If you’re a crankbait fisher, you may find yourself struggling to get the results you desire from a casting rod. There are many reasons for this but the main one is that a casting rod is designed for worms and live bait.
A crankbait rod is engineered specifically to deal with crankbait. Slightly shorter and a little bit stiffer, these medium-weight rods are made to work with crankbait, meaning fewer snags, easier hook-sets, and better casting.
The problem lies more in the decision between rods. This is where we come in, giving you this handy, helpful guide that will proffer advice on the best crankbait rods available on the market today. We’ve compiled some information on what to look for and the best features you can find. On top of that, we’ve picked out our top five crankbait fishing rods and highlighted their pros and cons as a starting point.
Comparison of the Best Crankbait Rods
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What is a Crankbait Rod?
The first important thing about a crankbait rod is that it is designed for crankbait, not worms or maggots. Crankbait refers to an umbrella of different lures that can be used with these rods.
In terms of shape, a crankbait rod tends to have a slow taper along the shaft, meaning that the lower end of the rod is wider than the top – but not drastically wider. The taper means that the thinner end has a little soft flexibility, giving you what is known as ‘action’. The action refers to the speed of the flick of the rod.
A crankbait rod tends to be stiffer than its counterpart (the casting rod). The stiffness of the rod puts less pressure on the fish, making it easier to reel them in as they hook themselves. That said, the slower action also makes it easier to hook bigger fish due to the slight delay as crankbait rods can be a little hard to work with.
Crankbait rods are also relatively short in comparison to other fishing rods. They tend to be between six and eight feet long, with most crankbait anglers staying near the six to seven-foot zone.
The fishing rod works as a lever, so while shorter rods like this cannot pull as much line when you set the hook, they do have far greater accuracy when working in tight spaces. You can stretch to a longer rod for greater power, but you trade-off certain features such as transportability, accuracy, and the ability to easily fight fish at close quarters.
When it comes to rod power, focus on their ratings to select the ideal crankbait rod: medium-light, medium, or medium-heavy. The size you need is determined by the lure weight and line size you choose and you can usually identify the ideal line and lure for the rod weight by reading the specifications. If you’re unsure between two, the rule of thumb is to choose the slightly heavier one.
Though graphite rods are more sensitive, you will not need this sensitivity due to crankbait rods putting less pressure on the fish and making it less likely you will lose it. In this sense, you’ll find that crankbait rods tend to be made from fiberglass.
Overall, you’ll find that a crankbait rod has a smoother and slower feel to it, giving you time to work out what you’re doing. It also has a better flow when reeling in your fish, reducing the likelihood of big fish slipping off the hook.
Pros and Cons of a Good Crankbait Rod
When it comes to selecting a fishing rod, you may find yourself erring toward a crankbait rod as you fish using crankbait. However, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of crankbait rods will allow you to make a more educated decision. While crankbait rods have their pros, such as less snagging and softer action for between accuracy, you’ll find that you can’t cast as far and the rods are not as sensitive.
What you need to know about crankbait rods is that they are designed to cope with their job well and therefore are engineered specifically for crankbait. You will find that the rod has an improved casting distance in comparison to using a casting rod for crankbait. The softer action and flex mean that there is more energy in the rod blank.
With this energy, you get a slingshot action, where the potential energy transfers to powerful kinetic energy, allowing a smoother and stronger cast follow through. You can optimize the distance of casting even further by coupling your crankbait rod with the appropriate cranking reel.
When trying to use a casting rod with crankbait, you’ll find that you will experience snagging frequently. This diminishes your experience and has you spending more time sorting out snags than actually catching fish. A crankbait rod is designed to reduce snagging, transferring this smoothness to the bait sitting at the bottom of the water. Crankbait rods are engineered to have a soft tip as this allows time for the bait to repel objects, giving it a clean run.
The hooksets on crankbaits are also superior. The soft section of your rod will provide ample pause for the fish to fully envelope the bait, giving you a good grip. The problem with fast action setups is that when combined with a quick hookset, you end up ripping the bait clean out the mouth of the fish. A crankbait rod slows and softens this process.
The first and most obvious thing is casting. While longer rods are available, crankbait rods tend to be shorter. Created for accuracy in closer casting or casting around obstructions, crankbait rods only reach up to around eight feet. This limits the distance you can cast your crankbait. If you want something longer, you may need to look for a different model.
Secondly, you’ll find that crankbait rods, with their stiffness and slow action, tend to be less sensitive.
What to Look for in a Crankbait Rod
When you are looking for a crankbait rod, you need to consider the crankbait you’re using first. The reason for this is that some crankbait is so specific that you need to design your set-up around it. That said, here are few things to consider when looking for a top quality crankbait rod.
The rod power refers to the flexibility of the crankbait rod. While, as noted above, crankbait rods tend to be stiffer than casting rods, you can still choose between the flexibilities. You will probably find yourself choosing between medium-light, medium, and medium-heavy, but always remember the heavier ones will be more work to use but are generally a safer bet.
The rod power refers to the pressure, or force, that it takes to make the rod flex. This power relates to the weight of the lure and the size of the line. You can check out the rod to see what it works best with and then go from there.
Line Strength and Weight
When you consider your rod, you need to think about the line that works best with that crankbait rod. For an angler, you’ll find that heavier, thicker line is easier to work with and gives room for mistakes while also enabling you to have a little rougher fish fight instead of breaking. Lighter, thinner lines are designed to cast farther out and can cast the crankbait deeper into the water.
The flipside is that they snap more easily. In this sense, work out which line works best for your ability and environment, then narrow down your rod choices by the line strength and weight. For most crankbait fisherman, a rod that is crafted with a moderate taper will work fine.
What this means, in general, is that the lower part of the rod has some muscle, while the top part of the rod has some play. Below are a couple other key considerations when selecting a crankbait rod. Ultimately, it comes down to weighing the pros and cons of each attribute before deciding on your rod.
As stated above, the rod length will determine how far you can cast your line but will reduce accuracy. Shorter crankbait rods are great for working in smaller areas with greater accuracy. They also work well in areas with overhanging banks and so on. If you want further and deeper casting, you need a longer rod.
If you’re fishing in saltwater, this is a much bigger decision. Poor quality components can corrode due to the salt in the saltwater, which reduces the longevity of your fishing rod. You may want to look for guides that have durable materials such as stainless steel, titanium, and zirconium inserts.
Key Terms to Know
To help compare products in this review, we have included a few key specifications for each. Here is a quick summary of what they mean.
- Materials: The materials the rod is made of.
- Weight: The actual weight of the rod.
- Guides: The number, material, and type of guides the rod features.
- Length(s): The length(s) this rod is available in.
- Action(s): What actions the rod comes in. This refers to where the rod flexes and includes slow/moderate/moderately-fast/fast/extra fast/ etc.
- Power: Power refers to how much force it takes to bend the rod. These fall under the designations of ultra light/med-light/light/medium/med-heavy/heavy/etc.
- Reel Seat: Any specifications for the reel seat including style and materials. This is where the reel will attach.
Review of the Best Crankbait Rods
If you’re blundering around looking for a crankbait rod, we suggest you start here. While the market is flooded with models of all shapes, sizes, and prices, we’ve done the legwork here, so you don’t have to.
Below are our top five choices of crankbait rods on the market right now. We have broken down our analysis of the rods to help you get a better idea of why we’re putting them at the top. We’ve showcased their features, pulled out their pros and cons, and topped it all off with our overall expert opinion. Take a peek below at which are the best crankbait rods in our eyes.
Fiblink 4 Pieces Travel Casting Rod
Made of solid carbon fiber and constructed for sensitivity, this carbon composite rod comes with 7+1 stainless steel guide frames with ceramic inserts. Folding down to four pieces, this portable rod is made for long casts and smooth handling. Very lightweight, this model is engineered for strength without compromising flexibility. The reel seat features anti-corrosive stainless-steel hoods for increased durability.
This lightweight rod is made for not so heavy use. It is accurate and comfy to work with and composite materials and is strong and flexible. That said, this isn’t designed for very large fish. The components on the reel seat and guides are made from tough, durable materials for a better, smoother experience, and longevity.
7+ 1 Stainless steel frames and ceramic insert
6 ft 6 in /7 ft /7 ft 6in /8 ft/10 ft
Medium, Medium Heavy and Heavy
Corrosion resistant stainless steel hoods
G. Loomis IMX-PRO Casting Rod - Crankbait
This high-performance rod has a moderate to fast action and is engineered for pro-level crankbait fishing. With refined blank tapers, the split-grip is designed for full comfort while fishing. The Fuji K-frames are employed for tangle-free lines and the lightweight rod is made from high-tech materials to allow a faster-reacting rod blank.
A step up from their previous crankbait rods, this new series is a real treat for hardcore crankbait enthusiasts. With a very satisfying grip, excellent strength, and flexibility, this model is accurate to work with and does not tangle. The cork is a little shoddy but aside from that, all working components are of high quality and seem to be very durable.
3. SHIMANO Zodias Casting Rod
Designed for both power and accuracy, this casting rod isn’t necessarily made for crankbait but can be used for it. At eight feet long, this medium weight rod is ideal for extensive casting. The blank is lightweight, while also durable, and the reel seat allows custom settings to suit your feel. The action is very reliable, while the handle is very comfortable.
This longer fishing pole is great for extensive casting when crankbait fishing. The rod is designed as a casting rod but has received excellent feedback as an all-around tool. Both strong and flexible, the action and power are reliable, while the smooth transference of force gives a vibration-free experience. The blank is well designed to prevent it from snagging or tangling, but some people have noted that the handle is a little slight for large hands.
8+1 Fuji Alconite + SiC Tip
7 ft 2 in
Moderate / Fast
CI4+ Carbon Fiber
4. St. Croix Avid Series Crankbait Rod
With integrated PolyCurve technology, this range is designed to be affordable while providing speed, accuracy, and strength. The rod comes with lightweight SCII graphite blanks and corrosive-resistant aluminum oxide guides.
The cast is stable, balanced, and uniform, and the action is able to be finely tuned to your specifications. The cork handle is ergonomically designed, while the rod comes with a Fuji reel seat.
This flexible crankbait rod is superior to most on the market. The flaws are few and far between, while the bonuses - such as flexibility, strength, accuracy, and durability – are evident. The technology within the rod prevents dead zones, while the materials make the components highly resilient. Well-balanced, you’re unlikely to experience many tremors with this rod, and it can be used for all types of fish, from small to
Fuji Concept w/ Alconite
5. Lews Fishing David Fritts Crank Back Baitcast Combo
This seven-foot rod comes as one piece and features a heavy action to allow better control. This rod includes the Speed Spool cast reel, which has a 5.4:1 ratio, which is pretty good for crankbait. This is designed for heavy and deep diving baits and is made from IM6 premium graphite. The rod comes with a parabolic mechanism for a better casting distance.
This rod and reel set is a great starter tool for those looking for controlled crankbait fishing. All set up and ready to go, this tool comes as one piece and features high-grade graphite materials for longevity and durability. Designed for longer casting, this model works best with heavy and deep diving baits.
IM6 Premium Graphite
Stainless steel with stainless steel inserts
How to Use a Crankbait Rod
If you want to learn a little on how to set up your crankbait rod and reel, you can watch the video below. We’ve pulled out some of the key points for you:
- Slow and Give – This is the term used in the video to describe the setup that is best for crankbait rods. You want your rod to work with slow action and smooth operation, but you want enough give to cope with any jerky feedback from under the water.
- Think About Line – The video suggests using 12-pound monofilament because it has a lot of stretch. The stretch of the line, along with the theme of ‘give’, allows the fish to fully swallow the bait before you set the hook, without the line snapping. The give also allows you to have a little fight with the fish without the line breaking. The 12-pound weight is good for crankbait, as anything too heavy affects the action and stops the line from getting to your desired depth. If the line is much lighter than 12 pounds, you run the risk of the line being snagged and breaking on rocks and trees.
- Know Your Reels – You need a slow gear ratio on your reel; 5.1:1 is the ideal ratio for crankbait, according to the video host and his experienced angler friends. This ratio hits the sweet spot. Where traditional anti-reverse functions mean that there is no give when the reel spins back, a multi-stop, anti-reverse function provides the ‘give’ necessary for crankbait. It allows just enough bounce to cope with the load without the fish shaking off the bait.
How to Clean and Maintain a Crankbait Rod
Cleaning and maintaining your fishing rod is integral to its longevity. When fishing, the muck and grime from under the water, combined with the corrosive elements in the water (like salt and heavy metals), can lead to the deterioration of your rod. Sand can cause micro-abrasions, while salt rusts the metal guides and operating components.
The video below is a guide to show you how best to clean your rod. We’ve compiled a quick list of the key pointers on fishing rod maintenance.
- Soft Rinse – First you need to rinse your fishing rod with a very light spray. Do not use a powerful jet as this can crack the fiberglass or graphite and can loosen the fixtures.
- Use Soapy Water - While different people agree on different soaps, a light dollop of dish soap in warm water usually does the trick. Use a soft cloth to apply the warm, soapy water. Start at the tip and work your way down the shaft, inching into every nook and cranny.
- Don’t Run Too Hard – Don’t grip too tightly when working down the rod as leftover sand can cause abrasions in the fiberglass or graphite. Gently soap each section, using a lot of water to rinse away debris. Rinse thoroughly with clean, warm water to remove all the soap once finished.
- Clean the Ferrules – Make sure both the male and female ferrules are clean. Use warm, soapy water and a Q tip. Follow this up with a little wax on a Q tip to protect.
- Check for Snags – Run a cotton ball through the guides to make sure there haven’t been any scratches. If the cotton ball snags, look closely and you’ll see a scratch. If damaged, you need to replace the guides.
We hope this guide has helped you in your search for a crankbait fishing rod. Having given you a rundown, it’s clear you need a rod between six and eight feet in fiberglass, with medium weight. Look for a slow tapering rod as this will give you a stiffer rod with a slower action, enabling you to have greater accuracy when crankbait fishing. Now the rest of the choices are up to you. Remember to look for high-quality components to prevent the guides and other features from rusting or corroding.
Make sure to get yourself in the habit of a good cleaning routine. A well-maintained fishing rod will last a lot longer, while routine maintenance will help you to see any problems or damages to your rod.