Best Crankbait Rods

In this crankbait rod mega guide, we'll take a look at the top 7 best crankbait rods, what a crankbait is, and what makes a good crankbait rod.

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Lews Perfect Crankbait
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Best value
UglyStik GX2
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Best Premium
Abu Garcia IKE Power
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Dale Shetler
By Dale Shetler
Updated January 18, 2020
Show Contents

Introduction

Brown Crankbait with Orange Belly

For some kinds of fishing, any old rod will do.

That does not apply to crankbait fishing.

Owning a rod that’s made for crankbait fishing is important because, more than any other lure category, crankbaits demand specific rod characteristics. If you’re using the wrong rod with a crankbait, you won’t catch as many fish. It’s that simple.

This article will reveal the characteristics that make crankbait fishing rods right for the job. We’ll give you our top picks for crankbait rods, discuss the best lengthweight, and action for a good crankbait rod, and look at the materials used in making these rods.


Top 8 Crankbait Fishing Rods

1. Lew’s David Fritts Perfect Crankbait Rod

Lew’s David Fritts Perfect Crankbait Rod

A premium graphite/glass composite blend is what’s “perfect” about the David Fritts Perfect Crankbait rod. It provides the ideal action for casting and controlling crankbaits.

The rod’s guides are fitted with tough, stainless-steel frames and aluminum oxide inserts, so there’s very little drag on your line as it passes through the guides. Less resistance from the guides means longer casts, and that’s important when fishing with crankbaits.

If you want the best crankbait rod for deep diving crankbaits, the 7’6″ version of this rod would be a good choice. When you have a lot of line out, as is common when fishing in deep water, a strike might feel kind of soft, but the extreme sensitivity of the David Fritts Perfect Crankbait Rod lets you feel even the mushiest hit.

This rod’s lightweight graphite reel seat features a stainless-steel hood that’s cushioned, so the rod and reel fit comfortably in your hand. An affordable price, solid construction, and a composite blank that incorporates both graphite and glass in the correct proportions—all that makes this the best crankbait rod under $100 that we could find.

2. UglyStik GX2 Casting Rod

Ugly Stik GX2 Casting rod

The UglyStik GX2 Casting Rod is available in a 7’6″ length that makes it an ideal rod for throwing lipless crankbaits. Considered a great “search bait,” lipless crankbaits call for a rod that will let you make long casts, and this rod does that.

The extra length gives you the leverage to heave lipless crankbaits a mile, so you can cover a lot of water very quickly. And, if a fish hits your bait with a lot of line out, the 7’6″ of graphite in your hands will move line fast, for a solid sweeping hookset.

Made with Ugly Tech construction, an innovative combination of graphite and fiberglass, this rod is incredibly strong and sensitive. It has one-piece stainless-steel guides and a sturdy reel seat that’s perfect for low-profile casting reels. If you’re looking for a great lipless crankbait rod, the UglyStik GX2 Casting Rod would be an excellent choice.

3. Abu Garcia Ike Signature Power Rod

Abu Garcia IKE Signature Power

If you're willing to pay a little extra to get nothing but the best, we suggest the Abu Garcia Ike Signature Power rod. The rod is the culmination of years of hard work with development and research in conjunction with Mike "IKE" Laconelli.

The rod blank is designed out of high-quality 36 Ton high-modulus graphite which is intended to lower the weight of the rod while maintaining substantial power and sensitivity.

You're getting fast rod action and medium to heavy rod power with the Abu Garcia IKE Signature Power - designed to fit Mike's fishing style.

Geared with quality stainless steel guides and Fuji reel seats, you've ensured an experience close to perfection with this rod. Not to mention, the rod looks absolutely stunning as well.

4. St. Croix Mojo Bass Glass Casting Rod

St. Croix Mojo Bass Glass Casting Rod

St. Croix designed their Mojo Bass Glass Casting Rod to be one of the top bass rods for crankbait fishing. It’s been a work-horse rod for anglers since it was first introduced, but it got a complete redesign in 2016 that made it even better.

The one-piece, 100% fiberglass blank is performance-tuned using St. Croix’s Integrated Poly Curve tooling technology. The Mojo Bass Glass Casting Rod has guides with strong aluminum-oxide rings that let line of all kinds shoot through with almost no resistance. That translates to longer casts.

The solid Fuji reel seat is augmented with a black hood that makes your attached reel seem like it’s part of the rod. A premium-grade cork handle in a split-grip configuration exposes part of the rod blank for increased sensitivity.

Of the seven rods we included in this article, the Mojo Bass Glass Rod is the best casting rod for crankbaits that run at a moderate depth, for example, round bill crankbaits you might use around shallow rocky structure. It’s one of the best fiberglass crankbait rods you can find, and the softer, more subtle action you get from fiberglass construction is what makes it so good.

5. Wright & McGill Skeet Reese S-Glass Rod

Wright & McGill Skeet Reese S-Glass Rod

Glass cranking rods have become very popular for crankbait fishing because of the slow but firm action that can be achieved when fiberglass is used in constructing a blank. The Skeet Reese S-Glass Crank Bait Rod from Wright and McGill is a prime example of modern fiberglass construction at its best.

This rod’s innovative S-Curve blank construction gives it remarkable strength, power, and sensitivity without adding too much weight. The grip has a split-handle design for a comfortable, balanced feel, and the large butt gives you improved leverage when fighting large fish.

Fiberglass rods are ideal for slinging deep diving crankbaits way out there and working them back to the boat across a rocky hump or point. If you want the best deep diving crankbait rod at an affordable price, you won’t be disappointed by the Skeet Reese S-Glass Crank Bait Rod.

6. Shimano Sellus Casting Rod

Shimano Sellus Casting Rod

To cover the whole price range, we wanted to include a budget rod, but it had to have all the features of a good crankbait rod. We found one. It is the Shimano Sellus, and, based on our research, it’s not only the best crankbait rod for the money, but it’s also one of the best square bill crankbait rods we found.

This rod is engineered with a 24-ton graphite blank for increased sensitivity. The corrosion-resistant guides are reinforced with aluminum oxide inserts that decrease line friction for longer casts. The reel seat is designed to allow a low-profile reel to rest perfectly in your hand, and this rod is fitted with comfortable EVA foam rubber grips.

At 6’8″, it’s a little shorter than your typical crankbait rod, but that makes it an ideal crankbait rod for bass that is holed up in heavy wood. In that scenario, you may be required to make casts that pinpoint small targets among visible wood cover. That’s why it’s such a good rod for shallow-running square billed crankbaits. And when a fish hits your lure deep in the wood cover, you can move them out quickly, thanks to the rod’s aggressive, medium-heavy weight.

7. Lamiglas XP Bass Spinning Rod

Lamiglass XP Bass Spinning Rod

You may notice that there’s only one spinning rod in our lineup of crankbait rods. In practically all crankbait fishing scenarios, baitcasting equipment will give you better control over the lure than spinning gear will. One exception to that rule is when you’re throwing very small crankbaits made of balsa wood. With baitcasting gear, using light-weight lures like that can cause backlashes.

Using a Lamiglas XP Bass Spinning Rod paired with a large spinning reel, you’ll be able to cast light crankbaits with ease and accuracy. It’s a great bass spinning rod in general—you’ll be able to use it for topwater lures as well as crankbaits—the construction creates a smooth, soft bend that helps ensure solid hookups.

This rod features a comfortable split-grip cork handle, and its sturdy Fuji reel seat means you can attach your best spinning reel with confidence. If you’re looking for the best spinning rod for crankbaits, the Lamiglas XP Bass rod is the one for you.

8. Dobyns Fury Crankbait Rod

Dobyns Fury Crankbait Rod

Rod action is kind of hard to nail down. What one person might call a “moderately fast” action, another might call “moderately slow.” It’s one of those partly-cloudy or partly-sunny kind of things.

Dobyns labels their Fury Crankbait Rod’s action as “moderately fast,” but don’t let that scare you off. This rod has great action for crankbaits.

Made from a high modulus graphite blank, it’s sensitive and powerful. Corrosion-resistant guides, a Fuji reel seat, and a premium grade cork grip round out the feature list of this awesome crankbait rod. Its 7′ length will help with the kind of slow, sweeping hooksets used in crankbait fishing, and the medium-heavy weight means you’ll have the power to turn a fish around when he starts running.


What’s a Crankbait?

A typical crankbait is a fish-shaped plug made of wood or plastic, with two treble hooks hanging off the bottom. Most crankbaits have a bill, sometimes called a lip, attached to the front. The bill is a critical component—it drives the bait down into the water as you reel, contributes to the lure’s action, and helps the bait deflect off of cover.

Crankbaits come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Some are fat, with rounded sides, while others have flat sides. The shape of the lure’s body, combined with the size and shape of the bill, determine the lure’s action. Some have a tight, vibrating wiggle; some have a wide, wobbling action.

Crankbaits are made to hit all parts of the water column, with small, square bill models running around 3′ deep, and large-billed baits reaching as deep as 25′.

These baits are most effective when you make them run into something, whether that’s the limbs of a downed tree, the gravely bottom of a main-lake point, or the chunks of riprap next to your home lake’s dam. When you force the bait to deflect off cover or structure, that’s often what triggers a strike.

Two things make it possible for you to fish these baits near cover and structure:

  • The lip deflects off of objects as you reel in. Square bill baits are generally better at deflecting off of wood cover, while round billed crankbaits excel when deflecting off of bottom structure.
  • When you pause your retrieve, the bait’s buoyancy makes it “back out” of cover. Unless it’s a suspending model (a lure that’s neutrally buoyant), your crankbait will float, rising slowly as soon as you stop reeling.

There are also lipless crankbaits. These baits have many of the same characteristics that regular crankbaits have, except they have no bill, and most of them sink. They’re also, in every case, flat-sided.

They have a tight wiggle action at moderate retrieve speeds but can be slowed down or sped up to change the action.

Lipless crankbaits work best in open water or on the edge of grass cover—they’re not nearly as snag-resistant as their lipped cousins. They also tend to run at a consistent depth of about 6′, depending on the lure’s weight and your retrieve speed.

All that makes a lipless crankbait a good lure to tie on when you need a search bait. You can cover a lot of water with a lipless crankbait.

As we mentioned, crankbaits come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. If you’re not familiar with this lure category, do a little online window shopping to get a sense of the types of lures that are available. Modern materials and advanced manufacturing techniques have allowed lure makers to create some of the most realistic looking and effective baits ever made.


What Makes a Good Crankbait Rod?

Chances are, you own a few rods that would not be good for catching fish with crankbaits. You may have learned that the hard way.

It’s common for an inexperienced angler to cut the worm off his fast action worming rod and tie on a crankbait. That’s a bad move.

A rod with a fast action, while perfect for fishing plastic worms, is terrible for crankbait fishing. The fast tip of a worming rod pulls a crankbait out of the fish’s mouth before a hookset can occur.

A rod with a moderate to slow action gives fish more time to suck the bait in. There’s less resistance from the rod tip, so everything happens a little softer and slower than when you’re worming.

A softer action will also help you cast further and make it easier to play your fish once it’s hooked.

Acceptable crankbait rod weight can vary from medium to medium-heavy, depending on the kind of crankbait fishing you’re engaged in. There’s a detailed discussion of that in the Buying Considerations section.

Crankbait fishing rods need to be at least 6′ 6″ long, with 7′ being the preferred length. The extra length is all about moving a lot of line, fast, both on the cast and on the hook set.

We’ll get into a discussion about rod materials and price later on, but those are relatively minor factors. Even rod length and weight don’t matter that much compared to the number one factor: rod action. The one rule you must adhere to when buying crankbait rods is that they must have a moderate to soft action.


Buying Considerations

This section covers the details we factored in when coming up with our recommendations. Read on to learn about lure type; a rod’s action, length, and weight; construction materials; and price should all be considered.

Crankbait Type

Choosing a crankbait rod based on the type of lure you’ll be using is smart. All crankbaits demand a rod with a moderately slow action, but there are other factors to consider. Here are some guidelines:

Round bill crankbaits

Round bill crankbaits

Round bill crankbaits tend to run deep, making them great in open water around humps, points, and drop-offs. You need a long rod to make the long casts that are required. Plus, when you’re setting the hook with a lot of line out, as is the case sometimes when fishing deep, extra rod length helps with hooksets. As far as rod weight goes, you can get by with a medium weight since, in open water, you won’t need to steer fish away from cover.

Square bill crankbaits

Square bill crankbaits

Sometimes a shorter rod helps you make more accurate casts around visible cover. Since square billed crankbaits excel around shallow wood cover, a short rod is called for when using those baits. If you have to do a little underhand flip or other trick casts to put your bait in the right spot, the agility of a shorter rod helps. You might want to go up to a medium-heavy weight, because, when a fish hits your bait in cover, you’ll need the power to move him out of the wood quickly.

Lipless crankbaits

Lipless crankbaits

As with round bill crankbaits, lipless models call for long casts. You’ll be searching for fish and need to cover a lot of water fast. Also, you definitely want a medium weight rod for lipless crankbaits; when fish hit these baits, a subtler pressure is needed to get them back to the boat.

Rod Weight & Action

We’ve covered a lot about rod action in this article. It’s the single most important characteristic of a great crankbait rod. The action of a crankbait rod must be moderate to slow. A fast action rod simply will not perform correctly with this type of lure. A crankbait rod’s weight is less critical; medium and medium-heavy actions both work well.

Here’s a quick refresher on what the terms weight and action mean:

  • Weight describes how easily a rod bends.
  • Action describes the location in the rod’s length where the bend occurs.

Crankbaits require a rod with a moderately slow action because that makes casting the lures easier and results in better hookups. When a rod can flex at the moment the fish strikes, the treble hooks of the crankbait will dig in, whereas a stiffer rod may rip the lure out of the fish’s mouth.

Action and Power Fishing Rod Infographic

Rod Length

In many scenarios, you’ll want your crankbait rod to be long. 7′ and 7’6″ are two extremely common sizes.

The extra length helps with long casts and moves a lot of line fast when you perform a big, sweeping hook set.

There’s one exception to the long-rod rule for crankbaits, and that’s when you’re fishing with square bill crankbaits. They tend to run at only around 3 feet deep, so they’re perfect for dissecting shallow wood cover. Fishing in that kind of cover can require precision casting, and a shorter rod comes in handy. Still, don’t go shorter than 6’6″ or you won’t have the control needed to muscle fish out of cover after they strike.

Materials

graphite stone

A common construction material for many kinds of fishing rods is graphite, and it’s often used for making crankbait rods. Manufacturers have modern production techniques in which the graphite material is subjected to high heat to make it strong.

The creation of a graphite rod blank involves taking parallel graphite fibers and incorporating them into sheets with resin. A rod with more fibers and resin material will be stiffer than one with less material. More layers can be added to fine-tune the blank’s performance, with fiberglass being a common secondary material.

Rods made entirely from fiberglass have been popular for a long time, but the material has had a reputation for being too heavy. Modern fiberglass isn’t like it used to be—many manufacturers have created light-weight rods made completely from fiberglass. All-glass rods and rods made from a combination of fiberglass and graphite make great crankbait rods because they tend to have a slower action than rods made completely from graphite.

Price

If you have already clicked the links for some of the rods we reviewed, you’ll know that you can expect to pay between $50 and $150 for a quality crankbait rod, with some rods that feature premium construction materials costing closer to $200.

Crankbait rods aren’t cheap, but you don’t have to drain your bank account to buy one.

Some of the things that make one rod more expensive than another are nice-to-have features like a super-high-end cork handle or a dazzling finish. When you’re trying to find the best crank rod for the money, keep this in mind: the materials used to make rods have come a long way, and rods are easier to build than they used to be. That means manufacturers can pack their low- and medium-range rods with fantastic features.

We’ll close this section with a little pro tip that can help you save money.


Crankbait Rod Selection — It’s All About Action

Best crankbait rods thumbnail

Crankbaits are effective in all kinds of situations. They can attract fish that are holding on steep rocky banks, ledges, shallow flats, and near grass beds, plus, they excel when fished near shallow wood cover.

If you think about what type of crankbaits you’ll be fishing with, and where you’ll be throwing them, you can match up a rod with the exact right features.

The one thing that you absolutely must remember is to select a rod with a moderately slow action. Rod length and weight matter too, but not nearly as much.

We really hope you found the information in this article useful and that it helps you pick the right crankbait rod.

Before we wrap things up…you’re probably shopping for a whole crankbait setup, complete with a reel that’s up to the challenge. Check out our article on the best baitcasting reels. And if you’re not in a huge hurry to decide on a reel for crankbait fishing, check back with us in a little while, because we plan to drill even further into baitcasters with an article specifically about the Best Crankbait Reels.

Until next time, happy fishing!

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