Best Crankbait Rods for Bass Fishing

The product recommendations on our site are independently chosen by our editors. When you click through our links, we may earn a commission. 

When trying to nail down the best cranking rods, things can get a little complicated. There’s the straight glass rod contingent, comprised of anglers who love the flex of fiberglass and don’t mind compromising on the added weight to get it. Then there’s the crew that just chucks a CrankBait out on a normal rod without thinking twice, one that’s typically far too stiff and responsive to effectively and efficiently fish a CrankBait.

Additionally, there’s the bulk of us who fall somewhere in between, a little dazed and confused by all the options and trying to figure out the best bang for our buck. If I’m being honest, that’s me. I’m not a big cranker. Short of slinging a square bill around in shallow water and flicking the occasional Shad Rap on a spinning rod in the winter, I don’t do a lot of cranking.

Granted, I have caught a handful of bass on a 10XD, and a hundred or so on a 5XD. So, I’m not likely as ignorant as I feel on the subject. However, I wanted to know more. Thus I delved off into the world of CrankBait rods, discussing the ins and outs with experienced anglers and scouring the web for info on the subject. This is what I found.




Buy at  
Buy at Tackle Warehouse
Lipless CrankBaits range widely in size. When looking for the “best” lipless rod, we took into account baits in the 1/2- to 3/4-ounce range, since this range includes the vast majority of popular lipless cranks. For these purposes, the 7-foot, 2-inch heavy power St. Croix Mojo Bass Trigon Glass Casting Rod is hard to beat.

This is a heavy power fiberglass rod with a moderate action, but it’s still surprisingly light and sensitive. Though I haven’t used a lot of glass rods in the last 10 years, I have recent personal experience with this Rip-N-Chatter rod from St. Croix. I was surprised by how light and easy this rod was to fish with in comparison to those (now relic) glass rods not that long ago.

The give of a glass rod like this is beneficial when fishing with a lipless for a couple reasons: it’s more forgiving when setting the hook and when fighting the fish. When using treble hooks, you’re more likely to tear through a fish on the hookset with a stiffer rod. Likewise, the fish can gain leverage and either tear free or sling a bait on the fight.

This rod loads up lovely on the hookset and allows the angler to keep pressure on the fish during the fight, confident that the flex in the rod will absorb any sudden movement from the fish. This is thanks to the moderate action of the rod, while its heavy power gives you the backbone needed to rip both lipless cranks and vibrating jigs from vegetation.

*Lipless honorable mention: 7-foot MH Abu Garcia Winch Casting Rod (moderate)



Buy at  
Buy at Tackle Warehouse

The Tatula Elite lineup from Daiwa boasts some of the best rods on the market for bass fishing, most under $200. Working with several professional anglers, Daiwa has brought to market over two dozen meticulously thought out models in the Tatula Elite Series. The Randy Howell 7-foot Medium Light Cranking Rod is one of them.

Howell won the 2014 Bassmaster Classic on Lake Guntersville cranking a DT-6 and a (then prototype) Livingston Lures Howeller CrankBait. I was working for B.A.S.S. at the time and stood on the Spring Creek bridge looking on as Howell sealed the deal on the final day of that Classic, with a 7-foot medium light Daiwa Tatula cranking rod in his hands.

Howell missed very few fish that day en route to a 29-pound, 2-ounce limit, none that mattered best I can remember. This performance alone makes his cranking rod one to be reckoned with. Though he was doing more shallow cranking than square billing that day, the 7-foot medium light is still well suited for square bill fishing and a favorite of many for the task.

This is a graphite rod, made with Daiwa’s SVF NANOPLUS technology. SVF is short for Super high Volume Fiber, which “combines precise resin control with unidirectional Graphite fiber to produce a blank with maximum graphite density.”

This tech results in a lightweight, powerful and sensitive cranking rod. This particular model of Tatula Elite has a medium light power, and a regular action. The combination makes for a rod strong enough to wrestle big ones to the boat with still enough give to keep the fish from tearing free on the fight.

*Square bill honorable mention: 6-foot, 10-inch medium Lew’s Custom Lite Casting Rod (moderate fast)



Buy at Tackle Warehouse 

Shimano has been one of the foremost leaders in the bass fishing rod market for decades. If you’re in the market for a mid-depth cranking rod capable of handling anything from a Rapala DT-6 to a Strike King 3XD, the 7-foot medium Shimano Expride B is pretty sweet.

This is a medium power fiberglass rod with a moderate action. This combination is well suited for medium diving CrankBaits since these lures are rarely fished around heavy cover like a shallow square bill would be. Instead, they are used more in open water along clean or rocky bottoms. That being said, the 7-foot medium Expride is still plenty enough rod for ticking the tops of submerged vegetation, you’ll just want to beef up your line a bit for situations like this where the bass may try to bury you up.

What you’ll find too with several of these mid-depth, square bill and lipless rod recommendations is that each will make a pretty good substitute for another–in these three categories. However, when it comes to deep cranking, you’ll really need to go to the technique specific stuff.

*Mid-depth honorable mention: 7’ M G. Loomis GCX Crankbait Casting Rod (moderate)



Buy at  
Buy at Tackle Warehouse

It’s impossible to even start the conversation on deep cranking without first paying homage to the king of cranking, Kevin VanDam. It’s sad to think that there’s now a generation that didn’t get to witness VanDam wrecking them on a deep diving crank while a half dozen of the best anglers in the world looked on from a few boat lengths away, mouth agape without a bite. KVD did this week after week for a decade or more.

No one knows more about deep cranking than VanDam. He’s been intimately involved in creating some of the best deep CrankBaits ever in the 5XD and 6XD. He also helped design what he believes to be the best CrankBait rod for these baits and others like them— his 7-foot, 4-inch MH Lew’s KVD Composite Cranking Casting Rod. Who am I to argue with that?

VanDam went the composite route with his cranking rod—a mixture of both graphite and fiberglass. He’s long been a believer of this composite combination to take advantage of the flex of fiberglass without compromising lightness and sensitivity of graphite. The need for the benefits of this combination are never more apparent than they are with deep CrankBaits.

When you need a rod with a parabolic bend that launches a bait a great distance, that’s also still stiff enough to hook a fish at the end of such a cast–and sensitive enough to relay the bottom contour along the way back–which is pivotal with baits that dive deeper than 10 feet… This is the rod to use.

*Deep cranking honorable mention: 7-foot, 9-inch MH Fenwick World Class Cranking Casting Rod (moderate fast)



Buy at Tackle Warehouse 

As CrankBaits began getting bigger and bigger a decade or so ago, it became apparent that cranking rods were going to have to grow as well. When the Strike King 8XD and 10XD burst onto the scene, anglers tied them on their flipping sticks and did the best they could. A 10XD comes in right at 2 ounces. If you try to heave this thing out on a normal CrankBait rod, you’ll snap it like a twig in the backcast. The make-do flipping stick approach offered zero give. Something had to be done.

Now, there are several quality cranking options specifically designed for these magnum plugs and others like them. The cream of the crop in the opinion of many is the 8-foot heavy power Dobyns Champion XP Crankbait Casting Rod. My research for this piece included a social media poll where the Dobyns cranking rods came in near the top of the pack by way of public opinion. In particular, their deep cranking options were highly recommended.

Dobyns’ high modulus graphite blank offers strength and sensitivity, while keeping the large rod light and well balanced. Long handles are a big deal with these bigger baits. With a 14- and 1/2-inch handle and rated for a 2-ounce plug, this is the perfect rod for heaving and hauling the more popular magnum CrankBaits on the market.

*Magnum cranking honorable mention: 7-foot, 11-inch MH Ark Invoker Tour Series Casting Rods (moderate fast)