Fishing Poles

In this section on fishing supplies we’ll look at the fishing poles you’ll want to bring with you to Florida for both live bait (shiners) and artificial.

As a past employee of Browning/Fishing Div., I could go into parabolic bend, fast or extra fast tips, hypalon handles vs. cork etc. but I want to keep it simple.

I will say, unless you’re coming for the great speck fishing, leave the ultra-light rods at home. Other than that, the tackle I use in Florida is the same that I use anywhere in the country when fishing for bass.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of light tackle. One of my biggest fish (10lbs 11ozs.) came on my spinnerbait rod using 12lb. test line. I tied on a light wire worm hook and baited it with a small live shiner and pulled it over shallow water hydrilla beds in 2 to 4 foot of water. When you’re out fun fishing with a buddy, it’s not the importance of landing the fish but the thrill and enjoyment of fighting such a big fish on light tackle. (Yea right!) I did get that fish in the boat and might have cried or at least said some bad words if I lost it. I had already caught bigger fish like the 11 pounder you see on the Home Page of this site. Both fish went back in the lake to make more babies. I’m a firm believer that the genes from a big fish are instrumental in creating more big fish. Read up on the Texas program “Share a Lone Star Bass”.

Flippin' Stick

Let’s get to the fishing poles you’ll want to include on your Florida fishing supplies list. The first rod on your list should be a flippin’ stick for shiner fishing. You can also use it if you decide to do some flippin’.

My favorite flippin’ sticks cost me $19.95 at Bass Pro Shops. These are good graphite rods with comfortable cork handles. Since they were so light to fish with, they doubled as my tournament rods. They are stout heavy action rods necessary for casting big shiners and fighting big fish in heavy grass. I guess the deal was too good to be true because the next time I went to buy some more, the price jumped to $29.95…still a bargain. The point here is you don’t need to spend a lot of money on equipment to come to Florida and enjoy shiner fishing for trophy bass. Besides, you probably already own most of what you’ll need for a successful trip.

Spinnerbait Rod

The next rod on your fishing pole list should be a spinnerbait rod spooled with your favorite 12lb. line. If your traveling light or the boat is crowded and you need to cut back on how much equipment you can carry on board, this is a good all-around-rod. You can use it, of course, for spinnerbaits but also jerkbaits and top water baits. I even use mine for throwing large 9 inch floating worms. SHHH…that’s a secret I’ll cover later in artificial baits.

Crankin Stick

I also carry a glass crankin’ stick for what I call my “bread and butter” bait, the lipless crankbait or Rattle Trap. I always have a Rattle Trap with me, no matter what body of water I’m on-“I never leave home without it”. I also use my glass rods for jerkbaits and top water. I couldn’t believe the erratic retrieve a glass rod put in a Pop-R. I learned this trick from a partner I drew on Lake Havasu in Arizona…he whooped me good.

Worm Rod

The last fishing pole I would recommend is a worm rod. I don’t think I need to go into detail on what you’ll use this for. The only thing I will add here is to make sure it’s long enough to handle a Carolina Rig.


Okay, in summary, you’re fishing pole list should include a:

  • Flippin’ Stick
  • Spinnerbait Rod
  • Crankin’ Stick
  • Worm Rod

If you’re like me, you’ll have 17 fishing poles in your box and 8 or 9 will be out on the deck at any given time. I’m one of those people that hate to waste time tying on different lures to try. I’ll have several of the same rods with different lures, colors, sizes etc. ready to fire.

If your coming to Florida with the mind set to only fish with shiners for trophy bass, which most people do…Great! Just bring a heavy flippin’ stick and some back ups just in case.

I mention the other rods only if you want to experiment. Florida can be a frustrating place to try catching fish on artificial even for the locals. These fish seem to have only one thing in mind when it comes to diet and that’s shiners. Not to discourage, because there are days when my buddy and I have caught 30 to 40+ good fish when their schooling. I’ve also fished buddy tournaments when it is tough to just put a 5 fish limit in the boat between us. If you’re just coming for a few days, you might want to consider putting the odds in your favor and stick with live bait.

On my guide trips, on rare occasions when drifting, I‘ve had customers casting artificial off the bow or stern as the boat was drifting sideways and the shiner rods are pointing out the side. A lot of guides frown on this because you’re taking your attention away from the shiners. You can miss a fish or even lose a fishing pole if you’re not paying attention. You definitely don’t want to fish with artificial when you’re anchored on a spot or you’re pulling a grass line.

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