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Rod Review

CB Rod Wars Part 17: American Rodsmiths' Titanium Reinforced H3T-DFCR70 (continued)

Power cont'd: Keep in mind Megabass makes similar claims in their Evolution line of rods that feature three different subcategories of rods all with varying degrees of titanium reinforcement in their blanks. I’ve fished and reviewed several of these sticks and remain skeptical of their claims as well. Certainly this American Rodsmiths stick does not have the same appeal as a Megabass rod, but at the same time, it does claim to offer somewhat similar blank technology at a much lower price point. Regardless, my skepticism to the actual benefit this technology does or does not provide remains.

... capped off by this compressed cork butt.

Features: Aside from the afore mentioned blank technology, the H3T-DFCR70 features Pac Bay guides custom built for American Rodsmiths with stainless steel frames and zirconia ring inserts. These guides performed fine during our tests.

One of the design features of this stick is the American Rodsmiths designed, Maximum Contact handle system.

The handle assembly on the H3T-DFCR70 and all of American Rodsmith’s H3 series rods feature a slough of trademarked marketing terms that, as a whole are referred to as their “Maximum Contact” handle system. This system features a custom reel seat ( Ultra Touch / ARS-1 ) and rear handle (Direct Contact). The rear handle is a mix of both cork and graphite with the graphite giving the angler “Direct Contact” access to both the blank and reel seat while they are holding this spot on the rod. Realistically, I felt no difference with this handle and really, found it a bit contrived. I’d have much preferred just a straight graphite handle like with the Lamiglas XMG50 rods, or the more conventional straight cork - one or the other, but not a mix of the two. While I appreciate the effort and thought, I think this is a case of trying too hard.

American Rodsmiths' ARS-1 reel seat features an exposed blank design both below and above the reel seat...

The “Ultra Touch” reel seat, also referred to as the ARS-1, is a patent pending design that features a hook hangar in the trigger of the rod and an exposed blank on both the top and bottom of the reel seat. I’ve seen this hook hangar treatment on custom rods before - more notably on the former Tactical Assault sticks built by Brad Tharp several years ago. I always thought this was a clever solution and a good way to provide the functionality of a hook keeper without the unnecessary and often out of place element of a physical device on the rod.

...and an integrated hook hangar in the seat's trigger.

Unfortunately, in practical use and for treble hook baits especially, this solution makes less sense. You can see from the photographs how one bait, the ima Skimmer sits on the rod with the use of this hook hangar. My first thought after putting the bait in this position and snapping that photograph was to reconsider the logic of this hook hangar placement. It looked pretty precarious with this bait and I figured I better be careful or I was going to hook myself when picking the rod back up.

The hook hangar looks like a thoughtful placement until old habits take over and you grab the rod by the reel seat without first moving the bait out of the way!

Well, I didn’t have to wait that long because out of habit, as I made my move to put the rod down, the first thing I did was to grab the rod by the reel seat with my right hand. I can tell you right now, the ima Skimmer features very sharp stock hooks! Needless to say, I now use the stainless steel frame on the first guide of the H3T-DFCR70 as my hook hangar

Despite a few quirks here and there, the H3T-DFCR70 is a very good all purpose cranker.

Warranty: American Rodsmiths features a limited warranty with coverage that varies depending on the length of time you’ve owned the rod. If you encounter any problems with one of their rods within ninety (90) days of your proof of purchase receipt, the rod will be replaced at no cost. After ninety (90) days, replacement or repair costs will be determined after factory inspection and the owner will be informed of their replacement or repair options.

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):

American Rodsmiths H3T-DFCR70 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A solidly constructed stick 7.5
Performance On par with what we expected in terms of casting. Good backbone performance 7.5
Price For a rod with titanium fiber reinforcement, surprisingly affordable 8
Features It's all about the blended blank with this rod 8
Design (Ergonomics) Unfortunately, the handle design did not click with us nor did the actual functionality of the hook hangar 6.5
Application A good general purpose cranking stick 7.5

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:



J Intriguing blank design and implementation L The handle system is a bit too contrived for our tastes. Just stick to one material and it's all good.
J Wonderful combination of a nice soft tip together with a stout backbone  
J For the technology in this blank, the rod is not outrageously priced  

It’s been an up and down journey with the H3T-DFCR70. Taken as a whole, this is a good, solid cranking stick with a nice soft tip and stout backbone. Where things gets a little lost is in the company’s zeal to provide innovation and technology in their sticks to improve their customers’ experience. The titanium reinforcement within the blank is certainly an avenue many companies have and continue to explore and this is the type of investment in technology we applaud. We may not see or feel the true benefit of this technology, but we’re willing to give them the benefit of the doubt because it is this use of different materials within the blank that really excites us.

A healthy Delta largemouth courtesy of the H3T-DFCR70.

On the other hand, the marketing terminology thrown around for the treatment of the handle assembly, and really, the physical implementation of the handle assembly as a whole just seems unnecessary. I’m often the first on TackleTour’s staff to embrace new ideas and give new twists and tweaks on fishing rods a chance. The Megabass Slant Bridge handle, Kistler’s Helium 2 grip material, Lamiglas’s XMG50 rear grip,  spiral wrapped guides, all are examples of designs and features I tried and immediately embraced, but the H3T-DFCR70’s handle assembly really seems much ado about nothing. The design, to me, is unattractive, and I just did not feel the benefit - at least not on this cranking stick.

By the way, the H3T-DFCR70 makes a pretty good topwater stick too!

So where does that leave us with this stick? Pretty neutral at this point and neutral is probably a good thing given the great number of cranking sticks we’ve gone through this year. The H3T-DFCR70 may not be my favorite from all the cranking sticks I threw during our Year of the Crank, but it’s certainly a very competent rod and the blend of three different materials in its blank continues to intrigue me. The stout backbone of this rod is evident, and if that's because of the titanium reinforcement, then I'm for it. More important than any of that though, is this stick was our introduction to American Rodsmiths and judging from this overall positive experience, our exploration into their product will likely continue as we take a look at more sticks from this exciting new-to-us manufacturer.









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