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Rod Review

Another win for AiRRUS with the equally high  performing and versatile Ultra XL

Date: 11/07/05
Tackle type: Rod
Manufacturer: AiRRUS
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 9.0 + EDITORS CHOICE!

Introduction: Anglers have come to expect a couple things from AiRRUS Rods including high quality craftsmanship, great value, and above all.... industry leading innovation. AiRRUS takes more chances than any other rod company with the design and manufacture of their ever growing lineup of freshwater rods. Its no surprise that the company has won an unprecedented three ICAST new product showcase awards in a row from 2002-2004. We take a look at the current flagship of the AiRRUS lineup, the Ultra XL, to see if this rod possesses the same attributes that make these rods so popular.


AiRRUS Ultra XL (UXLC701M) Specifications

Material Multi-modulus graphite
Length 7'
Grip Length Interchangeable 4 1/2 & 7 1/2" extension (both completely removable)
Line Weight 12-20 lb
Lure Weight 1/4-5/8 oz
Pieces 1
Power Medium
Action Med-Fast
Color Cherry Red (Burgundy)
Weight (measured) 5.2 oz (with longer extension)
MSRP $159.95


Impressions: AiRRUS has only been around for a bit over three years and yet their product offering has been among the most robust in the industry. Product development is driven by AiRRUS President Ken Whiting, who has a keen eye not only in terms of design but when it comes to choosing pioneering new materials for each and every rod. Historically every AiRRUS rod has featured either an innovative new multi-modulus graphite blank design or an inventive grip implementation, and in some cases like the Spectra....both.


Introducing the AiRRUS Ultra XL (short interchangeable handle shown)


The Ultra XL seems to carry the tradition of innovation on with a brand new super-exposed blank-through design, use of "thermalon" grips, and interchangeable butt section design. Of all of AiRRUS's rods thus far the Ultra XL looks and feels the most like a custom rod, this is mainly due to the eye-catching split grip design. This is also the first AiRRUS rod to remove any type of grip above the reel seat. The combination of the absence of the upper grip combined with the super exposed reel seat gives anglers more direct access to the actual blank than any other rod on the market currently. In fact the only rod that can beat it in terms of raw access to the blank is AiRRUS's own N-Sync which is currently still under development.


Want more sensitivity? How about a super-exposed reel seat design


While the reel seat is a propriety design the components are all Fuji, including alconite guides with concept spacing, and an original fold down hook keeper. The base of the foregrip has a hole in which a pair of removable butt sections can be interchanged. These two inserts are 6 and 9 inches in length by themselves. Two inches of this length is inserted into the grip to hold the section securely in place. Out of the tube the Ultra looked like a fantastic total offering and I couldn't wait to get the rod on the rod on the water for an actual test drive.  


Complete Rig for AiRRUS Ultra XL Tests

Rod AiRRUS Ultra XL (UXLC701M)
Reels Shimano Chronarch100B
Lines 12lb Yozuri Hybrid


Real World Test: We decided to do a combination of tests on the rod to test the Ultra's sensitivity as well as power. We spent three months field testing the rod on the California Delta and the O'Neil Forebay targeting largemouth bass and stripers. In our tests we paired the Ultra with a Chronarch 100B which seemed to balance out the rod nicely.


The interchangeable butt section allows anglers to customize their rod to match their reel and application


On the first day of the test it was a perfect weather, not a cloud in the sky. It was then that I finally got a good look at the Ultra XL's cherry-red blank. Fans of AiRRUS rods know that when Ken says "multi-modulus," he really means it. Like the Co-Matrix the Ultra XL features the integration of two completely separate and unique manufacturing processes. Filament winding is used in the lower section of the rod to provide a stronger hookset, and a proprietary multi-modulus tip is designed to deliver superior lure presentation. Aesthetically this translates into a handsome rod that is seamlessly integrated. The lower portion is thicker in diameter than most rods due to the filament design, but this translates into increased hookset capabilities without too much added weight. This lower section is well lacquered and in the sunlight you can see each and every fiber...simply stunning. The upper section is matte in appearance, much more like a traditional graphite rod.   


The longer and shorter sections side by side

Casting/Retrieving: The Ultra XL we tested proved to be a very "flexible" caster, meaning it was able to project lures a very long distance as well as make very short and accurate casts. Here is where the removable butt sections come into play. The two sections are interchangeable to create varying amounts of leverage. It is much easier to balance the rod with any reel with the longer butt, and this is the right configuration for any angler that prefers making two handed casts. We paired the rod up with many reels and found the slightly heavy Chronarch 100B to be a perfect fit. We couldn't seem to pair up any reel with the smaller butt and come up with a balanced rig. That was before we realized that Airrus had included another little innovation we had previously overlooked. In the base of each of the butt section is a cleverly disguised small nylon cap that can be removed. This reveals a cavity in the base where you can insert weight inside the cap. With this feature we were able to insert small tungsten weights so that just about every reel, even magnesium based ones, balanced out perfectly.


The fusion point between the filament wound lower section of the rod and the multi-modulus graphite


Next Section: Casting cont'd, Ergonomics, and Ratings









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