Bass Fishing: Four Flipping Rods for Under $50

Top-end specialty rods commonly fetch $100 or more. But you can get a hardworking bass stick for half that.

If you've balked at buying a flipping stick because it's too technique-specific to justify the expense, it's time to reconsider. We found four flipping rods that perform far better than their price tags might suggest. They may be the biggest bargains in bass fishing.

All four are 7-1⁄2 feet long and have a parabolic action, which is what you want for flipping. And the grip configuration on most lets you touch the blank with your fingers for increased sensitivity. Don't let their extending handles put you off. Pricier models have one-piece blanks, but these are plenty sturdy for fighting big fish, and they shorten the rod a foot or so for easier transport.

1. Berkley Lightning Rod

Bargain Rating: Excellent
Store Cost: $40
Power: Heavy
Rating: 12- to 25-lb. line; 5⁄8- to 11⁄2-oz. lures
Rod Material: IM6 graphite
Handle: Full-length cork
Guides: Single- and double-foot 304 stainless steel
Jig Performance: Excellent
Punch-Bait Performance: Very good
Concrete Block: Survived
Takeaway: A nice all-around flipping rod at an unbelievable price, the Lightning Rod is lightweight and responsive, yet it handled the punch bait well. I like the 304 stainless-steel guides, which Berkley says are lighter and 20 times stronger than aluminum oxide. This is simply a killer deal. Get two. $40; berkley-fishing.com

2. Bass Pro Shops Tourney Special

Bargain Rating: Very good
Store Cost: $50
Power: Heavy
Rating: 12- to 30-lb. line; 3⁄8- to 2-oz. lures
Rod Material: IM7 graphite
Handle: Split-grip EVA foam
Guides: Single- and double-foot 304 stainless steel
Jig Performance: Excellent
Punch-Bait Performance: Very good
Concrete Block: **Broke above reel seat
**Takeaway:
Although I did break this rod, it had the best balance of them all for pitching and flipping the jig. It did a solid job with the punch bait, too, making the Tourney Special a very good all-around flipping stick for the price. I doubt that I could ever break it with a regular hookset. $50; basspro.com

3. Cabela's Pro Guide

Bargain Rating: **Very good
_
Store Cost:_ $50
**Power:
Heavy
Rating: 12- to 30-lb. line; 3⁄8- to 2-oz. lures
_Rod Material:_ IM6 graphite
_Handle:_ Full-length cork
_Guides:_ Double-foot aluminum oxide
_Jig Performance:_ Good
_Punch-Bait Performance:_ Excellent
_Concrete Block:_ Survived
_Takeaway:_ It is more tip-heavy than the other rods, but this beast did the best job of flipping and pitching the heavy punch bait. It has all the backbone you'll ever need and is ideal if you spend a lot of time working the weeds. Cabela's also offers a medium-heavy version that should perform better with lighter lures. $50; cabelas.com

4. Shimano Sellus

Bargain Rating: Good
Store Cost: $50 at amazon.com
Power: Medium-heavy
Rating: 15- to 30-lb. line; 3⁄8- to 1-oz. lures
Rod Material: 24-ton graphite
Handle: Split-grip EVA foam
Guides: Single- and double-foot aluminum oxide
Jig Performance: Very good
Punch-Bait Performance: Fair
Concrete Block: Survived
Takeaway: The Sellus is lightweight, well balanced, and responsive. It had the softest action of the four rods tested, however. The tip flexed too much for heavy punch baits. I would limit this rod to 1⁄2-ounce lures. If you want a model specifically for light-duty flipping, this would work very well. $60; shimano.com

_From the June, 2013 issue of Field & Stream_