There we go. Right at the base of that tree. Come here, buddy. That's a good fish. Come here. Give me your face. Ooh, that's a good fish. Nice. Got him on a tube right at the roof of the mouth just like you're supposed to. Right there. Textbook, right at the base of a tree, base of a flooded tree. Couldn't resist my tube, could you? It's a good fish. I'll just let him go.
Hey, folks, Glenn May here with BassResource.com. And you guys, if you've been to our forums, you'll know that they're super active. Tons of people are on them. They're the most popular bass fishing forums in the world, period. Now, I'm not bragging, that's the truth. You see hundreds of people on it. And at any given time of the day or week, sometimes over 1,000. Because of that, we get a lot of questions, a lot of them. And a lot of them happen to fall into the camp of what rod, reel, line should I use for a certain technique? So, today, I wanna help you out with that. I wanna go through the ideal setups for the most common bass fishing techniques that are out there. And hopefully, that's gonna help you. So, let's start off with crankbait fishing.
Crankbaits, it's a really good place to start because the thing about when you're trying to figure out what is the best-balanced outfit for the type of technique you're using is it really focuses on four main factors. And the biggest influence by far is the hook that you're using. Everything is built around that. That's probably two-thirds of the influence on what line, rod, and reel you're gonna use is the hook that you're using. The next one in line would be the cover that you're fishing in. Those two make up 85% of your decision-making process right there. That has a lot to do with it right there. The next one is more about what casting technique you're using and the weight of the lure that you're using, whether you're trying to make long casts or short flips, and accurate casts. And then the final one is the type of lure that you're using. In other words, a lot of it has to do with the type of bite that you're getting with that type of lure you're using. That's a minor...that's maybe 5% of your decision. So, some people overemphasize that a little too much. But that's basically the main parameters that are gonna govern the setup that you're gonna use.
So, let's use crankbaits here as a good example. Crankbaits, you're using those little treble hooks. They're smaller hooks than you normally would see for most bass fishing techniques. They're thin wire for the most part and so it doesn't take a lot of effort to set the hook with them. Plus, by the same reason, it doesn't take a lot of effort to rip those hooks out of the fish's mouth. So, you need a setup that's got a lot of give to it, a lot of spring to it. And that's gonna help absorb a lot of the fight of the fish back to the boat or back to the shoreline.
So, the ideal setup here is that you wanna use a rod that's really limber, a medium power rod with a moderate action tip, something like that. It's a little more whippy, but it's really well designed for crankbait fishing for two reasons. Number one, it's got that parabolic spring action. So, when a fish makes a run, it's gonna give and it's gonna help slow him down. It's not gonna rip the hook out of the fish's mouth, it's gonna help keep him pinned. The other reason is, it helps you fire that crankbait out further. The action of that rod is gonna let you throw it out further. And with crankbait fishing, distance is key. The further out you cast it, the deeper it's gonna go and the longer it's gonna stay down deep before it starts coming back up to you.
So, crankbait rods are designed specifically for those two reasons, but you have to match it with everything else. Now, the line that I use is 12-pound Tatsu fluorocarbon line that's from Seaguar, Seaguar Tatsu. The fluorocarbon line does a number of things. First of all, 12-pound. So, it's a smaller diameter line than some of the heavier lines using other techniques. The thinner diameter enables that bait to get down deep and get down to its running depth. The fluorocarbon line has all the sensitivity that you need to feel the strike. Plus, fluorocarbon has some stretch to it, not a lot. I think some people overemphasize how much stretch it has. It's not like a rubber band like some people might wanna make you believe, but it has a little bit of give to it. And that works in concert with the rod, even when that fish makes a launch, everything works together to help act as a parachute to slow that fish down.
This is why braid is definitely not the answer when it comes to crankbait fishing. Braid has zero give. Braids is gonna...Basically, it's gonna rip the hooks out of the fish's mouth. Plus, braid has a little bit of buoyancy to it. So, braid will...because of that, it has more resistance to it because of its tendency to be buoyant, and that bait isn't gonna get down as deep in the water as it should. So, braid is not a good answer for crankbaits, it's got to be fluorocarbon. And I don't use leaders in this instance either because those long casts, I don't want any braid to be out there at all. Any kind of braid that would be out on the cast is gonna work negatively against the fish if he makes a launch for it because it doesn't have that stretch. So, this is not a place to be using leaders and braid.
For the reel, most of the time you can be cranking pretty fast. So, an eight to one gear ratio or higher is the best one to use. Real careful consideration here needs to be focused on the drag system of the reel that you get. Again, when a fish makes a run, you want a nice smooth drag to peel out that line, give it to him and help slow him down. If you got a sticky drag and you're pulling out that line and it goes tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick tick, well, every time it bounces like that and stops, it just pulls that hook out a little bit more every time and you're gonna lose that fish. So, a nice smooth, just butter smooth drag is critical when it comes to fishing crankbaits.
All right. Let's talk about spinnerbaits and getting the right kind of gear for spinnerbait fishing. With spinnerbaits, a lot of times what you're doing is you're targeting, it's target cast, short cast. I do a lot of underhand casts to specific, to short targets. I don't cover a lot of vast expanses making longer casts with spinnerbaits. There's other baits I feel that are better suited for that if you need to do that all day long. Not that I won't make occasional long cast to cover some water, but 85% of my fishing with spinnerbaits is short pinpoint accuracy into thick cover. So, for that reason, I'm using a shorter rod like a 6'8" to 6'10" rod that is medium-heavy power with a fast action tip. I actually have a custom rod that's 6'9. It fits right in the middle of those two. But a 6'8" to 6'10" medium-heavy power rod with a fast action tip is what you wanna use.
Paired with that is a 15-pound Seaguar InvizX fluorocarbon line. I don't use braid, although you can if you want to. It's not the end of the world if you use braid, I just find that I like the InvizX better mainly because I'm fishing around so much different varieties of cover, including rocks, fluorocarbon does better in rocks than braid. Braid gets frayed and can get nicked up and can break off if you're fishing around a lot of rocks. And I don't know what I'm gonna be covering with spinnerbaits, I wanna be able to cover everything. And so a 15-pound InvizX is an all-purpose line that I can use under a variety of different types of cover. And I don't have to think about what kind of line I'm using. So, that has more usage for me.
The reel is a little bit slower now, something below 7s. So, 7:1 to 7:4 to one gear ratio reel is better suited for this because you're going anywhere from slow-rolling it, very slow to moveing it fast just under the surface. So, a reel that's more of a middle-of-the-road from slow to fast gear ratio is a perfect setup for this.
Make sure you've got a strong drag that has more than 14 pounds of drag on it. Something like that, to me, represents both as a stout drag that you may need because it's a strong hook that you got on some of these spinnerbaits. So, I like to crank the drag down a little bit stronger. But also, usually, when the pound on a drag is higher than 14 pounds, it's a higher quality drag in my opinion. It's got to be smoother, which is what you're gonna need sometimes with pulling these fish out of cover. So, that's spinnerbaits.
The next combo I wanna talk about is for flipping and pitching. Flipping and pitching is a unique type of presentation that you use for fishing. Here, you're throwing your...either it's your soft plastic Texas rig lure or a jig and you're pitching it short, accurate casts right into thick cover, flooded bushes, flooded timber in a thick vegetation, stuff where the fish can easily wrap around something and rip the hook out. So, here, you got to have stout equipment that can handle that abuse. But when you set that hook, you have to be able to turn the fish's head, get him pointed to you and get him out of that cover. Otherwise, you're gonna have to go in and get him sometimes. They'll wrap you up and you got to dig them out. So, stout gear, that is the rule of thumb when it comes to this.
So here, because you're using the heavy stout hooks, either using flipping hooks, which are stronger, thicker hooks are, the hooks that are on jigs which are stout hooks, you got to beef up the rest of your equipment to match it.
So, you're using braid. I'm using minimum 50-pound braid. I like Seaguar Smackdown braid for this purpose mainly because you don't flip and pitch in rocks. You're now flipping and pitching in mostly wood and vegetation. And braid, this is where it shines. This is where this best usage of braid is for flipping and pitching. It really is. So, you got to use that straight up. If it's really clear, the water is clear then I might say, for example, better than 5-foot visibility, then I might put a leader on there, say a 30-pound fluorocarbon leader on it like Gold label, Seaguar Gold label 30-pound leader. I might put that on there just because it reduces the visibility of the line. But if you're fishing really muddy water, or dirty water, or super heavy cover, then I don't think fluorocarbon using a leader on there is necessary because they can't see the braid very well anyway. That's the line that I use.
The rod is a stout rod. This is a heavy power, fast action rod, and it's usually a 7'2" to 7'6" rod. Very stout, lots of leverage to it. A longer rod gives you a stronger hook set and allows you to bring that fish up and get them pointed in your direction and control them better. So, I use a little bit longer rod with this and it's a stiff, strong rod.
The reel speed, you don't need a fast speed reel here because you're not bringing the lure back fast. So, what you need is a lower gear ratio, one that acts more as a winch, it's a power reel. So, in the 6 range, like a 6:4 to 1 gear ratio or 6:1 to 1 gear ratio with a very strong drag system. I like to get above 20-pound drag on here, something that can really you can crank it down, it's gonna hold that line when you set that hook. And once you get the fish out of that cover, then you can back off the drag and play him a little bit. But I wanna get him turned and away from that cover before he has a chance to wrap up around anything. And a strong, stout drag is critical to being able to do that. So, that's the setup I use for flipping and pitching.
All right. The next thing I wanna talk about is finesse tactics and the rod and reel set up for that. Whether you're drop-shotting, split-shotting, throwing tubes, throwing grubs, it's virtually the same thing. You're using light-line tactics and light hooks. So, you got to match the setup for that. So, here you're using spinning gear. I'm using a rod that's a moderate power rod with a medium-light action tip or light action tip, something like that. It's whippy. It's got a little give to it because those hooks are usually small, the thin wired hooks, and you don't want to rip the hook out of the fish's mouth. You've got to have a lot of give to it. When a fish makes a run, just like with crankbait fishing, you've got to have that...that rod is got to give and let that fish run, it's gonna just slow him to his… brake. Slow him down easy so you don't rip that hook out the fish's mouth.
Paired with it I'm using light-line, 6-pound fluorocarbon line. I like to use Seaguar Tatsu line in this instance because Tatsu is really limber and it also has some stretch to it. Plus, it's super sensitive so I can feel those really light bites that typically are what you get when you're fishing these finesse tactics, the bite is really slow. The bite is hard to detect sometimes and fluorocarbon line is very sensitive so you can feel those bites. The fluorocarbon line is a little bit of stretch, a little bit to give to it. So, when the fish makes a run, it works in concert with that rod to work as a parachute that slows that fish down rather than stopping him and turning him hard like you would with flipping and pitching. Here, you need to let the fish go. A lot of times you're fishing away from cover anyway, so he's not going to wrap you up on anything. So, it's okay to let him play out a little bit and let him tire himself out a bit while you're bringing him to the boat.
That's why you need a reel that has really good drag to it. I'm not so interested in the gear ratio because it's a slow technique. So, you don't need a fast-moving gear, your gear ratio on your reel, but you need one with a really good drag. Spinning gear, spinning reels have the best drag system just by the mechanics. That larger disk on the drag in the front of the spool has greater surface area, so the drag tends to be smoother. And that's what you want when you're using these light techniques. Again, that fish makes a run, the rod bends, the line has a little stretch to it, and then that nice, smooth drag tops it off and peeling out some of that line to enable that fish to just slow down a little bit so you can slowly turn him back to you and work him back towards you. That all works together to keep that fish pinned and avoids that hook from being pulled out of his mouth.
All right. The next setup that I wanna talk about is Texas rig plastics. Of all the baits that you use for bass fishing, Texas rig plastics are the ones that are used the most, in my opinion. You can use them in a variety of conditions, a variety of cover. Anywhere around the country that you fish, around the planet, Texas rig plastics are universal. So, for that reason, your rod and reel setup need to be kind of all-purpose and you need to match it to the hooks that you're using. Now, the hooks typically are 3/0, 2/0 to 3/0 regular hooks, not flipping hooks, not the super stout hooks, and not those thin wire finesse hooks. This is just your standard, extra-wide gap hook, 2/0 to 3/0.
So, that's kinda all general-purpose hook and so the rod and reel and lines you use is the same thing. I use 15-pound InvizX fluorocarbon line because here, you don't know where you're gonna be fishing that plastic. It could be in rocks, it could be in vegetation, it could be in wood. Braid doesn't hold up as well in rocks as fluorocarbon does. It's not as abrasion resistant. So, I wanna be able to throw that plastic wherever I'm at, at any time, and not be limited by the type of line that I have. Fluorocarbon is more universal, especially InvizX. InvizX is just an all-purpose line. It's not wirey, it still has stretch to it, it's really castable. You can cast it a long ways, whether you're overhand casting or flipping and pitching, and that adds to the universal all-purpose use here with a Texas rig bait. Excellent line to use in this instance.
The rod, 7-foot, 7'1", medium-heavy, fast action tip. That is like the jack of all trades, kind of, rod to use for bass fishing. You should have several. I've got four in my boat right now. And you can rig all kinds of things on, it's a universal rod. It's like the first rod you should get for bass fishing because you can use it for so many purposes. And in this case with Texas rig, I've got several rods that are rigged up this way. And I have several different types of Texas rig plastics all at the same time. So, I just pick up the next rod to throw a different bait, and I'm ready to go.
The reel itself, it's gonna be universal purpose. So, anywhere in the 7 range, 7.1 to 7.9 gear ratio is perfectly fine under this condition. The drag should be above 14-pound test drag, then you can back off or set it tight depending on what kind of cover you're fishing there. The thicker the cover you have, the more you wanna tighten that drag down a bit so you can get that fish turned and pointed to you and away from that cover, and then you can back off the drag and fight him a little bit more that way. If you're fishing open water, you don't need to tighten it down as much. But that's the universal setup for Texas rig fishing.
All right. Let's talk about the rod and reel setup for frog fishing, topwater frog fishing. Here, you're throwing frogs usually over matted vegetation, or over submerged thick weeds. The thing about fish in this kind of cover is the bass will come up through that and nail that frog and turn right away and dive right back down into those weeds. Before you even have a chance to say boo, they're in. So, you've got to battle. You have to be able to turn their head towards you and get that fish pointed in your direction and getting him out of that cover. And that takes a lot of heavy-duty gear.
The good thing about that is frogs typically come with very thick, stout hooks. So, you build your outfit around that thick hook, which means you can use stronger gear. Here, I'm using minimum 50-pound braid, straight up 50-pound braid. I use Seaguar Smackdown braid for this. I'm using a strong, strong rod. Here, I'm using a heavy power rod with a fast action tip, sometimes an extra fast tip because I want that stoutness. You've got to have a strong rod with a strong backbone in order to get that fish out of cover. And I'm using a reel. The gear ratio is usually about an 8.1 gear ratio, maybe a little bit higher because I'm usually moving that bait across the surface pretty quickly. So, you want a faster gear ratio, but you got to have a stout strong drag on it. Something above 20 pounds. And I crank it down pretty strong because that fish, like I said, he's in the weeds before even have a chance to start fighting him. So, you're already at a disadvantage. Having a strong drag, having a stout rod and strong braid to turn him around, set that hook hard, and wrench him out of that, that's the setup that you need for frogging.
All right. The next type of bait I wanna talk about for your setups is topwater baits. These could be buzz baits, could be popping type baits, chugging baits. What I like to do here is I'm using a rod that's got moderate power to it or a medium power rod with a fast action tip, usually a 7'1" or 7'4" length rod to be able to fling that bait out there. Get long distance and you can cover a lot of water that way. So, a little bit longer rod. You can even go up to 7'6 if you want, but 7'2" to 7'4" is really good to 7'6".
Here, I'm using monofilament line. And the reason I do that is monofilament is the most buoyant line of all the lines available. And so it keeps that bait afloat. Helps it you whether it's a buzz bait, or especially if you're using some kind of a popper or chugger, you don't want that line to sink underwater and pull it down underwater, you wanna keep it above the water. So, monofilament is the key here. It keeps it on top, stays on the surface.
So, I'm using usually 12 to 15-pound monofilament line. And I have that paired with a reel that it's a slower reel because typically, I'm not doing it that fast unless I'm doing buzz baits. But somewhere in the 7 to 8 range, like a 7:4 to 7:6 to 1 gear ratio is perfectly suitable for fishing topwaters.
All right. The next lure that I wanna talk about is the paddle tail swimbait. It's like a 6-inch or smaller soft plastic paddle tail swimbait. Here, you're using a keel weighted hook, or it's usually a stouter hook like a 4/0 hook. It's got some backbone to it. So, you have to use a stronger rod. However, these baits overall are fairly light. And so you need a limber rod tip to be able to fling it out there. Plus, the bite is kind of interesting. So, let me get into that a little bit. We've got a lot of interesting dichotomy going on that's gonna dictate what kind of rod to use.
So, because it's a stouter hook, you can use stronger gear. So, here I'm actually using 17 to 20-pound fluorocarbon line or braid. Braid works really well for this as well. I'll go 20 to 30-pound braid on it. Whichever you feel most comfortable with is fine. I like to use the fluorocarbon because I can cast further with it.
But the rod is interesting because I use a medium-heavy power like a 7'2" to 7'4" foot rod, medium to heavy power rod. But the rod tip, I'm using a lighter action rod tip, a light action or a moderate action rod tip for two reasons. Number one, the bait is a bit light. So, to cast it out further distance, I load up more and a limber tip's gonna allow me to cast it out further. But also with paddle tail swimbaits, in particular, bass tend to come up and they don't grab it right away, they don't get a full bite. Sometimes they grab the tail then they open their mouth and grab it again or they just don't have it, although they don't chop down completely. So, you need that rod to load up a little bit before you set the hook. You need to have a little bit of give to give that fish some time in the strike to fully grab that lure. So, that limber rod tip will allow you to do that.
With the reel, I like to use an 8 to 1 gear ratio or a higher reel because I do bring it back a little bit faster speeds, usually across the top of vegetation. And that's my setup for fishing paddle tail swimbaits
All right. So, those are the most common combos to use for most of the different types of situations that you're gonna have, the different techniques you're gonna use for bass fishing. I hope that helps. For more tips and tricks like this, visit BassResource.com.