Treble-Hook Trouble? Best Crankbait Rods Reviewed

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Sneak a peek into any bass angler’s tackle box, and you’ll find crankbaits. Yes, soft plastics might have the edge, but there’s no denying that crankbaits are deadly on largemouth, and I don’t know anyone who doesn’t throw them.

That said, I know quite a few folks who’ve missed a nice fish or two by using the wrong rod and technique! And it’s an unfortunate fact that your worm rod and overhead hookset are going to get you in trouble, no matter how effective your lure is.

If you’re struggling with crankbaits or just thinking about getting a specialized rod, we’d like to help. Below, you’ll find some useful tips, a thorough discussion of what we look for in a good crankbait rod, and reviews of some of our favorites.

Heres a quick glance at the best crankbait rods available today:

Why Buy a Dedicated Crankbait Rod?

While it’s undoubtedly true that weekend anglers can get away with a single rod for most bass fishing, the ideal rods for Texas-rigs, drop-shot rigs, and crankbaits differ so much that owning just one will leave you struggling, no matter how awesome it is.

For instance, when you’re fishing a Texas-rigged worm with a single hook, your rod needs incredible sensitivity at the tip and a powerful backbone that engages quickly. The first lets you detect the subtle feel of a bass sucking your worm into its mouth; the second lets you drive that single hook home.

But the strengths of a good worm rod are actually weaknesses when fishing crankbaits!

Sensitivity isn’t very important in a crankbait rod, and bass aren’t going to nibble on your treble-hooked Rapala. Instead, they’ll generally hit it pretty hard. But when that happens, the backbone you want in a worm rod is going to cause trouble, encouraging you to rip your lure loose from their mouths, perhaps even before they really get a grip.

Instead, what you want from a dedicated crankbait rod is pretty much the opposite of a good worm rod: lower sensitivity and a medium to slow action combined with a blank that’s a bit more willing to bend.

Why?

That slower action is going to improve hooksets–no question about it–but it’s also going to keep your rod loaded during the fight. That matters a lot more than you might think. A fast action rod will actually unload during the fight, especially when a bass jumps. As it does, there will be much less pressure on your hooks, making it easier for the bass to throw them.

A slower action keeps your rod loaded longer–even if it’s just a fraction of a second–and that translates into steadier, more constant pressure on the hook.

Most anglers find that a good crankbait rod improves their hookups immediately and helps them keep their hooks where they need to be, resulting in more catches, more often.

What We Consider When Selecting a Crankbait Rod

Action

A rod’s action describes where along its length it will begin to bend under load. Fast action rods are stiff for most of their length, bending near the tip. By contrast, slow action rods begin to give closer to the handle and reel seat, curving over a much greater percentage of their length.

Generally speaking, a rod with a fast action will offer greater sensitivity at the tip, helping you detect strikes more easily. And generally speaking, a rod with a slow action will provide more cushion on the hookset.

But fast isn’t better than slow; nor is slow better than fast.

Instead, you really want to match your rod’s action to the technique you intend to use.

 

A good pitching rod will have a moderately fast action, bending near the tip. By contrast, a good drop shot rod will begin to bend much closer to the handle.

And of course hookset is dramatically affected by power: the faster the rod, the stronger the set. When you’re worm fishing with a single hook, you’ll quickly notice the difference between a slow and fast rod, but on the other hand, if you’re running crankbaits with sharp treble hooks, a slower rod gives the fish just an instant more to mouth your lure.

A good crankbait rod will usually feature a moderate to moderate-fast action.

Power

Power describes how much force is required to bend a rod. Together with its action, a rod’s power tells you a lot about how it will perform. All other things being equal, a stiffer blank will increase the power of your hookset and allow you to fight larger, stronger fish.

Where power really affects a bass rod is in your ability to turn a big fish that’s heading for nasty cover or trying to make a run around a stump or tree. You want enough backbone that you have control, and that generally means a heavier rod.

A good crankbait rod will be in the range of medium to medium-heavy.

Length

Generally speaking, the longer a rod is, the further you can cast with it, but the less precise those casts will be. Shorter rods are deadly accurate, but casting distance will suffer.

Crankbaits are useful in a variety of circumstances, and you need to think about where you most often tie one on your line. If you fish cover and tight spots, opt for one that’s a tad shorter, but if you often fish open water, longer will be better for you.

7’ 6” is a good place to start with a casting rod, varying that length as needed for your fishing style.

Line and Lure Weight

A rod will almost always have designated line and lure weights marked near the reel seat. And while you can exceed these bounds, performance will suffer.

Unsurprisingly, these weights vary with the rod’s power and action, telling you what will cast and fish best with that particular blank.

Guides

Guide quality is a critical aspect of a good rod, and merely adequate guides will lose you more fish than dull hooks and cheap line combined.

As you fight fish on your line, the guides take that strain, dividing it by their number (roughly). As they do, the friction between the line and the guide material can get intense, and unless those guides are made of the highest quality materials and really designed to perform, they’ll wear your line, compromising even the strongest braids.

The best way to test guide quality is also demonstrated below. Just try sawing the line you use against a large guide. If the line breaks quickly, that’s a sign to give that rod a pass.

video demonstrating how fragile line really is and how quality guides can be tested

Generally speaking, more is better as an increase in guide count means that each one takes less strain, creating less friction at any one point.

A good rule of thumb is one guide per foot–plus one.

Material

Modern fishing rods can be made from a variety of materials, including carbon fiber, graphite, and fiberglass. Some feature composite construction, using more than one material in the blank that provides their backbone.

Graphite is strong, stiff, and ultra-light. Due to its high stiffness, it’s also quite sensitive, and it makes a great, durable choice for a rod.

But that awesome stiffness is not what you’re looking for in a crankbait rod, and combining it with a bit of fiberglass–or using fiberglass entirely–provides the action you need.

There are exceptions, however, and an excellent crankbait rod can be made with a graphite blank.

Fiberglass is heavier than graphite and usually less expensive. It’s not quite as sensitive or as stiff, but it can be incredibly strong, and its propensity to flex makes it an excellent choice as a material for crankbait rods.

Carbon fiber is the stiffest, strongest, lightest, and most expensive material used for rod blanks. Its performance is unparalleled, but so is its price!

While it’s incredible material, it’s not the best choice for a crankbait rod, unless mixed with fiberglass. Then, it can help to keep a rod lighter, offsetting the weight of the heavier material.

Handle

Much about which handle to choose is a personal decision, and what’s comfortable to me may be misery for you. Generally, there are two primary handle materials: cork and EVA foam.

  • Cork is warmer and more attractive, but less forgiving of rough treatment.
  • EVA foam is softer and cooler to the touch, and it’s pretty tough stuff.

One important thing to note, however, is that a longer handle gives you the option to snap cast, increasing your range. That’s critical for open water crankbaiting, and something to consider if that’s what you intend to do.

Best Crankbait Rod Reviews

St. Croix Legend Glass Casting LGC74MHMOur Pick!

St Croix Legend Glass Casting Fishing Rod, LGC74MHM
Amazon 

Action: Moderate
Power: Medium-Heavy
Material: fiberglass
Length: 7’ 4”
Line weight: 10 – 20 lbs.
Lure weight: ⅜ to 1 oz.
Guides: 10 + tip, Fuji K-Series tangle-free guides with Alconite rings and Corrosion Control matte finish frames
Handle: 16” split cork
Pieces: 1

St. Croix’s Legend series offers no-compromise performance, and their Glass Casting models are among the best rods available for crankbaiting.

I particularly like the 7’ 4” moderate action, medium-heavy power model. Long enough to cast into the next county, it’s still nimble enough for accurate casting, and surprisingly light to boot.

The fiberglass blank on this rod loads like a charm, enabling great casts and providing the cushioned hooksets and constant pressure you need to keep bass on your lure. In fact, it’s a real pleasure to fish with, improving your performance with crankbaits immediately. Often described as the “Cadillac” or “Lamborghini” of crankbait rods, one afternoon in your hand will confirm why this rod has won a cult-like following.

11 high-end Fuji guides protect your line, and it’s clear that St. Croix isn’t cutting corners with this rod. The long split-cork handle is comfortable, and there’s plenty of territory for snap casting–even if you have large hands.

This St. Croix’s recommended line and lure weights offer plenty of options, and as you’d expect, its blank loads beautifully even with the lightest crankbaits.

A great option for both distance and precision, the St. Croix Legend Glass Casting is an excellent choice if you’re willing to pay for a no-corners cut crankbait rod.

Pros:

  • Incredible blank
  • Sensitive
  • Awesome guides
  • Loads easily
  • Excellent quality handle
  • Long, accurate casts

Cons:

  • Among the most expensive on our list

Abu Garcia Veritas Winch Crankbait Rod

Abu Garcia 1430493 Veritas Casting 1Piece Rod, 7'6' Length, 12-25 lb Line Rate, 3/8-1 1/4 oz Lure Rate, Medium/Heavy Power
Amazon 

Action: Moderate-Fast
Power: Medium-Heavy
Material: Graphite
Length: 7’ 6”
Line weight: 10 – 20 lbs.
Lure weight: ½ – 1 ⅜ oz.
Guides: 10 + tip Titanium alloy frames with Zirconium inserts
Handle: 15 ½”split EVA
Pieces: 1

Abu Garcia’s Veritas rods break one of the basic rules of crankbait sticks: they use an all-graphite blank. Normally, I’d pass on that, but in the real world, the Veritas is a true performer.

Graphite is usually pretty stiff, and it’s not a material that loads easily in a medium-heavy rod. But this Abu Garcia casts like a dream, even at the bottom-end of its recommended lure weights, suggesting right away that sometimes rules are meant to be broken! Among the most sensitive of the rods we’re reviewing, you can really feel if your lure is running as it should.

I find that this rod flexes well, and while not truly parabolic, it provides enough cushion and pressure to lock fish to your crankbaits.

The Veritas features a long split EVA foam handle that’s plenty comfortable. Snap casts are no sweat, either. And the reel seat is worth mentioning: unlike the standard Fujis, this stick sports a ratcheting Abu Garcia design that really locks your reel in tight, countering the torque a sideways hookset can create. That’s a nice touch and something I think you’ll appreciate.

To keep the price of this rod reasonable, Abu Garcia went with 11 titanium guides with zirconium inserts. Like the St. Croix Mojo, these may not be the highest-end components money can buy, but they work well while keeping costs down.

The recommended line and lure weights for this rod are pretty conservative, and you can probably push those bounds a bit without impairing performance. That makes it quite versatile on the water, something every angler should like.

While not the top performer we reviewed, the moderate price of this rod makes it an excellent competitor for the St. Croix Mojo Glass, and a great choice for anglers who want a touch more sensitivity than fiberglass provides.

Pros:

  • Awesome blank
  • Very sensitive
  • Awesome guides
  • Loads easily
  • Excellent quality handle
  • Excellent casts

Cons:

  • Some components are price-point limited

Dobyns Champion XP 705CB Glass

Dobyns Rods 705CB Glass Champion Series Heavy Fast Glass Crankbait Rod, 7'0'/Medium, Black/Blue
Amazon 

Action: Fast
Power: Medium-Heavy
Material: Fiberglass
Length: 7’
Line weight: 8 – 20 lbs.
Lure weight: ¼ – 1 oz.
Guides: 10 + tip, Fuji Alconite
Handle: 13 ½”continuous cork
Pieces: 1

The Dobyns Champion XP 705CB Glass is absolutely legendary among bass anglers, and if you stop and chat a bit on the water, it’s almost sure to come up in conversation.

One thing you’ll notice immediately about this rod is its unusually fast taper. Usually less than ideal for running crankbaits, Dobyns has worked some magic on this fiberglass blank. It’s stiff but loads easily, fishing more like graphite until you get a strike. Then–suddenly–it moves from sensitive and stiff to providing the tension you want to lock your lure in place.

That unusual action has won legions of converts, and I’d be hard-pressed to find something negative to say about how this rod fishes.

The 705CB is on the short end for a crankbait rod, and I like it for precision casting in tight spots, heavy cover, and anywhere else I’m not looking for maximum distance. As you’d expect, it sports a shorter-than-average handle to match, and an awesomely comfortable, high-end continuous cork design. There’s still enough room to snap cast, but that’s really not what this rod’s all about.

10 Fuji Alconite guides, plus the tip, pretty much guarantee that your line will be pampered in a heavy fight.

Rated for nylon monofilament between 8 and 20 pounds, and for lures from ¼ to 1 ounce, it provides plenty of versatility.

I find that this rod loads well, even on lighter lures, and casting distance is excellent for its length.

If you’re looking for a crankbait rod that delivers accurate casting, the 705CB is virtually impossible to beat.

Pros:

  • Incredible blank
  • Very sensitive
  • Awesome guides
  • Loads easily
  • Excellent quality handle
  • Casts accurately

Cons:

  • ???

Lew’s David Fritts Perfect Crankbait Speed Stick LDFP76MH

Action: Moderate
Power: Medium-Heavy
Material: graphite and fiberglass
Length: 7’ 6”
Line weight: 15 – 30 lbs.
Lure weight: ½ to 1 ¼ oz.
Guides: 10 + tip, stainless guides with aluminum oxide inserts
Handle: 16” continuous cork
Pieces: 1

Lew’s David Fritts signature crankbait rod demonstrates that you don’t need to empty your wallet to get high performance. Yes, at this price-point, some aesthetics will be compromised, and you can’t expect premium components. But the heart of any rod is its blank, and you’re getting a lot there for just a little money.

I recommend the 7’ 6” moderate action, medium-heavy power in this model. Its blank is a nice composite of graphite and fiberglass, allowing plenty of give while keeping this rod reasonably light and sensitive. It loads well, and casts far, especially with heavier crankbaits. Most importantly, it flexes easily, absorbing shock, cushioning hooksets, and keeping bass on your hooks.

Obviously, Lew needs to cut some corners to keep the price where it is. That said, this rod sports plenty of stainless steel guides with aluminum oxide inserts. While not Fuji quality, they’re pretty good, and I wouldn’t feel seriously outgunned by a more well-equipped rod, especially not as a weekend angler.

The David Fritts crankbait rod features a 16” continuous cork handle that’s comfortable enough for all-day fishing and provides plenty of length for snap casting.

Rated for heavier line than many of our other top choices, it’s a good option if you find yourself dragging big bass from nasty cover. It’s also the rod to consider if you’re on a tight budget.

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Nice blank
  • Sensitive
  • OK guides
  • Loads easily
  • Nice quality handle
  • Casts a long way with heavier crankbaits

Cons:

  • Component quality is a price-point compromise

St. Croix Mojo Bass Glass Crankster MJGC74MM

St Croix MOJO Bass Glass Casting, MJGC74MM
Amazon 

Action: Moderate
Power: Medium
Material: Fiberglass
Length: 7’ 4”
Line weight: 8 – 14 lbs.
Lure weight: ¼ – ¾ oz.
Guides: 8 + tip, Kigan Master Hand 3D guides with aluminum-oxide inserts
Handle: 15 ½”split cork
Pieces: 1

St. Croix’s Mojo Crankster is a great alternative to their far more expensive Legend series. Still offering premium components, this is a rod that won’t break the bank while still delivering top-end performance.

As its name suggests, the Glass Crankster features a fiberglass blank that offers surprising sensitivity and the parabolic flex you’re looking for. It loads easily even with small crankbaits, and when a bass does hit your lure, it bends deeply, providing the cushion and pressure to lock fish to your hooks. For the price, this is a hard blank to beat, and real-world users report that it works well with shallow- and deep-divers, keeping bass tight to their lures.

Nine high-quality Kigan guides protect your line. While perhaps not quite as awesome as top-of-the-line Fujis, these are very nice components, and you can feel confident that they’ll prevent break-offs if you do your part.

The Mojo Bass Crankster features a 15 ½” split cork handle, providing plenty of real estate for snap casts. And this rod can really chunk ‘em–expect surprising distance from the 7’ 4” rod!

Offering relatively light line and lure options when compared to other rods on our list, it’s a great option if that’s what you’re looking for, especially for the price.

Pros:

  • Awesome blank
  • Sensitive
  • Awesome guides
  • Loads easily
  • Excellent quality handle
  • Long, long casts

Cons:

  • Some components are price-point limited

Our Pick – the St. Croix Legend Glass Casting LGC74MHM!

We’ve assembled a pretty top-notch list of crankbait sticks, and competition for our number-one slot is tough. But in the end, I gave the nod to the St. Croix Legend Glass.

If no-compromise performance is your aim, this rod is your target. This 7’ 4” moderate action, medium-heavy power rod offers a fiberglass blank that loads under even the lightest lures in its recommended range, and it offers the action you want to hold your hooks in place. For my money, this would be the rod to choose–everything from the guides to the handle screams quality.

But it’s the most expensive rod we reviewed, and it has some serious competition from the Dobyns Champion XP 705CB Glass. Especially if you want a rod with a bit more sensitivity that offers slightly more accurate casting, the Dobyns might be the best option. It really is legendary for a reason, and it’s a hard stick to pass on given that it’s roughly 80 percent of the price of the St. Croix.

Budget-minded anglers should take a hard look at the Abu Garcia, the Lew’s, the St. Croix Mojo Bass. All are excellent crankbait rods, and each has strengths and weaknesses compared to the others. One thing they share in common, however, is awesome performance for their price.

That’s why I’m confident that whichever rod you choose, you’ll be happy.

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