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Rod Selection Guide

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A friend of mine wrote this a few years back, and while it probably needs a little updating, it still has some good information for those new or newer to fishing and trying to get an idea of what rod may be appropriate for a specific technique. 



Rod Selection Guide

I’ve seen a lot of requests lately for a technique specific rod guide, so this is a general (and I stress the word general) guide to picking a technique specific rod.

Before we get into the details, let me first say, rod choice, while based on some generalizations, is mostly personal preference.  This is mostly a guide to help those who have no idea where to start.   In this guide, I’ll cover a few rod basics such as power & action, and then I’ll go more detail about each technique.

First off, the difference between action and power:  These two terms are commonly used interchangeably, but they shouldn’t be as they are two completely different terms.  Power (rated in Ultra Light, Light, Medium Light, Medium, Medium Heavy, Heavy, and Extra Heavy) is the rod blank’s resistance to bending.  Some refer to this as a rod’s “backbone.”  Action (rated in Slow, Moderate, Moderate Fast, Fast and Extra Fast) describes how the rod flexes, or how much of the rod flexes.  On a Fast (abbreviated F) action rod, the top 1/3 or 1/4 of the rod will flex, while on a Slow (S) action rod, most of the rod will flex.  A slow action rod is sometimes referred to as “parabolic” in action.

Buzzbaits – 7’; M; F – A 7’ rod is going to give you good casting distance.  The M power is a great power for casting most buzzbaits with enough backbone to set the hook. A F action gives a great tip action for tossing buzzbaits.

Carolina Rig – 7’; MH-H; F – A 7’ rod is preferable to throw a c-rig because it is long enough to cast the up to 4-5’ leader used when fishing a c-rig.  When fishing a c-rig, a heavy weight (usually 1/2 – 1 oz) is used, you generally want to choose a heavier power rod.  Lighter C-rigs can be fished on a MH, but most prefer a H power.  C-rigs may be one of the most difficult rigs to cast in bass fishing.  A Fast action rod is a good choice for c-rigs.  It gives a good balance between a MF action and an XF.  The F action allows you to slightly lob cast the c-rig while still providing good hook sets.

Crankbaits – 6’6”-7’6”; M-MH; MS-MF – When fishing crankbaits, wide range of rod lengths can be used.  For shorter distance, accuracy oriented casts (like to a dock) a 6’6”-7’ rod works great.  For long casting to cover a lot of water, a 7’-7’6” can be used.  The 7’ rod is a great balance of the two, and a good all around choice for a crankbait rod.  For lighter crankbaits, a M power rod is perfect, but as you move up to cranks over 1/2oz up to around 1 oz, a MH rod becomes a better choice.  Power can range from a MS fiberglass rod to a MF graphite crankbait rod.  A Moderate action rod is a good all around choice for fishing cranks.

Dropshot* – 6’6”-7’2”; ML-M; F-XF – Most dropshot rods fall between 6’8” and 7’2”.   Length depends a lot of what depth you’ll be fishing. A shorter rod may be preferable for shallow depths, while a longer rod for deeper water.  The power will also greatly depend on what depth you’re going to be fishing.  For shallower dropshotting, an 1/8 – 3/16oz weight and a ML rod will work great. But when you need up the weight to 1/4-1/2oz in very deep water or fast current, you may want to go with a M power rod.  Either F or XF will work great for dropshots.

Flipping – 7’4”-8’; MH-H; XF – Most people prefer a longer rod for flipping with the norm being 7’6”.  Depending on how heavy the cover you’re going to be fishing is, you can use a MH or H power rod.  For action, an XF is your best bet.

Football Jigs – 6’10”-7’4”; MH; F-XF – For football jigs, you’ll want a longer rod of at least 6’10” for the long casts associated with football jig fishing.  The longer rod, even up to 7’4” helps greatly for long distance hook sets as well.  A MH power rod is a good power for football jigs and provides enough power for setting the hook.  A F or XF action rod will be fine for casting football jigs seeing as most are 1/2 oz and can go up to 1-1/2oz.

Frogging – 7’-8’; H-XH; XF – Frog fishing is another technique that makes use of long casts, so the longer 7’+ rods really help here.  The longer rods also help in setting the hook.  Since frogs are normally fished in thick and heavy cover, a H to XH rod is a good choice.   An XF action rod is ideal for frog fishing.

Jerkbaits/Ripbaits – 6’-6’8”; M-MH; MF-F – Some people who work their jerkbaits with a downward rod motion prefer a shorter rod to keep from hitting the water, and other, who work them with a sideways rod movement, normally prefer the longer end of the spectrum.  Depending on the size, or more specifically, the weight of the jerkbait, a M or MH will work good.  As for action, a MF is a good general action for jerkbaits, but some prefer a F.

Jigs – 6’10”-7’2”; MH-H; F-XF – Casting jigs is easily accomplished with a 7’ rod, or one close to it.  Depending on the size of the jig and the cover you’ll be fishing, a MH or H rod is perfect.  For jigs, a F or XF action is also ideal.

Lipless Crankbaits – 7’; M-MH; MF-F – This is a tougher lure to suggest a correct rod for.  A 7’ rod is generally a good rod for throwing traps.  A M or MH rod is good for throwing lipless cranks, yet the MH may be a better choice if you’re going to be ripping them out of the grass.  Again, a MF or F action is fine for lipless cranks and which you choose is more personal preference.

Pitching – 7’-7’6”; MH-H; F-XF – Many people like to pitch on the same rod as they flip, which is perfectly fine.  But other (like myself) prefer a shorter rod than the standard flipping stick, and choose something around 7’-7’2”.  Just like flipping, depending on the weight of your jig or sinker if you’re pitching plastics, a MH or H power rod is a good choice.  And also like Flipping, stick with a F or XF action rod.

Senko – 7’-7’4”; MH; F-XF – Most would lump this is with T-rigs because they are fairly similar, but I’ve found that most peoples’ ideal Senko rod is a lot more specific than a t-rig rod.  So, 7’-7’4” are probably the most popular lengths for Senkos, allowing you to cast them a long ways.  A MH is the ideal power for Senkos to get a good hook set and possible pull fish out of cover if you’re fishing the Senko in pockets in weeds.  A F or XF action rod is preferable, especially the F, to let the rod load up and cast good with a lighter weightless Senko.

Texas Rig – 6’6”-7’4”; M-MH; F-XF – When it comes to length, there is a large selection when it comes to t-rig rods.  Some prefer a 6’6”, some prefer a long 7’ or even 7’2”-7’4”.  This is mainly personal preference here.  A M power is good for lighter t-rig, and a MH is good for heavier ones.  Always use a F or XF action for t-rigs.  I may go with the F for lighter t-rigs and the XF for heavier ones.

Shaky Head* – 6’8”-7’2”; M; F-XF – A good all purpose length for shaky heads is 6’8”-7’.  This provides good distance when needed, but decent accuracy when casting precisely to a laydown.  M power is probably good to cover most weights of shaky heads, but if you’re using an unusually large one(over 1/4oz), you may want to go to a MH.  The Fast action provides the right tip action to throw lighter 1/16 oz shaky heads, yet still throw larger ones.

Spinnerbait – 6’-7’4”; M-MH; M-XF – Spinnerbait rods are probably the most diverse group of technique specific rods.  Ranging from 6’ to over 7’, and M to MH, and from Moderate to XF power, you almost can’t choose the wrong rod.  What you like to do with spinnerbaits is greatly going to affect your choice in a spinnerbait rod.  If you use it as a long cast, search lure, a 7’+ MH MF rod may be a good choice.  But if you like shorter distance, accurate casts to docks and cover, a 6’6” or shorter M-MH, F-XF action rod may be best.

Topwater Plugs – 6’-6’8”; M-MH; F – This are almost the same specs as a jerkbait rod.  And just like a jerkbait rod, the length depends on how you work topwater plugs.  The M or MH power works fine depending on the weight of the lure’s you’re throwing.  And F action is a good all around choice for throwing topwater plugs.

Wacky Rig* - 7’; M; F – 7’ is a great length for casting pretty much anything you’d wacky rig.  The medium power is plenty to handle heavier lures like 6” wacky rigged Senkos, but light enough to throw a wacky rigged trickworm.  The Fast action provides the right tip action to throw most of these baits as well.

*Recommended for use on spinning gear.

Remember, these are just a general guideline for picking the right rod.  Remember, while the guidelines are helpful, they aren’t written in stone and it comes down to personal preference.




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Very nice.  Saves having to look up each technique individually.

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