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Bass Gear Guide for Largemouths, Smallies

New rods, reels, lures, hooks, line and sinkers to fill your tackle box.

Bass Gear Guide for Largemouths, Smallies

Whether you’re looking for bucket-list largemouth bass or trying to trick a finicky smallmouth there’s great gear for 2019 (Photo courtesy Abu Garcia)

It’s understandable that many bass anglers are gear heads because there’s just so much great gear out there.

If a new fishing product promises to catch more bass — rods, reels, lures and more — you can bet a bass fisherman is going to pay attention and maybe even open his wallet.

And every year there is a ton of new bass-fishing gear that we just gotta have.

There are many ways to catch the country’s most popular gamefish, but here is the some of best gear for largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing for 2019.

Text by Glenn Walker and Dr. Jason Halfen


LIVETARGET Hollow Body Craw (see below)

JENKO Offspring Buzzbait

Buzzbaits draw big strikes and are perfect for many topwater bass applications. The Jenko Offpsring Buzzbait has a section of spring protruding from the bait’s head that contacts the large blade as it turns. This interference emits plenty of noise, which calls in fish from long distances. $9

BOOYAH Melee Vibrating Jig

Bladed jig baits took the bass world by storm a decade-and-a-half ago. Today, they are still incredibly popular as they catch bass under most conditions. The Booyah Melee chatterbait-styled bait has a couple unique design twists. A razor-thin blade and polycarbonate-and-lead head produce more vibration and flash than more traditional designs. The design promises to run deeper than other similar baits. $9

LIVETARGET Shad Commotion

This hollow-bodied shad imitator can ferret out fish heavier hard baits can’t. The half-fish, half-tailspinner is right at home around hardscape and in the slop where it can be worked high in the water column. The tailspinner mimics a baitfish’s frantic tail action when fleeing predators. $14

See new fishing gear videos from ICAST 2019

BERKLEY Cane Walker

Targeting smallmouth with topwaters is an absolute riot. The side-to-side action of the Cane Walker drives smallmouth wild, and with the heavy tail weight, you can make long casts to schooling smallmouth in the distance. $8

SPRO Aruku Shad 65

When smallmouths are roaming main-lake flats or points, being able to cover water and call in active fish is a must. This unique lipless crankbait runs nose down so it will mimic a baitfish along the bottom and is extremely loud, which is key in situations when the water clarity is poor. $7

WAR EAGLE CUSTOM LURES Screamin’ Eagle Spinnerbait

When smallies cruise flats, covering water is key. Call them in with the Screamin’ Eagle. The bait’s profile is compact, as part of the weight is molded onto the hook’s shaft. A 1/2-ounce bait has the same profile as a 1/4-ounce spinnerbait. $7


ZOOM 4-inch Boot Tail Fluke

Whether rigging this on a jighead or on the back of a swim jig or vibrating jig, its big boot tail produces a great action. This couples nicely with Zoom’s soft-plastic formula. $6

BERKLEY PowerBait MaxScent The General

When fish are in the shallows, locked on beds or tight lipped, rig up The General. Around cover, it can be rigged weightless on a Texas rig or skipped around boat docks or open water on a wacky rig. The new material releases a super-charged scent to trigger finicky smallmouths. $7

SPRO RkCrawler 50

A new, downsized version of a proven bass producer, the RkCrawler is a terrific pre-spawn, shallow water option. It dives 4-8 feet on the retrieve, features a wobbling, hunting action and is armed with sticky-sharp Gamakatsu trebles. $11

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LIVETARGET Hollow Body Craw

An award-winning hybrid of a traditional jig with a hollow body lure, the Hollow Body Craw is one of the most realistic craw imitations available. Three-dimensional anatomical features and appendages couple with lifelike patterns to complete the visual deception. $10

BERKLEY PowerBait MaxScent Flat Worm

A powerful addition to your drop-shot arsenal, the PowerBait MaxScent Flat Worm is a high-action soft plastic that quivers and wiggles with the slightest movement and features an all new soft-plastic base that optimizes scent dispersion. Ribs provide more surface area for PowerBait MaxScent scent and flavor. $7


WITCH DOCTOR TACKLE Surman 50G Casting Rod (see below)

ABU GARCIA IKE Signature Power Series

Designed with input from pro angler Mike Iaconelli, Power Series rods are light, powerful and responsive. In addition to many technique-specific options, there are unique features, like a grooved rear reel seat to accommodate your fingers. $150

ST. CROIX ROD Mojo Bass Glass

Fiberglass is perfect for fishing crankbaits. Mojo Bass Glass rods bring the advantages of moderate fiberglass construction and precision tapers to a budget-friendly level. Available in five different lengths and powers. $175–$200


Redesigned to reduce weight while increasing durability and balance, G. Loomis E6X graphite rods include a comprehensive variety of 33 spinning and casting models, suitable for everything from drop-shots to swimbaits and everything in between. $190–$200

WITCH DOCTOR TACKLE Surman 50G Casting Rod

When you combine fast-moving baits and smallmouths, you need a rod that has the backbone, yet a parabolic bend to it, so treble hooks don’t tear the fishes’ mouths when they make that late run away from the boat. The Surman 50G’s half-fiberglass, half-graphite construction is ideal for fishing jerkbaits and lipless crankbaits. $190

ABU GARCIA Villain 2.0 Spinning Rod

The Villain delivers impressive performance with a lightweight and balanced, yet sturdy design. The rod uses 40-ton graphite with a V-Rap carbon construction. Make long casts to skittish smallmouths and battle them to the boat and keep ’em hooked. $200


ABU GARCIA Revo Rocket (see below)

ABU GARCIA Revo Ike Spinning Reel

If you fish for smallmouths, you’ll likely be fishing a drop-shot at some point. The new Revo Ike Spinning Reel has an integrated drop-shot keeper, which will help keep it from getting tangled. The smooth Carbon Matrix drag system will help your smallmouth remain hooked, even when it makes that last-minute surge alongside the boat. $230

DAIWA Tatula 100 Baitcasting Reel

When throwing baits for smallmouths, you’ll want to be able throw them far to cover the most amount of water possible. To do this, you don’t want to be worrying about backlashing, and with the T-Wing System level wind, you can make accurate, long casts, no matter the wind or lure weight. $160


An award-winning casting reel featuring an internal microprocessor to monitor and control spool speed, the Shimano Curado DC minimizes backlashes and optimizes casting distance. This means fewer callouses on your thumb and more productive casts on every trip. $250

ABU GARCIA Revo Rocket

Boasting a staggering 10.1:1 gear ratio to retrieve 41 inches of line with every revolution, no reel will burn your baits in faster than this one. The Revo Rocket baitcaster won the Editor’s Choice in the 2019 Game & Fish Tackle Test. $300

QUANTUM Accurist S3

A tough but light, all-aluminum reel that features Quantum’s fine-tuning spool braking force system. A handy flippin’ switch makes this reel valuable for many presentations. $100


SEAGUAR InvizX 600 (see below)

POWERPRO Super8Slick V2

An award-winning braided line, Super8Slick V2 is woven from eight strands of Spectra fiber to create a compact profile and smooth surface. This reduces friction as the line leaves the spool and passes through the guides, improving casting distance. $20–$200


A unique braided line featuring nine polyethylene fibers, X9 adds an extra carrier beyond conventional eight-strand braids that enhances its toughness and reliability. It possesses these qualities while retaining a smooth finish and supporting long casts. $18–$290

SEAGUAR InvizX 600

Now available in a budget-friendly 600-yard spool, InvizX is a highly castable 100 percent fluorocarbon mainline that is perfect for both spinning and casting. $68–$86

SEAGUAR Smackdown Flash Green Braid

When targeting smallies with finesse tactics, being able to see your line and feel every pebble your lure hits is crucial. With the new high-visibility Smackdown Braid in flash green, you can connect it to a fluorocarbon leader and get the best of both worlds. $30

SUFIX NanoBraid

When long casts are needed to target offshore smallies, braided line is a must. The Sufix NanoBraid is extremely sensitive, so you can feel even those more finicky bites. $20

SEAGUAR Tatsu Fluorocarbon

TATSU is great when you must present your bait in ultra-clear water, but still need to drag it over fish-holding cover. This line offers a soft and subtle experience while still being extremely abrasion resistant. $40


VMC Neko Skirt (see below)

EAGLE CLAW Trokar Pro-V Bend Finesse Hook

An excellent hook for finesse-fishing tactics, particularly wacky, Neko rigging, or drop-shotting. With its unique Pro-V bend design, soft plastics stay in place, resulting in less time rigging baits and more time with your bait being properly presented in the water. A weedless version, which features hand-tied weedguards, is available as well for skipping boat docks and fishing shallow-water cover. $6 for 6 pack

ALL-TERRAIN TACKLE Smallie Smasher Swimbait Heads

Fishing a soft-plastic swimbait for smallmouths requires a jighead that is compact, runs true and, most importantly, has a sharp, strong hook. The Smallie Smasher Swimbait Head delivers all of this and comes in 1/4- and 3/8-ounce, so you can effectively present your favorite swimbait at a variety of depths. $5

Swing-Head Rock Jig

When smallmouths are hunkered down to the bottom, you need to keep your bait in that strike zone. With the Swing-Head Rock Jig, you can maintain that bottom contact at all times, as the head grips the bottom. Just rig up on your favorite style hook and match its size to the plastic bait. $5

VMC Neko Skirt

Take your Neko Rig to the next level by inserting the weight into the tail of your plastic bait, allowing the rubber skirt to create a unique underwater action that will drive bottom-dwelling smallmouths wild. $3


GARMIN Panoptix Livescope (see below)


With new and updated MEGA and Down Imaging+, the G3N series of HELIX units allow anglers to maximize their time on the water by locating valuable fish-holding structure quicker than before. Anglers also have the ability to create their own maps in real time with AutoChart Live’s depth, vegetation and bottom-hardness mapping. $2,500


A bi-directional marine battery charging and power-management station, Charge distributes power between the cranking battery and auxiliary batteries to keep them all balanced and charged. Works with up to four 12V batteries. $1,300


Looking to get the drop on smallmouth oriented around bottom structure? The HDS Live units will deliver excellent display of your drop-shot or jig falling to the bottom. It offers several key real-time sonar, charting and connectivity features, such as Active Imaging, LiveSight, Genesis Live and LiveCast smartphone integration. Some of these features can be purchased as a bundle or as separate accessories. $3,000

MINN KOTA Ultrex with i-Pilot Link and MEGA Down Imaging

Featuring cable-drive foot control enhanced with power steering plus GPS-enabled navigation and boat-control tools, the award-winning Ultrex includes a fully integrated MEGA Down Imaging transducer to provide picture-like images of objects beneath your bow. $2,550–$3,050

HUMMINBIRD Chartselect

A convenient, cost-effective way to purchase individual, high-resolution LakeMaster lake maps, which you can view on your Humminbird fish finder or use on your mobile device with the free Humminbird FishSmart App. This is mapping for the mobile angler. $10–$45

MINN KOTA Ultrex Trolling Motor

Offshore anglers can keep their boat in a precise spot via Spot-Lock technology, which uses GPS technology to keep the boat in the exact position needed to replicate a productive cast. A heading sensor provides boat heading info to a Bluetooth-compatible iPilot or iPilot Link Minn Kota motor. For the shallow-water-minded angler who doesn’t like to have an external transducer on his trolling motor, but yet wants superb sonar performance, the Ultrex now has a built-in Mega Down Imagining transducer. $2,400

MINN KOTA Talon Shallow Water Anchor

This shallow-water anchor from Minn Kota can be controlled from anywhere on the boat. It also has several different anchoring modes, including rough water, soft bottom and standard, and it deploys vertically to avoid interference with fishing lines. $1,900-$2,500

GARMIN Panoptix Livescope

Provides highly detailed, easy-to-interpret live scanning sonar images of structure, bait and fish swimming below and around the boat in real time, even when the boat is stationary. Useful in open water and for ice-fishing. $1,500


FRABILL Trophy Haul Net (see below)

LURE LOCK Tackle Box with ElasTak Gel

Keeping tackle organized is key to maximizing fishing time, along with preventing damage to baits. With the ElasTak gel, hard baits, hooks, sinkers and jigs will stay securely in place with the gel, so anglers can quickly rig up and know hook points won’t be dulled. $22

FRABILL Trophy Haul Nets

Getting that trophy smallmouth in the boat is the goal of every angler, as is taking care of that fish when it’s in the boat. With the new Trophy Haul Net, the snag-proof fish slide will let the hooked smallmouth slide in with ease and keep your baits from hanging up. $80-$150


Protect rods with the Rod Glove. Available in a number of configurations and colors, this affordable device can be used to protect rods in rod lockers, while traveling on your next fishing trip or wherever they’re stored. The Rod Glove is a must-have for any serious angler. $6


HUK PERFORMANCE FISHING Subphantis Rogue Wave (see below)

COLUMBIA PFG Super Terminal Tackle Long Sleeve Shirt

Designed for utility and comfort, these new PFG shirts feature built-in UPF 50 sun protection and a moisture-wicking design to keep you safe and comfortable in the sun. With unique Realtree MAKO patterns. $50

AFTCO Hexatron Performance Hoodie

An award-winning design that combines technical features with warmth and comfort. Wear as a stand-alone shirt on cool days or layer underneath a waterproof shell during foul weather. Includes stain-release features for long-lasting good looks. $79


Engineered for nasty conditions, this footwear features full neoprene and rubber upper construction for durability and comfort. Includes a high-grip, non-marking outsole, a molded footbed that gives support all day and heavy-duty pull tabs. $85

COLUMBIA Men’s PFG Terminal OutDry Hybrid Jacket

Staying dry and comfortable in extreme conditions is a must when chasing big smallmouth. Heavy rains or waves crashing over the bow are distinct possibilities. With the PFG Terminal OutDry Hybrid Jacket, you’ll stay dry and comfortable. $150

SIMMS Challenger Insulated Jacket

Keep your core warm when the temperatures start to drop with the Challenger Jacket. This jacket features PrimaLoft insulation, which helps retain heat on those bitter cold days. It also has a two-layer waterproof fabric to help keep anglers dry. $300

SITKA GEAR Territory Pant

Keep comfortable on the water in any conditions with the Territory Pant. These pants’ rugged four-way stretch fabric dries quickly and delivers free range of motion. $119

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