The 9 Best Bass Fishing Rods of 2021

Catch trophy-sized fish with these top picks

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The Rundown

Best Overall: Phenix Maxim Casting Rod at sportsmans.com

"Made from lightweight, perfectly balanced carbon fiber."

Best Budget: KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rod at Amazon

"There is little difference between this rod and $200+ rods."

Best for Crankbaits: St. Croix Premier Casting Rod at dickssportinggoods.com

"The seven-foot rod is a great choice for crankbait fishing."

Best for Topwater Lures: Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod at Amazon

"Especially suited to triggering explosive surface bites."

Best for Spinnerbaits: Entsport Camo Legend 2-Piece Baitcasting Rod at Amazon

"Breaks down into two pieces for maximum portability."

Best Lightweight: G. Loomis Trout & Panfish Spinning Rod at tackledirect.com

"Intended for smaller fish; but has the strength necessary to target decent-sized bass."

Best for Flipping & Pitching: Lew’s Fishing American Hero Triggerstick Casting Rod at tacklewarehouse.com

"The longer length allows for the greater accuracy."

Best for Drop Shotting: St. Croix Triumph Spinning Rod at cabelas.com

"A masterpiece of strength, sensitivity and hook-setting power."

Best for Beginners: PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combo at Amazon

"The carbon fiber and fiberglass in the construction make the pole durable."

There are few things more satisfying than that moment you first see the shiny scales of your catch about to break through the water. Getting to that point requires finding the right rod for you and there's a lot consider.

"If you've ever seen a bass fishing show, you'll notice that they usually have a dozen rods on their boat," said Mark Ravonausky, of Tackle Haven. "Each of those rods is tuned to the bait and how they want to fish."

You certainly don't need 12 rods if you're a beginner -- you just need to choose a technique to focus on. From there, you need to also think about versatility, weight, length, and sensitivity.

We're here to help get you on your way. Here are some of our favorite bass fishing rods to help land your trophy fish.

Best Overall: Phenix Maxim Casting Rod

Phenix Maxim Casting Rod

 Courtesy of Sportman's Warehouse

What We Like
  • Lightweight

  • Versatile

  • Sensitive

What We Don't Like
  • Not specialized

If you’re just starting out or don’t have the funds to purchase specialist rods for each bass fishing technique, opt for a versatile all-rounder like the Phenix Maxim Casting Rod. This rod is designed for use with a baitcasting reel, traditionally the most popular choice for bass fishermen. It comes in a range of sizes, but the seven-foot three-inch length with medium power is the best middle-of-the-road option.

Fast action guarantees great sensitivity and solid hook sets and is especially suited to single-hook lures, including jigs and worms. The seven-foot three-inch model is a one-piece rod made from lightweight, perfectly balanced carbon fiber and complemented by the brand’s wrapped carbon tape construction for added strength and durability. Other highlights include the custom-designed locking reel seat, the comfortable EVA non-slip handle, and the SiC guides.

Rod Length: 6 ft. 10 in. | Weight: 8-14 lbs. | Type: Casting | Power Rating: Medium heavy

Best Budget: KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rod

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Multiple models

  • Stylish

What We Don't Like
  • Heavier

  • Not great for large fish

The KastKing Perigee II Fishing Rod is the choice for those in search of a bargain. It’s one of the best priced bass fishing rods online, yet boasts such good quality that many reviewers claim there is little difference between this rod and their $200+ rods. It comes in many different models, allowing you to select the best one for your chosen fishing technique. There are casting and spinning rods in 6’7”, 7’1” and 7’4” lengths, in addition to seven-foot two-piece casting or spinning rods that come with two tips rated to different powers.

All models pair a versatile medium, medium light or medium heavy power rating with a fast action. The blanks are made from 24-ton carbon fiber for excellent strength and durability, while other notable features include Fuji O-ring line guides, an EVA grip and a safety-conscious hook keeper. The ergonomic reel seat is crafted from high-strength graphite.

Rod Length: Ranges from 4 ft. 6 in. to 7 ft. 6 in. | Weight: 1-25 lbs. depending on pole | Type: Casting and Spinning | Power Rating: Ultra light to heavy

Best for Crankbaits: St. Croix Premier Casting Rod

St. Croix Premier Casting Rod

 Courtesy of Dick's Sporting Goods

What We Like
  • Versatile

  • Solid warranty

  • Durable

What We Don't Like
  • Challenging for beginners

Arguably the most versatile of all types of bass lure, crankbaits can be used effectively with most casting rods. And, the St. Croix Premier Casting Rod is a good option to use with crankbaits. Available in 5.6 up to seven-foot lengths, many fishermen find that the added casting distance afforded by the seven-foot rod makes it a better choice for crankbait fishing.

Both the medium and the medium heavy power versions are suited to this technique. Choose according to the density of the cover you usually fish in, or according to your intended line weight and lure size. As a guide, the medium power rod is rated for eight to 14-pound line, while the medium heavy rod is ideal for 10 to 20-pound lines. Either way, the blank’s graphite composite construction guarantees a good blend of lightness and durability, while the EVA handle is made for comfort.

Rod Length: 6 ft. | Type: Casting | Power Rating: Medium heavy

Best for Topwater Lures: Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod

What We Like
  • Multiple sizes

  • Sensitive

  • Affordable

What We Don't Like
  • Meant for casual fishermen

  • Small reel space

The Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod is a worthy addition to any bass fisherman’s arsenal. It comes in many different lengths and power ratings, but the 6’6” medium power model is especially suited to triggering explosive surface bites using a topwater lure. The rod is rated for eight to 17-pound line weights, and is designed to work with a spinning reel to allow distance casting with 1/4- to 3/4-ounce lures.

This fast action rod comes in one or two pieces. It's also made from 35 percent more graphite than previous models for the perfect blend of lightness and durability, while signature Clear Tip design affords excellent sensitivity. As an added bonus, one-piece stainless steel guides mean you don’t have to worry about your inserts popping out.

Rod Length: 4 ft. 6 in. - 7 ft. | Weight: 2 - 17 depending on rod | Type: Spinning | Power Rating: Ultra light to medium heavy

Best for Spinnerbaits: Entsport Camo Legend 2-Piece Baitcasting Rod

What We Like
  • Affordable

  • Comes with two tips

  • Protective bag

What We Don't Like
  • Separating parts can be challenging

  • Less sensitive

If spinnerbaits are your lure of choice, choose a seven-foot stick like the Entsport Camo Legend 2-Piece Baitcasting Rod to give you the casting distance, leverage and capacity for a speedy retrieve that this fishing technique requires. This fast action rod breaks down into two pieces for maximum portability and comes with two interchangeable tips. One delivers medium power for use in moderate cover, while the other is rated medium heavy for fighting through the tough cover that spinnerbaits are often synonymous with. This two-in-one design also comes in handy for those looking to save money or packing space.

Made from 24-ton carbon fiber, the rod is both lightweight and strong. The stainless steel guides are cleverly spaced to reduce line friction, while the reel seat is protected by a corrosion-resistant aluminum hood. After a long day on the water, you’ll be grateful for the high-density EVA handle, which is designed to increase control and keep hand and wrist fatigue to a minimum. The rod comes with a protective bag and a one-year warranty.

Rod Length: 7 ft. | Weight: 10-26 lbs. | Type: Casting | Power Rating: Medium

Best Lightweight: G. Loomis Trout & Panfish Spinning Rod

G. Loomis Trout & Panfish Spinning Rod

Courtesy of G. Loomis

What We Like
  • Sensitive

  • Lightweight

  • High-quality

What We Don't Like
  • Expensive

Those wishing to take on the challenge of ultralight bass fishing need a much lighter rod than those usually associated with the species. As its name suggests, the G. Loomis Trout & Panfish Spinning Rod is intended for smaller fish; but has the strength necessary to target decent-sized bass using small lures and soft plastics as well. On Amazon, you’ll find this rod in a range of different lengths, from five to seven feet. The longer lengths (6.5 to seven feet) are best suited for ultralight fishing as they combine the flexibility needed to cast tiny lures with the backbone required to land bass.

These longer rods have a fast action and are designed to carry two to 10-pound lines, depending on the model you choose. Some models break down into two pieces, which is a bonus for those that like ultralight set-ups for their compactness as well as the excitement of catching big fish on light tackle. Models also vary in terms of their materials. The one linked here is made from Loomis’ signature Fiber Blend, with a cork grip and Fuji Alconite guides.

Rod Length: 7 ft. 6. in. | Weight: 2 -6 lbs. | Type: Spinning | Power Rating: Light

Best for Flipping & Pitching: Lew’s Fishing American Hero Triggerstick Casting Rod

Lew’s Fishing American Hero Speed Stick

 Courtesy of Bass Pro Shops

What we like
  • Durable

  • Heavy duty

  • Sensitive

What we don't like
  • Better for beginners

For flipping and pitching in heavy cover, 7’6" rods like the Lew’s Fishing American Hero Triggerstick are considered standard. The longer length allows for the greater accuracy this fishing method requires, while the fast action allows you to set hooks quickly and efficiently. Like all good flipping rods, this one features a heavy power rating suitable for line weights of between twenty to forty pounds. These stronger lines are made to cope with the strain of digging bass out of thick cover, and reduce the likelihood of you snapping up before you can land your trophy fish.

The rod's multilayer, multi-directional graphite blank is reinforced with premium resins for structural strength, while the gunsmoke stainless steel guides are exceptionally durable. In between pitches, keep your hook out of the way using the titanium-coated hook keeper. Other enviable features include the lightweight graphite reel seat and the split grip handle with its high-density EVA grip. A portion of the proceeds goes towards supporting veterans through Lew’s American Hero program.

Rod Length: 6 ft. - 7 ft. 6 in. | Weight: 6 -40 lbs. depending on pole | Type: Casting | Power Rating: Medium to heavy

Best for Drop Shotting: St. Croix Triumph Spinning Rod

St. Croix Triumph Spinning Rod

 Amazon

What we like
  • Durable

  • Reliable

  • Affordable

What we don't like
  • Not specialized

The finesse method known as drop shotting is one of the few bass fishing techniques that consistently favors a spinning rod over a baitcasting rod. This is because spinning rods are naturally compatible with the light lines typically used for drop shot rigs. The St. Croix Triumph Spinning Rod is a masterpiece of strength, sensitivity and hook-setting power with many different power, action and length combinations to choose from. For drop shotting, the 6’6” medium light power model with a fast action is ideal.

The rod is made from high-quality SCII graphite with a slow cure Flex-Coat finish. As well as delivering a flawless performance, St. Croix rods also look great with black-framed aluminum-oxide guides and a Fuji DPS reel seat with a frosted silver hood. The handle is made from premium-grade cork. Choose whether you want a one or two-piece rod, and revel in the peace of mind afforded by the manufacturer’s five-year warranty.

Rod Length: 5 ft. - 7 ft. | Weight: 2 -12 lbs. depending on pole | Type: Spinning | Power Rating: Ultra light to medium heavy

Best for Beginners: PLUSINNO Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

Best for beginners bass fishing pole
What we like
  • Affordable

  • Full kit

  • Durable

What we don't like
  • Not very sensitive

  • Meant for beginners

Considering the price point for this rod is fairly affordable and it comes with a full kit (we're talking rod, reel, six hooks, four sinkers, six lures, and a line, among other accessories) of necessary fishing bits and pieces, it makes for a fine set to get the hang of fishing with (and frankly, decide if the sport is for you).

The carbon fiber and fiberglass in the construction make the pole durable, which is great, considering beginners are more likely to snag on rocks, branches, and debris. It is also telescopic and lightweight, making it portable and easy to carry around.

Rod Length: 5 ft. 11 in. - 8 ft. 10 in. | Weight: 3 - 18 lbs. depending on pole | Type: Casting | Power Rating: Medium

Final Verdict

Ultimately, you first need to decide what type of fishing you're going to do. If you're just starting out, it's not a bad idea to choose a more affordable and versatile stick until you get a better idea of what your preferred methods are. If you are already a competent fishermen, opt for something more specialized and focus on weight, length, and power.

What to Look for in a Bass Fishing Rod

Fishing Environment

One thing to consider when choosing a rod is where you'll use it. Are you going to be fishing from land? Off a boat? From a beach or rocks? Will the water be moving quickly (like in a river) or still (like in a lake)? Generally speaking, spinning rods are the most versatile—good for all skill levels and most environments.

Material

Most rods are made from graphite or fiberglass. We'll start with graphite, because according to Dan Chimelak of Lakeside Fishing Shop, "they're really hot right now." Manufacturers have different ways of treating (or not treating) the material. The better ones subject the graphite to high heat to build up strength and stiffness, while the lesser ones skip that step, which results in a more brittle rod. Look for manufacturers who tout their production techniques. Graphite is generally preferred by seasoned anglers because of it's sensitivity and fighting power.

Fiberglass rods used to be popular and they are starting to make a comeback. It's a sturdier material so your rod is less likely to snap, but it's also heavier, which can be tiring if you're planning long days on the water. The durability of fiberglass makes it good for beginners and those going after larger fish.

"Either way, you want something that feels good in your hands," Chimelak said. "You're probably not going to use it much if it doesn't feel right."

Price

Luckily, you don't have to spend a ton to get a good rod. There are oodles of things manufacturers will add to a rod that will make it more expensive, like a real cork handle or a pretty finish, but ultimately you'll need to consider how the rod will be used. Since you'll likely have to purchase multiple rods over time for different fishing techniques, you might as well pick something on the lower or middle end of the price spectrum, provided it does the job.

Another thing to consider is whether or not the price includes a warranty. "Make sure to ask about the warranty, what it covers, and whether there's any replacement fees," Chimelak said. "It doesn't make sense to get a rod because of it's lifetime warranty if the replacement fee is almost as much as a new rod."

FAQs

What is a good size rod for bass fishing?

The longer a rod is, the longer it casts. However, longer rods are harder to maneuver. For people who are trying to catch fish below them (if they're on a boat, for example), a pole with a big cast isn't necessary. Instead, look for a rod that is easy to handle–around 5 to 7-feet in length. For those wading or fishing from shore, longer (over 8 feet) is better. Beginner anglers should also consider a 7-foot rod because it's longer but fairly easy to maneuver.

What's the difference between a spinning rod and a casting rod?

The biggest differences between spinning rods and casting rods are the reel type, the reel seat, and the placement of the guides. A casting rod requires a baitcasting reel (the kind the looks like a small winch mounted on the side), whereas spinning rods have an open-faced spinning reel (mounted on the underside) and a revolving bail winds the line. The guides are found on the underside of the spinning rod and the topside of a casting rod.

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