The Right Size Bass Fishing Rod For Every Situation

It’s not uncommon to see a bass fisherman with at least half a dozen rods stacked in the bottom of their boat for a single day on the lake.  The reason for that is simple.  Each rod is tailored towards a specific technique and rigged with a different lure.  That way they can adapt their tactics quickly without pausing to cut and retie new lures. 

However, that’s a good excuse for pro anglers during tournaments.  But what about the more casual bass anglers like us?  Do you need a different rod for every bass fishing technique or is there one rod that can do it all good enough?

Well, that is the question covered in this post.  We are taking a deep dive into the most common bass fishing techniques and how to choose a bass fishing rod with the ideal length and action for every situation.

The most common bass fishing tactics

Bass fishing is far more technical than you might image.  Above average success often depends on how well you adapt your gear and tactics to various fishing situations.  Bass can be anywhere and eat just about anything, but not all at once.  So, if you want to be ready for whatever bite is happening, we’ll show you what you need.

The following are the most common bass fishing tactics anglers depend on and the rod length and action that we’ve learned are superior for each technique.  Luckily, there is a lot of overlap so a single rod will work for multiple tactics.    

Best size rod for topwater

With topwater baits, lure control combined with the power to drag fish out of heavy vegetation is critical.  Whether you’re coaxing bass with walking baits or casting surface frogs into a dense patch of lily pads, you need something with versatility.  

To get the ultimate in topwater versatility, go with a medium-heavy or heavy 7’ or 7’ 3” fast action rod. 

A rod like this has the power to horse big bass from dense cover while the fast action tip provides responsive control with any topwater bait.  If you can only choose one topwater rod, a 7 foot medium-heavy, fast action rod is going to handle moderate sized topwater baits and has decent fish dragging power in heavy vegetation.  Step it up one size when coaxing bass out of super thick vegetation. 

Best size rod for jerkbaits

Jerkbaits are not the easiest bait to use or cast.  Working a jerkbait takes some serious  forearm and wrist action with a light weight rod held at a low angle to the water.  Chasing down bass with a jerkbait all day takes some serious stamina and casting them is just as demanding.

Elevate your jerkbait fishing skills to the next level with a 6’ 8” or 6’ 10” rod with medium power and a fast action.  

A lightweight rod reduces arm and wrist fatigue.  Also, a shorter rod makes it possible keep your rod angled down, helping to drive that lure under the surface with every snap.  Plus, speedy roll casts are the preferred way to get a jerkbait to your target and that’s more easily achieved with a shorter rod.  A fast action tip is essential too for instant recoil which enables absolute bait control.  

Best size rod for crankbaits

Of all the bass fishing tactics, crankbait fishing depends the most on technique specific rods for success.  In most cases, crankbait fishing is all about covering lots of open water fast, which often demand long casts and therefore, longer rods.  

Catching more largemouth with crankbaits requires a rod in the 7’ to 7’11” range.  A medium-fast action coupled with a medium power rating gives the rod a deeper, parabolic bend for longer casts while maintaining hook setting power and sensitivity.

For casting heavier crankbaits, consider upping the power to medium-heavy or heavy. Sometimes however, pitching smaller cranks near docks, trees or around vegetation doesn’t call for long casts.  In this case, a short rod with a faster action is actually preferable.  Not only will you get better casting control but you also get better hook sets and the power to haul bass out of snaggy cover.  

Best size rod for spinnerbaits 

Spinnerbaits are among the most versatile bass lures ever created.  They come in a massive array of weights, shapes and sizes.  And a rod that can handle all of them is among the most coveted rods in any angler’s arsenal.  

It’s generally accepted that the best spinnerbait rods are around 7’ long with medium-fast or fast actions and a medium-heavy power rating.  

Whether you are casting spinnerbaits tight to cover, working them slow near deep breaks or casting into open water, a rod like this can handle it with ease.  If you primarily make shorter casts, a 6’ 10” fast action rod can make a huge difference in accuracy.  Plus, you’ll get better sensitivity and hook sets than with slower action rods. 

Best size rod for swimbaits

Nothing fools wary bass quite like swimbaits, which explains their surge in popularity over the last decade.  Just like the baitfish they mimic, swimbaits come in all sizes.  Everything from small minnow sized swimbaits to swimbaits that resemble large bluegill and shad are available.

Casting out and retrieving a hefty 1-2 ounce swimbait takes a stout rod to do it right.  A medium-heavy, fast action rod with a 7’ to 7’ 11” length is a sweet spot for swimbaits.

You can get away with a medium power rod if you’re chucking out lighter swimbaits.  Alternatively, go with a heavy, fast action rod if you consistently use big, 2 ounce swimbaits in your pursuit of hog sized bucket mouths.      

Best size rod for jig fishing

You’d be hard pressed to find a bass addict without a jigging rod ready at all times.  Pitching and flipping jigs is the heart and soul of bass fishing and it’s just about everyone’s favorite tactic for fishing thick cover.  So, it’s no surprise that anglers want to dial in their rod choice to near perfection.

A 7’ 3” to 7’ 6” medium-heavy, fast action rod is about as close as it gets to perfection when jig fishing for bass.

That extra length lets you power fish out of heavy cover while simultaneously delivering bait exactly where you want it every time.  Medium-heavy rods are ideal for pitching a range of jig weights.  Step down to medium power with 1/4 ounce or lighter jigs.  Only for the biggest jigs in the gnarliest cover would you really need a heavy or extra-heavy rod.  Also, that fast action tip gives you sensitivity and control so you can feel the lightest thumps from sluggish bass.   

Best size rod for worm fishing

If there is one bass fishing technique that never seems to fail, it is worm fishing.  Soft plastic worms, whether on a Texas rig or Carolina rig, produce big bass all year long in almost all conditions.  A quality worm rod is a must for mastering this tactic.

We like a 7’ medium-heavy rod with a super sensitive fast action tip when fishing plastic worms for bass.

Sensitivity is a top priority for throwing worms.  Feeling your way over rocks and through wood structure, all while differentiating bites from background bumps is key.  A stiff, fast action tip is a big help.  Couple that with a moderate length rod with a stiff backbone and you get penetrating hook sets and the power to yard up bass tucked in the toughest cover. 

Best size rod for finesse tactics

The popularity of finesse fishing for bass has really exploded in the last few years.  Undoubtedly because these techniques are so darn effective almost anywhere bass swim.  Whether it’s a drop shot, wacky rigged Senko, ned rig or finesse jigs, the right rod is a crucial element for executing the perfect presentation.

Spinning rods are the rods of choice for finesse tactics.  Choose one in the 6’ 10” to 7’ 6” range with a medium-light or medium power and an extremely sensitive fast action tip.

Remember that hooks, lines and weights are all scaled down with finesse fishing.  Keep your rod power lower so you don’t tear thin gauged hooks out of their mouth or snap your line.  Some anglers prefer pitching finesse baits with longer rods but it’s personal preference.  In either case, you need a sensitive rod for finesse fishing, so a fast action tip is a must. 

Best size rod to do it all

It’s a tall order (some would say impossible) to find one rod that can do everything a bass angler needs.  Well, challenge accepted.  If you only want one go-to rod for all your bass fishing, this is our recommendation.

The best size bass fishing rod for multiple tactics would be a 7’ medium-heavy, fast action casting rod.

With this rod you can flip jigs and worms, cast spinnerbaits and swimbaits and even work topwater baits, crankbaits and jerkbaits with relative ease.  Even finesse fishing is possible with this rod but keep your expectations in check.  It really is a jack of all trades kind of rod and even a master of some.  When budget or practicality is the limiting factor, you can catch a lot of bass with a rod like this.  

How do you choose the perfect size rod

I should point out that our recommended rod sizes for bass fishing are not the final word on the subject.  Like all things in fishing, there is a ton of personal preference that factors into picking the right rods for any situation.

Think of this article as a good starting point for zeroing in on the perfect bass rod for your needs.  And remember, so many other factors need to be considered because rod length and power are determined by more than the specific lure you are using.  

For instance, are you fishing from a bass boat, a kayak or from shore?  Each of these scenarios calls for a different approach to be successful.  Kayak anglers are better off with shorter rods while shore anglers get more reach with a longer rod.  

What about your height?  Yeah. That matters too.  Shorter anglers often find shorter rods easier to manage.  Especially, with certain techniques like working a jerkbait.  

Equally important is the type of water you pursue bass in.  Do you fish in small river systems in tight cover or are you tracking down bass in bigger bodies of water?  Using a longer rod in close quarters is cumbersome.

At the end of the day, you’ll see that finding the ideal rod for you takes experimentation.  So go to your local fishing store and see how different rods feel in your hand.  Think hard about your favorite bass fishing tactics, your skills and your unique situation.  Then make adjustments to our recommendations as needed.  We are pretty confident that you’ll find the right size rod.

Spinning rod vs. Casting rod

At some point along the evolution of bass fishing, a stigma developed about spinning rods.  If you’re using one for anything other that finesse tactics, you may garner some sidelong glances and a few scoffs among snobbish bass anglers.  

But here’s the thing, a spinning rod can do almost anything a casting rod can do.  However, there are definite advantages to using a casting rod for the majority of bass fish techniques.  

First, casting rods have more heft behind them.  Especially, when paired with a good baitcaster and heavy line.  That means you can hoist big bass out of dense cover fast. You can accomplish the same thing with the right spinning rod but it is much easier to do with casting rods. 

Also, you can’t beat the accuracy of casting rods when casting heavy lures like swimbaits or pitching big jigs under docks.  With enough practice, you can get a spinning rod to come close but we find a baitcasting setup more satisfying to use.

Finally, whether you’re bass fishing casually or competitively, the sport demands fast, efficient casts to cover lots of water in less time.  By design, it takes fewer steps to cast a baitcaster so it outperforms spinning gear by a wide margin.   

Really, your choice between spinning rods vs. casting rods boils down to preference.  Most anglers agree that spinning rods can handle finesse tactics better than casting rods.  On the same token, spinning rods work fine for jerkbaits, small crankbaits, light jigs and various worm rigs.  For most other bass fishing techniques, casting rods are far superior.

1 piece rods vs. 2 piece rods

We dedicated an entire article to this exact question.  It’s an important thing to figure out so make sure to read our complete answer to the 1 piece vs. 2 piece rod debate.

Let’s recap

Here is a quick reference chart of the bass fishing rods mentioned above.  Obviously, our rod picks are based on our personal experience and preferences.  However, it should get you on the right track for gearing up with a selection of rods that can handle any situation bass fishing throws your way.

Bass Fishing TacticRod LengthRod ActionRod PowerRod Type
Topwater7′ or 7′ 3″FastMedium-Heavy or HeavyCasting
Jerkbaits6′ 8″ or 6′ 10″FastMediumCasting/Spinning
Crankbaits7′ to 7′ 11″Medium-FastMedium to HeavyCasting/Spinning
Swimbaits7′ to 7′ 11″FastMedium-Heavy or HeavyCasting
Jigs7′ 3″ to 7′ 6″FastMedium-HeavyCasting/Spinning
Finesse6′ 10″ to 7′ 6″FastMedium-Light to MediumSpinning
All around7′FastMedium-HeavyCasting

Now that you have the rod all figured out, and hopefully a reel to go with it, it’s time to spool up with some line.  Not sure where to start?  We’ve got you covered!  Find out what pound test line is right for every bass fishing technique and how to spool it up right with minimal line twist.