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Rod Review


Re-Energizing Their Drive : Denali's New Lithium Mag Crank Stick


Date: 8/28/16
Tackle Type: Rod
Manufacturer: Denali Rods
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 7.45 - GOOD

With the emergence of the L.O.U.S. (lures of unusual size) syndrome, rod manufacturers are busy cranking out sticks (pun intended) that can launch these oversized plugs over the next breakline. Today, we take a look at one such product from a manufacturer ready to break out of the pack and distinguish themselves. Introducing Denali's Lithium L945XD Mag Crank crankbait stick.

Introducing Denali's new Lithium Series of Rods.

Denali Lithium L945XD Mag Crank Specifications

Material Blend of 24T, 30T and 42T graphite
Length 7'-10"
Line Wt. 10-25lb
Lure Wt. 1/2 - 2-1/2oz
Pieces One
Guides 15+Tip Sea-Guide Semi Micro guides with zirconium ceramic inserts
Rear Handle Length 12.5"
Power Rating Extra-Heavy
Taper Moderate-Fast
Rod Weight 5.7oz
Origin Made in China
MSRP $199


The woven silver graphite pattern ends just before the first guide.

Quality/Construction: Denali's Lithium L945XD Mag Crank is a seven foot, ten inch (7'-10") stick made from a blend of three graphite grades (24T, 30T & 42T). Only Denali's and their pattern cutters know where each grade is applied and for what purpose. The rod features a bright, silver, graphite pattern through the first section from the butt end to about halfway up to the first guide. The rest of the blank is finished with a satin black paint.


A look at the rod's cork rear grip.


The rod's split rear grip is a blend of cork in some sections and EVA foam in others and keeping with tradition, there is a small section of wood capping the handle assembly. The rod's fifteen guides and tip top are all perfectly aligned and the epoxy work around each guide's threadwrap is good. The blank on our test sample was straight.

Denali keeps with tradition using this decorative piece of wood to cap off the handle assembly.


Quality Ratings for Denali Lithium L945XD Mag Crank

Finish (1-5)
Grip (1-5)
Epoxy (1-5)
Blank (1-2)
Guides (1-2)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)


The L945XC Mag Crank matched with an old school Abu Garcia Ambassadeur C3 4601.

Performance: The bright silver, woven graphite handle section of the L945XD Mag Crank called for a little out of the box matchup with a reel equally as bright so I paired the stick with Abu Garcia's Ambassadeur C3 4601 casting reel. The natural, brushed silver finish of this reel matches perfectly with the silver motif of this stick. Spooled with eight pound (8lb) PLine CXX copolymer, we took to the California Delta to see what this stick was all about.

A better, overall look at the rod's handle assembly.

Casting: Knowing this stick was designed with the big, heavy, L.O.U.S. cranks in mind, in typical TackleTour fashion, I went in the opposite direction for this stick's initial tests in the casting department. I tied on a little three eighths ounce (3/8 oz) Lucky Craft Fat Mini MR to the end of the line for a few tosses.

The spec's say "Mag Crank", but the L945XD can handle this little 3/8oz crankbait just fine.

What I discovered was while this bait sits below the rod's lure rating, matched with the Ambassadeur C3, it was more than capable of launching this bait not only long distances, but also on target - or at least within reasonable target given the wind conditions at the time of each cast. I was surprised this big, beefy stick was able to load at all with such a small crank tied to the end of the line.

A healthy CA Delta bass hiding in the sparse tule patches.

Of course, doing my due diligence, I also later tied on a Strike King 10XD (approximately 2 ounces) to see how well the L945XD handled that bait, and to no one's surprise, it can really launch that bait a mile. The rod's overall length, handle length, and taper combine as a near perfect vehicle for launching these large, oversized cranks with forceful, two handed casts.

Fishing the second ledge with Strike King's 10XD.

Sensitivity: Another really nice characteristic of this rod is its sensitivity. Thanks to its all graphite construction, even with a copolymer line strung trough its guides and spooled onto the reel, the L945XD has very good sensitivity and I was able to feel both the small and large crank as I pulled them through and around the sparse grass patches we found on the CA Delta.

Checking out the rod's tip and taper.

Power: The L945XD Mag Crank is a big, beefy stick designed around the requirements of today's L.O.U.S. cranks. You'd expect this stick's RoD deflection curve to line up very closely with that of our deep diving crankbait rod average from 2009 and it does initially, but after about a full one pound of pressure, the rod softens up a bit and aligns more closely with our all purpose crankbait rod average. This is a good thing because once you have a fish at the end of the line, you want a crankbait rod to soften up, bend more through the rod, and give you a better chance to land your catch.

Fig 1 : The chart above illustrates the deflection characteristics of our Denali Lithium L945XD Mag Crank against
our 2009 Year of the Crank averages.

This is exactly the impression I received of this stick while out on the water - that it has that coveted dual taper action where it's powerful at the hookset, but softens up once the battle ensues. This must have something to do with that multiple grade of graphite blend Denali is using in the blank. They've done a very good job design the taper of this rod and anticipating when and where it needs to be powerful and then at which point that powerful stick needs to transition to something more forgiving to minimize the occurrence of pulling the bait out of the fish's mouth.


Performance Ratings for Denali Lithium L945XD Mag Crank

Pitch (1-5)
Cast (1-5)
Sensitivity (1-5)
Hook Set (1-5)
Control (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

All Lithium series rods feature guides with ss frames with zirconium inserts by Sea-Guide.

Next Section: But does it have the features anglers want?









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