Reeling in the Best Crankbait Rods – Top Models Compared

The popularity of professional bass tournament fishing has got specialty crankbait fishing gear on the minds of many freshwater fishermen.

Quite a few of the top manufacturers are making and labeling specialized crankbait rods. In other cases, fishermen will need to go by the rod specs in order to make an informed choice.

Good Crankbait Rod

Slow-action rods work best for pulling crankbaits. The rod should start to bend at about the half-way point when the top section is put under moderate pressure. In a fast action rod, only the top third bends under the same level of pressure. A slower action lets the rod cast farther and reduces lost fish caused by torn out hooks.

On the other hand, the rod should have good power or backbone in terms of how much load it takes to bend the rod because you will need to throw relatively heavy lures and sometimes drag big fish out of heavy cover.

A good crankbait rod will balance a moderate action with medium to medium-heavy power. Rod length will be determined by the size of line and lures you will use and the length of casts needed. A longer 7 to 8-foot rod will handle big and deep-diving lures, while throwing smaller crankbaits accurately up against banks and into cover takes a shorter rod.

8 Best Crankbait Rods - Comparisons

Is a Сrankbait Rod Really Necessary? 

The average weekend fisherman does not need dozens of rods to cover every technique. However, like fly fishing, pulling crankbaits is one of those specific methods that really does call for specialized gear if you want to get the best out of it.

As you get better with crankbaits, you will start to appreciate the advantages that a cranking rod offers. So, for this review, we have sorted through what we feel are some of the best crankbait rods out there. Take a look and see what you think. 

Best Crankbait Rods – Reviews 

Dobyns Rods 704CB Champion Series Mod-Fast Crankbait Rod

The Dobyns 704CB is an American-made medium-fast action glass rod that combines traditional styling with high-tech features in a rod that excels with smaller crankbaits. The glass blank gives the rod an exceptionally smooth feel on the retrieve and a forgiving flex that will keep lightly hooked fish from pulling off.

Kigan SiC guides in stainless steel frames make for tangle-free casts and long-lasting strength. Kevlar wrappings hold up to wear and tear and look great besides. The rod is equipped with a Fuji graphite reel seat and comes with a choice of full-length or split cork grips.

Rated for line up to 17lbs, we found the Dobyns to have a nice combination of sensitivity and balance with 12lb test on a Shimano Curado throwing 1/2oz crankbaits. For a light rod, the 704CB can soak up a powerful strike and come up fighting. We never had a doubt about the strength of the rod. If you are shopping on the high end, you need to take a look at Dobyns.

What we liked

  • Excellent light-lure rod
  • Forgiving flex

What we didn't like

  • High price point
  • Less sensitive than graphite rods
G.Loomis E6X Crankbait Rods

G. Loomis is a top-shelf rod maker and the E6X casting rod is known as an excellent crankbait rod. The rod is built on an E6X graphite composite blank that is tapered for a moderate fast action and medium heavy power.

Soft flex characteristics reduce hook pulls and allow crankbaits to work with a proper action. The 843C has the softest action of the G. Loomis E6X series and it is made to handle smaller crankbaits on line up to 14lbs.

We found the rod to be very easy to cast and sensitive to the bite, but getting a good hook set with the soft rod takes some skill and attentiveness to line tension. It’s best to hesitate for a second and let the fish turn with the lure then set the hook on a tight line.

Once you get used to it, the quality and capability of this rod is apparent. These are some of first G. Loomis rods to be priced in a range accessible to the average fishermen, and any rod in the E6X range will give superior performance when matched with a balanced reel setup and the correct fishing technique.

What we liked

  • High quality at a reasonable price
  • Casts and works small crankbaits very well
  • Powerful and responsive

What we didn't like

  • Soft flex takes some practice to master
  • Cork grip chips easily
Zebco KVD Medium/Heavy Cranking Rod

The Quantum Kevin Van Dam team rod is a graphite/glass composite rod with an action that leans toward the fast side and the heavy power needed to work big fish out of weed beds. This is the rod you need to throw large crankbaits a long ways.

The EGC construction gives the rod plenty of backbone while maintaining sensitivity. Quality touches like the Fuji ACS reel seat, Batson XR guides, and EVA split grip are hard to find at this price point. This rod is tuned to work deep-diving crankbaits with the finesse presentation needed to bring home wins on the pro bass fishing circuit.

We thought the reel mounted a bit farther back than usual, but the overall balance and feel was fine. This is a big rod, and it is not really suitable for working with smaller crankbaits. But for big baits, big fish, and big water, the Zebco is a beast.

With the proper reel setup, we would even feel confident taking it out for inshore saltwater work. The 5-year warranty is just icing on the cake, so if you are looking for a power rod, consider the Zebco KVD.

What we liked

  • Monster casts with big lures
  • Plenty of power for any freshwater fish

What we didn't like

  • Quality can be hit and miss
  • Tip is on the soft side in comparison to the rod size
St. Croix Premier Crankbait Rod

We always seem to find St. Croix rods at the top of our reviews. Maybe it is because we like American designed and backed gear? The Premier PC70 is a powerful 7-foot rod that has a reputation as a high-performance crankbait tool built for fighting the most powerful game fish.

This rod can throw big, deep-diving baits on line up to 20lbs. The PC70 is built from SCII graphite and has the strength needed to rip a heavy lure through grass and weeds when needed. The rod can bend in a near circle, but we found it to be extremely light and sensitive for all its power.

The Integrated Poly Curve technology gives the rod a moderate action that helps keep hard-fighting fish hooked. Detailing is what you would expect from a rod made to match the best hand-built equipment. The St. Croix Premier is our top choice when it comes to crankbait rods.

What we liked

  • Super strong yet sensitive
  • High quality throughout

What we didn't like

  • 1 piece rod is difficult to transport
  • High price point
Fenwick Elite Tech Bass Casting Rods

This moderate action all-graphite specialized crankbait rod is made to handle a range of lures up to 1oz and works well with medium and deep-diving lures. The split-grip design offers a sensitive feel on the blank while leaving enough EVA to provide a grip when things get wet.

Titanium frame guides are bulletproof and help keep the weight down. We really liked the hidden handle design reel seat that keeps the threads covered with cork for comfort when palming the reel. This rod can take line up to 20lbs, and the length combined with medium heavy power gives a great feel of strength.

On hard strikes, the rod is powerful enough to almost set the hook itself, but it still retains the feel needed to bounce smaller crankbaits off structure. The Fenwick Elite is a great crankbait rod with some features that make it a close competitor to the St. Croix rod.

What we liked

  • Comfort grip details
  • Handles a variety of lure sizes well
  • Extremely sensitive

What we didn't like

  • Only one length available
  • Limited warranty
Wright and McGill Skeet Reese S-Glass Crank Bait Rod

The Wright and McGill Skeet Reese rod is a tournament-tested S-Glass design that combines reliability, strength, and durability at a price point that is accessible to most fishermen. This moderate fast action rod uses S-curve blank construction to give the rod enough strength to lift heavy fish while maintaining light weight and a sensitive feel.

The split handle improves the balance and lets you feel the action of the blank while the innovative molded rubber handles are very grippy and far more resistant to tears than traditional foam grips. The zirconium guides resist corrosion and let the line slip through for extended casting length.

While this rod did not have the ultra-sensitive feel of a pure graphite blank, it will stand up to far more abuse and has a durable construction that we think will work well for the average fisherman. It is very responsive retrieving crankbaits down to 1/4oz but has enough power to throw and pull heavier lures with ease.

However, if there is any downside to the S-Glass rod, it comes when casting the lightest lures where it is difficult to load the rod up enough. Still, this is a nice all-around rod at a good price.

What we liked

  • Rubber grips
  • Very durable
  • Day-long comfort

What we didn't like

  • Too stiff for light crankbaits
  • Exposed reel seat threads
Ardent Denny Brauer Crankbait Fishing Rod - 7' 4"

The Ardent Denny Brauer crankbait rod is built on an IM8 graphite blank tuned to a medium action ideal for fishing medium to heavy weight crankbaits. For a mid-priced rod, the Ardent offers serious strength combined with the responsive performance it takes to consistently hook and land fish in all conditions.

Split cork grips, Fuji guides, and a Pac Bay reel seat are put together in a simple setup that gives comfort and performance. We found this rod to be a bit slower and more forgiving than the other 7ft+ rods in our test when it came to casting braid without backlash and tangle problems.

In skillful hands the Zebco Quantum or Fenwick might cast a little farther, but for the weekend fisherman who is looking for the power of a long rod without the testiness, the Ardent is a good pick.

What we liked

  • User-friendly
  • Feels solid on the hook set
  • Reasonably priced

What we didn't like

  • Short grip
  • Exposed reel seat threads
LEW'S FISHING Tournament Performance TP1 Speed Stick Series

Lews Tournament Performance rods are built on IM8 one-piece graphite blanks to offer some of the strongest, lightest rods on the water. This medium-action rod has been dialed in for effective crankbait fishing with dri-tec split grips that give you control and sensitivity in any weather.

American Tackle small-diameter guides that are made to offer maximum distance and accuracy with braid up to 25lbs while cutting out problems with wind knots, and skeletal graphite reel seats that eliminate twist and flex at no cost to feel or rod weight. We found this rod to be exceptionally well-balanced with a matched Lews Speed Spool reel.

It did not have the brittle feel that we sometimes find with all-graphite rods. The action was controllable and smooth, but the strength was there when needed. The Speed Stick comes at a very reasonable price point considering it has the quality of a hand-built rod and it gets our vote for best value for the money in a crankbait rod.

What we liked

  • Custom-build quality
  • Balanced and solid feel in the hand
  • Casts exceptionally well

What we didn't like

  • Grip takes some getting used to
  • Action feels a bit heavy with lighter lures

Crank It Up 

While it may be difficult to choose the best crankbait rod out of many good offerings, one thing is clear: crankbait fishing is a lot of fun.

Constant action and strategy is topped off by heart-pumping excitement when a big bass smashes your lure. Get the right rod, practice with it, and soon you will be presenting crankbaits like a pro and boating fish like one too.

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David Valle

I started this blog to provide advanced material, guiding you towards a better and more comfortable fishing experience. I deliver more than fishing gear guides, and motivate people to hit the water!