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Rod Review


Kistler's New Feel N Reel Hybrid Cranking Series


Date: 12/14/16
Tackle Type: Rod
Manufacturer: Kistler Custom Rods
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 7.03 - GOOD

Seemingly on the hunt continuously for new and innovative materials to incorporate into their fishing rods, Kistler Custom Rods was at it again at ICAST 2016 where they introduced us to their latest "Feel and Reel" series of sticks within their KLX lineup. These new rods are built from a blank made of S2 Glass and T800 graphite. S2 glass is the latest in high-strength glass fiber offering the best performance to date in a fiberglass material. So how does this new composite blank fish? Let's find out.


Kistler Feel n Reel KLX-FNR72MH Specifications

Material S2 Glass and T800 Graphite Hybrid Blank by NFC
Length 7'-2"
Line Wt. 10-16lb
Lure Wt. 1/4 - 1oz
Pieces One
Guides 10 + tip (Kigan Zero Tangle)
Rear Handle Length 10"
Power Rating Medium Heavy
Taper Fast
Rod Weight 3.8 oz
Origin Made in USA
MSRP $249


No, it's not the Ugly Stik - introducing the new KLX Feel N Reel series from Kistler Custom Rods.

Quality/Construction: Kistler proudly labels the KLX-FNR72MH as Made in the USA. The rod's blank is supplied by Gary Loomis's latest venture, North Fork Composites and is an unsanded blank with a slight gloss coat over its length. The split rear grip is made of cork but with an EVA foam but cap. Epoxy work around the guides looks good but it's difficult to tell where the epoxy ends and gloss coat begins. The rod's blank has a very slight downward bend towards the tip likely due to the very flexible fiberglass material at that end of the stick.


Quality Ratings for Kistler Feel n Reel KLX-FNR72MH

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


The KLX-FNR72MH features a split rear grip made of cork.

Performance: I matched the KLX-FNR72MH with the JDM version of Shimano's Casitas casting reel featuring the MGL spool. I spooled the reel with some of Lucky Craft's Iron Athlete topwater line and took to the California Delta and other local lakes for some tests.

The reel seat is a standard Fuji ECS.

Casting: Casting the KLX-FN72MH requires a slight adjustment in your release point. The blank itself loads very well, but that tip is softer than what you'd expect of a comparably rated graphite rod yet faster than what you'd expect from one that's all glass. As a result, it takes a few casts to dial in the right release point during your casting motion Once you do, it's pretty easy to accurately place your bait where you want. The only additional difficulty is if you switch often between combos, you might have to put up with a couple of inaccurate casts until muscle memory kicks in.

The rod's blank is left unsanded.

Sensitivity: The "feel" part of this stick is what you can expect of a typical composite blank - not quite as sensitive as all graphite, but not quite as numb as an all glass stick. In fact, it's more along the lines of a graphite cranking rod made of low-end graphite.

But the real news is in that S2 Glass tip.

Power: The KLX-FN72MH delivers a good amount of power out on the water thanks to that graphite backbone, yet is soft enough in the tip thanks to that S2 Glass to deliver excellent hook up ratios. It has a unique feel even for a composite stick thanks to the blend of these two materials. That S2 Glass tip seems even more forgiving than traditional fiberglass rods.

Fig 1 : The chart above illustrates the deflection characteristics of our Kistler Feel n Reel KLX-FNR72MH against
our Year of the Crank averages.

Looking strictly at the KLX-FNR72MH's deflection chart, you might think this stick is more of a medium to deep diving crankbait rod, but really it's an excellent mid-depth stick that can support shallow and deep diving cranks in a pinch. It is the cranking version of an all purpose stick.

Performance Ratings for Kistler Feel n Reel KLX-FNR72MH

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


Hybrid technology (fiberglass + graphite) left raw for everyone to see.

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