If You Could Only Have One Fishing Rod

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Theft, accidents; could the worst-case-scenario ever find you at a tournament or a road trip destination with just one rod and reel outfit? Unlikely, but if it happened, what would you choose? 

We talked to some of the sport’s top anglers, and we asked what they’d choose if faced with a one-rod scenario. Their strategies are worth noting, as limited budgets don’t have to limit your fishing ability.


Four-time Bassmaster Classic champion from Kalamazoo, Mich.

Tackle: Quantum Tour KVD 6-foot, 10-inch medium-heavy rod, 6.6:1 Quantum KVD baitcaster, 17-pound fluorocarbon

Reasoning: “I use this for spinnerbaits around targets, swim jigs, topwaters, and jerkbaits,” VanDam said. “I always have several of these on my deck.”


Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Palatka, Fla.

Tackle: 7-foot, 1-inch medium-heavy Duckett White Ice rod, 6.3:1Team Lew’s LITE reel, 15-pound fluorocarbon

Reasoning: “This set up is very versatile; I can fish a Texas-rigged YUM Dinger, a Carolina rig, Chatterbaits, spinnerbaits, crankbaits and buzzbaits,” Scroggins said. “You can get a lot done with this one combination.”



FLW Tour pro from Palm Bay, Fla.

Tackle: 7-foot, 6-inch medium-heavy Halo rod, 7:1 Ardent casting reel, 14-pound Sunline fluorocarbon 

Reasoning: “I’ll use this to fish a 1/2-ounce Nichols jig in JT’s The Best Color Ever, which is a combination of green pumpkin and black and blue, with a Gambler Burner Craw in green pumpkin/black and blue,” Kenney said. “With this setup, I can flip/pitch shallow cover, swim (the jig) through shallow cover, fish mid-depth or even deep in any water color except super muddy, and be productive 


Bassmaster Elite Series pro from Guntersville, Ala.

Tackle: 7-foot medium-action Quantum PT Smoke spinning rod, Quantum Smoke Speed Freak 25 series spinning reel, 10-pound braid and 8-pound fluorocarbon leader.

Reasoning: “I use this for dropshotting and I love the braid because I don’t get line twist and tangles,” Lee said. “Also, you can use high-vis line so you can see it well and the fluorocarbon leader keeps you from spooking fish.

“I can catch everything on that setup — smallies, largemouth and spots in 3-35 feet.”



Tackle: 7-foot, 2-inch medium-heavy Daiwa Tatula rod, 6.3:1 Daiwa Tatula CT reel, 12-pound Maxima monofilament, and a River2Sea Bling spinnerbait

Reasoning: “The spinnerbait is the most versatile bait out there. You can buzz it like a topwater, you can fish it in the mid-range and you can slow roll it on the bottom like you would a jig. It’s going to catch fish in all those scenarios.

“It imitates shad, it imitates bluegill, it imitates baitfish of any sort. You can fish it in dirty water, clear water, muddy water, stained water, tannic water. That rod, reel, line and bait combo is what I want to fish anywhere, anytime if I can only have one.

“The line complements the rod, but it also complements the bait. Twelve-pound test Maxima monofilament is heavy enough to catch fish on top, light enough to fish it on the bottom and it’s also effective for fishing the mid-range.

“If you get a medium-action rod, it can be too light for throwing worms and jigs. If you decided to go too heavy, you couldn’t throw crankbaits and spinnerbaits with it. But a medium-heavy rod would cover all the bases.