When I first started getting into bass fishing, I used 3 or 4 rods for all my lures and techniques. It worked well for a few years until I got better at fishing certain techniques. I realized some of my rods weren’t quite right for the application. One of those techniques was fishing crankbaits.
My medium power rod was fine for cranking at first, but I was losing out on casting distance and was losing some fish. I decided it was time to invest in a few crankbait specific rods to take my cranking to a new level. I learned a lot about what makes a good cranking rod, and I’ve collected my knowledge into this guide.
Best Cranking Rods
Do you really need a Cranking Specific Rod?
Yes, absolutely! But the fishing industry has done a great job marketing highly specialized rods to us weekend anglers.
They have it planted in our heads that we need a special rod for every single technique. This is false in many cases for the weekend angler. Most anglers will do well to have a handful of multi-purpose rods for most of their fishing.
As your crankbait fishing skills develop, you can benefit greatly from investing in a few good cranking rods. Here are some benefits of crankbait rods.
- Improved Casting Distance – Rods designed specifically for fishing crankbaits transfer more energy from the rod to the lure. They do this by having a softer action (more flex), which puts more energy into the rod blank. This creates a slingshot effect when the energy is released on the cast follow through. When paired with a proper cranking reel, casting is optimized for distance.
- Improved Hooksets – A better hookup ratio is another major benefit to using the more limber cranking rods. The natural reaction is to set the hook when you feel the telltale thump of a bite. A quick hookset with a fast action rod can pull the bait out of a fish’s mouth. The softer section of a crankbait rod creates a delay effect that allows the fish to really get the bait in their mouth.
- Fewer Snags, Better Feel – Finally, anglers will experience far fewer snags (and less frustration), and better feel for the bait working on the bottom. The delayed action of a soft tip gives the bait time to deflect off objects instead of pulling into them. The more you fish crankbaits, the better you will learn to control the crankbait around structure, keeping it in the strike zone longer.
In the video below, Kevin Van Dam (a legit cranking master) describes why he uses specialized cranking rod setups.
Crankbait Rod Reviews
Now it is time to review these rods in more detail. Many of these rods are designed specifically for fishing crankbaits, while some are not marketed as cranking rods but have all the right characteristics of one.
- Pros: 5 cranking models for any need, made from feather light carbon glass blend blanks, premium cork handles, and Fuji guides.
- Cons: The 2 biggest models are difficult to find.
With the Curado line, Shimano has created an attractive rod lineup for the weekend warrior. They built a full lineup of technique specific rods at a price that allows hardcore weekend bass anglers to fill out their rod lineup with Curado rods. This includes the Crankin’ rods, with 5 models to fit any type of crankbait fishing (3 of which are easy to find online).
|Model:||Rod Specs:||Lure Weight:||Use:|
|CDCC72M||7′-0″ Med/Mod||5/16 – 1/2oz||Small Crankbaits|
|CDCC74MH||7’3″ MH/Mod||1/4 – 3/4oz||All Purpose|
|CDCC78MH||7′-8″ MH/Mod||1/2 – 1-1/2oz||Deep Diving|
The rods are built from a carbon/glass composite blend with nano resin, resulting in a lightweight and sensitive rod that has the parabolic bend needed for crushing big bass on crankbaits. Bass anglers will also appreciate the soft, premium cork handles and the rubberized reel seat. Having used the 7’-4” model for a few years now, I can tell you the feel in your hand is excellent, and they fish crankbaits extremely well.
2. Lew’s David Fritts Perfect Cranking Speed Stick
- Pros: Great price, great Lew’s customer service, 4 sizes to meet all your crankbait needs.
- Cons: The Medium-Heavy power may seem stiff at first but has good action overall.
Best Cheap Crankbait Rod: If you are looking to get into crankbait fishing but don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a new rod, the Perfect Crankbait Speed Stick should be your first choice. These composite crankbait rods were designed by David Fritts, the legendary B.A.S.S. and FLW crankbait fisherman, so you know they are set up perfectly.
There are 4 sizes in the lineup, from 6′-9″ for fishing squarebill and smaller cranks to 7′-11″ for fishing the biggest deep divers like a Strike King 10XD. The rod blanks are 42 million modulus graphite/fiberglass composite, so they are lightweight, strong, and sensitive with the parabolic bend needed for this technique. For under $100, these are some fantastic cranking rods.
3. St. Croix Mojo Bass Glass
- Pros: All glass construction, in 4 different models at an affordable price.
- Cons: Slightly heavier than comparable higher priced rods.
The Mojo Bass rods are popular species-specific rods from St. Croix. Mojo rods sort of started the trend towards building special rods for specific techniques. It really does help anglers looking for a new rod to see what type of lures it will work best with. The Glass cranking rods follow this model. I have owned several of these rods, and they have been great for improving my crankbait game.
|Model:||Rod Specs:||Lure Weight:||Use:|
|MGC610MM||6′-10″ Med/Mod||1/4 – 3/4 oz||Small Crankbaits|
|MGC72MM||7’2″ Med/Mod||1/4 – 3/4 oz||All-Purpose|
|MGC72HM||7′-2″ H/Mod||1/2 – 1-3/8 oz||Deep Diving|
|MGC74MHM||7′-4″ MH/Mod||3/8 – 1 oz||Medium to Deep Diving|
- MGC610MM – At 6’-10” this is the shortest, and best rod for squarebill crankbaits. I use this rod for throwing KVD1.5 and KVD2.5 squarebill plugs along wood and rip rap banks, as well as over shallow brush piles.
- MGC72MM – The 7’-2” Medium is the all-purpose cranking rod. It has enough length and action for fishing a wide variety of crankbaits. I use this rod for fishing Rapala DT10, DT14, DT16, and Strike King 5XD, 6XD crankbaits.
- MGC72HM – A heavy power with moderate action rod perfect for launching Strike King 10XD style crankbaits that weight up to 1-1/2 ounces. Deep divers that big need a powerful rod to handle them.
- MGC74MHM – I don’t have this rod, but if I did, I would use it for fishing the really big crankbaits like the 8XD and 10XD. IF you plan on casting heavy 1.5oz+ cranks you really need that Medium-Heavy power so you aren’t overpowered by the lure.
4. G. Loomis E6X Crankbait Rods
View at: Cabela’s
- Pros: 2 different cranking models, cork handles, premium G Loomis rod blanks.
- Cons: No model for bigger crankbaits.
G Loomis has always been known for premium (expensive) fishing rods, typically costing up to $400-500. That price range put most of Loomis cranking rods out of reach of the weekend angler. To reach new anglers, they came out with the budget minded E6X series of rods, 2 of which are crankbait models. All the E6X cranking rods are built from high quality 7-foot graphite blanks, with varying soft actions to effectively fish all kinds of crankbaits.
E6X 843C CBR – This rod has the softest action in the group and is rated for 8-14lb line and crankbaits up to 5/8 oz. We recommend this rod for fishing squarebill crankbaits and medium divers.
E6X 845C CBR – This is a Medium-Heavy rod with Moderate-Fast action. The extra power upgrades the line rating to 10-20lb and the lure weight to 1 oz. This rod is good for all but the smallest balsas and biggest deep diving crankbaits.
5. St. Croix Bass X
- Pros: Affordable bass specific rods with a 5-year warranty.
- Cons: Cheaper guides, heavier than more expensive cranking rods.
Great Entry Level Cranking Rods: Bass X rods are designed for bass fishing on a budget. They are priced just below the Mojo Bass lineup and have a similar number of technique-specific models. There are no glass versions like in the Mojos, but there are 3 models with Moderate and Moderate-Fast tips that are fine for fishing crankbaits.
The BXC72MHM is the first rod to consider for cranking. With a 7’-2” length and Moderate action, this would be your all-purpose cranking rod. The BXC74MHMF and BXC711HMF would be the best options for medium to very large crankbaits, respectively. The one thing to watch out for on the budget rods are the guides. In my experience, anything less than Fuji guides you need to be very careful with and observant for damage.
6. Fenwick Elite Tech Bass Cranking
- Pros: Lightweight, all-purpose cranking, with the strong Fenwick reputation for quality.
- Cons: Graphite only blanks.
Great All-Purpose Cranking: Fenwick has been making great rods for years. Both the HMX and HMG series have been very popular for years. With the Elite Tech Bass lineup, they have successfully jumped into the technique specific rod market. There are 5 rods in the series, with 3 models best suited for crankbait fishing.
The Elite Tech Bass cranking rods feature an all graphite blank, titanium guides, and a split grip foam EVA/TAC handle. The TAC improves the grip in wet conditions, which I can appreciate when trying to launch big crankbaits in rainy weather. The rods are rated for 10-20lb line and crankbaits weighing up to 2oz. These qualities make the Fenwick Elite Tech Bass cranking rod a great choice for all your cranking needs, from shallow to medium, and the deepest diving crankbaits.
7. Falcon BuCoo SR
- Pros: Great prices, Fuji guides and reel seats.
- Cons: Some won’t care for the EVA foam handles.
The Falcon BuCoo SR promises anglers a premium rod at a budget price. The fact that you get a quality graphite blank with Fuji guides and Fuji reel seats confirms this to be true. The silver and grey color scheme is certainly eye-catching as well.
The BRC-4-17 model is the best for most types of crankbaits. For deep divers go with the MH versions BRC-5-17 and BRC-5-173. They have a little more backbone to handle heavier plugs with ease. There is also a shorter 6’6” rod (BRC-5-166) that looks to be great for lipless crankbaits and vibrating jigs.
8. Abu Garcia Veritas
- Pros: 2 models, great balance, lightweight, affordable.
- Cons: Foam handles, average guides.
Best Crankbait Rod Under $100: If you want to get into cranking without spending a fortune, the Ike Winch cranking rod is great. The composite rods utilize graphite fused with HSG (high strain glass) blanks. That is a fancy way of saying the rods have the proper parabolic action for throwing crankbaits. The guides are titanium with zirconium inserts. Those are not quite Fuji grade you would get on a high dollar rod, but good enough.
Anglers also appreciate the ratcheting reel seat and EVA foam handles. The two cranking models are rated for casting crankbaits 1/4-1oz. The 6’-6” VTSC66-6 would be good for rod size for smaller and lighter cranks, and I would recommend the7’-1” VTSC71-6 for medium sized crankbaits.
9. St. Croix Avid X
- Pros: Top of the line materials, with excellent sensitivity.
- Cons: Price, and only fast action tips.
Great for Lipless Crankbaits: All the Avid X rods are stellar, and the AXC70MF and AXC66MF might be some of the best crankbait rods for lipless crankbaits and vibrating jigs. It has a fast tip for ripping and popping a lipless bait through grass with medium power and poly curve action for keeping big bass hooked. These rod models would also double well as a bladed swim jig rod.
10. St. Croix Premier – Best Spinning Rod for Crankbaits
- Pros: Premiers are some of the best spinning rods for the money.
- Cons: Cheaper guides than on the Avid line.
Best Rod for Light Crankbaits: Smaller balsa crankbaits, like the Shad Rap, are challenging to cast on baitcasting gear. There is a tendency to backlash due to the extra effort needed to cast the lighter lures.
A good spinning rod for crankbaits will be around 7 feet long, with medium power and fast action. Pair it with a large capacity spinning reel and you can really fling lighter crankbaits. A few of the best are the PS70MF and PS76MF St. Croix Premier. The fast action tip compensates for the naturally slower speed on spinning rods.
Technical Aspects of a Good Cranking Rod
There are tons of rods to choose from and from an array of different brands. Some brands are starting to name their rods by application, making it easy to identify their cranking rods. For the others, you need to understand the rods specs for cranking. Here are the key aspects to consider when selecting a crankbait rod.
Rod Action vs Rod Power
These two related specs get easily confused by anglers. To keep it simple, think of rod Power as to how much load (force) it takes for a rod to bend, or as the amount of “backbone”. Action is the speed at which the rod backbone is engaged.
An X-Fast rod will reach the backbone quickest (least amount of flex), while Slow action rods use most of the rod length to Reach the stiff backbone (most amount of flex). Take a look at the table below to visualize these concepts.
Most cranking rods will fall into the Medium to Medium-Heavy power, and a Moderate, Moderate-Fast, or Fast action rating. Which power you choose depends on the type of cranking you intend to do most frequently.
- Medium Power is best for fishing shallow to medium diving crankbaits. The extra flex makes casting lighter plugs easier and with more accuracy.
- Medium-Heavy Power rods are best for handling heavier deep-diving crankbaits and for fishing around grass. The extra stiffness is helpful for casting the big cranks farther and ripping the bait free from vegetation.
- Moderate to Moderate-Fast Action helps control your lure and prevent yourself from pulling the hooks into rocks and wood. The soft action is forgiving and lets the bait deflect instead of snag.
Crankbait Rod Length
The best rod length for cranking is going to be determined by the line size and lures you plan on using. A 7 to 8-foot cranking rod will cast the bigger medium and deep-diving crankbaits much better than a 6’-6” rod will. The longer length allows energy to load up into the rod, making long casts easier.
On the other hand, a 6’-6” cranking rod will be a better choice when fishing smaller crankbaits. The shorter length greatly improves casting accuracy. This is crucial when fishing squarebills around the bank. The closer and more accurate you are placing your lures, the more likely the crankbait will grind and deflect off the cover.
Graphite vs Fiberglass
In the old days, all bass fishing rods were fiberglass. You know, the buggy whip style rod like an Ugly Stik? Thankfully today’s rods have advanced far beyond those designs.
There are all graphite cranking rods, and all fiberglass cranking rods. There are even graphite/fiberglass composite rod designs. In the end, it doesn’t matter a whole lot, so long as you select a rod that is the right length, has a medium action, and enough power to cast whatever size crankbaits you like to fish.
Pair with a Cranking Reel
The last key to the cranking puzzle is pairing your new crankbait rod with the proper reel. Making long casts requires a lot of line. Crankbait reels should have a good line capacity in the 10-15lb test range. This is not as important with shallow running crankbaits where you are making shorter, pinout casts.
Selecting the right gear ratio is also critical. For the vast majority of crankbait fishing, a reel with a gear ratio of 6.2:1 or less will work well. The lower the gear ratio, the easier it is to get your bait down and keep it there. Once your bait has reached the bottom, it’s easier to keep it there and maintain contact with structure, down where the fish are.
Product Images courtesy Cabela’s
Last updated 2023-12-07 at 15:56 / Affiliate Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API