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Rod Preview : First Impressions

 

Fenwick is Back! A First Look at the Completely Refreshed Lineup from Eagle to World Class (continued)

 

Craftsmanship and Consistency: If you asked me what some of the signature elements are in current Fenwick rods, I would be hard pressed to give you an answer. Every rod line currently looks and feels like they were designed independently from one another. The new rods have an obvious unified product line approach with a consistent look and feel. They all look very high-end, and even the $99 Eagle lineup has a clean looking matte blank and similar reel seat designs, just made from different materials.

 


The blanks on all the rods are sanded and matte in appearance. No excess gloss or cosmetic components. The focus on the new rods is light weight, balance and sensitivity. The rods all make use of custom zirconia guides

 

After fishing the rods for a few days, I was also impressed with the overall build quality throughout the various lines. All the World Class, Elite and HMG rods make use of lightweight titanium guides with zirconia inserts, while the Eagle has stainless steel guides with zirconia inserts. I told Dave and Justin that I personally would have liked to SiC guides on the World Class, or maybe just on some of the most powerful rods, like the XH and XHH swimbait sticks. They explained that the zirconia guides they used were lighter weight and balanced with their design, and I also understand the challenges of sourcing and keeping prices aggressive across the series.

 


MLF Pro Angler Keith Carson working a smallmouth. The rods all have a smooth taper and feel responsive without being overly stiff

 


Boat flip. No problem for the World Class

 

Though the reel seats look similar across the different series, the higher end rods will make use of carbon seats while the Eagle are constructed from a composite material. While these rods use proven materials what I found most interesting about them was that there was an equal emphasis placed on using quality materials as the manufacturing process of the new rods. The use of new mandrels, interior blank reinforcing, and a more seamless handle integration all add up to rods that not only look higher end but feel more refined the second you pick them up.

 


Keith finessed both smallmouth and largemouth with the new World Class and HMG rods

 

Taking things further the company is introducing the concept of “Family Flex” which means that the rods will exhibit the same action, regardless of which lineup they are in. This means that a World Class rod with the same specifications as an Eagle Rod will exhibit the same type of action. Consistency, something recent Fenwick rods have been lacking, has been addressed to an staggering degree across these new rods.

 


I fished both the Walleye and Bass Fenwick rods and found them both very sensitive. The Walleye rods are purpose built but that doesn't mean they are not great for bass applications too

 

Performance: While the new rods look and feel significantly more refined than the previous generation, what is most important is do they perform better? Just after a few days fishing with them there is no doubt that the answer is an astounding yes. The new rods are considerably more sensitive, especially World Class and Elite lineups, and they feel much crisper and lightweight feeling through every cast and battle.

 

The last few Fenwick rod generations were very functional; these new rods are not only functional but also fun to fish.

 


After two days fishing with the new Fenwick rods I found each rod had a unique personality. World Class rods were the most sensitive but Elite and HMG were surprisingly close

 

The way the rods load when set is reminiscent of some of the best American style rods on the market, many of which retail for significantly more. Starting prices for the rods are as follows: Eagle $99, HMG $150, Elite $250, and World Class $429. Even the most expensive World Class rod tops out at $479, which is no small investment, but significantly less than the price of many competing premium rods.

 


MLF Pro Angler Cole Breeden is a young gun that knows how to find the fish. He is an absolute hammer and put on a clinic with the Fenwick World Class and Eagle rods with Maxxscent tubes and various topwater baits

 

While I’ll need to fish the new rods for an extended period for a complete review and recommendation the best way that I can describe the new Fenwick rods is they now have “personality,” something that I often say about certain rods in the G.Loomis GLX and NRX+ lineup. These are rods that I want to fish, and while the World Class is the most sensitive rod in the lineup the Elite and HMG rods are extremely close, and the Eagle is surprisingly crisp feeling and fun to fish at the $100 price point. 

 


Cole caught some of the biggest smallmouth of the event on tubes

 

I asked about the warranty on all the new rods and was told that all the lines, including Eagle, will come with a Limited Lifetime Warranty. There will be a processing fee depending on the rod, and it sounds like specifics are still being worked out and will be announced at the time of launch.

 


To really experience the new Fenwick rods I wanted to catch a Walleye and 5 time National Walleye Tour Pro Korey Sprengel helped cross it off the list

 

Fenwick for a New Generation:  All of the new Fenwick rods look and feel fresh, and I found it clever how the team was able to update the styling of the rods with very modern looking handles and use of cork, EVA, and composite cork while keeping them traditional and elegantly styled. These new rods should appeal to anglers that like American rod style design, a market that is currently dominated by brands like G.Loomis and St. Croix. I don’t think that the rods will appeal as much to anglers that like JDM styling, where Megabass, Shimano, and Daiwa play well, but this is an area where Abu Garcia is seeing success. For the first time in a long time the combination of both Fenwick and Abu Garcia brands can address the market as a whole.

 

Fenwick has a unique opportunity with this launch to speak to both anglers that have a strong feeling about the brand from the past, as well as a new generation of anglers that are just learning about what it means to own and fish a Fenwick rod should be like.

 


Korey isn't just about the Walleye and also smashed the smallmouth

 

Family Flex gives anglers the ability to recommend rods to each other based on actions, and for them to grow their arsenal size and quality within the brand over time. This would not have been possible if Fenwick just updated one series, and one of the advantages of updating all their lines at one time. 

 


Dave Brinkerhoff knows rods and as R&D director of rods at Pure Fishing he has brought a new level of expertise that shows through in the new Fenwick rods

 

Our Quick take: After fishing with the rods for a few days I can confidently say that the new rods are good, and some of the World Class rods I was able to fish felt excellent. The rods feel sensitive and very light, mostly because of Dave and the team’s attention to balance on each rod. The ergonomics on the new tailored main grips are outstanding and not only feel natural in hand but provide exceptional blank exposure, feel high-end, and give the rods a new signature look that exists across the entire line. For the first time in a very long time the Fenwick rods make sense, they look like a cohesive family, and the Family Flex design methodology is intuitive and appreciated by anglers across the varied price points.   

 


This is the most excited I've been to fish Fenwick rods since I bought my first HMG. These new rods pay homage to the brand's legacy but pulls no punches when it comes to modernizing the lineup

 

Fenwick’s founders liked to describe the brand’s rods as “the most thought-out fishing rods in the world,” and these new rods pay homage to this train of thought. The easy thing to do would have been to simply refresh one of the four lines and use some updated material and call it the best Fenwick rod ever. The team at Fenwick did not take the easy path, and the amount of investment that Pure Fishing put into building the team, a new R&D rod lab, and refreshing every rod in the Fenwick lineup is enormous. It may not have been the easy thing to do but it was the right thing to do to reinvigorate a brand with such a strong legacy.

 


The new Fenwick rods are exciting, refined, and fun to fish. This is a critical refresh for the brand and it looks, and feels like they got it right

 

Justin, Dave, and their entire team took the time to study how they could approach everything from the rod design to the manufacturing to build not just a better rod, but a better entire rod lineup. I am looking forward to putting the new Fenwick rods through the entire gamut of tests, but I don’t think it is too early to say that these are the most interesting, and relevant, Fenwick rods that we have seen in decades. Anglers really will "feel the difference." Fenwick is back.

 

 

   

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