Demystifying the Challenge of Choosing Rods for Bassin’

As you walk down the aisle of your local tackle shop or browse the inventory of your favorite online tackle site, the number of fishing rods seems endless. There are many different options, but each brand usually has two to three series of rods to choose from with each series differing in lengths and action.

Many rod companies take the guesswork out of selecting a fishing rod, as they label them for a specific technique or application, such as rods for “jerkbaits” or for “flipping” or “Carolina-rigging.” For some bass fishermen, they want to and do have a fishing rod for each technique that they employ. Having the right rod aids in an angler’s ability to present a lure properly, but my no means is it a necessity.

If I could only have six different rod types, according to length, action, etc., here is what I would go with:

Flipping rod
Having the proper rod when flipping a jig or Texas-rigged plastic is important. First, you need a strong rod as you are putting your bait into heavy cover and need to have the ability to horse a fish out of the thick stuff. Second, the rod needs to be sensitive, as bites can be subtle. The sensitive rod will allow you to feel those light-biting bass. I feel the minimum rod length here is 7 feet, but if you are comfortable going with a longer rod, I would suggest a flipping rod that is 7 foot 2 inches to 7 foot 6 inches to give you more leverage and backbone to set the hook and get a bass out of the cover. This rod length still allows you to cast your bait to targets, which is why I shy away from the 8-foot heavy flipping/punching rods that can pigeonhole you into making short flips. Also, if needed, this type of rod could double as your frogging rod in any heavy cover. The Wright & McGill Victory Pro Carbon Jig/Big Worm at 7 feet 4 inches is one I recommend.

Carolina rigging/dragging rod
Anytime you are making long casts and dragging your bait along the bottom of the lake or river with a Carolina rig, football head jig or swinging head jig (Biffle Bug), you want a long rod like 7 feet to 7 foot 6 inches so you can pick up the slack quickly when fish pick up bait. You want this rod to have a medium-fast action so that the tip is soft enough to feel what your bait is doing along the bottom, yet has good backbone to it. When you reel up the slack and set the hook, you want it to drive that hook point into its mouth. My rod of choice is the Wright & McGill Victory Pro Carbon Carolina Rig/Lazer Brass at 7 feet 6 inches.

Jerkbait/topwater rod
For jerkbaits, I like a shorter rod, at 6 feet 6 inches to 6 feet 10 inches, as you are marking sharp, quick, downward snaps with the rod to impart action to your bait. It should have a medium-fast action to give the rod a soft tip, which aids in your ability to give bait the proper action. Also, this will provide some give when a bass hits your plug, preventing the treble hooks from pulling out of its mouth.

Casting presentations
When I’m casting a swim jig, vibrating jig, spinnerbait or swimbait, I want a rod long enough so I can make long casts to the cover I’m targeting, yet one that has the balanced action of a soft tip and strong backbone. This rod is at 7 feet or 7 feet 6 inches. You don’t want too stout of a rod or you won’t be able to work your bait through the cover. However, you don’t want a flimsy rod either without any backbone, as you’re fishing these lures around cover and need to turn bass away from the cover and get them toward the boat.

Crankbaiting rod
Casting crankbaits is the one presentation that I feel needs a dedicated rod because fishing crankbaits is where I feel the bass have an upper hand. Having a dedicated rod for this presentation puts the cards back in the angler’s favor. Most dedicated cranking rods on the market are all made of fiberglass or have at least some fiberglass in them, compared to a graphite rod. What these glass rods do is deliver superior power to cast plugs a long distance, fight the fish, yet have a soft feel to them. They give when a bass sucks in your crankbait, resulting in the hooks not tearing a hole in their mouths. When it comes to rod length, an overall good size is 7 feet, as these are long enough to throw a deep-diving crankbait in a pinch, yet have a manageable enough length to cast a crank in tight quarters like around boat docks. My rod choice here is a Wright & McGill S-Glass (7).

Spinning rod
Some bass fishermen use many finesse presentations, including using drop-shot, wacky rigs and shaky heads; others, like me, only pull out a spinning rod when we have to. But it’s imperative a bass fisherman has at least one spinning rod. Not having one puts you behind the eight ball, as you need one to be able to fish the finesse lures. I feel a good spinning rod for me that can be used for any aforementioned presentations is at 7 feet and has a fast action. My rod choice for this situation would be a Wright & McGill Victory Pro Carbon Drop Shot/Senko at 7 feet.

As your open-water fishing season later on comes to an end, take note of what rods you have and see what presentations you could better present with the correct rod. This is a great time to be on the lookout for end-of-the-year fishing rod sales or even the perfect time to put that rod you’ve been longing for on your Christmas list.


Glenn Walker has been fishing Minnesota
and Mississippi River tournaments for more than 10 years, spreading his passion and knowledge of the sport via articles and videos. For more information, check out or on Facebook at