7 Best Rod and Reel Combos for Bass Fishing (Must-Have in 2020)

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BEST OVERALL

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

4.2/5

BEST SALTWATER SPINNING COMBO

PENN Battle II

4.2/5

BEST BAITCASTING COMBO

Penn Squall Levelwind Combo

4.5/5

I’m a huge believer in taking the easy way out whenever possible. When you’re new to bass fishing, it’s important that you have the right gear, but it’s challenging to understand what you need for success. 

One of the smartest choices I ever made in the beginning was investing in the best bass fishing rod and reel combo. When you buy the two together, you don’t have to worry about rod and reel compatibility because they both come from the same manufacturer and are crafted to work in perfect harmony. 

In this guide, we’re taking a look at the best rod and reel combos for bass fishing, and towards the end, I’ll help you understand some of the “why” behind what makes them the best. Make sure you stick around! 

Our Reviews Of The Best Rod and Reel Combos for Bass Fishing

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

BEST OVERALL

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Rod Type: Graphite Frame and Fiberglass Spinning Rod
  • Reel Type: Spinning Reel
  • Model: Ugly Stik GX2
  • Size: 4’8” to 7’

FEATURED SPECS

  • The body of the rod offers lightweight durability and sensitivity which is ideal for bass

EXTRA FEATURES

  • EVA grip on the handle adds comfort

BUYING ADVICE

  • This is a lightweight rod and reel combo so I wouldn’t suggest line any larger than six to eight pounds

BENEFITS

  • Great for bass fishing
  • Clear Tip design offers excellent sensitivity
  • Durable rod blank
  • Incredibly affordable

DRAWBACKS

  • Good for beginners but not so much for experienced anglers

I’m a huge fan of this bass fishing combo because it’s primarily geared towards beginners. If you’re not sure about what to buy for your fishing needs, this is the rod and reel you want to have. It gets the job done, it’s lightweight, and it’s nice and comfortable for long trips. 

If you’re traveling to a smaller pond or lake in your local area, this Shakespeare Ugly Stik rod and reel combo is the right choice. 

PENN Battle II

BEST SALTWATER SPINNING COMBO

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Rod Type: Graphite Spinning Rod
  • Reel Type: Spinning Reel
  • Model: Battle II
  • Size: 2000 - 6’6” to 8000 10’

FEATURED SPECS

  • Graphite blank comes with aluminum oxide guides

EXTRA FEATURES

  • The reel uses a superline spool which helps create even line lay for better casting accuracy

BUYING ADVICE

  • Keep in mind that this is a saltwater reel, so it’s heavy and built to hold up to the harsh salt conditions

BENEFITS

  • Great for inshore and offshore fishing
  • Full metal body to prevent salt exposure
  • 5+1 stainless steel bearing system for buttery smooth casting
  • Aluminum spool

DRAWBACKS

  • A bit much for finesse anglers

We’re stepping up our game right away and throwing you a saltwater fishing rod and reel. Is this the best bass rod and reel combo? Well, not exactly, but we can’t ignore the fact that a lot of people fish for striped bass, and since they live in both salt and freshwater, it’s nice to have a rod and reel combo that is compatible with both. 

If you’re looking for something that you can fish in both applications, the Penn Battle is the ultimate choice. 

Penn Squall Levelwind Combo

BEST BAITCASTING COMBO

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Rod Type: Graphite Conventional Rod
  • Reel Type: Level Wind Trolling Reel
  • Model: Squall Level Wind
  • Size: 20 - 6’ to 30 - 6’6”

FEATURED SPECS

  • Level Wind system prevents line build-up to help with casting distance and accuracy

EXTRA FEATURES

  • The star drag provides power without sacrificing smoothness and comfort

BUYING ADVICE

  • Like the previous option, this is a primarily geared saltwater rod and reel combo. You can use it in freshwater, but it’s mainly for targeting much larger fish. It works well for striped bass, though.

BENEFITS

  • Great saltwater reel
  • Lightweight but loaded with power
  • Marine-grade main gear
  • Solid construction and side plates

DRAWBACKS

  • A slight design flaw that made the crank too close to the reel

Sticking with the saltwater trend, we have a trolling rod with a level wind reel here. What this means is that the rod is more so intended for offshore saltwater fishing where you let the lure do most of the work while the rod stays motionless. 

This method is frequently deployed on fishing charters and large boats. The reason I recommend this rod and reel combo for bass is again due to striped bass fishing. You get a lot of power packed into this reel, and the level wind system helps with casting long distances for surf fishing as well. 

FISHOAKY Carbon Fiber Telescopic Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

BEST TELESCOPIC

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Rod Type: Telescopic Carbon Fiber
  • Reel Type: Spinning Reel
  • Model: High-Density Inshore and Offshore
  • Size: 6.89’ when extended/5.90’ when closed

FEATURED SPECS

  • Lightweight telescopic spinning rod and reel combo

EXTRA FEATURES

  • Comes with a fishing bag with assorted soft plastics, crankbaits, and line

BUYING ADVICE

  • Telescopic rods don’t typically have as much sensitivity and flexibility as any other option. Keep that in mind when fishing for bass because your rod tip is what allows you to pick up on small nibbles.

BENEFITS

  • Telescopic rods are easy to transport
  • Comes with a bunch of accessories
  • They offer a 12-month warranty

DRAWBACKS

  • Geared more towards recreational “weekend” anglers

Telescopic rods have grown in popularity as fishing has become more a mainstream rec sport. These rods are easy to transport, and they don’t take up a lot of room in your trunk. The downside is that you don’t get a lot of the sensitivity that you would from a straight one-piece blank. 

The good news is, if you’re starting your fishing journey, they throw in a lot of extra fishing gear to help you get the ball rolling. 

Shakespeare Ugly Stik GX2 Ice Fishing combo

BEST FOR ICE FISHING

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Rod Type: Graphite and Fiberglass Ice Spinning Rod
  • Reel Type: Spinning Reel
  • Model: Ugly Stik GX2
  • Size: 26” to 30”

FEATURED SPECS

  • This is a size 20 spinning reel which is intended for ice fishing

EXTRA FEATURES

  • Considered a middle of the road option, powerful enough for larger fish but light enough for panfish

BUYING ADVICE

  • Ugly Stik is a great model, and this one is an extension of the typical rod for ice fishing applications

BENEFITS

  • Optimal length rod
  • EVA handle is comfortable when out in the cold
  • One-piece guides help maintain durability when ice builds up
  • Great value

DRAWBACKS

  • Wouldn’t recommend it for any fishing outside of the ice

Here we have a rod and reel combo that is essentially an extension of the Ugly Stik I talked about above. What makes this one different is it’s smaller size and less capable reel. Since you’re using it for ice fishing, you don’t need as much drag, and you won’t need as much power either because the distance from the fish to the surface is much less. 

The main benefit of this rod and reel combo for bass is its sensitivity. Shakespeare is known for having a nice sensitive rod, and that has always been an important buying factor for me. It should be for you as well. 

Abu Garcia Jordan Lee Low Profile Baitcaster

BEST LOW PROFILE COMBO

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Rod Type: Graphite Conventional Rod Ice Spinning Rod
  • Reel Type: Low-Profile Baitcaster
  • Model: Jordan Lee
  • Size: 27’

FEATURED SPECS

  • MagTrax brake system helps with handling large fish

EXTRA FEATURES

  • Comes in a right or left-handed design

BUYING ADVICE

  • My favorite thing about this combo is the Polymer Dri-Tac grips. If you get caught in the rain, you won’t have to worry about losing your grip on this rod.

BENEFITS

  • Dri-Tac grips are excellent
  • Low profile increases comfort and performance
  • The brake system helps boost your casting distance and accuracy
  • Excellent price point on Amazon

DRAWBACKS

  • The guides look a little fragile

The low-profile of this baitcast combo is what sells it to me. Much of the time, these types of reels get clunky and they get in the way but this one does a great job of fitting nicely into your hand with a smaller design while still having the power and strength you need to reel in the big fish.

Redington Fly Fishing Combo Kit 590-4

BEST FOR FLY FISHING

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Rod Type: 4-Piece Fly Fishing Rod Spinning Rod
  • Reel Type: Crosswater Fly Reel
  • Model: Crosswater
  • Size: 4WT 7’6” to 9WT 9’0”

FEATURED SPECS

  • Comes with a pre-spooled reel with disc-drag system

EXTRA FEATURES

  • They throw in a rod tube to protect your gear

BUYING ADVICE

  • Overall, not many bad things you can say about this rig. For the price, they’ve thrown in a lot of bonuses, and I think you’ll be happy with the results.

BENEFITS

  • Many size options
  • Accessories included
  • Dotted to make rigging easier
  • Smooth drag

DRAWBACKS

  • The reel is plastic, so you need to be careful with it

For my fly bass anglers out there, we have a rod and reel kit that takes the cake. This one looks great, it’s relatively durable, and it comes packed with a bunch of accessories if you’re dabbling with flies for the first time. 

It’s a composite blank with an adjustable drag, and it holds a load quite well. Let’s be realistic, it’s not the most high-quality fly rod you can buy, but the combos generally provide a starting point for you to expand upon with experience. 

ODDSPRO Kids Fishing Pole Kit

BEST COMBO FOR KIDS

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Rod Type: Plastic Telescopic Rod
  • Reel Type: Push Button Casting Reel
  • Model: N/A
  • Size: 3.94’ to 4.92’

FEATURED SPECS

  • Uses smaller EVA grips which are ideal for children's hands

EXTRA FEATURES

  • Comes loaded with bobbers, weights, jigs, and a carrying case

BUYING ADVICE

  • If you’re taking your kids out fishing for the first time, I would highly recommend getting this kit. It comes with everything they’ll need to get out there and catch their first fish.

BENEFITS

  • Great for kids
  • Telescopic rod is easy to transport
  • Push-button reel is simple to learn
  • Loaded with accessories

DRAWBACKS

  • Can’t think of any reason not to buy this one

My final choice is something for the kids in your life. The best rod and reel combo for bass fishing combines elements of simplicity, lightweight design, and durability. You’ll get all of that in this rod and reel combo for kids. 

The push-button reel allows them to learn how to cast without having to worry about a bail. It comes with a carrying case so they can keep everything together and feel proud as they walk down to the water with all their gear. Overall, it’s the best choice for young anglers. 

How to Choose the Right Bass Fishing Combo for You?

Now let’s break down some of the finer details of this article. We talked about a lot of different kinds of rods, but you might not know what type you should use for each situation. I want to help you understand what each rod is and why you should choose carefully. 

Spinning Rod and Reel

Spinning Rod and Reel
A spinning combo is signified by the reel sitting beneath the rod, and it has a bail that you need to open before you can cast. When you close the bail, you can start retrieving the lure.  Most people choose spinning rods for lightweight fishing applications like small backwater ponds, lakes, and rivers. These reels typically work best for bass fishing because they provide the lightweight flexibility you need to feel each nibble on your lure.  Due to their reduced size, you can’t use as heavy of a line as you would with a baitcaster, but in most situations, that’s okay because you’ll still be able to catch all the bass you want where you’re fishing. 

Baitcasting Combos

Baitcasting reels are sometimes called “conventional.” These have the reel on top of the rod, and the reel has a few different components. 

First, it has an exposed bail and usually some sort of leveling system that helps the line set easily on the spool. The main reason that someone would turn to a casting reel over a spinning reel is for sheer power and control over the fish you’re battling. 

Conventional reels provide a lot more cranking ability, and you can generally spool a lot more line on these reels, which allows for a longer drag. That’s why you’ll see most saltwater anglers always using casting reel and rod combos with medium heavy to heavy power. 

How to Choose a Good Fishing Rod

Okay, let’s put aside our spinning and casting differences and talk about the factors that make a good rod vs. a bad one. 

Rod Material – The material of your rod will determine the sensitivity and the strength of it. Fiberglass is a cheaper material that is lightweight, but it also provides more sensitivity than composite. While composite is more expensive, it is also heavier, and it doesn’t offer the level of sensitivity you need for ultralight finesse fishing. 

For that reason, that’s why you typically see conventional rods using composite because when you’re battling larger fish, you don’t need as much sensitivity or fast action. 

Line Guides – The guides are the eyes or holes that your line runs through when you cast and retrieve. These are an important part of the design because you want them to hold up, and you don’t want them causing friction on your line because it will reduce your casting distance. 

Handles and Reel Seats – The handle of the rod is a purchasing factor because you want something comfortable and natural feeling in your hands. A lot of cheap rods will use cork, which is porous, so it collects water and cracks over time. Look for EVA material used in the handles because it is more comfortable and less slippery. 

How to Choose a Good Fishing Reel

Fishing Reel

Now that you have the perfect rod picked out, you need a reel to pair with it. This is where the finer details will start to mean a lot more. 

Drag Pressure – The drag pressure refers to how much “pulling power” you have on your reel before the fish starts pulling you right out of the boat. As you increase the model size of your reel, you’re increasing the amount of drag you have. Most people can manage around 16-18 pounds of drag without feeling like you’re going overboard. 

Gear Ratio – When you see a reel that says it has a 6.2:1 gear ratio, it means that the gear inside the reel turns 6.2 times for every 360-degree crank you make on that reel. So, the higher the gear ratio, the less cranking you need to do to get that fish in your boat. Most reels will have a gear ratio within the 5-6:1 range. 

Bearings – There is a lot of fluctuation in the number of bearings you’ll find in a reel. Many will contain 5-6 stainless steel ball bearings with one anti-reverse bearing. Essentially, the more bearings you have inside the reel, the smoother the retrieval. It’s not quite that simple because the quality of the bearings plays a significant role as well, so I wouldn’t worry too much about that. 

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve seen my picks for the best rod and reel combos for bass fishing, what do you think? All of the options recommended above are well-rated in the online community and well respected by anglers all over the country. When all else fails, I always recommend going with a big name brand like Penn or Shakespeare because you know they have a strong reputation. 

Regardless of what choice you make, keep in mind where you plan on fishing for bass and what type of bass you’re looking to catch. 

When you pair a little bit of knowledge with a little research, you’ll find yourself on the fast track to fishing success!

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