Striped bass is one of the most temperamental targets anglers can chase. Migratory fish, stripers tend to move around a lot. The only way to find and outsmart them is to make sure you have the right gear. Read on to find out what kind of striper rod you need for huge catches.
Why Specific Rods Are Needed for Angling Striped Bass
Stripers are so finicky that they’ll take flight the second they realize something is off about that bait they just took. A rod that’s too stiff will tip the fish off with its rigidity before the hook can be set. Stripers love live bait, and they can be found in both freshwater and saltwater. The best striper fishing rod has to be able to handle both water types and cast all kinds of bait and creature lures.
How to Choose Quality Striper Rods for Fishing
Most striper rods are built of graphite, fiberglass, or some mixture of the two. Carbon fiber is also used alongside aluminum and other materials for the reel seat. Fiberglass is lightweight, while graphite is tough.
The key thing about the build of a striper rod is the stiffness. Many anglers love to have a rigid fishing rod, but a parabolic bend is actually critical in a striper rod. Otherwise, the fish will split without a hook in it.
Rod Length & Action
Striper rods, with the exception of shorter boat rods, are the same length as other rods. The longer ones will help cast further, which can help avoid scaring off targets in shallow water. While a good medium or medium-heavy rod is optimal for striper fishing, that rod should not have the fast action many anglers insist on. To get the right hook set, the parabolic bend of a slower action is a must-have.
Full grips are the standard handle, and they aren't half bad. But a really powerful rod should also have a split grip with a sizable foregrip so the angler can access all the power in the rod. Pistol grips, which look a bit more ergonomic, can be comfortable for long days out on the water, but the additional torque of a split grip is the most ideal for striper fishing.
Light and ultralight rods aren't suited to striper fishing. While ultralight bass fishing is picking up steam, stripers are just too sensitive and skittish to be caught with such setups. The best rod is a medium-power rod, although ocean angling and fishing in places where larger bass may be will call for a medium-heavy or even a heavy. Some brands have gone so far as to make extra-heavy rods for striper fishing.
Line Weight & Guides
Most mid-sized striped bass can be reigned in with an 8 or 10-pound test, though rods geared toward larger targets will have ratings for up to 17 or 20-pound tests. The line guides are often bent on cheaper rods. On the better ones, the guides are one single piece and come without inserts to preserve their longevity. The more line guides, the better, since they’ll keep the line curved with the shape of the rod.
Spinning Reel Seat
A fish attacking the bait or the lure will put a strain on the reel. The seat that holds the reel should be tight and shouldn’t feel flimsy. Many striper rods have unique closing methods and are constructed with tough metals.
Ease of Use
Fishing for striped bass can be a little frustrating since they’re so flighty, but the rod itself should be easy to use. Besides knowing how to attach the reel and how to pick the right rod, ease of use just means the rod won’t break down on you.
Price & Warranty
Warranties are almost always limited to manufacturing defects. The majority of striper fishing rods are fairly inexpensive compared to the price of some reels, for example. The price will dictate what kind of material the blank and line guides are made from.
5 Best Fishing Rods for Striped Bass Reviewed
Angling requires the correct equipment if you want to bring home fish every time. Watch our video and read our reviews below to get the best striper rod for your next fishing adventures.
1. Shakespeare Ugly Stik Tiger
Our Top Pick!
20 - 50 Lbs.
This versatile 7-foot rod covers all the bases for striper angling and just about any other freshwater or saltwater targets of any mid-range to a larger size. It's just the right length to help get casts out further so lures and bait can be sent over to the target before they get spooked, essential for striper fishing in the early spring when they tend to hang out near the surface a lot.
The medium power of the Ugly Stik Tiger means the backbone kicks in earlier than lighter rods, but not too early; there's still tons of flex in this rod thanks to the slow action. Like some other Ugly Stiks, this one has a blank that runs through the rod, including through the graphite reel seat, which gives the angler an unmatched feel for what's happening at the end of the line.
It has more line guides than most other rods, and they're all single-piece stainless steel, making them very durable and corrosion-resistant. The middle section of this rod is thick. That's where the power is, and they've built a big foregrip right before that section for extra leverage and comfort.
Stripers can be fickle, and you might end up bouncing around and revisiting multiple spots, but this is the best striper fishing pole you can have because it whips fish but doesn’t cause the angler any fatigue.
2. Ugly Stik Elite
Best Spinning Rod for Striped Bass
4’6”,5’, 5’6”, 6’, 6’6”, 7’, 7’6”
8 - 17 Lbs.
1 & 2 available
Ugly Stik has done it again with the lightweight but durable Elite spinning fishing rod. This is a terrific rod for live bait fishing. It has more graphite in its blank than the Tiger does, which tends to make it less sensitive, but it still has the through-handle blank to improve the feel, and there's also a clear tip to help give anglers plenty of warning if a striper attacks the lure.
The weight of this rod works well for the most common sizes of striped bass. While light lures and finesse fishing aren't the best ways to put this rod to use, some ultralight models handle lighter setups pretty well.
Like the Tiger, this rod has single-piece stainless steel line guides that help the line follow the curve of the rod. It also has a cork handle, which is both comfortable and nice to look at. You can use this rod to catch stripers in just about any season, in freshwater or saltwater.
One of the only slight letdowns on this rod is the reel seat, which is not the most comfortable and may not suit every reel in your arsenal, so if you have some very specific spinning reels you’d like to pair with this rod, it would be wise to do your research first.
3. Ugly Stik USCA662MH
Best Cheap Striper Fishing Pole
8 - 20 Lbs.
One-piece and Two-piece
The GX2 is the current star of the Ugly Stik lineup, likely the most talked-about striper fishing rods among avid anglers. It comes in just about any length you could possibly want for striper fishing, although only in medium-light, medium, medium-heavy, and heavy.
The lightest power ratings aren’t available on the GX2, but those aren’t the best to get for hooking striper anyway. Everything is lightweight and comfortable on this rod, but it’s so well-regarded because it’s an absolute workhorse. The GX2 can cast with any type of live bait or hard lures that really entice stripers.
The heavy power rated GX2 is just what anglers need to rip lures through dense vegetation, just where striped bass like to hide and wait for food. The same clear tip and strong single-piece line guides are on this rod that are on so many of the newest Ugly Stiks to make sure it will last, and you won't have to waste lots of time fussing with your line.
While the handle is comfortable to hold, it isn't as long and may become a bit tiresome to cast over and over again, but stripers love moving baits anyway, so if you're skilled with spoons and other shiny lures, you should be fine.
4. Shimano Trevala
Best Surf Rod for Striped Bass
80 - 200 Lbs. (Power Pro)
Graphite, titanium alloy
One-piece and Two-piece
Shimano has built these rods specifically to be used with Power Pro line and their Shimano butterfly jigs. Since they’re great at faster speeds, pairing this rod with a saltwater reel that has a fast gear ratio and retrieval rate will give you a great striped bass rod and reel combo.
Some of these rods are rated extra heavy, which many anglers like and certainly serve larger ocean targets well, but which might be overkill for moderately sized striper. The moderate fast action could also be a bit bothersome since the target might feel the rigidity and get wise to the situation before you can set the hook.
Overall, though, this is a great rod for ocean fishing and surf fishing from a pier or off the rocks. The higher power ratings will be useful for fishing around structure like rocks. As the best striped bass fishing pole for saltwater, this rod can also be expected to hold its own trolling for striper.
It’s easy to get a firm grip on the handle of this rod and maintain it even in wet conditions. This rod maintains its shape better than most other rods, allowing jigs to be fished much more effectively.
5. Penn Carnage II
Best Boat Rod for Striped Bass
15 - 30 Lbs.
1-year Limited Liability
Spiral wrapped carbon on top of fiberglass makes this rod blank strong, which is a bit surprising considering how thin the rods are compared to some competitors. They have slower action, giving them more flex, which is ideal for catching stripers.
The line guides were built to work with braids and, while the guides do need inserts, they work great keeping the line in order on this rod. You can find out specific rod and line weight recommendations from Penn written right on the side of this rod.
The split handle is textured and sculptured to improve grip. The machined aluminum reel seat keeps reels snugly attached and keeps the weight of this rod nice and balanced. These rods also come with a gimbal on the butt of the rod that makes them easy to leave in a rod holder without any panic that they won’t be ‘fishing’ while they’re left there.
Not only is this the best striped bass rod to use on a boat, but it's also a useful rod for some other species of saltwater targets like snook, redfish, and snapper. It’s just a good rod to have around on the boat for just about any fishing trip.
Striper Fishing Pole Setup
The best setup for striped bass fishing is 10 or 20-pound test on a medium to medium-heavy rod with a light spinning reel. Live bait on a round hook will be the most effective if you know where to find your targets, although creature lures with or without bait can work just fine too.
Tips When for Fishing for Striped Bass
- 1Stripers love moving lures, especially if they have some flash.
- 2Taunt stripers with fast movement.
- 3Let the bass swallow the bait before you set the hook.
- 4Don't leave too much tension on the line, or the striper will notice when they bite.
- 5Cast past the target and reel the bait right over them.
People Also Ask (FAQs)
What is the average size and weight of a striped bass?
Stripers weigh 5 pounds or less on the small end, around 10 pounds at the median, and 20 pounds on the heavy side.
Where can I catch striped bass? When is the best time to go striper fishing?
Stripers like cooler water, between 55° and 68° Fahrenheit. They migrate between freshwater and saltwater. Look for vegetation, stirred-up sediment, and in deep water when it’s warmer out. Follow the baitfish they eat to find stripers.
What line should I use for striped bass?
You can’t go wrong with a 10 - 20 pound mono, although some anglers prefer fluoro leaders and even braided line.
What are the best striped bass rigs for surf fishing?
To fight waves and currents, anglers commonly outfit their surfcasting rods for stripers with weighted rigs like the ‘fish finder’ and aim for structure and vegetation.
What size rod is the best for striper fishing?
The best size rod for striper fishing is anything between 6 and 7 feet long. This will give the best casting distance and handle the right weight of line the best.
What lures do striper bass like?
Match the lures to the environment—subtle colors in clear water and vibrant colors in murky water. Always try to imitate the baitfish they like to eat, or else use fresh live bait.
Striper can sense movement up to 100 feet away. The fact that they're so skittish calls for a powerful slow action rod, and there's none better suited than the Shakespeare Ugly Stik Tiger. As flighty as they can be, the challenge makes fishing for stripers that much more fun.