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Rod Review

 

The Omega Swimbait 8' Heavy by Leviathan Rods (continued)

Sensitivity: A trait common in rods built off of NFC blanks is that they are finished with minimal to no additional coating over the blank. This results in a very clean overall look and a crisp feel that helps telegraph what is happening at the end of your line.

There are no fancy technologies, underlying wraps, mysterious resins, nano-particles, or otherwise advertised in NFC's blanks. Just the simple pedigree that the mind behind the company, Gary Loomis, knows a thing or two about building a quality fishing rod blank. Taking Leviathan's specs to custom roll blanks out of quality raw materials results in an overall, built fishing rod that not only casts well, but has better than average sensitivity.

In fact, if you needed a big bait stick to double as something to fish a one ounce football jig, the Omega Swimbait 8' Heavy could handle those duties no problem. It even has the sensitivity, power, and taper to make for a great punching rod. That is, if you can get past the extra-long rear handle.


Fig 1 : The chart above illustrates the deflection characteristics of our Leviathan Omega Swimbait 8' Heavy against the historical averages of similarly powered rods we've tested over the past twenty years

Power: Leviathan's Omega Swimbait 8' Heavy casting rod's time on our RoD Wrack was interesting. Its deflection curve would usually have us classify this stick a full power or two lower than what it actually is, and consider it a stick more suited for tossing baits in the neighborhood of up to four ounces max. While this is kind of what I determined to be this rod's sweet spot out on the water, I also discovered it's capable of quite a bit more. It's the first time I can recall a fishing rod whose deflection curve, and actual, on the water performance were so different. This just validates our efforts to conduct our tests both in the lab and out in the real world.


Checking out that soft tip

What I suspect (and the thought first occurred to me while fishing Kistler Custom Fishing Rod's KLX7107XXH - another swimbait stick built on an NFC blank) is that North Fork Composites has taken what they learned building blanks in support of the salmon and steelhead fishery in the Pacific Northwest, and applied that knowledge to their swimbait blanks. We've fished those salmon and steelhead rods standing right next to Gary Loomis, using a technique they call back bouncing. These swimbait rods we are fishing today have the same uncanny, light tips paired with unreal power needed when fishing delicate fish roe for monster, river run salmon. That bouncy feel and power in the blank is unmistakable. Any rod that can handle hard pulling and fierce fighting, twenty and thirty pound salmon in fast moving water is more than sufficient to control and subdue a largemouth bass.


Green Leaf Lures is based out of Texas too, so i thought their Zig Zag glide bait would feel right at home on the Omega Swimbait 8' Heavy

The one major difference, however, is it does not take much to set the hook through a wadded bunch of fish roe. Moving a big bait fast enough to set the hook is different. When you do get that long awaited bite on a big bait with this stick, you need to really lean into the rod to button that fish down. Especially if you're using a bait in that upper range of the rod's lure rating. The Omega Swimbait 8' Heavy has plenty of power to move and set hook with smaller baits, but because the rod flexes so easily, you have to be just a little bit more mindful when setting with a larger bait. During the battle, always make sure you have a nice bend in the rod throughout to keep the fish buttoned. That softer, moderate bend is very beneficial at keeping fish hooked in similar manner to a crankbait stick. When it comes down to it, these big, treble hooked baits are, after-all, just oversized crankbaits.


Leviathan bucks the Fuji component trend

Design & Ergonomics: When it comes to ergonomics, Leviathan gets everything just about right with the Omega Swimbait 8' Heavy. Really, one of the biggest deals with a swimbait stick and what distinguishes it from a flipping rod is the length of the rear handle.

If you're throwing big baits with a big stick, you want a long rear handle to aid you with those two handed casts and to give you leverage and control as you're working the bait. If you're using a big stick as a flipping rod, you want a shorter rear handle that won't get in the way as you make your presentation and when working baits in close quarters.

Tapers can go either way with both techniques - it's really all about the handle, and with a rear handle that measures sixteen and a half inches (16.5") from the back end of the reel seat to the butt, Leviathan's 8' Heavy is ideal for two handed casts with big baits and very comfortable when tucking that handle under your arm afterwards.


The Alps TX16 TexTouch reel seat features an attractive, cutaway design and double lock rings

One small point of criticism, ergonomically with this stick is the location and size of the hook hangar - yes, that dreaded unnecessary, but necessary, accessory everyone loves to hate. If it's going to be on one side of the blank, versus the other, I want it on the left side because regardless of which side my reel's handle is on, I always have my right hand holding the rod when I engage my reel in free spool, so use my left hand to free the bait for a cast and hook it back when done. When the hangar is on the right side of the blank, it just makes things awkward.


I wasn't a fan of this hook hangar or its location on the right side of the blank

Granted, not everyone is the same, but a good compromise is to locate this component either on the bottom side of the rod, or on top (depending on the type of hook hangar). The right side of the rod is my least favorite position for that component. Beyond the hangar's location, its size is actually out of proportion. I get that the big loop makes hanging big baits easier, but it really sticks out too far from the blank and reminds me of a guide from a fly rod. Again, this is a small point, but I'll likely end up cutting this hook hangar off and replacing with a Fuji Ez Keeper at a location I prefer.

Lab Results for Leviathan Omega Swimbait 8' Heavy

Model
Avg RoD
Taper
Measured Weight (oz)
Balance Point (inches)
Balancing Torque (ftlbs)
Leviathan Omega Swimbait 8' Heavy
1.63
Mod-Fast
7.7
2
0.16
Finesse SB Rod Avg
1.65
--
6.0
9.5
0.29
All Purpose SB Rod Avg
1.28
--
6.8
8.5
0.29
Heavy Hitters SB Rod Avg
0.95
--
7.7
10.2
0.44

Another point of discussion for this stick ergonomically takes us back to something I mentioned at the beginning of the review under Impressions, and that's balance. Leviathan does an unreal job balancing out this 8'-0" stick so its fulcrum is just two inches up from the mid-point of the reel seat. That's ridiculous for an 8'-0" stick. But it does so at extreme expense of overall weight. Looking at our historical data, 7.7 ounces is something we'd expect from a swimbait stick capable of handling the heaviest of big baits - somewhere in the range of nine to ten ounce baits. While the Omega Swimbait 8' Heavy fishes heavier than it charts, it's still almost a full ounce heavier than the average of sticks we've fished in the past with similar capabilities.


I also didn't care much for all the length of exposed thread above the reel seat

Next Section: Pros and Cons and the rundown...

 

   

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