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Rod Review


Swimbait Rod Wars Installment #16: ... And That's A Wrap! (continued)
 

Power Division: Of course, more important to some, than the rod's ability to handle and fish certain baits is the rod's power and ability to set hook and bring that fish to the boat. Understandably, not all rods are created equal in this department. Let's take a definitive look at all sixteen representatives and see where they line up when compared to each other in terms of RoD, weight, and balance. Where as some rods may be similar, certainly the separation in terms of power alone is quite vast with these sixteen rods. To make better sense of it all and ensure a fair assessment, we've broken out the sixteen rods into three separate divisions and listed them all from least powerful to most. Keep in mind the products that fall on the edge of each category, can probably be moved into the next adjacent division without much thought but we had to draw the lines somewhere.

 

Lab Results for SB Rod Wars "Finesse" Sticks

Model
Avg RoD (2-48 oz)
Taper
Spine
Measured Weight
Balance Point
Powell 765CB/SBR
1.57
Mod-Fast
Left
5.1 oz
8.5"
Evegreen TMJC-74XXX
1.44
Mod-Fast
Top
6.1 oz
7.75"
Okuma GS-C 711MH
1.47
Mod-Fast
Top
7 oz
9.5"
Megabass F7-76RDti
1.37
Mod-Fast
L&R
7.6 oz
5.5"

 

The Finesse Sticks: At the lower end of the power spectrum we have what might best be described as the finesse swimbait rods. Typically, these sticks represent almost the same in what you'd get from a Flipping Stick only with a more forgiving tip. These sticks are best used with baits three ounces and under, and in some cases, maybe an even lower top weight threshold. Generally speaking, these sticks are best suited for topwater baits like the Black Dog Bait Company's Punker Jr. and 3:16 Lure Company's Baby wake to subsurface baits like the very popular, Basstrix-style paddletail baits, Osprey Dink, and Mattlures 6" Trout.

 


The combined RoD Deflection Chart for our Finesse Division

 

All Purpose: Perhaps the most popular question we get with regards to bass rods is what's a good "all purpose" stick? Well guess what, with the variety of baits and presentations in this specialized niche of bass fishing, this same question can be applied to sticks designed to toss the big baits as well. All the rods we've separated into this division can handle a wide variety of baits and really serve as good starting points for anyone looking for one stick to cover the majority of their big bait requirements. The typical sweet spot for these sticks are baits between 1.5 to 4.5 ounces which covers baits like the Mattlures Ultimate Bluegill to a Huddleston Deluxe ROF5 to the Spro BBZ-1.

 

Lab Results for SB Rod Wars All Purpose Sticks

Model
Avg RoD (2-48 oz)
Taper
Spine
Measured Weight
Balance Point
Dobyns Rods 795ML SB
1.27
Fast
Top
8.5 oz
5.5"
Fenwick EDSWB79H-F
1.24
Fast
L&R
6.4 oz
11"
G.Loomis SWBR955C
1.20
Mod-Fast
Bottom
8.5 oz
8.5"
Kistler KBSBS80
1.17
Moderate
Top
7.2 oz
11"
Megabass F8-78DG
1.11
Mod-Fast
Top
7.7 oz
8.5"
Lamiglas XC807
1.04
Moderate
Bottom
9 oz
10"

 

What the sticks in this division do not do so well is handle some of the very light, finesse style swimbaits like the smaller paddletail baits, along with the super heavy magnum baits. In fact, even the Huddleston Deluxe 8" trout can be stretching it a bit with the first two to four sticks in this category - they can do it, but there are better options.

 


The combined RoD Deflection Chart for our All Purpose Division

 

Heavy Hitters: What are those options you ask? Just about any stick in our Heavy-Hitters category can really sling a Hudd and really anything else up to our almost nine ounce, 10-inch Rago Tool and our almost ten ounce, 10-inch AC Plugs Casitas Trout. When we think traditional big bait sticks, the characteristics these rods share are what comes to mind - - big, beefy, sticks with a lot of backbone.

 

Lab Results for SB Rod Wars Heavy-Hitters

Model
Avg RoD (2-48 oz)
Taper
Spine
Measured Weight
Balance Point
Deps HGC-77XR
0.98
Mod-Fast
Top
8.6 oz
10.5"
St. Croix LTBC79HF
0.96
Fast
Top
5.6 oz
13"
St. Croix LTBC80XHF
0.88
Fast
Top
6.5 oz
13.5"
Okuma GS-C 7111XH
0.87
Mod-Fast
Top
8.9 oz
10.5"
Quantum QTC711F
0.85
Fast
Top
6.2 oz
14"
Dobyns Rods 807MAGH*
0.83
Fast
Top
9.9 oz
5.5"

Really, it's hard to imagine any black bass truly testing these Heavy Hitter sticks - especially the last four in this division, but we're sure a fifteen pound plus brute could do the job nicely. While that's probably the target for most of the trophy hunters carrying around any of these rods we had a lot of fun pitting these sticks up against the migratory striped bass in the California Delta.


The combined RoD Deflection Chart for our Heavy-Hitter Division

 

The Reels: What about the reels? Even though our focus during the Rod Wars, was on the sticks, our reels obviously played a vital role in our ability to test these rods and throw the baits. While most big bait proponents recommend equally large reels with huge line capacity to toss their magnum baits, we're a little more reserved in this recommendation. Here's how we break it down:

 


Daiwa's 300 and 253 sized Luna reels make excellent swimbait reels.

 

The Big Bait, Big Rod, Big Reel Theory: One of the reasons behind the big reel preference is simply line capacity. Being able to fit 100 yards, give or take, of 25lb test monofilament usually requires a big reel. There's no denying this aspect. But another argument in favor of the larger reels is winching power. These reels with their larger gears and big, power handles are built to pull line in fast and under extreme load which is generally the state of affairs when you hook a lunker largemouth with a big bait - get that sucker in as fast as you can before it has a chance to jump and throw your bait!

 

TackleTour's Swimbait Rod Wars Reel Arsenal Breakdown

Reel
Retrieve
Wt (oz)
Application Alignment
Power Alignment
L
R
BB
F
MW
TW
F
AP
HH
Daiwa Big Bait Special
yes
yes
7.4
-
Daiwa Luna 253
yes
yes
11.1
-
-
Daiwa Luna 300
yes
yes
12.9
-
-
-
-
Daiwa Millionaire Black Sheep 250
no
yes
12.5
-
-
Daiwa Zillion (all variations)
yes
yes
~8.6
-
Shimano Antares DC/DC7
yes
yes
8.8
-
Shimano Calcutta 200/201DC
yes
yes
9.9
-
Shimano Curado 300/301D
yes
yes
10.5
-
-
Shimano Calcutta 400/401TE
yes
yes
12.8
-
-
-
-
Shimano Calcutta 300TE
no
yes
12.5
-
-
-
-
Key: BB = Bottom Bounce : F = Finesse : MW = Midwater : TW = Topwater : AP = All Purpose : HH = Heavy Hitter

 

Another benefit to big reels quite simply is they cast the big, heavy baits easier and further than smaller reels. But of course, these reels are also a pain to use when fishing some of the mid-water column swimmers and topwater baits described earlier. They're just difficult to hold and swing around when you want to impart action into our baits. So what other options are there?

 


The Shimano Calcutta 401TE is the choice of many big bait throwers.

 

The Compromise Reels: For those unwilling to use the big reels or those who simply find them too uncomfortable to fish, yet would like to maintain some of that cranking power and line capacity, there are alternatives. From Shimano, the 300 sized Curado is a fantastic alternative providing both low profile comfort with 300 sized line capacity. We found this reel matched up almost ideally with the Dobyns Rods 795ML and fish it almost exclusively on that rod now.

 


The Shimano Curado 300/301 is an excellent choice for those wanting big reel line capacity together with low profile reel comfort.

 

From Daiwa, the Luna 253 is another fantastic alternative. Much smaller than the Luna 300, the 253 is still small enough to palm if you have large hands and light enough to use all day while casting big baits. For some reason his reel has seen the most duty out of all those in our lineup and matches up well with just about every stick in the SB Rod Wars.

 


Daiwa Japan's Limited Edition I'ZE Black Sheep is an excellent choice in big bait reels only it's was not made in left hand retrieve.

 

Low Profile: So can your typical low profile bass reels be used for big baits? As long as you understand their limitations in terms of cranking power and line capacity, yes. The general school of thought is, the gears will wear down faster when tossing big baits because of the resistance each reel is met with while retrieving those baits in the water, but I don't buy that argument.

 


The Daiwa Zillion may be a traditional low profile bass reel, but given the right line, it is an adequate big bait reel as well.

 

I do buy into the fact that if you lock down your drag with these reels and use them as a winch to horse your catches in, you will run into problems down the road, so the simple solution is, don't do that with these types of reels and let your drag do the work. You will run a greater risk of losing your catch no doubt, so do so with the understanding of that trade-off and proceed according to your comfort level.

 


This eight pound striper was landed on an "emergency" reel: a Daiwa Japan Alphas loaded with 12lb Fluorocarbon while fishing an eight-inch Triple Trout.

 

The biggest deciding factor with reels, I find is line capacity. Just be sure the reel you want to use will hold roughly 100 yards of your preferred line and you should be fine. Case in point, on one trip, I had to swap reels due to a professional overrun gone awry and the only reel I had available to me was a Daiwa Alphas 103L to mount on my Evergreen Balista. This was while I was field testing 22nd Century's Triple Trout. Sure enough, shortly after I made the swap, an eight pound striper nailed my triple trout, but did I have any problems with my undersized reel? It may have taken longer than necessary, but I was able to subdue that fish just fine.

 


Traditional big bait throwers prefer large, high capacity reels like this Daiwa Luna 300L for winching power when hooking that trophy largemouth.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 
 





 

 



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