With the first week of the New Year behind us, we hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season.
With large swaths of the country draped in snow and some fishing hard water, there are others just leaving it on the trailer with passing with cold fronts. No matter what your winter time hobby may be, we know a part of every angler is looking forward to spring!
While dreaming of longer days, warmer weather and more time on the water, winter is a great time to be sure you are ready as soon the weather improves.
We will walk you through three of our favorite builds that will have you catching giants this spring.
Best Heavy Cover Rod Build - FP885-MHX
Let's lead it off with one of our favorite rod blanks for heavy cover fishing. The FP885 by MHX out of the Flippin' and Pitchin' series.
Specifications: 7'4" | 12-30 lb. | 3/8 - 1 1/2 oz. | Mod-Fast Action | Heavy Power
To put this rod blank in only one category is actually quite unfair to this particular blank and even the anglers that fish the FP885. From weekend anglers to touring professionals this powerful blank is a favorite of all. Plus, don't forget, this blank comes in 14 colors as well.
At 7'4" it offers a unique length that provides anglers the reach they need for long casts with a frog or a delicate pitch to wary fish on beds. The action is moderate-fast but has a very smooth progressive action without hard stops. This gives the angler and feeling of infinite reserve power during flipping heavy cover and the ability to keep the fish hooked in the nasty stuff.
As for matching components to this blank we understand some like full length cork and others like split grips but we tend to mount the reel seat around 10-1/2" to 11" from the end of the butt. Our reel seat suggestions are the Fuji ECSM or the American Tackle G2 P-SEAT. When it comes to guides we like the LZR Light duty casting guide kit as they feature ultra-thin, super light zirconium insert provides a high-density, polished ring that is then pressed into the stainless steel frames. The set includes A size 8 double footed guide, a size 6 single footed guide and then size 5 single foot running guides.
We understand that not everyone has heavy cover on their home lake but they might have bluff walls, rocky points or other fish holding cover. That is why we have an all around build to cover just about anything you might encounter while on the water.
Best All Around Rod Build - NEPS86MHF-MHX
The next build you need for 2024 comes out of the Elite Pro Series. This NEPS86MHF brings next generation technology to rod blanks. Engineered with a nano resin resin system and smaller diameters giving anglers more sensitive while maintaining overall durability.
Specifications: 7'2" | 10-20 lb. | 5/16 - 13/16 oz. | Fast Action | Medium-Heavy Power
When people ask, "can you use the NEPS86MHF for ______," the answer is almost always yes. It is one of the few rod blanks that we can really call an all around rod blank. For the Florida angler this blank excels for a speed worm, lipless crankbait and even a buzzbait. The anglers on the famed Tennessee River system throw a football head jig on long points, a spinnerbait on windy days and even an old school texas rig. Even our anglers to the north have this Elite Pro on the deck. They use it to skip docks, throw single swimbaits and even to make long casts and cover water with a walking bait.
As for components we notice most anglers throwing a split grip configuration and often without a foregrip. Instead of a grip in front of the reel seat, try the TWC-16. It makes for a sleek transition from reel seat to the blank in an area where you do not really need a grip. Just measure the diameter of the blank where it will sit just as you would with a standard rubber winding check. For the rear split grips, the MHX branded Winn Grips continue to be a favorite and if you want Winn Grips but prefer a splash of color, they have those too!
For the reel seat and guides we will go with American Tackle. They are a leader in innovative rod components and bring the cool factor to durable, lightweight guides and seats. We like the American Tackle G2 VIBE2 Casting Reel Seat as it give the feel of a split seat but American Tackle has taken the guess work out of measuring. This seat is light, strong and properly preassembled to speed up build times.
The guide train on this all around rod we reccommend using the American Tackle TiForged Double Foot and Single Foot Running guides. These guides feature a Snagless, hardened frame design for extreme strength, keeping rings secure and safe from frame deformation. Both the Nanolite and Duralite rings feature a slim ring design to reduce weight and polished round for increased casting distances and extended line life.
Finally, you can not have a spring time bass build without a proper finesse rod. There are times where anglers in certain parts of the country turn their nose up at a spinning rod, but when that rod helps you cash a check, anglers can warm up to he finesse game pretty quick.
Best Finesse Rod Build - NSJ812-MHX
We have chosen a rod that might get over looked by some. This is the NSJ812 by MHX. Built with Mitsubishi Rayon high modulus fibers and a nano resin system, these blanks are incredibly sensitive and can withstand the rigors of a tournament season. Although the 6'9" length may seem short, it offers incredible accuracy and with a properly set guide train your distance will never suffer.
Specifications: 6'9" | 6-12 lb. | 1/8 - 3/8 oz. | Fast Action | Medium-Light Power
We chose the NSJ812 as a blank that the weekend warrior can build and cover different finesse techniques with one blank. Rather than having a ned rig, shakey head, and drop shot all on different rods; we understand if you are going to spend the money on a high end rod and your budget allows for just one, this is the one. It can throw a light line drop shot for smallmouth but also has the power to pull a fished out of cover with a shakey head.
Plus, we understand finesse means different things depending on what part of the country you are fishing. This is why it is a great pick for the traveling tournament angler. Having confidence in your tackle on the water is very important. That ned rig in Wisconsin will be different than the Ned Rig in Florida. Different species, different cover, same rod blank. The NSJ812 is unique because it squashes the misconception that high modulus blanks aren't durable or are not as strong. It does not matter if there is 6lb leader for open water tied on or 12lb leader for skipping docks, you will find more anglers reaching for their NSJ812 once they build it.
As for the guides and reel seat for this build we will use Fuji components for both. The guide train is a KR Concept train featuring what is called High Frame guides down to single foot runners. This Fuji KL-H High Frame Spinning Guide Kit is perfect for the common 2500-3000 size spinning reel used for finesse or light inshore applications. This set features Fuji's corrosion control frames that are 316 stainless steel and can withstand even the harshest conditions. All of the high frame sets comes with Fuji's Alconite ring, which has become the standard to which all guide inserts are measured.
For the reel seat, the Fuji VSS Spinning Seat is sleek, comfortable and just flat out looks good. We reccommend the Cork Contoured Split Grip for the VSS as it brings in a slight ergonomic feel with the traditional look of cork. With the matching VSS seat and rear grip you are free to mix and match the fighting butt. You could go with an EVA Fighting Butt for a striking and unique look or a Cork Fighting Butt with Composite Cap to match your cork rear grip.
As you know it is never too early to start prepping for spring. Snow melting, flowers blooming, bass bedding...we can't wait!! These three bass builds are guaranteed to help you make the most of your springtime bassin', so you better get started.