Best Crankbait Rods
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 length, weight, and action for a good crankbait rod, and look at the materials used in making these rods.
If you want a quick recommendation, without all the details, we’ve provided an easy reference that matches certain crankbait rod types with the scenarios they’re most suited for. Check out our Crankbait Rod Cheat Sheet to get a no-nonsense tip on which crankbait rod to buy.
Before we get into the best crankbait rods, let’s nail down exactly what a crankbait is!
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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 for 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 crank bait rods is that they must have a moderate to soft action.
Crankbait Rod Cheat Sheet
This section provides a shortcut to finding the best rod for crankbaits. We encourage you to check out this whole article, but if you want to speed up the selection process, the table below should help.
Crankbait fishing is a technique that requires very close attention to the rod’s weight and action, with the action being especially critical.
|If you’re fishing with a…||The best type of rod is…||Example|
|Square bill crankbait around wood||Shimano Sellus Casting Rod|
|Deep diving crankbait||Lews David Fritts Perfect Rod|
|Round bill crankbait around shallow rocky structure||St. Croix Mojo Bass Glass Rod|
|Lipless crankbait||UglyStik GX2 Casting Rod|
You may run into other scenarios, but we hope this chart gives you a general idea about the characteristics to look for in a crankbait rod based on the lure you’re throwing, and where.
Top Picks Overview
In this section, you’ll find an overview of some of the best crankbait rods on the market.
Each rod is described in detail as part of our crankbait rods reviews that appear later in this article.
|UglyStik GX2 Casting Rod||Check Best Price|
|Lew’s David Fritts Perfect Rod||Check Best Price|
|St. Croix Mojo Bass Glass Rod||Check Best Price|
|Wright & McGill Skeet Reese S-Glass||Check Best Price|
|Shimano Sellus Casting Rod||Check Best Price|
|Lamiglas XP Bass Spinning Rod||Check Best Price|
|Dobyns Fury Crankbait Rod||Check Best Price|
Top 7 Crankbait Rods Reviews
This section contains our top picks for affordable, high-quality rods that have all the right features for fishing with crankbaits.
UglyStik 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.
Our rating: 4.7/5
- Ugly Tech™ construction with a combination of Graphite and fiberglass to create a strong, yet sensitive rod
- Ugly Tuff™ one piece stainless steel guides provide excellent durability and eliminate insert pop-outs
- Ugly Stik Clear Tip design for strength & sensitivity
- Durable & lightweight EVA grips
- 7-year warranty
|Length||Power||Lure Weight||Line Weight||Pieces|
|5’6″||Medium||1/4-5/8 oz||8-20 lb||1|
|5’6″||Medium||1/8-5/8 oz||6-12 lb||2|
|6′||Med. Heavy||1/4-3/4 oz||10-25 lb||1|
|6′||Medium||1/4-5/8 oz||8-20 lb||1|
|6′||Medium||1/4-5/8 oz||6-12 lb||2|
|6’6″||Medium||1/4-5/8 oz||8-20 lb||1|
|6’6″||Med. Heavy||1/4-3/4 oz||10-25 lb||1|
|6’6″||Med. Heavy||1/4-3/4 oz||10-25 lb||2|
|6’6″||Heavy||1/2-1 1/2 oz||20-50 lb||1|
|7′||Medium||1/4-5/8 oz||8-20 lb||1|
|7′||Med. Heavy||1/4-3/4 oz||10-25lb||1|
|7′||Medium||1/4-5/8 oz||8-20 lb||2|
|7′||Med. Light||1/4-3/4 oz||8-20 lb||2|
|7’6″||Med. Light||1/4-3/4 oz||6-17 lb||1|
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 let’s 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.
Our rating: 4.7/5
- High-quality 42-million graphite and glass composite construction provides incredible strength
- Light graphite reel seat with stainless steel cushioned hoods
- Rugged stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts
|Model||Power||Action||Length||Line Rating||Lure Rating||Guides|
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.
Our rating: 4.5/5
- Integrated Poly Curve® (IPC®) tooling technology.
- Premium, high-modulus SCIII graphite.
- Super premium, 100% linear S-glass.
- Slim-profile ferrules.
- Kigan Master Hand 3D guides with aluminum-oxide rings and black frames.
- Fuji® ECS reel seat.
- Split-grip/premium-grade cork handle.
|Length||Power||Action||Line Weight||Lure Weight||Rod Weight||Handle|
|7’4″||M||Mod.||8-14 lb||¼-¾ oz||5.2 oz||4|
|7’8″||MH||Mod.||10-20 lb||⅜-1 oz||6.6 oz||5|
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.
Our rating: 4.3/5
- S-Curve blank construction provides incredible strength
- Split-handle design improves balance and makes rod lighter
- Molded rubber handles provide a steady grip with smooth feel
- Large fighting butt for battling your catch
- Lightweight zirconium guides for reduced weight and casting distance
|Length||Taper||Line Wt.||Lure Wt.||Guides||Handle Length|
|6’8″||Medium Fast||10-20 lbs||1/2-1 oz||10+tip||14-3/4″|
|7′||Medium||10-20 lbs||1/2-1 oz||10+tip||14-3/4″|
|7′||Medium Fast||10-20 lbs||1/4-3/4 oz||10+tip||15-1/4″|
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, 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 are 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.
Our rating: 4.1/5
|Model||Action||Line Weight (LBS)||Power|
Lamiglas 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.
Our rating: 3.9/5
- Stainless steel guides
- IM7 carbon graphite blanks
- Split-grip handle
- Polished graphic finish
- Quality Fuji reel seat
|Model||Length||Lure Weight||Line Weight||Action||Power|
|XP702S||7′||1/8 – 1/4||6 – 10||Moderate||2|
|XP703S||7′||3/16 – 5/8||8 – 17||>Fast||3|
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 a 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.
Our rating: 3.8/5
|Model||Length||Action||Power||Line Rating||Lure Rating|
|FR 663C||6’6″||Fast||Medium Heavy||10-17 lbs||1/4-3/4 oz|
|FR 664C||6’6″||Fast||Heavy||10-20 lbs||1/4-1 oz|
|FR 703C||7’0″||Fast||Medium Heavy||10-17 lbs||1/4-3/4 oz|
|FR 704C||7’0″||Fast||Heavy||10-20 lbs||1/4-1 oz|
|FR 733C||7’3″||Fast||Medium Heavy||10-17 lbs||1/4-3/4 oz|
|FR 734C||7’3″||Fast||Mag Heavy||12-25 lbs||1/4-1 1/2 oz|
|FR 765FLIP||7’6″||Fast||Medium Heavy||12-25 lbs||1/4-2 oz|
|FR 806SB||8’0″||Fast||Heavy||20-40 lbs||2-8 oz|