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Rod Preview:

Return of “Phenix,” a first look at the company’s new line of bass rods (continued)


When we first saw the rods and held them in our hands we noted how light the rods felt, and remarked that the styling of the new sticks displayed a very custom rod feel. The rods are matte graphite in appearance and there is only gloss over the branding label and specifications.


Phenix makes use of a open hook hanger design, able to accommodate large hooks or Texas rigged plastics and drop shot weights

The rods make use of either SiC or Alconite guides depending on model, and Phenix implements either Fuji or their proprietary Phenix reel seats into the rods. Interestingly Phenix will offer the same blank with multiple grip styles, so depending on whether you prefer a foregrip or nothing on top of the reel seat you do have a choice with these rods. We still prefer the cork grip to be absent on the top of the rods as we don’t make use of the grip and thus don’t see the need for any added weight, though we do commend Phenix for offering two variations to cater to angler’s aesthetic desires.

Since Phenix rods make use of Toray materials we decided to use Toray lines in our tests as well

We hit the water at the break of dawn and started testing the rods with a variety of baits. We spent more time comparing notes on rods, tying on various baits to test rod action, and slinging swimbaits trying to blow out the blanks then we did trying to actually catch fish. Because the rods make use of Toray shims we decided it would be appropriate to bring into play Toray lines during our tests. We started with Phenix’s new top of the line offering, the Ultra MBX series.

Even with a full sized Curado 300 the Phenix rods feel relatively light and easy to cast

Ultra MBX: We began with the centerpiece of the company’s new rod lineup, the Ultra MBX rods. They feature Phenix’s specially designed exposed reel seat that is similar to Airrus rods and Shimano’s Cumara minimalistic approach. What Phenix does differently is drill the reel seat at the bottom so that the blank goes through the lower half of the reel seat. This reminded us of the old G.Loomis Weibe reel seat and effectively raises the rear handle elevating the palm of your hand in relation to the reel.

Zander tests the Phenix rod's casting at various weight ranges

We mounted reels of all sizes on the Ultra MBX ranging from the ultralight Daiwa Steez to the full sized Curado 300. In every case we found the Phenix implementation to be more comfortable when palming reels than the traditional Fuji reel seat. When casting the larger baits we found this translated into a more relaxed feel in the muscles of our hands, especially when palming.

Cal and Robert work a rocky shoreline

Ultra MBX rods will be available in both baitcasting and spinning versions and the spinning rod makes use of a Fuji components and a cork insert over the entire seated area for increased comfort. The design looks clean and custom, and we especially liked the split grip implementation on the spinning rods. The butt is finished off with a cork composite knob, one that helps balance out the rod, while still feeling comfortable under your arm. The knob also serves as a convenient grip when casting with two hands.

Phenix will also offer their MB-X in spinning

We found the Ultra MB-X rods to be light overall. In terms of changes Cal remarked that he felt the grip was a bit longer than it needed to be and Robert explained that the final production rods would have slightly shorter grips. In terms of hook hangers the Phenix rods make use of an open hook hanger so that the rods can handle big hooks like that found on swimbaits as well as Texas rigged plastics and drop shot weights. 

A look at the cork layered spinning handle

We found the Ultra MBX rods appropriately rated for the most part and the rods seemed to have no problem tossing lures at the top end of their rating spectrum. We then went to the bottom of their ratings and tied on weightless rigged plastics and split shot rigs. We took turns fishing the rods over a variety of structure and found the rods to be average or slightly above average when it came to sensitivity in the same price category. Our sensitivity tests with weenie worms resulted in a complete dinkfest, but it proved we could detect even minuscule bites from tiny smallmouth.

Just how sensitive is Phenix MB-X? Our "dinkfest" proved the rods were pretty darn sensitive

Next Section: Blending graphite and glass in crankbait rods









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