Planning Your 2024 Summer Builds

Planning Your 2024 Summer Builds

Temperatures are heating up; those cold fronts are distant memories, and the fish are biting! Summer is here.

It is that time of year so many of us love. With warm water and long days, make the most of your summer fishing with these three rod builds. From topwater to heavy cover and power fishing to finesse, you must be ready as all techniques are in play during summer.

We will walk you through three of our favorite builds that will have you catching giants this all summer long. 

Best Heavy Cover Rod Build – FP936-MHX

Let's lead it off with one of our favorite rod blanks pulling big bass from the heaviest cover. The FP936 by MHX out of the Flippin' and Pitchin' series.

Specifications: 7'9" | 15-30 lb. | 3/4 - 2 oz. | Mod-Fast Action | Extra Heavy Power

For general, all-purpose flipping, this 7'9" extra-heavy casting rod is ideal. It boasts significant butt power and a forgiving moderate/fast action that ensures big fish stay hooked. We take this rod anywhere we plan on fishing matted vegetation, log jams or thick Kissimmee grass.  It's perfect for handling 1oz to 1-1/2oz creature baits and stout flippin' hooks.

At 7'9" it offers a unique length that provides anglers the reach they need for pinpoint accuracy around pencil reeds and lily pads.  For dedicated heavy cover fisherman, they know stealth is a big part of the game. Your bait makes too big of a splash or bounces off the cover on entry, those fish are now aware you are in the area. The ability to sneak around the heaviest vegetation will up your catch rates significantly.

The rod features a moderate-fast action with a very smooth, progressive flex, free from hard stops. This design provides the angler with a sense of infinite reserve power when flipping in heavy cover, ensuring the fish stays hooked even in challenging conditions.

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 about 11" to 11-1/2" from the end of the butt. Our reel seat suggestions are the Fuji ECSM or the American Tackle G2 P-SEAT

For guide choices we like to keep it lightweight and low profile. This rod typically has either braid or fluorocarbon and does not need to worry about passing leader knots. We believe this is a time for micro guides. That is guide size 4 or under. The size 4 single foot runners provide excellent control and sit low enough to not get hung up when flippin and pitchin as your bait comes back and forth like a pendulum. Your stripper guides can be your preference but Fuji makes a size 5 in their Double-Foot Reverse Surf Rod guide that we use quite often. 

As an added suggestion, some anglers might want to use weight to help balance their flippin' stick. Our choice when adding some weight is the CRB Heavy Duty Aluminum Fighting Butt. This fighting butt is anodized aluminum with a rubber cap and weighs just over 1oz. So, it looks sharp while adding some weight to assist with balance. 

Finally, we suggest using a CRB arrow hook keeper as most almost all of the flippin' baits will be rigged weedless with the hook buried into the plastic. Having an open hook keeper allows you to slide the bend of the hook into the keeper without tearing the plastic over and over. 

Best All Around Rod Build - NEPS86HF-MHX

Ok so, with summer being king of vegetation we are going to stay with another heavy power blank for the all around. We are talking frog, large topwater, single swimbaits and carolina rigs. 

Specifications: 7'2" | 12-25 lb. | 1/2 - 1 oz. | Fast Action | Heavy Power

This blank is beyond an all around. It is true workhorse for all summertime fishing. The NEPS86HF excels at pitching a creature bait or 1/2 oz. jig around vegetation like grass, lily pads, or pencil reeds. Additionally, many tournament anglers use this rod for larger reaction baits, including a 5” paddle tail swimbait, top water walking bait, and popping frog.

The unique blend of high modulus Toray Fiber along with MHX Nano Resin system they have been able to bring the overall blank diameters down without sacrificing durability. Yes, this blank is fast action with a heavy power but it is light and nimble in your hands. You almost forget it is designed for heavy cover until you set the hook. The reserve power to pull a big fish out of the slop is remarkable. 

Granted, we keep referring to summer fishing as heavy cover but lets not forget the incredible deep water points and ledges that hold both giant largemouth and smallmouth bass. Areas like the TVA lakes of the Tennessee River are notorious for its ledges and a large single swimbait can produce your next personal best bass. At 7'2" and capable of throwing up to an ounce in weight, this blank is an excellent choice for throwing swimbaits and even a carolina rig. 

When it comes to reel seat and handle setups, we like the Fuji exposed seats like the ACSM or ECSM in addition to the seats out of American Tackle's G2 line up like the E-Seat or the Bravo2 for a more minimalistic build. You can never go wrong with cork or eva but these Elite Pro blanks really look good and feel good with the CFX Carbon Grips! 

As you know we have discussed the titanium guide choices in the past and if you are going to build and Elite Pro with carbon handle the TiForged black titanium guide set will really turn some heads. Feather light and almost indestructible, the TiForged is perfect for long summer days or the rigors of the tournament circuit. 

Best Finesse Rod Build - SJ9000-MHX

We have chosen a rod that might that might throw you guys for a loop. This is the SJ9000 by MHX.  Coming in at 7'6" length may seem long for a typical light line or finesse bass rod, but for summer fishing and covering water, it is hard to beat. 

Specifications: 7'6" | 6-12 lb. | 1/16 - 3/8 oz. | Fast Action | Medium-Light Power 

These Spin Jig blanks are strikingly similar to the Mag Taper series in mid and butt power but feature a slightly softer tip flex. They are exceptionally lightweight, highly sensitive, and perfectly balanced between tip flex and butt power. They provide excellent fishing performance when a fast yet soft tip is needed.

Since most of our summer is spent power fishing, we want to be able to work an area holding fish throughly and quickly. With the water temperatures up, fish are not lethargic like they were a few months ago, so lets work moving baits and make long casts. 

Even our tour pro Matt Stefan loves his SJ9000 and when we went to visit it was the first rod we grabbed. Since it can through lures from 1/16oz all the way to 3/8oz, it really brings most of our tackle box into play. Stefan prefers to throw small swimbaits, hair jigs and even spybaits on his SJ9000.  

Check out his build video:

Stefan outlines his chosen components for this and all his spinning rod builds. He is a fan of the Fuji TVS Ergonomic Spinning Reel Seat and uses them on all his spinning rod builds. Matt matches that seat up with Nubbin' style grips since almost all of your hand is directly on the seat. It keeps weight down and minimizers unnecessary components. He prefers his handle length to be 10" from the back of the reel seat to the butt of the rod. This is important when copying his guide spacing. 

Speaking of guides he prefers the LZR guide train. You can get them in a LZR Light duty Spinning Kit to make it easier or if you wish to adjust you sizing they are also available separate. When you watch his video above, and you should, he lists his spacing in the notes section. We can promise he has it dialed in! 

There you have it, some great build ideas to keep you catching all summer! From Wisconsin to Florida and everywhere in between, these blank are proven winners. Have a great summer and don't forget to send us some fish photos! 

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