The long and short of rod uses


Garrick Dixon

The continued evolution of bass fishing equipment has enhanced the methods in which we use it.

Fishing rods are good examples. We can be more selective in the rods we choose for specific techniques, be it in material, actions and lengths. Those options make us more efficient anglers.

A recent trend in longer rods being offered has added to those options. You’re seeing more anglers opting for rods in the 7 1/2- to 8-foot range for techniques other than flipping.

Those longer rods give you a huge advantage when fishing open water and making long casts. My Quantum Signature Series Tour KVD 7-10 medium action rod allows me to load and launch a Strike King 6XD farther than conventional length rods.

In addition, the longer rod moves more line when setting the hook or for catching up with fish that take my football jig off a ledge in deep water after a long cast.

As advantageous as long rods can be, though, I’m seeing anglers opting for more length to a fault. Long rods can be unwieldy for casting some moving baits to shallow targets. You sacrifice accuracy – a critical aspect often overlooked by anglers casting to cover.

If you miss by a foot, you can spook a bass that you didn’t know was there. Shorter rods with precise tapers make it easier to drop a lure on a dime and provide a more subtle entry.

For example, one of my favorite techniques is to fish a spinnerbait or swim jig around shallow targets. To get those reaction strikes, it’s paramount to put your bait where you want it and with very little commotion. When searching for bass or trying to cover a lot of water this can be a huge advantage.

To reach those tight areas, I use an underhand or sidearm rollcast. The KVD Tour 6-6 or 6-10 medium heavy action makes that easier, especially when fishing spinnerbaits or swim jigs. It has a softer tip that loads the rod best for the low trajectory/soft splash entry you need. I also can make a pretty long cast with it without sacrificing accuracy.

Now, if I’m in a maze of close range targets, like standing timber, flooded bushes, or around tight boat docks, I prefer a 6-6 with a shorter handle that isn’t catching on my clothing.

I also may use those shorter or mid-length rods for better accuracy while pitching a worm or finesse jig in clear water when the bass are extra spooky.

Another category where I drop down in rod length is for small topwaters like the KVD Splash or jerkbaits when I need to get them into tight places. I love skipping that popper under docks or willow bushes – places where many anglers use frogs. I have a 6-10 rod set up with 14-pound monofilament just for that application.

Shorter rods with softer actions also are great for accurate casting of small crankbaits around docks or laying logs. My choice is a 6-8 medium action rod that allows me to be more accurate than with a longer rod.

On a related note, I prefer composite rods for crankbait applications. Graphite is great for fishing lures with single hooks, but a blend of graphite and fiberglass combine sensitivity with slower, softer tip action which is important when fishing treble hooked lures. Another advantage to softer action composite rods is they enhance the action of crankbaits as they deflect off cover.

Keep in mind that rod length is relative to the height of the person using it. While a 6-10 rod may work for me as a somewhat taller person, a shorter angler might be better suited with a slightly shorter rod.

The key to rod selection is to get the right length and action for a specific technique without sacrificing precision casting and lure presentation in shallow water around cover. That’s why you need to mix rods of various lengths into your arsenal.

Kevin VanDam's column appears weekly on You can also find him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.