With over 70% of all freshwater anglers pursuing either largemouth or smallmouth bass, it’s safe to say bass fishing is by far the most popular gamefish in North America. Found in every state but Alaska, it’s pretty likely you fish for bass frequently or at least some of the time regardless of where you live. If you don’t, you’re missing out on the fun.
You only need to look in a bass professional’s rod locker to understand the overwhelming number of ways you can catch a bass. The good news is, they can be caught on a wide variety of lures. The bad news is, it can be mindboggling trying to figure out how to rig all the lures you need on the right rod and reel setups to take advantage of every situation or type of cover you might encounter in a day of fishing.
Well, we’re here to help. This article is dedicated to simplifying the process of rod, reel, and technique that will prepare you for a typical day of chasing a Bronze-Back or ole’ Bucket-Mouth.
Even though some serious bass anglers have 30-40 rods and reels in the boat, there’s a few set-ups that will cover most situations most of the time. We’ll be recommending just a few set-ups that will allow you to fish almost any technique that’s effective throughout the fishing season. For sure, we’d love for you to buy every rod model we make, but here’s our suggestion for the must-haves in your arsenal. A great rule of thumb when thinking about baitcasting rod/reel setups is think in terms of bait style and more specifically hook type. Is the bait you’ll be throwing a treble hook bait like a crankbait or is it a single hook bait like a Texas rigged plastic worm? You’ll also want a spinning rod/reel setup to throw lighter, finesse style baits which have become increasingly popular ways to target bass under certain situations.
In our humble opinion, having these 5 rod and reel combinations ready to go will cover just about any situation and give you the versatility for almost any technique on your favorite bass lake. Here’s a rundown of our Fabulous Five picks:
- Trika C610MXF Casting Rod / 6:1 Baitcast Reel
- This is the go-to for many treble hook style baits like topwaters, shallower running crankbaits, and jerkbaits. You can also throw smaller spinnerbaits and chatterbaits. With the length just under 7’, this rod is a dream to cast and has a very responsive tip that allows you to feel the vibration of your crankbait or the subtle strike of a bass when your jerkbait is paused. But don’t be fooled by the rod’s featherlight weight, it’s got plenty of backbone to handle a wall hanger. The 6:1 retrieve reel is a good option that offers a slower retrieve speed which tends to maximize the bait’s vibration with a nice, steady retrieve.
- Trika C70MHF Casting Rod / 7:1 Baitcast Reel
- This is a super versatile rod that you’ll use primarily for a variety of soft plastics. It’s a good length for casting Texas rigs and jigs but it can also be used for pitching around specific targets like laydowns or boat docks. The medium-heavy power gives you plenty of hooksetting power to drive a 5/0 hook through a bulky plastic bait but the fast tip is light enough to feel the most subtle bite. This rod can also be used for bigger spinnerbaits or paddle tail type swimbaits. A 7:1 retrieve baitcast reel pairs up well here providing a nice balance between speed and power. The faster retrieve is also handy when your strike zone is small and you’re wanting to rapidly retrieve your bait through “dead” water to make another cast to the small target zone.
- Trika C73MF Casting Rod / 6:1 Baitcast Reel
- This is another versatile choice for many styles of reaction baits like crankbaits, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and topwater. Unlike the 6’10” rod above, the longer length of this rod gives you the firepower to make long casts in open water as you search for actively feeding fish. With medium to deeper running crankbaits, this rod’s length allows the rod to load in the back cast for longer distance while maintaining accuracy with Trika’s unique carbon fiber construction that resists any side-torquing of the blank. There’s no better way to locate fish than covering lots of water in high percentage areas like drop-offs or sloping points.
Here again, you’ll want a slower retrieve baitcast reel to make those steady retrieves and allow crankbaits to reach their maximum depth.
- Trika C75MHF Casting Rod / 7:1 Baitcast Reel
- Here’s our last pick to round out the baitcasting set-ups. This rod is a great choice for pitching and flipping jigs or plastics around cover. Oh sure, the C77XHMF is an even better choice for straight-up flipping but again, this article is about rod and reel combos that are as versatile as possible. Therefore, this rod gets our vote to maximize your versatility with the same rig. Not only can you flip and pitch but it’s a good choice for Carolina rigs, throwing plastics in open water, or casting larger swimbaits. It’s even a good choice for large, deep diving crankbaits but you’ll want a slower speed reel you will primarily use this rod for throwing hard-pulling plugs versus soft plastics.
- Trika S70MLF Spinning Rod / 30 Size Spinning Reel
- Rounding out the Fab Five is our recommendation for a sweet finesse set-up. Bass anglers used to shun spinning tackle, but every serious bass angler today that’s worth their salt is going to have some spinning gear in the assortment. The S70MLF is perfect for a variety of finesse style techniques like shaky heads, dropshots, ned rigs, and so on. It’s even a good choice to throw lighter reaction baits like small crankbaits and swimbaits that are difficult to throw with baitcasting gear. The medium-light power is perfect for imparting just the right action to your lure and the fast taper provides plenty of hooksetting power without fear of breaking off on lighter lines. You’ll want a 20 to 30 size spinning reel with a really smooth drag as you’ll be fishing line weights in the 6-10lb range.
So, there you have it. If for some reason your significant other only lets you buy just 5 rigs, we think you need to start hiding the credit card statement. But seriously, if you want to maximize the versatility of your bass fishing arsenal with a simplified selection of rod / reel combinations, the five set-ups above are hard to beat and get the job done spring, summer, or fall.