I have guys ask me all the time how many rods and reels do I have. The short answer is too many. There is probably an “anglers anonymous” group somewhere for guys like me. I want to try the newest bass fishing toys. Even before I had to try these toys and report on them so you guys know which toys to play with, I had this nervous tick when I went into the tackle shop and there was a new bass fishing stick for which I developed an insatiable appetite.
The next question that usually follows after confessing my fetish for feathery light fishing combos is “how many rod and reel combinations should I buy?”
Six. Yep it’s an exact science. Okay maybe nothing in fishing is exact, but in bass fishing I think six will get most guys to where they need to be in their competitive nature, whether that be against the bass or the other bass anglers in their club. Of course I might have six rods stuffed in Rod Gloves jammed into one rod tube in my Ranger rod locker and another 20 jammed in the other tubes.
But more often than not, I start piling rods on my deck when I’m not sure what the fish are doing, and what I started to realize was I would only get 4, 5 or 6 rods out in about 90 percent of the situations. That’s fishing clearwater highland Ozark impoundments like Beaver Lake or Table Rock Lake. That was fishing Tennessee River fisheries like Guntersville, Kentucky and Pickwick Lakes. That was fishing muddy grass laden fisheries like Lake Dardanelle on the Arkansas River or clear grass laden fisheries up north like Champlain in New York.
It seems like I never really go more than about 6 rods when I’m trying to figure the bass out. And pretty much everything after that is some duplicate or derivative of those six rods.
So take your favorite six rods and see how close they come to this set of bass fishing sticks.
- 7-foot, 6-inch heavy-power baitcaster combo (extra-fast action)
Main purpose: Flipping, pitching, punching, frog rod and swimbaits
- 6-foot, 9-inch medium-power baitcaster combo (extra-fast action)
Main purpose: topwaters and jerkbaits
- 7-foot medium-power baitcaster combo (moderate action)
Main purpose: crankbaits
- 7-foot medium-heavy power baitcaster combo (mod-fast to fast action)
Main purpose: texas-rigs and jigs
- 7-foot medium-heavy power baitcaster combo (moderate action)
Main purpose: spinnerbaits, vibrating and swimming jigs
- 6-foot, 9-inch medium power spinning combo (moderate to mod-fast action)
Main purpose: shaky heads, drop shots, lightweight plastics or light jerkbaits and topwaters
You can do a lot of bass fishing with various patterns, in many weather conditions, seasons, types of fisheries and situations with these six combos. It basically gives you a strong mix of contact baits (worm, jig, shaky head) and reaction baits (topwater, jerkbait, crankbait, and spinnerbaits).
Obviously after 25 years of buying tackle, I’ve amassed a lot of duplicates which is nice because when I do figure out the bass are on a crankbait bite, I can rig up four crankbait rods and give them several different looks.
But when you first set out to find bass, you really only need one or two of a certain reaction bait and keep rotating through them until you figure out what the bass want. Then as you start to figure out they are on a certain type of reaction bait or a certain type of contact bait you can bring your duplicate rods into play.
But when I was getting started, six rods served me well for a lot of years. And even now I’ve had several trips where four to six rods were on the deck when I was really on the bite good. If you have a bunch of rods, going back through your Rod and Reel Matrix can be a good exercise to find your six productive combos.
My favorite days are actually those days when you have one rod on the deck and everything else is in the rod locker. But more often than not the bass are changing and we’re constantly having to test the gamet of presentations against the mood of the bass. Plus we have all these fun toys and it seems a shame to leave them in their Plano boxes too long.
How many combos do you find yourself fishing on an average fishing trip? How many would you like to have to be “comfortable” with not having to retie your lures all the time on a fishing trip?