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Rod Review

Another win for AiRRUS with the equally high  performing and versatile Ultra XL (Continued)

Once we had our balanced rig we set out for months of field testing with this rod. Tossing everything from jigs and plastics, to crankbaits and plugs. The model we tested (UXLC701M) was softer than many of the rods we tested but that is to expected as the rod is rated "Medium-Fast" in action and "Medium" in power. While this rod can throw plastics we found it ideal for crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and jerkbaits. With these lures we could cast great distances and work our way back across vast strike zones. Anglers that regularly fish jerkbaits for stripers know how ripping can do a real number on your wrist. A fierce jerking action drives stripers into a frenzy as it incites erratic movement on your lure, but doing so with a stiff rod puts a lot of pressure on your joints. On the other hand if you use a overly soft rod it takes a serious amount of rod movement to deliver that perfect action to the lure. The Ultra XL gives anglers the best of both worlds. The strong filament wound butt section of this rod gets the bait moving quick as the rod loads up swiftly. Then to deliver the right action to your lure the graphite rod tip arcs in a lively yet controlled motion. Ripping even large Yozuri Mag Minnows is made easier with the smooth and consistent arc the XL is able to generate.


A genuine flip down Fuji hook-keeper stows out of the way flat when not in use

Once a fish is on the line the Ultra XL manhandles them. The tip can arc like a whip to about the fifth guide, then the lower section of the rod is all muscle. This combination of forgiving tip with the powerfully built lower section does two things. One, it allows anglers to set hard without fear of ripping the bait out of the fish's mouth. Two, it gives anglers plenty of room when it comes to fighting a fish. I found that I could muscle in fish more than I normally do because the forgiving tip would help compensate when the fish turned or decided it was time to run. With the brawny butt section it is easy to maintain pressure on the fish at all times, and turn and guide them in even before they had fully tired. Overall when it comes to casting and retrieving I prefer the longer butt section because it is easier to balance the entire outfit and provides more leverage when casting and fighting fish. But it is nice that anglers that prefer finesse fishing with light plastics have the option of the smaller butt, or to not use any butt at all and configure the XL like a pistol grip rod.


Want to go pure pistol? Remove the butt section completely

Sensitivity: When we say "super-exposed" blank through we mean it. In fact calling this design a "blank through" doesn't do it justice. In contrast to just about every other rod out there the Ultra XL exposes more "blank" to the angler than reel seat. A proprietary reel seat and a Fuji clamp hold the reel securely in place over the open blank design. This allows anglers to put two fingers directly on the blank when normally retrieving and up three fingers on the blank when palming the reel. With such copious access to the blank strikes are so easily discernable that I rarely missed opportunities.


Our test rod proved to be fantastic for ripping for stripers. The tip was lively and forgiving while the lower section was all muscle


Power: The Ultra XL delivers plenty of fish fighting power, and once again the unique multi material design and construction is the reason why. The lower section of this rod is where all the muscle rests. During our test I hooked into countless stripers in the 18-24 inch range. These fish have quite a bit of fight for a fish this size, and yet none were any match for the Ultra XL. On multiple occasions I even deliberately high-sticked the rod in an effort to strain the blank, but in each and every case the rod bore the load easily. With the longer butt section you can really gain superior leverage on the fish you are fighting. AiRRUS builds a mean rod when it comes to power and durability.


In the light anglers can really appreciate the exquisiteness of the filament wound lower section of the rod


Ergonomics: It is in the ergonomics department that the Ultra XL really shines the brightest. The rod is slightly heavier than some competing rods, but we will gladly take the increase in weight in exchange for the power it demonstrated when fighting stripers. Overall the rod design is sound and the attention to detail on the Ultra XL is excellent. Our test rod featured flawless threading, and the fusion between materials is superb. In terms of comfort the Ultra XL allows anglers to customize not only the length of the rod but also the balance to perfectly match their chosen reel. This flexibility allows you to use low profile baitcasters or round reels and still obtain a perfect balance.


Most bass anglers these days prefer cork over hypalon grips. In the past Airrus rods like the Co-Matrix, Spectra AFT, and even the Centurion have appealed to both camps by making use of both materials in the grip construction. At first I was taken aback with the Ultra XL's use of hypalon grips, it certainly wasn't AiRRUS's style to go backwards in terms of design. As it turns out what I originally thought were traditional hypalon grips was something entirely new. The Ultra XL makes us of "thermalon" which is a re-engineered hypalon. Thermalon is more comfortable to the touch, easier to grip, and features improved thermal attributes. That's right..."thermal attributes!" Anglers fishing in cold conditions will love the thermalon grips ability to trap heat keeping your hands warmer, and allowing your fingers to reap the benefits of that open blank design even in wintry conditions.  


Palming with the Ultra XL allows anglers to place up to three fingers directly on the blank comfortably


Price & Applications: A custom type rod at a price for everyone. At 159.95 the Ultra XL is a great deal. AiRRUS deserves high praise for building a superior rod in terms of sensitivity and power and only increasing the price a measly 10 bucks over the previous generation Spectra. With the changeable butt design the rod can be used for multiple applications from finesse bass fishing to heavy ripping, and even some inshore saltwater jigging applications. This is one versatile performer.

AiRRUS Ultra XL (UXLC701M) Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Made with a multi-modulus design and varying materials this innovative rod is constructed like no other 9
Performance The rod performed well in all our tests. The super-exposed blank design and removal of upper grip provides anglers with more access to the blank than ever before. In terms of power the rod's lower section has the muscle to really move fish 9
Price A rod with all these features should easily cost 199.99, and yet AiRRUS sticks to their guns and delivers the Ultra XL with a retail price of 159.95 9
Features This rod features a plethora of innovations including the removable interchangeable butt sections, a multi-modulus blank design, and use of a re-engineered new hypalon grip 9
Design (Ergonomics) The overall weight of the rod is heavier than other rods, but is well balanced and very comfortable once adjusted properly to match your reel. The use of thermalon grip is a very nice touch 9
Application A great rod for its intended design, but can tackle much more from larger freshwater species to inshore saltwater game 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Innovative design and construction L Overall weight is slightly heavier than some rods
J Interchangeable butt sections  
J Use of "Thermalon" grips  
J Ability to balance just about any reel  
J Exceptional value for a rod of this quality  

Conclusion: The tradition of innovation that AiRRUS is known for is alive and well in the Ultra XL. This rod performed well in all our field tests and proved to be among the most versatile bass rods ever tested due to the interchangeable butt section design. There are really three configurations for this rod; long handle, short handle, or no handle. Whatever the configuration you prefer the super-exposed reel seat design allows for unprecedented access to the blank. AiRRUS seems to think of everything, and the use of thermalon in the place of hypalon is the icing on the cake, helping keep your fingers warm and mobile enough to maximize use of the open blank design. Anglers looking for a rod that looks and feels like a custom rod but with the price tag far shy of a custom will love the Ultra XL. This is the best AiRRUS yet and it will be interesting to see if the company is able to top this one when they release the N-Sync shortly. In addition to the ICAST awards the company won in years past they can now add a second TackleTour Editors Choice Award to the list, for the high performing and exceptionally versatile rod that is.... the AiRRUS Ultra XL.










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