For a few years now GOA has been experimenting with multiple reaction bait style rods and high-speed reels.  This process has included rods from multiple manufacturers, in varying lengths and actions, as well as multiple brands of reels in the 7:6 to 8:1 gear ratio. Early on we started with all graphite rods, then went to all glass rods, and then the past couple of years I started exploring the composite rods.  The composite rods that I have found and purchased are basically 1/3 graphite (lower section), and 2/3’s fiberglass (upper section).  The reason for trying out these composite rods was due to larger fish having the upper hand in and around heavy cover.  My thought was would a composite rod allow me to control the fish better in and around heavy cover?  Maybe. Could I upsize my bait/hook size to allow for a more solid hook-up?  Perhaps.  Well, after a couple of years of on the water testing, with multiple composite rods, higher speed reels, and larger hook baits I believe that of all of these questions have been answered with a firm yes.

In February 2017 I purchased a Daiwa Zillion 7′-2″ MH Composite rod (ZIL721MHRB-G) and a Daiwa Tatula JDM (HLC 8.1L TW) from TW to take this test to the next level.  Leading up to this point I didn’t see the need to purchase a higher end rod and reel for a reaction bait type presentation, but I wanted to see that if throwing a swim jig all day with a lighter rod and reel would make a difference.  It does.  Not only did this particular rod and reel perform very well over the past few weeks, the lighter weight has made and all day outing that much more enjoyable.

7lb Potholes LM 4-1-2017
7lb Potholes LM 4-6-2017

 

Daiwa Zillion Rod

For starters, I feel like this rod could be used for multiple types of reaction baits.  Spinnerbaits, Traps, Heavier Shallow Crankbaits, Lighter Swimbaits, Chatterbaits, etc.  Not only does the Zillion rod look good it has a lot of great features to compliment this rod.  The Daiwa Zillion 7′-2″ MH Composite is also significantly lighter than the other composite rods I own, as it should be.  Here is the full description from TW/Daiwa.

From cast to deflection and hook set to the fight, the Daiwa Zillion Crankbait Casting Rods deliver the performance that has made the Zillion name synonymous with quality, craftsmanship and performance. Offering finely tuned actions and tapers designed specifically for fishing crankbaits, the Zillion Crankbait Series has the slow bends, perfect tips and serious backbones you need for fishing plugs.

The premium blanks feature Daiwa’s SVF – Super Volume Fiber technology, which packs unidirectional graphite fiber into a denser form with exact resin control for greater strength, lighter weight and incredible sensitivity. The X45 blank construction process also helps the rods resist twisting for less stress, greater strength and maximum hook setting power.

Premium Fuji SiC K-Guides with tangle-free frames help protect against braid wrapping around the guides, and also provide exceptional durability and casting performance. Custom reel seats fit each EVA split grip handle perfectly, providing optimum comfort, and the blank-thru construction also helps transmit all of the rods’ sensitivity into your hands. Designed with the serious angler in mind, the Daiwa Zillion Crankbait Casting Rods are in a league of their own.

-Backed by Limited Lifetime Warranty

Even after just a few weeks of on the water testing I would highly recommend this rod to those who throw reaction baits in and around heavy cover where the big girls go in early spring.  The parabolic bend of the rod under a heavy load is outstanding right down to where the glass meets the graphite.  The graphite stiffens up just enough to allow you to turn the head of the fish away from the heavy cover and land the fish successfully.  The fit and finish are very good as well.  The one and only thing I didn’t care for was how slippery the custom Fuji reel seat was on the underside.  If your hands are dry it’s no big deal, if your hands are wet and you have a donkey hooked up you better hang on.  Here is a pic of a simple fix for this minor issue.  As you will see I’m not concerned about covering up the blank-thru design of this reel seat.  A secure grip in my opinion is much more important when targeting early spring LM.

Thin strip of 3M Rubber Splicing Tape

Tatula Reel

Being honest this is the first Daiwa baitcasting reel I have owned for quite some time.  The previous models I had purchased left me a little disappointed to say the least.  Now I wasn’t buying the Steez series, but I thought what I had purchased would perform better than they did. I have to admit though I am pretty impressed with this particular Tatula reel.  The smoothness, the drag, and the castability are outstanding.  Not sure about the durability yet, but this reel is going to see a lot of use this spring so hopefully she holds up.  I’ll let you know at the end of the season.  The speed of this reel has also been a great feature for those fish that eat the bait and swim directly at you.  Picking up as much line as possible in that type of situation is the key to getting that hook pegged before she is gone.  See below for the full description of this reel from Daiwa.

 

 

Daiwa Tatula HLC Hyper Long Cast 8.1:1 Casting Reel- 8.1L-TW

Daiwa Tatula HLC is a compact, solid bait casting reel with Hyper Long Cast performance. The HLC model Tatula has a little deeper G1 duralumin spool to hold more line, and finely tuned HLC brake rotor, to emit the least brake needed. It has an innovative TWS T shaped level winder system to cast about 5 % longer by removing line friction at level winder in casting.
The TWS line guide rotates by clutch to specify lines to pass the respective areas in casting and retrieving. The TWS on this Tatula has two sections, one narrow groove to lay lines onto spool, and the upper wide area for lines to pass without friction.Tatula has Magforce Z brake system, which emits adequate brake force automatically. The G1 duralumin shallow spool is light and it accelerates fast.Compared to 2009 Daiwa Zillion HLC, Tatula HLC emit a little more brake and it is easier to handle.
Sturdy aluminum alloy body
Magforce Z magnet brake system, 20 level adjustable from outside
TWS innovative friction free level winder
Zaion carbon star drag
Swayed duralumin handle 90mm length
Water proof Ultimate Tournament Drag
Clicking drag
Machined shallow spool, shallower than export model
Saltwater fine
Blue accent on 8.1 gear model, red on 7.3 model
Made by Daiwa oversea factory

Gear Ratio : 8.1
Ball/Roller Bearing : 7/1
Weight : 220g
Line Capacity : Nylon #14lb-105m, #16lb-90m
MAX Drag : 5.0kg
Retrieve : 86cm

 

Both the rod and reel have been tested on multiple 5lb, 6lb, and even 7lb LM over the past 2 weeks.  The drag on the reel has performed flawlessly.  Casting distance is great.  The action of the rod both in casting and under load has been perfect.  If you are looking to purchase a new reaction bait set-up, for in and around heavy cover, you may want to take a look at this pair the next time you are shopping.

 

 

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