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Rod Review

CB Rod Wars Part 2 : Is It Jackall's Year?

Date: 4/9/09
Tackle type: Rod
Manufacturer: Jackall
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 7.5


Introduction: At ICAST 2008, we were quite excited to see Jackall followed through on a promise they made to us the year before and that was to bring their intricately detailed and designed rods, formerly for the Japanese market only, Stateside. The Jackall Poison rods are site to behold and are quite befitting what we’ve come to expect from a rod designed for the JDM market – right down to their customized rod sleeves.  Imagine our added excitement to learn, included in their rod lineup are not just one, but two rods intended for throwing cranks. We begin the Enthusiast section of our Crankbait Rod wars with our look at the Jackall HC-65ML Light Pluggin and HC-68MRG VCM-CAST 68 cranking sticks.

Jackall Poison Cranking Stick Specifications

HC-65ML Light Pluggin
Length from Back of Reel Seat to Base
8 inches
8.75 inches
Line Wt.
Lure Wt.
Power Rating
Rod Weight
Manufacturing Country

Impressions: Having had our preview at ICAST last summer, we already knew what to expect with these two sticks. As previously mentioned, they are quite befitting the JDM rod mystique with one minor exception. These sticks are not made in Japan. Rather, quite prominent on these sticks at ICAST 2008 were the non-traditional “made in China” stickers. Thing is, had we not seen these stickers on the rods at ICAST, there’s no way we would have even suspected this to be the case. Case in point? Our review sticks were as clean as any other rod we’ve seen from other noted JDM rod manufacturers.


Jackall lands on North American shores with their line of bass rods, Poison Heritage.


A look at the contemporary, JDM-esque styling of their HC-65ML Light Plugging stick.

Each rod in the Jackall Poison line is designed with a specific technique in mind and this of course, is no exception with the two rods in our Crankbait Rod Wars. It is really a tale of two entirely different sticks. The HC-65ML Light Pluggin, is a lightweight, responsive, and crisp graphite stick intended for shallow running cranks, but really suitable for some finesse plastics to especially shakey head applications. It feels very much like our previously reviewed F3 1/2-65GTC Hien Type-S.

Fig. 1 : This RoD Deflection Chart shows the deflection characteristics of both of our Jackall cranking sticks versus the overall average in each category of our Crankbait Rod Wars. As you can see by the shallowness of each curve compared to the average in each category, both sticks are light in the tip (which translates to good casting performance) but heavy with the backbone.

The HC-68MRG VCM-CAST 68, on the other hand, is a much more traditional, glass cranking stick feeling quite strong and stout in hand yet possessing a soft, easy loading tip. Our initial impressions on both of these sticks was quite positive

The HC-65ML matches nicely with the Ito Monoblock...


Real World Test: The next challenge for these rods? Matching them up with worthy fishing reels. For the HC-65ML, with its black and silver highlights, our 2008 Ultimate Enthusiast Award winner, the Ito Monoblock was our first choice and boy, do these two pieces ever compliment one another. I spooled the Monoblock with Toray Bawo SuperBraid at 55lb test.


...so much so I almost ran out and bought another... almost.

I stayed with the round theme for the VCM-CAST 68/HC-68MRG and chose another favorite, a Shimano Conquest 51. Spooled with 12lb Toray Polyamide Plus, the Conquest 51 is a natural on this stick.

The HC-65ML's bigger brother, the HC-68MRG matches just as nicely with another classic, Shimano's Conquest 51.


Casting: Both of the Jackall cranking sticks are surprisingly underrated for the top end of their recommended lure ratings. The 65ML, as previously mentioned is very reminiscent of the Megabass Hien Type-S yet is only rated up to 5/16ths of an ounce on its lure rating. Knowing this had to be an error, I strapped on what I thought was a half ounce lure in the Lucky Craft LV500MAX and took a couple of test casts. The 65ML handled that bait just fine really and after checking my notes, I discovered the LV500MAX is rated a three quarters of an ounce in weight. The 65ML did just fine.

Cranking with glass? Superlines can help deliver more sensitivity.

Similarly, the 68MRG, handled a one ounce Spro BBZ-1 Fast Sink Shad just fine as well despite being rated to only three quarters of an ounce in lure weight.

The HC-65ML sports handsome detailing all around.

I'm accustomed to rods from Megabass and Evergreen and a few other JDM manufacturers to being over rated, so it's really strange how the Jackall rods are the other way around. These two sticks can certainly handle a lot more than what their ratings reflect.

The foregrip on both rods is integrated into the locking mechanism for the reel seat.


Next Section: Sensitivity, Power, and Performance









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