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.
The 7' medium-light/medium model is best for fishing finesse lures such as shaky heads. We use the medium-light tip when fishing open waters because it's more sensitive. Then, the medium power tip helps pull fish out of the cover when fishing grasses along the bank.
Features & Quality
Fenwick's resigned HMG model is the most advanced rod the brand has ever made. The HMG incorporates Powerlux technology in its blank, making it stronger and lighter without sacrificing sensitivity and balance.
The rod features an Alien reel seat that provides direct contact with a blank, transferring vibrations to your hard. The HMG also has small fuji guides with aconite inserts which makes the casting very smooth.
The HMG pairs well with the Shimano Stradic but balances better with the Daiwa BG 2500 and 3000 spinning reels. Daiwa's BG reel has an aluminum chassis that makes the vibrations transfer easier from the HMG's Alien reel seat.
Overall, this rod is sensitive enough to detect light bites and has enough strength to fight enormous largemouth bass.
3. KastKing Speed Demon Pro - 7'3" MF
4.6 Stars | 716 Angler Reviews | $110 - $120
This rod has been featured on several of our technique-specific rod guides for a reason. KastKing's Speen Demon Pro is an innovative rod series with unique models for different types of bass lures.
The 7'3" medium fast model is the best rod in this series for fishing shaky heads. While it's labeled a "spin-jig/worm" rod, the specifications are ideal for finesse fishing.
Features & Quality
KastKing's Speed Demon Pro stands out because of its high-tech carbon fiber blank. It's an exceptional value for under $150 since nearly all other premium carbon fiber rods run upwards of $300.
The Speed Demon Pro has all the features you would expect on a tournament-quality product. It has Fuji guides, WINN grips, Fuji reel seats, and Alconite ring inserts.
We applaud KastKing for ensuring the rod guides are in line with the slight curve in the blank. Other manufacturers frequently fail to keep the components perfectly straight, and it severely hinders the performance. The Speed Demon Pro will always load with the natural arc in the rod.
You'll get the most sensitivity out of this rod if paired with the Speed Demon Elite Spinning Reel. KastKing developed these two products side-by-side to ensure perfect balance.
The Speed Demon Pro is an ideal rod for fishing shaky heads. With a fast action tip, strong backbone, and streamlined design, you'll get plenty of sensitivity and strength.
4. G. Loomis IMX Shaky Head Spinning Rod - 6'10" MF
5 Stars | 1 Angler Review | $345 - $355
The G. Loomis IMX Shaky Head Rod may be expensive, but it's the most refined rod for shaky head presentations on the market. This medium-power spinning rod is designed for fishing lakes with heavy cover and casting in deeper waters.
This premium medium-power blank allows you to fish heavier lines and larger shaky heads than you otherwise could. It's extremely sensitive and helps you maintain positive lure control and keep your presentation on the bottom.
Features & Quality
Using IMX-Pro technology, G. Loomis was able to make this spinning rod lighter while maintaining the performance expected from the high-end brand.
The handle has a unique tapered design that offers a middle-ground between the comfort of a full grip and the agility of a split-grip handle.
The rod's blank loads efficiently and reacts quickly. We think it's the most sensitive rod G. Loomis has ever developed.
Every part of the rod was designed explicitly for fishing shaky heads. Strategic scrim placement during construction, reduced material use, and Fuji K-frames enhance the blank's sensitivity and ability to detect bites.
If you're considering the IMX, you might as well pair it with a reel that will match its tournament performance. While expensive, we found pairing the Shimano Stella FJ Spinning Reel gives the IMX a perfect balance and optimal sensitivity.
Overall, you can't compare any other setup to this one. If you're willing to spend the money and invest in a top-of-the-line shaky head setup, we strongly recommend the G. Loomis IMX.
5. St. Croix Mojo Bass - 7'1" MF
4.6 Stars | 358 Angler Reviews | $130 - $215
While the St. Croix Mojo Bass Spinning Rod is a versatile rod series, its responsiveness makes it great for shaky head fishing. St. Croix is known as one of the best rod manufacturers in the industry, and the Mojo Bass doesn't disappoint.
The Mojo Bass is an exceptional value for a rod that comes from a high-end brand.
You really don't need a top-of-the-line St. Coix rod for a specialized shaky head setup. This mid-range 7'1" medium power fast action model gives you more than enough sensitivity and strength for fishing shaky heads.
Features & Quality
The Mojo Bass features premium SCIII carbon fiber constructed with integrated poly curve technology, giving it a subtle arc.
We like the split-grip cork handle. It's not quite as comfortable as the G. Loomis IMX, but that's expected for the price. However, the Mojo Bass rod is much slimmer than IMX, which makes it feel more agile.
Other features include slim-profile ferrules, Kigan Master Hand 3D guides, aluminum-oxide rings, Fuji DPS reel seats, and a Kigan hook-keeper.
Many reels pair well with the St. Croix Mojo Bass; however, our favorite for shaky head fishing is the Pflueger Supreme x35 spinning reel with a 15lb braid. The reel's dimensions and weight match the slender profile of this rod.
6. Dobyns Rods Sierra Spinning Rod - 6'9" MF
5 Stars | 3 Angler Reviews | $160
Tournament angler Gary Dobyns designed the Dobyns Rods Sierra Spinning Rod to fish shaky heads, jigs, texas rigs, and Senko worms. It has an incredible strength-to-weight ratio.
While it's sensitive enough for shaky heads, this rod is versatile enough for many types of bass fishing lures. The split-grip handle is very comfortable and is balanced well.
The Dobyns Sierra rod isn't as slim as others on this list, but it's stronger and has better durability. The company knows this and includes a lifetime warranty to back up their build-quality
Features & Quality
This rod incorporates Fuji Alconite guides, kevlar wrappings, and a Fuji reel seat. The modulus graphite blank is well-designed, which is clear from the moment you pick it up.
Overall, these qualities are expected on any decent rod these days. However, it's Dobyn's hand-made craftsmanship that sets them apart.
We like that the Dobyns Sierra Spinning Rod feels dependable and isn't cluttered with unnecessary features. Instead of worrying about your gear, it leaves you free to focus on catching fish.
Like the TFO TFG rod, this pole pairs well with the size 2500 Shimano Stradic Ci4+. Together, many anglers find the Sierra becomes the best rod in their arsenal!
7. Dobyns Champion Extreme HP Rod
5 Stars | 4 Angler Reviews | $325 - $340
If you're willing to break the bank on a top-of-the-line shaky head rod, the Dobyns Champion Extreme HP Rod is ridiculously sensitive and balanced. The creator, Gary Dobyns, hit it out of the park with this new bass rod series.
This rod is perfect for small to medium shaky heads and works well with Texas Rigs, dart heads, and soft plastic baits. If you're a tournament angler or want to make a long-term investment into your hobby, this series is ideal for building a technique-specific arsenal.
Dobyns recommends using a 4-10 pound test line on this 7'0" fast action spinning rod. We've found the ideal lure weight range is between 1/16 and 3/8 ounces.
TFO TFG Rod
Skeletal grip with premium burl cork
Alien reel seat, Fuji guides, lifetime warranty
Speed Demon Pro
Carbon blanks, Fuji reel seat and guides
G. Loomis IMX
St Croix Mojo Inshore
SCIII Carbon construction
Kevlar wrap, Fuji reel seat and guides
Dobyns Champ. HP
High modulus graphite blanks