Here's a look at some of the best largemouth bass rods and reels for 2018, as featured in Game & Fish magazines.
Text by Peter Robbins
Abu Garcia | Ike Signature Casting Rod
This stick is made for crankbaits. Heavier cranks will be easier to toss, and when a bass hits, it will give just enough but have backbone as well. The blank construction consists of 36 ton high modulus graphite for the majority of the series along with some unique, high strain glass (HSG) cranking rods. Fuji reels seats, stainless steel guides and Mike's unmistakable cosmetics set these casting rods apart from the competition.
Bass Pro Shops | Johnny Morris CarbonLite 2.0
Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris CarbonLite 2.0
Bass Pro Shops founder Johnny Morris has put his name on these eye-catching rods and attached to them a reasonable price for all of the features they enjoy. They include Winn Grips and a skeletonized Air reel seat to combine sensitivity, comfort and light weight, and the Carbon Coil technology makes them exceptionally durable, too.
Cabela's | Tournament ZX Rods
These striking white rods, available in many technique-specific actions, are built with HM64 graphite blanks and offer subtle but meaningful touches found on much more expensive sticks. Winn Grip overlays and stainless steel guides with titanium oxide inserts are standard.
Abu-Garcia | Veritas Winch
When B.A.S.S. lifted the 8-foot limit on rod length in competition, Abu-Garcia expanded their Winch crankbait series to include multiple 9-foot models that allow for longer casts while still retaining the parabolic bend of their predecessors. They're still powerful, but they are made to bury treble hooks in hard-fighting bass and keep them buried throughout a spirited fight.
Ark | Sniper
With the help of noted flipper Randall Tharp, Ark has sought to build rods that will telegraph subtle bites and still withstand powerful hook sets. The Sniper series is built with Japanese Toray high modulus blanks and comes with EVA grips that don't let hands slip, as well as futuristic reel seats and tangle-free micro guides that maximize performance, all dedicated to specific techniques.
Shimano Curado K
The latest iteration of Shimano's workhorse Curado baitcasting lineup includes much of the technology found in the company's flagship models, including the SVS Infinity Braking system, MicroModule gearing and X-Ship technology for ultra-precise gear alignment. It's available in three speeds from 6.2:1 up to a blazing fast 8.5:1, in both left- and right-hand retrieves. With a total of seven bearings it still only weighs 7.6 ounces.
Daiwa Tatula LT
Daiwa has created these "Light and Tough" spinning reels with a Zaion housing and aircraft-grade aluminum gearing in a lightweight package that remains butter-smooth. Even the 4,000-sized version weighs a scant 7.4 ounces, thanks to features like the Air Bail and Air Rotor. Yet these features do not sacrifice strength.
Quantum Smoke S3
These low-profile baitcasting reels are meant for tournament competition, with double-shielded stainless bearings lubricated in Quantum's Hot Sauce, keeping the entire operation running smoothly. Available in seven models, from 5.1:1 up to 8.1:1 and both left- and right-hand retrieves, there's even a line memo knob on the side of the handle so you can remember which reel has which line, eliminating the guesswork on a deck full of similar models.
Lew's Mach Crush
Lew's latest offering is distinguished by its orange "Crush" highlights, and is available by itself or as part of a color-coordinated combo. The quick release side plate can be temporarily moved to allow for adjustments to the Multi-Setting Brake Dual cast control system, and 10 bearings allow for smooth operation before, during and after the cast. Finally, the oversized Winn Dri-Tac handle knobs mean that your grip won't slip when you set into a big bass.
Coming soon to G&F.com: Top Smallmouth Bass Lures for 2018
Abu Garcia's Andrew Wheeler: Keep It Simple