Swimbait fishing is arguably the best fishing technique for catching bass and among the most popular for serious anglers. Professionals swear by it, and its effectiveness speaks for itself with good reason. The best swimbait fishing rods for 2023 are versatile and easy to use, making them fantastic for beginners.
As the name suggests, swimbait rods are suited explicitly for swimbait fishing. They come in multiple lengths, power, action, and rod type, with the most popular being spinning and casting rods (see the best spinning rod for bass fishing here).
Swimbait spinning rods are best suited for amateur anglers, as they come with a straightforward mechanism. Great swimbait rods offer a better option for performance than spinning rods, but they take time to learn and master. Both rods are ideally suited for swimbait fishing.
If you want to try swimbait fishing utilizing large swimbaits or smaller swimbaits, you’re in luck. I’ve reviewed the five best swimbait rods to help you catch big fish in this article. Let’s dive right in!
Here’s a quick look at the swimbait rods we’ll be covering.
What to Consider When Buying Swimbait Rods
With many swimbait rods in the market, choosing the best rod for your next fishing adventure (see the best fishing rod and reel combos here) is daunting. To help you make an informed choice, consider the following factors when buying swimbait rods:
When the term “drop shotting” came to be, it was anonymous to vertical fishing. Anglers would drop a line (see our favorite fishing line for bass here) straight down the boat and wait for the fish to bite. This technique was made even simpler with swimbaits, as swimbaits imitate the swim pattern of bass prey in still water.
Eventually, the drop-shotting technique evolved into a cast-and-retrieve method. With this, anglers would cast far and reel slowly in hopes of tempting fish to bite as they reel the line back in.
The vertical fishing technique and the cast-and-retrieve technique are used to this day. However, the problem here is that vertical fishing works better with a short rod (learn about the parts of a fishing rod here) since it doesn’t require any casting action. On the other hand, the second method works better with longer rods.
If you prefer fishing vertically from your boat (see our favorite fish and ski boats here), the ideal rod length is 6 to 6.8 feet. If you cast from the shore, choose an 8 to 12 feet rod.
With this in mind, the best overall length is between 7 to 8 feet, and it’s not too short nor too long, allowing you to cover both bases.
Rod power refers to a rod’s stiffness and bending resistance under a given weight, and it’s classified under the following terms:
- Ultra-light: UL(1)
- Light: L(2)
- Medium-light: ML(3)
- Medium: M(4)
- Medium-heavy: MH(5)
- Heavy: H(6)
- Extremely heavy: XH(7)
Naturally, ultra-light to medium-light rods are best used for small-to-medium fish that don’t have much fight, like crappies, panfish, small trouts, and walleyes.
Medium-light to medium power rods are the most flexible of the bunch. They won’t be as effective against powerful, bigger fish, like muskellunge, blue marlins, and selected sharks, but they are suitable for most fishing applications.
On the other hand, heavy and extremely heavy rods can load super quick hook sets, especially when paired with lures in the 1/2- to the 2-ounce range.
While power refers to the rod’s resistance when flexed, action refers to its flexing itself.
The most common rod actions are Slow, Moderate, and Fast, but you can also find rods under the Moderate Fast, Medium Fast, and Extra-Fast categories.
When buying a rod for a drop shot rig, search for one with fast action. Fast action rods have stiff bodies that don’t bend under pressure. They also have soft tips, which allow you to feel your lure and hook and transmit subtle movements to your lure.
When paired with a swimbait lure, fast action rods are incredibly effective against some more hard-to-catch fish.
With that said, you know your fishing conditions best. If you frequently fish in situations that require medium-heavy to heavy power rods, choose a rod with moderate fast action.
Drop shot fishing rods are made from various materials, including graphite, fiberglass, and carbon fiber (learn more about fishing rod weight rating here).
Graphite fishing rods are often the preferred choice for drop shot fishing (learn about the best drop shot fishing rods here). They’re significantly lighter than fiberglass fishing rods but are still quite durable. Plus, they’re stiff and sensitive, which allows you to feel every bump or nudge of the bottom of the rod.
Fiberglass rods are heavy but flexible and quite strong, quickly taking on heavier fish. However, they’re the least sensitive of the three, which can disadvantage less-experienced anglers because they’re not as accurate as graphite and carbon fiber rods. Still, they’re an excellent budget-friendly choice for anglers who knows what they’re doing and perhaps using big swimbaits or heavy baits in general.
Finally, carbon fiber rods are the strongest, stiffest, lightest, and most expensive material of the rods discussed. They excel in almost every aspect, but their performance comes with a high price. Carbon fiber rods are an excellent choice if you have a heavy lure weight and a couple of hundred dollars to spare.
Top Swimbait Rod Brands for 2023
|Fishing Rod Brand||Highlight|
|1.||G. Loomis||Manufactures some of the best carbon fiber rods on the market|
|2.||Shimano||Well made, a great reputation for quality, great price|
|3.||Lew’s||Best overall value|
|4.||13 Fishing||Targeted toward beginner and intermediate anglers|
|5.||St. Croix||Premium power, durability, and price|
Here are some of the few brands worth noting when shopping for swimbait rods.
Established in 1982 in Woodland, Southwest Washington State, G. Loomis produces top-quality G. Loomis swimbait rods and fishing apparel. It became a subsidiary of the Shimano American Corporation in 1997 and has manufactured some of the best carbon fiber rods in the country.
As arguably the most prominent cycling and fishing equipment manufacturers, everyone and their dog has heard of the Shimano company. It has made quite a name in the fishing world, mainly because it sells rods of all budgets and professional levels.
Shimano swimbait rods are well-made, well-regarded, and well-priced, even those on the cheaper side. It doesn’t skimp on parts or construction. For this reason, Shimano is among the best brands for beginners aiming to make it big.
Lew’s produces some of the best-value fishing rods to date, so the brand is synonymous with affordable fishing gear. It’s not as popular as Shimano, but in rod performance and functionality, their bass rods are certainly up there. The company has been around since the 1940s, so they’re some of the more trustworthy brands available.
13 Fishing has a stellar reputation amongst the angling community. While not as well-established as Shimano or Lew’s, it’s still one of the fastest-growing recreational fishing brands in the US with a vast selection of different rods.
Targeted towards beginner and recreational anglers, 13 Fishing swimbait rods are smooth, durable, and budget-friendly. The company’s warranty is excellent, with some reaching up to 10 years.
St. Croix produces some of the most expensive rods in the market, but quality comes with a price.
The company offers lifetime warranties for some more expensive rods, so every penny is well spent on St. Croix rods. St. Croix fishing rods are valued for consistent performance, excellent sensitivity, brow-raising action, and premium power and durability.
Top 5 Swimbait Rods Worth Your Attention
Chosen for their power, performance, and durability, here are 5 of the best swimbait rods you can buy today!
|1.||Shimano Fishing Teramar Casting Swimbait Fishing Rod||Lightweight and well balanced|
|2.||G. Loomis IMX-PRO Casting Swimbait Fishing Rod||Versatile but few bells and whistles|
|3.||Lew’s American Hero Speed Stick Heavy Flipping Swimbait Casting Rod||Flexible, durable, and great price|
|4.||13 Fishing Defy Black Swimbait Fishing Rod||Light, thin, and great for long days on the water|
|5.||St. Croix Mojo Bass Glass Casting Swimbait Rod||High performance at a great price|
As one of the most popular brands in the angling community, the Shimano Teramar makes it to this list with flying colors.
Built with Shimano’s unique TC4 construction, this swimbait rod excels in power and strength. The rod I’ve chosen falls in the medium-heavy power category, which I believe is the best of both worlds in terms of resistance capability: not too stiff but not too flexible. It’s lightweight but well-balanced, making it the idyllic choice for catching medium to large fish.
The Teramar features stainless steel reel seats, Fuji guides, and premium cork handles. Overall, it has a top-notch construction, especially for the price.
- Excellent casting and pure lifting performance
- Uses advanced TC4 construction, which contributes to its durability
- Excellent balance for larger fish
- Great fishing rod at a reasonable price
- Lifetime Shimano warranty
- Not as sensitive as other graphite rods
- TERAMAR SE 66 MH CST
- TERAMAR SE 66 MH CST
- TERAMAR SE 66 MH CST
- TERAMAR SE 66 MH CST
The IMX-PRO by G. Loomis is one of the most versatile swimbait or crankbait rods you’ll find. It doesn’t come with many bells and whistles, but it has enough for an effective catch.
Designed with G. Loomis’s Conduit Core Technology, the IMX-PRO fast-action rod is lightweight, well-balanced, and durable.
It doesn’t disappoint in performance, either. It’s perfectly suitable for powerful, large fish, and while a little too fast with too little feedback, it still oozes solid quality and accuracy. Indeed, there’s little to complain about this one. The lifetime warranty is certainly a plus.
- Smooth and easy casting
- Fantastic engineering with top-quality materials and a heavy power rating
- Lifetime warranty
- Feedback could be better, especially for a rod at this cost
The Lew’s American Hero Swimbait rod is perfect for a spinning reel (learn more about the best ultralight spinning reels here) and proves that you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars for a premium rod. Sure, it’s not as flexible or durable as some of the other rods on this list, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better rod for under $100.
The American Hero is Lew’s “thank you” gift to beginner anglers for keeping the art of fishing alive. It’s purposely cheap to encourage more and more people to try the activity. But despite its budget-friendly nature, it comes with a decent number of features.
Made with a durable IM7 graphite rod blank and body, the American Hero is exceptionally durable for its price. It also has a comfortable high-density EVA foam grip, so your hands won’t feel sore and fatigued after a long day of fishing. Plus, it has a stainless-steel guide frame with a stainless-steel insert.
At 7’6″, this heavy flipping casting rod is stiff for drop-shotting, but it’s fast, decently sensitive, and well-balanced. Overall, it’s a good beginner’s rod for recreational fishing.
- Great value; suitable for beginner anglers
- Sturdy construction great for big baits and heavy lures
- A very good swimbait rod with a comfortable grip
- A heavy rod that’s fairly balanced and great for longer casts
- Guides aren’t of the best quality
- Premium IM7 graphite blank
- Stainless steel guides with stainless steel inserts
- Lew’s exclusive graphite skeletal reel seat
- Split grip EVA handles
The Defy Black is the perfect swimbait rod and is a great option that not only excels in performance but with power.
13 Fishing constructed the blanks from PVG Japanese 24 Ton material and wrapped the grip handle with high-density Japanese EVA. To ensure long-term durability, the guides are made from stainless steel aconite.
At 8′, the Deft Black, a longer rod, is available in Heavy and Extra Heavy fast action. It can hold a line weight of up to 40 pounds with little to no issues. The rod is pretty light and thin, making it great for full-day fishing.
- Lightweight construction that can still handle larger swimbait
- A great rod with decent power for its price
- Heavy power rating and handles a lot of weight
- Compared to other models, this one lacks the most sensitivity
- PVG Japanese 24 Ton Blank Construction
Boasting a linear S-glass construction, the St. Croix Mojo Bass is more rigid, lighter, and more dynamic than regular fiberglass rods. It’s much more sensitive, mainly because St. Croix uses an Integrated Poly Curve (IPC) tooling technology to eliminate transitional points, resulting in smoother actions.
Plus, it comes with Kigan Master Hand 3D guides made from solid aluminum oxide and a Fuji DPS reel seat with a black hood. The Mojo Bass is the right rod and suitable for anglers searching for high-performance without breaking the bank. It’s available in 6’10”, 7’2″, and 7’4″ lengths. For swimbait and drop fishing, I recommend the 7’2″ Medium/Moderate rod.
- Linear S-Glass construction is great for large lures and bass fishing
- Quality comfort grips help with heavier swimbaits
- Super sensitive so great for smaller fish
- Smooth casting ability
- Kigan Master Hand 3D guides
- Not suitable for saltwater (learn more about different types of freshwater and saltwater lures here) fishing
- SUPER-PREMIUM 100% LINEAR S-GLASS CONSTRUCTION: Stronger,...
- INTEGRATED POLY CURVE (IPC) TOOLING TECHNOLOGY: Eliminates...
- FEATURES: Kigan Master Hand 3D guides featuring slim, strong...
- SPECIFICATIONS: Technique – Cranker; Length – 7’2”;...
Best Swimbait Rods for 2023 FAQs
What action is best for swimbaits?
It depends on the bait used. Fast-action rods are best suited for soft baits, while moderate-action rods are a better choice for hard swimbaits.
What length is suitable for swimbait fishing?
The best swimbait rod length is around 7 to 8 feet. If the rod is too short, it won’t cast as far as you want. If it’s too long, you won’t feel the lure jerk on your retrieve, preventing you from reeling the fish promptly.
What’s the difference between hard swimbaits and soft swimbaits?
Hard swimbaits have segmented bodies with joints that mimic the side-to-side paddle of a small-to-medium-sized fish. Hard swimbaits are best suited for long-distance casts and large fish.
On the other hand, soft swimbaits have rubber or soft plastic bodies that mimic the start-and-stop pattern of small fish when “jerked” from the rod. The bait literally collapses in the fish’s mouth like natural prey to add realism. Soft swimbaits are ideal for river and lake fishing, where the water is calm.