While new bass fishing lures enter the market every year, traditional soft plastic baits continue to be the most reliable. Senko worms, creature baits, soft swimbaits, and other rubber lures will consistently put fish in the boat year-round.
If you’re only going to splurge on one technique-specific rod, it’s best to invest in a high-quality soft plastics rod. This is because sensitivity is crucial when fishing soft plastics and the most sensitive rods are made from premium high-strain graphite.
Fine-tuned performance isn’t necessary for lures that rely on power, such as topwater baits. However, a well-constructed rod will significantly improve your success when fishing soft plastics.
Rods Reviewed (Jump to Section)
Soft Plastics Rod Qualities
There are many styles of soft plastic lures with different rod specifications for each type. Usually, ultra-sensitive spinning setups are the best rods for ned rigs and finesse baits.
However, the most common style of soft plastic fishing is casting mid-sized lures along shoreline vegetation. This guide will focus on rubber worms, creature baits, and other similar soft plastics fished in heavy cover.
The best rods for soft plastics are 7’3” to 7’11” casting or spinning rods with medium-heavy power and fast action.
Action & Power
Medium-heavy power rods with fast or extra-fast action are the most versatile models for soft plastic fishing. A heavier power rod gives you the leverage to pull fish out of thick shoreline cover, but these rods can also be used to fish open waters.
The fast action specification makes setting the hook much easier with soft plastics. Fast action rods also have more sensitivity for detecting light bites. Slow action rods are typically only used for reaction-style baits when you don’t want to rip the bait out of a fish’s mouth.
Some anglers prefer heavy action rods for flipping and pitching baits in weeds and grass mats. However, if you’re looking for one rod to handle most soft plastic situations, a medium-heavy rod has a better balance in performance.
A wide range of rod lengths is used for fishing soft plastics. 7’3” to 7’11” poles are the most common, with longer rods providing more casting distance and leverage.
When flipping baits along the shoreline or casting into heavy grass mats, a longer pole will play to your advantage. Not only do fish get tangled up in debris, but weedless-style baits take more leverage to set the hook. A longer pole will help you drive the hook through the rubber bait and the bass’s mouth.
Material & Weight
Longer fishing rods typically have the disadvantage of added weight. A rod made from higher strain graphite is ideal for soft plastic fishing because it’s a lighter material and offers more sensitivity.
Using a sensitive rod will provide a significant advantage for detecting bites. While high-strain graphite rods can be costly, picking up a high-quality soft plastics rod is a worthwhile investment.
Other ways of improving the sensitivity of a setup include using premium fluorocarbon or braided line and tungsten weights. While you don’t need a performance-oriented rod blank to catch bass on soft plastics, it will help you catch more fish.
While baitcasting setups are better for worms and heavier soft plastics, spinning rods have benefits for finesse fishing. When you’re using shaky heads, drop shots, ned rigs, and other small presentations, the sensitivity of a spinning rod is crucial.
Smaller baits are easier to manage on a spinning rod. We recommend fast action rods with medium to medium-heavy power for your spinning combo. Braided line is also preferred for finesse fishing.
For more finesse rod reviews, see our guides to the best shaky head rods, ned rig rods, and drop shot rods.
1. St. Croix Mojo Bass Casting Rod
4.6 Stars | 560 Angler Reviews
The St. Croix Mojo Bass Casting Rod is an excellent pole for fishing soft plastics. St. Croix is one of the top fishing rod manufacturers, known for its attention to detail and build quality. This model is a great value for the money and offers the performance of a tournament rod without breaking the bank.
Our favorite model for soft plastics is the 7’5” medium-heavy power extra-fast action rod. The 7’5” length is versatile for most soft plastic situations. Still, it has enough length for long casts and improved leverage. This spec can be found on Amazon; however, Bass Pro Shops has the best prices.
Details & Components
The Mojo Bass rod features a premium SCIII graphite blank and 3D guides with aluminum-oxide insert rings. These components make the rod cast exceptionally well and reduce friction on your line.
St. Croix also added Fuji ECS reel seats and a premium cork split-grip handle to reduce the weight. When you’re casting soft plastics for hours at a time, a lighter rod is easier to manage and keeps your arm from getting tired.
Lastly, St. Croix has one of the best warranty programs in the industry. Every Mojo Bass rod comes with a 5-year warranty that covers damage and factory defects. When investing in a high-quality soft plastics rod, an extended warranty keeps worries away.
2. Johnny Morris CarbonLite 2.0 Baitcast Combo
4.3 Stars | 265 Angler Reviews
The Johnny Morris CarbonLite 2.0 Baitcast Combo is one of the best value rod and reel combos of 2022. Hence the name, this model was designed by professional bass angler Johnny Morris. While the rod and reel are inexpensive, the pole is designed to have all the qualities you need to advance your skills as an angler.
We like the 7’3” medium-heavy power extra-fast action model for soft plastic fishing. It has a balanced feeling in your hand, long-distance casting, and decent sensitivity.
This rod combo can only be purchased through Bass Pro Shops, as Johnny Morris worked exclusively with the brand to bring this pole to market. We found the blank is strong and responsive, and the casting is ultra-smooth for the reel's price.
Details & Components
The reel on this combo features ten bearings for smooth cranking and an aluminum crankshaft, machined-aluminum V-spool. This model also includes a Powerlock anti-reverse, a dual braking system, and a 6-disc carbon fiber drag for improved fish-stopping performance.
Johnny Morris designed this series to be comfortable in your hand. The reel has a carbon fiber recurve hand with EVA grips, and the rod has premium Winn grips.
Heightened sensitivity comes from a Skeletonized Air reel seat and a high-tech blank. Bass Pro Shops uses Carbon Coil Technology, and double-helix reinforced RT4 graphite to make the blank as sensitive as possible for the price.
3. Dobyns Fury Soft Plastics Casting Rod
4.6 Stars | 571 Angler Reviews
Without a pole from Dobyns, a list of the best soft plastics rods would be incomplete. The Dobyns Fury Casting Rod is a beast of a pole that became a favorite in our rod collection. While this rod is one of the best-performing Dobyns models, it’s affordable for anglers with a mid-sized budget.
The 7’3” heavy casting rod with fast action is ideal for most soft plastic situations. While we usually recommend a medium-heavy design, the heavy-action Fury rods have heightened sensitivity and improved casting performance, giving you the best of both worlds.
Details & Components
Dobyns incorporates Kevlar wrapping, Fuji reel seats, and a AA cork grip into the Fury series. A rod with these premium components usually costs far more than the Fury casting rod.
The blank is constructed from high modulus graphite and is perfectly balanced. This budget-friendly model casts a mile and has great casting accuracy for skipping and flipping soft plastics.
This rod also comes with the best warranty in the fishing industry. Dobyns provides a lifetime warranty against any defects in the materials, which last for the entire life of the original owner. It’s always a good sign when the manufacturer has confidence in their build quality and attention to detail.
4. St. Croix Avid Series Spinning Rod
4.4 Stars | 30 Angler Reviews
The St. Croix Avid Series Spinning Rod is one of the best 2022 models for soft plastic finesse fishing. While this pole costs more than the Mojo Bass series, the additional performance is worth the money for a spinning setup.
We prefer the 6’6” and 7’ lengths for soft plastic fishing. Both models have medium action and deliver peak sensitivity and handling. The longer model will cast farther, but the shorter design has more control when fishing close to the boat.
The Avid series is one of the best rods St. Croix has ever made, and that’s saying something. You won’t find another rod with a better balance of weight, strength, sensitivity, and pin-point accuracy. As St. Croix states, the Avid rod truly has a “weightless” feeling in your hand, making finesse fishing more enjoyable.
Details & Components
This model features a re-designed graphite blank that uses proprietary IPC technology to refine the rod action. Compared to other brands, this technology allows St. Croix to fine-tune the rod actions and deliver peak performance.
The Avid rod includes Fuji Alconite guides, Fuji reel seats, and select-grade cork handles. It’s challenging to describe the quality without trying it out for yourself. Clearly, no corners were cut when designing this series.
Since this is one of St. Croix’s best rods, it comes with a 15-year transferable warranty. This eliminates any worries of not being satisfied with your investment and protects you from accidentally damaging your equipment. However, this warranty is only offered through Bass Pro Shops.
5. Fenwick HMG Casting Fishing Rod
4.4 Stars | 103 Angler Reviews
The Fenwick HMG Casting Fishing Rod is a familiar rod for many anglers. Fenwick makes high-quality rods but doesn’t charge tournament-level prices. This model has a powerful blank that delivers 13% more strength than other comparable rods and is 8% lighter.
Fenwick rods have a sleek design that pairs well with many low-profile baitcasting reels. The blank has a textured styling that makes it look more expensive than it is.
We prefer the 7’6” medium-heavy power model with extra-fast action for fishing soft plastic baits.
Details & Components
This rod features an ergonomic reel seat, premium cork handles, and stainless steel guides with zirconium inserts. These components complement each other well, making the rod reliable.
The textured aesthetic comes from an exposed blank construction, which allows you to see the weave technology. While this reduces weight, we prefer rods with a coating that protects the blank from accidental damage.
6. KastKing Speed Demon Pro Soft Plastics Rod
4.6 Stars | 856 Angler Reviews
The KastKing Speed Demon Pro is a revolutionary technique-specific rod series. This collection comes in 15 models, each designed for fishing a different type of bass lure. Our favorite for soft plastics is the 7’6” medium-heavy design with fast action. While KastKing labels this a “Carolina rig” rod, it has the versatility to fish many types of soft plastic baits.
KastKing uses carbon fiber blanks, which typically aren’t ideal for soft plastic fishing. However, this rod is made with Carbon Nano Tube resin technology, making the blank 30% stronger and much more sensitive.
This rod has tournament-grade performance but costs less than most models on this list. You can’t go wrong with the Speed Demon Pro, and many anglers rely on this one series for all their technique-specific needs.
Details & Components
The Speed Demon Pro features Fuji guides, Fuji reel seats, and Winn grips. These components are traditional on high-end rods but aren’t expected on this affordable carbon fiber model. Fuji reel seats ensure your expensive baitcaster doesn’t come off during casts.
KastKing also incorporated Fuji LN guides with Alconite ring inserts. The brand strives to reduce tackle costs for anglers without cutting corners in design or quality.
7. Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod
4.6 Stars | 3,113 Angler Reviews
The best soft plastics spinning rod for anglers on a budget is the Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod. Ugly Stik is known for making the most rigid rods on the market while keeping prices lower than the competition. The 7’ medium-heavy fast-action model is the most versatile soft plastics rod.
Even with the added Ugly Stik strength, this rod has decent performance for the price. The blank is constructed from a fiberglass and graphite composite, ideal for a versatile pole. It’s much lighter and more sensitive than expected.
Details & Components
Ugly Tuff guides provide exceptional strength and improve casting distance. The proprietary Ugly Tech blank construction makes it practically bulletproof, and a clear fiberglass tip adds extra sensitivity.
1-piece stainless steel inserts are featured for added durability, and the single-piece design eliminates transition points that would reduce performance. While this rod doesn’t have the tournament-grade characteristics of other poles on our list, this is expected for the price.
Lastly, Ugly Stik knows their rods are nearly indestructible, so a 7-year warranty is included. This is the perfect rod for beginners who want an affordable, reliable soft plastics setup.