Wicked Weaponry

Professional bass anglers depend on their skills with various artificial lures across a multitude of venues to earn enough money to pay their bills. Because competitive fishing is their livelihood, they require and demand the very best rod and reel combination for every type of situation they might encounter. What seasoned professionals look for and how they make the best choice concerning technique specific rods is valuable information you don’t want to miss.


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With precision balance and strength, specialized rods provide anglers with maximum accuracy and control. Photo: Yasutaka Ogasawara

Before selecting a rod, freshwater anglers need to consider power, length and action. In Florida, many professionals prefer heavier, beefier tackle with stiff lower sections that provide enough backbone to set hooks and pull big bass from thick, matted vegetation. Anglers can also use these heavy rods for buzzing frogs across vegetation or throwing multiple-bait Alabama rigs. Just so we are straight, action describes how much a rod bends under pressure. A fast action means only the top third of the rod bends. A slow action rod starts to bend closer to the rod butt. Most bass anglers prefer a faster action because the flexible tip allows for increased casting accuracy.

Most bass anglers prefer a faster action because the flexible tip allows for increased casting accuracy.

“For fishing mats, anglers need a stiff rod, but I like a tip made of fiberglass,” explained Tommy Martin, a former Bassmaster Classic champion. “A rod with a flexible tip doesn’t rip a hole in the fish’s mouth when an angler sets the hook. For mat fishing, I prefer a 7’3″ heavy action Seeker flipping rod. The butt section is a mixture of fiberglass, graphite and composite materials. From midway up the rod to the tip is pure fiberglass. It’s the best flipping rod I’ve ever used!”

Heavy but flexible, fiberglass bends more than graphite, but also weighs substantially more. Fiberglass gives anglers considerable power, but not as much sensitivity. Anglers often use fiberglass rods for throwing sight baits such as frogs, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits or topwaters. They also work great for yanking big bass from thick cover at short range when flipping shallow mats.

Graphite rods came on the market in the early 1970s and replaced fiberglass for many applications. With superior sensitivity, graphite works best for dragging Texas rigs across the bottom and when anglers can’t see the baits but rely upon feel and sensitivity to detect strikes. With a stiff graphite rod, an angler can also achieve a solid hookset, but sometimes anglers want and need a little give in a rod. This is again where a composite rod enters the equation, which is the ideal compromise between strength and flexibility.

“Glass is a much better choice than graphite with any fast-moving bait equipped with treble hooks,” advised Paul Elias, a Bassmaster Classic Champion and Seeker Rods Pro Team member. “Glass has so much forgiveness that anglers enjoy a much better bite-to-boat ratio than with graphite. With graphite, many anglers pull the bait away from the fish. It used to be that fiberglass was too limber and too flexible, but that’s simply not the case any longer.”

Most anglers like a technique specific rod with a fast tip for throwing topwater baits, buzzbaits and jerkbaits. With treble hooks, anglers don’t need as much force to set the hook as they would with a large, single hook embedded in plastic. Moreover, when the rod gives a bit, it allows the fish enough time to take the bait. A little hesitation leads to increased hooksets when fishing topwater. In addition, many anglers throwing topwaters prefer shorter rods with short handles that don’t get in the way when working artificial baits across the surface.

Among the most versatile baits on the market, spinnerbaits can entice bass from top to bottom. Sometimes anglers almost work them like Texas rigs. At other times, they wake spinnerbaits just under the surface almost like topwater baits. A largemouth usually hits a spinnerbait with vicious force, so sensitivity doesn’t matter as much as power when it comes to pulling big fish from thick cover. Therefore, many anglers prefer to throw spinnerbaits and buzzbaits on fiberglass rods with more flexible tips.

“A glass rod with a fast tip works great for spinnerbait fishing,” Martin recommended. “In many places, accuracy is not as important as distance and the ability to cover a lot of water. In Florida, anglers often fish spinnerbaits in open areas with aquatic grass, so they need to make long casts. I like a 7’3″ medium-heavy somewhat stiff fiberglass rod for throwing spinnerbaits long distances. When a bass comes up behind a buzzbait or spinnerbait and smashes it, the tip gives a little. That feeds the bait into the bass’s mouth. Graphite will pull the bait back away from the fish because it’s so stiff.”

“Very few times in bass fishing, particularly in Florida with so much cover and really big fish in most lakes, does an angler want a light action rod,” Elias explained. “However, a light spinning outfit comes in handy for fishing light line, light baits, and for skipping baits under docks, low-hanging trees and similar cover.”

Of course, not everyone can afford a technique specific rod for tossing every different lure type in every situation. If an angler can only afford one rod for bass fishing in Florida, a 6’6″ to 7′ medium to medium-heavy casting rod makes a good choice. Novice fishermen or those who can’t throw baitcasters should select a similar spinning outfit loaded with 12 to 15 lb. test monofilament line or comparable braid.

A great rod in the hands of an unskilled angler won’t put more fish in the boat, but a great angler with a low quality rod will be limited in their approach and presentation. No rod can guarantee fish, but using the best piece of equipment possible for any given situation gives anglers a much-needed edge.