Bass Fishing Baitcasting Rod Selection Guide For 2023
Also known as a casting rod, a baitcasting rod is a fishing rod which is optimized and designed to fit a baitcasting reel on the top side of the rod. These rods are the type of choice for the majority of bass fishing, specifically with heavier bait presentations, so we decided to provide an in depth baitcasting rod buyers guide - to help you with your next casting rod purchase.
The combo of casting rod and casting reel provide anglers with the ultimate control when it comes to casting, leading to more precise and accurate casts.
There are several components to consider before buying a casting rod, each of these components contribute to the overall performance and quality of the rod.
Here is a list of the key components of a baitcasting rod. For each component, we will provide an in depth summary of how each component plays a role in the performance of the rod, and what you should be looking out for when looking for a new rod.
- Rod Length
- Rod Material
- Rod Power
- Line Guides
- Reel Seat
Baitcasting Rod Length
Rod length is measured from the end of the handle to the end of the line guide (rod tip), and this influences many factors such as casting or retrieving fish.
- Most bass spinning rods range from 6 to 8 foot, and you’re usually able to choose a length between that range.
- Short spinning rods (6 foot for instance) tend to cast shorter distances than longer rods - this allows for shorter, more precise casting
- Shorter rods are better for close combat angling, where there isn’t a need to cast far
- Shorter rods are often preferred for finesse-style techniques where you're throwing lighter presentations
- Shorter rods also work well with jerkbaits
- Longer rods (7 foot and up) are better if you’re looking to cast further
- Longer rods allow anglers to cover more water faster, great for Carolina rigs, swimbaits, or other techniques where you're looking to cover loads of offshore cover
- With longer rods, one can strike and take up more line. This helps with getting a crisp and clean hookset
Baitcasting Rod Material
The majority of quality rod blanks in today’s market are made out of graphite or carbon. Fiberglass is a material starting to go out of fashion but it still has its place. Let's look at these three.
Graphite when used in rod construction is simply a carbon fiber that has been engineered to have structural properties that make it flexible and resistant to pressure when flexed.
Graphite blanks are more advanced than ever and they can be manufactured in a way that can suit almost any technique. This is a large reason why most of the biggest brands are sticking to graphite with all of their rods.
When buying a graphite rod, you’ve probably noticed the markers IM6, IM7, and IM8. These markers are known as the modulus, ie: the stiffness. A common misconception here is that IM8 is stiffer than IM6, however, these rods will show the same stiffness but IM8 rods are just lighter than IM6 rods.
- Graphite is known to be the ultimate in terms of flexibility and fighting power
- Graphite also provides the most sensitivity for feeling the bites or subtle takes from a fish
- The versatility is graphite is becoming evident. Brands are able to vary the action in each of their blanks, making graphite suitable for almost any technique'
Carbon blanks are another popular trend when it comes to building bass rods. You'll often find some of the most expensive rods having a carbon blank and there are a number of reasons for this:
- Carbon is incredibly light. This is a favored characteristic in today's market as lightweight means comfort and comfort means more fishing
- It's offers as much sensitivity as graphite and arguably more
- While being incredibly light, it also has the necessary strength and toughness
Fiberglass blanks are unique. They're old school and many still love them for technique-specific applications. For instance, many professionals still think fiberglass rods are the best for crankbait use. This is because they have a more parabolic bend which helps with getting clean hooksets on treble hooks.
Apart from the crankbait argument, fiberglass rods are beginning to go out of fashion as their characteristics and attributes can now be matched by graphite. There will however always be fiberglass purists - especially when it comes to crankbait fishing.
Action is one of the key determinants of a rod's performance, and this is defined by the materials used in the rod as well as the shape.
Action in a rod is very much based on personal preference, however, fast-action rods are usually favored when it comes to bass fishing - but also, the type of lure you use will usually determine the action of the rod you should use.
Action is best described as how easily and how far from the tip a rod will bend. Rod action can be categorized into 2 classes:
- Fast/Extra Fast
Fast/Extra Fast Action
A fast action is when the rod bends on the uppermost part of the rod, close to the tip. This action gives the rod a strong backbone, vital for getting a direct hookset and getting fish away from potential threats (heavy vegetation).
- Sensitive to the lightest of bites or takes from fish
- Provides backbone for clean hooksetting on single hooks
- Strong backbone makes them great for pulling fish out of heavy cover
- Better for fishing around vegetation and cover - best for flipping and pitching
Medium action rods will bend in the top half of the fishing rod. Medium action rods will bend in the top half of the fishing rod. The parabolic action this brings about is favored for a few techniques.
- Greater loading for further casting
- The parabolic action works best for setting treble hooks
- The ideal action for a crankbait!
Baitcasting Rod Power
Rod power refers to a rod’s stiffness or resistance to bending or simply the rod’s ability to handle lure weight, line and deal with different cover situations. Rod power is characterized in the following terms:
There are certain rods that will use different power ratings, however, for bass anglers - these are the usual categories.
A medium-light power rod is the type of rod a bass angler may use for fishing lighter presentations such as wacky rigs, dropshot, and other finesse presentations. Keep in mind - these techniques are preferred on a spinning rod as they pretty much weightless.
This rod works best with 4-8lb test line as well as 1/16-3/16 ounce lures.
A medium power rod has become more popular for the modern day bass angler.
Medium action rods provide a parabolic action, which is ideal for reaction baits such as crankbaits. The action helps with getting a crisp hookset, especially for treble hooks.
This rod will work best with 6-12lb test and ⅛-⅜ ounce lures.
This is the most popular rod power for bass anglers. This rod has the capability to work a large range of lures and is perfect for Texas rigs, Carolina rigs, spinnerbaits, and many more. The medium-heavy is regarded as the most versatile action when it comes to bass fishing.
A medium-heavy power rod will give anglers greater power in pulling lures and fishing out of areas of tight cover.
This power rod works ideally with 10-17 pound test, as well as ¼-¾ ounce lures.
The heavy power rod is used for the larger lures and gives anglers great amounts of leveraging power. This rod is great for fishing areas with large amounts of vegetation and cover.
Techniques for this rod power include flipping Texas rigs, walking frogs, and just fishing heavy vegetation in general.
The heavy power rod works great with 14-25lb, as well as ⅜-1 ½ ounce lures.
Most rods on the market today will have a line recommendation written on them - towards the butt and just above the handle. Brands will also usually give the rod power in this area too.
Line guides on a baitcasting rod are aligned in a lightly descending size from butt to tip, situated on top of the rod pole. The size and diameter of the line guides on a baitcaster are not as big as the line guides on a spinning rod, as the line pays out more evenly.
The number of line guides is based on the action and length of the rod. There will generally be more guides for a rod that flexes more dramatically, and less guides for a rod with less flexing (stiffer).
The materials used for line guides vary from plastic, metal and ceramics. These materials have different characteristics in terms of performance, and will vary in cost.
- Ceramic guides are best for braided or super lines, as they are the most resistant to wear and tear. You’ll often find ceramic guides in more expensive rods, as they provide serious durability. There is however an inner material within the guide which can nullify vibrations, reducing sensitivity within the rod. This is why Recoil guides may be preferred.
- Recoil guides, which are made from a nickel-titanium alloy, have also become a commonly used material for upper-end line guides. This material isn’t only used on the frame, but rather the entire guide itself. These guides are just as durable as ceramic guides, and have the added advantage of increased sensitivity as there is no other material nullifying vibrations.
- Fuji concept guides have become another popular line guide. It uses an Alconite ring material, which is a special kind of ceramic which offers great compression strength and is actually lighter than other materials used in line guides. These line guides offer reduced abrasion and are used in more expensive rods.
The rod handle is where the angler holds the rod for long periods of time. This often comes down to personal preference when it comes to material used, but some materials are more durable than others - which is always a factor to consider.
- Cork is the most commonly used material for rod handles when it comes to freshwater fishing. Cork is often mounted onto a metal frame, with a trigger to improve control and enhance comfort. This gives the rod a classic, stylish look while being extremely. Cork adds little weight to the rod, giving the rod a comfortable and lightweight feel.
- EVA foam is another favorite material used for rod handles, and provides a dense but lightweight feel. This is a soft, shock-absorbent material that also provides water and slip resistance. This material can also be easily shaped with sandpaper, giving you the chance to create an even more ergonomic feel. This material is more resistance to stains and changes in temperature, while providing the most durability over time. Many say that EVA foam is better for sensitivity.
There are other materials used in casting rod handles, however, cork and EVA foam provide the best results when it comes to comfort and durability, and are the most commonly used in today’s rods.
Split grips and full handle grips are also different grip styles, which suit different techniques. Split grips are often preferred for the longer casts, while full handle grips are more comfortable for some.
Handle length is also something to consider when looking into technique-specific rods. For instance, a shorter handle would be ideal for a crankbait rod. The reason for this is that you'd want more length in the blank from your reel to your tip, in order to have better leverage for better hooksetting.
This is the portion of a rod’s butt section which secures the reel. For a casting rod, the reel seat will position the reel on top of the handle/pole.
Most fishing brands in today’s market realize the importance of the reel seat, and have made sure that reels fit securely and comfortably within the handle.
Brands have also started added modern features to reel seats which add to sensitivity and comfort. Skeletal reel seats, which have direct contact to the blank of the rod, provide a slight benefit to sensitivity, which is always a bonus.
Lew's Team Pro Ti Speed Stick Casting Rod
The Pro Ti includes some of Lew's most popular and unique features. This rods action is seriously highly-rated and anglers seem to love the all-purpose performance it offers.
To our surprise, we found very few reviews on this rod. This is definitely something we expect to change, as everyone who has reviewed it seems to love it. A classy looking build from one of the best in the business.
Do consider the price!
Daiwa Steez AGS Casting Rod
The Steez AGS casting rod is built to take lightweight rods as well as sensitivity to the next level. Every feature on the Steez AGS is used with weight in mind, and this is where Daiwa's Air Guide System shines.
The AGS system is lighter, stronger, and more sensitive than ever, and it's hard to beat. This system alongside some classic Steez components makes for a rod that is a pleasure to fish with.
Dobyns Champion XP Split Grip Casting Rod
The Champion XP is an all-purpose rod that has received mostly positive reviews. This rod can be used for all techniques and there are many options available - so you should be able to find a model that suits your style.
Gary Dobyns has built up a special reputation for his rods, using his vast experience on the water to design a rod line that everyone seems to love.
G. Loomis NRX Casting Rod
The NRX is simply one of the best casting rods you can buy when it comes to bass fishing. The sensitivity on this rod is second to none, and many say that you'll "feel the breath of the bass". The price tag on this rod is quite something, but if you're serious about your bass fishing, you'll know that this rod is built with the highest quality - and you'll be using it for many years to come.
G Loomis GCX Casting Rod
The GCX is a newer model from G. Loomis. With almost every technique covered with various models, Loomis have created an incredibly versatile line of rods. They've also featured classic elements with their hand-crafted quality.
The GCX looks like a great rod if you're looking to acquire your first Loomis.
St. Croix Avid X Casting Rod
The Avid X casting rod has become a serious success for St. Croix. Just like the spinning rod, this rod is loved by its users. It can be used for various techniques and the sensitivity it provides is considered world class.
If you're looking for a high quality, versatile casting rod, this one should definitely be considered.
St. Croix Legend Tournament Series Casting Rod
The Legend Tournament Series turned many heads at iCast 2022, ultimately claiming the prize as the best freshwater rod for the event. St. Croix has combined some of their finest exclusive technology for this build - resulting an actions that are crisp.
As this rod is new, factors such as longevity are yet to be tested, but knowing St. Croix, they've taken this into consideration.
Dobyns Champion Extreme HP Split Grip Casting Rod
The Champion Extreme HP Split Grip is one of the most impressive rods we've read about. This unique brand, Dobyns, has produced a rod that many consider as the best they've used. There's a model for all kinds of techniques, and you probably won't find a more sensitive rod - at least in this price region.
This rod is slightly more expensive, but many feel it's worth every penny.
Dobyns Fury Casting Rod
The Dobyns Fury is a top seller on most bass fishing stores and it has been for a while. This rod comes at an epic price, and the performance is what you'd expect from a rod that costs over $200. A sharp backbone, impressive sensitivity, and the durability we expect from Dobyns - what else do you need for an all-purpose rod?
One thing we can assure is that Dobyns rod very seldom disappoint - the craftmanship is second to none.
Abu Garcia Fantasista Premier Casting Rod
The Fantasista Premier looks like an absolute masterpiece from Abu Garcia. This is an all purpose casting rod, and there's a model for various techniques. Anglers have compared this rod to the likes of the NRX, implying that this rod competes with the a best. A little on the pricey side, but if you're looking for some serious overall performance, this one might be worth it.
Lew's KVD Crankbait Casting Rod
The KVD Crankbait rod features classic crankbait features, and many say this rod competes with others well above its price point. We have read some impressive reviews on this rod and apart from a few minor issues, we feel that this may be the best crankbait rod you'll find in the $100 price region. That is, if you enjoy composite blanks.
Definitely worth a look if you're looking to widen your collection of technique-specific casting rods.
13 Fishing Fate Black 3 Casting Rod
The Fate Black 3 from 13 Fishing is one of those rods you can't ignore if you're looking to snag a rod under the $100 price point. The team at 13 Fishing has introduced very modern features that contribute to sensitivity as well as overall comfortability of the rod.
We're a big fan of the Fate Black 3 as well as everything that 13 Fishing is doing with their new rods.
Daiwa Tatula XT Crankbait Casting Rod
The Tatula XT Crankbait would be a great option if you're looking to add a crankbait rod to your collection. This casting rod is affordable, and has all the required components to catch a lot of bass on cranks, which is always a lot of fun. Note some users have found this rod slightly heavier, but that is expected if you're getting a glass option. Competes with the likes of the Veritas Winch and KVD.
Shimano Clarus E Casting Rod
You simply can't go wrong with the Clarus from Shimano. This rod provides all-round performance and will last you years on the water. The addition of the G-Alpha grip gives this rod a bit of added flare, while the improved guide system gives the Clarus enhanced performance for casting.
If you're lurking under the $100 region, the Clarus is a potential no brainer!
Shimano SLX Casting Rod
The SLX is a newer model by Shimano that provides anglers with classic all-purpose casting rod performance. This rod can be used for virtually all techniques and it's very sensitive.
It also has the necessary backbone for fishing heavy cover, making it a solid flipping rod option. Overall, this would make a great option if you're hunting the $100 price region.
Abu Garcia Veritas Winch Crankbait Casting Rod
The Veritas Winch Crankbait casting rod offers anglers with impressive all-round performance when it comes to working crankbaits. Abu Garcia have geared this rod to have the ideal parabolic action for leaning into fish after they eat, helping with a clean hookset of that treble hook.
One thing we have seen mentioned is the slight lack of sensitivity. Modern crankers love to feel every knock or vibration of their crankbait and some feel the Winch doesn't quite get that.
This rod loads beautifully, and you'll be able to cast all kinds of crankbaits and cover a lot of water. Overall, this would make a solid option if you're looking for a budget friendly crankbait rod.
Daiwa DX Swimbait Casting Rod
The DX Swimbait is a great casting rod option if you're looking to big swimbait fanatic. This rod is tough, but also offers decent sensitivity.
Some anglers have had issues with casting the really large lures, but overall, this rod has racked up mostly positive reviews. A budget-friendly option for swimbait-specific angling. Combines nicely with the Tatula 300.
Duckett Silverado Casting Rod
Overall, from a performance and value for money point of view, the Silverado is a very solid choice. It offers a lightweight, sensitive feel that is highly favored by both experienced and intermediate anglers.
13 Fishing Fate Green Casting Rod
The Fate Green is a budget-friendly option from 13 Fishing, but this rod still offers impressive all-round performance. Many anglers love to use this rod for crankbaits, thanks to its parabolic action.
Another bonus is the attractiveness of this rod - 13 Fishing have always made classy looking rods, but this one has some serious flare. A worthwhile option if you're looking for a reasonably priced casting rod with all the necessary traits.
13 Fishing Defy Black 2 Casting Rod
The Defy Black 2 makes for an solid rod to add to your arsenal if you're looking for a versatile but affordable rod. This guy will cover most techniques, and there are even cranking, or swimbait specific models if you're looking to get something more technique-specific.
This would make for a great option if you're looking to test the waters with 13 Fishing before investing in one of their higher-end models.