Jonathan is an avid tournament bass fisherman. He currently fishes on the Penn State Bass Fishing team. He has placed in the top 15 in multiple FLW BFL tournaments as a co-angler. He competed on the United States Youth Fly Fishing Team, where he placed 11th in the world and was a part of two world championship team gold medals. Jonathan serves as an ANGLR expert to help the ANGLR community constantly improve.
Rod and reel setups will vary with each angler, in some cases to extreme personal preferences. For the pond angler, one rod and reel may work, but for most competitors, one is not efficient or effective. Most competitive bass anglers will have anywhere from 15-50 different setups to cover every style of fishing. A ‘basic’ breakdown using technique and lures can help you simplify rod and reel selection.
In Part 3 you will find even more detail for rod, reel and line choices.
When using single hook baits, a 6’6”, 7’0” and 7’6” medium heavy to heavy action rod with a 6:3.1 to a 7:1.1 gear ratio reel is a reliable setup. The medium heavy allows for strong hook penetration when setting the hook.
When using treble hook baits, rods 7’0”, 7’4” to 7’10” in medium action with a 6:3.1 or even a 5:1.1 reel. With the proper line, a medium action and a slower retrieve will not rip the smaller treble hooks from the fish’s mouth when setting the hook.
The opportunity, effectiveness and efficiency for the use of multiple lures with different actions and presentations is the reason why the competitor carries so many rods and reels with different lures tied on.
As the angler learns more about lures, reels, lines and presentations, they will see that rod lengths play an important part in lure presentations. For every technique, you will find rod lengths will help you make better casts, flips, pitches and skips. All anglers are not alike, which makes a “one rod for one specific application” not very effective. Hence the thousands of rods in each fishing store you step foot in.
There are many line manufacturers of all types of fishing lines. These options include lines for every condition from extreme cold to extreme shock strength. Multiple colors for high visibility to even disappearing in different water clarities.
To the basic or beginning angler, 4 types of line will get you started. These lines are monofilament, copolymers, fluorocarbon, and braid.
Depending on techniques and demographics, color and test strength would be your other line choice considerations.
Monofilament lines float and have a significant amount of stretch. Mono as it is referred to, is not a very abrasion resistant line. Copolymers are a little tougher and slow sinking with minimal stretch, Fluorocarbon is an abrasion resistant, sinking line and has, the key word here is ‘virtually’ no stretch. Braided lines have zero stretch and float. All these lines, except for braid, can be produced in colors to help them disappear in water, but braid will not, due to the way it is made.
As you learn more about lure selection, techniques, and where to fish, the line choices will become easier to understand.
The most often overlooked piece of gear in an angler’s arsenal is the quality and style of hooks that they use. Too often do I see people using the wrong hooks, or hooks that have not been taken care of. When tying a hook on, be sure to look over that hook and think what would happen if I hooked the biggest bass in that body of water, because that is always a possibility.
Anyone who has fished a good deal has been caught off guard by a big fish that ends up breaking off due to something that could have easily been avoided. One example is hook points, when fishing bottom baits, the hook points are going to get rolled over eventually. Most people either don’t worry about it or just tie a new one on. Don’t want to waste money? Make it a point to carry a file on a lanyard when you fish for just this occasion.
So, always be conscious about the quality before you use them. Now, what hooks do you use? That question depends on what exactly you are doing. There are dozens of different types of hooks out there that can be used and broken down into too many categories to comprehend. For simplicity sake, we will break it down into straight shank hooks, offset round bend, offset wide gap, and finesse hooks.
Straight Shank Hooks
Straight shank hooks and finesse hooks are made for an upward hookset to put the hook right into the roof of the fishes mouth. Straight shank hooks are also made for going in and out of cover with nothing to catch on, this straight design allows for easy in and out penetration.
Offset Round Bend Hooks
Offset round bend hooks work well for worms and longer more slender baits, but remember these are designed for a side swing hookset to work at their best.
Offset Wide Gap Hooks
If you are looking for a hook that will do almost anything you could want, then you can’t go wrong with an offset wide gap hook. These hooks can be flipped with, pitched, carolina rigged, etc. The thing to note about offset hooks, is that they are primarily designed for a side swing hookset, this will put that hook right into the meat on the side of the fishes mouth.
The last category is finesse hooks, all hooks can be downsized to technically be finesse hooks. I’m really referring to dropshot hooks and octopus hooks. These hooks are made for a reel set and upward lift to put the hook into the roof of the mouth. That being said, when thinking of what you are using these hooks for, don’t forget to look at the wire thickness and how much that hook is willing to bend.
Another thing to note is the size of the baits you are using, you want to pair up the bait with the hooks size to make sure you will get the best possible hookup ratio possible. Hooks come in all sizes and shapes, be sure you pair the right hook with the bait and technique to ensure you land every fish possible.
There are many different sizes of weights available on the market today, but luckily there are only two real types of weights to consider. There is either lead or tungsten weights that make up the only two that really need to be considered.
Tungsten is much smaller than lead, when comparing weights of the same size. Tungsten also is much harder, which allows for better feel of the bottom composition. Lead is a larger, softer material that is much cheaper than tungsten. There is a time and place for both of these weights though.
It all depends on what type of fall rate and how efficient and cost effective you want to be. If you are fishing around rip-rap or some other weight consuming cover or structure, then you might want to switch up and throw lead. Other than that, generally tungsten is the best all around choice. Lead being softer will get sharp and lead to your line getting cut on hooksets. Tungsten is less prone to this and with the better feel, makes it a great option if you can front an arm and a leg for the price.
Styles of Heads
The appealing thing about swing heads is, they are a newer style head that allows for a different presentation that fish don’t often see. It has a football style head and then a semi-free moving offset wide gap hook. This makes it easy to texas rig your favorite soft plastic bait and slow reel it along the bottom similar to a crankbait. This style head will deflect off cover in a similar way a crankbait does to induce a reaction strike. The idea is to reel the bait fast but slow enough to maintain regular contact with the bottom.
One of the most versatile and widely used techniques in the bass fishing world today, the shaky head. These baits catch fish in two feet of water, all the way to forty feet of water when fishing off-shore. Not to mention, Smallmouth love em’! You just need to adapt the size of the head that best fits the depth of water your fishing.
This technique provides the bass with a vertical, bottom presentation that they seem to not be able to resist. These hooks most often have a screw lock head that holds the bait on and then the bait is posed in a texas rig style. A shaky head can be used for any type of bait and fished around any type of structure efficiently. The way to fish these is to either drag them or hop them along the bottom. The key is that you can fish them as fast or as slow as you please.
One of the most highly used baits in todays bass fishing world is the swimbait, but these baits still need a hook. This is where the swimbait head comes into play, but which one to choose?
The first thing you need to look at is the size of the swimbait you are using, this will make it easier to pick a finesse style head or a large style head. The next thing is the depth you want you want to fish this bait in, if you’re fishing ledges, etc. This will give you an idea on what size of head you need to fish, but not all are made equal. You need to look at the bait holders on the shank of the hook. You don’t want to have to large of a bait holder that your swimbait will be torn up, but large enough that the bait will not move around.
Beads are a useful component when trying to add sound to your bait, this is common when texas rigging flipping baits for muddy water around cover. The bead will hit off the weight and mimic the clicking sound crayfish create. Beads are also commonly used in a carolina rig in between the weight and the swivel. The bead acts to both create sound and also protect the knot from getting hit by the weight.
Bobber stops are a piece of mission critical equipment when flipping or pitching around cover, this will keep the weight pegged to the bait. This will allow the bait to slide in and out of cover easily, this is especially prominent when flipping or pitching in grass mats.