Pros and cons of longer rods

The new Bassmaster Elites Series rule that allows rods up to 10 feet this year hasn’t been a factor, but that could change as we get into summer patterns.

Several companies have come out with longer rods, and I’m working with Quantum to develop new spinning and cranking rods that extend beyond the former 8-foot limit B.A.S.S. imposed.

Are there benefits? Absolutely, especially in those fishing scenarios where longer casts give the angler an edge.

My experience of fishing the ultra-clear Great Lakes has proven that the farther you can stay off a school of fish the more success you can have. Longer rods will deliver additional casting distance, providing the rod is matched with the right reel.

To achieve those benefits, you’re going to have to increase the line capacity of the reels you use. The more line you can get on a spool the easier it will unfurl on a cast. You probably won’t see much of a benefit with smaller spooled-reels.

For example, my spinning reels are bigger sizes with wider, large capacity spools. My crankbait reels are the 200 size that offers more spool depth and width to facilitate the benefits of longer casts.

There’s no question that I can get a crankbait farther out and cover more water as a result of these longer rods. That allows me to keep the bait in the strike zone longer and get deep divers to run their maximum depth.

It can pay off with bottom bouncing baits like jigs, worms or tube baits, too. Not only can you make longer casts, but it helps you keep a proper line angle and maintain bottom contact longer.

Another advantage – and something anglers need to remember – is that longer rods move a lot more line when setting the hook. If you’re setting the hook with a 9-foot rod, you’re going to have a lot more power than you do with 7 footers.

But that can cause problems if there aren’t some adjustments made in the rod action; anglers may be breaking their line more frequently on hooksets with longer rods. So, if you’re accustomed to using 6-pound line on 7-foot rods, you need more taper in the rod to absorb the shock of the hook-set or you need to step up in line size.

That adjustment may be required in your baitcasting equipment as well. If you’re one that prefers cranking with 10-pound line, you may have to increase to 12 or 14 with these longer rods.

Disadvantages? Well, you lose accuracy with longer rods, but that’s not as big of issue when making long casts in open water.

Also, longer rods create transportation problems, whether it’s a manufacturer shipping 9-10 footers to retailers or the angler storing them in a rod locker, his vehicle or his home.

Because of this, I think you’re going to see more telescopic or two-piece rods being offered. That’s not a big deal because modern technology in rod design and durability will offset any former issues that may have occurred with telescopic or two-piece rods.

This new trend is still in its infancy, so you can bet manufacturers will be testing these new entries to find a happy medium in rod length, balance and handling.

That’s not to say longer rods are going to completely replace your everyday equipment. It’s a niche category and just an extension of the technique specific equipment that has been growing for bass anglers for years.

It’s something to consider, especially if you encounter those situations where longer casts can get you more bites.

It’s all about the attitude!

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