3 Basic Bass Fishing Rod and Reel Setups

Bass Fishing Rod and Reel Setups

​Look at any video or photo from a pro bass tournament and you may well be surprised by just how many rod and reel setups that are sitting on the deck of the boat.

If you look closely you can in some circumstances count up to no less than twenty different types of rod and reel combinations!!!

But;

​For the average angler lots of rods is definitely total over kill not to mention extremely expensive.

​Tournaments are different and require you to switch up your fishing techniques for bass as soon as you realize what is working and what is not.

Back in the real world however you can cover most bases with just 3 different types of rods for bass fishing:

  1. ​Medium/light spinning rod and reel
  2. Medium/heavy casting rod and reel
  3. Heavy casting rod and reel

​We'll detail each setup below and what type of lures or techniques that they are each suitable for.

​Bass Fishing Rod and Reel Setups

​1.  Medium/Light Spinning Rod Setup 6'6" in Length

A spinning combo for bass is the preferred choice when you are looking to use smaller lures or finesse style lure and when using light baits or plastic worms on a drop shot or similar type of bass rig.

You'll want a rod with a fast action as this gives you the best tip sensitivity and create feedback through the rod blank.

It is the shorter of the 3 rod setups listed here as most of the work you will be doing with these types of lures will be close action style fishing.

Longer rods do give you a slight advantage when it comes casting distance but if you want quick hook-sets and lots of sensitivity/feedback through your rod then a shorter one is the better option.

A good spinning reel for bass will always be better at casting lighter tackle than a baitcaster combo as the lighter line will fall off the spool much easier.

A spinning rod for bass should not be any longer than 7' or shorter than 6'6".

I'd spool it with either 6-8 lb monofilament or 10-12 lb braid. If using braid as the main line for lighter bass lures and rigging then I opt to use a 6 to 8 foot fluorocarbon or monofilament leader. 

​2. Medium/Heavy Casting Rod Setup 7' in Length

This type of bass setup may well end up being your most used rod and reel. It can cover a lot of different scenario's.

In fact I keep one rod in my truck and this is it!

This rod can handle larger lures and will give a significantly longer casting distance than the smaller spinning rod listed above.

I'd use a low profile baitcaster reel and spool it up with up to 30 lb braid.

This type of bass setup can handle spinnerbaits, larger worm rigs and swimbaits.

It will end up being the workhorse of the 3 bass rod and reel setups listed here.

​3. Heavy Casting Rod Setup 7'3" in Length

Topwater frogs, heavy flipping work and large topwater lures need a beefy rod and reel setup.

​If you are using frogs over heavy cover then you will most definitely need a rod with a lot of backbone.

Skipping frog lures along the surface over thick weed beds and large lily pads needs a rod that can handle the occasional snag.

​More importantly has enough power to turn a bass away from this vegetation before it gets a chance to bury it's head down into it.  

You'll need a large baitcaster of size 300 or 400 that can easily handle 50 lb braid as a minimum.

When fishing ear thick cover heavy braid is the only choice. It has virtually no stretch and will slice through weeds much easier than mono due to it being half the diameter of the equivalent test mono.

Best Spinning Rod for Bass 2019/2020

Best Spinning Rod for Bass

​Whilst a casting setup is probably the most popular choice sometimes a spinning rod for bass is the superior option.

Spinning rods excel when using lighter presentation especially those that require a lot of sensitivity.

Spinning gear allow you to cast mush lighter weights than a casting reel can. A casting setup is best if you are looking for maximum distance and casting all day long.

​What Length Spinning Rod for Bass?

The best length for a spinning rod for bass will be in the range of 6'6" to 7 feet. Although hard to find a 6'10" rod is a great all round length, you can still work lighter lures up close but still have decent casting performance when you need it.

​What Power Spinning Rod for Bass?

The best power rating for a bass spinning rod will lie in the medium/light to medium range.

A light/medium spinning rod is best used for smaller jigs, different types of rigs like dropshots, shaky heads and wacky rigs and any other kind of finesse style fishing.

They are generally used on open water away from any kind of vegetation.

A medium rated bass spinning rod is great medium weighted lures and slightly heavier rigs like a Texas rig. They are great for lighter topwater work, jerkbaits and smaller crankbaits.

​I am not a fan of heavy rated spinning rods, if you require such a rod for large lures in and around thick vegetation then I would stick to a baitcasting rod for bass.

Line Weights

These kind of rods will generally be rated for line that is in the 4 to 12 lbs range depending on the weight of the rod and what it is rated for.

This can vary from brand to brand so always check the manufacturers exact specifications for the rod.

Best Spinning Rods for Bass 2019/2020

1. Ugly Stick GX2

2. St Croix Mojo Bass ​

3. Dobyns Fury FR 702SF ​

4. Daiwa Tatula Series

5. St Croix Avid

Spinning Rod for Bass

​Depending on the type of bass fishing techniques you are using your choice between a baitcasting rod for bass and a bass spinning combo will usually come down to how heavy a lure you are using.

If you are using light lures then spinning rods for bass fishing is definitely the way to go.

​When choosing a spinning rod and reel setup for bass it is crucial that you match the lure, line and rod to each other and then finally the spinning reel.

Materials wise it is best to stick to modern graphite as they are generally much more sensitive especially when using light tackle.

Fiberglass rods are much tougher but they lack the sensitivity that more modern lighter materials can provide.

Tip sensitivity is crucial when choosing a spinning rod. If you are using lighter gear then you need a rod that can give you as mush feedback through the rod blank as possible.

​This is why you should choose a fast action spinning rod for bass.

A fast action rod starts to bend mush higher up through the rod blank towards the tip.

Whereas a slower action rod will start to have the bend form much lower down towards the reel seat.

Slower action rods are better suited to working large crankbaits or similar type of lures.

When you are using mush lighter single hook lures you need to be able to feel what is going on and also be able to strike quickly to set the hook.

If the bend happens too deep down along the dor then all of that sensitivity will be absorbed by the flex in the rod.

Best Spinning Reel for Bass 2019/2020

Best Spinning Reel for Bass

​If you have decided on buying a new spinning reel for bass fishing then chances are you are looking to throw some lighter lures.

A casting setup is no doubt superior when it comes to throwing larger lures like deep diving lures crankbaits or big spinnerbaits.

But it is on lighter bass tackle setups where a spinning rod and reel really start to shine.

What Size Spinning Reel for Bass?  

The best size spinning reels for bass will be either a 2000, 2500 or a 3000 sized reel all of which should be able to hold 120 yards of 8 lb monofilament at a minimum.

The exact choice of size will depend on your lure, line and rod choices.

For example if you are using small/medium sized spinnerbaits in and around thick weed cover then I would choose a 3000 size spinning reel, a medium/heavy power rod and line roughly about 10 to 12 pounds in breaking strain for monofilament or 20 lb braid..

Conversely if you are using small soft plastics/swimbait or a drop-shot/wacky rig then I opt for a size 2500 spinning reel a medium power rod and 8 lb mono or 15 lb braid

​A size 2500 reel is actually a really great all rounder, capable of handling larger lures whilst still giving decent casting performance of finesse style baits.

​The best spinning rods for bass will usually cost a lot less than a high end reel. Rods break all the time but a quality reel is an investment that should easily last 10 years with proper use and maintenance.

Best Spinning Reels for Bass 2019/2020

1. Abu Garcia Revo 2

2. Shimano Stracic Ci4+

3. Pflueger Supreme XT

4. Daiwa Fuego

5. Shimano Stratic BG

6. Penn Battle II

7. Okuma Trio

​Spinning Reels for Bass

When choosing the right bass spinning reel there are a number of important factors to consider.

Although the list below is not exhaustive it does covers all of the important features that you need to be aware of.

​If you stick to the major spinning reel brands like Shimano, Abu Garcia, Okuma, Penn and Pflueger you really can't go wrong.

Most brands will have an introductory value spinning reel that is fine if you are not doing a lot of fishing.

​For me the best value is in the mid-range price point. Can you buy a good spinning reel for bass under 100 ? Sure but it i in the 100-300 range that you get much smoother performance and higher quality materials.  

Drag

Drag is arguably one of the most important features on any reel. A good drag system allows you to safely tire a fish without seizing under pressure.

For a spinning reel I'll always favor a front drag system. This design allows for much larger drag washers than a rear drag system.

A well sealed drag is very important in protecting the internals of your reel and it one of the most important parts when it comes to maintenance.

The better the seals and the higher the quality of the washers and bearings then the smoother the reel will be.

For bass you'll need a drag that is rated in the 8 - 12 pound range. 

​Gear Ratio

Gear ratio has a direct affect on the retrieve rate of your reel when combined with the circumference of the spool.

For bass I'd stick to a 6.0:1 gear ratio. This is a nice compromise between speed and the ability to use lighter lures and bass rigs for more finesse applications.

Internal Gearing

Gearing on a spinning reel requires the use of very precise machine cutting to get super tight tolerances. These gears need to be serviced every few years to make sure that the reel grease and lubrication are free from grit and fresh.

Materials

Although graphite was the go to material twenty years ago today it has been superseded by aluminum, carbon fiber blends and other such exotic materials.

The more rigid the reel body and casing are the better througher the gears will run. Under high load a cheap reel will war or flex which can result in the reel jamming.

Size

As mentions above a 2500 sized bass spinning reel is an ideal size. For really light work you can drop down to a size 2000.

It is very rare to ever see a bass fisherman use anything smaller.

Spool

​The easier the line flows off of your spool the longer and more accurate your casting will be.

High quality spools usually have a lot of design time and testing to find the optimum shape of the spool lip.

Some spools will come as braid ready which means you do not require the use of backing before you attach the braid.

Best Spinning Combo for Bass

Best Spinning Combo for Bass

A spinning combo for bass gives you the option to throw really light lures and rigs on light weight tackle.

But;

That is not to say that a spinning combo cannot be used for other applications too.

​Most people start out fishing with either a spinning reel or a spincast reel as a kid.

Some make the transition to a baitcaster but some never so and continue to use a spinning reel for almost every type of fishing they do.

​For the majority of bass fishermen their go to bass fishing rod and reel setup will be a baitcasting rod and reel.

It is in the lighter or finesse style bass fishing techniques that a spinning rod starts to shine.

​To get the very best performance out of your rod and reel you need to make sure to match the rod, reel and line to each other.

​For example a size 4000 spinning reel on a rod with a light power rating and 50 lb braid is going to be a disaster to cast and will kill any sensitivity from the rod.

​Best Spinning Combo for Bass

​Your first decision is to see decide what size and weight lures you will be using.

This is then matched to the rod power rating. From there you decide on the line weight you will use and then match the reel to the line at the end.

Rod

​​​​​​The best spinning rods for bass be roughly a medium/light powered rod with a fast action.  

A medium/light power rating gives you enough sensitivity to use lighter gear and still has enough power to handle a 10 lb bass.

​Spinning rods come in a range of different actions, lengths, lure weights and power ratings. 

Whilst length is pretty obvious a lot of fishermen continue to both confuse and use the terms power and action interchangeably.

Power means how much backbone a rod has or what size of lures and bass is it capable of handling.

​Think of it as how much force does it take to bend the rod blank. Power usually starts at ultralight and goes up as high as extra-heavy.

An ultralight rod is used with very light lines in the 2 to 8 lb range, whereas an extra-heavy should be capable of handling lines up to and above 100 lbs.

Rod action however describes where on the rod blank that the bend actually starts once the rod has been loaded.

A fast action rod will start to bend much higher up the rod blank towards the tip.

​Fast action rods have much greater tip sensitivity, they allow for quicker strikes and more feedback through the rod but are let down in their casting ability when compared to a slower action rod.

Slow action rods start to bend in the lower half of the rod blank closer down to the reel seat.

This allows you to make a softer strike and are generally considered much stronger rods than a faster action.

They are also the better of the two when it comes to casting as you can load almost the full length of the rod meaning you can put more energy into the rod during casting.

This allows you to cast larger weights much further.

Reel

You should never start by just buying a certain sized reel and then working back from there.

How, what and where you are fishing should determine what lures you are using and then you should match your bass tackle to suit.

That being said the majority of bass fishermen will use either a 2000, 2500 or a 3000 sized spinning reel when fishing for bass.

If you are looking to use really light finesse style lures like a small Rapala or a really light swimbait then you may need to use a size 1000 reel as it will handle the lighter line you will be using.

 You have the option of using braid, fluorocarbon or monofilament line on these size reels but when you go as low as a 1000 or 2000 size reel for bass then you are probably best to use mono.

Braid is generally half the diameter of the equivalent monofilament fishing line and using it on a small arbor spinning reel can be a bit of a pain and you are likely to encounter a lot of wind knots.

However, mono does have the biggest memory of all three lines and you do need to change it out every few years when used on a small reel.