The best bass rods | Finding your next stick
The most common bass fishing setup among dedicated bass anglers in the UK consists of an 8ft rod capable of casting up to 35g. This is typically paired with a reel in the 3000 size range. Such a setup is light enough to cast modern bass lures effectively.
However, it’s essential to consider where you’ll be fishing and the type of lures you’ll be using, as this will affect the ideal rod length, casting weight, and action. A wide variety of rods are marketed as ‘lure rods’ or ‘spinning rods’, making it a bit of a minefield. Some want a fast-action Japanese rod casting 28g – others want something they can beat up on holiday with the kids…
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The Lure Rod Finder
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Let’s look at a few of our favourite bass rods in no particular order, along with what types of lures and ground they are most suited for.
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6. Penn Squadron II Labrax
A bass rod that does everything for around £60
Most UK sea anglers are looking for strong and cheap rods. They want it to do everything from flinging feathers to bottom fishing. Some of the mackerel rods we recommend can do those things. These bass rods cannot.
When looking at spending under £100, there is a much higher chance the rod may be rated incorrectly. This means they will cast poorly when you use modern bass lures weighing 20g. The Penn Squadron is a reasonably priced rod that is genuinely suitable for lightweight modern lure fishing. This is an excellent option if you are looking for an entry point to bass fishing with single lures.
We have tested the Penn Squadron II and think they’re great for the price.
Another perk of this rod is that it’s more sturdy and has a slightly thicker blank than most bass rods. This makes it harder for beginners to snap, so we used it a lot when guiding families. This would be a fantastic rod for a traditional angler who likes bait fishing and using dexter wedges but wants to try out the lighter side of fishing. It’s not crazy light, but it’s light enough…
5. Blackrock 10ft Sea Bass
Best for very exposed coastlines & generalists
Bass rods can be between 7-10ft and cast between 21-50g or just under one to two ounces. Shorter and lighter rods are ideal in calm conditions where you can get close to the water. This is because you don’t need any extra length to help you steer fish away from rocks. An 8′ rod that casts one ounce or about 25g is perfect for those British summertime conditions. However, on more rugged coasts or in rougher seas, a 9ft rod that casts 35g-40g is superior for most people.
View on veals.
Many people don’t realise that a setup’s ability to cast light bass lures largely depends on the line. With top-end braid, you can cast 10g lures a fair distance on surprisingly heavy rods. If you are fishing on very rugged ground, or you like to use ledgering rigs or mackerel feathers in addition to lures, you could look at heavier lure rods. Rods rated to 80g can still work well with 30g lures if you use nice braid.
A rod rated to 80g of 10ft in length is only useful for bass fishing with lures when paired with very good braid – the £30-40 stuff. It will be heavy in your hand – like bass fishing in the 90s and early 2000s. But – this setup allows you to fish in the wind, cast miles over white water, and tackle big fish around heavy structure.
It is an excellent rod for the generalist who lives somewhere with an open or exposed coast, and it pairs beautifully with the Daiwa Ninja reel, as seen above.
4. Major Craft’s EU Range
The best Japanese bass rods for under £150?
In Japan, Major Craft is considered an upstart brand that came in and started making cheaper rods at the same quality as competitors. This is a little strange because, from a British perspective, a £100 rod is generally considered high-end. In Japan, the attention to detail and pursuit of excellence is quite extreme.
Major Craft knows that the UK fishing market is wildly different from theirs. People spend less cash on gear here so they have released a rod that people in the UK are willing to pay for. It still resembles many aspects of the quality of their range of rods designed for Japan but cuts back on all the frills. The reel seat, for instance, is no nonsense, nothing fancy. It pairs beautifully with the Daiwa Legalis 3000 below and loads very nicely, flinging light lures miles when paired with a decent braid.
When the crumbs fall from the Japanese fishing tackle table, we should eat them. These rods are in a different realm of quality to most lure rods you can buy in the UK. Major Craft Rods famously makes some of the best rod blanks in the world and sells them with Fuji guides. This provides an insane fishing experience. While the Ceana we used doesn’t offer the same sensitivity as £150+ rods (and it’s noticeably worse), it is much better than most other rods at its price point. We haven’t tested the Solpara due to the sheer number of rods, but we also look forward to trying that rod.
Probably the best bass travel rod we’ve used
HTO is a UK-based brand, and my understanding is that they aim to create affordable fishing tackle inspired by high-end Japanese designs. Each nebula blank is from Japanese carbon. The rods have been hugely successful, and we specifically recommend the travel version if you can get hold of one.
The Nebula’s are light, thin and still powerful, with a fast action. Shaking the rod, it feels relatively stiff until it loads with energy when you cast or hook a fish.
Fuji guides. Fuji Reel Seat support. This is undoubtedly in the high-end rod category, competing with rods worth around £200.
Which Nebula should I buy?
The Nebula comes in several sizes, starting at 6ft 11” casting 5-22g – great for kayak fishing, boat fishing, or perch fishing on treelined banks. At the other end, you have a 9ft 10” model casting up to 56g. FISHMAG generally recommends the 8’0” to the 9’6” models, casting a maximum of either 30g or 42g for anglers fishing very rough coastlines with bigger bass lures that need to be cast in wind. About 9ft is widely considered the best distance to casting accuracy and manoeuvrability trade-off by UK bass anglers.
Note that the travel rod behaves like a lighter rod than the two-piece Nebula at the same casting weight (up to 35g). For many, this will prove advantageous.
The Nebula sells out pretty fast so is sometimes hard to get hold of. If you’re looking for the best travel bass rod, this is the best option we’re aware of in the UK right now.
2. Tailwalk Hi-Tide SSD 90MH
Best bass rods for sheltered rock marks and soft plastic work
I use the lighter Tailwalk for much of my lure fishing. It’s particularly handy for whacking small jigs to the horizon. I use a lighter version of the rod rated to 20g because I often fish in sheltered coves. On an exposed open coast, sometimes you want to be able to whack a 35g lure in the wind. However, the 35g version will be much better for most anglers as it’s more versatile and useful in rougher conditions. These are seriously premium bass fishing rods. I recommend pairing it with a Daiwa or Shimano reel. I find the Penn Spinfisher a bit heavy on this rod, but it’s still ok.
View on veals.
1. Tenryu Injection SP82MH 2ES
Super high end bass rods
Tenryu manufactures premium bass rods. The quality of one of these rods doesn’t equate to twice the quality of a £225 rod from Tailwalk. The difference won’t be that significant. Both rods use Fuji guides. Both rods have excellent blanks. The value of the Tenryu rod lies partly in its rugged feel and thickness. This quality reassures anglers. The fear of snapping your new fishing rod in half is always present. Breaking a high-end item is painful. It feels more comfortable to purchase something sturdy. Something with a ‘hand it down to your kids’ kind of quality. The Tenryu rod offers this quality.
We haven’t yet used these rods, so we can’t provide an in-depth review. However, we must mention them. It’s important to know what kind of rods are available if you’re seeking the best in the market.
Longer vs shorter lure rods
- 6ft lure rods are useful for bass fishing from very small boats
- 7ft lure rods give you a lot of control over your lures and are good for fishing close to the water
- 8ft lure rods are often considered the best bass rod for calmer waters
- 9ft lure rods are seen as the best all-round bass rod by many anglers
- 10ft lure rods are superior in rough seas because you can fish further from the water
Longer rods have less manoeuvrability in short-range fish-fighting. But, they cast much further than shorter rods. Shorter rods also give you much more control over your lure’s movement. Most bass anglers settle on a rod between 8-9ft, but it depends on your preference.
What casting weight should my lure rod be rated to?
The most crucial information is not to try casting weights beyond the upper limit of the rod unless you think the rod is mislabelled. The most common amateur mistake would be to buy a rod that’s way too heavy – say a spinning rod that casts 3oz – and then try to fish with modern bass lures that weigh <28g. It’s possible to fish like this, but you will have a limited casting range.
When fishing with plugs that have fairly aggressive actions, you will feel the vibration and movement running up the rod. You don’t want your rod to be bending into the lure too much, or else you will get reduced bite sensitivity. It is beneficial to fish with plugs that your rod can cast comfortably. E.g. 21g may be better for a rod rated to 28g.
It’s quite easy to confuse power with action. Power is measured from light to heavy. It correlates with how much weight the rod can cast. Action on the other hand is measured from slow to fast. When you hold and shake a rod, a fast action rod returns to being straight more quickly. A fast action also means the rod bends more towards the tip. A slow action rod bends further down in the rod.
What’s the best rod action for bass?
Faster actions bend more towards the tip, providing superior sensitivity. Slower actions bend more towards the centre and butt of the rod. This is better for not pulling hooks, such as from the mouths of mullet. If you are fishing with unweighted soft plastics, a slower action rod will cast the lure further. However, bites won’t be as detectable in the tip of the rod. The fishing will be slightly less visual. Most consider these differences minor.
Rod holds form fishing with lures that create more drag – like plugs. More sensitive. Can feel stiff and more prone to snap offs and hook pulls.
A happy medium for those that like to fish with one rod, which is most people! This is what I would recommend for anglers that use a mixture of hard and soft lures.
Great for soft / lighter lures as it helps them cast further even at lower weights. Slow action rods load better with lighter lures. Less sensitivity in terms of tip movement, but vibrations will be the same.
Some rods are labelled L, ML, M, MH. This tends to refer to the power of the rod rather than the action. Action and power aren’t very important to the majority of anglers, and many won’t even notice the difference.
PE Ratio (also not important if you’re using 12-20lb braid)
Some rods come labelled with a PE Rating or Line Rating. Line rating refers to the strength of monofilament or fluorocarbon line the manufacturers recommend you use with the rod. PE rating refers to the recommended PE rating of braided lines.
The vast majority of bass anglers fish with 20lb braid. This is fine for pretty much any bass rod, so in my opinion, this can be ignored. Higher quality braids from better brands will be better to fish with on any modern lure rod.
Bait fishing vs Lure Fishing Rods
Beachcasters provide a lot of leverage, making them useful for pulling the largest species away from structures. For instance, they can help get a conger away from its hole. Beach casters are ideal for anglers targeting large fish species over 10lb. They are also suitable for those who enjoy bottom fishing with traditional baits. Fishing an estuary or beach mark at night can be relaxing. This might be even more so than spinning.
Your rod needs to be the right size for your reel. A 7ft rod balances with a size 3000 reel and a 9ft rod is best off with a 4000 size reel.
The power of balanced gear
A balanced kit ensures you feel in control – your line won’t snap off, your reel won’t get tangled, and you’ll cast a lot further. When you play fish, the rod and drag work together to absorb the fish’s power. This puts less strain on your line and knots, preventing snap offs. For occasional anglers, a pre-made kit like this one simplifies fishing. You can purchase it and immediately get out on the water. If you desire a very high-end spinning rod, consider rods targeted at bass anglers.
It can be surprising when somebody with a 7ft rod and a 12g lure can cast further than you can with a 12ft beach caster and a 6oz weight, and catches more mackerel even though you have on four hooks and they have one. Yet this happens all the time.
In a feeding frenzy, a heavy spinning rod with mackerel feathers is of course going to be a more productive rod, but when finesse is required, you’ll have the edge with lighter gear.
The beauty of spinning with light rods is the ability to fine-tune your approach and present lures in a way that makes them realistic to fish. It’s also just incredibly fun using lighter gear!
The difference with lighter bass rods
Light spinning rods offer more control over the depth you fish. This is due to the heightened awareness of your lure’s position in the water, a sensitivity that lighter gear provides. When using a heavy spinning rod or a beach caster, you realise when you’ve hit the bottom as your line goes slack. However, with a super light spinning rod, you can discern the type of weed your lure is bouncing over based on the resistance it generates. Devil’s hair creates a jolty resistance that comes through fairly easily. Kelp is a fixed snag that sways with the current, and light green weed in the water provides a constant weight and resistance. The vibrations they create in the butt of your rod allow you to identify the fish you’ve hooked within seconds. Lightweight lure fishing is an entirely different experience.
Over time, fishing lures have been shrinking to accommodate increasingly lightweight spinning rods. This trend is partly due to improved technology, resulting in rods with fast actions and low casting weights that possess significant strength. Additionally, the drags on reels can now be fine-tuned. This allowing the rod to absorb the optimal amount of energy from the fish. If you fish with an antiquated set up, you’ll find the rod feels clunky. The drags on these reels lack smoothness, exerting more pressure on your line. Consequently, you must fish with heavier lines and, ultimately, heavier lures. This situation is also true for the very low end of the market today. Lighter rods enable you to fish with smaller lures, which most UK fish species are particularly fond of.
Should I buy a spinning rod or a beach caster?
I would suggest that there are two different mindsets among anglers. Some prefer to catch the biggest fish they can and prioritise rod strength, while others focus on the fun of playing fish and prioritise sensitivity and flex. The first group are willing to sit and wait in anticipation for those fish. They go into tackle shops and buy a rod that could handle the biggest fish they might catch – the kind of fish you get once a year.
The second group optimise for the battle and are buying tackle for the *average fish* they will catch, and if they hook into that once-a-year fish, they are happy to give the fish the upper hand!
Can you buy an all-round fishing rod for bottom fishing and spinning?
Many anglers that enjoy spinning for mackerel with feathers and fishing on the bottom will buy a lightweight beach caster and use it for both purposes. The logic is that you can use it for spinning and catch four mackerel at a time, then switch over to fishing on the bottom into the evening, all with one rod.
The downside of this approach is that you have a rod that doesn’t allow for much of a fight while spinning and is clumsy to use. However, for some people the utility of such a rod makes it worthwhile.
How strong does my beach caster need to be to land huge fish?
Beach casters are utilitarian and possess ample power to land anything you hook in British waters, except tuna and some exceptionally large shark species. These rods are not strong because they need to land big fish, but because they need to cast heavy leads over long distances. If you have balanced gear, you can land a Blue Shark on a heavy fly fishing rod. However, a lightweight rod won’t hold a gripper lead in a current.
Can I use a bass rod for other species?
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