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Rod Review

Gary Dobyns involvement in Powell's Max Bass Rods help create a bona fide hit for bassers

Date: 3/29/06
Tackle type: Rod
Manufacturer: Powell
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 9.20

Introduction: We met and spoke with Gary Dobyns, designer of the new Powell Max Bass Rods, at a local consumer tackle show in January of this year. So impressed were we with what he had to offer regarding the trials and tribulations they went through not only designing these rods, but bringing them to market, we felt compelled to walk away with a few of these sticks in hand to form our own judgment of whether or not they were successful. Since that time, the chatter regarding these rods on many of the fishing and tackle related internet discussion forums has been incredible. We are now ready to share with you, the first, in a planned series of reviews surrounding Powell's Max Bass Rods. Come join us as we share with you, our impressions of their 7', light powered, fast action, finesse spinning rod, the 701 L Fast.

Powell MAX 701 L Fast Specifications

Material Powell, Proprietary "Maxumfiber" blanks
Length 7'-0"
Length from Front of Reel Seat to Tip 73.5"
Length from Back of Reel Seat to Base 8.5"
Line Wt. 4 - 10 lbs
Lure Wt. 1/8 - 3/8 oz
Pieces One
Guides Fuji Alconite ( 9 + tip)
Power Rating Light
Taper Fast
Rod Weight 3.1
Origin China
MSRP $170


Background & Impressions: Gary Dobyns, 2004 W.O.N. BASS Angler of the Year, with over 50 tournament wins to his name, is, reportedly, the all-time leading money winner in the Western United States. He is, without a doubt, one of the most respected professional anglers in the West, and in the past, has been a trusted advisor and pro-staffer to several tackle manufacturers including G.Loomis. We were very excited to learn of his association with Powell Rods, a traditional Fly Rod company, and his involvement in the design and development of their new series of rods for bass fisherman. Their goal, to build a line of bass rods featuring contemporary design, quality components, and a price point that is very competitive within the industry.


Introducing the Powell 701L Fast Finesse Spinning Rod

In order to hold true to these ideals, Powell was forced to move production of these rods overseas and follow the increasing trend within the industry towards less expensive manufacturing. To overcome the hurdle of the "Made in China" inferences, Gary Dobyns himself, visited, interviewed, and inspected several different facilities within China before settling on the one that would ultimately build their production rods. This was no simple task as Gary explained to us, his frustrations over inconsistent blanks, poor craftsmanship, and rod breakages that plagued their early manufacturing candidates.

Powell enters the bass rod market with their MAX line of rods

Fortunately, for everyone involved, the search was not in vain, and Gary was able to eventually locate a facility to meet his and Keith Bryan's (owner and CEO of Powell Rods) exacting measures for quality. In fact, as a sample of the quality control measures this particular facility employs, Gary told us each and every blank that is produced by this plant is tested by bending the blank practically from tip to butt. The blanks that survive this test are moved over to the production pile be built up. The ones that don't survive are not discarded, but actually studied as to why they failed so that any necessary adjustments to production can be made. The actual balance, guide placement, grip designs, and rod detailing of the Powell Max Bass Rod line are from Gary's specifications and based on his very own, custom rod designs. You can almost say, fishing with a Powell Max Bass Rod is like pulling a rod out of Gary Dobyn's very own rod locker.


Powell makes use of the familiar Fuji Reel seat for their 701L

Fuji is a time tested maker of rod components


Lab Tests: In a bind, once again, of not having a truly comparable rod in our vaults that you are likely to find at your local tackle store, we will be comparing the lab results of our Powell 701 L to that of our G.Loomis DSR820C, a casting rod with similar specifications to our Powell spinning rod. Not a perfect comparison by any means, but our goal, once again, is to give you an idea of how this rod might feel, in a tackle store, in case you are not able to find one locally to check out.


Lab Results

Avg RoD (2-12 oz)
Rated Action
Measured Weight
Balance Point
Powell 701L
3.1 oz
+ 0.25"
Loomis DSR820C
Extra Fast
Left & Right
4 oz
+ 6.25"

Rate of Deflection (RoD): We've found a more well rounded gauge of our test subjects has been to take readings over several different load ranges and average out our RoD values for the final score. In the case of our 701 L, we loaded the rod with weights ranging from two to twelve ounces, measured the deflection at each load range, and averaged out our RoD calculation. This gave us a value of 4.57 for our 701 L and 4.40 for our DSR820C. What that tells us is that our DSR820C is slightly more powerful than our 701 L.

A photo of our Powell rod in action


Action: Subjecting our rods to a range of loads as described above, also allows us the opportunity to view the behavior of the blank in a controlled environment and as the weight applied to the tip is increased. Our 701 L's tip progressed down the length of the blank a bit more slowly than our DSR820C at the onset, but then, at about a 10 ounce weight load, the rods were even and the rate of progression down the blank of our 701 L continued while that of the DSR820C slowed. In other words, movement in our DSR820C's tip was easy at lower weights, but the rod quickly sets up to its backbone and the power of the rod sets in. The same holds true of our 701 L, but the backbone is reached at a greater progression down the blank all of which validates the different ratings of both rods with the 701 L rated as fast, while the DSR820C is rated as extra-fast.


All the Powell MAX bass rods feature Fuji Alconite Guides

Spine, Weight, and Balance Point: The spine of our 701 L came out on top. It always amazes us when any production rod comes in with a proper spine alignment of top or bottom. It's not something we expect, but always a nice surprise. The weight of our 701 L came in at a very svelte 3.1 ounces but the balance point was a bit far up the rod at 10.25" from the center of the reel seat. It doesn't really feel that tip heavy, but the balance point does not lie.

Our 701 L features 9 guides plus the tip top



Simply a matter of preference, this editor prefers guides with inserts and frames that are of a different color to enhance the appearance of the rod and create more interesting points of detail

Real World Test: Paired with our Daiwa Certate, the balance point of our 701 L moved down to three inches above the center line of the reel seat. This proved to be a very comfortable balance for this rod. Our Certate was spooled with 6lb Yozuri Hybrid. We fished two other reels on this rod with different types of line so we could gauge how the rod handled the characteristics of each situation. Our second setup was a Daiwa Exist 2004 spooled with 6lb Original P-line (mono), and the third reel was a Daiwa SS Tournament 700 spooled with 14lb Berkley Fireline, a fused superline.

Cal braving wind and occasional rain on Folsom Lake, California drop shotting for bass on submerged structure

Complete Field Test Set-Up

Rod 701 L Fast 701 L Fast 701 L Fast
Reel(s) Daiwa Exist 2004 Daiwa Certate 2000 Daiwa SS Tournament 700
Line 6 lb P-Line Original 6lb Yozuri Hybrid Smoke 14lb Berkley Fireline


Next Section: Show me the tests!









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