There are a thousand ways to catch a bass and hundreds of rods designed for specific tactics and lures. But kayak anglers don’t have space for a full quiver of the best bass rods. Nor do most of us have the budget to stock a tackle shop on our boat. So, plastic boaters are looking to kill multiple tactics with one rod. In the interest of economy and efficiency, Kayak Angler’s editors went looking for the best all-around bass rod.
This year, rod makers are building the toughest, most sensitive and lightest rods with the best technology available at lower prices. Our lineup of new rods proves manufacturers have finally balanced weight, strength and touch in a rod that will last a lifetime. We asked our friends in the business for their choices of the best bass rod for all types of fishing. There are spinning rods and casting rods, light, medium and heavy action, high-dollar and budget models, but each of these new bass rods will do it all.
$429 | abugarcia.com
If you’re going to have one all-around best bass rod, you might as well make it a good one. Abu Garcia takes rod design to the next level with the new Zenon series.
Combining the company’s 100 years of expertise, the Zenon adds every feature and cuts all the fat for the most advanced, sensitive and lightweight fishing rod in our review. The Zenon is also one of the most expensive. Here’s what you’re paying for: titanium line guides, carbon fiber reel seat and Powerlux resin that is stronger, lighter and more sensitive. For longer, more accurate casts, the guide train is robotically optimized for less friction and better line handling.
These advanced features are worth their weight in gold when casting the best all-around bass rod all day. Not only does the pared down weight reduce fatigue, but the super sensitive material and components allow me to feel every bump and bite. As the best all-around choice, we picked the medium-heavy, seven footer. The rod felt lighter than other medium-heavy rods allowing us to fish the widest variety of lures.
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NRX + MAG BASS
$595 | gloomis.com
Why do some rods cost $60 and others cost $600? For the answer, take a look at G. Loomis’ NRX +MAG Bass series. Starting with a spiral wrapped blank combining strong horizontal fibers wrapped diagonally with Infinity Tape for flexibility. The construction reduces weight and increases hoop strength and torsion rigidity. Then, the blanks are hand-rolled on a custom table for smooth taper that allows G. Loomis to add strength in weak points and remove material where it isn’t needed. Add in titanium guides and a custom reel seat, and the NRX + incorporates the leading trends in high-end rod design. Is it worth it? When talking about the ultimate all-around bass rod, the answer is yes.
To go from a jig to crankbait to topwater, the NRX + has the response time and sensitivity to handle any tactic. For long casts, the hybrid guide train controls line and reduces friction without slowing the lure. The spiral wrapped, multi-tapered blank provides smooth power through the tip to launch a wide range of lures with accuracy. On the retrieve, the carbon blank, custom reel seat and titanium guides provide incredible sensitivity to feel the lure’s action, obstructions and light bites. The spiral construction makes fighting a fish almost unfair. By distributing the power through the length of the blank, the rod provides powerful lift to absorb the runs and headshakes of a trophy largemouth.
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$200 | stcroixrods.com
The best all-around bass rod has to perform many duties and take a lot of abuse. As the primary pick, this rod casts more often and catches more fish while getting banged around and beaten to a pulp. This is the kind of abuse St. Croix’s Victory rods are made to take. St. Croix takes every step to make their rods tough and sensitive.
The Victory line uses their advanced blank building technology that smooths transitions and maintains wall thickness throughout the blank. Then, the strongest, slow-cure resin holds the highest quality carbon fiber together for a blank that is stronger and lighter.
As the best all-around bass rod, we selected the VTC73MHF St. Croix calls The Marshal. At seven feet and three inches, the Marshal is the best compromise between long distance casting and short distance accuracy. The Fuji Concept O guides transfer every rock and log along the bottom to the angler’s hands, so I spent more time fishing and less time snagged in the bottom.
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Omen Black 3 Kayak
$140 | 13fishing.com
Bringing its famous Omen Black rod series to kayak anglers, 13 Fishing reworked the three casting and three spinning models with the same great features in an easy-to-handle package. Starting with the long-respected Omen Black 3 rod, 13 Fishing cut the rod butt to accommodate anglers wearing a life jacket. When casting the rod while wearing a PFD, the rod butt clears the bulky vest. Then, when working the lure, the shorter butt makes it easier to manipulate the rod without interference.
The Black series is built tough for life in the kayak. The high quality graphite blank is designed with varying material in different sections of the rod to achieve ideal action. The rod is armed with stainless steel line guides with Zirconium for reliable performance. Our favorite feature is the high quality cork grips that feel smooth and soft for hours of fishing.
As the best all-around bass rod, we chose the seven-foot, three-inch medium-heavy. This model was the best balance between heavy action for crankbaits and topwater and lighter touch to fish jigs and finesse baits. The shorter butt section was welcome when working the rod, but it provides less leverage for one-handed hooksets and heavy battles.
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$164.95 | cashionrods.com
When creating their kayak series fishing rods, Cashion didn’t just lop off a half inch from the butt; they redesigned the whole blank for ultimate performance in a kayak. Fishing from a kayak, at the mercy of wind and current, puts different stresses on a rod and provides additional challenges to working the lure and fighting the fish. Cashion meets these challenges with a blank that has a reinforced tip and medium-heavy backbone.
Special for the Kayak Series, the carbon fiber blank is wrapped in Energy Dissipation Coating to protect against impact breaking. Cashion’s Advanced Interface Bonding combines the carbon fiber with epoxy on a molecular level for high strength, less weight and super sensitivity.
The technology comes through when fishing with the Cashion Kayak rod. Even with the kayak moving underneath, the rod has the power to put the pressure on a big bass. And, the woven carbon fiber grips and open reel seat transmit every nick and nibble to the angler’s fingers. The rod has a rough, raw finish to cut weight while the epoxy encapsulation gives it a tough exterior to survive the rigors of kayak fishing.
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One all-around rod to rule the bass. | Feature photo: Courtesy St. Croix