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Rod Review


A Global Design for Enthusiasts, the Shimano G.Loomis Conquest Rods (continued)


The global design and manufacturing of the Conquest Series follows a very different process than other G.Loomis rods, taking two plants, two teams, each on the other side of the world and we asked Dave Brinkerhoff what was the biggest challenge in creating these rods, to which he replied:

"The most challenging part of this project was perfecting the actions and strengths of each rod. There was an immense amount of back and forth between all involved with the Conquest rod development with G. Loomis staff here in the U.S. and our rod design counterparts with Shimano headquarters in Japan. We did not rush any decision - we wanted to ensure that our actions and strengths were correct. From our original designs at the start, there were many tweaks needed due to the difference in the manufacturing process from how it is down in our Woodland, Wash. plant to achieve that perfect action and strength."

The path to market for the Conquest Series is just as interesting as what the company chose to name this new series. Enthusiast anglers will recognize the name as the high end JDM version of the Shimano Calcutta reels, but why name this series a specific sub-brand name versus a three letter acronym (E6X, IMX, GLX, NRX) like traditional G.Loomis rods? Dave also shed some light on how the teams arrived at this decision stating that "when it came to selecting the right name for this new rod series, being this is a joint venture rod offering utilizing both G.Loomis and Shimano expertise - much like the 2016 introduction of co-branded G. Loomis/Shimano Asquith fly rods - the decision to go with a naming convention different from our standard naming convention made sense for this product."


The reel that I found balanced out best with the Conquest was the Shimano Metanium MGL which made for an extremely light and comfortable combo

Real World Tests: I first got to preview the Conquest rods in the weeks leading up to ICAST and was able to fish a few of the first prototype rods with Dan (Bantam1) Thorburn, and while the rods were not fully representational of the final products the blanks provided a very good indication of what the two teams were attempting to achieve with the combined platform. I wrote about these rods in an on the water preview back in July and some of my biggest takeaways were how fast action the rods were and how the blank positively impacted casting and also the surprising amount of lifting power the rods exhibited when there was a fish on the line.


Time to see what this new halo rod can do on the water

Fast forward to after ICAST and we received two Conquest rods for a longer term test, the 843C MBR and the 843S SJR, which are basically do it all 7 foot casting and spinning rods. The rods looked more refined than the prototype rods that we originally fished with including updated graphics, better cork, updated reel seats and improved refinement on the thread and epoxy work. I was eager to put the new Conquest rods to the test and over the last few months have had the opportunity to pit them against largemouth and spotted bass from the California Delta and other regional lakes and reservoirs. I paired the rods with a variety of reels, ultimately finding that the lighter magnesium and carbon composite based reels like the Metanium MGL and Aldebaran 50 offered the best balance and helped deliver an overall lighter outfit, only adding to the responsive feel of these rods. I fished primarily with Sunline Super Natural monofilament and Shooter Fluorocarbon.


One of the first things that anglers will notice besides how light the rods are is just how well they cast

Casting: It took just a few casts to start getting a taste for the unique attributes of the Conquest rods and anglers will find that the rods cast very smoothly, accurately and long distance. This is a direct result of the Spiral X and Hi-power X technologies that provide directional reinforcement within the blank so that during the cast the performance robbing blank twist is minimized. This additional torsional rigidity enables all the energy that the angler is putting into the cast to seamlessly transfer to the line and lure, resulting in both long and predictable casts each and every time.

The Conquest can catapult a medium sized plug just as well as any rod but interestingly the casting benefits are most noticeable not with heavy lures but with lighter ones like finesse plastics where every bit of casting energy results in better lure distance and placement. I found this especially to be the case with the Conquest spinning rod which was among the best casting spinning rods I’ve ever fished, making it easy to launch lightweight shaky heads, finesse jigs and drop shot rigs.


Casts feel smooth and energy is not wasted as the blanks do not twist, which increases casting accuracy and distance

Sensitivity: When it comes to sensitivity the Conquest rod does a good job telegraphing even light ticks through the entire blank and it is easy to discern a strike versus contact with structure. Access to the blank is generous with the skeleton reel seats. The Conquest’s blank definitely has a unique character that feels crisp and responsive in hand, and in general feels slightly stiffer than similarly rated GLX and NRX rods.
After fishing the different rods side by side over the last few months I would categorize the Conquest rods as clearly more sensitive than GLX but on the same level as NRX. When you are up at the top end of the performance spectrum gaining noticeable improvements becomes all the more challenging and this is one area that I don’t think that the Conquest flat out beats the NRX series.


Sensitivity on this rod is very good, and on par with the NRX Series

While the level of sensitivity is very close between the NRX and Conquest I do feel that there are notable differences. For example, when fishing contact baits over structure I felt I was able to distinguish a little bit more what was on the end of the line with the NRX. Some of this is due to the blank itself but also the minimalist recoil guides also come into play here helping transfer every bit of vibration directly to the blank.


The spinning rod also was sensitive and it was easy to detect bites and navigate structure

On the other hand when it came to stronger vibrations such as strikes and perceiving what was happening on the end of the line once a fish was hooked the blank on the Conquest had the edge. Overall I felt like the differences were distinguishable but too close to call which leads me back to the take that the Conquest is as sensitive, but not more sensitive than the NRX Series.


Besides casting the area where the Conquest really shines is in power and the ability to control fish. In this area the Conquest feels superior to every other G.Loomis rod to date

Next: Lifting Power and the Ability to Control Fish









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