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Rod Review


 

A Dominating Combination - Ish Monroe's Tatula Elite AGS Equipped Frog Rod

 

Date: 10/29/18
Tackle Type: Rod
Manufacturer: Daiwa
Reviewer: Zander






Total Score: 9.00 - EDITOR'S CHOICE AWARD

Introduction: Daiwa's Tatula Elite Signature Series rods cover the entire range of bass fishing applications and are designed by the very pro anglers which the individual rods are named and branded after. The company brings some of their top-end technologies and components into play in the series, including Bias graphite construction and AGS carbon guides. There are many rods in the lineup that are worth covering but the one that caught my attention first was Ish Monroe's AGS equipped Frog Rod. The biggest question, how well will this stick hold up over time to the rigors of frog fishing?
 

Daiwa Tatula Elite TAEL741HFB-AGS Ish Monroe Frog Rod Specifications

Material X45 BIAS Graphite
Length 7'4"
Line Wt. 30-55lb braid
Lure Wt. 1/2 - 1 1/2 oz.
Pieces One
Guides 8 + 1 AGS Carbon Framed Guides
Handle Length 16" inches (11" inches rear)
Power Rating Heavy
Taper Fast
Rod Weight 4.8oz
MSRP $299

Impressions: When I first saw the Daiwa Tatula Elite rods at ICAST the silver blanks immediately reminded me of the classic Daiwa LT (Light and Tough) rods that I grew up bass fishing. The new rods are pretty unmistakable with silver on more silver design, including EVA grips that continue the grey motif. Overall the rods are clean looking but may not look all that high-end or "enthusiast" when comparing them with other rods in the price range. What does make them high-end is that some of the models come equipped with Daiwa's exclusive Air Guide System (AGS) guides.   


What makes the new Daiwa Rods a Signature Series? How about each of Daiwa's Pros literally putting their name on their signature favorite technique specific actions

Daiwa's AGS guides are made out of carbon fiber versus metal and are designed to be tough, lightweight, and add to the rod's overall sensitivity. This system has been available to anglers via the company's high-end Steez rods in the past, which top out at $600 dollars each. So seeing them being utilized on a rod costing half as much is exciting in itself.


Each of the rods make use of a proprietary Daiwa reel seat

Critics of the AGS guides have expressed concerns about the durability of the guides, and that they snap or shatter when anglers step on them or strike the rods against hard surfaces accidentally. It is a no brainer to leverage these guides on finesse and spinning rods but Daiwa chose to make a bold statement about the durability of these guides by making them available on their Tatula Elite Punching and Frog models.


Wow, AGS carbon framed guides on a Tatula rod?!

What makes the Tatula Elite rods a "signature" series is that each of the models is not only branded with one of the Daiwa prostaffer's name but was actually designed and developed by these very pro anglers. These pro anglers include Randy Howell, Brent Ehrler, Ish Monroe, Takahiro Omori, Andy Montgomery, Seth Feider and Cody Meyer.


Paired with the Tatula SV TW casting rod

Each of the anglers focused on applications that encompassed their favorite, or strength, techniques. I spoke to Cody and Ish at length about the design process and they were given a lot of freedom to design not only the blank action but also specify the components including the reel seats and guides. It was no surprise that Cody targeted finesse and searchbait applications, while Ish, being a California Delta homegrown pro, focused on power applications including punching and frogging. 


The Tatula SV TW reel looks like a perfect match for this stick

What makes it interesting is that Ish wanted AGS guides in both of these applications, and felt that these guides gave the angler the best balance of feel and sensitivity, and are still durable enough to stand up to the constant abuse of heavy braided lines, tangling with thick structure, and the pressure of winching fish out and away from the thickest vegetation. 


Reels sit nice and low on the Daiwa's new reel seat

Real World Tests: Out of the gate the most interesting Tatula Elite rod in the entire lineup was Ish's Frog Rod. I wanted to see how the new series handled, and just how durable these guides would be in a tough power fishing application. I paired the Tatula Elite rods with one of my current favorite baitcasters, the Tatula SV TW, which looked like a perfect cosmetic match of the silver rod. I fished primarily with braided line, including Daiwa J-Braid and my current go-to frog line, Sunline FX2.


Daiwa hopes you like silver, lots of silver (on a side note check out that AGS branding on the side of the guide... a very nice detail from Daiwa)

I fished the combo for over a year, targeting largemouth bass in the California Delta and a number of Northern California reservoirs. While I did try and toss a variety of different frog types I also employed the rod for some swimbait work as well, just to test the upper-end of the stick's rated weight range. 


This rod is so light and balanced one handed casting all day is effortless

Casting: Ish's Tatula Elite Frog rod is designed to deliver frogs of all sizes to pinpoint targets in and around structure and it does so beautifully. Casts with this fast action rod throughout the range, and especially with lures 3/4oz. and up, are effortless. The entire rod blank does loads smoothly and I immediately felt how light the overall rod felt when casting one handed.  


A Daiwa decal badge finishes off the butt section of the split grip

Most frog rods feel pretty beefy, even heavy at times, but this rod never feels unwieldy. In fact it feels so light when casting that I began to wonder just how well it would hold up to big fish, or just the stress of trying to pull a medium sized fish away from the weeds.


Fig 1 : The chart above illustrates the deflection characteristics of the Daiwa TAEL741HFB-AGS against our baseline rods including the Steez XBD Frog rod

Retrieve and Power: In the lab we found this Tatula Elite rod to be surprisingly powerful when considering the weight of the rod, even when compared to Daiwa's own Steez XBD rod. Daiwa is able to achieve this excellent weight to power ratio with the use of their exclusive Super Volume Fiber-Modulus (SVF) Graphite blanks and a construction weave called X45 BIAS which wraps the fibers on top at a 45 degree angle to prevent twisting of the blank under load.

Lab Results for Daiwa Tatula Elite TAEL741HFB-AGS

Model

Avg RoD (2-48oz)

Taper

Measured Weight (oz)

Balance Point (inches)

Balancing Torque (ftlbs)

Daiwa TAEL741HFB-AGS

1.50

Fast

4.8

8.5

0.23

Daiwa STZ741HFBA-XBD

1.27

Fast

5.3

8.5

0.24

Finesse SB Rod Avg

1.46

--

6.45

7.8

--

All Purpose SB Rod Avg

1.18

--

8.49

6.68

0.26

Heavy Hitters SB Rod Avg

084

--

8.03

11.63

0.53

This design acts similarly to Shimano's Compile-X design and it only took a few fish to convince me that Daiwa had achieved something pretty special in this new series.


One of the things I liked a lot about this rod was the long 11 inch rear handle, which not only balanced out the rod but provides more leverage when fighting fish

 

When it comes to retrieve and power Ish's rod handles like a sports car when launching frogs and topwater baits, and thanks to the X45 BIAS construction can transform into a torque blessed truck when it comes time to tow a big fish out of heavy cover. 

 


This rod has a fast action that adds to the blank's crisp and responsive feel

Next Section: A Dominating Combination... 


 

 

 

   

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