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Rod Review

Kistler Custom Rods handcrafts a rod with true muscle... the new 6'6" Mark Tyler signature rod

Date: 3/7/02
Tackle type: Rod
Manufacturer: Kistler
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 9.0

Introduction: Kistler rods is making a name for itself in the industry by producing extremely detailed handcrafted rods at reasonable prices. At the top of the line Kistler offers the Mark Tyler signature series, and TackleTour got the opportunity to put Kistler's new 6'6" MT rod to the test.


Kistler KMT66MH Specifications

Material IM7 Graphite
Length 6'6"
Line Weight 10-17lb
Lure Weight 1/4-3/4oz
Sections 1pc
Guides 8 plus the tip
Rating Medium-Heavy
Color Red
Action Extra Fast
MSRP $119.99

About Kistler: Kistler rods is owned and operated by Trey Kistler. Trey's father was the co-founder of All-Star rods and the founder of Castaway rods. Trey grew up fishing as well as working alongside his father in the rod building business. After his father retired from Castaway Trey built his own business from the ground up with the introduction of "Kistler Custom Fishing Rods" in 1999. Since then Kistler has had phenomenal growth, and prides itself on producing high quality rods backed by a lifetime warranty.


The Kistler Mark Tyler rods are attractively wrapped and branded

Impressions: When TackleTour first looked at the Mark Tyler rod that Trey had sent us we were immediately impressed by the detail in the workmanship. Not only was the rod wrap flawless, but Kistler obviously put some innovative design components into this rod to improve comfort and functionality. These innovations included a unique hook hanger and removal of the cork above the reel seat. I was eager to get the Kistler into our tests to see how these modifications played into the fishing experience.


The cork handle is contoured on the KMT66MH to help increase comfort and offer better positioning by shortening distance to feather the reel

For the tests we paired the KMT66MH with a Shimano ChronarchSF.

Complete Rig for KMT66MH tests

Rod Kistler KMT66MH
Reel Shimano ChronarchSF
Line 12lb Trilene XL


The Lab Tests: In the lab we flexed the rod and noticed all the flex in the KMT66MH occurs right above the 4th guide. The KMT66MH looked like an extremely fast action rod with a stiff butt. In comparison to other similarly rated rods in the lab the KMT66MH had a larger diameter blank in the butt, stiffening the entire rod. Only in bright light does the KMT66MH really show off the beauty of the tight knit IM7 graphite. Holding the rod in the lab with 10lb's of pressure exerted on the tip the rod felt comfortable and secure with Kistler's implementation of Fuji's new ECS rod seat.


Kistler's IM7 graphite shines in the sun, notice the blank through Fuji reel seat that exposes a generous amount of the blank

Real World Test:
We ran the entire gamut of tests on the KMT66MH, being the first Kistler rod our editors had ever seen. We spent 2 days on casting tests, and 12 days on the water actually fishing with the KMT66MH and documenting everything we encountered.

Casting: Within the first few casts we knew the KMT66MH could cast with the best rods. Kistler's choice of low profile Fuji Hardloy guides and tip reduce the weight of the rod while providing a premium casting experience. The best way to describe casting on the KMT66MH is "silky smooth." What's interesting about the cast is that the tip moves so quickly that you do have the capability to fling small 1/4 lures, but the butt is so strong that it is actually best suited for casting larger lures.

The KMT66MH features a innovative hook hanger that holds the lures parallel and flat to the blank

Sensitivity: The KMT66MH is surprisingly sensitive for a rod of its size. How I like to test for sensitivity before actually fishing the rod is to tie on a 1/4oz jighead and cast directly onto pavement, hold the rod at a 45 degree angle and see just how much of the street I can feel. In this test the KMT66MH performed just as good if not better then rods costing twice as much. In the water when crawling grubs on the lake floor I noticed the same thing. The reason for the KMT66MH increased sensitivity is due to a combination of three factors.

1) The Fuji Hardloy guides are very low profile and offer increased sensitivity

2) the Fuji exposed blank reel seat allows your index finger to come in direct contact with the blank

3) Kistler removes the standard cork above the reel seat and actually modified the Fuji seat to come in direct contact with the blank, thus reducing the cork buffer that would have decreased the vibration to your hand

The combination of these three elements made the KMT66MH great for tossing weightless worms and wacky rigged senkos short distances, where I could feel the moment the lure came in contact with structure or the bottom.

The KMT66MH is stiff and even when casting hard only the tip whips forward

Accuracy: The
KMT66MH exhibited good accuracy thanks to a very stiff butt. Basically where you point this rod the lure will follow, as the quick tip snaps the lure on its way and quickly returns true. One bait in particular that feels right at home on the KMT66MH are heavy deep rolling spinnerbaits like the Hildebrandt Tin Rollers. Casting these heavier spinners accurately is no problem since the strong rod can easily fling these heavier lures, and the tip quickly recovers after the cast.

Power: Here is where the
KMT66MH really shows off its talents. this is by far the strongest 6'6" rod (power wise) I have tested to date. the reinforced butt of this rod is amazing. Muscling large 4-6lb bass through structure is a new experience with the strength of the KMT66MH's backbone...the fish never had a chance. While the rod tip arcs forward no more the 30 degrees while fighting large fish the entire base of the rod remains true.  In the lab we measured the diameter of the rod butt to be about 20% larger then comparable rods, now I know why....the Kistler KMT66MH has an astounding amount of reserve strength, and I'd even feel comfortable fishing this rod for Stripers. Hook sets with the KMT66MH are easy as the rod is just incredibly fast thanks once again to the stiff IM7 graphite base.

Notice the KMT66MH has no cork above the reel seat, this Kistler modification actually increased the rod sensitivity while reducing weight

Innovations: While the KMT66MH performed well in all tests it also had a number of features that sweeten Kistler's offering and set it apart from the competition. These include:


1) Modified Hook hanger: The KMT66MH sports a unique hook hanger that is so simple yet works very well. The hook hanger is actually on top of the rod by the reel seat and bent over so that when stowing lures on the rod you don't ever have to thread a hook through the hanger. Instead the hanger is bent so tension of the line is enough to hold the hook securely. In addition the hanger holds the lure firmly flat against the rod preventing it from moving and scratching the graphite.


2) Contoured Cork Handle: To increase comfort Kistler contours the cork grip to be narrower at the base to reduce weight and thicker and rounder directly below the reel seat to fit well into the palm of your hand


These innovative details really impressed us as they are truly useful features.

Warranty: To further add value Kistler stands behind its products with a lifetime warranty. In addition anglers can order these custom built rods from Kistler and carefully inspect them, and if not satisfied in 10 days can return any unused rod for a full refund or exchange.


Kistler KMT66MH Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Kistler's IM7 graphite and overall construction are top notch, the quality in the details are excellent 9
Performance The performance of this rod was good, the power of this rod was excellent. You will be confident using this rod for even the largest largemouth bass and even some stripers! 9
Price This is in all respects a premium rod at an impressive price 8.5
Features The use of all high quality Fuji components and innovative features increase the usability and value of Kistler's offering 10
Design (Ergonomics) Great contoured cork that makes extended fishing easy 9
Application Good rod that can be used for many lures and techniques. With a strong butt and power rating this rod is best suited for larger lures rather then small plastics 8.5

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Great innovative details L Small lure casting, best suited for larger lures
J Great construction  
J Strong power capabilities  
J Sensitivity is very good  
J Great price for a custom rod  

Conclusion: The
KMT66MH is the first rod from Kistler I have ever tested, and I was very impressed. Packed with exciting features and a incredibly strong rod base, anglers can fish the KMT66MH with the confidence that this rod will be able to handle bass in even the hairiest applications. Rather then produce just another standard rod Trey Kistler has succeeded in creating a custom rod with innovative features, a true attention to detail, and great power to sensitivity ratio, at a great price. Definitely check out Kistler's custom made KMT66MH the next time you are in the market for a high end rod packed with plenty of muscle.

Until next time....Tight Lines!









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