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Rod Review

Portability and protection with the Bass Pro Extreme XPS travel rod

Date: 10/30/03
Tackle type: Rod
Manufacturer: Bass Pro Shops
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.50

Introduction: Wherever you travel it is always nice to have a dependable rod at your side. Whether your journey takes you on a interstate drive or a long distance fly-in, Bass Pro Shops has designed a handsome travel casting rod to accommodate your angling on the go requirements.

Bass Pro Shops Extreme XPS Travel Rod Specifications

Material 54 Million Modulus Graphite
Length 6'6"
Line Weight 10-20lb
Lure Weight 3/8-1oz
Sections 3
Guides 10
Rating Medium-Heavy
Color Green
Action Fast
MSRP $99.99

Impressions: I've always been torn about what to look for in a good travel rod. While part of me wants to fish with the very same quality and performance I expect from my rods at home, another side of me has always questioned the investment of so much money into a rod that is guaranteed to take a beating. The majority of all rods that are broken are done so not while being fished with, but during transport. The Bass Pro Extreme XPS travel Rod is a mid range rod designed to offer plenty of features, a solid total package, and a good price.


The Extreme XPS rod utilizes Bass Pro's HM54 Graphite

When I first opened up the Extreme XPS I was greeted by a nicely finished rod that featured the signature XPS implementations, including the engineered reel seat and "Power Hump" ergonomically enlarged cork grip. If you are already a Bass Pro Shop's customer then these features will feel right at home. Overall the rod is quite attractive, but uses a bit too much gold for my tastes, with gold inserts over the cork grip, on the reel clamp, threading, and rod labeling. Gold treatment aside, the rod has an attractive matte finished blank, and is built with the Fuji concept system, and employ's Fuji high quality Hardloy concept guides.

Complete Rig for Bass Pro Shops Extreme XPS Travel Rod tests

Rod ETX66MHT-3
Reel Chronarch Mg
Line 12lb Trilene Big Game Ultra Clear


The Package: I often complain at the number of travel rods that come with rod socks but no durable rod tube. Rod socks may help organize your rod sections but provide little to no protection from being crushed during shipping. Bass Pro includes a nylon rod sock and crushproof rod tube with every Extreme XPS rod. The Nylon rod sock is somewhat stiff and not nearly as nice as the soft socks that come with competitor rods, but the rod tube is excellent. While almost all rod tubes utilize PVC piping for the rigid protection, only premium carriers take the time to insulate the lining inside the tube itself. Bass Pro does an superb job inside the tube with complete lining and features very detailed stitch-work for all their logos, rather then just screening. This terrific rod tube will protect your rod from anything, short of being run over by a car, and look great doing it. 


The included hard rod case is excellent, and does a good job protecting the rod even when shipped

Real World Test: I actually bought this rod because I was taking a trip to the famous Susquehanna river at Harrisburg, PA, and had no bass rods capable of being broken down to fit into my luggage. My tests included fishing for smallmouth bass in Pennsylvania, as well as largemouth bass at several private ponds. To test the durability of the rod I checked the tube, by itself, into the baggage check. When I arrived at Harrisburg the
Extreme XPS rod tube rolled right out on the baggage carousel in perfect condition.

The Extreme XPS is broken into 3 sections

Casting: When I first arrived in PA the first lures I paired the rod up with a lightweight Chronarch Mg and began by casting 1/2oz rat traps. The rod has a solid backbone and thanks to the use of so many guides casts accurately with little effort. I was impressed that Bass Pro decided to implement the Fuji Concept Guide system on such an inexpensive rod. During the day I tossed everything from senkos to spinners and found the Extreme XPS to be quite a versatile performer. Bait placement is easiest with heavier baits, and it takes a little bit of practice to get used to the firm feel of this rod when it comes to tossing smaller, lighter lures.

We were surprised that the Extreme XPS utilized the Fuji Concept system and Hardloy guides with a price tag under 100 dollars

Sensitivity: The Extreme XPS makes use of what Bass Pro calls HM54 (High Modulus. 54 Million modulus graphite) in the construction of this rod. To facilitate better transfer of vibration the Extreme XPS features a graphite reel seat with a large blank through. When fishing for smallmouth with plastics I felt disconnected from the lure and had difficulty distinguishing strikes and structure. Part of the problem is that the rod is broken down into three sections. Overall the sensitivity was just average, and a bit faster action on the tip would help when fishing plastics.

The XPS reel seat may look different, but it is comfortable and secures reels nicely

Power: What the
Extreme XPS lacks in sensitivity it makes up with sheer power. This rod boasts excellent lifting power and did great when muscling smallies right out of the murky waters. Bass Pro Shops did a good job of making the three sections arc in a seamless fashion. When the rod is loaded it distributes the weight evenly, and I didn't feel any dead spots or stress points, even when purposely "high sticking" during the test.

A large blank through is designed to enhance sensitivity

One thing I did notice was how easy it was to hold the rod perfectly center when hauling in fish. Unlike other rods that feature a regular circle cork grip the Extreme XPS has an ergonomically shaped "Power Hump" that prevents the grip from rotating in your hand, even if your line tugs one way or another. The additional leverage allows you to angle the rod and maintain pressure on the line with ease.


A enlarged cork grip and soft foam butt help make this rod ergonomically friendly

Ergonomics: While the majority of my rods can be described as spartan in design, the Extreme XPS, in contrast, is quite posh. Rather than use a traditional Fuji reel seat Bass Pro designed their own proprietary solution. The XPS graphite reel seat is larger than most Fuji designs and is built with an enlarged thumb rest. In addition the entire seat features "Grip-Tite" non slip coating, which is feels like a layer of rubberized ink. The coating feels silky to the touch rather than gummy, and when wet the surface is actually quite slick. This feature doesn't do much to increase your grip on the reel seat, but is very comfortable.

Two other innovations that separate this rod from the competition in terms of ergonomics are the Power Hump and XPS "Weight balance" system. To perfectly balance the weight of the rod to any reel you can order additional weights to be added below the cork, and on top of the removable foam butt. The foam butt is one of my favorite additions, as it is much more comfortable against your forearm than the hard plastic caps employed by most manufacturers.


For perfect balance the Extreme XPS can make use of Bass Pro's weight
balance system

Price: The
Extreme XPS is a good deal for under 100.00 dollars, and a solid choice when it comes to choosing a single travel rod for the majority of your on the go fishing. At this price you can afford to have one with you at all times, whether that is on a plane, or in the backseat of your car. The rod sock and hard rod tube are very welcome additions to this rod. Consider that Bass Pro sells the single and 2 piece versions of this rod for the exact same price!


Bass Pro Shops Extreme XPS Travel Rod Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Overall a very good build quality that brings Bass pro design to a portable format. very nice hard rod case bundle 8
Performance The rod performance was good in all tests other than sensitivity, where the rod was just average. Portability of this rod is excellent 8
Price This is a great price to pay for a rod package that offers so much, all for under 100 dollars 9
Features Plenty of Bass Pro features here. The ergonomic power hump and XPS reel seat may not be for everyone but they are a addition most anglers will like. The ability to use balancing kits is also a plus 9
Design (Ergonomics) Contoured cork and the soft foam butt help make this rod quite comfortable for most, but not all anglers 8
Application This rod is an excellent bass rod, and light saltwater travel rod, capable of fishing on the go for a wide range of fish 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Good design, Fuji Concept System L Not as sensitive as some rods
J Lot's of power L Enlarged XPS reel seat and power hump not for everyone
J Hard Rod Case  
J Reasonable price  

If your already a fan of Bass Pro Shop's rod design then the XPS is definitely for you. Those that are more used to traditional rod design may need time to adjust to the Power Hump and enlarged XPS graphite reel seat, but for a rod on the go its hard to complain. This rod brings all of Bass Pro's rod innovations into a travel friendly package. The Extreme XPS offers a lot of rod for the money, and is a great choice for anglers that want a travel trigger rod to use for a wide range of species ranging from bronzebacks to snook. If Bass pro could just improve the sensitivity of this rod they would have a sure fire "Best Value," but the Extreme XPS travel rod is definitely still worth considering.

Until next time....Tight Lines!









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