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Complete list of all current ICAST 2014 coverage
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Glide Week : Riding the S-Wave!
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Abu Garcia Raises the Speed Bar with their Rocket!
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Daiwa’s Steez EX 100XS offers a Deadly Combination of Both Speed and Precision
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First look inside the new Curado I baitcaster
 


 

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Rod Review


Daiwa’s new Steez rods exhibit just as much Performance as they do Style (continued)
 

Power: Mid way through our tests I was able to test both sensitivity and power when dragging a grub over a rocky outcropping. I was amazed how sensitive the rod was and could feel the very texture of the rocks as my football headed rig bumped along the bottom. Suddenly I felt a tick, and with a hard set I was rewarded with nothing. As I reeled the grub in I discovered that the fish had successfully pulled off one of my tails. Rather than rig a new grub up I decided to put the bait back in the water quickly. Bump, bump, bump…and sure enough I felt that familiar “TICK,” and this time as I set the STZ631 I was rewarded with a familiar shake and dive.

 


The Steez features a split grip complete with alloy checks that cap off the Air-Foam grips nicely

 

The STZ631 may be rated as a Medium-Heavy but I often forget that fact due to the rod’s overall light weight. With a fish on the line the MH rating proved to be dead on. For a 3.4oz stick the STZ631 sure has plenty of reserve power. As the fish dove I was able to still control it, and the rod adapts quickly by loading up evenly. After a short battle I lipped the 4.5lb largemouth, and was utterly impressed with the STZ631’s concealed power.

 


The Steez STZ631 was surprisingly powerful and controlled fish over 4lbs with little difficulty

Ergonomics: Ergonomics on this rod are top notch. We have already addressed the clever Air-Beam two finger design and the elimination of the seldom used traditional fore grip to reduce weight. There are many other details in design a special gasket liner is used inside the easy grip fore-nut. This gasket also allows anglers to tighten the machined nut on your premium reel without fear of scratching the foot. A big plus when you are fishing with magnesium based reels.


The Steez reel and rod together proved to be extremely comfortable to palm

To provide comfort and sensitivity Daiwa implemented new "Air-Foam" grips which are noticeably lighter than cork and conventional EVA grips. They are extremely light, yet dense so they don't have a spongy feel. I absolutely fell in love with these grips, as they feel compact and sensitive, but are not prone to signs of age like cork.


Close up of the Air-Beam reel seat

Domestic anglers that pick up the STZ631 will notice something missing…this rod is devoid of a hook hanger. Enthusiast anglers will like this fact as it is truly a Japanese design. Hook hangers not only add weight they also bring hooks dangerously close to the rod, often allowing them to scratch and nick the surface of the blank. Most Japanese anglers overcome the lack of a hook hanger by simply hanging their bait at the base of the first guide standoff. The lack of a hook hanger will likely be viewed as ridiculous by most mainstream anglers, but welcomed by enthusiasts.


Wasn't that seat blue in the last picture? We never get tired of the Steez's flip-flop inside out paint finish

Price & Applications: Daiwa has been steadily increasing their rod lineup in the US, bringing back classics, and also delving into the premium market with rods like the Cielo and Steez. For some anglers spending 350-500 dollars on a Daiwa rod is a hard concept to grasp. While Daiwa rods in the US have traditionally been in the sub 200 dollar range the company has been building and marketing premium rods overseas for quite some time.

 


No hook hanger means relying on the titanium guide frames to hold your bait

 

Now anglers stateside no longer have to drool over the import only options, the Steez rods are here, and they are available from many e-tailers, including the largest shops like Bass Pro (even if it is by special order). With a price tag of $349.95 the STZ631 is among the more affordable Steez rods, which range in price from $349 all the way up to $499 for the 7’1” Compile-X flipping stick. At $349 the STZ631 is not cheap, but it isn’t overpriced either, and is priced similarly to Loomis GLX.   

 


I don't remember being this excited about a domestic rod for a long time... the Steez rods are more like premium import rods than just another high end domestic stick

Warranty: This rod is warranted for a lifetime, and Daiwa wanted to make sure the components would stand the test of time. In cases where Daiwa could not find a component on the market to meet their strict requirements they went to the lab and engineered their own solution. Daiwa affectionately calls this "no-compromise technology."

Ratings:

Daiwa Steez STZ631MHFBA SVF Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The new Steez rods are exceptionally well built and the detail in design is impressive. The SVF version we tested easily matches competitor premium offerings 9
Performance the performance is top notch all around on this rod. This is among the most sensitive rods we have ever fished. The light weight of this rod makes it extremely good for fishing lightweight plastics. A heavier Steez rod would be better for pitching, but this rod has a wide range of capabilities 9.5
Price This rod isn't cheap and this is the most expensive series of rods Daiwa has every introduced to us bass anglers...but the Steez is designed to target very high end users 8
Features This rod may not have a hook hanger but it does have a exclusive reel seat, a laser engraved butt cap, a machined aluminum fore-nut, and Air-Foam grips 9
Design (Ergonomics) If this rod had a hook hanger it would get a perfect rating (enthusiasts familiar with the no-hook hanger design... consider this a 10) 9.5
Application This rod is great for lighter lure work, and is a great all purpose bass rod that can handle everything from weightless plastic rigs to shallow cranks. For pitching look to one of the longer rods 9

Total Score

9.00


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Incredibly sensitive, Air-Beam is excellent L Mainstream anglers will ask "where is the hook hanger?"
J Superb details and design L Most pricey US Daiwa rod yet
J Well balanced when paired with magnesium reels  
J Surprisingly Powerful  
J Truly "no compromises"... this is an Enthusiast quality rod

Conclusion: The Steez rods are beautiful functional works of art. When we first began the field tests of the STZ631 we wondered if the rod had the performance to match it’s stylishly good looks…and we are excited to report that it absolutely does. Daiwa has a real winner here, and the STZ631 is an excellent addition to the premium rods currently available on the market, and should appeal even more to Daiwa fans that now have a perfect match for that ultralight Steez reel. No other rod will complement a Steez baitcaster quite like this new series of rods. Since the field tests the STZ631 has become a staple in my boat locker, and my go to rig for fishing plastic baits that demand a highly sensitive rod. Domestic Daiwa fans at long last have a rod in the “Enthusiast” class, and the company has made a bold statement by addressing this fast growing segment of the market with such a premium offering. The Daiwa Steez STZ631 oozes style, but has the performance to back it all up, making it the first domestic rod to ever win our “Ultimate Enthusiast Award.” Congratulations Daiwa…you have made many an enthusiast happy this holiday season.

                                   


 

 

 

 

 

 
 





 

 



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