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Rod Review


A Serious Exterior with a Lively Personality, the Douglas XMatrix Swimbait Rod (continued)


We asked Fred about this interesting design choice. "The longer foregrip is specifically made so the angler can tuck the rod while working the glide bait. As you know there are often many hours between bites so all of the elements have to come together to maximize the result once you do get bit. Light and balanced in hand for all day fishing. My philosophy is that most anglers are not successful in big swim bait fishing as the rod and reel are often too heavy and too stiff. They cast it for awhile then put it down as it wears them out," Fred explained.


While the foregrip is an interesting feature I am still used to palming my reel during retrieves


When fishing the Douglas rod, and most swimbait rods, I palm the reel and tuck the reargrip but putting your arm on the foregrip does provide an additional grip point, some extra leverage, and because it changes the balance point it can help reduce fatigue. While using the foregrip in this manner is common for me when saltwater fishing it isn't something that immediately felt natural to me when bass fishing, but I can see how some anglers would like the design. Overall this Douglas rod delivers when it comes to ergonomics, and even provides a differentiated approach to the whole big bait stick grip design.


The more I fished the rod the more I appreciated how balanced and light it was


When it comes to overall rod design Fred and the Douglas team believe it boils down to three elements. "The rod must function well with an average of three techniques. My design elements are the rod must cast well. It must have the proper action to work the lure of choice with good feeling. At the time of the fish biting the lure it must be the correct action and power to hook the fish properly for the given technique. Finally, once the fight is on the rod must also perform well to keep the fish buttoned. I always say a bent rod keeps fish buttoned," Fred explained.  


Alconite guides are often used on swimbait sticks because they are durable


Price & Applications: Retailing for $319.99 the Douglas XMatrix casting rod is actually quite reasonably priced for a flagship swimbait rod. The overall build on this rod is very clean and the Fuji Alconite guides, while not the fanciest, are proven and hold up well when it comes to this application. My personal preference for swimbait rod guides are still Fuji SiC guides which are still durable but also smoother and lighter, but do come with a price premium.


It doesn't matter if you are fishing soft or hard bodied swimbaits, this rod handles both well


The Douglas DXC7116F looks pretty unique with the extended fore-grip design, offering big bait anglers something different in a crowded field. This rod is designed for slinging big baits, and in that regard it succeeds. I have no issues recommending this rod for swimbaits in the 2-6oz. class, and especially if the vast majority of swimbaits in your personal rotation are in the 3-5oz. class.


Do you like the sculpted foregrip? Would you use it when retrieving?


While the rod is also reasonably priced I think the biggest challenge for this rod is that there are also a lot of good swimbait rods within the same price bracket including the Kistler KLX, Millerods DreamFreak, and perhaps the biggest competition of all comes from the Megabass Leviathan which has a lure range of 2-8oz., retails for $325 dollars and comes with Fuji stainless SiC guides. Then there are a host of other custom swimbait rod manufacturers that are now breaking into the scene. Ultimately which swimbait rod anglers pick will depend on many factors including price, features, and their affinity for the brand. Perhaps this is where Douglas has the biggest challenge, as they are still a relative newcomer to the bass market. That being said it would be shame not to give one of the XMatrix rods a try as they certainly are built well, handle nicely, and are priced reasonably.


The Douglas DXC7116F swimbait stick is a great example of how the company is willing to take chances and build their own interpretation of what a great application specific stick should be.


The Douglas rod offers anglers a unique take on swimbait rod design


The Douglas rod comes backed with a 5 year warranty which covers the blank, loose handles, or workmanship on guides. It doesn't cover smashed or bent guides, which is pretty par for the course. The one thing to be aware of is that there is both a warranty handling fee of $50 dollars and a return shipping fee of $27 dollars (continental US), which is more than some competing manufacturers that will repair or replace a rod for free, at least for the first year.



Douglas Outdoors DXC XMatrix DXC7116F Casting Rod Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Overall great build quality that is as clean as it is refined. The use or proprietary materials has yielded a swimbait rod that is powerful yet light and sensitive 8.8
Performance I was impressed by the overall performance and handling of this rod. It may not look all that fancy but it delivers in all the performance areas including the ability to sling big baits confidently, a crisp and responsive overall feel, and better than average sensitivity 8.5
Price Retailing for $319 dollars the Douglas rod is reasonably priced but does face stiff competition from many established brands, and some of which offer a free warranty replacement for a period of time 8
Features Though somewhat simple looking the rod does have some interesting features starting with the XMatrix blank construction, quality Fuji components, and that unique (and a little polarizing) extended foregrip design 8
Design (Ergonomics) Overall rod design is very clean and straightforward. There are no unnecessary cosmetic elements on this rod which will be a plus to some anglers that prioritize function over form, but for some anglers the rod may look a little bland, especially when compared with some competing offerings. The extended fore-grip is a unique feature that improves ergonomics for those that are looking for an extra grip point when tucking the rod during retrieves 8
Application A great swimbait rod that is able to handle the vast majority of all soft and hard bodied swimbaits. This rod makes swimbait fishing fun and easy with a light and balanced design 8.5

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:


+ Clean overall design that prioritizes performance and weight - Design may be too conservative for some anglers
+ Above average sensitivity and excellent balance - 5 year warranty is good but comes with the additional cost of a handling and return shipping fees
+ The extended foregrip provides another grip point to make retrieves all day easier and more comfortable  
+ Reasonably priced  
+ A fun rod to fish that handles light and crisp for a big bait rod  


Conclusion: The Douglas DXC7116F is a great mid-range swimbait rod capable of fishing the vast majority of swimbaits which weigh 6oz. and under. I think what is best about this particular rod is that even though it is designed to fish big baits it never feels heavy or too stiff, and actually fishes very crisp and light, all while providing surprisingly good sensitivity.


After months of fishing the Douglas rod I have grown fond of the rod's overall performance and handling. It may not be the fanciest rod out there but is well balanced and absolutely worth casting


I wasn't quite sure what to expect with this rod as it is our very first exposure to the Douglas brand but I have been pleasantly surprised by the rod's quality and overall performance characteristics. In a time when many other rod manufacturers are adding more bells and whistles in the form of cosmetics it is refreshing to see a manufacturer focus on getting traditional performance and handling dialed in. While the Douglas DXC7116F is conservatively styled the clean overall layout may be appealing for some anglers, and the fact is that underneath that serious exterior is a very fun rod to fish.

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