My Bass Fishing Setup for 2017

Last fishing season I spent the majority of my time chasing trout and salmon. I tried a few different techniques but mainly I stuck with my trolling gear using lead core line and a downrigger in tandem. I had some success but covering a lot of water in a day takes time and I did really miss getting on the banks of small ponds and lakes and flipping buzzbaits, swimbaits and the like targeting some real lunker largemouth. So this year, rather than sticking with deep water species, I’m going to buy new equipment for my bass fishing setup. If I learned anything last year, the importance of well balanced equipment was a big one. In this post I’ll show you each piece of equipment I’m buying and give you reasons why.

Before I spent a ton of money just buying the most expensive, most highly rated items I could find, I had to set some “ground rules” to determine what I was buying. First, I had to decide how much I wanted to spend. Next, I really needed to figure out how big the fish were that I would be targeting. Finally, I had to look in my tackle box and get an idea how big the bait I would be tossing. These factors are very important in making the right choices, so I spent a little time on each to make my decisions.

My Bass Fishing Setup for 2017 – Cost

For me, and I assume most anglers, the expense of fishing tackle is easily the most important factor. Because of this, the question seems to always be, is more expensive equipment necessary? I see the conflict from both sides. On one hand, a typical angler doesn’t feel they can justify spending almost $500 on a rod, reel, and fishing line. Really, very few anglers are in positions to justify that. But, on the other hand, expensive equipment comes at a steep price because of the benefits they provide. Rods, for example, can fetch a hefty price if they’re ultra light, durable, and made of quality materials built to last. If you buy a rod for $300 it may be the last rod you’ll ever need. So, I see both sides and understand the dilemma.

In my case, I chose to spend up to $125 for the rod and reel. I had a reel in mind from the beginning and knew even if I paired it with a higher priced rod I’d still come under $125 for the pair. I’ll get to what I decided later in the post, but for my needs, $125 was more than enough to spend for a rod and reel and even some line.

My Bass Fishing Setup for 2017 – Target Fish Size

Another big consideration in all this is what fish will I be targeting and what size will they be? I used to think I could buy a rod and reel that would accommodate every species I could ever think of catching and it would work well. Wrong. Most of the time I had too much rod, too much reel and way too strong fishing line for the fish I was catching which made for less than ideal conditions to catch fish. I never got the right distance on casts unless it was with much larger lures and that limited the species I could catch right off the bat.

So to avoid that, I decided I would put together a rod and reel specifically for one type of species. Because this setup is for largemouth and smallmouth bass, I would need tackle that could handle fish up to 10 pounds. Bass rarely get larger than that in my area, so maxing out at 10 pounds would be fine for me.

My Bass Fishing Setup for 2017 – Lure and Line Size/Type

The final consideration I had to decide based on was the types and sizes of lures and lines I would be using, and the action needed for those lines and lures. When I target largemouth bass, I prefer topwater baits like buzzbaits, jerkbaits, and many swimbaits. These all have some size to them, ranging from 1/4 oz all the way up to an ounce. So, with these requirements, I had to make sure the rod I bought was capable for the action I needed, could handle up to 10lb test line and would allow me to make accurate casts for the baits I would be throwing.

Additionally, I had to decide between a spinning setup or a baitcasting setup. While I like baitcasters and would like to get more familiar with them, for this setup I decided to stick with a spinning reel. I’m much more comfortable with a spinning setup and would have an easier time finding good quality equipment while staying under $125.

Knowing the conditions I’d need to meet to buy a balanced outfit for bass fishing, I set upon my research using some of the posts I put together last year here for rods and reels.

My Bass Fishing Setup for 2017 – The Reel

My Bass Fishing Setup for 2017 - Pflueger President Spinning Reel
My Bass Fishing Setup for 2017 – Pflueger President Spinning Reel

To me, the most important piece in a fishing setup is the reel. From that, all else exists. Truthfully, I started this process trying to figure out how to get my hands on a Pflueger President Spinning Reel. I love these reels for what they offer at a ridiculously low price. They’re light, very durable, have 10 ball bearings, and are offered in a few different sizes that make it a great choice for bass fishing. I speak more about these reels in depth here, which you can check out how it compares to several other offerings if you’re looking for something else. For this build out, I went with the Pflueger President 6935 Spinning Reel.

Key Pflueger President 6935x Specs:
– 10 lb max drag
– Max Braid Capacity = 14lb/160yd
– 5.2:1 Gear Ratio
– 9.9 oz weight
– 10 Ball Bearings
List: $59.95

My Bass Fishing Setup for 2017 – The Rod

My Bass Fishing Setup for 2017 - Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod
My Bass Fishing Setup for 2017 – Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod

Next in my quest for a well balanced, high performing while under budget fishing machine is a good fishing rod. Prices can get pretty steep on some rods, and while many are worth their prices, the main objective here was to be as close to $125 as possible for both rod and reel. Since I’m committing about $60 dollars to the President Spinning Reel, that didn’t leave me with many choices.

Fortunately, the one choice I really wanted to begin with fit my budget. I chose the Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod from Shakespeare. I know Ugly Stik tends to be outshined from some of the other rods made by companies like G.Loomis and Fenwick, but I’ve used Ugly Stik in the past and never had any problems. I like this particular model because it has an extra fast action that’s great for adding action to the lure on the retrieval. It’s a medium power rod so I’ll get plenty of strength pulling hard fighting bass as well as fishing through weeds and lily pads, which I tend to do quite a bit of.  Plus, for the price, I’m getting a really solid fishing rod at a great price. You can find Ugly Stik and other rods talked about here on this site if you’re interested in some of the other good options available to anglers.

Key Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite USESP662M Spinning Rod Specs:
– 6’6″ Medium Power Rod that comes apart in 2 pieces
– Extra Fast Action for finesse twitching on retrieval
– Cork Handle
– 7 Guides including Tip
– 7 year warranty
List $49.95

My Bass Fishing Setup for 2017 – The Line

My Bass Fishing Setup for 2017 - Sufix 832 Advanced Superline
My Bass Fishing Setup for 2017 – Sufix 832 Advanced Superline

Spinning reels are a little harder to choose good line for than conventional or baitcasting reels. I talk about the best line for spinning reels here. Knowing what I knew about this topic, I had decided early on I had to work with a braided line. Of the three main fishing lines on the market, braided line offers the least amount of memory which means easy spooling on a spinning reel. I’m sacrificing low visibility because of the lack of the transparency with braided line, but I know I’m fishing low visibility water more when fishing for bass, so it doesn’t bother me as much.

As for line itself, the pick was easy. Sufix 832 Advanced Superline was my choice. Pretty straightforward, as I’ve mentioned numerous times on this site. I love this stuff. It’s easily the best braided line on the market today and by my estimations it’s not even close. For this build I went with low vis green line at 10lb test but they offer several colors and sizes if you’d prefer something different. Anyway, If you’re looking for a great braided fishing line your search should start and likely end with Sufix 832. There are other great choices out there but my favorite has to be Sufix 832.

Key Sufix 832 Advanced Superline Specs:
– 10 lb test, 4 lb test mono equivalent in diameter
– Low Vis Green
– 8 fibers at 32 weaves per inch
List $19.95

Coming together at a price roughly around $110 for the rod and reel, I think I’ve put together a pretty decent setup. I don’t think anyone can argue this setup will not handle itself well catching smallmouth and largemouth. One thing I’m debating is whether or not to use a leader. While I like the idea of tying a leader on to improve the presentation of the lure, I really have had no problems catching many bass using braid right to the lure. I’ll probably just stick with braid.

If you still haven’t come up with a rig for this year, or maybe you’re thinking about changing your setup, you can follow what I’m doing by picking up each of the items I’ve listed above. I’m confident it’s a great setup for bass fishing and will provide a great experience free from many of the typical problems anglers experience with bad equipment. But don’t just take my word for it- go out and try them for yourself! Tight lines!

Rod: Shakespeare Ugly Stik Elite Spinning Rod USESP662M
Reel: Pflueger President 6935x Spinning Reel
Line: Sufix 832 Advanced Superline 10lb Test