Today we review the top 11 best bass fishing rods in 2020 and give you an exclusive buying guide that helps you buy the right bass rod for your needs.
What’s makes a great bass fishing rod?
As with so many things in life, the answer is, “It depends.”
You need to decide which bass fishing techniques you’ll be focusing on. Then you’ll be able to pick the right rod. If you have experience with different lures and techniques, you’ll definitely understand our suggestions and guidelines for selecting a new rod.
But what if you don’t have much on-the-water experience?
This article is going to provide you with all the information you need to choose the right bass fishing rod.
We’ll give you our top picks for bass rods, both casting and spinning, and clue you into the nitty-gritty details, like what the terms power (or weight) and action mean, and what material types go into making the best fishing pole for bass.
Casting rods are preferred when fishing with most crankbaits, and the St. Croix’s Mojo Bass Glass Baitcasting Rod was designed specifically to be one of the top bass rods for crankbait fishing. Hence it also made our "best crankbait rods" list.
This rod was great when it was first introduced, but a complete redesign in 2016 made it even better. It is now constructed of 100% linear S-glass and its one-piece blank is performance-tuned using St. Croix’s Integrated Poly Curve tooling technology.
The guides are made with strong aluminum-oxide rings that allow line of all types to shoot through with minimal resistance. That means you can make longer casts!
Fuji makes the best reel seats, and the Mojo Bass Glass Baitcasting Rod features one with a black hood, making the rod and reel fit so well they seem like they’re molded together.
This rod’s premium-grade cork handle has a split grip that exposes part of the rod blank for added sensitivity.
The Mojo Bass Glass Rod doesn’t just perform well, it also looks amazing! St. Croix completes this rod with two coats of Flex-Coat, slow-cure finish. It protects the blank and keeps your rod in top condition for as long as you own it.
This rod is made with what the manufacturer calls Ugly Tech construction. It’s an ingenious combination of graphite and fiberglass that results in a very strong, sensitive rod.
You’ll see a lot of rods featuring guides with inserts made of some space-age plastic. That stuff does make casting easier, but sometimes the inserts pop out.
The UglyStik GX2 Casting Rod solves that problem because it’s fitted with one-piece stainless-steel guides. You may give up an inch or two in casting distance, but these guides are extremely durable, and you’ll never have to worry about inserts coming out.
You can get this rod in a variety of weights, and there’s a 7′, medium-weight version that would be perfect for throwing crankbaits.
If you want nothing but the best and you have the money to spend, we suggest the Abu Garcia Veracity casting rod. It's a versatile all-rounder with great durability and sensitivity. The 3M Powerlux 300 blank is incredibly strong, making this a rod you'll get to enjoy for years without it wearing down.
Using 3M resin that is baked into the rod, coating the 40 Ton carbon fiber blank, Abu Garcia was able to keep the weight of the Veracity low while maintaining ultimate strength and sensitivity.
The soft-touch Fuji reel seat along with the EVA split grips provide wonderful comfort, grip, and control, making you feel one with the rod. The rod is available in lengths from 6'6" up to 8' and you also have a variety of action and power configurations so there should be an ideal option for all of you.
This is our top premium pick bass rod. If you have the money to spend, this one takes the prize.
If you’re searching for the best spinning rod for bass, you just found it—the Duckett Micro Magic Pro Spinning Rod. Duckett’s innovative Sensi-Touch blanks are unbelievably sensitive, constructed from premium materials, and enhanced with carbon fiber to increase durability.
You can use any type of line with this rod that you want. Monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braid all pass through the micro guides with ease, and specialized inserts ensure that the abrasive braided lines won’t cut into the guides.
This lightweight rod is perfectly balanced to help reduce fatigue, and it features a Fuji reel seat that was designed to allow a low-profile reel connection. A high-grade cork grip is capped off with a tough EVA butt that will never crack or break.
The 6′ 6″, medium-weight model has a fairly fast action, so it would be perfect if you’re going to spend all day slinging spinnerbaits around a grass line.
Elite Series Pro Mike Iaconelli put all his knowledge and experience into the design of the Ike Signature Series rods. If you need a classic worming rod, this would be a fine choice.
To start with, the rod is constructed of premium graphite. It has an action that helps you cast accurately, it is sensitive enough to transmit the slightest bite, and it has the backbone to achieve brutal hook sets when using soft plastics. But the rod’s dynamic bend also makes it suitable for crankbait fishing.
Like most of the rods we’ll discuss, Abu Garcia’s IKE Signature Casting Rod comes with stainless steel guides and a quality reel seat. The hardware attached to your rod may not be the first thing you check out but make no mistake, it matters a lot. The Fuji reel seat makes for a low-profile attachment, and the guides have Zirconium inserts to reduce line friction.
Mike Iaconelli consulted with Abu Garcia to ensure these rods have the right power/weight and action, and Abu Garcia listened. After all, when you’ve had as much success on the professional bass fishing circuit as Mr. Iaconelli, you’re bound to have some pretty valuable insights.
Through-handle construction has a lot to do with how solid a rod feels in your hand. It’s when the blank extends all the way through the handle to the very end, and it can have a big impact on a rod’s power and sensitivity. On some low-end bass rods, it’s the first thing manufacturers get rid of to cut costs.
That’s not the case with the Berkley Cherrywood HD Casting Rod. A through-handle design is just one of the high-end features you’ll find in this affordable rod. Durable guides with stainless steel inserts and a premium cork grip come standard.
The Berkley Cherrywood HD Casting Rod is available in a range of lengths, powers/weights, and actions, so finding a bass pole that’s right for the lures and techniques you’ll be using will be no problem at all!
Topwater fishing has got to be one of the most exciting ways to catch bass. There’s something about seeing that violent explosion under your lure that keeps anglers coming back for more.
But when a fish hits a topwater plug, experienced anglers know that a do-nothing approach is best. Any reaction from you might pull the lure out of the fish’s mouth. The Lamiglas XP Bass rod, one of the best bass spinning rods you can find, is tailor-made for topwater fishing because the construction creates a smooth, soft bend that helps ensure solid hookups.
This graphite rod’s light-weight design and comfortable split-grip cork handle help you spend more time on the water without getting tired. A high-end Fuji reel seat means you can attach your best spinning reel and be sure of a solid connection
If you’re looking for a spinning rod that has the action to throw light topwater baits and the power to handle big fish, a Lamiglas XP Bass spinning rod would be an excellent selection.
The Graphex Casting Rod from Zebco is an affordable rod that performs like one of its high-end cousins. All the available lengths have a fast action, and you can choose the power that matches up with the lures and techniques you’re using.
Graphite is bonded with EX-Fiber to give this rod remarkable sensitivity and strength. Aluminum-oxide guides mean minimal resistance regardless of the type of line you use, and less resistance results in longer casts.
You might not expect a natural cork handle on a mid-range rod like this, but the Graphex Casting Rod has one, and a rock-solid reel seat lets you securely attach the casting reel of your choice.
If you’re into worming but need a rod that works with other techniques too, pick up a Graphex Casting Rod in the 6′ 6″ length and you won’t be sorry.
Shimano’s Stimula Spinning Rods offer fantastic power and sensitivity. They’re at the lower end of the price range, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be giving up any important features.
This rugged spinning rod is constructed using a durable graphite composite blank and is available in a variety of lengths. You can fine-tune your selection by choosing just the right power and action for your fishing style.
Like more expensive rods, the Stimula Spinning Rod is equipped with aluminum oxide guides that will last forever and minimize line friction.
For all anglers who need a great spinning rod but still want to give their wallet a break, the Shimano’s Stimula Spinning Rod is the rod for you.
Daiwa is known for its high-quality fishing gear, and the Tatula Spinning Rod is a great example of what they do. This rod is made with X45 Bias Graphite construction and SVF (Super High Volume Fiber) carbon fiber that gives it incredible flexibility and strength.
You’ll get a tough but attractive finish, and Daiwa’s custom reel seat features a machined aluminum clamp nut for solid mounting of your favorite spinning reel.
Fuji Alconite guides and an ultra-lightweight split EVA grip round out the package—this feature-packed rod gives you a lot of bang for your buck!
A versatile, high-quality spinning rod at an affordable price. We all need at least one, and the Dobyns Fury Spinning Rod is a great choice to start your collection.
You get a premium rod that’s made from strong, light-weight graphite, and this rod offers unparalleled power and sensitivity. A Fuji reel seat is the best you can get, and the Dobyns Fury Spinning Rod has one. The Kevlar-wrapped guides are tough, but finished beautifully, to give this rod a high-end appearance.
The Dobyns Fury Spinning Rod is light-weight and has an ergonomic, high-density cork grip, so you can fish all day and into the night without getting worn out.
This section contains all the nitty-gritty details we promised in the intro.
While each rod type excels in certain areas, both casting rods and spinning rods can work with any lure or technique you choose.
The main difference between the two rod types is the kind of reel that you’ll attach. A casting rod calls for a low-profile casting reel that looks like a tiny winch. Spinning rods take an underslung, open-faced spinning reel that features a revolving bail to wind the line.
Because both kinds of rods are available with any level of strength and flexibility you could ask for, the reel type is really what makes one kind of rig better than another for a given type of fishing.
If you remember those two facts about casting and spinning reels when you’re selecting a rod, you can factor them in along with all the rod-focused decision points we’ll discuss.
When people refer to a fishing rod’s “power (or weight),” they really mean its stiffness.
You might be thinking, “But I thought action was the term used to describe a rod’s stiffness.”
The terms are easily confused, but the best way to think about it is with these two working definitions:
When selecting a rod and focusing on its power, you should consider how heavy your lures will be. If you try to cast a heavy bait, like a 1 oz jig, for example, on a whippy rod that’s very easy to bend, the power of the lure will load up the rod too much on the backcast. That will rob you of power and control. On the other hand, trying to cast a light lure like a topwater plug on a very stiff rod will be frustrating—you’ll need to get your whole body involved to make even a moderately long cast!
Another thing that a rod’s weight/power can affect is its hook setting power. When fishing with soft plastics, for example, you need a stiff rod to get a good hook set. But if you’re fishing topwater baits, where the bass hooks himself, a more bendy rod is preferred.
Most manufacturers produce rods with weights/powers classified as ultra-light, light, medium light, medium, medium heavy, heavy, and extra heavy. Lure weight and hook setting ability are the two most important factors related to a rod’s power/weight.
When selecting a rod and focusing on its action, you should think about the specific lure types and techniques you’ll be using. The common rod actions are slow, moderate, and fast.
A fast action rod bends in only the top third of the blank, a moderate action bends in the top half, and the bend of slow action rod begins in the lower third of the blank.
When fishing with jigs or plastic worms, most anglers like to use a fast action rod because they provide a lot of sensitivity, which helps in detecting strikes. Throwing crankbaits, on the other hand, requires a moderate (or even slow) action. That’s because a slower action makes casting the comparatively lighter plugs easier, and, more importantly, results in better hooks ups. If the rod can flex at the moment the fish strikes, the treble hooks of your crankbait have a better chance to dig in, where a stiff rod might simply rip the lure out of the fish’s mouth.
When assessing a fishing rod, you can’t really separate these two factors, power and action. Some techniques, like fishing soft plastic jerk baits, for example, call for a rod that’s fairly stiff throughout, but with a significant bend close to the tip. In that case, you would select a medium heavy rod with a fast action. When it’s time to switch to topwater, you’ll want to grab a rod that’s medium power and has a moderate action.
If you think about how heavy your lures will be and the techniques you favor, it will be easy to zero in on the exact right power and action for you.
Deciding on the right length for your bass rod is easier than working through some of the other factors, but like everything else, it depends on how you’re fishing. The lures you use, where you want to cast them, and the techniques you employ will all contribute to your rod length decision.
Here are some general rules of thumb about rod length:
If you think about what lures you’ll be throwing, and where, then choosing the right rod length will be easy!
Most rods are made primarily from graphite. The best manufacturers have come up with state-of-the-art production techniques in which the graphite material is subjected to high heat in order to create strength and stiffness. Some rod makers skip the more advanced steps, resulting in a brittle rod.
In general, the creation of a graphite rod blank involves taking parallel graphite fibers and incorporating them into sheets with resin. The more fibers and resin material, the stiffer the rod will be.
Additional layers that make up the rod blank are carbon fiber, or, much more commonly, fiberglass.
Most high-quality rods include a combination of materials, with layers of graphite and fiberglass being carefully adjusted to achieve the desired power and action.
Rods made of 100% fiberglass were very popular back in the 1950s and they’re making a comeback. Glass rods tend to have a slower action but offer just as much durability as graphite. A drawback used to be increased weight, but modern fiberglass isn’t like that from the 1950s, and many manufacturers have created light-weight rods made completely from fiberglass.
But enough about the rod’s blank. What about the hardware?
The reel seat and line guides matter a lot. As you can see from our reviews, most manufacturers have picked up on the fact that their rods need to have high-quality hardware. You’ll be pressed to find a rod these days that doesn’t come with durable guides and a solidly constructed reel seat but do pay attention to those things when making your selection.
We have some words of wisdom about rod price that might not make the manufacturers happy:
You don’t have to spend a lot to get a great rod!
Many of the features that differentiate one rod from another are nice-to-have things like a super-high-end cork handle or a finish that’s so gorgeous it takes your breath away.
When you’re trying to find the best bass rods for the money, stay grounded and think about what the rod really needs to do: catch fish, and last forever.
The materials used to make rods have gotten so good, and the rods are so much easier to build than they were a few years ago, that manufactures are packing their low- and medium-range rods with tons of great features. It’s a competitive market, and us fishermen are benefiting from all the options made available to us.
If you just won the lottery, or really want to treat yourself, go ahead and pick out the rod of your dreams, price be damned.
But if you’re like most of us, you have a limited tackle budget. In that case, stick to the low- and mid-priced rods. After all, given how important fishing technique is in rod selection, you’re probably going to need to purchase more than one rod, so don’t break the bank on just one!
Let’s go back to that question that got all this started…What makes a great bass fishing rod?
We said, “It depends,” and if this article has done its job, you now know exactly what we meant by that.
First, decide what bass fishing techniques you plan to use. Then think about rod features that make one kind of rod better than another for a given lure or technique.
How you intend to use the rod should always be in the back of your mind as you consider rod weight, action, and length. If you follow this approach when shopping for a bass rod, you’ll end up with a rod that’s perfect for you.
Tackle is only part of successful bass fishing. You also need to know which bait to use for bass if you want to increase your catching rate.
If you can’t get enough of bass fishing, you might want to check out our guide on selecting a matching spinning reel for your bass rod.