Rod And Reel Setup For Bass Jig Fishing (Detailed Guide)

PUBLISHED 12 MARCH 2021

by Robert Ceran

Jig fishing for bass is not only one of the most fun ways to catch largemouth bass, but also one of the most effective methods for catching large numbers of bass in the warm season. 

But the main challenge with bass jig fishing is that it covers a wide array of different tactics, ranging from fishing at close quarters in dense cover, to targeting offshore bass on rocky bottom at 50 foot water depth.

Because of this diversity in jig fishing tactics, it’s not practical to use a single rod and reel setup for all types of bass jig fishing. Instead you should use at least two or three different setups to cover all your bases.

In this article we’ll guide you through the basic rod and reel setup for the 3 most important types of jig fishing for bass:

  • Football jig setup
  • Flipping jig setup
  • Finesse jig setup

Each of these setups can be adapted to several other types of bass jigs, which means you can cover pretty much all bass jig fishing tactics with these three setups. 

See also: what are the best bass jig rods?

Jig fishing setup for bass

Let’s dive into the details and look at the three most important jig fishing setups for bass you need to know.

Rod and reel setup for flipping jigs

  • Rod: 7’2” to 7’6” heavy power, fast action casting rod
  • Reel: 200 size baitcasting reel with fast retrieve speed (7.1:1 to 8.1:1 gear ratio)
  • Line: 40 to 65 lb braid

Flipping and pitching is one of the most popular ways to catch bass with jigs, and involves casting jigs over short distances close to heavy cover in shallow water, such as laydowns, lily pads, or grass beds. During the summer months, this can be one of the most exciting ways to catch trophy bass in water that’s just a few feet deep.

See also: What size jig should you use for bass?

However, since you need to be able to pin down big fish, and force them away from cover before they can dive in and get snagged, it’s essential to use sufficiently heavy gear for this. The ideal rod should have a heavy power backbone, with a fast action tip that makes it relatively stiff and unyielding. The rod should also be longer than 7’2”, since that will give you sufficient leverage to keep big bass from diving into nearby cover.

The baitcasting reel should be relatively large, and have a gear ratio of 7.1:1 or higher, which is fast enough to take in the slack line as fast as possible when you fight a fish. That will also help to avoid losing fish in thick cover.

See also: Best size spinnerbait to throw for bass

The best line to use when fishing in heavy cover is 40 to 65 lb test braided line. This may sound like overkill when you consider that bass rarely grow bigger than 10 pounds, but many bass anglers have experienced losing fish on weaker lines after hooking a trophy fish close to cover. Braid is also great for fishing in grass beds, since it can cut through the grass blades. 

On the other hand, if you’re fishing in relatively open water with less cover to worry about, you can downsize the line to 17 to 20 lb test fluorocarbon.

See also: Best time to use a frog for bass fishing

Rod and reel setup for football jigs

  • Rod: 7’5” to 8’ medium heavy power, moderate fast action casting rod
  • Reel: 150 size baitcasting reel with medium to fast retrieve speed (6.1:1 to 7.1:1 gear ratio)
  • Line: 15 to 17 lb fluorocarbon

Football jigs are designed for a completely different style of fishing, and perform best when fished on rocky bottom in offshore areas that are 10 foot deep or deeper. Since you don’t have to worry about cover, you can use medium powered gear for this type of jig fishing. 

See also: Is chatterbait good for bass fishing?

The ideal rod should have a medium to medium heavy power backbone with a moderate fast action tip. Overall, a rod with these specifications is a lot softer than a flipping rod, and has a parabolic bend when you hook a fish. This is exactly what you need when trying to hook fish at a distance, since a rod with a stiff backbone will tend to rip the lure out of the mouth of the fish. 

The rod for this setup should also be extra long (between 7’5” to 8’), since this gives you additional leverage when hooking fish at a distance of 20 or 30 feet away. 

See also: The best color frog to catch bass

The reel should be a medium speed baitcaster with a gear ratio of 6.1:1 to 7.1:1, and the best line to use is a 15 to 17 lb test fluorocarbon line. Fluorocarbon is the ideal choice for fishing football jigs since it sinks in the water, and as a result you’ll be able to keep a straight line between your rod tip and the football jig on the bottom, which gives you maximum sensitivity to feel when a bass bites your lure.

Rod and reel setup for finesse jigs

  • Rod: 7’ medium power, fast action
  • Reel: 70 to 100 size baitcasting reel with medium to fast retrieve speed (6.1:1 to 7.1:1 gear ratio)
  • Line: 12 lb fluorocarbon

Finesse jigs are the go-to option when the bass bite is slow. This can be caused by a number of different factors, but a common reason is a recent weather change. Under these conditions, bass tend to stop feeding actively, and it’s much harder to get them to commit to biting your jigs. 

When bass are finicky, or not in the mood to feed, using smaller finesse jigs with a lightweight fluorocarbon line can result in a lot more bites. But in order to use these lightweight jigs, you need to change your gear to a lightweight setup.

See also: How good are spinning rods for bass?

The ideal rod for fishing finesse jigs is a 7 foot medium power, fast action casting rod. This is the lightest of the 3 setups in this article, and is also relatively short, which helps when casting lightweight jigs. 

The reel for this setup should be an extra small baitcaster (70 or 100 size) with a medium to fast speed gear ratio. Spool the reel with 12 lb test fluorocarbon, which has very low visibility underwater, and helps to get finicky fish to bite, especially when fishing in clear water.

See also: How to set up a spinning rod for bass fishing

Keep in mind that this lightweight tackle comes with a certain level of risk, especially when fishing close to cover. You won’t be able to exert as much force as with the flipping jig setup, so you need to be extra careful to avoid fish breaking your line off, or getting it snagged in cover.

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