When it comes to fishing for bass, walleye, panfish, and other freshwater species the rod is perhaps the most critical piece of gear. With a good rod, a reel, and a good tackle box of standard supplies, you can do a lot of great fishing in many places.
Beware, though, as not all fishing rods are created equal. You want a rod that is crafted from materials that will last a long time. You want a rod that is designed to be strong enough to land your catch, yet sensitive enough to allow you to feel the slightest nibble. There are a lot of rods on the market but the following ones meet the criteria of strength, durability, and sensitivity.
Bass fishermen are extremely choosy about the rods they use. They want flexibility and sensitivity, but they also want perfect balance so they will be able to cast farther distance with more accuracy.
St. Croix Bass X
These premium fishing rods are crafted from SCII graphite blanks that give them the strength to handle the
hardiest of fish and the lightweight features that the anglers crave. These rods come equipped with guides made from hard aluminum oxide and they have the Fuji ECS reel seat. In other words they aren’t just nice to look at, they are sturdy enough to fish with. One of the beautiful things about the St. Croix Bass X is that they start at around $99 dollars so the majority of anglers can afford to have one, or more in their collection.
The GLX is not a newcomer to the G. Loomis line, but it is by far obne of the best bass fishing rods on the market. The GLX pushed the St. Croix Legend Glass out of the way to take the best bass fishing rod option with its new reel seat and its lighter more sensitive blanks that provide superior balance. The rods are designed with a Fugi ‘K” frame guide that is titanium and SIC rings that will improve your casting and make the rod a viable tool in your angling arsenal for a much longer period of time. The GLX is a high end piece of equipment that starts a about $400, but worth every penny.
Dobyns Sierra Series
The Dobyns Sierra Series casting rods are made from high modulus blanks and have Fuji Alconite guides. They have Kevlar wrapping and a high density cork grip. Bass fisherman love their perfect balance, but watch out because these rods are possible the favorite rod of anglers looking for wall-eye. The rods have the right amount of sensitivity combined with the strength needed to wrestle that wall-eye out of the water. They are in the mid-price range starting at $159.
When fishing for catfish you want a rod that is sensitive enough to feel the first little “bump” yet strong enough to pull in that big blue cat without any difficulty. You also want a rod long enough to give you good leverage, and the ability to handle heavy test line.
The Berley Mudcat casting rod is just as tough as the bottom dwelling fish they are named after, and surprise these rods start at $40 in most retail establishments. You would think that at that price you would have to replace the rod yearly, but the Berkely Mudcat is crafted from a fiberglass blank and has stainless steel guide frames and aluminum oxide inserts. Their rubberized handles are comfortable to grip, and they are made by Berkely so their quality is assured.
Whisker Seeker Chad Ferguson
When only the Cadillac of catfish rods will do then you need to pick up a Whisker Seeker Chad Ferguson. These rods are constructed to be light enough to hold all day long without tiring you out, yet when you need strength to bring that big cat off of the bottom and into your net the rod has more than you need. These rods have a 7’6” length so they are perfect for casting and they provide you with ample leverage. The tip is highly sensitive so even the slightest bite will not get past you, but the composite blank is so strong that it can easily hoist those monsters out of the water without breaking. The rod has a high visibility tip so you can see any movement even when the lighting is fading. One of the biggest selling features is the “Trophy Tough” warranty that this rod has. This is not a 1 year warranty that covers manufacture defects. This is a 2 year warranty that covers anything you can do to the rod. Break it in any fashion, even if you abuse it, and they will replace it.
All Purpose Rods – Walleye, Perch, Panfish
Berkley Cherywood HD Baitcasting Rod
This is an affordable rod that is about 7’ in length, it is lightweight, and is designed to be used with line that ranges from 6-14lb test. The guides are tougher and lighter than aluminum oxide guides, and the hybrid design gives you maximum sensitivity in the rod.
Shimano Solora 2-Piece Spinning Rod
Don’t want to spend a ton? This is an affordable rod that has a 2 piece design so it is easy to store. You can keep one handy behind the seat of your truck or in the3 trunk of your car. It is available in lengths up to 7’ and
is made from an Aeroglass rod blank with aluminum oxide guides. It has the flex and the strength you need in a rod to enable you to land a good sized fish. Beginners and pros will both like the Shimano Solora 2-Piece spinning rod.
Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2
The Shakespeare rods have long had a great reputation for being hardy pieces of fishing equipment. The Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 holds up to the expectations you have when you read the name. It comes complete with the Ugly Stik features you want like the Ugly Stik Clear tip that gives you extra strength when you need it, and is sensitive enough to let you know when even a small fry is messing with your bait. It has optimized balance as well as extreme durability. If you can only have one rod then this is the one you want.
Ice Fishing Rods
During a few months of the year in northern climates, freshwater fishing is done through a hole in the ice. For these excursions, you obviously use different rods. The rods are much shorter and allow you to work the hole more directly than you could with a longer rod. We did an entire piece on ice fishing rods that goes in to more detail, and for that matter, we also profiled other ice fishing equipment too, like ice shelters and related gear.