I still have intense nightmares about it. Call it post-traumatic fishing disorder — the sting just won’t go away.
After considering all the options our top picks were…
It haunts me to this very day, and I’ll be damned if I’ll let it happen to you. So what bruised my psyche? Losing a really, really nice bass —that’s what.
The biggest trophy largemouth I ever hooked was 6 feet from the boat, and almost mine. It must have weighed 14 plus pounds —no lie.
Suddenly, it thrashed like a rodeo bull. The next thing I know my reel is backlashed and the rod is snapped. I could have sworn I heard God laughing at me.
So, how did I screw myself out of landing the largemouth of a lifetime? You guessed it —I was using a crappy, mismatched rod and reel.
In this article...
Sticking with Combos
They’re paired by experts and eliminate any margin for error, which is nice.
Over the years I’ve used the best bass fishing combos and seen plenty in action. Basically, I know which ones suck and which ones are worth buying.
If you want to save yourself some time and stress then keep reading. I’m going to help you find the best bass fishing rod combo by reviewing a handful of duos and exposing their strengths and flaws —
Our Top Three Combos
Here are our top three choices from the rod and reel combo lineup, each one in its own category.
This is so you can have a variety to choose from depending on your needs.
There are a few other killer tandems I want to tell you all about, but first.
Here are the top three best rod and reel combo for bass fishing…
A more expensive choice but it gives you lots of features. The reel has 7 steel ball bearings plus a protective IM-C6 carbon body and X-craftic gearbox —that means you get smooth casting and plenty of durability.
In my opinion fishing for largemouth is best done with a baitcasting setup. But I like this spinning duo as a go-to allrounder because there’s no learning curve with the reel and it performs as smooth as butter.
It’s not the cheapest bass fishing rod and reel combo on the market, but it offers a lot for the money. The Revo reel packs 7 stainless steel ball bearings and a protective IM-C6 carbon body, which translates into fluid casting and durability.
The reel’s 6.2:1 gear ratio gives it a fairly fast retrieve rate. It’s not off the charts, but it’s good enough for quickly reeling in deep-water jigs and nailing fast lure presentations.
If you’re targeting smallmouth then give this setup a look —spinning reels tend to handle light line and lures extremely well. So if you’re looking to use finesse tactics to catch smallies here you go.
Its rocket lip technology lets different types of line flow freely off the spool, and its carbon matrix drag system holds up well to heat and friction.
With a max drag of 11 pounds, it can handle a hog —but if you’re looking to land stripers then you may need a reel with a heavier drag.
The bass fishing rod brings some nice things to the table as well. It’s fast-action, so when you’re fishing for largemouth with plastic worms you can feel the slightest vibrations. The setup is also fairly lightweight —so it’s good for all-day use.
Best on a Budget
It has quality gears and components to keep the machined aluminum spool backlash-free. And like some of the other more expensive setups, it has magnetic cast control that can be adjusted to ensure smoothness and better accuracy.
Shakespeare does anglers everywhere a solid by giving them a quality bass fishing rod and reel combos at an affordable price. If you’re all about getting the most for the money then fix your gaze on this setup —
I usually talk about the reel first, but this bass fishing rod is pretty exciting so I’m spotlighting it now. First off it has 35% more graphite than its predecessor —the GX2. That means it’s lighter, but still sturdy with a strong backbone.
This Shakespeare fishing pole also has 7 stainless steel guides plus an Ugly Stik Clear Tip for added strength and sensitivity. But to be fair, some anglers complain that the Clear Tip technology doesn’t help much.
This rod and reel combo comes in just one length, which is a little disappointing. But on a positive note, 6 1/2 feet is pretty much the sweet-spot for catching bass of all sizes.
The Ugly Stik Elite Bass fishing rod is medium-heavy and fast action. That means it’s stout with good sensitivity so you can easily sense bumps and vibrations, plus pull off rock-solid hook-sets.
The reel might scare some fishermen off because it has only 3 ball bearings. But many bass anglers say it performs quite well, and smooth casting doesn’t seem to be an issue.
Others feel the reel is dinky compared to the bass fishing rod, and have experienced backlash. But bear in mind this is a casting rod and reel, so it might take a little time for everyone to master.
The Shakespeare reel has a gear ratio of 6.2:1, so you get a high retrieve rate —handy for bottom-fishing or frantic lure presentations. Its handle is nothing fancy, but it’s cork and pretty comfortable for all-day use.
The machined aluminum spool allows up to 20-pound mono test and 30-pound braided line, so feel free to pursue trophy bass. Topped off with an anti-reverse feature and a max drag of 12 pounds, this is an affordable setup that could land you a monster largemouth.
It packs 9 ball bearings which is an indication that it’s a smooth caster. The reel also has aluminum main gear and crankshaft so it’s light and strong —ideal for traveling and hitting back-river creeks.
This rod and reel combo is killer in lots of ways —especially if you’re going after trophy fish. Right off the bat, the reel packs 9 ball bearings which is the highest on my list. Also, its aluminum main gear and crankshaft make it extremely light and durable —so it’s a smart pick for camping and fishing trips.
Another nice thing about the BC6 is its powerful carbon fiber drag system. It delivers a max drag of 20 pounds, which is pretty hefty. That means you can set it to handle trophy-size trout, largemouth, or even stripers.
Its spool can hold 120 yards of 12-pound mono and 140 yards of 30-pound braided line so it’s ideal for light, medium, and heavy lures. It will work with pretty much everything in your bass tackle box.
It pairs great with some of the best bass fishing lines on the market.
If you want to fish deeper water or the ocean-bottom, the BC6 is certainly game. This setup has a high gear ratio of 7.3:1, which means a really fast and smooth retrieve.
And if you want to sling heavy topwater plugs into a nook or under a tree limb, there are adjustable magnetic brakes for better accuracy and smoother casting. Some people say it can be hard to perfectly adjust the brakes, so some initial patience may be required.
This tandem comes with an impressive 24-ton graphite bass fishing rod as well and packs corrosion-resistant guides. It also has an oversized EVA handle that lets bass anglers use their bass fishing rod and reel for an extended time.
It comes as a 2-piece bass fishing rod, which gives it a slight disadvantage. That’s because having connection points can make bass fishing rods slightly more vulnerable to snapping. However, this fishing pole is known for holding up quite well so don’t be too scared.
It also comes in 2 lengths — 6 1/2 and 7 feet. I prefer the shorter model for largemouth and the 7-footer for trout or stripers. If you’re looking to catch fish from a kayak, the shorter model is more of a freshwater bass fishing rod plus the reel is lighter at just 6.9 ounces.
Our Top Combos
Here are all the top rod and reel combos we reviewed…
Let this list help you find the best rod and reel combo for your needs…
The Battle II spans 9 models and there are many different powers, actions, and max drags to choose from. You can target 2-pound smallies or 14-pound bucketmouth depending on the model you choose.
Built to Conquer Largemouth and Smallmouth
The first thing that excites me here is the wide array of choices this rod and reel combo offers. You can target 2-pound smallies or 14-pound bucketmouth depending on the model you choose.
The Battle II spans 9 models and there are many different powers, actions, and max drags to choose from. Take your pick from medium-fast to extra-fast, and medium to heavy power.
If you’re looking to snag striped bass then you could roll with the heavy model. It has a 30-pound max drag plus a heavy-duty aluminum bail wire to help take your best bass fishing to the next level.
But there is one thing that irks me —the reels are a bit on the heavy side. The lightest one is around 10 ounces and the biggest reel model weighs in at about 2 pounds. So be forewarned —this may not be an ideal reel for all-day fishing trips.
The medium and medium-heavier strength models have 6.2:1 gear ratio, which saves time and energy when hitting deep lakes with plastic lizards and worms. And the pole is graphite composite which is ideal for battling monster bass.
But the heavier bass fishing rod and reel combos have lower gear ratios, which hurts when it comes to deepwater tactics. Also, the larger models have longer bass fishing rods that help with longer casts and bigger fish — but it comes at a higher price tag.
The Battle II Reel features a HT-100 drag system that’s legendary among anglers for staying smooth as butter when a panicked bass is running. It also has Versa-Drag carbon fiber washers that reduce friction.
Quality Gears and Bearings
It comes packing quality gears that are protected by a full-metal body plus a side plate. I like it for bass angling, but it’s built to handle saltwater as well.
This duo has a pretty average bearing count with 6. If having more bearings makes you feel all warm and cuddly inside, there are other tandems out there with a higher number.
Each bass fishing rod features 6 – 8 aluminum oxide guides —which is an extremely tough material that stands up to extreme pressure. They ensure a solid hook-set and durability when you’re hauling in a lunker.
- Rod Length: 6 1/2 – 10 feet
- Max Drag: 9 – 30 pounds
- Gear Ratio: 5.2:1 – 6.2:1
- Bearings: 6
- Weight: 2 – 5 pounds
- Retrieve side: R/L
- 9 models cover a wide range of powers and sensitivity
- Versa-Drag washers for less friction
- Up to a 30-pound max drag
- Smooth HT-100 Drag System
- Aluminum oxide guide loops
- Heavy-duty bail wire
- Heavier models are more expensive
- Mediocre bearing count
- Certain models have a lower gear ratio
- Not ideal for all-day use
It’s a solid one-piece bass fishing rod made of 24-ton graphite, plus the tip is fairly stiff. It also gives anglers early detection and a stiff backbone so they can set the hook at the right time
A Solid Slinger for Spotted Bass and Largies
This is a rod and reel combo designed for bass and light saltwater fishing. The Laser MG packs a medium-heavy bass fishing rod made of IM6 graphite and boasts 8 double-shielded stainless steel ball bearings in the reel —so right off the bat it’s smooth and tough.
It works for a wide range of lures and is perfect for catching big smallmouth and lunker largies.
It has nice responsiveness due to its skeletal graphite reel seat that funnels vibrations to the fast-action tip. This helps to detect nibbles and strikes more quickly.
The pole’s tough steel guides/inserts add strength and durability, plus its length gives it a little more hook-setting leverage —at 6 feet 10 inches.
It comes as a solid one-piece as well, eliminating weak spots along the rod –so it’s worthy of making my list of solid baitcasting rods.
The reel sports a Rulon drag system with a max drag of 10 pounds. That’s stout enough to land trophy bass, but don’t get crazy and go after 30-pound stripers —the drag isn’t built for monsters like that.
The reel is also infused with Zero Reverse technology which helps prevent backlash, but some anglers say this feature takes time to master so keep that in mind. Last but not least it offers a really nice gear ratio of 7.1:1 and packs a magnetic control system for precision casts.
One minor issue anglers have with this reel is its paddle-handle knobs —some people find them annoying. Another gripe is that the variety of models is limited. If you’re looking for more variety in length, powers and responsiveness then search around a little more before you buy it.
Give this setup a whirl and experience its technology first hand.
Find out why Abu Garcia doesn’t disappoint and try using the Pro Max on your next fishing trip
- Gear ratio: 7.1:1
- Bearing count: 8
- Reel weight: 7.3 ounces
- Max Drag: 15 pounds
- Rod length: 7 feet
- Rod Strength: Medium-heavy
- Rod Action: Fast
- Handle: Right and Left
- High gear ratio —7.1:1
- Tough, highly responsive rod
- MagTrax casting brake for pinpoint accuracy
- 8 stainless steel bearings
- One-piece 24-ton graphite bass rod
- Ideal for heavier lures
- Smooth disk drag system
- Skeletal graphite reel seat helps detect nibbles and strikes more quickly
- Drag setting can be difficult to get right
- Takes more time to master the casting
- Only one rod length
Ideal for slinging lightweight lures further, and with pinpoint accuracy. It’s a great setup for downsizing lures to target smallies and hybrids.
Dynamic with the Option to Downsize
Here’s the most dynamic smallmouth bass option on my list. This Trion rod and reel combo is ideal for slinging lightweight lures further, and with pinpoint accuracy. It’s a great setup for downsizing lures to target smallies and hybrids.
The rod-power is light with enough spine to handle big bass. But it still has a fast-action tip, so it maintains a good amount of stiffness. It can be used for finesse tactics —but I prefer slow-action rods for that.
Length and Build
The Trion bass fishing rod is 6 1/2 feet long and made of rigid graphite. It’s highly responsive, and stout enough for solid hook sets. The downside is that it’s only offered in one size.
The reel packs an aluminum spool and 7 ball bearings —anglers say it has a smooth retrieve. It’s made aluminum and is a pretty lightweight reel, so it’s a good option for all- smallmouth bass and all-day crappie angling.
It sports a 5.2:1 reel ratio and a max drag of 8 pounds, which is kind of mediocre —but you can still throw on some braided line and go after some hogs. But if catching mammoth-size striped bass in deep lakes is your MO, then roll with a heavier setup.
The reel also boasts an instant anti-reverse bearing that gives you better control with a bass on the line. The downside is that the bearing can screw you up if you’re backreeling.
Overall, this setup is the total package for catching freshwater bass. The reel and IM-6 graphite blanks can handle the weight and fight of a lunker —and give you a blast during the process.
See how fun it is to catch a smallmouth hog on Trion Spinning gear.
- Rod Length — 5 or 5 1/2 feet
- Max Drag — 6 – 8 pounds
- Gear Ratio —5.2:1
- Bearings —5 or 7
- Weight —1.5 pounds
- Retrieve side —R/L
- Has 7 ball bearings
- Instant anti-reverse drag for heavier bass
- Braided-line ready to target bigger fish
- IM-6 graphite frame bass rod that holds up
- Aluminum reel and spool
- Ideal for downsizing lures
- More expensive than other similar setups
- Takes a little time to learn to cast it properly
- Instant anti-reverse can mess up backreeling
A more expensive choice but it gives you lots of rod and reel features. The reel features 7 steel ball bearings plus a protective IM-C6 carbon body and X-craftic gearbox —that means you get smooth casting and plenty of durability.
The Technology to Charm Trophy Fish
If smallmouth are on your radar, I strongly consider this rod and reel combo —it can handle lighter lures pretty well. Like other spinning rod and reel combos, it’s good for finesse tactics. But don’t get me wrong —it can hang in there with largies too.
As mentioned, this is a more expensive rod and reel combo choice but it gives you lots of features. The reel has 7 steel ball bearings plus a protective IM-C6 carbon body and X-craftic gearbox —that means you get smooth casting and plenty of durability.
The reel’s 6.2:1 gear ratio also gives it a quick retrieve rate which is good for deep-water jigging and frantic lure presentations. It also has two features that help to stop tangles and backlash — Rocket Line Management System and Rocket Spool Lip Design. This technology lets line flow freely off the aluminum spool.
Its matrix drag system offsets heat and friction and is known for being smooth and strong. With a max drag of 11 pounds, feel free to put trophy smallmouth in your sights, or go after largemouth —the spool is braid-ready for bigger fish. But if you’ve got visions of 30-pound plus stripers dancing in your head then you may need a reel with a heavier drag.
This bass fishing rod features some nice things to the table as well. It’s 6 1/2 – 7 feet in length and medium power. It’s one-piece poles, which is a good thing because there are less vulnerable points along the rod.
Both lengths are fast action, and made from 30-ton graphite so they’re stiff, strong and responsive. When you’re fishing with plastic worms or slow-working a jig you can quickly detect nibbles and vibrations. The downside to the bass fishing rod being stiffer is a loss of flexibility and finesse ability.
Each model has steel guides with zirconium inserts for added strength. The setup is also fairly lightweight as well, so I recommend it for all your backwoods angling excursions and as a kayak bass fishing rod and reel.
Give the Revo X Spinning tandem a go and see why Abu Garcia is legendary among bass fishermen.
- Rod Length: 6 1/2 – 7 feet
- Max Drag: 11 pounds
- Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
- Bearings: 7
- Reel Weight: 6.9 ounces
- Retrieve side: R/L
- 30-ton graphite bass rod
- Everlast Bail System
- Steel guides with zirconium inserts
- Smooth Matrix Drag System
- Excellent rod sensitivity
- Rocket Line Management
- Rocket Line Spool Lip
- Braid-ready for large bass
- IM-C6 body protection
- Less rod flexibility
- Not good for finesse tactics
- Many reports of poles damaged during shipping
It packs 9 ball bearings which is an indication that it’s a smooth caster. The reel also has aluminum main gear and crankshaft so it’s light and strong —ideal for traveling and hitting back-river creeks.
A Specimen Among Casting Tandems
This is my favorite rod and reel combo for catching bass. It packs 9 stainless steel ball bearings which is an indication that it’s a smooth caster. The reel also has aluminum main gear and crankshaft so it’s light and strong —ideal for traveling and hitting back-river creeks.
The BC6 boasts a powerful carbon fiber drag system that delivers a max drag of 20 pounds, which is one of the heaviest drags on my list. So yeah, it can handle the biggest trout and largemouth in the country.
Like I mentioned earlier, Its spool can hold 120 yards of 12-pound mono and 140 yards of 30-pound braid line —that means it works for light, medium and heavy lures so you can utilize everything in your best bass fishing rod and reel arsenal.
If you want to fish deep with crankbaits or jigs this setup won’t hold you back. It has a 7.3:1 gear ratio, so expect a fast and smooth retrieve with larger lures.
The reel gives you a treat with adjustable magnetic brakes for accuracy and smooth casting. It makes slinging big topwater plugs into cover or under a fallen tree limb easier. But a few bass anglers complain that adjusting to the brakes takes too much time.
The medium strength rod is made of 24-ton graphite as well and packs corrosion-resistant guides that hold up well against repeated bass encounters. It’s also fast-action so it has good sensitivity at the tip, with a strong backbone.
It sports an oversized EVA handle that’s ideal for extended freshwater use. But some anglers say that the larger size and shape is awkward and bothers them overall.
One slight disadvantage is that it’s a 2-piece bass rod, so it has at least one connection point that could make it slightly more prone to snapping. But FYI —this bass fishing rod is known for holding its own vs lunkers.
The rod length options span 6 1/2 – 7 feet. If mid-size bass are on the menu then the shorter pole will do just fine — the reel that’s just 6.9 ounces and the rod is light and strong. However, if trout or stripers are on the brain then go with the 7-footer.
Step up your bass-fishing game and try a Cadence setup on your next freshwater adventure.
- Rod Length: 6 1/2 – 7 feet
- Max Drag: 20 pounds
- Gear Ratio: 7.3:1
- Bearings: 9
- Reel Weight: 7.5 ounces
- Retrieve side: R/L
- High threshold for braided line
- High gear ratio of 7.3:1
- Adjustable magnetic brakes
- Corrosion-resistant steel guides
- Powerful carbon fiber drag system —20-pound max drag
- Light and Strong for traveling
- 9 stainless steel ball bearings –highest ball bearing count
- 2-piece bass fishing rod —more vulnerable to snapping
- Braking system can be hard to get perfect
- Oversized EVA handle might be awkward
Best on a Budget
It has quality gears and components to keep the aluminum spool backlash-free. And like some of the other more expensive setups, it has adjustable magnetic cast control to ensure smoothness and better accuracy.
A Gift From the Bass Gods
Like I said, the reel has just 3 ball bearings which is the fewest on my review list, but anglers say it casts quite well and that smooth performance isn’t an issue.
If you’re looking for the best bass fishing rods and reels on a budget here’s a smart option.
While the number of steel bearings may be a little lack-luster, it has quality gears and components to keep the aluminum spool backlash-free. And like some of the other more expensive setups, it has adjustable magnetic cast control to ensure smoothness and better accuracy.
It matches pricier duos once again with its 6.2:1 gear ratio, so it holds its own with deepwater reeling and jigging.
It has a max drag of 12 pounds, which surpasses some of the more highly touted rod and reel combos. That’s why I like this as the top largemouth bass fishing rod and reel combo on a budget.
The “Elite” bass fishing rod has been upgraded over its predecessor, the GX2. It has more strength but still remains a pretty lightweight rod. It’s been reinforced with 35% more graphite to battle trophy largemouth and big spotted bass.
Limited Length Option
There’s basically no range of rod length, so that’s a bit of a downer. The good news is that it’s 6 1/2 feet long which is a happy medium to catch bass of all sizes.
They’re also medium-heavy and fast action —plus Ugly Stik Clear Tip technology for extra rod sensitivity.
That’s really cool, but unfortunately some anglers say the tip isn’t all that responsive.
Light but Strong
The Ugly Stik is still a lightweight bass rod, and that’s because it’s made from a graphite and fiberglass construction that makes it strong while keeping it a lightweight rod.
The Ugly Stik pole has a stout backbone that wears bass out, and Ugly Tuff steel guides that won’t snap with a lunker on the line.
Overall it’s good for running spinners by weed lines and deepwater jigging —and you can get it without breaking your wallet.
See how smooth, strong and bad-ass the Ugly Stik Elite Combo truly is.
- Rod Length: 6 1/2
- Max Drag: 12 pounds
- Gear Ratio: 6.2:1
- Bearings: 3
- Weight: 2 pounds
- Retrieve side: R
- Stronger than the older GX2 rod
- Stiff and light for stout hook-sets
- Adjustable magnetic cast control
- Ugly Tech Construction for better rod sensitivity
- One-piece steel rod guides
- 6.2:1 gear ratio —fairly high
- Ugly Stik Clear Tip may not offer much sensitivity
- Lack of options for different rod length and action
Okay, those are my top rod and reel combos. Now, I want to explain how to choose the best bass fishing rod and reel tandem —
What Rod and Reels Are Best for Bass Fishing?
If you’re slightly OCD like me then you scrutinize every detail before buying a bass fishing rod and reel combo. Do you go with the best spinnerbait rod or a baitcaster or something else entirely? Maybe a Carolina or Texas rig? There are lots of things to consider when pinpointing a worthy rod and reel duo and it helps to know exactly what to look for —
High Gear Ratios Rule the Water
You may be wondering — “What is gear ratio?” Basically, it’s the number of times the spool turns per 1 full crank of the reel handle. So if the spool turns 6.2 times per 1 crank of the handle, the reel has a 6.2:1 gear ratio.
The higher the number, the faster the retrieval rate. The main advantage of a reel with a high gear ratio is that it gives you faster, more fluid retrieves —which saves you time and energy and is pretty crucial if you’re into all-day fishing trips.
If you’re looking to run a buzzbait or spinnerbait with a slow presentation then it’s okay to roll with a low gear ratio reel. Otherwise, having a higher retrieve rate is the way to go.
It helps a lot when you’re bottom-fishing with plastic worms and jigs, or using a lure that demands a faster presentation. I suggest going with a tandem that has a gear ratio of at least 6.0:1 —anything higher than that is even better.
Are More Ball Bearings a Good Thing?
There’s the ongoing question and debate —does the number of ball bearings matter? Well, the answer is yes —but let me elaborate.
The most important thing is what the bearings are made of, not the number. If they’re cheap, then you can have 15 bearings and the reel would still suck.
I’d rather go with a reel that has 3 steel or ceramic bearings because they are smoother and last a lot longer.
All my selections have high-quality bearings, so a higher number can mean smoother casting and better reel performance.
It’s also important to look for some type of “sealed” technology that protects the bearings and gears, but keep in mind these features can be more expensive.
Whats The Best Type of Combo for Bass Fishing?
As mentioned, I prefer baitcasters for the best bass fishing. When I fish the Chatahoochie River and Lake Lanier for trophy bucketmouth, I always come packing my casting combo.
Other anglers prefer spinning setups, but you can make up your own mind based on facts. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of both —
Advantages of Using a Casting Setups For Bass Fishing
Handles Heavy Line and Big Lures Better
This is partly because their spool is designed to hold thicker line such as monofilament that has more stretch and durability. That means they can handle heavier lures and tame bigger fish.
Exceptional Control and Accuracy
Thumb pressure coupled with an outer braking system lets you stop the cast gradually or on a dime. Having more control over your casts leads to improved accuracy, and prevents lures from sailing into trees.
Spool Designed for Long, Pinpoint Casting
Another reason casting reels are more accurate is that they allow fishing line to flow straight off the spool. Baitcasters help all types of line sail with ease and purpose —no matter how thick or thin the line is.
Other types of bass reels cause the line to come off the spool in a circular motion, which can hinder casting distance.
If you’re using your bass fishing rod and reel combo from the bank looking to sling a plastic frog to the center-pond lily pads, the extra range you get from a baitcaster will come in handy.
Seeing a bass dart out of its heavy cover to come and eat a topwater frog is fun and addictive, and it’s the one thing you should try if you haven’t already. To help you out, here’s a review of the best frog fishing poles that you can check out.
Built for Fast, Smooth Retrieves
The reel’s level winds make the spool-line lay evenly when you’re reeling in your lure. They’re the little piece that moves side-to-side when you reel and prevent knots and lumps in your line.
Reeling might be easier as well, and that’s because baitcasters tend to have higher gear ratios. Like I said earlier, that means a faster retrieve rate and more realistic fast-twitch lures presentations.
Stronger Drag Systems
The drag system in a baitcasting reel is typically stronger on the top-end and has more power. On the flip-side, they’re less sensitive than spinning reel drags but better equipped for fighting largemouth.
The main difference in drag design is that a baitcaster’s max drag is based on the strength of its gears.
Disadvantages of Baitcasters For Bass Fishing
Takes Time To Cast Like a Pro
I’ve been using this type of setup for years, so I know how to cast a baitcaster ten times over. But it took time to perfect the art and I went through some growing pains. There are some reels that make the learning process easier though.
The main challenge is using your thumb as a secondary brake. Learning the right amount of pressure to apply and getting the timing down takes patience, so be prepared for initial frustration.
It’s important to remember, that overall spinning setups serve as a better starter rods.
Novice anglers may be better off rolling with a closed-face or spinning reel. They are easier to cast and help beginners get their hooks wet. But anyone with determination can master this type of largemouth setup.
Okay, now you have a clear picture of what makes baitcasters good for largemouth. It’s time to shine the spotlight on spinning setups —
Advantages of Spinning Combos
Easier for Beginners to Operate
If you’re a novice angler then rolling with a spinning rod and reel combo can be a wise idea. They use a flip-bail system that’s easy to master and it works quite well. It’s a simpler setup that’s more ideal for learning how to cast fishing rods and reels.
Remember, there’s a learning curve when it comes to casting a baitcasting rod and reel —but spinning rod and reel combos are fairly easy to master. I recommend them for first-time fishing trips and camping, because nothing sucks more than untangling line while everyone else is catching fish.
Launches Light Line and Lures Further
Loads of bass anglers say baitcasting rods and baitcasting reels tandem sling lures further, and with more precision. But when it comes to casting light lines and lures, spinning reels rule the day. Let me explain —
By design, spinning reel spools place less resistance on fishing line —so lightweight lures like jigs, poppers and beetle-spins can fly further. These work well when you’re hitting ponds that are overfished, because you can downsize the lure and switch presentations.
Ideal for Ultra-light Fishing for Smallmouth
Smallies love to hit lightweight jigs, jerk-baits and topwater plugs. If you’re looking to go light and cast 1/16 – 1/4 ounce lures, an ultralight spinning combo setup will help you sling them further into cover where smallmouth dwell.
Spinning duos also tend to have bass rods with slower action, which is also better for light or ultralight fishing. Smallmouth are mostly in the 2 – 5-pound range, so you don’t really need heavy tackle.
Also, spinning gear is more likely to have slow-action bass fishing rod options, which means more bend in the pole and an elevated adrenaline rush. Rods with more bend are also good for whipping light lures into nooks and bends.
Adjust Your Drag on the Fly
Spinning rod and reel combos have rear drag systems, which are located in a more convenient spot. That means it’s easy to access the drag and adjust it while battling a bass, which can help land fish and prevent line breakage.
On the flip-side, I’ve heard at least one pro bass angler say front drag systems are more powerful and handle thrashing largemouths better.
So in that way, baitcasting rod and reel setups have an edge in the strength department. But a spinning reel’s conveniently-located drag can certainly come in handy when you’re struggling with a hog.
Stops the Pendulum Effect
When you cast with a baitcasting reel and rod combo the line tends to rotate, which makes the lure drift back towards you as it sinks in the water. That’s what angling nerds call the “pendulum effect”, and using spinning rod and reel combos is one way to avoid it.
It’s not really that big of a deal, but it helps when you’re trying to get as close to cover as possible. It also helps when using big plastic worms or jigs, causing them to look more natural when falling to the bottom.
Interchangeable Reel Handles
Spinning rods often have reel handles for right and left-handed anglers, so you don’t have to worry about getting the wrong one. Sometimes bait casting rod and reel duos have limited selection and offer only a right or left-handed version in certain models.
Disadvantages of Spinning Combos
Less Friendly with Heavy Fishing Line
Spinning tandems handle braided and lighter line better than heavy line. Sometimes the spool doesn’t jive with it and the result is backlash. So if you roll with monofilament or heavier test line, give it a couple of test casts to make sure it will work the right way.
Limited Casting Distance
As mentioned, many bass sportsmen love casters because they tend to give more distance and accuracy.
That doesn’t mean a spinning setup won’t give you the casting range you need. I have used many spinners that cast exceptionally well, but overall none have topped what my casting setup delivers.
Well, now you know the pros and cons of spinning and baitcaster combos, plus what makes them different. Now I want to dive into some other key factors for choosing the right tandem —
Are Rod Guide Loops Important?
The rod guides are the loops that run the length of your rod, and they play a big part in durability and function —especially in spinning setups. That’s because on spinning rods the guides face downward, so they shoulder the load when a fish is on.
Guides are also important on casting setups, but they face up —so line pressure isn’t absorbed when wrestling a bass. But the eyes still need to be strong and durable to handle the pressure.
What’s the Best Guide Material for Fighting Fish?
Avoid buying a duo with plastic or materials that are prone to breaking. Look for one with aluminum guides, and if you can find one with silicon carbon (SIC) or titanium carbide inserts, that’s even better.
They all stand up to trophy bass and orchestrate better line flow. Every mention on my list has high quality rod “eyes”.
What’s the Best Rod Action for Bass Fishing?
A rod’s “action” is basically how much bend it has —
Fast Action Rods Reign Supreme
These poles bend from the rod tip to about 1/3 the way down, and are highly sensitive. They’re stiff and easily pick up vibrations, and that’s why they’re good rod tips for bass.
Medium Action Poles Aren’t Bad
These bend from the tip to about the midway point and are a happy medium of stiffness and flexibility. If you’re stalking smallmouth then you can go with one of these.
Slow Action Rods
These rods start bending near the bottom —then the tip catches up, so it bends collectively. There’s not much responsiveness, but they’re good for ultra-light finesse fishing for hybrids or smallies.
What’s the Right Rod Power?
There are several types —
In case you’re wondering, rod-power is how much pressure it takes to bend it. The smartest choice for a largemouth is medium-heavy rod power, but you can roll with a heavy option if you’re stalking a bucket-mouth the size of a poodle.
If you’re going after hybrid bass or smallmouth at the river then consider using a light to medium-light rod. Make sure it’s a spinning setup though, because they handle lighter line and lures better.
What’s the Best Rod Material?
If largemouth are on the radar, then here you go—
A graphite rod is good for battling big bass and for saltwater fishing because they have a strong backbone. Fast-action bass rods tend to be made of graphite because it delivers more sensitivity.
Fiberglass/graphite composites give you a nice splice of strength and flexibility. Composite rods are medium to medium-fast, and ideal for snagging a range of fish. These rods are usually cheaper than a graphite rod.
If you’re trying to catch smallmouth then here’s an idea —
Fiberglass rods have the most bend which is why many “slow-action” rods are made of it. If you want to catch some smallies via ultra-light finesse tactics this material could be your huckleberry.
Yippy skippy, I’ve covered everything you need to know to pick out a quality bass rod and reel.
Well, I think I’ve shown you everything in my bag of tricks —those are literally the best bass fishing rod and reel combos in all creation, so I had to share them with.
Before I go, here’s a quick reminder of which ones are my top 3 best rod and reel combo for bass fishing…
Abu Garcia Revo X Spinning Combo
It’s a little pricy, but you get a lot for the money. The Revo reel boasts 7 steel ball bearings plus protective IM-C6 carbon body —that means smooth casting and durability. Its embedded Rocket Lip technology lets line flow nicely off the spool.
The reel’s 6.2:1 gear ratio is fairly fast and helps execute hurried lure presentations. It will work for smallmouth bass because it handles light fishing line and lures so well. This duo is pretty light, so it’s good for all-day bass fishing.
Ugly Stik Elite Combo
This Ugly Stik bass fishing rod is great for largemouth because it has a nice mix of stiffness and rod sensitivity. It has 35% more graphite than its predecessor —the GX2. It’s light, sturdy and packs a strong backbone. It’s 6 1/2 feet long and that’s the only size —but it’s a good size for catching all types of bass.
The reel has a gear ratio of 6.2:1, which is good for bass fishing with a frantic lure presentation. The spool holds 20-pound mono test and 30-pound braided line —that means you can hunt trophy bass. It also has a 12-pound max drag with anti-reverse.
Cadence BC6 Combo
Like I said, this setup is killer in lots of ways —and it’s ideal if you love the rush of going after trophy bass. It packs 9 ball bearings which is the highest on my list.
The BC6 reel is infused with a powerful carbon fiber drag system with a max drag of 20 pounds. So yeah, largemouth or even stripers are fair game and this duo can handle them.
It holds 120 yards of 12-pound mono and 140 yards of 30-pound braid line so it works with most everything in your tackle box. Deep-water bass fishing won’t be an issue either, as this setup has 7.3:1 gear ratio which indicates a fast and smooth retrieve.
It comes as a 2-piece rod, which gives it a slight disadvantage. It also comes in 2 lengths — 6 1/2 and 7 feet. Roll with the shorter model for largemouth bass and the 7-footer for trout or stripers.
Wrapping Things Up
Okay my freshwater-fishing friends, I have pretty much emptied my entire bucket of bass fishing rod and reel combo knowledge into your lap. Now you know some of the more reliable ones on the market, and how to choose the right one to catch bass. In case you need tips for bass fishing, check out this detailed guide on how to catch bass or the two best bass fishing rigs.
Whatever you do my dear bass fishermen friends —don’t buy a crappy setup! If you love bass fishing and you don’t roll with one of my choices in my best rod and reel combo for bass fishing review, then at least use my advice to pick out a winner. And if you go with one of my favorite bass tandems, then take a pic of your first catch and I will show it off on my site!