If you ever want to get into bass fishing, you will certainly need a good rod and reel. Some people prefer not to purchase them separately either. This is for a few reasons. One, they cost much more individually than together. Second, it is very hard to match a rod with the proper reel. Third, it is hard to know if you are getting a good quality product for your money.
The best bass fishing rod and reel combos are ones that are made by reputable brands. For the beginner who is just starting to catch largemouth bass, they will need a good and versatile setup that will cover a lot of situations. They will usually do very well on the water if the setup can throw frogs, jigs, soft plastics, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits.
If it can do that, it is something that will probably serve its purpose well for most situations. This is a top 10 list of what we consider to be very versatile and very effective for bass fishing regardless if you catch largemouth, smallmouth, or spotted bass.
1. Abu Garcia Black Max – Best All-Around
If you want a great setup that will do just about everything, consider an Abu Garcia Black Max baitcasting combo. The rod is made from an extremely durable blank which uses graphite. The rod comes in a range of sizes to choose from. Somewhere in the 7-foot range is the most versatile.
The extremely strong rod will take on and win battles with some huge fish if you ever hook into one of a decent size. It has a medium-heavy power which will allow you the sensitivity to fish almost anything in the tackle box.
The rod is in a single piece so no separation will occur during fights. The reel is equally as awesome. It is made from machine forged aluminum which is the superior choice for fishing reels. It has a 4 steel ball bearing system with a single roller bearing. The price for what you get is also extremely nice. The price generally varies depending on which supplier you choose to do deals with. It usually costs anywhere from $60 to $80 or 46 to 62 pounds sterling. This is an incredibly great price for any baitcasting setup.
It could even be considered a budget product for those looking to save money. Abu Garcia is a very reliable supplier of fishing tackle and almost anybody can look at their positive resume to ensure they are serious about quality. The Black Max is something very special. You can use them to flip jigs, retrieve spinnerbaits, swim swimbaits, burn crankbaits back in, and even for heavy frog fishing.
2. Ugly Stik GX2 Baitcasting Version – Best Value
If you are only going after one rod, you probably want one that you can buy and then never buy another bass fishing rod again. One that will hold up to anything, not break, and only require minimal maintenance for years to come. One that fits these criteria perfectly is the Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 baitcasting model. It is an incredibly spectacular and reliable combo.
For anybody who is not yet familiar with the workhorse that is the GX2, there is one thing that completely sets it apart from most competitors out there. That is durability. The GX2 is so incredibly durable that it is almost impossible to break it. Many have tried and many have failed. What makes it so durable?
The rod is constructed from a mixture of graphite and fiberglass which results in a strong, sensitive, rod. It comes in many sizes, enough to get one right for you. The most basic is a 6 foot 6. The GX2 has a medium power class. It is a one-piece rod that will not come apart. The reel is made out of aluminum. It also has one ball bearing. If anything, the reason to give it a try is the price.
This is one of the best rods for the money because it costs so little. It only costs around $50 to $70 or 39 to 55 pounds sterling. Shakespeare is one of the greatest names in fishing gear too. They have a sizable resume for quality, reliability, and its hard to find a professional fisherman that does not use baitcasters or some of their other products in some way. They are some of the best manufacturers money can buy.
3. Lew’s American Hero Speedstick
Lew’s American Hero Speedstick is a great versatile choice. It also comes in some very nice paint jobs. Perfect for those anglers that love cosmetics on their fishing gear. It is made from an RTI graphite blank which is used in the finest of rods.
There is plenty of sizes available for it too. It’s power class also comes in medium, medium-heavy, and heavy. The medium-heavy model is sufficient for most techniques.
It is not a two-piece so no worries about it separating during your fight. The reel is extremely unique in that it is made of graphite instead of aluminum. This means you will not have any of the worries that you would with a metal reel. No rust, corrosion, or other problems. The ball bearing system is nice too because it uses 5 ball bearings. You can expect to pay anywhere from $80 to $90 or 64 to 72 pounds sterling.
Lews has come a long way in recent years. They now claim fame as one of the “big fishing gear brands”. Lew’s have been creating great fishing equipment for many, many, years. Lew’s is owned by Do Outdoors Inc. These are the same ones that own Strike King lures. Some of their pro staff include bass legend Kevin Vandam, Mr. Crappie Wally Marshall, and six-time bass master champion Todd Faircloth.
4. Quantum Team KVD
The Quantum team KVD rod and reel are designed by the world’s best bass Angler, Kevin VanDam. This is one they are very excited about. It is very versatile and can be used for most techniques on the water. By his own admittance, Kevin has fished with this rod himself and it possesses a lot of the features of a very high-end product. It is a composite rod with a lot of backbone.
It comes in a single size to avoid complicating things for a new angler. The rod s six and nine inches long, which is a little on the longer side. The power class is also one-sided. It is a medium-heavy power which is good for almost everything.
It has a great taper and a great tip on it. The rod is a one-piece rod. The reel is made of finely machined aluminum that will hold up forever. It comes equipped with 8 ball bearings which will completely solve most of the backlash issues with other rods and reels. This one was designed by Kevin Vandam after teaming up with Quantum. They wanted to design a product that has many of the same features as a very expensive item, but at a price point, that normal people can afford.
It will run you anywhere from $90 to $120 (depending on where you get it) or 71 to 95 pounds sterling. This a great beginner’s rod. In fact, this is the primary audience in which it was designed to appeal to. Veteran fisherman will love it also because it has so many helpful features to offer.
5. Abu Garcia Pro Max
The Pro Max model from Abu Garcia is truly one worth getting. This is one that is capable of doing it all. The design takes inspiration from a few of the company’s other models, the Orra and Revo. It can be used for everything from Texas rigs to cranking, to frog fishing. Its a very high quality, versatile, rod.
This is because it has a very solid graphite rod blank that loads up very well but it is still very sensitive. A couple of sizes are offered. A 6 foot 6 and 7-foot version. The power classes up for grabs are medium and medium-heavy. It is also a one-piece rod.
The reel is made out of solid aluminum so it may be a little heavy. It has 7 stainless steel ball bearings and one roller bearing to help you on the cast and fight. To be honest, this Pro Max is a little expensive. Expect to fork over a pretty little sum before it is yours. Typically, it would cost around $80 to $120 or 64 to 96 pounds sterling. The Pro Max may be out of many angler’s budgets. If you can afford it though, it is very nice to have on the boat or bank. Abu Garcia is a very reputable company.
6. Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Version
The GX2 from Ugly Stik also comes in a spinning version. This is awesome for all of the same reasons the other one is. Durability is the name of the GX2’s game. Because of this, it is much easier to teach kids how to fish.
Using spinning rods is generally easier to do than messing around with tension knobs, friction brakes, and other very complicated mechanisms on common baitcasting rods.
It can even work for you if you are just starting to fish. You do not have to worry about it breaking or it getting damaged in shipping. A spinning rod will be easier to use when you are just starting out and you may not want to fork over an arm and a leg to purchase one either.
Like its baitcasting counterpart, it has a fiberglass constructed body that is incredibly sensitive yet tough as nails. Also, it comes in a range of sizes to fit virtually every angler with the most common being 6 foot 6 inches. It is a single-piece blank. It has 3 ball bearings and a one-way clutch. The price can vary depending on a few factors but in general, it is one of the cheapest, highest quality, models out there. Starting at $40 all the way up to $80 or 32 to 64 pounds sterling, the value is great.
As stated earlier, the workers at Shakespeare fishing do not have to go out of their way to prove themselves to any would-be critical angler. They let their reputation, products, knowledge and customer service speak for themselves. This is what has brought them so much success.
7. Lew’s American Hero Speed Spin
For all of the same reasons that the baitcasting version of the American Hero is awesome, so is the spinning version. It uses the same RTI graphite blank. It comes in enough sizes for literally any situation. Longer and shorter.
The power class is available in medium models. Unlike the baitcasting version, it is made out of two pieces instead of one. Even so, spinning rods are designed in such a way that this makes little difference. The spool is made out of aluminum while the rotor is made out of graphite.
It has 5 stainless steel ball bearings for when a fish bites. Another great thing about the Speed Spin is the price. It can usually vary but it is usually on $60 to $80 or 48 to 64 pounds sterling. That isn’t really too bad for a great spinning reel when you consider that using a spinning rod is priceless. As mentioned earlier, Lew’s is owned by Do Outdoors, the same ones who employ some of the greatest names in fishing. You can be sure that Lew’s can offer something for every price point.
How To Select A Rod And Reel Bass Combo
Price And Budgeting: Before we go into anything else, let’s talk about price. Which combos you can afford will have a heavy impact on which one you decide to get. Let’s face it. The best rods and reels on the market are, for the most part, expensive. If you want a very good set up, regardless if it is baitcasting or spinning, you will need to fork over some money.
This is just how it works. Just like with many other industries, products within the fishing industry have great products and poor products. You get what you pay for. If you want something that will last you a long time, making the additional investment now could save you from purchasing five more reels later. Also, inferior products often line the shelves alongside good quality rods. This makes budgeting even harder. Consider if it is worth it.
Rod Quality: The fishing rod makes up even more than half of a two-sided coin. The other side of the coin is the reel. While many can get away with skipping a pro model fishing reel, never do it on the rod. Never. What is absolutely everything? The fishing rod with a heavy emphasis on its quality. Poorer quality rod blanks break easily, use inferior materials, and are quite literally junk.
They will not last you for very long. You need to have a rod that is superb. The rod provides lure sensitivity, accurate casting, great hook sets, and on and on and on. Stay away from brand names that are not reputable. Buy from good companies that generally care about good products. Try to consider brands like Lews, Quantum, Abu Garcia, Daiwa, and Zebco.
A good rule of thumb is to choose rods from the same trusted companies that you would buy reels from. If they provide good reels, their rods are almost certainly as good or better. This is what you want. Quality from reliable sources including pro fishermen.
Reel Quality: Even though the right setup only has two parts, a rod and reel, and the rod is the most important, reels should not be overlooked on purpose. Pairing that great rod with a great reel allows you to get the most out of both. Most of the time, great fishing rods do not perform as well if the reel is not high quality. On the opposite end of the spectrum, great fishing reels will do little on a cheap rod.
You likely won’t land that lunker if it pounds on your lure and breaks your spool mechanism. Also, the reel is what gives you the drag. Refusing to have a quality one also limits your ability to fight fish as well because of it. Also, the fishing reel determines how much fishing line you can hold in addition to how well you can cast. It determines how fast you retrieve and what pound test you can use on it. Again, receive them from suppliers who offer exceptional quality and steer clear from cheap fakes.
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