Finding The Best Bass Fishing Rods for Your Budget
Bass fishing is one of the most popular fishing sports in the world. Regardless of where you are at there is going to be some water nearby that is holding bass.
Even better is that regardless or your skill level, the amount of time you have to spend on the water, or even the amount of funds you are willing to put in, you can catch bass.
Whatever your status is as a bass angler, you’re obviously going to need a fishing rod. It’s a big decision, and in this article, we are going to take a look at some common components and characteristics of bass rods that are worth purchasing and also review five different rods we are confident will perform trip after trip in the lake or river chasing bass.
|#2||St. Croix Triumph||4|
|#3||Ugly Stik Elite||4.4|
|#4||St. Croix Mojo Inshore||4.8|
|#5||Temple Fork Outfitters||4.2|
Bass Rod Buyer’s Guide
In this section, we are going to take a look at some common parts and characteristics of bass rods that you should be aware and have a decent understanding of before making a purchase.
It’s also important to understand that all of these characteristics blend rather than stand apart on a fishing rod. You have to take everything together to understand how a rod is going to perform, including a suitable fishing reel.
What you should pay attention to:
- Rod Action and Power
When looking at a bass rod, the length is going to be a factor in several performance characteristics.
The first is casting distance. Longer rods can generate more power in the cast and can launch your lure at greater distances.
The counter to this is that longer rods are often less accurate with traditional casting techniques compared to shorter rods.
The more popular bass rods often fall between 6 and 8’ in length.
Most modern fishing rods, especially those for bass fishing are not that heavy. The materials used and the technology that now goes into the tapering of the rod cuts down on the amount of weight without sacrificing power.
What matters is that the rod is balanced and you are going to be able to spend a day on the water using techniques that require constant casting without being fatigued by the weight.
It’s also important that the weight matches up with the size reel you are using. Having a balance between rod and reel weight can improve the rods casting performance, including distance and accuracy.
Most bass rods are going to be made from a type of graphite material, with some maybe being a mixture of graphite and fiberglass. Graphite just provides better performance specs that are more important for typical bass fishing. It is a very lightweight material that has more than enough strength to land the biggest large or smallmouth.
Graphite is also a very sensitive material that allows you to detect bumps or light takes that sometimes comes with bass fishing.
There are several parts to a rod handle that we think are important to consider. The first aspect of the rod handle is the reel seat. You need a sturdy seat that is going to lock a reel into place securely.
There should be some screw tight locking mechanism, and we also like to see a sturdy reel hood that sits over the feet of the reel and keeps it locked into place.
The second part to a rod handle is the grip material. We are very pro cork grips. When a high-quality cork grip is used, you get the best comfort, and you will have excellent grip in any weather condition.
The two most popular types of fishing rods for bass fishing is the spinning rod and baitcasting rod.
A spinning rod/reel combo is a better option for newer anglers who don’t quite feel like putting the time in to learn and master a baitcasting reel.
Spinning combos are great for bass and use with more finesse fishing techniques such as jigging.
Baitcasting combos are great for high casting and retrieval techniques and being able to use heavier line and lure at further distances. There is a learning curve with a baitcaster, but if you are serious about bass fishing, the baitcaster is probably the most versatile option.
Rod Action and Power
If there is one of the most misinterpreted aspects of fishing rods it is what the action and power of a rod mean.
The action refers to where along the length of the rod it flexes or bends when pressure is applied. For whatever reason, we label the different types of actions regarding speed.
- Fast action: Fast action only flexes in the tip of the rod. They can cast further, but are not very accurate at close range, especially when you factor in a longer rod. A lot of bass rods come in this action because of the sensitivity and the ability to set the hook at a moments notice with little movement.
- Medium action: Medium action rods flex in the mid section and tip of the rod. This action is a good all round beginner rod because of its versatility. It can get some distance on casts but also performs admirably at mid to short range casts.
- Slow action: Not great bass rods, let’s leave it at that.
While action refers to where on the rod flex occurs, the power is how much pressure it will take to cause the rod to bend at those specific areas.
Heavy power rated rods takes a lot of force to bend and is better suited for casting heavy lures and fighting larger fish.
On the other hand, a rod with lighter power is going to be more sensitive to takes and better for finesse fishing.
For general large and smallmouth bass fishing, medium to heavy are all fine with our favorite being in the medium to medium-heavy range.
Our Picks for the Best Bass Fishing Rods
|#2||St. Croix Triumph||4|
|#3||Ugly Stik Elite||4.4|
|#4||St. Croix Mojo Inshore||4.8|
|#5||Temple Fork Outfitters||4.2|
This article is about finding a suitable bass rod, without spending the monthly rent to own.
That being said, we’re also not going to throw out the cheapest rods we have come across and try to sell them as being anything other than a piece of junk. These rods are going to catch fish, and they are going to perform on the water and keep some extra cash in your pocket at the same time.
Fenwick Eagle Spinning Rods
Regarding models available, you have a lot of options and can find a rod that will fit your spin fishing style perfectly.
Rod models range between 5’6″ to 8′. All are available in either one or two piece sets. These models also vary in their action and power.
The Eagle uses a mid-modulus graphite in all of its models.
It features an excellent taper and results in a rod that is sensitive but still has the power to put the hammer down on larger and more aggressive bass.
The Fenwick Eagle uses a unique B2 burled cork for the handle grip. It has a similar feel as traditionally used cork, but they claim it to be more chip and dent resistant. We haven’t used it enough to see how it performs in the long run compared to traditional cork.
The reel seat and handle pretty well, but we have noticed the reel come loose several times after repeated casting.
The Fenwick Eagle is available in rod actions ranging from ultralight to medium heavy power.
They are also available in several rod actions from moderate to fast action. What this gives you is the ability to choose a spinning rod that can deliver extremely light or heavier lures.
Regarding casting performance, the Eagle excels in medium range casting with lures in its range of performance. Longer rods will give you a little more distance, and the accuracy is pretty darn good for a rod in this price range.
Overall the action is smooth, and it is a pleasure to cast all day on the water.
- Options for rod action and power
- Nice sensitivity
- Smooth action and casting performance
- Can cast wide range of lure weights
- Durable guides
- Decent handling
- B2 cork is suspect
- Loose reel
Fenwick’s Eagle is not the only model that has received kind words. AETOS fly rod has similarly received good words and won our hearts as well as you might notice from the Fenwick Aetos fly rod review here.
St. Croix Triumph Spinning Rods
There is no limit to the type of spinning rod you can have regarding length, action, and power.
We feel this level of options lets you get a specific bass rod to match the type of bass fishing you have in mind.
Most rods are either 1 or 2 piece blanks, but there are four piece models available if you are looking for a rod that can travel well.
These rods are made from high-quality graphite material that provides excellent sensitivity as well as power to the rod. The finishes and wraps used on the rod also provide excellent durability along with the hard, aluminum oxide guides along the rod’s length.
We like the handles on these rods and think that they handle exceptionally well on the water. They utilize blank Fuji reel seats with a single uplocking mechanism and silver hoods that hold your reel in securely. It also uses quality, split grip cork handles that we like the feel of.
Regarding power, they have models ranging from ultralight to medium heavy.
We would recommend staying away from the ultralight and light for serious bass fishing, but the medium and medium heavy power rods provide more than enough lifting power and durability to handle large and aggressive bass.
That’s not to say anything lighter are not good rods, but for smallmouth and largemouth, and ultralight or light just isn’t the best choice.
All of the rods that are best served for bass fishing are tapered to be fast action. What this tapering and action give you regarding the rod’s performance on the water is a sensitive rod with excellent hook setting power.
It makes these rods great for detecting very subtle hits, and it’s also great for ripping bass and lures out of heavier cover.
The graphite material and excellent tapering give this rod excellent balance which helps with the rod’s ability to cast easily.
Our only issue with the rod is the accuracy at short ranges. It comes with the territory, but we felt we needed to state it regardless. It’s without a doubt, a high functioning spinning reel at a fraction very reasonable price.
- Lots of model options
- Excellent sensitivity and power
- Great hook setting power
- Quality handle material
- Very balanced
- Smooth action and casting
- Short range accuracy could be better
Ugly Stik Elite Casting Rod
Ugly Stik, in recent years, has upped their game in rod performance and is the reason the Ugly Stik Elite Casting Rod made our list.
It is also one of the most affordable casting rods available that will not disappoint once it is on the water.
The models available for this rod are a little more limited compared to others on the list,
but you still have some choices to make regarding power and action.
You have the option for ultralight to medium-heavy power. Regarding action, the rods vary between medium-fast to extra fast with fast setting in between.
All rod models are going to vary between 6’6″ and 7 ‘, and we can’t tell a huge difference regarding casting between the two different lengths.
With the action, for bass fishing, we like the medium-fast and fast action actions. The hook setting power on these rods is pretty good, and when paired with the ultra-fast action rods you are likely to miss a lot of strikes, especially when fish are bumping baits rather than taking them whole.
Regarding strength and durability, the Ugly Stik Elite is up there among the best. The graphite and glass modulus gives the rod a really strong backbone.
This type of strength in most rods would make us wary of poor sensitivity, but Ugly Stik counters this with the Ugly Stik Clear Tip that gives you decent tip sensitivity to detect bottom structures as well as light takes.
We do have some problems with the balance of the rod with a lot of reels, especially when casting all day. It’s not bad enough to keep you from having success, but it’s going to be a bit fatiguing if casting all day with heavier lines and lures.
- Ugly Stik durability
- Very very affordable
- Decent hook setting power
- Decent casting
- Very powerful rod
- Sensitivity is better than expected
- Overall balance could be improved
- Short range accuracy could be better
St. Croix Mojo Casting Rods
For the St. Croix Mojo, we have to briefly touch on the design of the rod. It has a beautiful and unique black cherry blank finish that just looks awesome paired with the matte black Fuji ECS reel seat and cork handle.
Something that stands out to us with these rods is that St. Croix has gone the extra mile and designed each casting rod to be used with a specific style of lure and the techniques.
A few examples are rods designed for use with jerkbait, top water, flipping, or jigs. This does not mean each rod is a one trick pony, but if you have a specific technique you love to use on the water, St. Croix makes it very easy to choose the rod that fits your style.
These different models have a wide range of lengths from 6’8” to 7’11”. They range from medium to heavy power and moderate-fast to fast action tapers.
This is a fantastically balanced bass rod. The tapering, SCII graphite, and IPC technology all combine to provide a smooth action rod that greatly enriches it casting ability.
While the accuracy, distance, and lure weight vary by rod, the smoothness is universal.
Along with balance is durability. The SCII graphite provides sensitivity, but its tapering also gives it a strong backbone that can handle just about any bass you can hook up with on the lake.
It has hard aluminum oxide guides with double-plated black chrome frames, and the flex coat slow-cure finish make this a rod that is difficult to break in normal fishing scenarios.
The Fuji ECS reel seat locks your reel in tightly and has a smooth and easy to handle finish. With the trigger guard, you have maximum control of the rod and reel.
We also love the quality split grip cork handles that have been designed specifically for each rod model and the technique that are best used for.
- Match the rod with your favorite techniques
- A unique color scheme
- Very durable
- Well balanced
- Excellent handling
- Very smooth casting performance
- A tad more expensive
TFO BVK Fly Rod
When you think of fly fishing, species such as trout, salmon, and tarpon often come to mind.
Thankfully, the fly rod is becoming more common on bass lakes and rivers.
Temple Fork Outfitter’s BVK fly rod was designed by Lefty Kreh, one of the best bass fly fisherman that has ever walked the Earth. His knowledge and experience of fly fishing for bass shows in this BVK fly rod.
These rods are available in 7-12wt rods between 9’ and 10’ with weights ranging from 3.1 to 4.6oz. For bass fishing, we would limit the selection down to the 7-9wt rods.
For the size of the fish, distances needed, and lure sizes, these rod weights give you the best performance.
This is a fast action rod that can deliver big flies at incredible distances which are often needed when fishing large lakes or rivers. At mid to long range casts, this fly rod delivers in the accuracy department and maintains tight loops throughout the cast.
The BVK rod also features a softer tip, compared to the rest of the rod, which allows decent short range casting though still not it’s strength. The soft tip sacrifices a bit of sensitivity, but it’s not so much that you can’t detect anything but vicious strikes.
BVK rods utilize anodized, stainless steel snake guides as well as an uplocking reel seat with a carbon fiber insert to reduce rod weight. While the reel seat keeps your reel in tight, we have had issues with the threading of the reel seat, and at times the uplocking nut seems to get crossed on the threads making it a pain to line back up.
Overall, the BVK fly rod offers casting and handling performance that rivals a lot of high-end fly rods, but it is half the price or less than those other rods.
- Performs like a high-end fly rod with the high-end price tag
- Fantastic mid to long range casting
- Unusually decent performance at short range
- Can handle large flies
- Can pick up lots of line
- Reel seat threading
- Would like more tip sensitivity
- Poor swing weight
And The Best One Is?
Before we wrap this article up and let you get out on the water, we like to take our five choices and somehow pick out top choice for the best bass rod for your budget.
While difficult, we have to give the edge to the St. Croix Triumph Spinning Rods. After factoring in overall performance, affordability, and its ability to be picked up and used by just about any angler regardless of experience or skill level makes it our top choice for the best bass rod for your budget.
There are a ton of models available with each of them giving you a smooth action that enhances the casting of these rods. They are sensitive but still maintain the strength and durability that is needed when chasing bass.
The hook setting power of these spinning rods is phenomenal and that are a joy to handle on the water for even the longest fishing expeditions.
While we have our pick for the top rod on the list, we have presented four other options that are all affordable and still maintain the performance specs that will allow you to handle them easily on the water and provide you the means to land trophy bass without taking a chunk out of your wallet.