I hear the question often, and after years spent on the water, I have finally found the answer that I’m most comfortable giving to anyone who asks. It typically goes, “If you could only have one combo to carry with you that could work for most techniques, what would it be?”
I have always been of the impression that the best all around rod one could have is something around 7’ with a Medium Heavy action. This is a solid starting point for someone wanting to either get into bass fishing, or like me, someone who wants to keep a spare “do all” rod in the truck for emergency situations, like roadside ponds. The length is long enough to used for leveraging fish, short enough to allow for roll casts and skipping. The action meets in the perfect middle to cover a wide range of applications, and especially lends itself to the most used techniques like Texas Rigs and Jigs. As far as specific models go, I couldn’t recommend a Dobyns 734c enough, no matter which Dobyns series is in your budget. It’s touted as a heavy action rod, but the tip and action make it absolutely perfect for a general application rod. I carry several of this model in my boat (and one in my truck), and they have become an absolute workhorse.
Over the past several years, baitcast reels have advanced in many ways with gear ratio being a huge player. But, even with higher speed reels dominating the market, I would lean heavily towards something in the 6:1 ratio to do the heavy lifting. While higher speed reels do have their place in specific applications, a 6:1 gear ratio is going to be plenty fast enough to keep up with a fish. I would recommend a Bruin Outdoors Paul Elias Legend Series reel.
Some people tend to ignore line when this question is asked, but I think it is just as important than any other piece of the perfect all-purpose combo. And to be fair, you will probably get 100 different answers depending on who you ask, especially with braided line with a leader becoming more and more popular. Personally, I would lean toward a 12-15 lb. fluorocarbon. For most applications, a 15 lb fluorocarbon is going to serve well. It’s not going to be super bulky on your spool, it will be plenty strong enough if you are around some cover, and it will have great invisibility for clearer water. For a great line at a great price, I would recommend Seaguar Red Label fluorocarbon.
Sure, in our dreams, most fisherman would love to have the perfect rod and the perfect reel for each and every application in bass fishing. But, whether restriction are due to space, budget, or any other factor, this combo should meet all the checkboxes of anyone looking for an all-purpose combo.