Bass Basics: Which rod and reel do I need?

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Logan Crumley

Choosing rods and reels for fishing is like buying a car. Many types are available, with everything from low-cost, no-frills models to top-of-the-line imports with lots of bells and whistles. Not everyone needs or wants the same thing.

Some folks are happy with an inexpensive, plain-Jane model. It gets them where they’re going and that’s what counts. Others need lots of horsepower, plus the latest innovations. They’ll pay more for their preference, but they’ll be happy, too. Most folks fall between these extremes.

For people just learning to fish, purchasing an easy-to-use spinning or spincast combo is a good way to start. Each includes a rod the manufacturer has paired with a suitable reel and matching line, so you can eliminate guesswork and start catching fish right away. Combos are usually cheaper than rods and reels bought separately, and if you want to catch some of the more popular freshwater fish (bass, catfish, crappie, bluegills, etc.), most spincast and spinning models will serve you quite well.

Here is a rundown on the choices so you can decide which is best for you.

Spincast reels

Spincast reels, also called push-button reels, are the simplest to use. To cast, you just push the button and hold it down while bringing the rod behind you. Then swing the rod forward and let go of the button to send the bait to its target. Because all important parts are beneath a cover, these reels are less prone to backlashing and tangles. That makes them perfect for children or novice anglers learning to cast. If you’re introducing a child to fishing, there are colorful kids’ models that feature cartoon characters to pique their interest.

Be aware, however, that you can’t cast as far or as accurately with spincast tackle because these reels hold less line than other types. You’ll also have a harder time landing big powerful fish that strip line when fighting.

Spinning rods

Spinning reels are well suited for beginners, too. Casting and reeling are simple enough for anyone to quickly learn, and the open-faced design provides superior accuracy and longer casting. These reels especially excel with lighter lines and baits, and they’re easy to side cast. This makes them great for bank fishing around low-hanging branches. They are better for landing fish on light line, too, because there is less friction through guides on the rod’s underside.

Spinning reels’ primary downside is the fact that most don’t have the power needed to land big fish. If you’re fishing for trout, bass and other small to mid-sized sportfish, however, they perform very well.