Fly fishing for bass often requires gear outside of the normal trout situations, and although you can get away with a 5wt rod in many situations, you would be limiting yourself to smaller flies, and since half the fun of bass fishing is throwing those huge streamers, getting a rod that helps you throw those massive flies and cast them accurately is a valuable investment.
For my bass fishing, I prefer a short and stout fly rod, usually in the 7’ 10’’ range, and from a 6wt to an 8wt, depending on the situation. These shorter rods help throw big flies accurately at shorter distances, and their backbone helps muscle the brutes away from rocks and snags, so you can land them.
As a side note, the qualities that make these rods great bass hunting machines, also make them prime for coastal tide pooling for rockfish and cabezon. There you’re throwing sinking lines and heavy flies short distances, and a 9ft rod in some of those situations is literally a hindrance to making some of those quick presentations.
So here’s my list of my top 4 favorite bass rods:
The Redington Predator 7’10’’ 8wt
The new and updated Predator from Redington has become my favorite bass rod due its action and it’s balanced feel, and of course, great looks. The action on the predator is in my opinion, a very fast action, but also loads easily with plenty of feel, which is important when making these short, fast casts for bass. The line I pair it with is a RIO Striper Float 330 grain, and the RIO Outbound Short Sink 6 when I need to get deep. Both load the rod well at all ranges, and what really surprised me about this rod, is that unlike many other rods in that length, it has good long range capabilities, which means that I can bomb out a streamer at long range when those bass are boiling around baitfish in more open water.
Another aspect of the Predator that I love is its great balanced feel, as the swing weight is almost non-existent, and the rod feels very light in the hand. When compared side by side with the older generation Predator, there’s a very noticeable difference in both overall weight and swing weight, in fact the 8wt feels lighter than the older generation 6 wt in the same length configuration. Balanced with a lightweight reel such as the new Redington Rise makes for a great bass combo!
St. Croix Mojo Bass 7’11’’ 8wt
This was my first short rod, and is still a great rod. Unlike the Predator, the Mojo Bass is a medium-fast rod, which makes it great for medium sized flies and shorter distances, but it’s not quite as good as the Predator with larger flies and longer distances. Where the Mojo Bass excels is at the short shots with medium sized flies and it has great accuracy and presents the flies delicately, which is great when casting to heavily pressured bass. I find that the rod fishes well with the RIO Big Nasty 8wt and the Outbound Short 8wt, both floating. This rod does not handle sinking lines as well as the Predator.
The Mojo Bass is a $150 and for that money you’re getting one hell of a rod, but there’s also drawbacks, such as the two piece design, no hard case, and cheap components, such as the reel seat, which is uncomfortable to use and has shown signs of rust even after proper cleaning. Overall it’s a great bargain stick if you’re just starting to get into short fly rods.
The Redington Predator (Older Generation) 6 wt 7’10’’
This is the older generation of the Predator, in the now discontinued length of 7’10’’ for a 6 wt. This rod is definitely one of my favorite rods, as a six weight I use it more for ponds and lighter bass fares, not for throwing ten inch monsters but more for smaller baitfish patterns and crayfish. I overline it with a 7 wt RIO Striper intermediate, or a 7wt RIO Power Fly floating, and both of those lines cast really well on this rod. It has lots of power in the bottom sections and the action is fast, but more moderate than the updated Predator rods.
Sage Motive 9’ 6 wt
This is the first 9 foot rod in this list, but this is a great warmwater rod for chasing largemouth bass with smaller flies or when you’re after smallmouth. I usually fish this rod with a Outbound 6 wt, or a RIO Striper 7 wt Intermediate (If you haven’t noticed by now, the RIO Striper is one of my favorite line tapers out there). This is a great rod, and the rod action is perfect, fast, but with great feel. This rod has plenty of backbone too, as I found out when I hooked up with a 30 pound catfish while smallmouth fishing, and throughout a two hour battle, this rod handled the monster beautifully.
This rod is just a hell of a lot of fun to fish, and is a great lightweight bass rod. For $450, it’s a great deal on a “made in the USA” Sage fly rod that performs like a dream, and hopefully catches some too!