Selecting the Best Shaky Head Rod [Buyer’s Guide]

If you have been bass fishing for a while there is no doubt that you have fished with or at least heard of the shaky head. This finesse bass fishing rig really shines in the summer, in tough conditions or when you just want to get a bite.

A key component to any shaky head setup is having the right rod. Fishing with a rod that is designed for finesse fishing rigs like the shaky head will not only help you catch more fish, but will make your fishing adventures easier and much more enjoyable. So, what rod is best for a shaky head?

The best rod to use for a shaky head is either a 7’ to 7’2 medium heavy, fast action spinning rod or a 7’2 medium heavy, fast action casting rod. A longer rod will increase casting distance and make it easier to fish and land bass on a shaky head. A medium to medium heavy rod power will give you the strength needed to set the hook and the fast action will help you to detect those subtle bites.

If you are looking at purchasing a shaky head rod to add your bass fishing collection or simply want to learn more about what rods should be used when fishing a shaky head than you are in the right place.

In this shaky head rod buyers guide, I’ll share with you what are the best shaky head rods, how to choose the right rod for you, as well as everything you need to know about this finesse bass fishing technique and setup.

Let’s get started.

Best Shaky Rod & Reel Combo (Quick Version)

If you are short on time and just want the quick version of what I would consider to be the best shaky head rod, reel and setup for the price would be. I totally get it. Here it is.

Considering all of the factors including cost, sensitivity, reliability and other things I believe the best shaky head rod is the Dobyn’s Champion DC 703SF. The price point, performance, and sensitivity of this rod is hard to beat.

My Favorite Shaky Head Setup

Now let’s dive into more details.

The Best Shaky Head Rod’s

There are a lot of different rod and brands anglers can choose from when it comes to selecting a shaky head rod. With so many choices available it can be difficult to know which ones are the best and what one is right for you.

To help you select the right shaky head equipment, I’ve put together the following list of the best shaky head rod’s in each price category. That way you can get the best rod that also aligns with your budget.

Dobyn’s Champion XP DC 703SF (Best Overall)

There are a lot of fishing rods that can be used when fishing a shaky head, but not all are created equal. If I had to choose one rod to fish a shaky head on it would be the Dobyn’s Champion XP DC 703SF. It’s a 7’0″ spinning rod with a medium action. It’s built specifically for shaky heads, jigs, senkos and Texas Rigs.

The Champion XP is a premium rod that is well respected in the bass fishing community. It has excellent sensitivity, strength, is super balanced and is light weight. This rod will give you the strength you need to get a good hook set and its sensitivity will help you to detect those subtle bites.

If you are looking for a premium rod for your shaky head bass fishing setup than I’d highly recommend the Dobyn’s Champion XP DC 703SF. It’s price, sensitivity, balance and overall performance makes it one of the best rods around.

Dobyn’s Fury FR 703SF (Best Value)

Another incredible rod and one of my favorite finesse fishing rods on the market is the Dobyn’s Fury FR 703SF. This is a fantastic rod at a great price point. It’s not as light and sensitive when compared to the Champion lineup, but it’s also half the price and is a steal if you ask me.

I’ve been fishing with this rod for a couple of years now and have been super impressed and I actually hope to add a few more to my arsenal that I can let my friends and family use. This is a great shaky head rod that can also be used for senko’s, finesses jigs, small swimbaits, tubes and other finesse bass fishing techniques.

The Dobyn Fury rods have been around for a long time and are very liked and respected by the bass fishing community. They are light, sensitive, well balanced and most importantly battle tested by some of the best anglers in our sport. This rod would be a great addition if you are looking for a new shaky head rod.

Shimano SLX Casting Rod (Best Baitcasting Rod)

If a spinning rod is not your style and you prefer throwing a shaky head on a baitcaster, I get it. A casting rod can also be a great choice. This is especially true when throwing a magnum shaky head baits where more strength and heavier line are needed.

The best casting rod for the money in my opinion is the Shimano SLC 7’2″ medium or medium heavy if you are planning on throwing larger worms. It blows my mind that this rod isn’t at a higher price point. This is a tournament-level performing rod at an incredible value.

All an all the Shimano SLC Casting Rods are constructed with premium components making for a very light, sensitive, durable and balance rod. They also have spinning rod options as well. I’d highly recommend taking a look at this rod series if you are looking to add a new shaky head setup.

Lew’s Laser SG1 (Best Ultra Budget Rod)

If your are just starting to learn how to fish a shaky head or are on a budget and don’t want to spend a lot of money than the best shaky head rod for you is the Laser SG1 by Lew’s. You can find this rod for around the fifty dollar mark, making a great entry level finesse rod that is budget friendly.

You can get this rod in both a casting and a spinning with a few different lengths and action to choose from. I like to have my shaky head rods to have a light tip and a back bone so I can detect bites easily, but also get a good hook set. For that reason I like the Lew’s Laser SG1 Spinning Rod 7′ Medium or the Lew’s Laser SG1 Spinning Rod 7′ Med Hvy. The extra length helps with casting distance.

This rod is pretty light weight for its price range it’s made of good components and is an overall quality rod that you’ll be impressed with considering it’s price.

How to Pick the Best Shaky Head Rod

When it comes to selecting the right shaky head rod everyone seems to have their own personal favorites and brands which can be confusing at times. It’s important basic rod features that you should consider when purchasing a rod.

Here are thing things you’ll want and should look for when choosing a shaky head rod:

Casting or Spinning Rod

Many bass fishing anglers consider a shaky head to be a finesse technique and choose to fish it with a spinning rod. A spinning rod is generally more effective when using light line and makes lighter baits like the shaky head easier to cast.

However, many anglers also prefer to use a baitcaster for their shaky head fishing setups, which can also be effective. This the best option when fishing with magnum shaky head worms or when fishing around heavy cover and structure.

My personal preference is to use a medium to medium heavy spinning rod. When I’m fishing a shaky head it’s typically in clear water situations when I feel like I need to be more finesse. A spinning rod makes it easier to manage light line and tackle ideal for finesse situations.

If I’m targeting bigger bass and or fishing with bigger shaky head worms that is when I turn to a casting rod and reel. I think baitcasters are a lot more enjoyable to fish and you can use heavier gear and tackle.

  • Length – 7’ to 7’3” is ideal, pretty much anything longer than 7 feet is preferred, a longer rod helps with casting distance and hooks sets.
  • Power – Medium to medium heavy is my preferred choice, although this is a finesse technique you are still using a single jig hook and need some a little bit of power to set the hook
  • Action – Fast action for more sensitivity. A fast action rod paired with a medium to medium-heavy power is a gre

Best Shaky Head Line

Much like other finesse bass fishing techniques, fishing a shaky head jig with light line is a must as finicky fish are typically line shy. Anglers typically use a shaky head in tough fishing conditions and mostly in clear water situations. For this reason, having a light line paired with a shaky head rig is key. As is true with most finesse fishing techniques, lighter line gives your bait more action as you shake it and also presents a more natural look to the fish in clearer water. Most anglers use 6-10 lb fluorocarbon or monofilament line.

Best Shaky Head Baits

There are a ton of soft plastic baits out there that can work well on a shaky head. However, I think there are two that really stand out and are the ones that I have the most confidence in.

The best baits to use on a shaky head in my opinion are the Roboworm Straight Tail FAT Worm or a Zoom Trick worm. This are inexpensive baits that highly productive and can help you catch fish anywhere in the country.

For more recommendations on some great shaky head baits check out this article: The 7 Best Shaky Head Worms

 How to Fish a Shaky Head

Over the years, the shaky head rig has won fishing tournaments, caught fish on tough days, and has been many anglers go-to rig. Although it’s tough to fish a shaky head wrong, here are some simple tips that will help you catch more fish on a shaky head:

Drag it

Don’t be fooled by the name “Shaky Head” there are several other effective ways to fish a shaky head rig. Dragging a shaky head along the bottom is a solid method that can offer some big results. Don’t worry too much about shaking it with this approach simply drag it on the bottom and let the bait give all the action.

Hop it

This is a great technique for imitating crawdads. While having contact on the bottom give you bait a few pops and let it sink back to the bottom. You can vary your cadence and how fast you work your bait depending the conditions and preference of the fish.

Dead Stick

When things get tough, dead sticking can be a deadly technique. What is dead sticking? It’s simply making a cast and letting your bait sit there still. It may not seem too exciting, but as a finicky bass swims by and sees your shaky head worm move subtly, it won’t be able to resist.

Shake it

This approach is where the rig gets the name from and is probably the most common. However, a lot of anglers make the mistake of over shaking. Sometimes it’s best to let the bait do its thing and give all the action depending on the mood of the fish.

Swim it

This approach often gets over looked when it comes to shaky head fishing. However, swimming a shaky head above a weed line or close to the bottom can be a great way to catch them.

Frequently Asked Shaky Head Questions

What can I rig on a shaky head? Any soft plastic bait can be rigged on a shaky head. You can rig creature baits, straight tail worms, curly tail worms and other soft plastic baits. With that being said large straight tail worms are probably the most popular bait to rig on a shaky head.

Can you throw a shaky head on a baitcaster? Yes, you can throw a shaky head on a baitcasting reel. This is some anglers preferred choice. A baitcaster works well when you are planning on fishing with larger shaky heads and are around heavy cover. However, most anglers are finesse fishing with throwing a shaky head and will choose to fish one on a spinning rod because they can use lighter line.  

Final Thoughts

Just like any bass fishing rig or technique having the right rod, reel and setup can give you a huge advantage out on the water. You’ll be able to detect more bites, catch more fish and will have a much better experience when using the proper equipment.

If you are someone who love fishing a shaky head or other finesse bass fishing rig like a drop shot or ned rig its worth investing in a dedicated finesse rod and reel combination. Your investment will be well worth it and will pay dividends in the future.

Aaron Warner

Aaron Warner is an avid angler with over 15 years of experience. He has participated and won fishing tournaments all over the country and enjoys fishing for bass, trout, walleye and other species.

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