Hey there my fellow fishing enthusiasts and welcome to my post covering my 3 best baitcaster rod and reel combos for bass fishing this year. Baitcasting rods and reels are fishing gear often used by Bass chasers due to their strength and resilience with a number of different varieties that can affect your casting and control during fishing.
Bass are a hard fighting fish hence the gear we use can require good power and the ability to control settings so a good baitcaster rod and reel combo is a must. So today I am going to feature the top 3 baitcaster rod and reel combos that you can use for Bass fishing. Let’s check them out below…
My 3 recommended baitcaster rod and reel combos for bass fishing
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What should you be looking for?
Most anglers prefer baitcasting rods and reels because they can give and maintain control while casting and fighting a fish. Baitcasting rods also have long-distance casting ability and lighter weight compared to other types while baitcasting reels feature a long-distance casting ability.
I am starting with the location as it can affect the type of fishing rod and reel combos that you could choose and will determine your answers to many of the variants I have listed below – especially when we are dealing with baitcasters.
In my opinion, spinning reels are definitely easier to use and work very well for Bass fishing however as mentioned above, baitcasters tend to be more accurate when casting. They are also able to handle larger fish than spinners too so the location will influence their use.
Some location considerations include:
- Holes: If there are any holes that you like to fish into then greater accuracy may be required.
- Rocks and other obstacles: We know that Bass tend to hide in, around and under structure. Baitcasters can generally cast a little more accurately into these spots.
- Current: Is there a strong tidal current running? If so, a larger line and tackle may be needed.
- Wind: Windy waters are harder to cast in for obvious reasons.
- Mangroves etc.: As with structural influences above, casting here will require accuracy.
There is more to this but from a general point of view, if you are constantly fishing in an area where you either need accuracy or are chasing larger species (such as the Largemouth Bass varieties) then a baitcaster may serve you well.
As mentioned earlier, baitcasting combos can affect your strength and accuracy when it comes to casting while fishing. I haven’t mentioned this as yet but one major aspect of a baitcaster reel is that it sits on top of the rod rather than underneath. This does mean that if you are looking to convert to one of these from a spinner setup then you going to need a combo of both rod and reel. Let’s then start with rods…
As above, the only real difference between casting and spinning rods is that the reel is seated on the top instead of underneath. In terms of composition, however, there is not a lot of difference. Both types these days are made from one of three main materials, Fiberglass, Graphite, and Carbon Fibre with qualities as follows:
- Fiberglass – Very strong and durable with very little maintenance required (rinse off after fishing is generally all that is needed).
- Graphite – Graphite rods are generally more rigid with higher power ratings (see below) but tend to have greater sensitivity than fiberglass cousins.
- Glass Tip – Glass Tips or ‘Hybrid’ rods are made from a combination of graphite and fiberglass. These are designed to give the best of both worlds with extra strength of the graphite rod added to the sensitivity of the glass tip.
- Carbon Fibre – This is a newer compound in fishing rods that is more rigid than fiberglass/ composite rods and lighter. These types are becoming more and more popular for all levels of experience due to their toughness and versatility.
In the past, most tended to go for a fiberglass rod due to their durability, low maintenance requirements, and favorable prices however the cost of a good carbon fiber rod has reduced in recent times as well. Casting rods are also generally designed to be lighter in weight than their spinning cousins.
When it comes to a Bass fishing rod, it is not a case of the longer the better. Long rods can be used on bass fishing however in my research I have found the recommended size to be around 7- to 8-feet long. Shorter rods do provide for greater accuracy which can be helpful if you are fishing amongst trees, mangroves, or other hazards however they tend not to be able top cast as far.
So, depending on your location and casting requirements, I recommend that you can choose from the following lengths:
- 5 – 6 foot – Use when dropping directly below on a kayak or boat etc. or precision of casting is needed. Not great for longer casting but can generally handle heavier sinker weights etc.
- 6 – 7 foot – These are a good middle-of-the-road rod – especially if you only take the one or want to use it on a riverbank as well. These allow for longer casting whilst maintaining accuracy. Great length for Bass fishing
- 8 – 10 foot – You are getting to the absolute end of length suitability here but these can work well if you are going to be drifting or trolling with a lure or need that extra casting distance. You could also look at this length if you wanted to use it for surf fishing as well.
There are plenty of technical terms for the power settings of a fishing rod but in simple language, I have always known the power rating as a measure of how ‘bendy’ it is. Light power rods bend with little force and heavy ones need a lot of pressure to bend. So, in short:
- Light – very bendy – even whippy – will bend a lot with even the smallest fish. I like these however for beginners it is easy to get the bottom confused with bites.
- Medium – needs a bit more pressure to bend – In general, this is a good measure for a Bass fishing rod and my suggestion for all-around use.
- Heavy – takes a lot to make it bend – I would recommend these in areas where the current is quite strong or you want to use particularly heavy sinkers, etc.
There is also a measurement that some rods have in regards to what they call Action or Speed. This is determined by where the rod bends. Fast action bends from the top third whereas slow rods bend down towards the reel. For general use, I would go moderate or medium, unless to need to cast a long way or are chasing larger fish, then maybe edge towards a faster rod as they allow for heavier lures/rigs.
This has nothing to do with the art of catching fish rather than the comfort of it. Some common options include:
- Hard foam – sort of like a very hard version of a pool noodle.
- EVA – Soft Rubbery stuff.
- Rubber Shrink Tube – soft and extremely durable.
I like the Rubber shrink tube or EVA handles myself as they are comfortable and will last well in most conditions. Cork is great if you want a light rod and a common choice for casting rods. I have also seen a few with golf club-type grips made of super polymer rubber in my recent research too.
When it comes to fishing rods, whether you have a full piece or a split piece (where the rod pulls apart into two or more pieces) is, in my opinion, a matter of circumstance… I have used both and if I am being brutally honest, I don’t see enough of a difference when it comes to catching fish.
Ask yourself how you are going to transport the rod to your preferred fishing spot? If you have a rod holder on your SUV etc., then a full piece will be fine. If you need to put it in the boot or back seat of the car, then go the two-piece. And for those traveling, you may even want to look at telescopic or 4 piece setups as an alternative option.
The functionality of Baitcaster reels can vary from the simple beginner models where the cover or closed face keeps all of the essential parts of the reel protected to the more complicated ones where casting speed etc. can be adjusted dependent upon the environment.
Baitcaster reels are usually described as being good for the more experienced angler who can manage the braking settings at each use and in my experience (and I am definitely speaking from experience here), these do tend to tangle or ‘birds nest’ a little more than their spinning cousins.
Let’s have a look at their variables:
Baitcasters release their line via the main spool which, once released by the press of a button or lever, rotates at high speed to let the line out. The line runs in a straight line which increases distance and accuracy as it is effectively unwound directly from the spool.
The problem here is that the spool can often spin a little faster than the line is released and then doesn’t stop instantly when the lure or sinker hits the water causing a nice tangling backlash. This is controlled by brakes and spool adjustments – we will discuss this a little more below.
Baitcaster reels are mostly made from the same materials as the spinners – a corrosion-resistant metal, carbon fiber, and/or aluminum body with variations of the following:
- Bearings – as with spinning reels, bearings are utilized within the reel for smooth casting and retrieval.
- Ratio – Winding ratios are also evident in baitcaster reels. This is usually set up to 6 or 7:1.
- Drag – The drag of a baitcaster is one of its real advantages over a spinning reel in that they can be set with greater sensitivity and are generally a lot stronger as well. This is why many who chase really big fish use a baitcaster over a spinning reel.
- Casing – Again, this is the part of the reel that contains the springs, levers, gear cogs, etc. that make much of the stuff above work. As with the spinner, make sure any you purchase has everything included encased for ease of use and maintenance.
Ok, so as discussed above, one of the main issues that many have with baitcaster reels is that they tangle much easier when the line is being cast. This is due to a phenomenon called ‘backlash’. Put simply, this is when the spool turns faster than the lure/sinker can pull the line out during casting, and the line tangles.
In early models, the spool was slowed by placing your thumb onto the spool as it wound out and this took some practice. In modern reels, however, this is managed via the implementation of brakes. There are several variations here including:
- Centrifugal Brakes: During the first part of the cast, the rod sends the weight (lure or sinker) out in a slingshot motion. Centrifugal brakes use gravity to adjust the spool speed to ensure it spins at the same rate as the cast. In this case, the brakes extend from the center of the spool running along a shelf in the center of the reel to slow it down. These can be adjusted but in most reels, this is not a simple task.
- Magnetic Brakes: Magnetic brakes are another way of controlling spool speed with easier adjustment via a small dial on the side of the unit. As the dial is turned, magnets move closer or further away from the side of the spool – the closer they are, the more they can slow the spool. These work the same as the centrifugal brakes in that they are mainly designed to work during that first ‘whip’ of the cast and release once the spool slows over the casting duration.
- Spool Tension Adjustment: Most baitcaster reels also come with a spool tension adjustment. This is designed for use at the end of the cast when the lure or sinker hits the water (as opposed to centrifugal and magnetic brakes which operate in the first part of the cast). In simple terms, the tension adjustment stops the spool shaft at the same time that the tackle hits the water meaning an excess line is not released.
None of this of course is to say that you can’t still use your thumb if that suits – or you have set your brakes or tension adjustment incorrectly – but these tools can make the use of these reels much more enjoyable.
Spool size is what determines just how much line you can put onto your reel. As baitcasters can generally handle heavier lines than spinners and can cast further the more line you can fit onto the spool the better. Baitcaster reel spool size is usually categorized as the length of line that can be loaded by line size.
For example, the reel may be specified as capable of loading “150 yards at 15lbs mono capacity – or 15/150” (slightly longer for braid). Some manufacturers will also stipulate maximum and minimum line weight limits as well.
Spools are usually made from high-strength aluminum or stainless steel.
Unlike the spinning reel, there are not as many other influences to consider with a baitcaster. The handle and weight are still an issue and some do also come with a line holder. However, the handles are not as easily interchangeable as the other option although anti-reverse settings can often be better managed on baitcasters as well.
What do I use?
I purchased my Bass baitcaster arrangement as a combo. It is a Shimano Caius combo and I use it to chase Australian Freshwater Bass (they are a member of the Perch family) as well as Mangrove Jack in the salt. They are both very hard hitting and fighting fish and as with their American cousins, quite often need to be ‘stopped’ quickly so they can’t take you back into the structure and get you tangled. Specifications are as follows:
- Length: 6ft
- Power: Medium/fast
- Composition: Carbon Fiber
- Handle: EVA
- Pieces: 1
- Spool Size: 12/110 Mono, 20/150 Braid
- Bearings: 3+1
- Ratio: 7.2:1
- Composition: Aluminum
- Drag: Star drag on side (5kg/11lb)
- Brakes: VBS Centrifugal – 6 x magnets that can be adjusted by removing side casing
The reel is lined with a 17lb Berkley Fireline braid. It is not an expensive model but has certainly handled anything I have caught with ease. The Rod is easy to use on a kayak and on the bank and has handled both Bass and Mangrove Jack which like Largemouth, hits like a freight train. If I was to purchase again (or for my next one) however I would go to a 7ft option to give me a little better casting power from the water’s edge.
My 3 Recommendations Broken down
So, based on my experience and the information above here are the best baitcaster rods and reels combos to use when you’re planning to go bass fishing…
1. KastKing Crixus Fishing Rod and Reel Combo
Our next option features incredibly light and strong IM6 graphite rod blanks and premium components with a sharkskin superpolymer handle and grips to make your Bass fishing experience truly memorable. It is sensitive but very powerful with power ratings to deliver exceptional performance. Specifications are as follows
- Length: 6’0” to 7’0” (stick to the 7′ for Bass fishing)
- Power: Light to Medium-heavy
- Composition: 2 pieces IM6 graphite
- Handle: SuperPolymer
- Spool Size (lbs/yds): Mono – 10/130, 12/110, 14/90. Braid – 40/128, 50/110, 65/80.
- Bearings: 5+1
- Ratio: 6.5:1
- Composition: Aluminum with CNC components
- Drag: 17.6 lb
- Brakes: 8-magnet brake system
Other advantages include:
- Strong graphite rotor and body.
- Anti-twist line roller that gives you less chance of line tangles.
- Features high-strength graphite reel seat.
Why have I chosen it?
I’ve chosen the KastKing Crixus Fishing Rod and Reel Combo because of its unique design and reel components made with the accuracy and consistency of many high end models. Its golf-style super polymer handle is durable and extremely comfortable to use and the Power Transition System (PTS) technology that makes the Crixus feel like a one-piece performance rod.
2. Tailored Tackle Bass Fishing Baitcasting Combo
Features a medium-heavy rod power fast action tip and an easy to cast and untangle pop-off baitcaster reel system. The Tailored Tackle Bass Fishing Baitcasting Combo is available in right-handed and left-handed hand orientation for every angler’s comfort. This bass fishing pole can help you catch manage catches of all sizes and can provide fast action and extra smooth performance. Specifications are as follows:
- Length: 7 ft.
- Power: Medium-heavy/fast
- Composition: 2 piece carbon blank
- Handle: EVA
- Spool Size (lbs/yds): mono – 10/200, 12/165, 14/120. Braid – 20/185, 30/ 140, 50/100
- Bearings: 6+1
- Ratio: 6.3:1
- Composition: Aluminum
- Drag: 17.5 lb
- Brakes: Magnetic brakes
Other advantages include:
- A pop-out system that fixes knots and tangles easily.
- Quick guide instructional booklet included
Why have I chosen it?
If you’re looking for an affordable yet high-quality baitcasting rod and reel combo then this is perfect for you. You can easily adjust the spool speed with its magnetic brake system and it will handle large enough line to handle anything the Bass can throw at you. A great option for beginner and expert Bass fisherman alike.
3. Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcast Low Profile Reel and Fishing Rod Combo
This last combo features a rod and reel that delivers power, durability, and exceptional sensitivity from a well-known and popular brand. It also has a power disk system that ensures a smooth drag performance and superior responsiveness that makes it great for bass fishing. Its specifications are as follows:
- Length: 6’9”
- Power: Medium, Medium High
- Composition: One piece 24 Ton graphite
- Handle: High-density EVA handles
- Spool Size (lbs/yds): Mono- 12/145. Braid 30/140
- Bearings: 4+1
- Ratio: 6.4:1
- Composition: Aluminum
- Drag: 15 lbs.
- Brakes: MagTrax brake system
Other advantages include:
- Features a machined aluminum spool provides strength.
- Duragear brass gear for extended gear life.
- Recessed reel foot allows for a more ergonomic reel design.
Why have I chosen it?
The Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcast Low Profile Reel and Fishing Rod Combo is a great option simply because of its rod strength and a reel that provides smooth operation throughout your bass fishing activity. I have chosen this because of its comfortable handle and lightweight balanced design and perfect for anglers looking for something that will handle constant use in a number of environments.
And there it is – my 3 best baitcaster rod and reel combos for Bass fishing this year. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences with them.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections, or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time
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