One of the more popular series of articles I wrote several years ago has been my recommendation for a 6 rod and 6 reel combo system that would cover most of the bass fishing situations anglers will encounter. Obviously it doesn’t answer all scenarios, but if you were trying to figure out how to cover most of the bases, the 6 Rods and 6 Reels recommendations were a good place to start.
Since that time, the most common question I have to answer about those two articles is what line I would use on each. A fair question since matching your rod and reel to your line is probably more important than picking the right rod and reel. Too light a line on too heavy a rod, and you’ll be breaking off that fish you’ve been after when it finally does bite. Too heavy a line on too soft a rod, and you’ll be fighting the wind and just the general flow of line off the reel.
1. 20-pound fluorocarbon for flipping and swimbaits, 65-pound braid for frogging
The main consideration here is what type of cover you will be fishing. If you’re fishing around a lot of grass and vegetation, the braid will help you cut through the grass if a fish blows up on a frog or bites your plastic punched into the mat. If you’re going to be flipping and pitching open cover like bushes, boat docks, trees or throwing swimbaits, the 20-pound fluorocarbon would be the ticket.
Me personally I’ve settled on braids like Sufix Performance braid, Vicious braid or Seaguar Smackdown braid. I look for braid that is a bit more limp for better casting and more manageability. For fluorocarbon, I’m usually going with 20-pound Seaguar AbrazX or Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon.
2. 10 or 12-pound fluorocarbon for jerkbaits or 40-pound braid for topwaters
I usually go with a pretty light fluorocarbon with jerkbaits. I will go up to 12-pound if I am fishing around a bit of cover or there are really big fish. But I don’t want the line to over power the finesse actions of high quality jerkbaits.
On the topwater side, I’m all braid. I will use 65-pound braid on really big topwaters, but most of the time I stick with 40-pound braid. I will put a stiff leader of 15-pound monofilament for about 12 to 18 inches at the end of the braid to my topwater. This short leader keeps a walking or darting topwater from turning and catching the braid that tends to float on the surface. That stiff short leader of mono will keep the bait away from your line.
3. 10 to 12-pound fluorocarbon for crankbaits
Whether I’m fishing shallow crankbaits in the prespawn or deep divers in the middle of the summer, I like a small diameter fluorocarbon to crank. Again I want the bait to have a good action, the line to cut through the water, and the bait achieve its maximum depth so I can cover a wider range of water on one cast. You can get away with monofilament. But the fluorocarbon doesn’t stretch as much and seems like you can really tell when something changes with the bait. a lot bites in the winter and prespawn are just pressure changes on the load of the rod.
4. 15-pound fluorocarbon for casting Texas rigs, jigs and Carolina rigs
I like to have a bit beefier line when casting a jig or a Texas rig where you really have to drive a hook on the hookset because it has to go through the plastic, into the fish’s mouth often in pretty deep water. So You want a bit stronger rod and a little heavier line. I like Seaguar InvizX and Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon.
5. 17-pound fluorocarbon for vibrating jigs, spinnerbaits and swim jigs
I will go with heavier line on these lures because they are always moving, usually at a good speed. The fish doesn’t have as long to make a desicion and see if there is line attached and the force of some of the strikes, it makes it nice to have a little extra cushion in the form of some heavier pound test. I had a fish two years ago break my heart on a stump with 15-pound fluorocarbon on a spinnerbait. Since then, I’ve not lost hardly any fish on heavier 17-pound tests. I often use Seaguar InvizX or Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon with bottom contact baits.
6. 20-pound braid with an 8-pound fluorocarbon leader for shaky heads, drop shots
I have braid on all my spinning reels. You can tie an 8-12 foot leader on there with a small Alberto knot and it will cast easily out of your spool and through the guides with no issue. But I get the added sensitivity of braid when I’m fishing very light lures in usually deep water. Plus I think it presents the baits a little more natural, and you won’t fight line twist and coils on spinning gear with braid.
Again these are just meant to be starting points. They way you fish might differ from how I fish. And you might want heavier or lighter pound tests accordingly depending on the waters you fish. Obviously certain lures, like big swimbaits for instance, require more careful consideration. And I certainly have a lot more rods than just these 6. But I find when I fish in someone else’s boat, I usually only grab 4-6 rods, and this system is still something I fall back on a lot.