Gan Craft Raises the Danger Level with the Dead Sword Shaku-One JDM Rod
Total Score: 7.75 - GOOD
In June of 2021, we published our article about the first in a trio of big bait sticks from JDM manufacturer Gan Craft. The Dead Sword is Gan Craft's entry into that magical JDM spec of powerful, seven foot (and change) rods, built to handle a surprising variety of baits and techniques. That stick's teammates in this trio are a little more focused on big bait duties. The next step up from the Dead Sword is the Dead Sword Magnum. Built to handle baits up to five ounces (previous mention of this stick being rated up to six ounces was in error), this stick is kind of the glue or middle child. Reinforcing that middle child paranoia, we're going to skip over it in favor of taking a closer look at the biggest, baddest stick in the lineup. Here's our take on Gan Craft's KGB-00 9-80SEXH Dead Sword R-One (aka Shaku-One).
Gan Craft Dead Sword R-One KGB-00 9-800SEXH
||9+tip (Fuji Ti/SiC - all double footed)
|Rear Handle Length
||Made in China
It's been a fun time with Gan Craft's trio of
big bait sticks. Time to discuss the Dead Sword Shaku-One!
Impressions: Gan Craft's KGB-00 9-800EXH Dead Sword Shaku-One is an eight foot stick arriving in two pieces. As is common with most longer sticks built for the Japanese Domestic Market (JDM), this stick separates at the handle, but once fully assembled, it's easy to forget you're fishing a two piece stick. Once the pieces are together, my first impression was the overall build feels lighter than it appears. It has a pretty thick blank and actually weighs in at a hefty nine ounces (9oz) but it somehow feels light and easy to wield in hand. Normally, this is a sign of a well balanced rod, but if measured from the mid point of the reel seat forward, the Dead Sword R-One's balance point is eight and a half inches (8.5") - good, but closer to average than great. It's a mystery how a stick this heavy and powerful with average balance can feel so light.
As with each of the Dead Sword sticks, the Shaku One is designed
to be fished with a specific Jointed Claw bait - the 303, a.k.a. Shaku-One (for
Taking a close look at the guides, you can see they are all double footed and from Fuji's latest RV K-Guide series. "K" refers to Fuji's tangle free frame designed to minimize the occurrence of line (especially braid) wrapping around the guide frame. They accomplish this by rounding the edges of the guide's support arms making it easier for would be line loops to slide off the frame and avoid tangles. The reverse orientation of those double footed guides warrants a deeper discussion. More on that later. What's important here is these are titanium framed, SiC guides on the Dead Sword Shaku-One reinforcing the notion that this a high end, big bait stick.
Paired with my Shimano Antares MD DC
Real World Tests:
I've been fishing a variety of reels on the Dead Sword Shaku-One basing my decision upon which baits I intend to throw. My general rule of thumb is a slow retrieve ratio reel, like my Ryoga 1520L CC, for wakes and rat baits, and something faster like my Antares DC MD or DR-Z2020XHL when fishing glides. When I say glides, I'm talking big glides like the bait this stick was designed around, Gan Craft's own Jointed Claw 303.
I'm not clear on the distinction, but the Dead Sword Shaku-One is
part of the Killers Blue series within Gan Craft's bass rod hierarchy
My fishing line setups have been with either PowerPro's Hollow Ace or Seaguar's Threadlock hollow braid products as my main line fitted with leaders usually of either 30lb Sunline Super Natural, or Seaguar's Gold Label fluorocarbon leader material. I've been experimenting with other materials, namely Seaguar's Fluoro Premier and Sunline's Saltimate Nylon Shock Leader as well as their Night FC and more, but I don't think I fished any of these on board the Shaku-One.
Casting is a breeze
Casting: Along with the simple desire to complete this trio of Gan Craft swimbait sticks, my real, primary objective in acquiring this stick was to cast and fish the Jointed Claw 303. This bait measures a legitimate twelve inches and weighs nine ounces plus or minus a fraction of an ounce depending on the fall rate. Although I have a stick or two rated to nine ounces, I wanted one that would not feel the slightest bit overburdened casting this bait.
Rat Rumble action with Illude/Lunker Fighter's Zombie Rat
The Dead Sword Shaku-One is rated up to
twelve ounces in lure weight - TWELVE! and is made with the JC 303 in mind. Both products are referred to as Shaku-One, the JC 303 for its length, and the KGB-00 9-800EXH because it is made for that bait. "Shaku" means "foot" in Japanese and the representative character for this word closely resembles the letter "R" in our alphabet. Hence the use of "R-One" in reference to both products.
Glide bait action with Limit Lures's trout glide painted up in a
kind of carp pattern
Baits that I tested this stick's casting ability with included Division Rebel Tackle's (DRT's) Ghost (9.1oz), Megabass's iSlide 262T (6.6oz), Pizz Swimbait's DDT Glide (7.6oz), Roman Made's Mother (11.3oz), and of course, Gan Craft's own Jointed Claw 303 (9oz). The Dead Sword Shaku-One handled all these baits, and even some lighter rat baits amidst our Rat Rumble theme with ease. It fulfills the purpose for which I had in mind perfectly. The only difficulty I found was with accuracy. Because the stick is so long and that tip somewhat stiff, it's a little hard to side arm lob a bait with accuracy. That could change with a little practice or if the Dead Sword Shaku-One were the only rod I fished all day, but since it is not, I did experience that one slight difficulty. If your big bait casting mode is to just bombs away, there are absolutely zero issues with this stick using that approach.
Fuji's RV guides are built for reverse orientation installation
for uninterrupted (i.e. no line slap against the guide arms) casting performance
An interesting tidbit about this rod are the guides Gan Craft has chosen to use. These double footed Fuji RV guides are made to be installed with the single leg side facing towards the reel and the double leg side pointed towards the tip. This reverse orientation is designed to mitigate against the occurrence of your line slapping against the guide arms as it is sailing through the guides on a cast. Line slap creates friction and can affect casting distance and apparently is not normally an issue with double footed guides in larger sizes. This approach allows the use of smaller than normal rings in a double footed design helping manufacturers and custom builders strike a balance between conventional layouts and micro guides (where single footed guides rule).
The split rear grip is built of sculpted EVA foam
The smaller you go in ring size with double footed guides, the more those double legs on the reel side of this component can interfere with how your line travels through the guides. By flipping this orientation, those concerns are alleviated. This is important because in theory, the smaller guide sizes more quickly funnel your line and all that energy during a cast into a straight line helping with distance and accuracy. So while most manufacturers have abandoned the micro-guide fad, with bass rods at least, the great majority are using guide trains with smaller sized rings. This is easy to do when the running guides are single footed, but now with their RV guides, Fuji addresses a performance concern with smaller guide rings built with double footed support.
Fuji's RV-H guides take the reverse orientation concept a step
further by elevating the guides so they can be used in stripper position
Detailing and Sensitivity in a Big Stick...