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A Simple Guide to Choosing Baitcasting Combos

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Understanding the intricacies of baitcasting reels and rods doesn’t necessarily mean that your choice in the combination is easy. In fact, choosing the right baitcasting combo is just as important for your fishing and angling needs as choosing the correct parts individually.

A baitcasting spool differentiates itself in the way the spool operates. For instance, a spinning reel utilizes a fixed spool wherein the bail revolves around the spool upon retrieval, guiding the line onto the reel. With baitcasting reels, the spool is not fixed and, thus, the lure causes the line to spin the spool during a cast.

The implications of these differences results in vastly different options for combos. A combo is a matched rod and a reel set configured for a specific type of fishing, so you don't have to worry about the action of the rod (and whether it has the right flexibility) or the gear ratio of the reel (and whether it has enough mechanical advantage). Our combos are ready to use, and all you have to do is wind line onto the spool and add the terminal tackle of your choice. In fact, some combos come pre-wound for even quicker setup!

This guide is a simplified overview of some of the highlights of baitcasting rods and reels that can help you choose the right baitcasting combo for your needs. Baitcasting rod and reel combos are recognized for a number of benefits that include greater control, fewer tangles, and better performance with heavier line than some other options.

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Rod Selection

Most of the higher-end rods are likely to be comprised of 100% graphite (or a combo of graphite and fiberglass), but you’ll certainly want to ensure that your rod is simply of good quality and sensitivity.




As the most common material for bass rods, these typically have high tensile strength and high modulus. While some graphite rods may boast high modulus but low tensile strength, these tend to be more brittle. The best graphite rods tend to be costlier but will be heavier, stronger, and more sensitive.


Best for soft actions and toughness, fiberglass is best for throwing crankbaits or other applications where a medium to slow action is required. Advancements in technology that have made some fiberglass rods as sensitive as many graphite rods.

Newer rods are balanced at the reel seat, meaning that if you set the rod handle on your finger with the reel attached, then the rod should balance equally from tip to the end of the handle.

Rods will have weight markings near the handle of light, medium light, medium, medium heavy, heavy, etc. and also suggested lure and line sizes also.

While you’ll want to ensure that the rod specs listed here match the reel specs, the best part about choosing a pre-selected combo is that this is already done for you!

Reel Selection

We discussed a bit already about the design details that separate baitcasting from spinning reels, and these differences are what sets baitcasting reels up better for heavier catches, lures, and lines in thicker covers. There are two main baitcasting frames to look out for when choosing your combo:



Best for catching:


These types can hold more line and heavier lines as well, making them more ideal for larger catches and baits.

  • Steelhead

  • Salmon

  • Muskie

  • Pike


As the most popular choice, low-profile frames are more ergonomic and are easier for wrist-action due to their lighter weight and smaller size.

  • Bass

  • Crappie

Opt for aluminum when possible, and remember that a braking system can be beneficial for baitcasters in particular, as an inexperienced angler may find themselves stuck in a ‘birdsnest’ situation once their lure hits the water and the spool continues to propel the line off of the reel.




By utilizing pins on the inside of the adjustment plate, centrifugal brakes operate based on friction. These consist of 4-6 brakes which can be turned on or off and work at the beginning of the cast. These systems do not have springs on the brake shoes - they free-float.


These brakes rely on a spool and magnet to decrease the rate and are adjustable by the angler and can affect spool rotation through the end of the cast.

Dual Brakes

Dual brakes obviously work during the first and second half of the cast, and some of these can be set to where it would be almost impossible to over-run the line.  

In Combination

Remember that baitcasting combos work best for heavy catches and heavy cover. Pre-selected baitcasting combos are the best route for those who are beginners and don’t particularly feel comfortable yet pairing a baitcasting rod and reel together. Or, anyone with a cost-restrictive budget will find that the cost of a baitcaster combo is smaller than purchasing individual rods and reels.

Here are some combos that many find are ideal for most baitcasting situations (your combo of choice can be compared to these specifics to see which situation it’s typically suited best for):

Rod Size



Best for:

7 ft, 6 inch


Extra Fast

  • Flipping

  • Pinching

  • Punching

  • Frog Rod

  • Swimbaits

6 ft, 9 inch


Extra Fast

  • Topwaters

  • Jerkbaits

7 ft



  • Crankbaits


Mod-Fast to Fast

  • Texas-Rigs

  • Jigs


  • Spinnerbaits

  • Vibrating Jigs

  • Swimming Jigs

Many anglers will find that purchasing at least these basic types of baitcasting combos will ensure that they’re prepared for a variety of situations with a good mix of contact and reaction baits.

At the end of the day…

Baitcasting combos are not suited for light lines and, in fact, won’t be able to cast them very well if you tried. Keep in mind that baitcasting is best suited for:

  • Heavy Cover

  • Heavy Lines

  • Heavy Lures

  • Fighting Fish

  • Large Catches

Baitcasting tackle is aimed at heavier fish and heavy cover and comprises typically larger lures. The right baitcasting combo will allow an experienced angler to target a 6 inch radius from over 50 feet away with pinpoint accuracy, allowing the lure to gently drop into the water without a splash.

With over 20,000 fishing items in our inventory, Outdoor Shopping has the most extensive lineup of fishing equipment online today! Shop our inventory of baitcasting combos at Outdoor Shopping.