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TackleTour Editor's Picks 2020


TackleTour's Editors Picks for Favorite Reels, Rods, Lures, Swimbaits, and Line in 2020 (continued)


Zander's Casting Rod Pick - Megabass Orochi XX Leviathan: This year we delved deep into swimbaits and are in the process of taking a much closer look at custom swimbaits. The two swimbait rods that I turned to over and over for big baits were the Megabass Orochi XX Leviathan. The Destroyer Series is due for an update and the Onager is still quite pretty pricey, even when procured in the aftermarket.

The Megabass Orochi XX Leviathan is a great all round swimbait rod capable of casting a wide range of swimbaits from 2-8oz.

The Leviathan is the sole Orochi XX Series rod that is designed specifically for slinging big baits, and features a wide lure weight range with the ability to accommodate baits from 2 to 8 ounces. Best of all it doesn't feel like a broomstick when casting lighter 2-4oz. swimbaits.

While it is not quite as light and crisp as the more expensive Destroyer Onager the Orochi XX Leviathan is the better overall value and able to address a wide range of big bait types. The action of the rod is well suited for both big glides and topwaters

The Leviathan's medium-fast taper does a great job launching baits throughout the range, and it has the speed necessary to drill fish the second they strike. I also absolutely love the long 20" handle which enables anglers to really put leverage into two handed casts, and it also tucks nicely between your arm and torso when working larger baits. Retailing for $325 dollars at Tackle Warehouse this is one of the best values in the entire Megabass America rod lineup.

Asking a bass fisherman to choose a favorite casting rod is almost like asking a parent to choose their favorite child

Cal's Casting Rod Pick - Megabass of America Orochi XX F5.5-75XX Braillist: Asking a bass fisherman to choose a favorite casting rod is almost like asking a parent to choose their favorite child. The only way I can do this is to lay out some parameters. Number one, given how specialized everything has become, one of the most important factors to me would be selecting a rod that’s versatile. It really goes back to our Search for One campaign. Number two, and equally as important as number one, something about the stick has to inspire. I have to want to pick it up and fish with it. This normally comes down to aesthetics, but I also cannot fish a stick longterm if the components are run of the mill (i.e., the blank, grip, guides, reel seat).

This choice really comes down to our Search for One campaign

These qualifications quickly narrow the list down to one of two manufacturers, Megabass and Evergreen International. Both offer top notch product, but only one has several different rod series from which to choose Stateside. Initially, I was leaning towards Megabass of America’s F5-75X Javelin from their Destroyer lineup, but really, I’m kind of over the whole split rear grip thing now. What I really like is the way Megabass has designed the rear grip on their latest Orochi XX lineup. They’re also using SiC guides with stainless steel frames on a blank with some mysterious “kabt” wrap. Lastly, the reel seat, designed by Yuki Ito himself is among my favorites. An extra perk? Each Orochi XX rod comes in a protective sleeve making it easy to protect your rods while inactive, or while traveling to your favorite fishing destination. All of these factors are important to me in my personal arsenal even though they may or may not have a strong bearing during a review evaluation.

The Orochi XX Braillist is far more capable than its bottom contact label

So which current generation Orochi XX rod is “the One” for me? This past year, it was the F5.5-75XX Braillist. This stick is touted as a supreme choice for bottom contact baits and while I found it served that purpose really well, I was surprised at its versatility. Don’t let its name and purpose limit you, this stick can do it all. At this moment in time, if I had to choose one casting rod, the F5.5-75XX Braillist is it and you can find yours at TackleWarehouse.

The dark horse spinning rod for me this season has been the Ark Reinforcer

Zander's Spinning Rod Pick - ARK Reinforcer Series 6'10" Med Lt: The most surprising rod line for me this season has to be the Ark Reinforcer Series, and especially the Medium Light spinning models. I know that a lot of anglers find Recoil guides polarizing, but I personally really like the distinct high contact feel that they offer. The Ark Reinforcer rods don't make use of recoils but the lightweight titanium guides deliver similar unfettered transfer of vibration. These guides are mounted on 46T HM carbon fiber blanks that are un-sanded which give the rods a unique custom look and feel.

The Daiwa Ballistic reel pairs nicely with this rod and the Fuji reel seat provides generous access to the 46T carbon fiber blank

To further aid in sensitivity Ark uses the ergonomic Fuji PTS/TVS reel seats which provide direct access to the blank on both sides. The first time I cast the rod I was surprised how sensitive it was, and could feel the line passing through the guides.

The combination of the lightweight titanium guides, the 46T carbon fiber blanks which are rolled under extreme pressure, and the soft touch Fuji reel seat all add up to one of the most sensitive and crisp feeling rods available at the $349 dollar price point.

The rods are rolled under a high pressure process and remain un-sanded for a more unique custom look. The titanium guides are minimalist in design, but deliver plenty of vibration transfer 

I think a number of Ark's more affordable rods offer a good blend of features, the Reinforcer on the other hand is just a plain great rod. Both the 6'10" Med-Lt and 7'3 Med-Lt rods are great options for the complete array of finesse techniques, and I especially like these rods for drop shot, shakeyhead, and NED rig fishing applications where sensitivity with light line is a major advantage. These rods are available at Tackle Warehouse and come backed with a lifetime warranty.

The Ark Reinforcer fishes like a much more expensive rod and really delivers in terms of crisp feel and excellent sensitivity

Cal's Spinning Rod Pick - G.Loomis DSR820S GLX: Choosing a favorite spinning rod is less of a chore than some of the other categories we have. When it comes to spinning, I’m fishing finesse techniques most likely a drop shot. That makes this choice easy because my current favorite drop shot rod is G.Loomis’s DSR820S GLX.

If I'm fishing spinning, I'm usually fishing finesse. If I'm fishing finesse, it's likely a drop shot. My favorite drop shot stick is G.Loomis's DSR820S GLX

If G.Loomis offered a Mag-Light, zero power in NRX or Conquest, a similar model in one of those lines might usurp the GLX, but that power and taper combo in GLX is magic. My only complaint about this rod, and I made note of it in my review back in 2018, is that reel seat/grip assembly. It’s far too bulky for a blank of this delicate power. From what I understand, G.Loomis has modified the design to something less bulky. The combination of sensitivity and quick transition to backbone on the Mag-Light DSR820S GLX makes it the perfect drop shot rod for me and my top recommendation in the category. You can find it now at TackleWarehouse.

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