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Rod Review

The Search For One... Kistler Puts the "Z" in CuZtom (continued)

Don’t get me wrong, I have several custom built rods and cherish each one dearly, but the wait time from the time I place the order to the time the rod actually arrives at my door can be maddening. I’ve waited as long as a year and a half because parts were scarce. That amount of wait in any industry is death. How can a customer make plans with a delivery window from four weeks to over a year? This is certainly no fault of the custom builder, but entirely the fault of the suppliers who allow orders to be placed and then, continue to delay on delivery of components.

Our original intent was to include the latest evolution of the He69APC/69MHC in our Search For One campaign, but Kistler has a new stick that's worthy of that attention now.

Impressions: We had already in seen and held two ZBone prototype builds prior to order and delivery of our Search For One candidate so there were no surprises with this stick. One interesting tweak we had asked for was the spiral configuration of our micro guides. This was more out of curiosity of how they’d look and perform in this configuration than anything else. Overall the build was clean and the ZBone handle kit has nice proportions and handsome detailing.

Fig 2: This chart illustrates the deflection characteristics of the Kistler ZBone ZB-4MH against that of our TSFO baseline GLX2000 stick. Note the two rods share similar deflection characteristics.


The Lab: First stop for our Custom ZBone was the lab and an appointment with the RoD WRACK. We were anxious to see how this North Fork Composites blank behaved under load and we were surprised to find that despite coming with ratings that are slightly above that of our TSFO baseline rod, this ZBone ZB-MH4 stick aligns very closely with that of our GLX2000.



Lab Results for Kistler Custom Rods ZBone ZB-4MH

Avg RoD (2-32 oz)
Measured Weight (oz)
Balance Point (inches)
Balancing Torque (ftlbs)
Kistler ZBone ZB-4MH
2010 Helium LTA He69MHC
2003 Helium LTA He69APC
MBR783C GLX2000
TSFO 26 Rod Avg

Field Tests: With its red, anodized trim rings, the natural companion to our Custom ZBone casting rod was a Daiwa Japan, 2004 Custom Order TDZ in red. I spooled this reel with 55lb Daiwa Samurai braid tipped with a 16lb Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon leader for most of the year but also fished it with straight 16lb Tatsu and straight Samurai Braid.

The handle design of our custom order ZBone complete with the ZBone Handle and balancing kit...

Casting & Pitching: The most intriguing aspect here was how this rod was going to perform with the spiral wrapped micro guides and I’m happy to report, I didn’t notice any disadvantage to this configuration on this stick. At six feet, ten inches, this stick is a bit short to me for pitching presentations thought it can certainly handle it. I tend to prefer rods over seven feet for this now. However, as an all purpose caster (the purpose for which this stick was procured) it does very well.

... and a Fuji ACS reelseat (though we would have preferred the option of that painted reel seat shown to us in August of 2009). Note the anodized red winding checks and how nicely our Daiwa Japan 2004 Custom order TDZ in Ferrari Red matches up with this stick.

Once again I relied on our friends over at Hi’s Tackle Box to tie up a fluorocarbon leader to my Samurai Braid main line and the job they do over there with the Albright knot tightened down with the aluminum braid tightening rings is astounding. Not only does this knot fly through micro guides with no difficulty, but it does so through spiral wound micros without a second thought.

Testing that tip out on Falcon Lake, Texas.

The real test for this outfit came when Zander broke out a bunch of Snag Proof Ish Monroe Phat frogs he had just purchased. We were on Clear Lake, California several weeks after Byron Velvick won the Bassmasters event out there in March. The water had risen since our last time out on the lake and there were wooded shoreline areas throughout the lake that were now flooded over. It was still a bit cold for consistent frog action, but we had heard prior to our arrival that frog fish were being caught, so we geared up.

Another look at the handle design of our ZBone.

I swapped reels to a Steez outfitted with straight 55lb Daiwa Samurai braid and tied a Phat frog on direct to test both the bait and this new ZBone rod. A couple of test casts later to get a feel for this outfit and it was off to the races. I took the front of the boat and proceeded to sling the Phat frog into the tightest of holes and through the narrowest of passageways thanks to crisp casting performance of this ZBone LE stick. I am by far, no expert on this technique, but Zander continued to marvel at my casting performance and even joked, “Uh oh, I sense an Editor’s Choice Award coming!!”

Spiral wrapped, K-Series micros from Fuji.

Next Section: Z-Bone Power and Sensitivity are tested









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