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dock talk: shallow topwater fishing rods

There was a time when a 7-foot medium heavy fishing rod was considered a stout, strong rod...

SHAWN SMITH | GEORGIA | May 16, 2023

However, in today's market with more and more specialized rods being introduced for specific techniques, it seems like fishing rods just keep getting longer. But that’s not to say that the ole 7-footer should be overlooked, especially when choosing a topwater fishing rod.

Regardless of what topwater lure you prefer, most anglers, if not all, feel more comfortable and are most effective when working a bait with their rod tip down. Especially when fishing in the shallows and up around banks.

It is easier to achieve the desired cadence with popping and walking style baits with the rod tip down, that and most people find it less tiring for their arms to snap down rather than repeatedly popping it up. 

Not to mention it's virtually impossible to work them any other way when you are skipping lures like a buzzbait or the Berkley PowerBait® Beat'n Paddle Frog under docks or other cover.  

When it comes to the topwater bite, we all know how crucial the hookset is. With a rod tip that is facing down, it is already in a prime position to allow for maximum upward force when it comes time to drive home the substantial hooks in baits like frogs, toads, or buzzbaits.

A great rod for this type of application would be the Fenwick World Class® Casting rod in a 7-foot medium heavy fast action.

For walking baits with trebles, you would be better off with a 7-foot medium heavy Moderate Fast Action. The slower action rod will not allow the fish to get as much leverage, making it less likely that they will be able to throw the hooks. For treble hooked topwater lures, you will simply want to reel and sweep to the side once you feel the rod load up. 

Fenwick World Class rod

If you are a bit on the shorter side or shopping for a youth angler, you may find that working topwater baits with a 7-footer to be difficult. If this is you, try a rod around 6’10”, or even 6’6”.

Having the right length rod for these techniques is crucial as being able to properly work lures for long periods of time is the most important factor. Luckily for us there are endless rod options to suit each individual's needs.  

Along with helping to work a topwater bait correctly, having a rod around the 6’10” - 7-foot mark also helps with accuracy. When topwater fishing, there are times when it’s all about location- location -location. Whether it’s a little roll cast, a skip, a backhand, or a shot down the bank, a shorter rod will allow you to pinpoint your casts much better than a longer rod. 

Angler pulling bass out of the water

A great shallow water topwater rod will have a soft enough tip for those roll and backhand casts but still have enough backbone to drag a fish out from under cover or even boat flip a behemoth if you're feeling lucky. The fish fighting ability is the main reason for using as long of a rod as you can get away with while still being able to execute a given technique correctly.

The farther you go below 7’, your ability to keep steady tension on big jumping fish, especially with treble hooked baits, drops significantly. With topwater techniques, going too far north of a 7-foot rod will have its downside as well. You will find it more difficult to execute those narrow window casts effectively and to work the lure without fatigue.  

At the end of the day, it’s all about efficiency. In terms of length, a 7-foot rod is hard to beat for shallow topwater fishing. You will put more casts where you want them and fewer into trees and bushes. In most cases, shallow topwater fishing generates big bites from big fish.

However, those bites can be few and far in between. Again, this is where efficiency comes into play. Casting and retrieving with less effort leads to more casts in a day. This increases the chances of a "big blow up" occurring.  

As you are probably aware, lots of bass will move offshore in most cases when water temps soar. The fish that stay shallow are either chasing bait fish or tucked away in the cool shade of cover. Either way, when you do find that bass hanging around in the shallows, you want to be as accurate as possible with your cast.

Even a foot off from your intended target can be the difference in landing a fish and watching one boil up near your bait just to tease you and remind you of your mistake. Even worse, you could smack your bait against a piece of cover or get hung in a bush and spook the one you have been waiting for all day, just to watch it dart into the abyss.  

Making an accurate cast followed by another and another, is perhaps as or more important in shallow topwater fishing than any other scenario. This is why rod choice is so critical. Pairing something like a 7-foot medium heavy or medium Abu Garcia Veritas Tournament Casting Rod with a Revo ® Rocket casting reel would be an ideal setup giving you the speed and efficiency you need to land the big one.  

Pure Fishing Dock Talk

Fenwick World Class Casting Rod

Abu Garcia Revo Rocket Low Profile Reel

Abu Garcia Veritas Tournament™ Casting Rod

Berkley Choppo

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Shawn Smith is a native of Northwest Georgia and a graduate of the University of Georgia. An avid outdoorsman, he was introduced to fishing as a child and has spent the better part of the last 25 years with a rod in hand while venturing throughout the United States. As the Ecommerce Marketing Manager for Pure Fishing, Shawn is able to put his passion into practice while sharing his knowledge and love for the sport with others.

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