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Rod Review

Creature Fever : ZBone in the AmaZon (continued)

Power: If there's one area where this stick really excels it's in the power department. Our trip with Kistler Custom Rods to Falcon Lake, Texas several years ago instilled us with great confidence in the ability of these sticks to hold up to the rigors of setting, fighting, and yes, even swinging fish into the boat. The latter is not a practice I advocate because of the added stress it puts on the fish, but I know people do it. On this trip, we continually hooked into trees and brush and on countless occasions we pulled up what lie beneath thanks both to the braided line we were using, but also, the power in these ZBone blanks.

Lab Results for Kistler Custom Rods ZBone ZBLE-5H

Avg RoD (2-32 oz)
Measured Weight (oz)
Balance Point (inches)
Balancing Torque (ftlbs)
Kistler Custom Rods ZBone ZBLE-5H

But of course, battling with our North American Bass is a little different than the species residing in the waters of the Amazon River and while you can anticipate how a piece of equipment is going to perform, you never really know until you put it through the paces of a real world test.

Fig 1: This chart illustrates the deflection characteristics of the AVC70MHXF as compared to our Creature Fever baseline rod, the MBR844C GLX from G.Loomis. As you can see from the chart above, if the MBR844C is considered a prototypical "Heavy" powered rod, the ZBLE-5H is more of an extra heavy stick yet the way it behaved for us out on the water showed it is a very versatile stick.

The ZBLE-5H did little to disappoint down in the Amazon with the biggest prize being a thirteen pound Peacock Bass caught on a modified Megabass Limber Lamber. This fish slammed the bait, peeled off a good amount of line on our Revo MGX, but still succumbed to the power of our ZBLE-5H.

Case in point? This hefty thirteen pounder caught on a modified Megabass Limber Lamber.

Design/Ergonomics: Our ZBone LE suited the purpose for which we had it intended perfectly fine and that has a lot to do with the fact we were able to customize just about every component on the rod during the ordering process. We're unaware of any other large manufacturer that offers the flexibility in ordering Kistler does with their ZBone sticks. The only way to get a fit that's better is to go with a true, small shop, custom builder, but the ordering process through a custom builder is a longer, more drawn out process and turn around time can often be a great deal longer.

We spec'd this rod with titanium framed SiC micros by Fuji spiraled around the blank.


Make that K-Series Micros of course.

One feature we did select for our Search For One rod but not this one was the pre-installed balancing kit. Again, the goal for this stick was to make it as light as possible and not concern ourselves with balance or tip weight hence the skewed numbers to that regard in the lab results matrix above.

A look at Kistler's new hook hangar. It's quite a bit more substantial than their previous hangar but just about as easy to use.

We also chose the integrated Eva foregrip and lockring for a cleaner look and a bit more comfort when holding the combo.

Availability: ZBone sticks are available now both as fully built up stock rods or through their online custom ordering system. Typical turn around time on a custom order is roughly 4 weeks depending upon the complexity of your design, availability of materials, and manufacturer backlogs. We get word from the factory that for 2013, Kistler Custom Rods plans to roll out a few more stock models of the ZBone as well as expand on their popular MagnesiumTS and Helium lines.

This stick was designed for the Amazon, but we also fished it back home for black bass on Clear Lake, CA.

Warranty: To ensure your rod is covered by Kistler's warranty program, each ZBone must be registered by its original owner. There is an online form through which to complete registration and from there you are covered for full replacement under manufacturer defects or component failure. After the one year period is up, Kistler offers a tiered replacement program depending up on the age of your rod. There is no official replacement program for failures do to misuse or other accidents and each warranty claim is subject to inspection. For further details, please visit the manufacturer's website or contact them directly.

Whether it's ripping wood choppers of Vision 110's, the ZBLE-5H is surprisingly versatile.


Kistler Custom Rods ZBone ZBLE-5H Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A very clean build. 9
Performance I was surprised at this stick's versatility. 10
Price Pricey but fair considering the quality of components. 6
Features In this case, it's a matter of what's available and how that aligns with what you want. Kistler's Build Your Own web application offers a variety of sensible options. 8
Design (Ergonomics) Light weight or Balance? Split or Full Grip? Micro or Conventional Guides? Spiral left, right or standard wrap? No debates here, you make the call and order it the way you want specific to the application you have in mind. 10
Application Even though I had one application in mind, the ZBLE-5H is versatile enough to fish a wide variety of applications and can even give its Search For One sibling (ZBLE-4H) a run for its money! 9

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


+ It's not Burger King, but you can still have it your way - No multi-piece options yet
+ Surprisingly versatile - Brief full coverage warranty will concern some
+ Actually, surprisingly powerful too  


Conclusion: Having been through the ZBone experience once already during our Search For One, it was a bit of a foregone conclusion that I was going to like this stick. But considering I spec'd it out for one purpose in mind, I was pleasantly surprised to find it performed fine back home as a general purpose heavy powered stick as well.


And yes, this blank is powerful enough to handle an umbrella rig too.

The ZBLE-5H blank performed well with everything from the half ounce Vision 110 to half ounce Peacock Bass jigs to one and a half ounce wood choppers to several ounce Umbrella Rigs! That's a rather an impressive range of baits and techniques. If the thought of specifying a brand new rod feature by feature from a list of available components online intrigues you and you value a nice clean, quality build, you owe it to yourself to look into a Kistler Custom Rods ZBone. The ZBLE-5H is not the first ZBone to make its way into TackleTour HQ and from the way things are going, it will likely not be our last.

Looking for the Standard Z-Bone LE rods? Try Tackle Warehouse









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