Choosing the Best Rod Length for Bass Fishing

A person wouldn’t think that an inch-here or an inch-there would make a difference in a bass fishing rod. It does. 

The type of presentation, the cover being fished, and angler stature are all factors to consider when purchasing a rod for bass fishing. 

Better bass fishing rods are designed for specific lures and techniques. There are, of course, models that will fit nicely in the “middle” and give anglers a good starting place. As their interest in the sport grows, odds are the rod collection will too.

The following table shows some guidelines associated with rod length and technique.

TechniqueTypical Rod Lengths (approx)
Jerkbait6’8″ – 6’10”
Spinnerbait7’3″ – 7’4″
Swim Jig7’3″ – 7’4″
Flipping/Pitching7’3″ – 7’4″
Flipping/Pitching Heavy Cover7’6″ – 7’10”
Carolina Rig7’6″
Football Jig7’6″
Drop Shot/Ned Rig6’10 – 7’3″
Shakey Head7’2″
Bladed Jig7′ – 7’3″
Small Crankbaits6’8″ – 7′
Medium Crankbaits7′ – 7’4″
Large Crankbaits7’6″ – 7’10”

Rod Length Based on Presentation

One of the aspects of bass fishing that is appealing to many is the wide-range of lures and presentations available to anglers.

This also can be an area of frustration when trying to decide what equipment to purchase. Being aware of how a rod is held and presented for each technique will give anglers a better understanding of what to look for.

Traditional Presentations with the Rod Tip Low to the Water

When using lures like a suspending jerkbait, a soft jerkbait, and a variety of topwaters, the angler will be holding the rod tip fairly close to the surface of the water.

Both hard and soft jerkbaits impart a cadence of twitches, rips, and jerks, that make rod length critical. 

When the tip of the rod hits the surface of the water when trying to thrash that jerkbait, it interrupts the action as well as causes stress and fatigue on the angler’s hand.

For an average height bass angler, rods for these presentations are most often under 7’ in length. My favorite jerkbait rod is actually 6’8”. I stand somewhere between 5’10” and 5’11” depending on the shoes I am wearing. This rod length is perfect for me. If you are slightly taller, a 6’10” model may be ideal.

A presentation, like a drop shot, often sees anglers holding the rod parallel to the water.

Traditional Presentations with the Rod Tip Slightly Elevated

Most horizontal, or swimming, presentations will find an angler holding the rod tip around that 9 o’clock position – or straight out.

The lures used may include things like small or medium sized crankbaits, squarebill crankbaits, spinnerbaits, swim jigs, and soft swim baits. 

Most rod manufacturers are going to offer something in that 7’ to 7’4” rod length that works well for these lures. The added length helps with casting distance, but more importantly, the extra 3 or 4 inches allows for more control of the rod tip which is critical for accuracy.

I remember when I went from a 7’ rod to a 7’ 3” rod for fishing finesse jigs. My accuracy was drastically improved. The longer rod had more energy during the roll cast and launched that bait at a much more effective angle.  

Flipping and Pitching Presentations and Rod Length

When bass anglers are using jigs and Texas rigs they are often flipping and pitching relatively close to cover. 

During this type of presentation, it is typical to lift the rod tip during the retrieve.

It is also common practice to have a longer rod when fishing a lure in this manner. The added momentum from the extra length creates a more efficient pendulum action when presenting the lure. Rods for this category of fishing can be anywhere from 7’3” to 7’10” or even longer. 

Extra-heavy power rated rods that are telescopic may even hit the 8’ mark.

These are often used in conjunction with punching heavy emergent vegetation where the angler’s boat is extremely close to the cover and extra reach is needed. The long rod also helps handle the very heavy weights associated with this technique – often 1oz to 1 ½ oz.

Heavy, emergent vegetation is perfect for flipping and pitching with a longer rod.

The Cover or Structure Being Fished and Rod Length

Let’s start with deep diving crankbaits. 

Not only are these lures great for catching bass hanging deeper in the water column, but they are also excellent tools for covering a vast amount of territory when looking for bass.

Deep divers are often used in more open water situations since the goal is getting the lure to make contact with the bottom of the lake or river. To ensure that the crankbait is in the proper zone for the longest amount of time, extra-long casts are the norm.

The help fling that lure the required distance, a composite cranking rod – not graphite, is often anywhere from 7’6” – 7’10”

The added length creates noticeably more power and reach when fishing deep diving crankbaits.

Bass Fishing in Tight Spaces and Rod Length

Bass anglers find themselves in a variety of situations on any given trip. 

This may mean working around a vast network of docks, in tight canals, or even around overhanging trees and brush.

In all of these scenarios, having a shorter rod that is more easily maneuvered, is a must. When I find myself fishing in any of the above-mentioned scenarios I like to use a rod that is no longer than 7’. 

Using a shorter rod creates a more deft angler that can get that lure where they want it.

Angler Height and Rod Length

Everything that we have mentioned so far needs to be paired with angler stature. 

A shorter angler will not be as comfortable with an extra-long fishing rod as a taller angler and vice-versa.

When I mentioned my favorite length rod for fishing suspending jerkbaits, I talked about the 6’ 8” rod I use all the time. If you are well above 6’ in height, you may prefer a jerkbait rod that is over the 7’ mark.

A great way to experiment before purchase is to go out with a fishing partner and share each other’s equipment for a few casts. It doesn’t take long to decipher if a certain rod length is comfortable or too much effort to control.

Final Thoughts

Rod length is one of those hidden factors in bass fishing that can make a noticeable difference at the end of the day. Not only can accuracy and efficiency be altered, but angler fatigue as well.

There will be some rods that you purchase only to find months later sit dormant because something just doesn’t feel like it should. Rod length is often the issue.

Other times you will purchase a rod and it feels like a natural extension of your own arm and the lure goes where you want it to. That is when you know that rod length and weight are dialed in for you.

Be safe out there, have fun, and don’t forget to encourage someone today. You never know how you may change their life forever.

Isaiah 6:8

Steve Rogers

Steve spends his time filming and writing about bass fishing. You may even see him in your area. If so, stop and say "hi."

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