Welcome to our Bass Fishing Buyer’s Guide! This is a comprehensive rundown of the most critical equipment you need to catch largemouth bass.
We’ll start with rods and reels, then take a look at three different types of fishing line, discussing when you should choose one type over another. We’ll wrap up with an overview of bass lures. When it comes to selecting lures, the industry has created an overwhelming array of options. Our goal is to simplify the matter with some suggestions that cover four of the most popular lure categories.
Now let’s get to our roundup of must-have bass fishing tackle!
Rod/Reel Combos: Quality and Value in One Package
There are two main reasons to buy a rod/reel combo. One is that combos often cost less than if you were to purchase the components separately. The other reason is that manufacturers put a lot of thought into matching the rod with the reel, resulting in perfectly balanced rigs that are ideally suited to the intended fishing style.
A great all-around baitcasting rig is the Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcasting Combo. This combo gives you the power to handle bass in heavy cover, and the rod is extremely sensitive, providing you the feedback needed for subtle techniques.
If a spinning combo is what you’re after, you can’t go wrong with the Quantum Optix Freshwater Spinning Combo. You get a light-weight, corrosion-resistant reel with smooth operation paired with a finely crafted rod. This rig is versatile, excelling with topwater baits, finesse worms, and even small crankbaits.
Baitcasting Rods & Reels: Heavy Equipment for Big Bass
Many productive largemouth bass fishing techniques call for baitcasting rigs, including the use of jigs, plastic worms, and crankbaits. Baitcasting rigs can handle heavy baits and even heavier fish. They provide you with the reeling power and rod strength needed to haul giant bass out of thick cover.
The Pflueger Supreme Low Profile Baitcast Reel is a powerful reel that features a light and sturdy aluminum frame, 9 corrosion resistant stainless steel ball bearings, and a magnetic braking system that’s easy to adjust and helps you avoid backlashes.
That’s what you get with the Shimano Clarus Freshwater Casting Rod. If you’re looking for a versatile casting rod, selecting a 6′ 6″ Clarus rod would be a good choice. It’s created from a 30-ton graphite blank, equipped with high-quality Fuji guides, and features a premium cork handle.
Returning to reels for a moment, another great casting reel is the KastKing Royale Legend Baitcasting Reel. This compact reel is affordable but has features you’d expect from a high-end baitcaster. A set of 11 bearings make its operation smooth as silk, an adjustable centrifugal braking system provides the ultimate cast control, and it has a carbon fiber drag system for battling late-surging lunkers.
If you want a quality casting rod at a very reasonable price, the UglyStik GX2 Casting Rod can’t be beaten. Its blank is made using both fiberglass and graphite, resulting in an extremely durable rod that’s also very sensitive and light.
Daiwa is known for manufacturing some of the highest quality gear available, and their Tatula Baitcasting Reel is a great example of what they do.
This compact reel is constructed with a durable aluminum frame and side-plate that give it a solid feel in your hand. A tenacious drag system and oversized power crank help you handle big fish in the heaviest of cover, and Daiwa’s highly engineered Magforce-Z cast control lets you easily adjust the reel for any bait.
Our last piece of baitcasting gear is the Fenwick Elite Tech Bass Casting Rod. This state-of-the-art rod offers the ultimate power and sensitivity, and the folks at Fenwick added in some very nice features. There’s the innovative Hidden Handle reel seat design that makes an attached reel feel like it’s part of the rod, plus strong titanium frame guides, and a comfortable, non-slip
Spinning Rods & Reels: Lightweight Bass Brawlers
Bass anglers love to fish with topwater baits, and nothing is better for presenting surface baits of all kinds than a quality spinning rig. Spinning tackle may not offer the power of a baitcasting rig, but it’s perfect for throwing lighter baits like poppers or the tiny worms used in finesse fishing.
When you’re shopping for an affordable, well-crafted spinning reel, you should take a look at the Syncopate Freshwater Spinning Reel from Shimano. Its unique Quick Fire II feature involves a bail-engaging trigger that makes one-handed casting a breeze. This reel provides a super-smooth retrieve, thanks to the counter-balanced rotor, and it’s fitted with an innovative line management system that allows for long casts.
A nice rod to pair with that reel might be Berkley’s Cherrywood HD Spinning Rod. The “HD” stands for Hybrid Design construction, providing a through-handle configuration that results in maximum sensitivity. Durable SS304 guides and a high-quality cork handle round out the reasons this rod is a great choice for any bass angler.
If you wanted to spend a little more on a spinning rod, you could treat yourself to the Quantum Exo Spinning Rod. It’s constructed of extremely light-weight materials but has strength and toughness that you can rely on. This is a versatile tool to have in your rod locker, enabling you to throw surface plugs a mile, or probe the depths with finesse baits and feel every tick.
While we’re looking at mid-to-high range spinning equipment, you should consider checking out the Pflueger Supreme XT Spinning Reel. Its 10-bearing system and precision gears give it a smooth feel when you crank the handle, and it’s constructed with a strong, light-weight magnesium body and rotor.
The reliable carbon drag system is sealed, so it will stay watertight and lubricated for the life of the reel. Pflueger’s ingenious SMARTretrieve feature makes sure that your line lays on the spool evenly every time.
Fishing Line: The Critical Link Between You and the Fish
Should you use mono, fluoro, or braid? Choosing the right type of line means considering several factors, including lure selection, water clarity, and the type of cover or structure the bass are relating to.
This section presents general guidelines for line selection, along with a few informed product suggestions.
Construct of extruded nylon, monofilament line is limp, so it’s easy to work with, but mono is not quite as abrasion resistant as the other two types of line. Nevertheless, mono has two characteristics that the others don’t have: it stretches, and it floats. The ability to stretch makes it great for crankbaits and spinner baits, and the fact that it floats better than other line types means mono is ideal for topwater presentations.
One great monofilament option available to you is Sufix Elite Fishing Line, a premium line that’s engineered to give you a balance of strength and durability, low line memory, and remarkable knot strength.
If you’re going to be fishing through cover like tree limbs or sharp rocks, you might want to consider Trilene XT Monofilament Line from Berkley. This line’s incredibly high abrasion resistance will give you the confidence to fish the heaviest cover.
The main features that distinguish fluorocarbon line from the other line types are that it sinks like a stone, is extremely abrasion resistant and is invisible to fish underwater. That’s right, there’s something about its chemical make-up that causes fluoro to virtually disappear when submerged! Needless to say, a tough, sinking, invisible line is perfect for working soft plastics through heavy wood cover.
One popular fluorocarbon line is Stren Fluorocast. It’s made of 100% fluorocarbon, which gives you the desired strength, sink, and low visibility. But it’s limp, with low line memory, so it’s almost as easy to handle as mono.
Another good choice, offering all the features you should expect from a high-quality fluoro line, is Vanish Fluorocarbon Line from Berkley.
Braided line has more in common with fluorocarbon line than it does with mono; braid is the most abrasion resistant of the three types and has ultra-low stretch. However, in terms of visibility underwater, braid is probably the least subtle.
What really makes braided line special is the strength to size ratio, with a common size like 12 lb test featuring a line diameter that’s tiny compared to the same strength mono or fluoro. All that means braid is great for fishing baits in thick cover and it lets you feel light strikes when employing open water finesse techniques.
Power Pro Spectra Fiber Braided Line is a perfect example of how far the industry has come in engineering braided line. It’s made from Spectra Fiber using a technique that results in a consistently round shape and extreme sensitivity.
Another good choice would be P-Line TCB Braided Line. What makes this braid different is that it’s Teflon coated. That means it’s easier to work with and cast, and it is silent as it runs through your guides.
Bass Lures: Careful Selection Means Everything
Experienced bass fishermen select lures according to current fishing conditions, and they’re ready to switch when conditions change. This section covers four lure categories that, as a group, address practically every bass fishing scenario you can find yourself in.
Some say bass jigs are the most versatile lures in the world. If your tackle box contains an assortment of jig sizes, you can catch bass under most conditions, during any season, and in any part of the lake, river or pond you’re fishing.
One fantastic bass jig is the Booyah Boo Jig. Its flat bottom and stiff weed guard help it snake through dense brush and punch through thick grass with ease.
A Mustad Ultra Point nickel hook and two loud rattles round out the feature list of this bass-catching jig.
If you’re fishing for suspended bass, sometimes they come down with a case of lockjaw, which means it’s time for a little finesse. The Terminator Finesse Jig is a subtler offering than most jigs, featuring a half-skirt, a smaller profile, and a light, wire weed guard.
Plastic worms are versatile baits that look and feel like live prey, so when bass strike, they usually hold on for a while, giving you a longer chance to set the hook. They’re perfect for weedless techniques. You can rig worms with the hook point resting under the surface of the plastic, and when you set the hook, the point can easily come out of the soft plastic to penetrate the fish’s mouth.
One of the best plastic worms you can buy is the Yamamoto Senko Bait. This stick-bait style worm is made from plastic that is packed with salt, giving it a tantalizing sink-rate. You can rig this bait weedless with a Texas- or Carolina-rig, and it’s extremely effective when rigged weightless on a Wacky Rig.
Speaking of rigs for soft plastic worms, you’re going to need some offset hooks. The offset design is what allows you to rig the worm straight and with the hook point safely buried inside the worm’s body. FastGrip Wide Gap Worm Hooks from VMC are a perfect example of a high-quality offset worm hook.
No discussion of plastic worms would be complete without mentioning finesse worms. Zoom Bait Finesse Worms are what you need when a subtle presentation is called for to attract pressured fish. Rigged with a dropshot set-up, these worms are deadly on suspended bass.
Crankbaits excel when you need to search for fish—they look like a fleeing baitfish, and you can cover a large area fast. These versatile baits come in a massive variety of shapes and sizes, with models that run shallow and deep.
One of the better crankbaits on the market is the Strike King Square Bill Crankbait. It runs at depths between 3 and 6 feet and the square bill helps this bait glance off cover like the limbs of downed trees. When a crankbait deflects off underwater objects, the abrupt movement is very often what triggers a bass to strike!
If the bass are moderately deep, say, resting near the bottom on a main lake point or near a submerged hump, you’ll need a deep diving crankbait to reach them. The Norman Deep Little N will do the trick—it can dive down to 14 feet. Its wide wobbling action attracts hungry bass, and two premium treble hooks make sure your fish makes it all the way to the boat.
For many fishermen, experiencing a topwater strike is a favorite part of bass fishing. But topwater baits have one major drawback in that they lack versatility. Topwater baits stay on top of the water—that’s a very limited running depth! In addition, they are most effective when bass is actively feeding, so it’s smart to fish them in the low light of early morning, dusk, or under thick cloud cover.
One of the best types of topwater lure is the popper, and most bass fisherman would say the best popper is the Rebel Pop-R. It features a time-tested popping action that throws water and makes a lot of noise. With a Pop-R, you can experiment with different retrieves until you find out what the fish want; sometimes it’s a slow steady cadence, and other times, an erratic presentation is more effective.
While the Pop-R has been around forever, a more recent addition to the industry’s topwater offering is the River2Sea Whopper Plopper.
You can cast this bait a mile, and during the retrieve, its rotating tail churns the surface, spitting water and enticing violent strikes from below.
Well, that’s about it. I hope you have found this handy little guide helpful. Drop us a line and let us know what you think. Tight lines!
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