10 Best Bass Fishing Rod And Reel Combos Reviewed

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Best Bass Fishing Rod And Reel Combos

Hola! If you’re on the hunt for the best bass fishing rod and reel combos, you’ve come to the right place.

Rod and reel combos are a thing of beauty. When done right, you’ll have excellent reels paired with top-notch rods deserving of those reels. And the best part is that the rod and accompanying reel are sure to work hand-in-hand well, which might not be the case if you chose the rod and reel individually. Rod and reel combos also tend to be more cost-efficient than buying the rod and reel separately.

With so many anglers looking for a good rod and reel combo to go bass fishing, it was only right that we made a list of the best ones. That’s why we compiled this list of the best bass fishing rod and reel combos. Using my 21 years of fishing experience and 2 days of my team’s time, we came up with these 10 rod and reel combos. Each one was chosen after careful consideration of its overall strength and durability, rod sensitivity, and reel smoothness.

For those in a hurry, the overall best baitcasting combo is the Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcasting Combo, and the overall best spinning combo is the Penn Battle III Spinning Combo. Both combos are durable, smooth, and strong enough for the biggest bass while remaining sensitive enough for the smallest bass.

As affordable as those combos are though, I totally understand that some of you may be looking for something even more wallet-friendly. Or perhaps price isn’t a factor and you just want the best of the best. Either way, we’ve got you covered, so let’s begin!

Our Top 5 Picks For Baitcasting Combos

  1. Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcasting Combo (Best Overall Baitcasting Combo)
  2. Lew’s Mach 1 Speed Spool Baitcast Combo (Best Baitcasting Combo Splurge)
  3. Ugly Stik Elite Baitcast Combo (Best Durability)
  4. KastKing Crixus Baitcasting Combo (Best Budget Smoothness)
  5. Shakespeare Alpha Baitcast Combo (Best Budget Lightness)

Our Top 5 Picks For Spinning Combos

  1. Penn Battle III Spinning Fishing Combo (Best Spinning Combo Splurge)
  2. Cadence CC5 Spinning Combo (Best Overall Spinning Combo)
  3. Pflueger President Spinning Combo (Best Ultralight Combo)
  4. KastKing Centron Spinning Combo (Best For Beginners)
  5. Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Reel And Fishing Rod Combo (Best Budget)

The 5 Best Bass Baitcasting Combos

To make it clearer and easier for you to choose, we split the baitcasting and spinning rod and reel combos up.

We’ll be starting with the baitcasting combos first, so let’s jump right into it!

Best Overall

1. Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcasting Combo

  • Blank Material: Graphite
  • Power: Medium Heavy
  • Action: Fast
  • Ball Bearings: 4+1
  • Max Drag Weight: 15 pounds

Kicking things off is the Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcasting Combo. This well-rounded combo is everything a bass angler could ask for. Sensitive, smooth, powerful, and long-lasting, it’s the dream bass baitcasting combo.

For starters, with a maximum drag of 15 pounds and medium heavy power, even the largest bass won’t be an issue. To put this into context, I’ve never needed more than 15 pounds of drag while fishing bass. Also, most bass won’t call for anything more than a medium power rod. Only the biggest bass will require medium heavy rods. Either way, this rod and reel combo has all the muscle you’ll need to take on bass of any size.

This baitcasting rod also has a fast action rating due to its graphite blank. Graphite is the lightest and most sensitive material for rod blanks. Add that to the fact that this rod’s 24-ton graphite is the most ideal for excellent first-rate blanks, and you’ve got yourself an extremely sensitive rod. You’ll be able to feel even the softest tugs from the smallest bass.

In terms of smoothness, I gotta admit that this reel’s 4+1 bearings are slightly lacking. However, although 4+1 is a tad lesser than average, these 4+1 bearings are high-quality. As such, this quality evens out the lower quantity and still provides satisfactory smoothness.

Moving on to durability, this combo features a machined aluminum spool and guides and bearings made of stainless steel. Both aluminum and stainless steel are sturdy and highly resistant to corrosion. These translate to a heavy-duty rod and reel that will last for years to come.

So far, everything about the Abu Garcia Black Max Baitcasting Combo has been impressive. But what really won me over was its lightness. I found casting with it incredibly effortless and was able to fish all day with it. In fact, at the end of the day, I still felt quite fresh. Later, I checked to see the weight and was pleasantly surprised to see that it weighs just 14.4 ounces in total. This is thanks to the lightweight graphite rod and graphite frame.

In short, this is a well-rounded combo that delivers on all fronts. If you’re looking for something that can handle bass of all sizes, weather the elements, and won’t tire you out, look no further.

Best Splurge

2. Lew’s Mach 1 Speed Spool Baitcast Combo

  • Blank Material: Graphite
  • Power: Medium Heavy
  • Action: Fast
  • Ball Bearings: 7+1
  • Max Drag Weight: 15 pounds

Next on the list is the absolute best bass fishing combo in the world. Few rod and reel combos can measure up to the Abu Garcia Black Max Combo, but even it pales in comparison to the Lew’s Mach 1 Combo. Here’s why.

As a glance at the specifications would tell you, the Lew’s Mach 1 Combo shares many similarities with the Abu Garcia Black Max Combo.

Both combos consist of a medium heavy fast action graphite rod and a reel that can generate 15 pounds of drag. In other words, this combo can also stare down the largest bass and feel the timidest bites.

Both combos also incorporate an aluminum spool, stainless steel guides, and stainless steel bearings. But here’s where the Lew’s Mach 1 Combo starts to show its prowess.

Even though both combos’ bearings are stainless steel, the Lew’s Mach 1 Combo’s bearings are double-shielded, giving it the edge over the Abu Garcia Black Max Combo in toughness.

This combo also has 3 more bearings, and the difference is obvious from the first crank. With 7+1 bearings, you can expect nothing short of silky smooth operation from this baitcasting reel.

Finally, to further demonstrate this combo’s superiority, the rod and reel weigh a mere 10 ounces in total – almost 50% lighter than the Abu Garcia Black Max Combo.

I’m sure by now it’s clear that the Lew’s Mach 1 Speed Combo has no equal. Even an outstanding combo like the Abu Garcia Black Max Combo stands no chance. If you won’t settle for anything less than the best, this is it.

Best Durability

3. Ugly Stik Elite Baitcast Combo

  • Blank Material: Composite
  • Power: Medium Heavy
  • Action: Fast
  • Ball Bearings: 2+1
  • Max Drag Weight: 12 pounds

This next combo is all about durability.

Ugly Stik rods have a reputation for being unbreakable, and it’s no exaggeration. The Ugly Stik Elite was constructed with Ugly Stik’s signature Ugly Tech Construction, a blend of graphite and fiberglass. This technology is what gives the countless Ugly Stik rods around the world their invincibility. With this, the Ugly Stik Elite Baitcast Combo is able to outlast just about any rod on the market.

To go with this unmatched toughness, this baitcasting rod is also strong enough for gigantic bass, and responsive enough for the smallest ones. Unfortunately, you will be limited by the reel which can only churn out 12 pounds of stopping power. This isn’t to say that 12 pounds is little though, because you can still go home with large bass, just not the record-breaking ones.

There’s just one problem with the Ugly Stik Elite Baitcast Combo – it’s severely lacking in bearings. The measly 2+1 bearings are definitely not ideal. When you’re reeling fish in, you’ll face frequent hiccups and the entire process will be very choppy.

Notwithstanding that, no baitcaster combo on the market can match this one’s toughness. For those who value a hardy rod and reel above all, this could just be what you’re looking for.

Best Budget Smoothness

4. KastKing Crixus Baitcasting Combo

  • Blank Material: Graphite
  • Power: Ranges from Medium to Medium Heavy
  • Action: Fast
  • Ball Bearings: 7+1
  • Max Drag Weight: 17.6 pounds

Cheap and smooth, this is a great budget rod and reel combo.

At first glance, you wouldn’t be able to guess how cheap this combo is because the specs are all great.

There’s enough power and sensitivity for the entire range of bass and the same number of bearings as the Lew’s Mach 1 Speed Spool. What’s more, the aluminum spool and double-shielded stainless steel bearings grant it serious durability.

However, upon closer inspection, the 7+1 bearings are only of average quality, so this reel is nowhere near as smooth as the Lew’s Mach 1. And the worst part of this combo is that it’s ridiculously heavy. I believe that KastKing did not state the weight on purpose, because this combo is unbelievably heavy. I’ve never used a baitcasting rod and reel as heavy as this before. I’d put the rod and reel at about 25 ounces, more than twice the Lew’s Mach 1 Combo.

Having said that, the weight aside, this combo has no other cons. It’s still the cheapest baitcaster combo that won’t let you down no matter how big (or small) the bass is. Anglers trying to keep costs down may want to give this rod and reel combo a shot.

Best Budget Lightness

5. Shakespeare Alpha Baitcast Combo

  • Blank Material: Fiberglass
  • Power: Medium
  • Action: Fast
  • Ball Bearings: 1
  • Max Drag Weight: 15 pounds

If you liked the price of the KastKing Crixus but didn’t fancy the weight, you’re going to love this combo.

Right off the bat, you’ll notice that this reel only comes with a single ball bearing. It really doesn’t get any worse than this, and you’ll find operating this reel quite a chore. Still, in spite of this, its lightweight rod and reel made it a worthy addition to this list. Plus, with the KastKing Crixus Combo’s weight, we had to include another option for those who don’t want to go fishing with a dumbbell.

Standing at 13.6 ounces, the Shakespeare Alpha Baitcast Combo is even lighter than the Abu Garcia Black Max Combo. It also fares well in its other aspects, with medium power, fast action, and stainless steel guides.

If you’re able to look past the lack of bearings, this is a decent bass fishing combo. And frankly, at this price, it really doesn’t get much better than this.

The 5 Best Bass Spinning Combos

Since you’re here, I guess baitcasting combos weren’t quite what you were looking for. Well, fret not, because here come the spinning combos for bass fishing.

Let’s begin!

Best Splurge

6. Penn Battle III Spinning Fishing Combo

  • Blank Material: Composite
  • Power: Ranges from Light to Heavy
  • Action: Ranges from Moderate Fast to Fast
  • Ball Bearings: 5+1
  • Max Drag Weight: 9-30 pounds

Now that we’ve covered the baitcasting combos, let’s start with the spinning combos. Introducing the winner of the 2020 ICAST Best Saltwater Reel Award – the Penn Battle III. This is a bass fishing combo that speaks for itself. The specs listed should give you a good idea of how superior this combo is to other spinning combos.

Power-wise, with a heavy power spinning rod and 30 pounds of drag, this is one of the strongest combos out there. Needless to say, bass won’t be an issue. In fact, you can even target fishes like tuna with this rod and reel combo.

Sensitivity-wise, this combo is no slack either, with its fast action spinning rod.

Durability-wise, not only are the bearings stainless steel, but they’re also sealed to keep debris and water out. This, together with the full metal body and sideplates, makes the Penn Battle III Combo one of the sturdiest combos in the world.

Then, to seal the deal, Penn armed this combo with 5+1 bearings. 5+1 may not be a lot, but with the Penn Battle III’s high-quality bearings, it’s more than enough for excellent smoothness.

The Penn Battle III did not win the 2020 ICAST Best Saltwater Reel Award by luck, and it’s plain for all to see. Granted, it is on the pricier side, but it’s worth every penny.

Best Overall

7. Cadence CC5 Spinning Combo

  • Blank Material: Graphite
  • Power: Ranges from Medium Light to Medium Heavy
  • Action: Ranges from Moderate Fast to Fast
  • Ball Bearings: 8+1
  • Max Drag Weight: 16-20 pounds

Up next, this is a very reasonably priced spinning combo that comes in a package with strength, sensitivity, toughness, and smoothness.

First off, this spinning combo boasts a medium heavy spinning rod and a reel with up to 20 pounds of stopping power. This might sound repetitive, but for the benefit of those who skipped the baitcasting combos section, I still need to break down what this means. Huge bass, those you see in the Guinness World Records, will require medium heavy power and 15 pounds of drag to reel in. Essentially, this spinning combo’s strength will enable you to go after even monster bass.

Then, to ensure you don’t miss out on the tiniest bass, this spinning rod offers remarkable sensitivity, with a fast action rating.

On top of that, this spinning reel is also equipped with 8+1 bearings for buttery smooth operation.

All these mean nothing though if this combo is going to fall apart after a few uses. To see to it that this won’t happen, Cadence built this combo with robust stainless steel guides and an aluminum spool.

All in all, the Cadence CC5 Spinning Combo will cover all your bass fishing needs, and in some aspects, far exceed your expectations, especially considering the price. Bass anglers looking for a moderately priced top-notch spinning combo will find that this combo doesn’t disappoint.

Best Ultralight Combo

8. Pflueger President Spinning Combo

  • Blank Material: Graphite
  • Power: Ultra Light
  • Action: Fast
  • Ball Bearings: 9+1
  • Max Drag Weight: 8 pounds

When it comes to ultralight combos for bass fishing, there’s no better rod and reel combo than the Pflueger President Spinning Combo.

An ultralight rod has to have exceptional sensitivity because you’ll be going after the smallest fishes there are.

More importantly though, an ultralight rod has to be as weak as possible. Yes, you read that right, the weaker, the better. This is because the point of an ultralight rod is to make fishing small fishes feel like giants, and thus make fishing panfish a fun experience. And there’s no better rod and reel combo to do that than the Pflueger President Spinning Combo.

With ultra light power, this spinning rod literally has the least amount of backbone possible for a rod. This will allow you to have a ton of fun while fishing small bass.

And in case you’re worried about the 8 pounds of drag, rest assured that it will suffice. You’ll be targeting small bass so there’s no need for too much stopping power.

It’s also worth noting that the Pflueger President Spinning Combo is a heavy-duty spinning combo. Its stainless steel guides combine with the aluminum handle and sealed drag system to create a hardy rod and reel combo.

As ultralight bass fishing combos go, the Pflueger President Spinning Combo has no equal. If you’re planning on ultralight fishing for bass, this is the combo for you.

Best For Beginners

9. KastKing Centron Spinning Combo

  • Blank Material: Graphite
  • Power: Ranges from Medium to Heavy
  • Action: Ranges from Moderate Fast to Fast
  • Ball Bearings: 9+1
  • Max Drag Weight: 12-17.5 pounds

Designed to be an all-around combo, the KastKing Centron Combo is a great choice for new anglers.

For strength, the rod and reel go all the way up to heavy power and 17.5 pounds of drag.

For sensitivity, a graphite blank provides the fast action needed for small bass.

For toughness, this rod and reel combo is outfitted with stainless steel guides and an aluminum spool.

And as for smoothness, you’ve got 9+1 mediocre (not high-quality) bearings. The result is decent smoothness that you’d get with 4+1 high-quality bearings.

Overall, the KastKing Centron Combo won’t be turning any heads, but gets the job done at a relatively high level. This makes it perfect for beginners who want a pretty good bass fishing combo without breaking the bank.

Best Budget

10. Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Reel And Fishing Rod Combo

  • Blank Material: Composite
  • Power: Ranges from Ultra Light to Medium Heavy
  • Action: Fast
  • Ball Bearings: 2/3+1
  • Max Drag Weight: 7-8 pounds

Finishing things off is our budget pick for bass spinning combos – the Ugly Stik GX2 Combo.

By now, you should be a pro at judging the rod and reel features that we’ve listed, so I won’t go into too much detail.

This is basically the most affordable spinning combo available that we deemed fit for bass fishing.

Most rod and reel combos at this price are utter garbage and are only good for display. The Ugly Stik GX2 Combo is one of the rare few exceptions.

There’s no question that you should get a better rod and reel combo if you have the means. However, for those on a shoestring budget, you could do a lot worse than the Ugly Stik GX2 Combo.

Choosing A Good Bass Fishing Rod And Reel

My favourite thing about rod and reel combos is that they’re guaranteed to mesh well together. This is one less thing to worry about when choosing your bass fishing rod and reel.

That said, both the rod and reel in the combo should be great on their own. This section will go over how exactly to ensure you find a rod and reel combo with both a great rod and a great reel for catching bass.

Baitcasting VS Spinning

Before you even look at the combos available, you’ll need to decide whether you want baitcasting or spinning rods and reels.

Baitcasting rods and baitcasting reels allow you to cast with pinpoint accuracy. They’re also more compatible with heavier lines (above 10-pound test) and lures. However, baitcasting gear is harder to master than spinning gear.

On the other hand, spinning rods provide much less casting accuracy, but work much better with light lures and lines. Spinning rods and spinning reels are also easier to master.

I’d advise new anglers to go with a spinning rod and spinning reel. Only seasoned anglers should undertake the challenge of baitcasting rods and baitcasting reels.

Besides, you can snag large bass with spinning gear too. They may be less compatible with heavier tackle, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pair them with heavier lines and lures. They’re less compatible, not not compatible.


Rod power is measured by how much force it takes to bend the rod, i.e. its stiffness. The stiffer your rod, the larger the fish it can handle.

Since bass are medium sized fish, medium power will usually suffice. The only exception is if you’re up against a trophy bass. For those who want to target the largest bass, go for a medium heavy rod.


Rod action is measured by how high up your rod bends when pressure is applied to the tip. The closer to the tip your rod bends, the faster the action and the more sensitive your rod is.

If you want to be able to feel the slightest tugs from tiny bass, you’ll of course need a fast action bass rod. Some anglers aren’t interested in the smaller bass though. If you’re one of them, then moderate and even slow action rods will suffice.


Rod length matters because the longer your rod, the further you’ll be able to cast.

The thing is, you don’t need that much casting distance for bass. I recommend going with a 6-7 ft bass rod. Any longer is unnecessary and only adds more weight.

The only time when you’ll need a longer rod is if you intend to go surf fishing for bass. If that’s the case, you should be looking at an 8-12 ft bass rod. As for which rod length exactly, that will depend on how far out you’re surf fishing. The further out, the longer your bass rod will have to be.


There are 3 main materials for rod handles – cork, EVA foam, and rubber shrink tubing.

Cork provides the least secure grip out of those three materials, but is the most durable.

EVA foam provides a secure grip and is very durable.

Rubber shrink tubing provides the firmest grip and is quite durable, though less so than the other two materials.

In the event that two bass fishing rods are evenly matched in all aspects, you would need to look at the handle to decide the better one for you. Nevertheless, as the rod handle isn’t a big deal, we didn’t give it much attention when choosing these rod and reel combos.

Rod Material

The blank material, contrary to the handle material, makes a huge difference. There are also 3 materials for rod blanks – graphite (aka carbon fiber), fiberglass, and composite.

Out of the three, graphite is the lightest and most sensitive, but also the least robust.

Fiberglass is the strongest and sturdiest, but also the heaviest and least responsive.

Composite is a blend of graphite and fiberglass. As you’d expect, it’s in the middle in all areas. It’s fairly light, sensitive, strong, and hardy.

Out of these 3 materials, there’s no one that’s better than the other. It all comes down to personal preference.

Also, a carbon fiber rod won’t necessarily be lighter than a fiberglass one. Instead, if you want a lighter rod, look at the specifications rather than the rod material. The same goes for strength. Instead of choosing a fiberglass rod over a graphite one, it’s better to check the power and see if it’s what you’re looking for.

Drag System

Now on to the reel, the first factor to consider is the drag system. The drag system refers to the small steel plates in your reel that stop your spool from releasing line.

When a fish pulls harder than your drag weight, your spool will release line. This is to prevent your line from snapping. The heavier your line’s pound test, the stronger your drag will need to be.

Since you’ll need stronger line for larger bass, your drag needs to be stronger too. As a general rule of thumb, drag should be set to 1/3 or 1/4 of your line’s pound test.

For bass, you won’t need any more than 15 pounds of drag, so look out for a max drag weight of 15 pounds on the reel. This is to take into account monster bass though, so you can settle for less drag if you don’t want to land anything too big.

Ball Bearings

Bearings reduce friction and help your reel run smoothly.

Both the quality and quantity of bearings matter. Even with 9+1 bearings, if the bearings are poorly made, your reel can still be choppy.

If they are high-quality bearings though, 5+1 will be enough for a smooth reel. In fact, you can even push it to 4+1 bearings, but I wouldn’t go any lower than that.

Gear Ratio

Gear ratio is a measure of how many times your spool spins per handle rotation.

The higher your gear ratio, the fewer turns it will take when reeling fish in. This means with higher gear ratios, you exert less effort to reel fish in.

But that’s not the only consideration with gear ratio. You also need to take into account what lures you’re using. Lures that call for slower retrieves will require slower gear ratios and vice versa for fast lures.

In general, 6:1 is considered fast and 4:1 is considered slow.

For bass, I find that 5.5:1 is the sweet spot. It’s gearing more towards the fast side because anglers tend to use faster lures with bass.

Reel Construction

Bass live in both freshwater and saltwater. Whether you plan to go freshwater fishing or saltwater fishing for bass, your reel has to be durable, and even more so if you’re planning to fish in saltwater. As such, it’s important to look at how your reel is constructed.

For the reel parts like the frame, sideplate, handle, and so on, you’ll want something that’s durable and able to resist corrosion, even if you’re going freshwater fishing. This can range from aluminum and stainless steel to carbon fiber, and even titanium.

For the bearings, though not a must, it is good to have additional protection. This additional protection can come in the form of a sealed bearing system or shields that reduce the amount of debris entering the bearing system.

My Verdict

To sum it up, a rod and reel combo is a smart way to spare your wallet and to make sure your rod and reel will work well as a team.

These are the ten best bass fishing combos out there and I’m confident that you’ll find one to your liking. If you’re having trouble making up your mind, I recommend getting the Abu Garcia Black Baitcasting Combo. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a spinning combo, I’d suggest getting the Penn Battle III Spinning Combo. Either way, both combos have the muscle for the largest bass, the responsiveness for the tiniest bass, and are sturdy and smooth.

Now that you’ve found your ideal bass fishing combo, you can start emptying your local waters of bass!

P.S. If you’ve decided you want to create your own rod and reel pairing, we’ve got you covered too. Here are the best bass fishing rods and the best spinning reels and baitcasting reels to go with them.

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Reuben went on his first fishing trip when he was 9. That's when he fell in love with fishing. When he's not fishing, he's searching for new gear and ways to fish better.