Loaded for Bass

Five rods you shouldn't leave the dock without.

Field & Stream Online Editors

Ever seen a professional bass fisherman carry all his rods at once? He can't. Many pros have at least a dozen or more different rods to cover any bass fishing situation they may encounter. They typically have specific choices for flipping, pitching, Carolina rigging, and drop-shotting; others for working Texas-rigged worms and jigs, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, jerkbaits, topwater plugs, floating worms and finesse jigs and worms; plus special outfits for long-distance cranking, close-range target cranking, and other techniques.

And you thought one rod was enough. If your budget-or garage space-doesn't permit such a well-rounded selection, you can do just fine with the five styles listed below. More rods may be added later, but these five will handle all the variables that bass can throw at a recreational fisherman.

Flipping Rod, 7-foot 6-inch
A flipping rod is more versatile than many anglers realize, especially if you don't choose a pool cue¿¿¿strength model, and go with one that has a little flex and is nimble enough for pitching. It also serves nicely for Carolina rigging and for slow-rolling heavy spinnerbaits, as well as for horsing bass out of matted vegetation with weedless surface rats and frogs.

Recommendation: Loomis' 5-power beauty rated for 12- to 25-pound line. If the $465 price tag seems steep, suitable flipping rods are available for less, such as Berkley's Lightning (model LRC761H; $45).

Fiberglass Baitcasting Trigger Stick, Medium, 7-foot
You can't beat a long, limber fiberglass rod for slinging crankbaits over the horizon. Long casts let you comb offshore structure more efficiently. The rod's soft action helps bass fully engulf crankbaits. And when bass jump, or surge next to the boat, forgiving fiberglass ensures that those treble hooks stay put.

Recommendation: A fiberglass rod designed by crankbait guru David Fritts from American Rodsmiths ($69). It handles 10- to 25-pound line and 3/8- to 11/4-ounce lures.

Graphite Baitcasting Trigger Stick, Medium-Heavy, 6-foot 6-inch
This workhorse rod carries the load for many baitcasting presentations. It's short enough for accuracy in close quarters and fares well with long-range work. It doubles as a pitching rod, and it has the backbone necessary for solid hooksets when fishing Texas-rigged worms, jigs, spinnerbaits, and buzzbaits.

Recommendation: Pflueger's Trion IM-8 Graphite (model PT CA 4766-1MH; $40). This versatile rod is designed for 10- to 20-pound line and 1/4- to 3/4-ounce lures. Graphite Baitcasting Trigger Stick, Medium, 6-foot 6-inch
This medium-action rod complements the medium-heavy model above. Its identical length maintains casting consistency with lighter lures and lines. Because it is slight and responsive, the rod is perfect for imparting seductive twitch-and-pause actions to topwater plugs and jerkbaits. Recommendation: All Star's Classic Graphite Trigger (model GT2; $103). For best results, match it with 8- to 17-pound-test line and 1/4- to 5/8-ounce lures.

Graphite Spinning, Medium-Heavy, 6-foot 6-inch
When clear-water bass demand finesse presentations, spinning tackle shines. A spinning outfit handles thin line with ease and casts featherweight lures. It also excels when casting grubs, tubes, tiny worms, floating worms, and for split-shotting and drop-shotting.

Recommendation: Because spinning rods are generally softer than their baitcasting counterparts, opt for a medium-heavy action, even when fishing 8- to 10-pound-test line. Consider St. Croix's Avid spinning rod (model AS66MHF; $160). It's rated for 8- to 17-pound-test and 1/4- to 3/4-ounce lures.