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Rod Review

Swimbait Rod Wars Installment #4: The Return of an Old Favorite, Fenwick (continued)

Power: As luck swimbait luck would have it, I couldn't get anything to bite at the end of the line when tossing the 3:16 Mission Fish, Huddleston Deluxe, and Mattlures Six Inch Trout on the ECSWB79H-F during this rod's trials in the Fall of 2007. I really liked everything I felt so far, but just need a fish or two or three at the end of the line to really see of what this rod was made. So, what to do to get this hookup? I tied on a 1.5 ounce spoon and vertical jigged for some striped bass!

This shot actually demonstrates how quickly the rod sets up to its backbone. Oh, and by the way, it can cast a Hudd with little difficulty!

We were fishing the California Delta when I marked some big fish down at about twenty to twenty five feet of water. Knowing I needed a hookup with this rod to finish its evaluation, and given the 316 Mission Fish wasn't tempting these big linesides I had marked, I cut off that bait and tied on a Duh! (now owned by Blade Runner) 1.5 ounce spoon.

One one primary complaint - the handle is just a tad short for two handed casting.

Fortunately, the fish were still there by the time I finished switching baits around. Down I dropped the spoon to the very bottom. A quick snap of the rod tip making the spoon jump up, then, flutter back down and "tap-tap-tap", then BOOM! Fish On! The ECSWB79H-F set up beautifully and the battle was on!

A nice JDM-esque touch at the butt end of the rod

I couldn't have written the script any better than that other than to have this be a HUGE monster of a striped bass. As it stood, it was only a six pound lineside but plenty fiesty enough for me to get a sense of the ECSWB79H-F's power and ability to help subdue a catch. The fast taper of this rod's blank has very good power and should be ample for just about any bass angling situation. It handled the six pound striper pretty well, but once again, the relatively short handle proved trouble some. It's difficult, with the ECSWB79H-F's 10 inch handle to gain any leverage on a fish by tucking the grip under your forearm. It's just not long enough to work in this manner so the majority of the pressure, while battling a good sized fish is on your wrists.

The entire foregrip turns in unison with the reelseat's locking mechanism

Features: The ECSWB79H-F features Fuji Alconite Guides, a custom reel, almost full skeletal seat, a foregrip that's one with the reel seat's lockring, an open ended hook hangar, and high grade cork grips. Quite a respectable list of features for a rod company we had almost forgotten.

An open-ended hook hangar is extremely convenient with baits like the 3:16 Lure Company's Mission Fish

The ECSWB79H-F features Fuji Alconite guides

Application: While still not the quintessential swimbait stick as far as West Coast standards go, the ECSWB79H-F is a very respectable stick for baits similar to those already mentioned in this article. Though a tad fast for my liking when tossing hard bodied, treble hooked swimbaits like the 22nd Century Tripe Trout, it can certainly handle them, but I feel its true benefit lies in baits like the 3:16 Mission Fish and Mattlures Six Inch Trout. The newly released six inch Huddleston Deluxe swimbait should also be a really nice bait tossed on this rod.

The reel seat is very comfortable to grasp

The drilled trigger can double as a bait keeper should you choose to do so

Warranty: Fenwick offers a Limited 5 Year Warranty on all their Elite Tech Rods covering defects in material or workmanship. Claims are to be sent in for evaluation along with proof of purchase and a $10 shipping and handling fee. In addition to this coverage, Fenwick offers a Lifetime Accident Replacement Program replacing any rod broken outside of the warranty at a 55% discount from MSRP plus $10 to cover shipping and handling. As always, for more complete details, please contact the manufacturer.



Fenwick ECSWB79H-F Swimbait ESC Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality A well constructed stick 7
Performance A couple more inches in the handle would make two handed casting more comfortable 6.5
Price Fenwick re-enters the mid-range market 6.5
Features Solid componentry 7
Design (Ergonomics) Nothing terribly exciting, but we appreciate the effort thus far 6.5
Application Best with baits similar to the 3:16 Mission Fish & R2S Bottomwalker but can handle the Hudd in a pinch 8

Total Score

Ratings Key: Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
(For a detailed explanation of the ratings go here)

Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Great to see the resurrection of an old favorite manufacturer L Handle is a bit short
J Relatively light weight L Lure rating seems too conservative
J Good level of components  
J Fast taper is very good for the soft plastic swimbaits  


Conclusion: My personal best black bass was caught on a 5' or 5'6" Fenwick Eagle Ultra Light rod on 6 pound Original P-Line while split shotting a 4" finesse worm known as the Green Weenie. On that same day, I dropped that rod and reel combo overboard lost to the depths of San Pablo Reservoir. Weeks later I heard someone had retrieved the combo, and of course, kept it for their own. That was over fifteen years ago. I had not fished another Fenwick rod again until I held this ECSWB79H-F in my hand on my boat this past fall and what a happy reunion it has been.


It's great to see Fenwick upping the ante with their Elite Tech series of rods and the ECSWB79H-F is a very worthy participant of our Rod Wars!


While I may have far outgrown my tackle needs and desires of that old Fenwick Eagle Ultralight, I'm glad to see this company is still around and making a play to be noticed and reckoned with in their Elite Tech series of rods. For now, as the TackleTour Swimbait Rod Wars go, there are more sticks to contend with, but if you're looking for a good, general purpose big bait stick to specifically handle the large plastics, whether you have a sentimental soft spot for this manufacturer or not, you owe it to yourself to give the Fenwick ECSWB79H-F some serious consideration.













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