When I was a first became interested in bass fishing as a kid, I had the same question and no one to ask. My high school fishing buddy, Hank, had a subscription to Sports Afield Magazine and would share with me every month the articles by the Fishing Editor Homer Circle. Well, Mr. Circle started Hank and me on the right path with an article on picking the proper rod for bass.
Fast forward 20 years, and I was working a booth at the Bass Pro Fishing Fair in Springfield, Mo. With great pleasure, I shared the booth with Homer Circle, so when I was asked the question, “How do I choose a bass rod?” I had the pleasure of having Mr. Circle’s knowledge with me as I answered.
When helping folks with rod selection, the first thing I tell them is you need to start with two rods. One rod is for single-hook lures such as jigs, plastic worms, spinnerbaits,etc. This rod should be as heavy action as you can comfortably use. For most, this will be a medium-heavy to heavy action. With a single hook, you need the stiff rod to get the proper hook set. Through the years, I’ve seen some really good fishermen losing fish because their rod was too limber to set the hook -- and keep it set.
The second bass rod needs to be used when fishing with treble hooks: crank baits, jerk baits, top waters.
I use a medium action for these lures, as the heavy action will tear the treble hooks out of the fish. I sadly remember some really big bass I would fight almost to the boat and lose them as the treble hooks pulled out. It was because I was using too heavy action.
Rod length will depend on the individual and will probably change as your angling progresses. On either the medium action for treble hooks or the heavy action for the single hook, I wouldn’t go shorter than a 6-foot rod and would prefer you use 6.6- to 7-foot rod. Length is something you can get the feel for while shopping. Put it in your hand, imitate a cast and hook set. If it doesn’t feel good, it’s probably not for you. With the large selection to choose from, don’t settle for what’s not right for you. What I use will be different that what my fishing buddy uses, and they will probably both be different than yours.
Start with these two rods, and then you’ll start understanding the specialty rods that you’ll want in the future, and it won’t be long before you’ll be like the rest of us bass fishermen -- minimum 10 rods in the boat at all times.
In June, Homer Circle passed away at the age of 97. When I talk about fishing rods, I’ll remember him teaching two pond-fishing high school kids to tie a Coke bottle to the end of a rod and pick it up to see if it had enough strength to use as a bass rod. That got me started!
Thanks, Uncle Homer.