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Published Apr. 5, 2022

The spinnerbait may have fallen slightly out of favor with the rise of swim jigs, vibrating jigs, and swimbaits, but savvy veteran anglers never put it away. If you want to have success with spinnerbaits you need to have the right spinnerbait rod. Of course, there are a variety of spinnerbait applications that demand specialized sticks—everything from finesse lures around cypress trees, to burning gaudy lures for clear water smallmouths, to slow rolling the lures through deep hydrilla. To help you navigate the murky waters of spinnerbait rods, I tested the best spinnerbait rods I could get my hands on and reviewed each with the help of three other experienced anglers. 

How We Evaluated Spinnerbait Rods

The spinnerbait rod testing sessions took place on Lake Anna in Virginia during the transition from pre-spawn to spawn. It was around the full moon, and the fish were scattered anywhere from ankle-deep out to 15 feet. While conditions were good, the bass were finicky, and everything from a lightning-fast retrieve to a slow crawl through cover was necessary to get them to chew our spinnerbaits. We caught fish around shallow stumps, in the slips of boat docks, on brushy points, and slow-rolled over flooded roadbeds.

A man on the water holding a best spinnerbait rod
We tested spinnerbait rods for their action, hookup percentage, and feedback. Scott Einsmann

The test panel included Bill Roberts, Ron Hohenstein, Scott Einsmann, and me. Bill and Ron are seasoned tournament anglers with decades of experience. They’ve seen rods go from glass to graphite and back again, with every step along the way. Einsmann is the gear editor at Outdoor Life and a workaday bass angler who provided the perspective of a weekend bass angler. We tested rods with spinnerbaits from 1/8 to 1 ounce, with varying blade configurations, with various brands of reels. That also meant using different line sizes and styles—because the rod that performs perfectly with fluorocarbon might not offer the same sensitivity with mono. Meanwhile, a rod that’s stiff enough to make up for the forgiving nature of mono might repeatedly pull the lure away from a short-striking bass with the same reel but substituting fluorocarbon. 

Here are the parameters we looked for while testing each rod: 

  • Action: Does the rod have the proper give to allow a fish to inhale the lure but sufficient backbone to drive home a single hook? Is it giving without feeling too heavy or too mushy?
  • Hookup percentage: Did the rod consistently keep fish hooked up? Can you drive home the hook on a shallow bass that eats the lure coming at you as well as you can on one that simply engulfs it 15-feet down? When they jump, does the leverage provided by the lead head disengage the hook and leave you disappointed?
  • Casting accuracy and distance: How well did the rod cast small and large spinnerbaits with different levels of wind resistance due to differing blade configurations? Can they be bombed out into the wind as easily as they can be roll-cast beside or under a looming boat dock?
  • Feedback: Can you feel the blades vibrating and any subtle changes in those vibration patterns? Can you tell when the lure bounces off hard cover, pulls through vegetation, or gets swatted aside by a hesitant bass?

We put the full range of spinnerbaits to the test with these rods, everything from ⅛-ounce single willows that barely pull to 1 ½ ouncers that fight harder than your average keeper, and everything in between. Even at the same weight range, no two lures behave the same. For example a ½-ounce single Colorado is much different than a compact-bodied ½-ounce double willow. Some rods do better than others at the various extremes, while some handle a wider range with deftness. Your reel will have to match the rod you choose, as will your line, so take all of that into account in building a balanced combo.

Best Overall: Douglas LRS C715F

Douglas Outdoors

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Key Features

  • Length: 7 feet, 1 inch
  • Lure Weight: 3/16 to 3/4 ounce lures
  • Power: Medium heavy
  • Action: Fast
  • Line weight: 12 to 20 pound
  • Split grip EVA handle

Why It Made the Cut

The Douglas LRS C715F has a perfectly tapered blank, which means better casting and more successful fish landings.

Pros

  • Enough length for long casts, yet comfortable in tight quarters
  • Sensitive without being “too fast”
  • Corrosion-proof Fuji Fazlite guides

Cons

  • Some anglers may prefer a longer rod

Product Description

The blue blank of the Douglas spinnerbait rod stands out among a field of cookie cutters, but it’s the action and versatility that really sets it apart. Lure ratings on a handle are often generous, but this rod excelled at all ranges of the spectrum—from the smallest finesse spinnerbaits up to hard-thumping giants that’ll rattle your fillings out. It’s a wonderful blend of sensitivity and give with a perfectly-sized handle and premium components from tip to butt. During the test I flicked a 3/16 ounce finesse model around boat slips in the morning, and then used it in the afternoon to slow roll a spinnerbait that weighed ¾ ounce, and in both cases I felt like I had the perfect rod. Everyone that fished the Douglas LRS liked the rod’s perfectly-sized handle, and appreciated the premium components. The Douglas LRS took the best overall award because of its ability to throw everything from finesse to deep working spinnerbaits and it doesn’t sacrifice feel for versatility—it’s a rare rod that fishes everything well.

Best Finesse: G.Loomis IMX Pro 812 SBR

Key Features

  • Length: 6 feet 9 inches
  • Lure Weight ⅜- to ½ ounce
  • Power: Medium
  • Action: Extra fast
  • Line weight: 10 to 17 pounds
  • Full premium cork handle

Why It Made the Cut

The G. Loomis IMX Pro 812SBR is a shorter rod with crisp action ideal for corralling big fish in tight spaces.

Pros

  • Specifically made for spinnerbaits
  • Extremely lightweight
  • Handcrafted in the U.S.A.

Cons

  • Shorter length can be a disadvantage in some situations

Product Description

While the label lists this rod as ideal for 3/8- to ½-ounce lures, I found that it also dealt admirably with much lighter baits, allowing me to place them in tight spaces, even in a headwind or crosswind. Once in the water, I could feel every turn of the blade or blades, even noticing when a bass had “pushed” the lure rather than striking aggressively. The proven Loomis track record for technique-specific excellence makes this a solid choice for those who prefer a full cork handle and want extreme accuracy. It was especially good in the backs of pockets and around overhanging trees, where my range of motion was limited. One little flick and the lure rocketed into position, although it might not have been as good with something at the upper end of the advertised range. Einsmann also fished this rod and he used a 1/2 ounce Z-Man SlingBladeZ. He noted that the rod casted the 1/2 ounce spinnerbait with exceptional accuracy. When he had a fish eat boat side the rod had plenty of umph to set the hook while the fish charged the boat. For those who prefer a full cork handle and want extreme accuracy, the proven Loomis track record for technique-specific excellence makes this a solid choice.

Best for Burning Spinnerbaits: St. Croix Victory 72HM

St. Croix

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Key Features

  • Length: 7 feet 2 inches
  • Lure weight: ½- to 1 ¼-ounce lures
  • Action: Moderate
  • Power: Heavy
  • Line weight: 12 to 20 pound test
  • Split grip cork handle with EVA foregrip

Why It Made the Cut

Exceptionally lightweight blank and components make heaving and burning hard-pulling lures a joy.

Pros

  • Handles larger spinnerbaits without becoming a chore
  • Fuji guides and reel seat
  • Extremely sensitive, yet had a moderate action

Cons

  • Too heavy for some finesse spinnerbaits

Product Description

Anytime northern smallmouth are in play, or whenever bass are aggressively chasing shad or blueback herring, the best way to trigger strikes is by retrieving a magnum spinnerbait at warp speed. This rod takes what is often tiring work and makes it a joy. Not only is casting and winding all day enabled by lightweight and balanced components—including Fuji Concept “O” guides and SK2 reel seat—but also the action is tapered just right to ensure a perfect hook set. The rod does well with mid-range spinnerbaits but it really stood out when working with bigger models. It’s light, yet every aspect of it is precision-built to be abused. During testing, I found the Victory 72HM did well with mid-range spinnerbaits, but it really stood out when working with bigger models. With a ½ ounce double willow I could make extra-long casts and then quickly take up line to get the bait moving, and keep it moving without getting fatigued. The point of personal preference that will split anglers—including our test group—is the two-part grip. But, if you like the split grip and you throw heavier spinnerbaits, this is a great rod.

Best for Mid-Range Spinnerbaits: Dobyns Rods Kaden KD713C

Dobyns Rods

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Key Features

  • Length: 7 feet 1 inch
  • Lure weight: ¼ to ¾
  • Power: Medium heavy
  • Action: Fast
  • Line weight: 10 to 17 pounds
  • Premium cork full grip handle

Why It Made the Cut

Workhorse rod with top-quality components does a lot of jobs well, but excels for all-around spinnerbaiting.

Pros

  • High-modulus graphite blank with Kevlar wrapping
  • Premium full cork handle with no foregrip
  • High-quality Sea Guide XO Guides

Cons

  • Faster action than some spinnerbait anglers prefer

Product Description

Dobyns Rods jumped into the spinnerbait rod scene with a wide variety of series at various price points and this one approximately in the middle may make you question why someone would spend more. It’s an exquisitely built rod that feels like a more expensive product. While it can handle some smaller lures, and definitely does fine with the big ones, true to its workhorse nature, anglers should rely on it most often for the most commonly used sizes of spinnerbaits—3/8 and ½ ounce. I used a ½ ounce single Colorado blade model for a while and yo-yo’ed it across a ledge and felt every change in direction. When a fish struck in a tentative manner, I was able to get a solid hookset in the deep and recover line quickly. I found it beefy enough to power spinnerbaits through the thickest cover, and land bass, yet also precise enough to handle roll casts and pitch casts with grace. The Kevlar wrapping makes it feel like a space-aged tool, yet it’s also ready for old-school hand-to-hand combat.

Best Value: 13 Fishing Omen Black OB3C74MHM

13 Fishing

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Key Features

  • Length: 7 feet 4 inches
  • Lure weight: ⅜ to ¾ ounce
  • Power: Medium heavy
  • Action: Moderate fast
  • Line weight: 12 to 25 pound test
  • Split grip cork handle and foregrip

Why It Made the Cut

The 13 Fishing Omen Black works well for spinnerbaits, vibrating jigs, topwater, crankbaits, and small swimbaits. It’s a highly versatile rod that’s perfect for anglers that want one rod for everything. 

Pros

  • High-quality ALPS guides—10 plus tip
  • Custom Evolve ported reel seat
  • Moderate action provides solid hookups

Cons

  • Might be too long for shorter anglers or in tight quarters

Product Description

Various iterations of the Omen Black rod series have been in the 13 Fishing lineup for a long time and with good reason—they stand up to a beating and are mission built for serious anglers. When I tested the rod I didn’t love it with smaller finesse spinnerbaits, perhaps because of its length. I found that on flats and across points I had surprising distance and accuracy with anything from a 3/8 to ¾ ounce spinnerbait. What I really wanted to throw, however, was a chatterbait. The moderate action will bomb a spinnerbait a long way, and has just the right taper to its Japanese 36 ton Toray blank to ensure positive hookups, but at the same time it’s a great rod a chatterbait. Einsmann also fished this rod and said he could not differentiate the performance difference of the Omen from the high-end rods he tested. He thought the casting distance and sensitivity were superb. If you need a rod that’ll excel with vibrating jigs, larger topwaters, buzzbaits and for some cranking, as well as smaller swimbaits—this is a do-it-all option that doesn’t sacrifice anything.

Best for Deep Water: Abu Garcia Fantasista X FNXC73-6

Abu Garcia

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Key Features

  • Length: 7 feet 3 inches 
  • Lure weight: ¼ to 1 ounce
  • Power: Heavy
  • Action: Fast
  • Line weight: 12 to 20 pounds
  • Molded carbon split grip

Why It Made the Cut

The Abu Garcia Fantasista X is an ultra-sensitive rod that can feel the turn of a blade at 25-feet deep, yet provides ergonomic comfort for casting larger spinnerbaits all-day

Pros

  • Sensitive enough to be a worm or jig rod
  • Titanium alloy guide frames with ultra-light zirconium inserts
  • ROCS (Robotically Optimized Casting System) precisely spaces guides on the blank

Cons

  • Pricey

Product Description

The Fantasista is made to be lightweight and ultra sensitive, from the blank construction and components to the handle, which allows you to keep a finger on the blank at all times. It’s a space-age-looking product with top-flight materials, including 36-ton graphite with the company’s proprietary Powerlux 500 resin system. Whether you’re trying to maintain the bottom with a current-laden river ledge or ticking the tops of deep hydrilla and occasionally ripping the lure free, this rod keeps the angler in touch with a lure to know what it’s doing at all times. At the same time, it also has the power to cast deeper-running lures and then muscle big bass away from cover. I felt like this could have been a worm rod, but with spinnerbaits it was best when I threw fluorocarbon and stuck to slower retrieves.

Honorable Mentions

We weren’t able to test all of the best spinnerbait rods due to today’s supply chain issues. Here are some rods to consider that we weren’t able to test.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Spinnerbait Rod 

Where and how you fish a spinnerbait will determine your choice of rod, as will certain personal preferences: Do you like a cork handle or EVA? Split grip or solid grip? 

Then, there are more technical considerations like the rod length and the type of line you’ll use. 

Length

When you’re choosing a rod length think about if you’ll be fishing away from shore or around tight cover. A 7-foot, 6-inch rod that’s great for bomb-casting lures along ledges and offshore channels might be a liability around tightly-packed cypress trees. 

We all have different reaction times, too, so the semi-limber rod that works for someone with fast reflexes might cause missed fish for someone with slower reaction times or more patience. 

Sensitivity 

You’ll want to be able to feel the blades of the lure turning at all times and also know when something is amiss, which could be a sign that the spinnerbait is fouled, or conversely, it could be a sign that you have a light-striking fish.

Line Type

Also think about the size and type of line you’ll be using. While braid is rarely a good choice for spinnerbaits, the difference in diameter and sensitivity of fluorocarbon versus monofilament or copolymer will impact your choice of blank, and possibly, your guide setup.

FAQs

Q: Can I use a crankbait rod for spinnerbaits?

Many crankbait rods will serve double duty for spinnerbaits, as long as they’re not too long (like an 8-foot deep cranker) or too limber.

Q: What is the best size rod for spinnerbaits?

Historically, many anglers used 5-foot-6-inch pistol grip rods for roll casting spinnerbaits, but over time the consensus has moved around 7 feet. The longer rods cast just as well and provide you with more leverage on a big fish. A medium-heavy action is a good starting point for all but the most extreme situations.

Q: What color spinnerbait should I use?

If you’re just getting started, white or chartreuse skirts, or a combination thereof, are your best all-around bets. Pair them with silver and/or gold blades that match the local forage. As you expand your arsenal, consider shad-colored lures for ultra-clear water, and fluorescent orange blades in the mud. Smallmouths tend to like gaudier colors than largemouths, even in gin-clear water.

Final Thoughts

As with just about any technique, spinnerbaiting means different things to different anglers. Depending on where you fish and what you throw most commonly, rod choice can make the difference between a comfortable and enjoyable day of filling your livewell and an absolute train wreck. It comes down to personal choice, but just because it’s a moving bait where fish allegedly “hook themselves” doesn’t mean that you can skimp on quality components. Buy the best that you can afford and figure out which componentry and characteristics fit your skillset and most-visited fisheries.

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