Bass rods have to be versatile – powerful enough to pull a fish out of structure, but sensitive enough to pick up a bite floating a light soft plastic and durable enough to cope with a few spills and thrills.
We’ve chosen our five best spinning rods to target America’s favourite sport fish to review for you below.
For those who like to cut straight to the chase, the St Croix Mojo is our pick as the best spinning rod for bass – it’s purpose-built for targeting bass and you get a quality blank, handle and guides without totally breaking the bank.
And our best value spinning rod for bass is the Fenwick HMG – another popular choice among bass fishermen and women, it has similar-grade components at a competitive price. There are cheaper options (such as the Ardent), but none are packed with this much quality and value.
Choosing a spinning rod for bass
Fishing rods come with variations in features, these variants excel at certain bait presentations, whether it’s jigs, crankbaits, jerkbaits or soft plastics – make sure you select a rod with the right specifications for the role you intend to use it for. Action, power, and rod length are all things to consider. Most spinning rods for bass tend to be fast action for the sensitivity of the tip and the ability to get a good hookset. With treble hooks or when longer casts are the norm, you might choose a medium fast rod. While all our choices are nominally fast action rods, they are all capable of distance casting and are forgiving enough to not pull a small treble out of a bass’ mouth. About 7 feet is the optimum length and we prefer two-piece rods so we can travel easily with them.
Our top bass rods broken down
|St Croix Mojo|
|7’1″||Fast||6-12lb||Premium graphite blank|
Fuji reel set
Purpose designed for bass
Limited lifetime warranty
Carbon Bound blank
|13 Fishing Omen|
|7’1″||Fast||6-12lb||Japanese Toray Graphite blank|
Stainless steel guides
|Ardent Tournament Pro||7′||Fast||6-12lb||One piece design|
Stainless steel guides
|Daiwa Tatula TAT701MFS||7||Fast||6-14lb||BRAIDING-X technology|
Top quality cork handles
Fuji Fazelite guides
St. Croix is perhaps one the the most well known companies to create fishing rods and are known for making some of the highest quality rods you can buy.
Using integrated poly curve tooling technology and premium high modulus SCIII graphite these rods are made with some of the best technologies and materials in the industry. They feature a split grip made with premium grade cork handles. Fuji DPS reel seats. 2 coats of flex seal slow cure finish epoxy. One of the greatest features isn’t a physical one, it’s the 5-year warranty back by the St. Croix Superstar Service. Mojo bass rods also feature a full array of technique specific variations depending on the fishing techniques you wish to employ with the rod.
There are 10 different variants in 1 and 2 piece models to choose from.
Fenwick HMG rods have been around for decades, they were originally made from fiberglass, but now they offer them in Carbon as well. They are super strong, very rigid, while still being extremely sensitive. Featuring an excellent tip and backbone.
The HMG also features Fuji line guides and a AAA corked handle, And the price quite honestly is very hard to beat. Featuring lengths from 6’ to 7’6” and fast to moderate fast actions, and ultra light to medium heavy power, they have all of their bases covered.
The most evolved and exceptional 13 fishing rod to date the Omen Black 3 features some amazing engineering. The rod blank is created using 36-ton Japanese Toray graphite blanks. And PVG (Poly Vector Graphite) technology, which aligns the graphite fibers at a micro level, creating tighter weaves and improving sensitivity while maintaining a precisely balanced fishing rod. Featuring ALPS guides with zirconium inserts, helping improve casting, and hand selected Portuguese split grip cork handles. The Omen Black 3 comes in 7 different variations from 6’7” to 7’5”, fast to extra fast tapers, and power from medium light to medium heavy.
The Ardent Tournament pro series was designed with performance and affordability in mind, while excelling at everything that competitive anglers demand. Built with the ever popular IM7 graphite blanks, these rods offer exceptional strength and sensitivity. These rods also provide anglers with a wide range of finesse techniques and applications, eliminating the needs of different variants down to two selections.
The Tournament series also features golf style grips for unsurpassed comfort and stainless steel guides. The two variants of rod come at 7’ in length and have a medium and medium-heavy power to choose from.
Combining Durability with a finesse inspired design, the Tatula design employs a range of advanced Manufacturing techniques and technologies. Using superior materials allows Daiwa to produce a rod with exceptional sensitivity without sacrificing strength.
The Tatula features BRAIDING-X carbon fiber braiding technology which increases strength and drastically reduces issues such as blank twisting, giving the Tatula an excellent blend of responsiveness and power. Featuring top quality Portugese cork handles and Fuji Fazelite tangle-free guides, this rod is sure to go above and beyond any anglers expectations. The Tatula comes in 8 model options from fast to extra fast tips, medium light to medium heavy power and lengths from 6’6” to 7’6”.
Choosing a spinning rod for bass
The first thing you have to decide when buying a spinning rod for bass is length. At the extremes, bass spinning rods will generally fall in the range of 6 to 12 feet. For those starting out, or people who like to fish in tight structure (say with overhanging trees), a shorter rod is better. But casting range is proportional to length as a general rule, so when long range is necessary, choose a longer rod. Also, if you are casting light lures, longer rods will be more effective. And they offer a bit more cushioning ability to absorb leaps and runs from the fish.
Probably the most important fittings to consider is the rod’s grip. Better rods will generally have cork grips, although there are some good foam and composite grips too. For durability and feel, and performance in wet weather, it is hard to beat cork grips.
You will have also have to choose between a single grip and split grip. A single grip has a longer section of cork, foam or composite running from the butt of the rod up to near the reel seat. A split grip has a “gap” in the middle of this section or two pads of cork, foam or composite. The result is a rod that’s a little lighter and possible better balanced. By forcing the user to place their hands on the two grips, the rod is being used in the way the maker intended. The main drawback of split grips is the rod is not as comfortable to operate single handed.
Best rod action and power for bass?
The other two things you will see mentioned in choosing a spinning rod for bass is the action and power of the rod.
Action on a spinning rod refers to the location on the blank at which the rod bends. For example, a fast action rod will bend about 15% down the blank from the tip, whereas a medium action rod will bend to a point further down the blank and a slower action rod will bend right down the length of the blank. Here is a nice explanation of rod actions.
Power refers to the amount of force needed to make the rod bend – pretty straightforward.
Many bass anglers tend to favour fast action, medium power rods. However, different styles of fishing favour different actions. Where tip sensitivity in detecting bites is key, a fast action rod is good – jigging or fishing with soft plastics for example. Note though that these rods will be less forgiving on the surges and runs of the fish and need to be fished at a light drag setting.
A medium action rod is favoured for crankbait fishing. The softer action makes for a gentler hookset when you are using treble hooks and prevents the angler from ripping the hook through the thin membrane of the bass’ mouth.
As a general rule, a medium action rod can cast a light lure such as a small crankbait significantly further than a fast action rod.
Some anglers favour single or two-piece rods as they figure there is less to go wrong and they preserve their action better. We think, though, there are considerable advantages in two, three or even four-piece rods for reasons of portability. You can put these rods in your suitcase or backpack when travelling (you can always go for a telescopic travel rod if you want to go even smaller!). The quality of modern carbon fiber rods is very high and are manufactured to tight tolerances meaning it is rare for sections to come apart while fishing.
Advantages over casting rods?
For a detailed run down of spinning rods vs casting rods, check out our article on this. But to summarise it in simple terms, spinning rods are easier to use for beginners as you don’t need to learn to brake the spool as you do with a casting rod to avoid birds’ nests. Spinning rods are also much better for casting light and ultralight lures. A spinning rod with reel spooled with braid will cast a light lure a long way further than a baitcasting rod. The ability to thumb the spool with a baitcasting reel, though, means baitcasting rods are better for precision casting into structure.
For those bass fishers with a bit more experience who are used to using baitcasting rods, don’t discount the importance of having a spinning rod or two in your arsenal too. Pros such as Mike Iaconelli often use spinning rods and it certainly doesn’t prevent them from winning tournaments. Where there is that need to long casts with small crankbaits or ultra light jig heads, you definitely need a spinning set up.
As a general rule, most quality spinning rods today are carbon fiber rods. Carbon fiber is the best material for sensitivity and casting distance, as well as fighting fish. The only drawback to it is that it is more brittle than fiberglass and therefore easier to break. If you are using it properly, it is rare to break a rod. But mishaps do happen – we’ve seen graphite rod tips broken by ceiling fans, car doors and misplaced boots.
Fiberglass is a tougher material, but is not as dynamic resulting in a slower action rod. Sometime this is an advantage – that’s why many crankbait rods for bass are fiberglass. They are better for optimal hookset and the medium action means anglers can cast even the least aerodynamic crankbait a reasonable distance to get among the fish.
Fiberglass rods are pretty much impossible to break in normal fishing situations. This also makes them a great choice for a first rod for a child that’s just getting into fishing. They will soak up all the rough treatment that a kid can dish out – poking the tip into the ground, sitting on the rod or dropping it, none of this will cause a fibreglass rod to fail!
What about something cheaper?
We recognise that not everybody has big money to spend on a fishing rod. Maybe you are just starting out in bass fishing, aren’t currently working or are a retiree who has to watch their pennies. Or maybe you are just tight with a dollar! No problems – the KastKing Crixus is a good solution for those wanting a rod at around the $50 mark.
The Crixus rods are built from powerful and sensitive IM6 graphite blanks and range in power from a light weight rod to heavy in 5’ to 7’6” lengths. Features include a superpolymer handle, stainless steel guides with zirconium inserts, split hadnle design with an EVA fighting butt.
All these rods are two piece models making them the perfect traveling companion.
How about some ultralight or finesse models?
We have a separate review of the best ultralight spinning rods on the market. See that article for a breakdown of the best choices. Some other rods to look at for lightweight bass fishing are discussed below:
The Lew’s Speed Stick Ultra Light is one to look at it. It is a great stick for casting lightweigh lures and is a great crossover rod between trout and panfish on one hand, and bass on the other. It is a lovely rod to use on those smaller species, but is good enough quality to not let you down if you hook a decent bass. If you need one rod to cover all these species, this is a really good option to consider. It is lightweight and has a quality full-length cork grip and comes in a variety of lengths and actions and is very competitively priced for what you get.
The other one to consider is Abu Garcia’s IKE Signature Finesse. Developed in collaboration with bass pro Mike “Ike” Iaconelli, the Finesse is a great rod to have when the going get slow and bass require a delicate presentation of small lures. This rod can cast lures right down the 1/32oz weight range without difficulty and has enough sensitivity to detect the most timid of bites. This rod will cast these far further than a conventional bass spinning rod and further again than a casting rod. On a tough day, having a rod like this in your arsenal might mean the difference between going home fishless and a enjoying a day to remember.
If we had to pick one out of these five rods as our best spinning rod for bass, our pick would be the St Croix Mojo bass rods. They are amazing and the price is on point for what you get out of it. And you can’t beat the warranty. St. Croix has some of the best customer service that we have dealt with in the fishing industry and in our books, customer service is a very big deal.
The other rods mentioned are also amazing and bring different features to the table. At the end of the day pick what best fits you, your style of fishing, and what tactics you want to employ with it (check here for our best crankbait rods and our best swimbait rods and baitcaster combos). In terms of reel pairings, the Shimano Stradic Ci4+ is the ideal choice of reel to match with these rods if you have a bit of cash to spend!