Best Swimbait Rods of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Scott Einsmann

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Best Hard Bait Rod

Leviathan Omega


Best Budget Glide Rod

Dobyns Fury 806HSB


Best Budget Heavy Bait Rod

13 Omen Black XH


From the first time I saw a 15-inch bass eat a 9-inch glide bait I’ve been fully addicted to swimbaiting. I’ve since caught new PBs and witnessed the savage predatory instincts hardwired into bass of all sizes. In my short swimbait career, I’ve learned that when you’re exclusively throwing big baits, it’s essential to capitalize on every rare opportunity at a memorable fish. One missed bite or the fish that shakes loose could have been that double digit you’ve been hunting. That’s why the right swimbait rod can be so important. They’re also necessary for the basic task of throwing unusually heavy baits, which can range in weight from 1.5 to 13 ounces or more. 

I spent the spring throwing a wide range of soft and hard baits on nine swimbait rods to find their ideal lure weight rating and evaluate their casting performance. I also photographed each rod’s action and measured handle length to help you compare them. Then I interviewed Mike Gilbert of Working Class Zero, who provided insight on choosing the best swimbait rod for you. 

Here are the rods I’ve tested so far, and I’ll be adding to this list as I procure more rods.

Premium Rods

Leviathan Omega

G. Loomis IMX-Pro 904C SWBR

Megabass Orochi XX F10-80XX Leviathan

Shimano Zodias (ZDC79XHA)

Budget Rods (Under $200)

Dobyns Fury 806HSB

St. Croix Bass X

Okuma Guide Select 

13 Fishing Omen Black

Daiwa Rebellion

How I Tested the Best Swimbait Rods

The author with a bass caught during testing. John Demmer III

The goal for my testing was to find each rod’s ideal lure weight range and provide specs you can use to compare the rods. I also included feedback based on my experience fishing and catching fish with each rod. 


I counted guides, measured rods, and measured handle length from the bottom of the reel seat to the end of the handle. You’ll find these specs in the key features section of each review. 

Lure Weight Rating 

Manufacturer-provided lure ratings range from dead on to way off, so I conducted a casting test to find my recommended lure weight range. I cast weights that ranged from 1 to 6 ounces while noting the feel and ease of casting each weight. I also cast each rod with various swimbaits ranging from a 6-inch Magdraft to Deps 250


I put the rods in a rod holder and attached a 5-pound weight suspended 24 inches from the rod tip. I then snapped a photo of the rod’s bend to demonstrate its action. This is important because rods that bend deeper into the blank are best for treble hook lures, and rods with a faster action are best for single hook baits. 


I set targets at 30 feet and 60 feet and made five casts with each rod at those distances using a lure in the middle of the rod’s weight range. This test aimed to evaluate the rod’s close-range accuracy for throwing lures around docks and cover. 


Sometimes you need to bomb a cast down a weed line or wall to cover water quickly. I did that with a lure in the middle of each rod’s weight range while evaluating the distance and how easy it was to achieve a long cast. 


I spent time fishing the swimbait rods to learn their nuances and to hopefully put a few fish on them. I fished a variety of baits on each rod, including my own hand pours, Grow Design Works Flag, 86 Baits Doomrider, DRT Klash 9, Working Class Zero Citizens, Megabass Magdrafts, Deps 250, Baitsanity Explorer Gill, Baitsanity Explorer, River2Sea S-Waver, and a three-piece PB Rat.

Read Next: Best Baitcasting Reels

Best Swimbait Rods: Reviews & Recommendations

Leviathan Omega Swimbait, Heavy



Key Features

Length: 8 feet 

EVA, full grip

Line Weight: 12 to 30 pounds

Recommended Lure Weight: 2 to 6 ounces

Handle Length: 17 3/8 inches

Number of Guides: 8+tip

All double-footed Fuji guides

Lifetime warranty 

Price: $340


Can cast a wide range of lure weights

Good balance

Comfortable ergonomics

Well finished


Daiwa Tatula wiggled a bit in the bottom reel seat connection (Shimano Tranx fit perfectly)

The Leviathan Omega is one of the best glide bait rods.

The Omega is light and well-balanced, which makes it a joy to cast big baits all day. I’ve found the ideal lure weight for this rod is 3 to 4 ounces, so your Klash 9, 8-inch Madgraft, and Jointed Claw 230 are all in the sweet spot. But it will easily cast lures in the 2-ounce range and up to a Deps 250. With baits around 6 ounces, you can feel the rod balance shift forward, but a hand at the end of the long handle helps offset the shift. Also impressive was that I could make accurate, short casts with a 6-ounce bait and long over-shoulder bombs. Speaking of long casts, this rod loads up and then launches a bait with very little effort. 

Leviathan Omega under the 5 pound load. Scott Einsmann

I also really appreciated the handle’s length and grippiness. The length is great for leverage on long casts, and it fits perfectly under my armpit during the retrieve. The Omega has a fast tip, but it also bends deep into the blank when under load. That action is ideal for working a glide and keeping treble hooks pinned in a fish’s mouth. If I could have only one rod for throwing a glide, this would be it.

Read Next: Best Bass Fishing Rods

G. Loomis IMX-Pro 904C SWBR

G. Loomis


Key Features

Length: 7.5 feet 

Cork handle

Line Weight: 12-25 pounds

Recommended Lure Weight: 1 to 3 ounces

Handle Length: 13.5 inches

Number of Guides: 10+tip

The first two guides are double footed

Fuji K-frame guides

Price: $390



Great for skipping

Can fish a variety of lure types


Limited to light lures

Not the best for distance casting

This is the ultimate rod for throwing 6- to 7-inch swimbaits around docks. It’s effortlessly accurate and great for skipping too. It throws 1- to 3-ounce baits well but can also throw a 4-ounce lure. It has all the quality build Loomis is known for and the performance you’d expect from a premium rod. The handle length is just long enough to use under my arm, but too long for it’s shorter length.

I’ve found the action is a great compromise between a single and treble hook rod. I haven’t pulled a treble yet and haven’t had issues setting Beast Hooks up to 6/0. If you’re in the market for a rod that can handle heavier baits, also check out the 8-foot, heavy IMX-PRO Swimbait (IMX-PRO 966C SWBR).

Megabass Orochi XX F10-80XX Leviathan



Key Features

Length: 8 feet 

Cork, full grip handle

Line Weight: 20 to 40 pounds

Recommended Lure Weight: 2 to 8 ounces

Handle Length: 16 inches

Number of Guides: 9+tip

All double-footed Fuji Stainless SiC guides

Price: $325


Versatile action

Good handle length


Some anglers might not like its stiff tip section

The Megabass Orochi XX F10-80XX Leviathan under the 5-pound load. Scott Einsmann

The Megabass Orochi Leviathan is a rod that can fish a 9-inch glide or Beast-hooked bait. It has a powerful butt section that helps it set Beast Hooks, but it also bends deep enough into the blank to make it forgiving for treble hooks. I fish around a lot of hydrilla and use that powerful butt section to rip baits through the grass.

I found it doesn’t throw baits under 3 ounces exceptionally well, and its sweet spot is in the 3- to 5-ounce range. I’ve also thrown lures up to 8 ounces comfortably. This rod isn’t as accurate or light as the Leviathan Omega, but it is more versatile. If you’re looking for a premium rod that can fish a wide range of baits, the Orochi Leviathan is a great option. 

Shimano Zodias (ZDC79XHA)



Key Features

Length: 7.75 feet 

Carbon Monocoque handle, split grip

Line Weight: 14-30 pounds

Recommended Lure Weight: 1 to 3 ounces

Handle Length: 13.25 inches 

Number of Guides: 8+tip

The first four are double-footed guides

Fuji Alconite K Semi-Micro Guides and a Fuji SiC tip

Price: $240



Quality components



Handle length is shorter than most traditional swimbait rods

This rod can comfortably throw lures in the 1- to 3-ounce range, so if you’re a new Chad Shad 180 owner or a 6-inch Magdraft diehard, this rod will work for you. Like the Daiwa Rebellion, the rod’s balance hinders its ability to cast anything heavier than 3 ounces. I’d describe the action between fast and moderate, making it versatile for various lure types. 

The Shimano Zodias under the 5-pound load.

The Zodias has traditional bass rod ergonomics, which can be positive or negative. When throwing big baits, I tuck the handle under my armpit on the retrieve, reducing fatigue. The Zodias doesn’t have a handle long enough for the armpit tuck, so you’ll hold it like a traditional bass rod, which can be a plus if you’re used to those ergos.

Budget Swimbait Rods

Dobyns Fury 806HSB



Key Features

Length: 8 feet 

EVA handle, full grip

Line Weight: 20 to 40 pounds

Recommended Lure Weight: 1 to 6 ounces

Handle Length: 14.25 inches

Number of Guides: 12+tip

The first seven guides are double footed

Price: $140



Fast tip helps with accuracy

Great for mid-sized treble hook baits and smaller single hook baits


Not ideal for baits over 5 ounces

A 6.8 pound bass caught on the Dobyns 806. Scott Einsmann

I’ve been fishing a Fury 806HSB for over a year, and it’s been a staple in my rod lineup. I’ve found this rod is happiest around 4 ounces and can cast lighter baits really well. I routinely fish a 6-inch Magdraft with the Fury 806HSB, then swap to a heavier glide without skipping a beat. I find that 6 ounces is my comfortable max, but it can throw 8 ounces on a lob cast.

It has a classic hard bait action with a deep parabolic bend. That action helped me land several barely hooked fish and drive trebles through the roof of 6.8-pound bass. The handle length might be short for some, but it’s still long enough to comfortably fit under my arm. I’ve used the Fury 806HSB to make accurate short-range casts, and sling long casts down weed lines. If you’re in the market for an affordable rod for treble hook baits, this is one of the top options to consider. 

St. Croix Bass X (BAC710XHF)

St. Croix


Key Features

Length: 8 feet 

EVA handle, one-piece grip 

Line Weight: 14 to 30 pounds

Recommended Lure Weight: 

Handle Length: 14 ⅝ inches 


Number of Guides: 7+tip

The first two are double

Price: $128


Comfortable handle

Great action for treble hooks

Accurate lure weight rating


Not recommended for jig or Beast Hooks

The Bass X is a great buy for throwing glides on a budget.

This is one of the most impressive budget rods I’ve fished. It’s perfect for throwing a 4-ounce bait, and it’s one of the few rods where I’ve found the manufacturer’s lure weight rating is accurate. It’s definitely a hard bait rod with a deep parabolic bend. Despite its soft action, it has a powerful butt section which I really like for fishing around grass.

The St. Croix Bass X XH, F under the 5-pound load.

The Bass X’s ergos are spot on for me and I really liked the shape and length of the handle. It was one of the more accurate 8-foot rods I casted thanks to its soft tip and good balance. I’ve only caught one fish on this rod but it was a fish that swiped at a DRT Joker and through head shakes and jumps, the fish stayed pinned.

Okuma Guide Select XH Swimbait Rod



Key Features

Length: 7 feet 11.25 inches

EVA handle, split grip 

Line Weight: 15 to 40 pounds

Recommended Lure Weight: 3 to 6 ounces

Handle Length: 15 ⅝ inches

Fuji K-concept guides

Number of Guides: 10+tip

All double-footed guides



True fast taper


Not the most accurate rod

The Okuma Guide Select under the 5-pound load.

This was my and many other anglers’ first swimbait rod. It’s been such a popular option because, for many years, it was one of the few affordable big bait rods. We now have a lot of great rods under $200, but this classic is still a great one for fishing soft baits. It has a fast action and powerful backbone for setting hooks with authority, even in deep water. I found the ideal lure weight for this rod is 4 to 5 ounces, so it’s great for 7-inch Citizens or 8-inch Hudds.

13 Fishing Omen Black XH (OB3C8XH-SB)

13 Fishing


Key Features

Length: 8 feet 

EVA handle, split grip

Line Weight: 20 to 40 pounds

Recommended Lure Weight: 3 to 8 ounces

Handle Length: 15.5 inches

Number of Guides: 9+tip

All double-footed guides


Can throw heavy baits well

Surprisingly accurate for such a stiff rod



13 Fishing Defy Black under the 5-pound load.

The 13 Defy Black Swimbait Rod has a thick blank that creates a sturdy backbone for setting hooks on soft baits. I found the extra heavy power to be ideal for casting lures in the 4- to 6-ounce range, but it can cast swimbaits up to 10 ounces. So if you’re looking for an affordable rod for throwing the big stuff, this is a good option to consider.

Daiwa Rebellion (7111HFB-SB)



Key Features

Length: 7 feet 11.25 inches

EVA handle, split grip

Line Weight: 14-30 pounds

Recommended Lure Weight: 1 to 3 ounces

Handle Length: 14 inches


Number of Guides: 9+tip

The first two are double foot





A longer handle length would help it balance better

The Daiwa Rebellion under the 5 pound load. Scott Einsmann

This is a great rod if you exclusively throw small swimbaits like a 6-inch Magdraft, S-Waver 170, or DRT Tiny Klash. I’ve found it throws 2-ounce baits really well, but casting anything over 3 ounces is difficult due to the rod’s balance, and it was downright painful trying to throw lures in the 6-ounce range. It has a true fast action, which is great for single hooks, but I’ve had no issues landing fish on trebles.

The DRT Joke is right at the max this rod can handle.

The Rebellion is accurate at short distances and can bomb a cast. It’s also sensitive enough to feel subtle bites at the end of long casts. The handle length is just long enough to fit under my arm and use as leverage while fighting fish.

Swimbaiting Accessories

A measuring board like this one from Working Class Zero is a must-have accessory.

Reels, Line, and Accessories I Use

Board: Working Class Zero Travel Ready Big Bass Board

Scale: Boga Grip (Check out our review of the best fish scales for more info)

Reels: Daiwa Tatula 300, Shimano Tranx, and Shimano Curado K

Line: Seaguar AbrazX

How to Choose a Swimbait Rod

Mike Gilbert is a bait maker, video creator, and owner of Working Class Zero. I talked to this swimbaiting legend about what he looks for in a swimbait rod. 

Swimbait Rod Length

Rods around 8 feet have become the standard for swimbaiting, but Gilbert likes rods a touch longer.

“I like one rod, one length, one power, to throw everything from 3 to 8-ounce baits. That way, when I pick up a rod, I know exactly how it performs every single time,” he says. “My preferred setup is a fast-action, extra-heavy, 8-foot 6-inch rod.” 

Why such a long rod? “I feel like with the longer length, I’m getting a better hookset, and I feel like it’s a catapult,” Gilbert says. The long rod makes it much easier to cast big baits long distances, but there are some downsides. 

“When you get into really tight spots like pitching into dock slips, a long rod is kind of a nightmare,” he says. In those instances, a shorter rod is better for working specific cover and hitting it at various angles. Gilbert also says that the length of the rod should match the angler. He’s 6 feet tall, which is partly why a long rod works well for him. A shorter angler might prefer a shorter rod.

Swimbait Rod Action

A rod’s action is how it bends. If a rod bends mostly at its tip, it’s called a fast action, and if it bends into the middle of the rod, it’s called a moderate action. In my reviews, I’ve demonstrated each rod’s action by inducing a bend in the rod to help you compare the rods and find the one that best fits your preference. 

Swimbait rods usually favor treble-hook hard baits with a parabolic, moderate action like a crankbait rod or single-hook soft baits with a fast action like a jig rod. Gilbert prefers a rod that can do both, but says if he had to choose a rod just for hard baits, he’d go with a softer rod that would be less likely to bend out a treble hook.

For a versatile rod, though, he likes a fast action. “A quarter of the way down the rod is where it should start to shut off, and then you get that deep bend in the rod as it loads up,” Gilbert says. “I prefer that so I can fish a Beast Hook bait. Those big Beast Hooks have thick gauge heavy wire, and you have to be able to drive that hook home.” 

Gilbert likes a tip that sags with the weight of his lure. “I prefer a soft tip, which I think is a little unpopular in the swimbait world right now,” he says. According to Gilbert, the soft tip allows a fish to suck in a bait without any resistance. 

While there are advantages to choosing one rod for soft and hard baits, the compromise comes in how you fight a fish on trebles. When Gilbert hooks a fish on a glide, he hits it hard but doesn’t grind them to the boat. “I have to have a little more patience instead of just horsing them in because my rod has less forgiveness,” he says. 

Sensitivity, Guides, Handle

According to Gilbert, sensitivity is immensely important in a swimbait rod. “You want to be able to feel every little thing,” he says. “There have been times where I feel a subtle change and bring in the slack real quick and swing. Hook sets are free, after all. And low and behold, there’s a fish there. Those fish will eat the bait and swim at the same cadence you’re reeling so you don’t even feel the bite.”

Handle length is another important aspect of a swimbait rod. Gilbert uses the handle trapped under his arm to help him fight fish using his whole body rather than his wrist and arms. 

“I like a handle that can tuck up nicely between my arm and ribcage but not so long that it’s sticking out behind my arm,” Gilbert says. Handles that are too long can get hung up on clothing and hinder maneuverability. His ideal handle length is around 16 inches with a full grip.

Some anglers prefer all double foot guides on their swimbait rods. But Gilbert’s only preference is for traditionally wrapped guides rather than spiral wrapped. 

Final Tips on Choosing a Swimbait Rod

Gilbert says that getting a specific rod for each of your baits, is a luxury, not a requirement. He recommends finding a rod you like at a mid-price point and buying a few of them. “Every time you pick up that rod, it feels the exact same in your hands; when you’re setting the hook, you know exactly what to expect. Everything is familiar; the only thing that changes is the bait that’s at the end of the line,” he says.

When choosing your rod, Gilbert says you need to find a rod that will work for you and how you fish. “Rod stuff is so tailored to the individual who has garnered some experience to know what they like and don’t like,” he says. 

His final word of advice is that a rod isn’t everything. “A swimbait rod can only do so much for the angler,” he says. “Your fundamentals of casting, retrieving, and setting the hook are the most important, and a good rod will only enhance your ability to execute those fundamentals.” 

Mike Gilbert’s Current Swimbait Setup

Proto Type DRT Artex Mike Gilbert Signature 

Length: 8-foot, 3-inch

Power: XH

Lure Rating: 3-8 ounces

Daiwa Tatula 300 6:3:1 with 110 mm DRT Varial Handle with WCZ Flat Knobs

20-pound Seaguar AbrazX 


Q: What is the best action for swimbaits?

For lures with treble hooks, most anglers use a moderate/fast action and for single hook baits, most anglers use a fast action.

Q: What kind of rod do you use for glide baits?

An 8-foot, XH, moderate/fast rod is a good all around option for glide baits.

Final Thoughts on the Best Swimbait Rods

Finding the best swimbait rod for you ultimately comes down to personal preference. If you’re new to swimbaiting, you can choose an affordable rod that will help you gain experience in figuring out what you like. If you’re looking to upgrade from your starter rod, you’ll have to decide if you want different rods for different types of baits or one rod you’ll use for everything. Use the information in this review as guidance, and talk to experienced anglers in your area to learn their preferences. 

The post Best Swimbait Rods of 2023, Tested and Reviewed appeared first on Outdoor Life.

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