile.
The rod is made out of blended graphite which means it’s 20% lighter than the previous GLX models, and it’s much stronger overall.
The rod has a slimmed down handle, great ergonomics and an improved reel seat, which makes the new GLX one of the most sensitive models on the market.
This means it’s incredibly easy to detect even the smallest bites. The cork is also slimmed down and tapered for the ideal hand placement for casting control. Honestly, it has one of the smoothest pulls and is really one of the most balanced and accurate rods on the market.
The GLX Spinning rod comes in powers ranging from medium to medium heavy, and the more robust of these is likely the best choice for bass. As far as action is concerned, they are all fast or extra fast and are going to work perfectly, though it depends on your preferences.
The line weight is similar but if you are looking for a great choice overall, opt for the 6’6” medium heavy with a line weight in the 8-15 range. This is a fantastic solid bass rod that is going to be a great companion for your bass hunting endeavors.
St Crois are the (self titled) best rods on earth, and honestly they really aren’t too far off. For many years they have made championship winning rods and rods that have brought in more bass that almost any other brand out there.
If you look at the tackle room of any hardcore bass fanatics, you are pretty much certain to find one of these rods. They aren’t the first place choice on our list, but they are very, very close to being there.
Of course, a rod is only really as good as the components that it consists of and its manufacturing, and St Croix has really nailed both of these elements, and did so many years ago.
The rods use the most recent developments in graphite technology, and as a result their Legend series of rods are more flexible, stronger and much more durable than pretty much any rod created in the past few years.
This is then combined with a corrosion-resistant hardware and an incredibly durable cork handle, so you will get a rod that will last so long it’s almost an heirloom.
All of the St Croix rods have been made in the U.S by some of the most experienced craftsmen that are making rods right now. Here, they have made a straight casting rod that loads perfectly and is able to throw bait as far as you could possibly need it to go.
Using Poly Curve technology, the rod flexes perfectly to ensure the pressure stays right where you need it when the hook sets. Of course, the rod itself isn’t going to catch a bass, but it’s certainly going to make sure that you don’t lose a bass when it’s on the line.
Some of these rods are a little short of 7 feet, and some can go up to 10 feet and have actions ranging from fast to extra fast. For power, they all lie on the upper end ranging from medium to extra heavy. If you only want to catch bass, then it’s a good choice to get a rod in the 7 and a half foot range in medium heavy that has a fast action.
Make sure you opt for something that can take line in the high teens to low 20s. There are a number of different models that can fit this particular profile.
You may be wondering why you’re seeing a repeat of the previous model. Of course, this is another spinning/casting repeat, but this should be expected as far as top of the line rods are concerned.
While these rods are constructed very much the same, there is one denominator and that is how a person prefers to throw their line.
A lot of fisherman like spinning rods, but some prefer casting rods. This rod is just as good as the spinner but it’s made for those who prefer to run a baitcaster.
While the casting rods are made out of the same SCIV graphite using the same Poly curve technology, the casting rods do appear to load slightly better. They do seem to cast much slicker but of course this is necessary if you want to be able to get the most possible distance.
Casting reels tend to be less forgiving than spinning reels so this small difference is certainly a welcome one.
The rod is available in a very short length of under 6 foot, and has models going all the way up to 8 and a half feet. This is a little shorter than a lot of competitor rods.
They are also a little lighter on the power curve, from medium light to medium heavy. You can get either a fast or an extra fast action.
A good option is to go with a shorter 6’ 10” rod with medium power, and an extra fast action. These tend to cast a bit better and are able to hold lighter lines up to 12 pounds. Because the rod has extra flex, you are able to keep the pressure on the bass without it risking your line.
The fishing gear from Okuma is almost legendary in the fishing community, and the Helios rods are very well known. The Helios range has been their signature range for years and while they have changed through the years, they have never lost their popularity.
The rod as it is today is very different than it was 10 years ago, so it’s much better in every category.
There has never been any doubt about the craftsmanship and materials of the Okuma rods, but there is certainly a difference in the way that a mass-produced rod like Helios is made in comparison to a premium rod. Of course it’s still going to perform well, but it’s not as refines.
You are going to lose a little bit of casting difference with the carbon fiber, but you are going to get a lot of durability and you won’t have to pay as much as you would have to with a premium rod. All the rest of the components are the same as what is used on any of the expensive rods.
If you want to make a major improvement in your fishing game and are upgrading from a cheap casting rod, then this is a great starting point.You’re not going to need to spend a fortune on buying a new fishing rod and it’s going to out fish pretty much any combo set up or store brand rod by a massive margin.
The only issue is that once you’ve used a rod of this caliber you aren’t going to be happy with anything less.
There are some odd lengths that appear from time to time, but the majority of Helios rods are either 7’ or 7’ 6”. They are usually fast action. The power will range from medium to extra heavy, and the line weights can range from 8 to 30 pounds. Every version of the Helios tends to perform better in the longer versions and heavy action is usually the best.
The majority of these are able to take lines in the teens up to the mid twenties.
We’re pretty big fans of Shimano, especially considering the value for money that the brand offers. Of course, it’s not easy to win a customer’s loyalty, but Shimano give you a lot of reason to trust in their products.
As far as price is concerned, a Shimano rod is better than any other brand you will see out there. You can’t say the same of casting rods though. Yet, they have nailed what a spinning rod should be.
As far as material goes, there is nothing wrong with the Shimano Curado. This rod uses carbon instead of graphite but otherwise it is made out of the same components that are used on premium rods. The cork that’s on the Curado is a little bit softer but it’s still quite durable.
There is also a flexible resin that has an almost springy feel. It can tend to bend back much faster with more flip. If you get enough practice, you will be able to get a decent distance and good accuracy using this reel. It’s worth staying with the lower weights of lures if you want the optimum performance.
The rods do differ in length but they tend to be near 7 feet. You are able to get the power in medium light to medium heavy, and the action can be either fast or extra fast.
The rod is a bit of an overachiever when it comes to quick, short casts and it works well with a rod of medium power with an extra fast action. This means that the rod will be a little under 7 feet.
Best Bass Fishing Rod - Buyers Guide
What Makes a Good Bass Fishing Rod?
There are very few anglers that actually pay enough attention to the different traits a rod has when they choose it. This can be a massive error that can ultimately lead to broken line and rods later on.
This is particularly the case when you are looking at the action and power of the rods. It’s important to take the time to understand these different rod characteristics before you decide to buy a new fishing rod.
The action of a rod refers to how much it will flex when it’s under pressure. The action of a rod can go from extra fast to slow, but when you’re catching bass you should only be getting a rod with a fast or extra fast action. Generally other rod actions are not seen to be suitable for fishing for bass.
Extra fast rods are only going to bend at the top of the rod while fast rods are going to bend in around the top 25% of the rod. The slower your rod’s action is, the more of the rod is going to bend.
This is going to influence a lot of things about how the rod will fish, such as how the power is applied, the extremely important rod sensitivity and the firmness of the hook set.
When you are fishing for bass, your rod isn’t really going to need to bend double like a slower rod would. You aren’t going to be pulling them up from very deep under the boat.
Actually, a lot of your fight is going to be pulling toward the boat from a distance away. It’s much more vital to be able to apply force linear to the surface, and this is even more important if you are fishing through weeds or any other obstacles.
It’s also important to have a rod that is sensitive. Bass are fairly well known for spitting out baits that aren’t to their tastes. Being able to detect a bite early on before they have the opportunity to get rid of it is going to give you at least a chance of catching more bass.
Having a rod that has slightly more movement towards the tip is going to help you to be able to get a strong hook set. This is a particularly desirable feature if you are using larger lures.
The rod’s power has very little to do with the action, at least as far as how the action works. The power is essentially how much pressure it is going to take to bend the rod. This could go from Ultra Light right up to Extra Extra Heavy. You can use anything other than ultra light when you are bass fishing.
You should ensure that you realize that the power of the rod directly relates to the overall purpose of the rod. For example, a heavy saltwater rod certainly will not be the same as a heavy bass rod.
It’s important to make sure that you pick a rod that will fit with your intended use before you start looking at power. If you aren’t sure of the intended use then you should use the weight of the line as a general guide.
It can be a little tricky to pick a rod power because there really are no fast and hard rules. The main guideline is that rods with lower power will usually use lighter, more invisible line and this is good for open, clear water.
On the other hand, heavy rods are better suited for pulling large fish out of thick cover. The rod power that will best suit you in this sense is going to depend on how and where you fish for bass.
You should always try to ensure that you stay within the recommended line weights for your rod. The line weights are suggested based on the strength and power of the rod. If you get a rod that’s too powerful for your line then it’s going to break a lot of line, meanwhile getting a line that’s too heavy can and likely will break your rod.
If you aren’t certain about what rod power to opt for then a medium heavy or a heavy rod is probably going to be the best choice.
Casting and Spinning Rods
This is in theory an easy choice, but it should certainly be mentioned that they are both different, and so they will work in different ways and have different characteristics.
It would be a pretty bad idea to put a baitcaster on a spinning rod or vice versa. If you are looking at a rod without first knowing which kind of reel you are going to be using, here’s a bit of a summary for you.
A baitcaster is able to cast heavier baits and they also tend to cast further than most other rods types. They tend to be higher on the power scale and will use heavier line.
On the other hand, spinning rods have lower power but still have the same action. These rods are very nimble and give more accuracy for close quarter fishing. They will also cast lighter lures and use a lighter line.
A lot of people will tend to overcompensate by using a heavy line. You don’t necessarily need a heavy line for bass fishing and a lot of the time you are going to get more bites on lighter line that is a little harder to see. When picking the correct line weight you should first turn to the power of your rod and the recommended line weights.
A spinning rod is going to use a lighter line, and this generally starts at around 4 pounds and then goes up to around 10. Some of them will even go as high as 14 to 16 pounds though this is kind of pushing on the heavier end of what you are going to require from a line.
Some large bass have been caught on a 4 pound line but as a rule, you’re better off going for a line in the 6 to 8 pound range. If you are going to be fishing around obstructions then you may wish to opt for a slightly higher weight than this.
On the other hand, casting rods will use much heavier line in general. You may see around 8 to 10 pound line on the lower end, whereas in the higher end you could be looking at something like the mid 20s and 20s.
You aren’t likely to need anything in the 20 pound range when you’re fishing for bass but certain baitcasting reels do perform better with a heavier line. A decent starting place is around the mid teens.
There isn’t a lot to cover when it comes to lure weights. If you are already aware of what you like to fish and what you can most commonly catch in your area, then you are already ahead when it comes to choosing the correct rod. Doing a little bit of research is going to show you what all the most popular lure weights are.
Following this, you just need to match up the numbers. You will find some bass rods that are great at throwing light ⅛ ounce lures and others can throw lures up to 6 or 7 ounces.
A lot of thought is put into a rod’s ability to be able to be taken down. A lot of experienced anglers even inist that a one piece rod is much better than a rod that is able to separate into piece. It is correct that the performance of a one piece rod is a little better, but they aren’t the ultimate rods to the point that it’s not even worth considering a takedown rod.
One of the most important considerations is how you are planning on transporting your rod. It can be tricky to fit a 7 foot bass rod into a small car and unless you have a river in your garden you’re not going to be catching any fish from home. If you have a lifestyle that’s more suited to a takedown rod then it’s going to be a good option for you.
You should remember though that if you are using a fast or extra fast rod the most important part of the rod is less than the first 25% of it.
So following that, we now have a better idea of what we need to be looking for when it comes to a rod. We’re going to show you some examples of the premium offerings on the market.
Some of these rods are certainly top dollar, but you may be surprised to see how many budget friendly options there are on this list that are truly in a league of their own.
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I opt for a casting or spinning rod as a new angler?
This is a widely debated topic that has been widely discussed across the internet for a long time, though we recommend starting out with a spinning setup. This is because they tend to be easier to fish and the accuracy doesn’t take as much practice.
The equipment is usually easier to operate and you don’t need to maintain it as much. With that being said, you should be stepping up to casting soon.
I’m having a hard time with the action and power issue. Could you explain them in more detail?
Here’s a simple way of looking at it: If you grab a pole on the tip and then begin to bend it in a natural curve, then the rod is going to start to bend at a specific point on the rod. The place where the bend is the most obvious is the action.
The power is how much pressure it will take to bend the rod in comparison to rod that are similar in purpose.
Why do you need to use such a powerful rod for bass? Some anglers are able to catch them on light fly fishing gear too.
While people are able to catch large bass on 5 and 6 weight fly rods that are very fast action, the difference lies in where the fish are caught. The majority of fly fishermen will catch their bass from the surface and don’t tend to have to deal with dragging a fish out of obstruction. The angle that a fly fisherman will use and the length of the rod keeps them near the surface.
Using conventional gear, you aren’t going to be able to do the same thing. You will need to have power to drag the angry fish out of the obstructions or any other issues it gets into.
If you haven’t yet had a very good bass rod, then this is most certainly the time to get one. Fishing with cheap rods is vastly different than fishing with great rods. It’s not that you get more bites or that it casts in such a way that you can catch bass easier, but the sensitivity of the rod makes a huge difference.
Eventually, if you are serious about fishing, then getting a good bass fishing rod is a necessary expense. You should remember a decent rod is an investment.
A lot of the best rods come with a good warranty and tend to be more durable than the cheaper fiberglass rods that are sold at common retailers. With some extra TLC, a decent rod is going to last you a lifetime.