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Rod Review

CB Rod Wars Part 1: Mixing it up with Phenix’s X10 (continued)


Power: Just like our lab tests displayed this rod is all about a forgiving tip that can absorb strikes and still keep fish pinned on. No matter what size the fish, and yes we even mean dinks, the X10’s rod tip will curl over like you have a lunker on the line, but simply lift and the backbone will take over. The lower section of this rod is reasonably robust and can control even bigger bass while the tip dances back and forth absorbing every dive and head turn with ease. The best way to describe fishing with this rod is “exciting.” Most fights will be about finesse rather than muscle, but with a bigger fish on the line the X10 will not feel out-rodded, it just doesn’t ever feel exceedingly stiff throughout the power curve.

Phenix uses Fuji Alconite guides for this rod, these are suitable for cranking and help bring down the cost of the rod

Sensitivity: When it comes to sensitivity the X10 is decent, and while nothing to write home about the sensitivity is equal to that we see in most crankbait rods. We hoped for a slightly better sensitivity with the hybrid design but found the tip absorbs a great portion of the telegraphed ticks. While the rod is one step above pure fiberglass rods in sensitivity it certainly is less sensitive than pure graphite cranking rods. Are you willing to give up a little sensitivity for a superior tip action that caters specifically to crankbait fishing? That is the choice anglers will have to make, but if your concerned about having enough sensitivity to feel out structure don’t be, this rod can still detect bumps with wood or rocks just fine.


The Phenix X-10 split grip makes the rod a good pairing with heavier reels like the Chronarch 100B

Ergonomics: The first X-10 that I fished featured the same blank but with a solid cork grip. The updated version features the same split grip that found on many of the company’s other casting rods, but Phenix decided to keep using the Fuji reel seat instead of their proprietary seat. Both rods balanced well with a variety of reels and when hard cranking it really didn’t make much of a difference, though cosmetically the split grip looks more custom.  

The Fuji reel seat while not offering as much access to the blank as Phenix's proprietary reel seat (used on the Phenix Ultra MBX rods) is comfortable while cranking

I found the Phenix proprietary seat offered more access to the blank which is good for fishing plastics when every bit of sensitivity counts, but the more sculpted Fuji reel seat was more comfortable to grip when cranking. It is good to see that Phenix designers will use whichever component they feel is best in the design of each rod, this “custom” thinking helps create a truly application specific product. The X10 weighs in at 4.5oz. which is very reasonable for a rod that makes use of any fiberglass. When paired with a light reel like the new Curado E5 this outfit balances out well and is both comfortable and easy to fish with all day long.

JIP catches a bass using a spinnerbait with the X-10

Price & Applications: The X10 retails for 189 dollars which makes it one of the more affordable crankbait rods in our test lineup. Though retailing for less than 200 dollars this rod absolutely can compete with rods in the mid 200 dollar price point and in some ways actually looks and feels more expensive. The Fuji Alconite guides are adequate for the application and the use of a Fuji reel seat makes sense on this rod. Some cost is saved with the absence of metal winding checks, but the hybrid design is a costly implementation.

The composite cork butt is comfortable against your forearm


The X10 is a good choice for fishing deep diving crankbaits, lipless cranks, and even the occasional spinnerbait. Phenix also makes a X9 rod with a lighter action which is good for small cranks and even smallie fishing but the X10 is a better choice for an all-round cranking rod. Some anglers may find it a bit light, but this is simply because the tip is so deceivingly soft. Once you have a fish on the line the graphite and carbon lower section has plenty of muscle.

For 189 dollars the Phenix X-10 is a great value and its hard to find another crankbait rod at this price point that can match the X-10 in performance and custom rod appeal

When you factor in the performance, quality ergonomics, and wide range of applications that you are able to tackle with what should simply be an application specific cranking stick it becomes clear that the X10 offers exceptional price versus performance value for 189 dollars.

Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

Phenix X-10 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Good overall components, Phenix uses all Fuji parts with a unique carbon fiber, graphite and fiberglass combination 8
Performance The Phenix X-10 was not the most sensitive rod we have tested, mostly due to the use of fiberglass versus all graphite high modulus cranking rods, but what you give up in sensitivity is easily made up in an action designed specifically for fishing crankbaits 8
Price An excellent overall value for a cranking rod that can handle small to mid sized cranks 9.5
Features The main features in this rod are the hybrid blank and split grip design 8
Design (Ergonomics) The X-10 has already undergone changes since introduction under the new company and while the latest version is more refined it can be a bit tricky to balance out perfectly with different reels due to the aggressive weight reduction of the handle. Overall the rod is easy to fish with all day when paired with a reel form 7.5-9.0 oz.  8
Application This rod actually surprised us as a decent spinnerbait rod in addition to being a forgiving cranking rod. the rod does feel lighter than most of the cranking rods in our test and is well suited for small to mid sized cranks, if you fishing big deep divers then you will want a more robust stick 8

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:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Clever blend of materials including graphite, carbon fiber, and fiberglass L Not the most sensitive cranking rod
J Looks and feels like a custom rod, good overall weight  
J Seamless transition between fiberglass tip and graphite main blank  
 J Exceptional price at only 189 dollars  

Conclusion: Phenix is back and better than ever judging from the quality exhibited by the X10 cranking rod. The X10 delivers on almost all fronts and offers much of what you look for in a quality cranking stick. Phenix mixes it up with a combination of high modulus graphite, carbon, and a fiberglass tip….the result is sheer cranking delight. Toss deep divers, lipless cranks, and speed traps with ease, and when necessary the rod can even double as a decent spinnerbait stick as well. While not the most sensitive rod we have tested the X10 more than makes up for it with an exceptional price and quality custom rod look and feel. Phenix kicks off the crankbait rod wars with a bang and sets the bar very high with a rod that exhibits a very quality mix of performance versus price, and is the latest recipient of our coveted Editors Choice Award!


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