What Size Reel is Best for Striped Bass?

Striped bass can grow quite large, over 50” long and weighing over 80 lbs. However, most of the fish you get on your line will be much smaller. Still, it can be a tough balance between being prepared for “the big one” and having the right size and power for what you’ll most likely catch. 

Your reel should be size 6000 to 8000 if you’re fishing for striped bass. Because there’s so much variation in the sizes, it’s a good idea to be prepared for fish on the smaller end and some of the larger catches, too. Ensure your reel is balanced with your rod and the right line for the job. 

Choosing a Reel Size for Striped Bass

Reel sizing is designated by the first two numbers. Whether the reel is listed as 1000 or 10, the size classification is the same. They’re classified based on the size of the fish (weight) that you’re planning to catch, as well as the line capacity. 

For example, saltwater fishing typically requires a reel with higher capacity than those used in freshwater fishing. Not only are saltwater fish potentially much bigger than freshwater fish, they also tend to put up more of a fight and take the angler on a longer chase compared to freshwater fish. 

For striped bass, you will need a large sized reel. These are classified as reels that are in the 6000+ range. Depending on the type of line you plan to use and the average size of the fish in the area, you may choose a reel in the 6000, 7000, or 8000 range. However, most people stay at 7500 or less. 

Striped Bass Reel Size Recommendation 

Reel Size Braid Line Strength Monofilament Line Strength Rod Length
6000 (60) 12 – 30 lb.  12 – 16 lb.  6 – 8 ft. 
6500 (65) 12 – 30 lb.  12 – 16 lb.  6 – 8 ft.
7000 (70) 15 – 40 lb.  14 – 18 lb.  8 ft. 
7500 (75) 20 – 50 lb.  16 – 20 lb.  8 ft. 
8000 (80) 20 – 50 lb.  16 – 20 lb. 8 – 10 ft. 

Choosing a Rod for Striped Bass

When selecting your rod for striped bass fishing, you’ll need to know a little bit about how rods are rated and classified. If you already have a good understanding of those factors, you’ll be able to apply them to choosing the best rod for striped bass fishing. 

Fishing rods are rated based on three main factors: action, power, and pound test.

These traits are important considerations when choosing the right rod based on what you’re fishing for and where you’re doing the fishing. Since the pound test is pretty obvious (you’ll want something that can handle the max weight you’re fishing for), we’re going to focus more on the first two factors.

Rod Action

Action describes how the rod will behave when there’s weight on the line. For example, how much will it bend and where will it bend? A rod can be described as “fast action,” “moderate action,” or “slow action.” 

Fast action refers to a stiff rod with a lighter tip. When you cast this rod or have something on the line, only the top ⅓ of the rod should bend. These rods allow for accurate casting, they’re lighter and good for casting lighter lures, and they work best with poppers and sliders. 

Moderate action rods bend through the top ½ when there’s weight on the line. They’re best for plugs and heavy lures.

They’re easy to cast and will give you more “feel” when you’re trying to bring in a bigger fish. They do a good job with vertical jigging and are overall a pretty versatile option. 

Slow action rods have the most bend and will bend across most of the rod’s length. For this reason, they aren’t the best for casting, but they are ideal for trolling and vertical jigging. The rod will absorb much of the energy from whatever strikes your line, and they’re good for using live bait. 

Rod Power

Rod power describes how much weight the rod can handle on the line. They may be classified as ultra light, light, medium, medium-heavy, heavy, and extra heavy. However, these ratings are not consistent across manufacturers, so you can’t compare them very accurately. 

In most cases, however, if you’re fishing for striped bass, you should go with medium or medium-heavy rod power. 

With a medium power rod, a good pairing is a 5000 class reel. You’ll want to use at least 30 lb. test braid line with this setup. This is a good choice if you like to cast smaller jigs, plugs, or softbaits.

If the fish are a little bigger, you may need a medium-heavy rod. For this setup, you should use a 6000 class reel with 40 lb. braid line. This is ideal for larger and heavier plugs and jigs. 

When is the Best Time to Fish for Striped Bass?

Once you have your rod and reel, you’re ready to get out on the water and start catching some stripers.

Striped bass is a migratory species, so they can be somewhat elusive if you’re not fishing in the right place at the right time. So, when is the best time to catch striped bass in your area?

In the northeastern U.S., (from New Jersey to Maine), the best time to fish for striped bass is from early April until the end of September. 

If you live in the mid-Atlantic states like New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, or Virginia, you’re in luck! You’ll be among the first to see striped bass when they arrive during the spring. You’ll also be among the last anglers to catch these beauties in the fall when they’re headed south for winter. 

If you’re fishing in deeper waters, you’ll find striped bass more often during the middle of summer (think: July and August), as they seek refuge in cooler, deeper waters. 

The migratory periods during spring and fall are typically the best times to catch striped bass because that’s when you can find large groups of them feeding on schools of small bait fish. 

It’s also helpful to familiarize yourself with weather and environmental patterns that can improve the fishing for striped bass.

For example, a Nor’easter during the early fall months can encourage aggressive feeding for striped bass, making for excellent fishing if you can be in the right place at the right time. 

Hitting the right point during the tide can also be an advantage, but it takes time, patience, and observation to learn the specific habits in your location. 

What Bait is Best for Striped Bass?

Every angler has their preferred bait for the type of fish and the location that they’re in. However, there are some tried and true baits that are consistently effective for catching striped bass.

Live bait is always a good choice because it’s what these fish naturally eat. Since they’re migratory fish, they will eat a variety of different species, as they have to eat when there’s an opportunity.

Some good bait options for striped bass include: 

  • Mackerel
  • Eel
  • Bloodworms
  • Sandworms
  • Bunker (Menhaden or Pogies)
  • Squid
  • Clams
  • Porgy

Whatever bait you use, opt for a circle hook whenever possible. In fact, as of January, 2021, non-offset (inline) circle hooks are required when fishing for striped bass with natural or live bait.

Circle hooks greatly reduce the mortality rate for released striped bass, because they lessen the chances of the fish swallowing the hook and it becoming embedded in its insides. 

If you’re fishing with a circle hook, you don’t have to pull up on your rod to set the hook. As the bass tries to swim away, the hook will set itself in the fish’s jaw. 

What Size Hook is Best for Striped Bass?

Assuming you’re fishing with a circle hook, the size primarily depends on the size of your bait.

If you’re using larger baits, you should opt for an 8/0 size circle hook. However, if you’re fishing with medium-sized baits (like chunk baits or eel), use a size 6/0. The smallest baits (like worms), are ideal with a 2/0 size hook.  

Which Lures are Best for Striped Bass?

If you prefer artificial to live bait, there are some lures that work best for striped bass. Many anglers prefer lures because you can cast them farther and use them again and again.

There are lure options specific to how and where you like to fish. Modern lures look very natural and mimic the movement and feel of natural bait. Many even have scent additives to make them even more realistic. 

Lures that work well for striped bass may include: 

Final Thoughts

Starting with the right reel is essential for every angler. To be successful in catching striped bass, preparing with the best gear for the job is key. A good rod and reel combo paired with bait or lures that will appeal to these migratory fish will give you the best chances of catching a big, beautiful bass. 

Of course, knowing the size for your reel is only part of the equation. You’ll also need to choose the type and design that works best for you.

Whether you choose a spinning, fly, baitcast, or spincast reel, knowing the size you need will give you a good place to start.

If possible, try some different styles out to see which you prefer before making your final purchase. A good, reliable, and comfortable reel will help ensure that you have a successful experience out on the water.

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