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Rod Review

The Search For One ... American Rodsmith's Top End Offering (continued)

The H3TUA-MBR’s tip loads very similarly to a traditional heavy powered rod and the rod’s backbone is more than reassuring in this role. Of course, these days, when we talk about a heavy powered rod, most people take the next step and start thinking really heavy with a rod that can support techniques like throwing swimbaits or punching mats. While the H3TUA-MBR can support these techniques in a pinch, it’s not a rod I would subject to this kind of abuse long term. It’s just not quite heavy duty enough for those applications.

ReCoil guides are used to reduce weight and increase sensitivity.

So what is the H3TUA-MBRís sweet spot? If anything, Iíd say this rodís comfort zone lies with jigs, Texas rigged soft plastics, and believe it or not frogs. Actual sensitivity of this stick is decent, but I feel the overall weight of this rod impairs what otherwise might be an inherently good material for transmitting strikes due to the blended materials in this rodís blank. Ironically, what gives this rod a lot of its appeal might also be the reason for its heftier than usual weight and thatís its unique, adjustable length.

Flippin' the tules in the Delta searching for largemouth bass.

Power wise, again, the H3TUA-MBR handles fish like a true heavy powered rod no matter what length you have it extended to. It is very reassuring in this role although if you’re accustomed to propping your fishing rod’s handle against your forearm to gain leverage on good sized fish while doing battle, this stick’s shorter handle may prove a concern to some.

The H3TUA-MBR features the same hook keeper implementation as the previously reviewed David Fritts rod.


But this stick has more attractive detailing than its cranking stick sibling.

Ergonomically the rod does have its positive points. The split reel seat, a feature growing more and more common with production rods, is very comfortable to hold. Learning from past lessons, I avoided the hook keeper in the trigger and simply used the frame of the Recoil guides. The handle material is comfortable to hold, but the overall length of the handle at only nine inches is a bit short. Another inch or two would go a long way to restoring some leverage to the stick when pitching or using two hands to make a cast.

American Rodsmiths makes use of a split reel seat for the H3TUA-MBR.

Another interesting tidbit about this rod is its tip top. Most tip top guides on bass rods feature a sixty degree angle – it is just a standard angle extended from the guides on the rest of the rod. The H3TUA-MBR’s tip top, however, is custom designed by American Rodsmith’s President, Bob Brown to be at a forty five degree angle with the idea that it gives your line (when the rod is under load) more support leading to smoother retrieves. Further, this custom angled tip top features not a silicone carbide insert, but a tungsten carbide insert making it harder, and arguably more durable than an SiC guide. These tip tops are patented by American Rodsmiths and built for them by Pac Bay.

A close look at a standard tip to (left) and the custom designed, custom built tip top for the H3TUA-MBR (right).

Did we notice a difference on the water? No. But it is nice to see American Rodsmiths paying such close attention to details like this and it’s especially nice to see their willingness to try new materials in the inserts of the guides.

The H3TUA-MBR makes a good jig stick.


Lastly we come to the rod's price point. On American Rodsmith's website, the rod is listed at $399. We are told prices direct from the manufacturer are higher so as not to compete with the retail stores as some people insist on buying factory direct. We've heard this before so that is not a surprise. None of the retailers we visited in California currently carry this stick though they do carry other rods from American Rodsmiths. We did find the stick at a e-tailer Fishing Tackle Unlimited for a price of $289.99 which is a full hundred dollars less than the factory price. At this price the rod is a lot more attractive.


Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

American Rodsmiths H3TUA-MBR Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A well made stick that blends some unique materials together with a clever adjustable handle design 8
Performance We rated overall performance good. Though rated as med this rod really fished and tested more powerful than its rating. if you like your rods with more power then this rod will fit the bill but if your looking for a true medium this rod will be a bit much 7.5
Price At the factory direct price of 399 this rod is expensive and has a lot of really premium competition. We found the rod online for over a hundred dollars less at $289.99 and at this price point the rod is a whole lot more attractive. We do wish the rod was more widely available online 6.5
Features Adjustable length is intriguing and use of titanium is a feature not found on many rods. The stick does make use of a split grip design as well 8
Design (Ergonomics) A little heavier than some competing rods and for me, the rear handle length was a bit short. The rod does get a bonus point for the flexibility on length 7
Application Good for jigs, plastics and frogs but bets for mag applications over all round applications 7

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


J Unique adjustable length L Difficult to source and expensive factory direct
J Exotic Blank Material L Rated as a medium powered rod but handles like a heavy powered stick
J Has a unique style, not a "me too" rod  
J Unique, custom designed, custom built tip top  

Conclusion: So what’s the final result with the H3TUA-MBR? American Rodsmiths blends high end materials and a little innovation together to create a unique offering that certainly isn't a "me too" rod. The rods rating of med/fast is really more heavy/fast and the name of the rod really does say it all...."Mag Bass Rod." This is a rod that is best used for "mag" jig, plastic and even frog applications. 

Designed and distributed out of Texas, how's a Falcon Lake bass look with the H3TUA-MBR?

So if you’re looking for a heavy powered, multi-purpose rod to handle a variety of different on the water situations whether that be fishing in tight quarters under docks or out in open water, the H3TUA-MBR is worth consideration. Thanks to an adjustable length, its versatility is unmatched. Unfortunately for us, the trade off is a stick that’s a little heavier. If this is the only stick youíre fishing with, itís not so much of a big deal or really very noticeable, but it was heavier than some of the competing rods we have been testing. At the $289 dollar price point we found the rod online for it is a lot more attractive than the $399 price point that is factory direct, and makes it much more attractive to a much larger spectrum of users. The coolest thing about this rod is the titanium implementation and the extending handle. American Rodsmiths markets this stick as "one rod that can do it all," and if you like your rods with a heavier action this rod might just do it for you. 









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