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Enthusiast Review


Megabass's Own Mutant X-Rod, The Extraordinary and Limited Edition Diablo SB (continued)
 

Sensitivity: So what's the scoop behind these titanium fibers in the blank and just what is this "steely" feeling that Megabass USA describes on their website for these XFti blanks? As with most things of this nature, I can neither confirm nor deny the exact claims made by the manufacturer. What I can say is, in fishing jigs and Senkos throughout last year, I was never left wanting for more in the Diablo's sensitivity. In fact, the very first fish I caught on this stick was on a black and blue jig that I pitched out onto a submerged weedbed in the California Delta. As the jig was sinking, I felt that telltale "tick" through the rod and when I swept back, the battle ensued. This pattern repeated itself throughout the year. Might I have caught the same number of fish using a different rod? Maybe. Did I expect more because of the marketing hype? Yes.


Though a full power below the Diablo, the Jabberwock Evoluzion shares the same medium-fast taper

 

Faced with that expectation, and wanting something more concrete, I pulled out my custom built G.Loomis MB843C GLX by Matt Davis of Otterods (spiral wrapped ti-sic guides, Hypalon split rear grip), together my Diablo SB and Jabberwock Evoluzion to try and get to the bottom of this sensitivity issue. On all three rods, I mounted a brand new Daiwa Steez 103HLA spooled with 10lb Yozuri Hybrid. I then slid these combo's into my boat locker and on a very cold, but clear January day, I headed to one of our local reservoirs.

 

Almost there

 

Once launched and on my way, I stopped in the middle of the reservoir to conduct my tests. I had tied, at the end of the line for each rod, a snap so that I could switch between two baits: an eighth ounce sized Luhr Jensen Speedtrap (actual weight 1/4 ounce) and a Lucky Craft LV200 lipless crank. The simple goal? Which rod allowed me to feel the most vibration from these baits.

 

Employing the Lipper

 

The results were quite interesting. With the Luhr Jensen Speedtrap, I could actually feel more of the lure's action through both the Diablo SB and Jabberwock Evoluzion, than I could through my Custom GLX! But oddly enough, with the Lucky Craft LV200 lipless crank, the Jabberwock Evoluzion and Custom GLX felt almost identical, while with the Diablo SB, the vibration of the LV200 was barely discernable. It's obvious the XFti blank picks up very well on the wobbling action of a shallow crank like the Speed Trap, but I was puzzled with the results from fishing the tighter wobbling lipless bait. I already noted how well the Diablo SB performed while fishing jigs and Senko's, and in this comparison test, though the results were mixed, the XFti blank performed quite favorably against a similarly, and even lighter powered G.Loomis GLX. It seems, depending on the transmitting frequency, there does seem to be some benefit to the XFti construction, but still, given the hype, I was hoping for a little bit more.

 

Another successful battle thanks to an XFti rod

 

Power: Though testing out similarly to our MBR844C GLX on our RoD WRACK, the Diablo, with its slightly slower taper, does not feel as powerful a stick as the 844. But interestingly enough, this slower taper is not really discernable until you have a fish at the end of the line. As discussed earlier, in casting, pitching, and working your baits, the Diablo behaves like a typical fast action stick. Could this be the titanium fibers working their magic in the form of a quick recovery rate producing that fast tip feel? Perhaps. But there's no denying the XFti blank's behavior is quite unique. While the rod feels fast during presentations, its true slower taper design is quite welcomed when battling a fish to the boat. It's this forgiveness in the blank that makes it less likely a fish will be able to pull free from the hooks should it have the energy for any unexpected runs at the side of the boat.

 

The Diablo features Megabass's exclusive Ito Head Lock System (IHLS) - a secure, non-marring winding foregrip
 

A look at the Diablo SB's attractive reel seat assembly

Remember that "tick" I spoke of earlier that resulted in the very first fish I caught with this rod? After sweeping back for the hookset, I called to my fishing buddy, Byron, that I had a fish on. As I was feeling things out with my new rod, he asked if it was a good one and I responded that because this was a new stick, I really could not tell. As if on cue, the fish took off and I thought, ok, this might be a good fish. This is where the slant bridge handle showed its worth. I locked the rear portion of the crooked handle under my forearm and let the rod do its work. I was amazed at the leverage this position gave me and a short while later, up came my reward: An eight and a half pound largemouth caught on a black and blue jig. What a way to christen a new stick, and how wonderfully my Diablo SB handled that bass! Once I locked the slant bridge handle under my forearm, the outcome was never in question.

The Diablo SB was a limited production rod for 2005. Will they bring a version of this design into full production mode for future Diablos?
 

Another look at the IHLS - the sleeve that holds the reel foot slides down like a typical Fuji reelseat, but the actual lockring is incorporated into the foregrip which means the foregrip floats free from the blank and, therefore, does not serve to dampen sensitivity

 

Features: Most of this rod's design features have already been discussed. From the titanium wire enhancements of the blank to the unique slant bridge handle, the Diablo SB also sports other Megabass features such as the Ito Head Lock System (winding foregrip/lockring), custom reel seat, and Fuji titanium framed guides with SiC inserts. It is an extremely well balanced and handsomely detailed rod.


The slant bridge of the Jabberwock Evoluzion features a larger butt section than that of the Diablo SB's
 

The slant bridge, for now, is a design exclusive to Megabass

 

Application: The Diablo is about as versatile a heavy action stick as you might find. Obviously, for testing purposes, I had to use many other sticks through 2006, but I found it quite difficult to reach for anything else when I wanted to fish a jig or Senko. While I prefer the Diablo for these vertical bait applications, I must say, at the same time, the Diablo is equally at home fishing larger jerkbaits and lipless cranks. I bet it'd be wonderful as a rod for 3/4 ounce and up spinnerbaits as well. Oddly enough, in the Diablo's little brother, the Jabberwock Evoluzion, I found the opposite to be true - that I preferred this stick almost exclusively for horizontal presentations.

 

Just one of many striper landed this past fall thanks to the Diablo SB

 

Warranty: If you're in the United States, the Megabass Evoluzion XFti rods share the same warranty as all other Megabass rods purchased through Megabass USA: One year coverage for manufacturer defects. The particular rod reviewed in this article, the Diablo SB, is not covered under this warranty because I purchased it in Japan and had it shipped out of that country. It is the risk I decided to take for the opportunity to own a rather unique and limited production rod and it's paid off. If there were any defects in this stick, they would have showed up with the very first fish.


Ratings:

Megabass F5 1/2-68XFti Diablo SB Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Among the finest sticks I own 10
Performance Despite not feeling the true benefit of the XFti construction, this rod is as close to perfect as it gets - a relatively slow tapered rod with fast action feel. 9.5
Price Retail on the standard Diablo is bad enough, I paid close to 50% more just to get this limited production stick 4
Features IHLS, XFti, Slant Bridge, Ti-Framed SiC Guides, Custom Reel Seat, Etc. 9.5
Design (Ergonomics) The slant bridge really makes a difference... ergonomically, it is perfect. 10
Application As versatile a heavy action stick as I've fished although not able to support much above its lure rating (Unlike the Evergreen Stallion) 9.5

Total Score

8.75


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J A wonderfully versatile rod L The Diablo SB was a limited production model
J The SB breathes new life into a solid overall design
J Technology abounds in this stick  
J Behaves like a fast action stick during presentation yet transforms to a slower action rod when battling a fish


The very first fish caught on my Diablo SB was a jig fish - this chunky, 8.5lb largemouth bass, and yes, that's my lucky TD-Ito 103HL mounted on the rod.

 

Conclusion: In speaking with Masaki Murayama of Megabass USA over a year ago regarding this particular rod, he seemed to think the Diablo SB was produced to test the waters on Megabass's new grip design. He even intimated that the release of this model may have been a mistake. Whatever the case may be, reports are that they were produced, distributed, and sold off almost immediately. Why not? The Diablo is already among Megabass's top selling sticks and updating this solid performer with a kink in the grip - whether intentional or not - was a fantastic move. Hopefully a version of this limited run design finds its way into a newly updated Diablo. If so, I just may buy two more! In the meantime, with or without the slant bridge design, thanks to the XFti construction this stick is a wonderful tool. While the benefit of the titanium fibers is not a night and day comparison, I'm convinced the fast action feel of this blank given it's medium-fast taper is a result of this distinctive construction. For our specific review specimen, combine all these benefits with a limited production model, and you have the makings of a stick for the Ultimate Enthusiast!


                                               


 

 

 

 

 

 
 





 

 



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