Designed to Smash Green
Monsters, the iRod Croaker Crusher Frog Rod
Total Score: 8.0 -
We do our best to keep an eye on manufacturers with whom we're familiar, but sometimes, new developments slip by our spies and watchers. One such development has been that of rod manufacturer iRod. Their original lineup of rods, Genesis is now on its third incarnation and their flagship series, Air, is well established, but little did we know, there are actually three additional rod series now being offered by the Southern California company. Kaimana is a saltwater inshore and offshore series that many swimbait anglers have latched onto and there are two additional freshwater series to book end Genesis, Fiber and Crusher. Today, we take a look at a rod within one of those series designed by pro Kayak fisherman, Ron Champion. Introducing the iRod Crusher series IA784C-H Crusher Croaker.
iRod Crusher IA784C-H
||36T Graphite w/ WXW wrapping
||10+tip (Fuji "O" Series (Aluminum Oxide Inserts))
|Rear Handle Length
||Made in China
iRod has a new series, Crusher...
Impressions: The IA784C-H is a seven foot, eight inch (7'-8") stick made from a blank rolled with 36-ton graphite and reinforced with a cross weave carbon sleeve over the lower third of the rod. It looks like a stick from the Genesis series but the differences are in the grade of graphite in the blank (30T for Genesis, 36T for Crusher) and the guides (Alconite for Genesis, Aluminum Oxide for Crusher).
... the IA784C-H within that series was designed by pro Kayak
fisherman, Ron Champion as a frog rod, hence the name "Croaker Crusher."
As its name may suggest, the Croaker Crusher is designed as a frogging stick and its rear handle length speaks to this purpose. The short, twelve inch (12") handle (measured from the back of the reel seat to the butt end) is also a good configuration to accommodate those fishing from the seat of a kayak. However, with a lure rating up to three ounces, Matt Newman tells us big bait fishermen have been snatching this stick up to throw smaller swimbaits too. It seems any iRod stick these days with a lure rating of over an ounce is a candidate for big bait duty.
But with a lure rating of up to 3 ounces, this stick should
be capable of more
Real World Tests:
Naturally, it's this dichotomy that caught my interest so I paired the Croaker Crusher with my 2021 Daiwa Zillion SV TW and spooled it, on separate occasions, with a variety of lines including 20lb and 14lb Sufix Advance Fluorocarbon, and 50lb Seaguar Threadlock with a two different leader options (fluorocarbon and braid).
A look at the rod's handle design
Casting: For me, more than the lure or line ratings, what makes a good frog stick is the flexibility in that stick's tip and the ability to launch your bait not only a good distance, but with accuracy - and all with minimal effort. Frog fishing is a fast and furious affair casting to targets, working the spot, retrieving your bait quickly once it's out of the zone, and then whipping your bait back out there with a roll of your wrist to start all over again. Rods with a stiff tip do not respond well to those quick roll casts. Rods with tips that are too soft affect accuracy and make it difficult to place your bait beneath the overhanging tree, between those two branches, right past that spot of open water in the overgrown weeds.
The bottom third of the rod is (to the left) covered in an x-wrap
The Crusher Croaker has the type of tip I like in a frog rod - super responsive to those roll casts. However, I had some unexpected difficulty with accuracy using this stick. It wasn't due to the rod's tip, but rather its length. Apparently, I've grown too accustomed to whipping frogs on target with rods closer to seven feet in length. The IA784C-H's 7'-8" length is tough for me to dial in on those roll casts, but perfectly fine on over the shoulder casts for distance.
The reel seat is sleek and comfortable with an exposed blank
On the swimbait side of things, I fished this stick with Dream Smasher Swimbait's DSS Gill and Shad baits (weighing 1.4 to 2.7 ounces respectively), Skinny Bear's Big Cull Swimbait (1.8oz), and Working Class Zero's 6" Citizen swimbait (rigged with a 3/8oz, 6/0 Owner Flashy Swimmer). The Crusher Croaker handled casting duties with these baits just fine. That soft tip loads well even with baits in this weight class and really fires them out for long distances. I had to be mindful of my Zlllion SV TW 1000's line capacity as I almost spooled the reel on a few long casts. I can see why iRod fans are buying up this stick to use with smaller bodied swimbaits.
The IA784C-H has enough sensitivity to let you feel the tail on
this wedgetail bait from DreamSmasher Swimbaits
Sensitivity: Since the technique is about topwater presentations, sensitivity with a frog rod is not really all that important. Afterall, all the strikes are visual. However, those looking for a stick to serve more than its intended purpose are going to want that stick to perform well in the one area that separates a good stick from something mediocre. That of course is sensitivity.
Guides are made by Fuji and feature aluminum oxide inserts
The IA784C-H performs well in this regard too. Dream Smasher's DSS Shad is a wedge tail swimbait. It's small, but puts out a good deal of thump thanks to the design of that wedge tail. On medium to fast retrieves with this bait, I was a little surprised to discover could feel that tail thump with this stick. That feel gave me confidence me to fish this stick in the early part of the year before the frog bite materialized.
: The chart above illustrates the deflection characteristics of our iRod Crusher
historical averages of similarly powered rods we've tested over the past twenty
Power: Unfortunately, what I discovered once the inevitable hits came was the IA784C-H doesn't quite have the backbone needed to drive the hook home on a jig-style hook swimbait like the DSS Shad. I discovered this on two massive hits in three successive casts that resulted in zero fish to the boat. On both hits, I got a really good swing for what should have been solid hooksets even given the amount of line I had out. On both occasions, I couldn't keep the fish from jumping and that's all it took for the fish to shake themselves free.
Checking out that taper
Power, Design, and Ergonomics