Casting a line out for the best crankbait rods of 2023? You’re in luck, because our gear review team has had an up-and-close look at 20 of the finest cranking rods and bass fishing rods that we could find. Now we’re narrowing it down to the top six, based on factors like rod action, power, length, and overall affordability.
We get it: there are plenty of anglers out there who doubt the very need for a crankbait-specific rod. These folks tend to believe that the fishing gear industry has just hooked us into another unnecessary purchase that our passions would not let us turn down. The truth is, crankbait lures are a specialized form of lure that require a bit of a fine touch in order to truly perfect.
If you’re looking to increase your catch rate while trolling on the lake or river, then a proper cranking setup is going to be necessary. Check out our top 6 cranking rods below, and stick around afterwards as we explain the considerations that we made in order to make our selections.
Dobyns Rods Fury FR Series – Editor’s Choice
|Length||Up to 8 in|
|Lure Weight||1-8 oz|
What we love most about the Fury FR by Dobyns Rods is that it has a simple unbeatable action, with a super comfortable grip and an overall tight construction. This Is a great rod for shallow crank-baits all the way up to medium-sized diving crank baits. The hook-setting action, as we mentioned, is unmatched in this price range. The tip of the rod has a high sensitivity that lets users detect just about anything that is happening on the other end of the line, but there is enough rigidity in the rod itself to make a snappy and effective hook set, no matter what you’re fishing for.
To sum it all up – very decent device for the price. Ads is correct and introduces the rod as it is, a moderate-fast. Weight and balance are far beyond expectations, at the price point of course. You will also like a nice soft castable tip that transitions nicely into firm backbone. The moderate fast action keeps them buttoned up.
The seat threads are a bit short four our taste, but the overall balance of this rod is quite impressive indeed, especially for a budget-level rod that has a real backbone to it.
Lew’s Fishing Tournament Performance TP1 – Best Durability on a Crankbait Rod
|Lure Weight||1/2 -- 3/8 oz|
One of the first things that we noticed about the TP1 was its exceptionally light construction, lighter in fact than the Dobyns rod that we reviewed above or the Shimano Sellus that we are going to look at after this. For this reason, we were surprised to find out that this was also one of the most durable rods around, offering a remarkable blend of flex and rigidity that isn’t going to give out on you anytime soon. This also happens to be one of the more sensitive rods that we had the pleasure of casting out, but perhaps not as much as the St. Croix Premier.
If there is any drawback to going with the TP1 it’s that Lew’s Fishing isn’t really known for their excellent customer service in the case that you do have to send something back or try to get a refund or return. The eyes can be a bit small for some users’ tastes, but this was not something that we noted ourselves.
St. Croix Premier – Best High-End Crankbait Rod
|Length||Up to 7.6 in|
|Lure Weight||1/16-1/4 oz|
If you want to get a feel for just how confident these guys are in the crankbait rods that they make, then consider this: their official company slogan is, “the best rods on earth”, and we are starting to believe them. As a bass fishing rod the St. Croix Premier is simply one of the best ones out there, with a sensitivity that makes it possible to know precisely what is going on at the other end of the line. The rod offers the perfect amount of flex for light hitters or casting in rocky conditions. From what we could tell this rod supported a 10lb braided line setup without issue. The little bit of extra length that this rod offers lets the casts get just a little bit further in, which can make all the difference sometimes. Some user reviews are mentioning that the St. Croix.
Croix Premier is too pricey for a lightweight rod, but when you think about it the Premier is not more than twenty or thirty bucks more than the other rods on our list. For that reason we think that it is absolutely worth it.
We would classify the St. Croix Premier as the most sensible crankbait rod, but this is not just about it. However, it is like super sensitive rod for live bait. It flexes significantly when you are jigging a lure, a little too much so on a long cast. As the bait gets closer you can jig more accurately.
Shimano Sellus – Budget Pick
|Lure Weight||1/4-3/4 oz|
Engineered to be one of the most affordable high-performance crankbait rods on the market that still has enough of durability, backbone, and responsiveness for serious bass-fisherman, the Shimano Sellus easily took the designation of best Budget Pick crankbait rod. While the price varies slightly depending on which size rod you purchase, you are still getting one of the most affordable rods out there. But we don’t make this designation lightly; it takes more than just a low price tag to earn this seat.
The Shimano Sellus has enough sensitivity for even beginners to fish with things like jigs, worms, and swimbaits with ease. That is no doubt due to the 24-ton carbon construction, something that contributes to the rod’s overall lightness as well as sensitivity. It’s ability to perform as both an entry-level starter rod and a go-to smallmouth rod is what makes it really special.
Wright and McGill Skeet Reese – Best Bang for the Buck
|Lure Weight||1/8-3/8 oz|
The Skeet Reese is another super-affordable bass rod that offers enough performance for either a total newbie or an experienced bass fisherman. It works fantastically with worms and light hook baits, and if you get it rigged up with the right kind of line it is a very reasonable top water rod. Just like the Shimano Sellus, the eye standoffs are not very thick and are therefore prone to bending when even a little pressure is being applied to them. Fortunately, this seems to be the only place that they decided to skimp on strength, because the rod itself has a great backbone for its size and the overall stability of construction is something that even the novice bass fisherman should be able to appreciate. Still, skeet rods are designed to be quite a bit more flimsy than other crankbait rods, so users who prefer something that is a little stiffer, and perhaps a little snappier.
This rod is a budget pick of our list and don’t want it for heavy cover as it does not have the “backbone” and was not intended to actually.
13 Fishing Omen Black 2 – Best of the Rest
With a full-cork premium handle and a 30-ton PVG rod construction, the Omen 2M casting rod by 13 Fishing is another great option for the experienced bass fisher who is looking to up their game without laying down too much of an investment. Strategic graphite interlacing is what gives this fiber-based rod it’s precision control and sensitivity. It also helps vocalization-based energy loss, which is generally only something that the pros are going to have to worry about. This is one rod that we actually had kind of a hard time getting our hands on, as many online retailers can’t seem to keep them in stock.
For us that certainly says something about how well-received this particular model of bass rod is within the fishing community, even if it comes from a brand that has not had as much time on the market to develop their reputation.
2023 Pro Buyer’s Guide – Crainkbait Rods for Bass Fishing
The six cranking rods that we featured here are but a small sampling of the vast selection that is available both online and in stores, so we certainly wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to keep shopping around. The big selection, however, can make choosing the right model a bit of a hassle, especially for first time crankbait anglers who are only first learning how to master the technique.
That’s why we’ve put together the following in-depth buyer’s guide to help you understand what the best crankbait rod is and how to choose one for yourself.
Why do I need a Specific Rod made for Cranking?
All over the hunting and fishing gear industry it is common to see companies marketing highly specialized equipment to eager sportsmen who are looking to increase their catch or bag rate. The way we see it, if they’re charging so much money for it, then it must work, right? A lot of times these products are little more than cash-grab attempts that take advantage of our enthusiasm for the sport.
However, when it comes to crankbait fishing, a specialized cranking rod is indeed required if you are looking to improve your catch rate and perform better in the water. In addition, cranking rods are simply an important part of an experienced anglers repertoire, as he or she will usually have several of them in their collection just waiting to go.
- More Sensitivity = Less Snags – No matter how experienced you might be as an angler, you will always appreciate a bit of extra sensitivity when it comes to your rod and line. The better of a feel that you have for what is going on at the other end of the line, the better chance you will have to properly “work the bottom” and prevent snagging, not to mention keeping your bait well inside the strike zone for longer periods of time.
- Softer Hooksets – The softer feel of a crankbait rod is what allows for a slower hookset which ideally will give the fish even more time to get the bait fully in their mouth. This is opposed to some of the fast-action rods out there that are so stiff that they snap back immediately when the angler feels the slightest bite, often pulling the bait away before the fish has had a chance to attach itself. This slight delay can make all the difference with bass fishing and lead to a higher overall hookup ratio that you will be able to notice straightaway.
- Better Casting Distance – One of the most unique things about fishing rods that are designed specifically for cranking is that they are capable of transferring far more energy from the rod to the lure via an improved “slingshot” effect. This is why a cranking rod + cranking reel combination is the most reliable away to increase casting distance without making any other changes to your form or technique.
When it comes to cranking rods, and indeed fishing rods in general, you are generally looking at either graphite rods or fiberglass rods, though these days there are dozens of other proprietary fiber materials that are being used. Still, almost every rod will utilize one of those two materials in its construction.
If we are being completely honest however, there is not a whole lot of difference between the two materials; it is far more important how the rod is made than what it is made of. There are good and bad rods made of both materials, but the design is far more important. Find a rod that is the appropriate length, action, and power for the style of fishing that you are looking to do.
When you set out to determine the length of your ideal cranking rod, you should start by considering the size and shape of both the line and lures you are going to be using. In general, a longer cranking rod is going to be better for medium to large crankbaits. Hence, a 7’ or 8’ cranking rod will be able to transfer more energy to the lure itself, allowing for greater casting distances.
Shorter length cranking rods, like those in the 6.5’ range, are going to be far better options for smaller crankbaits. The reduced rod length will significantly increase casting accuracy and placement almost immediately.
Action & Power
While the terms action and power are often used interchangeably, this is not technically correct when it comes to fishing.
A poles power can be defined as the amount of force that is required to bend the rod, and is measured on a scale from Ultra Light (UL) to Extra Heavy (EH) with several other power measurements in-between. The best cranking rods are going to be between medium and medium heavy power.
Action on the other hand is how fast the rod backbone is engaged and the rod snaps back into shape. A Fast (F) or Extra Fast (XF) rod will have incredible snapping power, which can be quite unforgiving when you are casing into rocky territory where snags are likely.
A Moderate (M), Moderate Fast (MF), or Fast (F) action is what you want to look for in a great crankbait setup as it will be significantly more forgiving when it comes to bouncing your lures and jigs off the rocks.
How to Pair with a Cranking Reel
Choosing the right rod is only the first step of the battle. The next step is pairing it with a cranking-specific reel that is going to take advantage of your rod’s specific design features to even further improve things like distance, accuracy, and hit rate.
Conclusion: The Top Crankbait Rod of 2023
While some anglers might not recognize the need for a dedicated crankbait rod, others will swear by their ability to increase hit-rates when using deep-diving crankbait lures. Not only are they more forgiving than traditional casting reels, but they can facilitate the heavier lures and heavier line that you need to get to the bottom of the lake, where you want to be.
In terms of overall performance, we think that the top pick crankbait rod of 2023 is the Omen Black 2 by 13 Fishing. The interlaced graphite construction allows for an incredible rod-to-lure energy transfer, the result being a pro-end rod with a high degree of sensitivity that is great for old hands and first timers alike.
Frequently Asked Questions
With bass fishing, selecting a reel with the proper gear ratio is absolutely essential. Generally speaking you don’t want to go any higher than about 6.5:1. Gear ratios higher than that make it more difficult to control your bait with precision as it bobs along the bottom where all those delicious fish are hiding.
This is one of the most commonly asked questions in the crank fishing game, and for good reason. If you are looking to get deeper into the water with your crank baits, there are a couple of different methods that you could try. The first and most obvious would be to choose a deep-diver crankbait that is designed to hit those depths. More often than not, these will be advertised along with their depth potentials. Generally speaking you are going to be looking for lead-core line and potentially the addition of a couple of snap weights.
When you’re fishing with crankbait lures, you actually want contact with the bottom of the lake or river that you are fishing in. For this reason, you want a crankbait that can reach that depth at least, with a few feet of extra wiggle room to account for variances in the lakebed surface. A good fish finder will be able to tell you how deep the area you are in is, or you can do some research online about the body of water you will be in and find out about how deep you will be aiming to go.
A cranking rod is a type of casting rod, only a more specialized one. Cranking rods are designed exclusively for crankbait lures, which themselves are usually pulled along the bottom of a lake or river bed by a boat. Their actions are a bit slower, which can lead to a more forgiving pull with less snagging. For the most part, anglers consider casting rods to be more versatile, though there are plenty of folks who use casting rods for crankbait fishing once they know what they’re doing. All it requires is to reduce the drag a bit so you don’t encounter any sudden snapping due to fast action.