Rods are possibly the most important of all fishing equipment. Responsible for holding for the reel and line, rods are the prime focal point for the angler aiming to bring in a catch.
Investing in one that’s liable to cause you problems out on the water is a clear way to ruin your enthusiasm or hope of success in the sport. Buying the best spinning rod for bass fishing is one way to avoid that.
Diving into the world of bass rods (and ensuring you get the best deal possible) requires understanding fishing terminology and the criteria that a rod’s utility and purpose is judged on.
Aspects like length, power, action, guides, and materials are all important things to consider, but there are other factors too. Here we take a look at all the major things to consider to help guide you toward what you should be looking for.
Baitcasting Rods Vs Spinning Rods
Usually the biggest decision, not just for bass but for the majority of fishing styles, is whether to go with a baitcasting rod or a spinning rod. Each of these rod types has distinct advantages and disadvantages that play into how much control you wish to have with each cast (sending the line and lure out) and retrieve (bringing the line back in with the reel). Recognizing your preference will narrow the search down right away.
For beginners not familiar with these types of rods, it’s crucial to understand what each offers.
Simply put, baitcasters offer more precision and control at the expense of a steeper learning curve.
While spinning rods are easier to use thanks to a straightforward casting mechanism, they have more limitations in the long-run.
Performance-wise, both rod types will have no trouble pulling in a bass or any other species of fish (except perhaps large ocean game fish), and you’ll see plenty of both rod types out on the banks, boats, and riversides.
Professional anglers, especially those who fish multi-million dollar tournaments, tend to go for baitcasting rods because they can be more finely controlled with a wider range of techniques. They usually also give smoother and longer casts too.
Spinning rods have a bit of a stigma in bass fishing circles and are thought of as “not powerful enough.” However, that reputation is a bit unfair.
Professionals like Matt Lee prove that the best spinning rods for bass are just as dependable as baitcasters when it comes to fighting any kind of bass. Lee has used them exclusively for the last half-decade, and according to him, the spinning rod and braided line combination is a powerful one.
To sum up, the decision between a baitcaster and spinning rod is mainly based on preference in look, feel, and technique.
Baitcasters have their guides (the metal rings that follows the line traveling to the rod tip) facing upward.
Spinning rods have their guides facing down. Usually, for beginners, that spinning rod setup feels “most natural”.
Mainly important in casting and launching a lure or bait out exactly where you want it, rod length matters a lot when it comes to buying a new bass fishing rod.
Spinning rods, like baitcasting rods, have lots of variety when it comes to length, ranging from 6 feet at the small end to 12 feet at the longer end (although you’ll also see plenty outside of this range too).
For beginners, it’s important to recognize that longer rods are generally more difficult to handle. That applies not only to the cast and retrieve, but also to transport the rod to the various locations you might want to fish.
More experienced bass anglers generally go for the longer end of this range. The principle is that the longer rod offers more distance when it comes to casting.
Important in bass tournaments where the water might be crowded by other anglers, a longer cast isn’t always a necessary desire of every fisherman, though.
Beginners, for that matter, can still catch plenty of bass at closer range while still reaching an adequate cast distance with a shorter rod length. It really depends on the location that an angler will be fishing.
Shorter rods have the added benefit of generally being a bit easier to control. This can be a big advantage when it comes to lure fishing, particularly because the technique is what’s likely to tempt the bass into biting rather than the location.
A more compact rod is much easier to move about with too, meaning you can switch up locations and try your luck in another spot if things seem a bit slow.
One last thing on length: if you know what type of lure class you’re likely to fish with, then you should choose the rod length based on that. Heavy lures, for example, those often used in jigging or cranking, are independent of length when it comes to getting out to a good place in the water (weight of propulsion is enough). The opposite is true for lighter lures.
The rod handle is the part of the rod an angler grips with his hand. It’s important to have a well-built and reliable handle to stop the rod from slipping out your hands or impacting your technique. Those consequences lead to lost fish.
A good spinning rod should have a durable handle that’s unlikely to get worn down after frequent use. It should also be comfortable for the angler too.
Be sure to try a few grips out in a tackle shop so you know which type feels better. Also, try to gauge what’s a good length for your hand and wrist too.
In the bass fishing world, modern handles are usually straight grip. Although pistol grip handles (where the handle is curved downward like a pistol) are still available on some rods, most anglers see them as “old fashioned” and less comfortable.
There’s also the argument that straight grip handles (although possibly less accurate in the cast) reduce the overall weight of the rod too. This makes it easier on the wrist to fight fish.
While beginners are generally advised to go for a straight grip rod, the decision over what material to opt for is usually the next question in terms of choosing a handle.
Out of the three big choices (cork, foam, and composite), foam is generally well-suited for the novice.
Light and strong, foam has a couple of advantages over the more expensive cork as it’s often more durable and better able to maintain its shape.
If you’ve got the money, though, cork is more natural and elastic enough to be a nice fit in any anglers’ hand. It’s also less slip-resistant in the rain.
Composite is the other middle-of-the-road option which is generally cheaper than the other two but is less sensitive, meaning you might struggle to feel the pull and the bite.
Spinning rod handles can also be multi-piece (split grip) or single-piece (single grip) depending on the manufacturer. The lighter split-grip handle is easy to customize but often more expensive.
Beginners shouldn’t be put off by “outdated” single grip handles, though, as the difference in weight is minimal. As their long history suggests, they’re just as effective at catching big fish.
Traditionally made from bamboo, today’s spinning rod uses materials like fiberglass or graphite in the hopes of offering something more lightweight yet robust to the modern day angler. Material in this sense refers to the rod shaft itself, also referred to as the “blank.”
Buying the best spinning rod for bass fishing should put heavy priority on the material it is made from because that makes the biggest difference in a rod’s overall weight. The lighter the weight, the more amplified the rod’s sensitivity. This can make the experience a lot more exciting for the angler, allowing him to feel the full force of setting the hook in a largemouth bass for the first time.
Heavyweight rods are something that bass anglers tend to shy away from. Given the nature of the sport, where fast fishing and hard fighting are routine, a lighter rod is much more forgiving on the body.
Graphite rods offer a slight edge on sensitivity over fiberglass but compromise a little in durability. The split in bass angling circles is pretty marginal, with most pros having a preference for one material over the over mainly due to experience from years spent with one type of rod.
A third option is composite. Matching the materials of both graphite and fiberglass, these spinning rods are a good choice for a beginner as they bring together the best of both worlds. They also require less maintenance and care too.
Whatever material you go with, be sure to understand that lightweight rods are the way forward in bass fishing. Although you’ll be limited in terms of technique (you won’t be able to troll for deep-sea fish, for example), you can rest assured that even the biggest bass is unlikely to break a solid light spinning rod.
Number of Pieces
The number of pieces a good bass spinning rod has can really vary. More pieces doesn’t necessarily mean better performance, nor does it mean worse. It’s a decision that’s made largely based on a rod’s overall length and the manufacturer’s preference.
The best spinning rod for bass fishing is likely to be more than one piece. This is because multi-piece rods are easier to break down and transport, giving more mobility for the angler to move around the water in the hunt for bigger and better fish. For the beginner, that’s a huge advantage but there are some drawbacks as well.
Tournament anglers usually go for expensive single-piece or two-piece options when possible because there’s an assumption that they are less likely to fall apart on the cast.
While it’s true a single-piece is obviously going to be robust enough to withstand a heavy cast, multi-piece rods usually stand up to the task too, especially if they are constructed well with solid guides and pieced together tightly.
Another drawback multi-piece rods can have is a compromise on sensitivity. A single-piece rod is obviously going to feel the pressure and torque more than a rod that distributes its load through several pieces, but that’s not to say all multi-pieces would noticeably impinge on performance.
For the beginner, a multi-piece rod is nothing to be intimidated by. Cheaper than single-piece rods, they are reliable enough to provide you with an excellent starting point to get into the sport.
Anything more than a four-piece, however, is unfeasible. Putting together and rigging a rod of multiple pieces at the waterside is going to get frustrating and arduous pretty quickly, even if it does take up marginally less storage space. At that point, it’s best to look into a telescopic rod.
A rod’s action is measured similarly to speed. “Fast” rods, for example, have the greatest bend near the rod’s tip. “Slower” action rods bend closer to the handle.
Spinning rods, like baitcasting rods, are notorious for their versatility in terms of offering a broad range in terms of action. Bass fishing, however, sees a huge trend toward the “faster” end of the scale, with the reason being greater stability.
Stability in bass fishing is important given how bass, generally as a species, fight. Tending to take the bait or lure fast and run, a “slow” action rod just isn’t well suited to that quick burst of medium-power a bass fish provides.
Slower action rods are better suited for heavier fighting fish that are likely to stay in the water longer without requiring any sudden jerking movements to bring them in. That’s why you’ll often see trolling fishermen, who fish via towing a line off the back of a boat, use them.
While a beginner might be advised to go fast in their consideration of the best spinning rod action, there are exceptions to the rule. Slower (parabolic) rods have their place with certain lures, especially heavier ones with more than one hook. They are also good for fishermen who really want to feel the full weight of the fight too.
Closely coupled to rod action is rod power. This refers to the amount of force required to bend a rod and give it its characteristic curve (not the “location” of the curve like action). “Taper” is another term for power, also referring to the backbone of the rod that helps drive the hook into the fish.
The best spinning rod for bass fishing will have a power that’s inversely proportional to its action. That means the less action a rod has, the more power it will generally need to hook the fish after a bite. Beginners familiarizing themselves with the concept will usually see light, medium, and heavy power rods dominating the market most.
Novices are probably best suited to choose something in the medium category when it comes to rod power. The even placement of taper to action is a good compromise to the extremities of the scale. Avoiding over-bending or under-bending makes it easier to understand the nuances of fishing and how bass generally react.
Like action, power is also best matched to lure type. Heavy weight lures will obviously add to the torque of a blank so if that’s your preferred way of fishing, you might want to go more on the medium to heavier side of things. On a lighter power rod, beginners might find the bend too pronounced with a loaded lure, making it difficult to control casts.
As previously mentioned, guides, or eyelets, play an important role in spinning rods, guiding the line from the reel to the tip. Often metallic in composition, the circular-shaped guides also help to characterize spinning rods from casting counterparts given that they face the ground rather than up.
Beginners will want to keep a keen eye on the type of guides a rod has, given their importance in keeping the rod and reel unit together. The main characteristic to be aware of is how much friction the line creates when running through the guides.
High friction can put a lot of stress on the rod and line, causing problems in reeling in fish and casting out and durability issues with line.
The best spinning rod for bass fishing will have evenly spaced rod guides along the blank to balance out this friction and make for a smoother unit.
Some manufacturers also have their guides reducing in diameter as you get toward the tip in order to balance the load of a bite and put more control on the handle and reel as you fight to bring it in.
More experienced anglers will likely say that a rod’s size and weight should take greater priority over guides in terms of a buying decision. That’s because these factors supposedly contribute more toward reducing line friction than guides.
Make sure that guides are metallic or composites and not something flimsy like plastic that’s likely to cost you more time, money, and energy replacing broken pieces.
Where you do the majority of your fishing, as well as where you plan to do your future fishing, is another big factor that should influence any rod buying decision. In bass fishing, your options are already narrowed. That means freshwater environments like rivers, lakes, and ponds are where you’ll spend the majority of your time.
Spinning rods are built exactly for these types of locations since they are light to transport and fast and easy to set up and pack up. The variance in their parameters too, like power and action, means that you can buy one specific to the locations of the place you fish most. This is good to know if you fish on a large expanse of crowded water, for example, where a fast action rod may be needed for a heavy crankbait cast.
Aside from how busy the waterside is, you’ll also want to spend some time considering how large and deep the water is at your preferred spot. Such considerations will usually impact your lure choice, thus calling into question whether you need a light and short-length rod or something more heavy duty.
Tackle Type and Techniques
Tackle type and lures are as necessary to fishing as the rod itself. Often times, as is the case in jig (which require tugging and releasing the line to make the lure move horizontally) or fly (imitating fly or insect bait) lures, they often determine the technique of fishing itself, impacting rod choice.
One great feature of spinning rods is how versatile they are in being able to handle a broad range of lure types. Commonly coupled with their namesake, “spinner” baits“spinner” baits are made from metal blades that “spin” in the water, and they are just as capable of handling spoons (simple oblong-shaped lures) and crankbaits (hard-bodied wooden or metal lures) as they are all the major lure categories.
Knowing what type of lure you most enjoy fishing with will obviously help you better identify the best rod option for you.
Beginners not yet settled on one particular type, however, will find that a spinning rod keeps them much more open to exploration than other rod types on the market.
Fishing Line Type and Weight
Along with lures comes line, another key component of a rod’s rig (lure, line, and hook setup). Experienced anglers will no doubt have their preferences, both in terms of test (line strength) and type, including monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braided.
Spinning rods, for that matter, are again flexible in this regard, compatible with all line types and with a range of test and diameters.
Knowing which rod to buy isn’t likely to be impacted too much in terms of line preference. Given the nature of bass fishing where all types of line, color, and rig can be spotted, there’s no right or wrong way to let line inform a decision. Just go with what feels right first and then match line accordingly.
Best Spinning Rods for Bass
Having settled on what to look out for when looking for a spinning rod, let’s look at some of the most popular choices that bass aficionados are making in the hopes of bettering their angling experience. Here are five options that strike a good balance between the aspects mentioned above.
This graphite spinning rod is a great gamefish option for both beginners and seasoned bass anglers shopping at a mid-range budget. Available in multiple lengths from 4’8” up to 7’, the Cadence CR5 has a broad moderate to fast power range. It’s also available as a single- or double-piece too.
- Wide range of power and actions that give the buyer precision in matching a rod to preferred lures, lines, and casting styles
- Choice of split-grip or full-grip with composite handle made from both foam (great for comfort) and cork (more secure grip)
- Solid blanks crafted out of 30-ton carbon make for a very durable and robust rod able to withstand intensive use
- Diameter of handle, compared to other rods in similar price range, might be a bit narrow, perhaps making it more uncomfortable sitting in the hand for long periods of time
- Cork handle liable to degrade quickly (composite EVA handle not as durable as a premium cork handle)
- Finish and look not as “high quality” as more expensive spinning models
This carbon fiber spinning rod is made exclusively for bass fishing but is also well suited to saltwater fishing for other species. Sitting at the lower price range of the market, it doesn’t have the options in terms of action, length, and power of some of the other models, but it has an extra rod tip to compensate. The EVA handles also go a long way in reducing the overall weight of the rod, making it a very portable option for a beginner too.
- Aesthetic design that gives the rod a “quality” feel higher than its price
- Versatile and tested to catch a range of fish (trout, panfish etc.,) and not just bass
- Limited in length, power, and action (restricts the angler to fishing on lighter lures and line)
- High-density EVA grips don’t have the comfort of foam
- Carbon fiber material can make it seem overly sensitive at times, especially for a more experienced angler used to fishing with a slower action and a heavier power
This mid-range spinning rod is part of the popular Ugly Stik range that dates back to 1976. Marketed with the beginner in mind, the Elite is advertised as “easy to operate and compatible with almost all fishing techniques.” Like the Cadence, this rod can also be purchased in one- or two-piece options and in a range of lengths from 4’6” to 7’.
- Highly reputable brand that is well-loved around the world and known for its versatility in handling a varying species from catfish, bass, trout, and beyond
- Sensitive and strong, it’s great as a lightweight rod for fishing on the move whether on a kayak or at the waterside
- Cork grip and high-grade graphite make it seem more premium than the price suggests, giving superb value for money (7-year warranty on eyelets and 1-year warranty on rod)
- Loses accuracy in the cast with light lures, specifically those under ¼ oz
- Shipping packaging not as neat and presentable as those offered by other manufacturers
- Trouble fitting some reel types to the rod handle without some modifications being made (other rod handles offer broader reel compatibility)
Shimano’s South East Teramar is considered the top-end of the spinning rod market and offers some of the most powerful, fast action, heavy models available. Single-piece with heavy-duty guides, this is well suited for the more experienced angler who knows the exact type of setup they prefer.
- Top-notch Fuji guides coupled with high-grade cork handles make it one of the most comfortable spinning rods to hold
- Versatile for use with a range of lure types, including jigs, spoons, and crankbaits
- Strong and durable enough to use outside of bass fishing with other techniques like trolling
- Heavy in the butt can lead to stress on the forearms after prolonged use
- High-end of the market suggests there are possibly better deals to be had for the beginner just getting started
With a rich 50-year history, the Fenwick brand is well known to bass anglers all over America. The single- or two-piece HMG series is another high-end option that fits well into the best spinning rod for bass fishing category given its Fuji guides (similar to the Shimano) and lifetime warranty. It also has length options from 6’0” to 7’6” and power options ranging between light and medium heavy.
- Soft touch alien reel seat and cork full grip handle is lauded by customers for its incredible comfort
- Good sensitivity through the whole rod makes sensing the bite and run easier and more exciting for the angler
- Lightweight but strong, it’s likely to last decades (further backed up by the full warranty), even with intensive use
- Lacks compatibility with some older reel models (specifically Shimano spinning reels) due to deep and wide reel seat
- Wrapping thread around guides has been known to come loose on rare occasions
- Most expensive option on the market