For a newcomer to bass fishing, picking out fishing rods can be a difficult endeavor because there’s so many out there! Each manufacturer will carry enough models to overstuff any boat’s rod storage and many of the rods may seem nearly identical to a novice. So where do you begin? Here I suggest the first four combos that beginning anglers should start with.
First, understand that not any one rod/reel combo can adequately and efficiently cover all of the bass fishing techniques popular today. To be a versatile angler, knowledge of several techniques is required. If you watch any professional bass tournament on TV, you will often see that the competitors have a wide range of rod/reel combinations laid out on the front deck of their boat. Plus you don’t see another 10 or more stored in their rod box. They have all of these combos because many techniques are performed best with very specific rod/reel setups. And there are soooo many techniques nowadays!
Second, understand where you fish, so you know which rod/reel combos will be most important. These you should purchase first. For example, an angler whose home lake is Lake Okeechobee, FL might want to first purchase a 7 ½ foot flippin’ stick because of the all the thick, shallow vegetation. Contrast that to an angler who fishes mostly spotted or smallmouth bass on clear lakes. There, a med-light spinning combo might be a good first purchase because finesse tactics are likely to be a large component of fishing strategies.
So keeping the above in mind, here are four rod/reel combos offering a range of variation that allows an angler to cope with a wide spectrum of fishing techniques. I offer these in no particular order:
- 7 foot, heavy power, fast action, premium graphite, baitcasting rod. Match it with a baitcasting reel having close to a 7:1 gear ratio. Rod sensitivity is really important with many of the techniques implemented by this rod, so purchase a rod made with a high grade, graphite blank. This rod can execute so many techniques extremely well that use lures/weights in the 3/8 to 1 oz. range. These would include spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, swimbaits, Texas-rigs, Carolina-rigs, football jigs, swim jigs, flipping jigs, and beefy plugs/cranks/glidebaits. This rod can also be a substitute for a flipping stick, although it is has more flex than preferred.
- 7 ½ to 8 foot, extra heavy power, fast action, premium graphite, baitcasting rod. Match it with the same baitcaster as above. Again, sensitivity is vital here, plus so is the weight of the rod. High grade, graphite rods are more sensitive and weigh less, so look for rods made of this. This rod will handle the heaviest of lure presentations, starting at about 5/8 ounce on up from there. Techniques for this outfit typically include flipping, pitching, frogging, swimbaiting, and umbrella rigging.
- 7 foot, med-light power, fast action, premium graphite, spinning rod. Pair it with a spinning reel of a 3000 to 4000 in size. This rod is needed because baitcasting outfits are unable to effectively cast lightweight lures/weights under a ¼ ounce. Techniques used with this rod call for a high degree of sensitivity. Therefore like above, look for a rod made with a high grade, graphite blank. This outfit will handle all of the finesse techniques that are most often associated with very clear lakes/rivers. These include wacky-rigs, Ned-rigs, necko rigs, drop-shots, jigworms, and shaky-heads. This rod will also be able to cast lightweight plugs, crankbaits, and small swimbaits.
- 6 ½ to 7 foot, medium power, fast action, graphite composite, baitcasting rod. Match this with a baitcasting reel having about a 7:1 gear ratio. It is not necessary to pay up for a high-grade graphite rod due to the techniques matched to this rod. Sure, “feel” is always important, but if money is to be saved by purchasing a rod with less graphite, this is the niche where it can be done without losing much. Heavily rely on this rod for lures in the 1/4 to 5/8 ounce range such as topwater plugs, jerkbaits, crankbaits, and swimbaits.
Every serious bass angler has more than four rod/reel combos, because they also have combos for very specific niches as well as duplicates of often used combos. The combos mentioned here provide a great foundation from which to build. How to build from here all depends upon each angler’s style of fishing and where they fish. That is why I go no further than those listed.
With the above four rod/reel combos, I can visit any lake/river in the country, and have an outfit that is very capable of implementing effective techniques for that particular fishery. Take any of these away and a huge hole opens up, preventing the use of certain essential lures. I highly recommend beginners to own these combos first, and try not to get lost in the jungle of rods that are out there!