A Classic Vintage in the Making? Kistler's '21 Helium
Casting: On that note, I pulled my Shimano Conquest BFS out of retirement, spooled it with some six pound Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon and paired it with this new HE701ML for some drop shot and ned rig duties. The lightest of these rigs was a 3/32 oz Brian Schmidt Ned Dred matched with a Z-Man T.R.D. ned worm for a total lure weight of 7.7 grams, or just over one quarter of an ounce (1/4oz). My drop shot bait combo weighed 7.8 grams.
The rod's blank is definitely different, and in a good way
Unsure as to the capabilities of my combo, I'm always cautiously pessimistic when making that first cast with a new BFS rod or reel, but the HE701ML cast these bait combos surprisingly well. Of course, once I got back to the lab and weighed the components, to discover their true weight, it all made sense. One quarter ounce, plus or minus a tenth of a percentage to a rod and reel combo like this is like a five eighth ounce (5/8oz) lure weight combo to a medium-heavy combo - right in the wheelhouse.
The familiar butt section
Sensitivity: Casting abilities aside, the real question behind any new or refreshed rod with an unfamiliar to us blank is sensitivity. Specifically how sensitive or insensitive is that blank. If you noticed under our discussion of first impressions above, I made mention of the blank's sound. One thing I've noticed over the years, with rods that perform well in sensitivity is the sound they make when you flick your fingernail against them. Is it a dull thump or a slightly higher pitched knock? Even better, if the blank has some texture to the outside like an unsanded or partially sanded surface, when you run your fingers up and down its length, there's a hollow sound high end blanks tend to deliver.
A standard, Fuji exposed blank reel seat
The difference in sound is even more pronounced if you hold the rod, without a reel by its handle and gently tap a concrete floor. Some high end rods will make a sound that can almost be described as a "ping" while rods with lower modulus graphite will simply tap. These are all methods I use for initial impressions but reserve final judgment, of course, until I get a chance to fish a new rod out on the water.
The reel seat locking mechanism is finished off with a piece of
Kistler's new HE701ML checked off all the appropriate boxes during my initial investigation. I even pulled down my Kistler ZB3LMH73 built on an NFC X-Ray blank for a side by side, off the water comparison of blank sound. They were surprisingly similar, so I had high hopes for this stick out on the water.
Subtle winding checks to help with the transition between cork
and bare blank
Those hopes and expectations were immediately met when dragging and popping that ned rig bait combo along the bottom. I had a good feel for lure, but unfortunately, the bites with that technique are not very distinct. So I switched over to a drop shot to see if the fish would give me a better signal and they did. The HE701ML's new blank delivers a very distinct "tap" when the fish are biting in that aggressive manner. However, early in the season, the ned rig was producing better fish results, so I switched back. Bottom line, sensitivity with this new blank is very good.
: The chart above illustrates the deflection characteristics of our Kistler 2021
Helium HE701ML against
historical averages of similarly powered rods we've tested over the past twenty
Power: Kistler's power ratings though a bit confusing at times with terms like "light medium light," are generally spot on with what we'd expect based on our historical averages. The HE701ML is no exception as demonstrated by our RoD Deflection chart above. If anything, this stick falls on the lighter side of medium light and could be simply labeled light power.
Checking out that tip
Out on the water, I had zero issues with hooksets and battles. I say battles because you can't really control a fish with six pound line and a medium-light powered rod. What you can do is keep a nice bend in the rod and allow the fish to tire itself out enough to either lip it or guide it into the net. Light line fishing is about having fun experiencing the bite and fight and the HE701ML excels in both areas.
Changing things up with the new Alphas SV TW 801 for some general
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