Fishing Rods for Shaky Head Rigs
Many anglers find the shaky head rig is highly effective at getting finicky fish to bite year-round. Investing in a specialized setup for this type of presentation is a great way to improve your abilities as an angler and catch more fish.
Our guide will outline the qualities to look for in a shaky head rod, including the ideal length, power, and action ratings.
We then review the seven best shaky head rods of the year and discuss the unique features that earned them a spot on this list.
Our team considers over a dozen factors when ranking fishing rods, and we're confident we've included products that suit every angler's needs.
For other technique-specific rods, see our guide to the best bass fishing rods of 2021.
Table of Contents
Shaky head rod buyer's guide Spinning vs. Casting Rods Rod Length Rod Action Rod Power TFO Professional Series TFG Rod Fenwick HMG Spinning Rod Speed Demon Pro Fishing Rod G. Loomis IMX Shaky Head St Croix Mojo Inshore Dobyns Sierra Series Dobyns Champion Extreme HP Rod Comparison Table
Best Rod Qualities for Shaky Heads - Buyer's Guide
While there are different types of shaky head rigs, nearly all of them should be fished on lightweight tackle.
Fishing shaky heads is a finesse style of bass fishing, where sensitivity and control are super important. For this reason, you shouldn't use a beefy baitcasting rod.
The ideal setup for shaky heads is a 7' fast-action medium-power spinning rod combined with a lightweight and sensitive spinning reel. This combination gives the most feedback and will provide you with the most control over your bait.
Now that we've discussed the type of rod to look for let's dive into the rod details and help you build a quality specialized setup.
Spinning vs. Casting Rods
As we mentioned, spinning rods are best for this technique. The one exception is if you're casting large, heavier shaky head baits around structure.
A baitcasting setup has the strength to cast heavier baits accurately. It will also help you quickly pull fish away from obstacles, preventing line tangles.
95% of the time, you'll want to use a spinning setup when fishing shaky heads. This type of equipment is more sensitive and gives anglers more control over their lightweight baits.
The only time a baitcasting rod will work is when casting lures that weigh 1/2 ounce or more.
Rod Length - 6'9" to 7'3"
The best shaky head bass fishing rods are always between 6'9" and 7'3" in length. You don't have to worry about the size too much, as long as your rod is around 7' long.
A slightly shorter rod between 6'9" and 7' will be more sensitive and ideal for finesse jigging in open waters. Extra sensitivity can also help you detect bites in deeper waters, so make sure to consider the types of lakes and rivers you fish most often.
On the other hand, a longer rod between 7' and 7'3" will cast farther and has more leverage for stronger hooksets. This added length will help you quickly pull fish out of cover if you're punching or flipping close to shore.
Obstacles and structure such as lily pads and aquatic weeds can be challenging to fish around with a shorter spinning rod.
We recommend that you don't stress over slight differences in length and instead find a rod that will be comfortable during long days on the water. However, if you're a taller angler, you shouldn't have any problems handling a 7'3" rod for a few hours.
Rod Action - Fast
Many anglers get the terms action and power mixed up.
The action on a bass fishing rod tells you how far up the rod bends, while the power rating tells you how much weight it can handle.
Technique-specific shaky head rods should always have a fast action rating, which means the rod bends close to the tip.
Not only are these rods more sensitive than slow or moderate action models, but fast action rods give you more powerful hooksets.
Slow and moderate action rods will cast farther, making them ideal for fishing topwater baits and crankbaits. Also, shaky heads are fished slower and aren't designed to help you cover a lot of water anyway.
Rod Power - Medium
When it comes to power, you'll want to find a rod with a medium power rating.
Medium-power rods are sensitive enough to detect light finesse bites and allow you to cast lighter baits while still having the strength to put up a fight against big largemouth bass.
The one instance when you might want a medium-heavy power rating is when you're flipping baits near grasses and other obstacles.
Say a 5-pound bass swims into a clump of weeds. You'll have to pull that fish plus 10 to 20 pounds of debris quickly back to the boat. Any time you're fishing near vegetation, make sure you've got a stronger rod.
Fortunately, we've researched the best rods and found several medium-power models that have the strength to handle these conditions. Let's dive into our breakdown of the best shaky head rod models the industry has to offer.
Shaky Head Rods
1. TFO Professional Series TFG Rod - 7' MF
4.4 Stars | 62 Angler Reviews | $100 - $130
Our favorite rod for shaky head fishing is the Temple Fork Outfitters Professional Series TFG. Overall, everything is right about the TFO TFG. It's comfortable in your hand and is made with premium materials.
This rod has a skeletal grip made from grippy burl cork. It's a robust design that gives you more confidence and control over your presentation.
Temple Fork Outfitters nailed their fast action, medium power design. The tip is snappy, giving you strong hooksets, and the rod is surprisingly strong. You'll have no trouble pulling fish quickly back to the boat.
Features & Quality
With down-locking reel seats and Fuji Concept O-ring guides, this rod is a value for the price. We've fished $300 rods that don't even compare to the TFO Professional Series Spinning Rod.
The TFG is lightweight, easy to handle, and has the ideal lure weight ratings for shaky heads. This versatile "do-it-all" pole is perfect for freshwater fishing and even performs well in inshore situations.
You'll get the best balance and sensitivity by pairing this shaky head rod with a lightweight spinning reel. We tested the rod with a size 2500 Shimano Stradic Ci4+ and loved the handling.
Whether you're jigging large shaky heads in deeper waters or fishing smaller finesse presentations along the shoreline, this TFO rod will become one of the best in your arsenal.
2. Fenwick HMG Spinning Rod - 7' M/ML
4.4 Stars | 277 Angler Reviews | $100 - $185
Another exceptional shaky head rod is the Fenwick HMG Spinning Rod. It's even more popular than the TFO TFG, likely due to its 3-piece design.
This rod stands out because it acts as two rods for the price of one. It comes with two interchangeable tips which allow you to switch between power ratings.