Out of all your tackle, the things that are working the most are your rod and reel. These two tools form the backbone of all your fishing.
So, it makes sense to get the best you can, right?
I will show you some great options and talk you through the features you must look for in the best bass fishing rod and reel combo.
I’ll even show you some that the pros use!
So, let’s jump straight in.
Table of Contents
- Choosing Rod and Reel Combo for Bass Fishing (A Quick Guide)
- Top 7 Best Bass Fishing Rods and Reels 2023
- Bass Rod and Reel Combos (Complete Guide)
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Choosing Rod and Reel Combo for Bass Fishing (A Quick Guide)
In a rush?
No problem. Here are some things to consider when looking for a good rod and reel combo for bass fishing.
Listen up guys, size matters!
The best rods for bass fishing tend to be somewhere between 5 feet to 8 feet. Consider these the lower and upper limits, respectively.
I’d suggest 7 feet is an ideal optimum. You’ll get the distance in your casts without finding the rod too cumbersome.
Rod action allows you to cast farther. It also determines how much ‘muscle’ you have in your back pocket when fighting fish. It can also boil down to personal preference.
I’d opt for something medium to medium-fast. This is a great compromise between power and casting ability. However, if you like fishing smaller lures, fast is the way to go.
If you are fishing for bass, you are going to be casting and retrieving all day long.
A few ounces here and there are going to take their toll.
For that reason, be sure to choose a bass fishing rod that is as light as possible.
You’ll find a few different types of reels. Some guys prefer a fixed spool reel. Others will opt for a baitcaster.
A fixed spool is really easy to manage for beginners and is less prone to overruns and tangles. For anyone more advanced, a bait caster gives you great control and allows you to fish much more efficiently.
For fixed spool reels, I find that 3000 sized reels give you the best features regarding the line holding capability and retrieve rate.
For those choosing a baitcasting reel, a 25 or 30 size reel will be plenty to fight trophy-sized fish without making your combo too bulky or heavy.
I give details on what all the numbers mean regarding retrieval rate in my detailed buying guide below.
For now, what I will say is this…
Try and find a reel with the highest retrieval rate you can. This gives you options.
Top 7 Best Bass Fishing Rods and Reels 2023
Okay, I’ve shopped around, and based on the above, here are some really great performers…
Bass Rod and Reel Combos (Complete Guide)
So, I’ve given you plenty of food for thought and some options… But which to pick.
I’m here to help.
Take a look at my buying guide, and you’ll see why I picked the above selections.
As I said at the start, 7′ is the perfect length when choosing a bass fishing combo.
First, it is really easy to store and transport. Most are two-piece rods. This means you only ever have to carry 3.5′ down to the swim. If you want even more compact than that, your best bet is to go for a travel rod; here are some fabulous suggestions. Or go super small with something telescopic…
Second, as you’ll probably already know, bass country can get a little… overgrown. The last thing you need is to be manhandling a 13′ pole around trees and bushes.
Finally, it keeps the weight of the rod down. Bass rods are supposed to be handheld and really versatile. You are going to want to be pretty mobile. A light and short rod make this so much easier (especially if you carry more than one rod).
Bass Rod Action
Action is something you are going to want to look at in detail. You’ll find that bass rods range from medium up to fast (with a sliding scale in between). Here are a few general rules to help you choose:
Medium Action Rods
Medium-action bass rods are less flexible. They are good if you are using bigger lures. As a result, you’ll also be expecting to catch bigger fish.
They are also good if you are fishing areas where you will need to pull your hook free of underwater weeds or snags. Or, as I like to call it, “pull bass from the grass”!
Fast Action Rods
These are the ideal choice if you are looking to fish smaller lures or want a lighter setup. They will still pull in decent-sized fish. They don’t fare quite as well when fishing bigger lures and heavy cover.
That said, if you pick a fast-action rod with a high-quality blank, you won’t need to worry about breaking it. They are really flexible.
If you are struggling to see the difference in actions, I know it can be frustrating. Here’s a quick and easy video guide that should show you which lures best work with which rod. Give it a watch, and then make your decision from there.
You know me.
I love the little extras…
Keep an eye out for the little things that elevate a standard rod. Here are the things I keep an eye out for:
- Spilt grips
- EVA foam handles
- Low profile butts
- Hook keepers
- Stainless steel or non-stick line guides
The rod is only half the story. You need a good quality bass fishing reel too! Here’s what I go for.
Fixed Spool or Baitcaster
Ah, this is a hotly debated topic.
If you are brand new, go for a fixed spool setup. Trust me, it’s no fun standing on the bank trying to untangle a bird’s nest on your first cast.
Fixed spool reels are really low maintenance and are easy to use.
Baitcasters let you cast further and generally have a higher retrieval rate. The downside is that when they fail because the entire reel structure is internal, they can be a real pain to maintain.
You aren’t going to need a huge amount of line capacity. My advice would be that anything that fits over 125 yards of line is good enough. I prefer to keep the weight down by picking a slightly smaller reel and sacrificing a little bit of capacity.
And you’ll find that by loading less line, you’ll get fewer tangles too!
Drag is a biggie.
It’s all that stands between you landing a fish or the line breaking. Look for reels with disc drag systems. They pay out line when the pressure gets too great but allow you a really good degree of control when battling something big.
Ideally, you want a reel that allows you to adjust the drag ‘on the fly’. For bait casters, look for a star drag system. For fixed spool reels, you want a disc system with frontal control. That way, you can apply just the right amount of pressure when you need it the most.
If you aren’t too sure how to set a drag or want a few tips, I’ve searched around. This short video is excellent. Check it out!
Reel Retrieval Rate
One area of confusion when buying a new reel is the retrieve rate.
I get it… that’s a lot of numbers.
Here’s a quick explanation of how reel ratios work.
You are going to see a series of three numbers, it looks a little like this:
“5.1:1” or “7.3:1”
But what does the above mean?
Essentially this is a description of how much line is brought in with each turn of the handle. More line per turn = a faster retrieval rate.
The first two numbers are how many times the spool rotates. The final number (normally a ‘1’) is how many turns of the handle it takes.
Look at the above two examples again.
The first string of numbers tells us that for each turn of the handle, the spool will turn 5.1 times. The second string of numbers tells us that for each turn of the handle, the spool will rotate 7.3 times.
Try and pick a reel whose first two numbers are high.
If ratios aren’t your strong point, don’t worry, I’ve found a guy who shows you a practical example. Have a quick watch of this and come back!
You’ll hear a lot of talk about ball bearings. Ball bearings are what keep your reel turning smoothly.
Contrary to what you might think, more ball bearings don’t necessarily mean that a reel is better.
Wait, what? Why?
Simply because the higher the quality of the ball bearings, the less you actually need. Cheaper reels often supplement poorer quality bearings by adding more to relieve some of the stress. If you can, try and choose a reel with as few ball bearings as possible. It is usually a sign of really good quality internal engineering if they have less.
Why buy a bass rod and reel combo?
It’s all about balance. Manufacturers design both the reel and rod together, effectively doing the hard work for you. If you buy a bass rod and reel combo, you can be reasonably assured that your setup is balanced and designed to work together.
What is the best fishing rod and reel combo?
For Bass fishing? On my above list, I’d say that my go-to choice would be the Abu Garcia Jordan Lee Baitcast Combo. It looks good, casts well, and is super lightweight. For the money, it’s definitely one of my favorites.
If you were after something a little bit lower budget, the Cadence combo is also really nice.
What rod and reels do Pro bass fishermen use?
Whatever brand sponsors them and gives them free fishing tackle!
No, joking aside, you’ll find that pro bass fishermen tend to use branded names and tackle.
You’ll regularly see brands like Abu Garcia, Quantum, Gloomis, Daiwa, and St Croix. The good news is that they don’t have any special ‘tuned’ gear or ‘one-offs’… They use exactly the same stuff that you can buy off the shelf!
To be a pro bass fisherman isn’t about the gear. It is about commitment. It’s seriously hard work. Check this out.
What lures do Pro bass fishermen use?
Ha, now there’s a question! If you asked them, do you think they’d tell you the secrets to their success? If you were to open 100 different pro’s boxes, you’d find 100 different lures for bass fishing.
Here are the things that I’ve seen used most often:
- Surface poppers
- Rapala minnows
- Soft plastics
- Buzz baits
And many more… The fish decide what catches on the day, not the pros!
What is the best bass fishing rod and reel for beginners?
For beginners, I’d say that the best option would be something like the Cadence CC4 Spinning Combo. It has a great action, is relatively lightweight, doesn’t cost the earth, and has a pretty amazing fixed spool reel.
If you want to go down the bait caster route, a good choice could be the Bass Pro Shops Tourney Special Baitcast Combo… Okay, so it isn’t designer, but it has all of the good features I talked about above in my buying guide. Plus, if it ends up damaged or broken in inexperienced hands, it isn’t going to be the end of the world!
Choosing the best bass fishing rod and reel combo doesn’t need to be difficult.
Pick a lightweight rod with a nice action, and try and choose a combo where the reel is good quality.
In fact, I’d so focus on the reel more than the rod as that’s where the real pulling power lies.
If you had an unlimited budget, what would be your perfect bass fishing setup? Let me know in the comments below!