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Rod Review

Finesse Fishing with Damiki's Dark Angel S701ML Spinning Rod (continued)

Sensitivity: Fishing both a drop shot rig and a shakey head bait offering on six pound fluorocarbon lines, the S701ML has good sensitivity. I was able to feel my shakey head bait offerings as I pulled them over the rock pilings that make up the rip rap shoreline of the California Delta while we were fishing for smallmouth bass. In addition, each pick up of my bait was signaled by that familiar “tick” of the rod tip transmitted faithfully down along the length of the rod into my hands initiating that reflex snap-hookset set of my wrists. Finesse fishing can be a lot of fun.

... and of course, drop shot weights.

Conversely that odd “something feels different” sensation when a fish takes your dropshot rig is very apparent with the S70ML as well though fortunately, when dropshotting for spotted bass, those odd feelings are usually quickly reinforced by a hyper “tap-tap-tap”! The S701ML makes a good dropshot rod too.

Damiki's line of Dark Angel rods feature Fuji Alconite guides with SS frames...

Power: Another benefit of having a seven foot spinning rod with an extra-fast taper? You guessed it, power supreme. With so much length of backbone upon which to rely, the S701ML delivers reassuring control over each catch. Certainly, while finesse fishing with this stick, I did not run into any large fish, but nothing in my battles with feisty one pounders led me to feel the S701ML could not hold its own with much larger fish.

... and Fuji reel seats.


The detail of our S701ML at the rear grip.

Application: As already discussed, the Dark Angel S701ML is a very good finesse rod able to support a host of different light line techniques very competently. My primary techniques during field tests were with shakey head and drop shot rigs, but up your line to about ten or twelve pound tests (both still within the ratings of the rod), and I see no reason why you couldn’t throw small spinnerbaits, cranks, and buzzbaits with this rod. It certainly has the backbone to support these techniques.

The S701ML is an excellent choice for finesse applications.

Warranty: All rods within the Damiki Dark Angel lineup come with a limited 5 year warranty covering manufacturer defects in materials and workmanship. They company also offers a $50 replacement fee to expedite the replacement of any broken rods. As is always the case, please check with the manufacturer directly for a more detailed discussion of any warranty concerns you may have.

Smaller baits equate to smaller fish for us, but still a great load of fun with the S701ML.

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):

Damiki Dark Angel S701ML Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A nicely crafted stick 7.5
Performance The taper is what makes this stick 8
Price A hint of JDM stylings with no hint of the price point 8.5
Features Solid line of components 7.5
Design (Ergonomics) Compares favorably in weight, balance and tip weight to several other previously reviewed sticks 7.5
Application A very good finesse applications spinning stick 8

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 I really like the taper of this stick L I can't think of one!
J A hint of JDM stylings without the typical hit in price.  
J The reassurance of Fuji Components  


Yes, there are smallmouth in the California Delta, and with a rod like the S701ML, they can provide great fish catching fun!


Conclusion: Having spent the better part of the last three years feeding my addiction to big baits, the opportunities for finesse fishing have been few and far between. We had to schedule a couple of dedicated small bait trips so I could get my time in with the S701ML and I’m glad we did. Damiki’s line of Dark Angel rods delivers a hint of JDM styling without any of the JDM price points and lack of traditional US warranty concerns. If you’re looking for a finesse spinning rod that’s just a little different from the status quo in appearance yet with all the standard performance characteristics, the S701ML is very worthy of consideration.


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