10 Best

Baitcasting Rods

of September 2023

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A Guide to Buying a Baitcasting Rod

Yehudah Posnick

If you have already gained some experience in fishing by using a spinning reel, you may want to upgrade to a baitcasting reel. While spinning reels are typically cheaper and allow you to cast to a greater distance, a baitcasting reel offers you better precision and more leverage if you need to pull in a large fish. But, when you get a baitcasting reel, you’ll need a baitcasting rod along with it!

Baitcasting rods are commonly used for techniques such as flipping, pitching, and casting heavy lures or baits. They are favored by experienced anglers who appreciate their sensitivity and ability to handle heavier lines and lures with precision. However, baitcasting requires some practice to master the casting technique, as the reel's spool can backlash or tangle if not properly controlled.


What is a baitcasting rod?

A baitcasting rod is a type of fishing rod specifically designed for use with a baitcasting reel. It is commonly used in freshwater and saltwater fishing, particularly for targeting larger fish species. They have the reel seat positioned on the top of the rod rather than the bottom, as seen in spinning reels. Having the reel on top of the rod allows anglers to have better control and accuracy when casting and when fighting a fish to reel it in. They have a trigger grip, which is more secure if your hands are wet or slippery.

The guides on a baitcasting rod (= the small rings attached to the rod, of decreasing diameter as you near the end of the rod) are usually smaller and closer together compared to those on a spinning rod. There is less of a risk of the line tangling when casting with a baitcasting rod. Also, this configuration of guides helps reduce line friction and increase casting distance. The rod's length, power, and action can vary depending on the fishing technique and target species. Longer rods provide greater casting distance, while shorter rods offer more accuracy and control.

I don’t want to buy a baitcasting reel. Can I use my spinning reel on a baitcasting rod?

Experts say that you should match a baitcasting rod with the right baitcasting reel. If you try to use a spinning reel on a baitcasting rod, or vice versa, there is a risk that the rod will bend in the wrong direction and break. However, there are rods that are suitable for both baitcasting and spinning reels.

Why would I buy a baitcasting rod?

There are several reasons why you might consider buying a baitcasting rod:

  • Casting accuracy and control: Baitcasting rods provide better casting accuracy and control compared to other types of fishing rods. The reel's position on top of the rod allows for more precise thumb control over the line during the cast, enabling you to place your lure exactly where you want it. This is particularly useful when fishing in tight spaces or around cover.

  • Handling heavier lures and lines: Baitcasting rods are designed to handle heavier lures and lines, making them ideal for targeting larger fish species. They have a stronger backbone and greater lifting power, allowing you to effectively handle heavier tackle and fish.

  • Sensitivity: Baitcasting rods are known for their sensitivity, meaning they can transmit even subtle vibrations and movements from the bait or fish to the angler's hands. This sensitivity allows you to detect bites more easily and react quickly, resulting in improved hooksets and landing rates.

  • Versatility: Baitcasting rods can be used for a wide range of fishing techniques, including flipping, pitching, casting, and trolling. They are versatile tools that can adapt to different fishing conditions and target various species, from bass and pike to saltwater gamefish like redfish and tarpon.

  • Durability: Baitcasting rods are typically constructed with robust materials to withstand the forces exerted by larger fish and heavier lines. They are built to be durable and handle the rigors of demanding fishing situations, ensuring they last for a long time with proper care.

  • Personal Preference: Some anglers simply prefer the feel and operation of a baitcasting rod. They enjoy the challenge of mastering the casting technique and appreciate the fine-tuned control it provides. If you enjoy tinkering with gear and refining your fishing skills, a baitcasting rod might be a good fit for you.

It's worth noting that baitcasting rods require some practice to become proficient in casting without experiencing backlash or tangles. Beginners may find it initially challenging, but with practice, it can become a rewarding and effective fishing tool.

Types of Baitcasting Rods

We can distinguish between different baitcasting rods by their materials. There are rods made from graphite, fiberglass, and composites that combine the two.

  • Fiberglass: Rods made from fiberglass are heavier and more durable than graphite rods. But, they also tend to be less sensitive to slight tugs when a fish bites. But they’re recommended for people learning how to fish, as well as when fishing for heavier fish that don’t require such a sensitive rod. An example is the Zebco Big Cat Casting Fishing Rod.

Zebco Big Cat Casting Fishing Rod

  • Composite: There are composite rods that combine graphite and fiberglass. They tend to be lighter fishing rods and will be more sensitive than fiberglass rods. An example is the Daiwa Tatula XT. Its construction makes it suitable for both baitcasting and spinning reels.

Daiwa Tatula XT

  • Graphite: This material typically makes a rod lighter and more flexible. That way, it will be more sensitive, so that you’ll feel the fish nibble. An example is the Abu Garcia Vengeance Casting Fishing Rod.

Abu Garcia Vengeance Casting Fishing Rod

We can also distinguish between different baitcasting rods by their amount of “action”: how they perform when you cast them out and reel them in:

  • Fast action: This is best when fishing with a lure. A fast-action rod bends in the top ⅓ of its length. This is considered good for “jigging”, which is when you jerk the line in rapid lifting motions. This moves the lure in a way to entice a fish to try to swallow it.

  • Moderate action: This rod bends in the midsection of its length. You can use a smaller lure with such a rod than with a fast-action rod.

  • Slow action: This type of rod bends throughout its entire length, down to the handle. This is recommended when using live bait and if you use a gentle casting motion.

Finally, we can distinguish between baitcasting rods by the type of fishing you plan to do, what species of fish you’re fishing for, and other preferences:

  • Freshwater Baitcasting Rod: These baitcasting rods are designed for freshwater fishing applications, such as bass fishing, walleye fishing, or trout fishing. They come in various lengths, power ratings, and actions to suit different fishing styles and lure presentations in freshwater environments.

  • Saltwater Baitcasting Rod: Saltwater baitcasting rods are built to withstand the harsh conditions and corrosive nature of saltwater environments. They are generally more robust and have corrosion-resistant components. Saltwater baitcasting rods are commonly used for targeting species like redfish, snook, tarpon, or larger saltwater gamefish.

  • Flipping and Pitching Rod: Flipping and pitching rods are specifically designed for close-quarters fishing techniques that involve flipping or pitching heavy lures or bait into heavy cover, such as vegetation or structure. These rods are characterized by their shorter length (typically 7 to 8 feet) and extra power to handle the weight of the lures and the strength to pull fish out of cover.

  • Cranking Rod: Cranking rods, or “crankbait” rods, are designed for fishing with crankbaits or other lures that require a steady, consistent retrieve. They typically have a moderate to moderate-fast action and are built to provide the necessary flexibility to prevent the hooks from tearing out while fighting fish. Cranking rods are available in different lengths and power ratings to match the specific crankbait weights and fishing conditions. An example is the Cadence CR67B Baitcasting Rod.

  • Swimbaits Rod: Swimbaits rods are specifically designed to handle the unique demands of fishing with large, heavy swimbaits. They have a sturdy construction, often with fast or extra-fast action, to provide the power and backbone necessary for casting and retrieving these larger, more substantial baits.

  • Topwater Rod: Topwater rods are designed to enhance the action and presentation of topwater lures, such as poppers, walkers, or prop baits. They typically have medium to medium-heavy power and moderate to fast action to provide the right balance of flexibility and control for working the lures effectively. An example is the Cadence CR67B Baitcasting Rod.

Cadence CR67B Baitcasting Rod

What reviewers say

We went over some customers’ impressions of the baitcasting rod that they bought:

  • Buying a rod in several pieces: One customer said that he prefers buying a rod in 3 or 4-piece configurations because he can adjust the length if he wants moderate or heavy action from his fishing rod. However, a one-piece rod has more sensitivity if a fish starts to nibble. Also, it has less of a risk of breaking when reeling in a catch.

Important Features

Here are some tips about features to look for when choosing a baitcasting rod:

  • Length of the rod: It’s recommended to purchase a shorter, 6-foot rod if your major goal is to make accurate casts. By using a shorter rod, it’s easier to pinpoint where you cast. But, if you want to cast to a greater distance, then you can get a rod that’s 7 feet long or more. Also, a longer rod will help you reel in a heavy

  • Power of a rod: The power of a rod is a description of the size of fish it can reel in. You’ll see the power described as “ultra-light”, “light”, “medium”, “heavy”, and “ultra-heavy”. A light-powered rod is suitable for small fish, while a heavy-powered rod can take in large fish. Together with that, there is also the line rating of a rod. That’s the maximum weight that the line can hold without breaking when paired with a rod. For example, the St. Croix Rods Mojo Bass Baitcasting Rod has a line weight of 10-17 pounds.

  • Match the rod to the reel: It's important to match the baitcasting rod with a compatible baitcasting reel and choose a fishing line and lure weight that aligns with the rod's specifications. This ensures optimal performance and helps prevent equipment damage.

Final Verdict

We went through the features of some of the best baitcasting rods on the market. You should have enough information to decide which rod is best for you, based on your fishing experience and preferences!

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