No 2 – Buying Your First Rod and Reel

Friday, March 21, 2014
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No 2 – Buying Your First Rod and Reel

Where to Start

So where do we start? Choosing your first rod and reel for Bass fishing can be daunting for even the most seasoned angler. We first must look at the different locations where Bass live and then you will be able to choose a rod and reel combination that will best suit the locations and techniques of Bass fishing you will be doing.

Bass are a pretty amazing fish that successfully live and breed from the cool waters of Victoria to the temperate waters of Queensland. You can target them in their natural environment like creeks and rivers where you can walk the banks, kayak or put the boat in to cast at snags and fallen structure where the Bass like to ambush prey. Or you can target Bass in one of the hundreds of man-made impoundments that have been stocked with Bass. You can catch them on bait, lures or fly and they respond well to all techniques. Knowing where you will mainly want to fish makes choosing your first rod and reel combination so much easier.

Impoundment fishing is usually preformed from a boat or kayak. Due to the depth of water and the techniques employed in the impoundments, a spinning combination is by far the easiest to use for beginners. If you are fishing the creeks and rivers chasing wild Bass then I believe the Baitcasting combination is much more productive and accurate for throwing directly in structure where you need to pull the Bass away from its home where many of the impoundments have little or no structure for the Bass to break your line and gain freedom. 

What Combination do I Need?

Basically there are 3 styles of fishing rod and reel combinations that you can use for Bass fishing.

  1. The Baitcaster Combination– This combination is used mainly for casting larger lures like Spinnerbaits, 70mm+ Hardbodies and 100mm+ Softplastics etc. towards submerged structure where direct control during the fight is needed. The Baitcaster allows you direct pressure through the reels drag but also allows you to apply direct pressure to the spool with your thumb to completely “Lock” the reels drag system which helps stop fish from gaining extra line throughout the battle. The Baitcaster requires practice to become proficient at accuracy and distance but this combination will allow you many options throughout your Bass fishing carrier. 
  2. The Spinning Combination – This combination is use by the majority of anglers fishing for impoundment Bass in Australia. The Spinning combination is versatile! You can use this combination for just about every location and the spinning reel requires less practice to become a proficient caster. Many of the techniques employed by anglers to catch Bass has come from Aussie anglers utilizing the Spinning combination to its upmost. The ease of use and the thousands of combinations available within Australia make the Spinning combination probable the most suited for the majority of anglers.
  3. The Fly Combination - This combination has proven to be one of the most successful techniques used by Australian Tournament anglers. The fly combination is by far the harder of the techniques to master and will take some time to become proficient at delivering a fly to wherever the Bass are holding in the water column. The fly combination will also limit the areas you can fish as you will require many different line-combinations for your rod to successfully target each different location. Once mastered the fly becomes a valuable tool when targeting Bass, especially when the Bass are schooling close to the bottom in many of the impoundments.   

Setting a Budget

Bass fishing like many sports, it’s an individual sport and basically when you’re starting out you can spend as much or as little as you want to achieve your goals. It’s best to make a “LIST” of what you want to achieve from the sport because if you don’t you will find that the humble Bass can take over your life and a fair chunk of your finances along the way.

Set yourself a budget! This will help you along your Bass journey as there are so many gadgets, lures, jig-heads, Softplastics, clothing, boats, rods, reels etc. along the way to get you started.

Once you have decided on what locations you will be fishing most regularly; its then time to get to making the list of techniques you will be fishing. If you’re going to be fishing with bait for Bass then I would suggest at spinning combination as you will only need the most basic of combinations and some basic tackle (hooks, swivels and sinkers) and some bait (shrimps / worms) and you’re Bass fishing. But if you are thinking of getting into something a bit more serious like lure or fly fishing then you will require a bit more gear then just a rod and reel and some tackle. 

If you have decided to Bass fish with lures or fly then choosing a rod and reel combination may become changeling for a beginner. There is no point spending all your money on a rod and reel if you don’t have any lures to cast at the waiting Bass. This is where your LIST will come in handy. Write down the locations you will be fishing (impoundment / wild fish), what lures and techniques you want to use, additional tackle you will require (tackle box, leader material, jig-heads etc.) and then it’s time to look around where to buy your first Bass combination.


Where to buy your fishing gear?

These days with the use of the internet the options to buy fishing gear on the global scale is endless. I do believe however that getting to know your local tackle store employees is paramount to successfully catch and know where the Bass are biting. Not every store employee will be a Bass angler but they will be able to steer you towards products that will best suit the locations you will be fishing. It’s definitely worth doing your research about the products that you want to purchase as the price difference between stores to store is often many dollars which can be a huge help when getting into a new sport. Check out the list of BASS Australia Nation preferred suppliers on our site.

Selecting your Bass Combination

Once you have determined the locations you will be mainly fishing, your budget and the style of combination that best suits your fishing style then it’s time to purchase the combination. If you are totally new to the sport then I would suggest the lower end of the market to see if you have a passion for the sport as rod and reel combinations start at around $40.00 and surpass the $1000.00 mark. Like most sporting equipment; you do get what you pay for but almost any combination these days will be able to catch Bass.

A Good Starting Combination

spinning gear

Spinning - When choosing a Spinning combination we suggest matching the rod, reel and line to the size and weight of the lures you will be using. This information can be gained from your local tackle store. As a general rule a rod between 6’6’ and 7’ matched with a 1500 to 2500 sized reel in the 2 to 4kg range with 6 to 10lb line will be able to be used for most techniques. You will have many options with brands of rods and reels but if you stick to the major brands in the industry you will receive exceptional service for any problems you may experience. 

The spinning reel, (aka: egg beater, open face reel, fixed spool reel and many more) attaches to the handle of the rod and holds the line you are fishing with. This type of reel is ideal for beginners as it’s very easy to cast and retrieve the line without too much trouble after some practice and timing training. Any type of line can be used on the reel, they have a very basic level of operation and with todays technology you can purchase a smooth, light-spinning reel at a very reasonable price.

The reel size should fit between the 1500 and 2500 range in size, the capacity of line isn’t that critical unless you are fishing deeper water.

A spinning reel also has a drag system, which can be adjusted to suite the strength of line you are using. Located on the top or bottom of the spool the drag system can be tightened/lightened by turning the knob one way or another. It’s important to have the setting at the right strength so when you are fighting a fish the line wont break. If you have the drag too loose, the fish can pull away and release its self easily. Learn this operation once you have the line on the rod and reel combo. The reel should have a drag capacity of over 3kg’s for bass fishing, which will work in tune with the rod you select.

It would be easy for me to just say, go buy any type of rod that the reel fits on, but that wouldn’t help you in the long run. You really need to buy the right type of rod for spinning with the guides away from the blank so the line comes off the spinning reel nicely. The rod should have some details printed on the blank just under the bottom guide, notes these down and match them with an appropriate reel. Matching the weight between the rod and reel will give you better performance over all and help with casting, and contact with the lure.

Choosing the right type of blank for your rod is determined on what type of line you plan on using. If you are choosing to use any type of braided line, I always suggest using a graphite rod blank as the two types of material are made for each other. The downside to using braids is the fact you must nearly always attach a leader to the mainline. (Go to the line section for more details). The advantages of using braided line together with a graphite rod is that you have more control over your casting, you can cast smaller lures further, the rod is a lot more sensitive which gives you more feel and the combo will be lighter to handle.

casting gear

Baitcaster – like the Spinning combination or any fishing apparatus we suggest again that you consult your local tackle supplier for correct information. We suggest that you choose a combination that will allow you to perform as many techniques with the 1 rod as possible. Matching the rod weight to the lures is imperative for the rod to preform to its maximum ability.

Baitcaster combinations are a lot harder to master than the standard Spinning combinations as the line runs through the guides across the TOP of the fishing rod instead of traditional rods holding the line through the guides like the standard spinning combination. The Baitcaster reel also requires you to control the casted line with your thumb, gently resting on the rotating spool to slow the rotations of the spool to the speed of the casted lure. Baitcaster combinations do allow the angler the upmost of control when casting and are used by angles wanting directional control when accuracy is needed.  

As a general rule I would suggest a combination weight in the 4 to 6kg range with a 6’ to 6’6’ rod, paired to a 100 to 200 sized reel. This combination matched with 12 to 20lb braid will give you a combination that will allow you to use almost every technique required for Bass fishing.

Again if you are going to use braided lines then the standard high-modulus graphite rods will be best suited but if you intend to use a monofilament of fluro-carbon line then you can use a composite rod to deliver maximum performance. Composite rods are a blend of many different materials that allow the angler flexibility with alternating techniques. Many anglers these days prefer composite rods over high-modulus graphite rods as they deliver similar performance to graphite but are more forgiving then graphite blanks.


Fly – The Fly combination is by far the most challenging technique anglers use to catch Bass. The Fly rod or “Wand” as it is affectionately known by requires a sound knowledge of sink-rates for line you are using and heaps of practice to deliver the fly to where the fish are siting.

Fly rods are rated with a number from 2 to 16 weight and lines need to be matched to the weight of the rod being used. Fly line are also weighted or un-weighted to allow the angler to present the fly to the Bass on the surface with the floating lines and you need several different sinking lines to reach Bass at different levels in the water column.

The Fly rod is a very useful weapon for Bass fishing but if you are just getting into the sport the above mentioned Spinning and Baitcasting combinations will be easier to use when learning this great sport of Bass Fishing.

What’s Next?  

Next addition to the Beginners Section we will take a look at line selection for each technique and how different lines allow you greater ability over the technique you will be fishing. 

Until next edition……………..

Gav Dunne