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Rod Review


Putting Value Back in American Made - Kistler's KLX 7' Medium

 

Date: 5/22/13
Tackle Type: Rods
Manufacturer: Kistler Custom Rods
Reviewer: Cal






Total Score: 7.97 - BEST VALUE AWARD!

Introduction:
Are you familiar with the adage in reference to certain ethnic cuisines that you can only have two of three things: good; fast; or cheap? In the current market for bass rods, if you're searching for a rod that retails for under $200, the same principle applies but of course, the factors are different: 1) good, proven components 2) a solid blank 3) built in the United States. In November of 2012, we previewed a rod line by one manufacturer that promised to change that paradigm. Today, we take a closer look at one of the rods in that lineup. Here now is our review of Kistler Custom Rod’s KLXBBC70M (7'0" medium).

 


Kistler Custom Rods leverages North Fork Composites for a third line of fishing rods, the factory direct KLX series.

 

Kistler Custom Rods KLXBBC70M Specifications

Material North Fork Composites Blank
Length 7'-0"
Line Wt. 10-15 lb
Lure Wt. 1/8 - 1/2 oz
Pieces one
Guides 8 + tip (Alconite Inserts, SS frames, K-Series Micro by Fuji)
Rear Handle Length 10 inches
Power Rating Medium (by manufacturer)
Taper Fast
Rod Weight 3.4 Ounces
Origin Made in USA
MSRP $159.99

 

Quality/Construction: The KLXBBC70M is a one piece, seven foot (7'-0") medium powered rod. It features a sanded, but unfinished blank. Our review specimen was very clean. The split rear grip is a good grade of cork with little to no filler to hide the natural gaps and pits in the material. Aside from the split rear grip, it's actually a very old school style wrap with rubber or plastic checks at the ends of the cork rather than the decorative aluminum rings. There is a foam butt cap and matching foam hood over the reel seat mechanism. Overall, it is a very simple and very clean build.

 


Our KLXBBC70M features a split rear grip made of cork, but KLX sticks are now also available with a full rear grip made of cork.

 

Looking down the rod's length from butt to tip, alignment of the blank and guides is very good although admittedly, I had to strain a bit to dial my eyes into those micro guides. As mentioned previously, the blank is unfinished so there's no where to hide irregularities in the graphite material, but fortunately our review specimen had none. Epoxy was used sparingly with no excess build up around the guides.

 

Quality Ratings for Kistler Custom Rods KLXBBC70M

Finish (1-5)
Grip (1-5)
Epoxy (1-5)
Blank (1-2)
Guides (1-2)
Total
Possible
Rating
5
4
4
2
2
17
19
8.9

Performance: For our field tests, I matched the Kistler Custom Rods KLXBBC70M with a Quantum EXO baitcasting reel and took the combo with us on several trips to Clear Lake and the California Delta during the early part of 2013.


The KLXBBC70M is rated as a medium powered rod, and it's on the light end of the scale for Medium.

Casting: This is a medium powered rod with a lure rating of one eighth to half an ounce (1/8 - 1/2 oz). This rod has a super limber tip that loads very well in both casting and pitching situations. I didn't test the rod's lower limits, but I've little doubt one eighth of an ounce is within the rod's ability. This rod behaves as one might expect from a medium or even a medium light powered rod.


What we found this rod really good for were small jerkbaits and square bill cranks like Megabass's FX Knuckle 60 and the smaller Luhr Jensen Speedtrap.

Sensitivity: This is an area I'd normally expect a rod in this price range to suffer a little bit. It's just difficult for a manufacturer to offer all three of those afore mentioned factors in a rod priced under $200. But I've yet to fish a rod built from a North Fork Composites blank that disappointed in this category and the KLXBBC70M did not waver from this trend.


A look at the unfinished blank of our KLXBBC70M.

Because of this rod's taper and power, it's really ideally suited for moving bait presentations and that's how I fished it the majority of the time. The Quantum EXO I mounted on the rod was spooled with Sufix 832 braid - a bit of an unfair advantage when trying to determine a rod's sensitivity. So I switched the EXO out for a bit and installed a Daiwa Steez taken from a different combo onto the KLXBBC70M. This Steez was spooled with twelve pound Seaguar Tatsu Fluorocarbon.


These rods feature K-Series Fuji Alconite Guides...

Fluorocarbon also affords you more sensitivity than other lines, but fishing the KLXBBC70M with both types of line at least gives me a broader sense of the rod's performance in this category. I had on hand a three eighths ounce TNT Wadda jig and did some pitching around the levee banks of the CA Delta - because everyone on the Delta fishes jigs with a medium powered rod and twelve pound test line!


... Fuji ECS reel seats ...

Not really, but this was the best and quickest way to get a good sense of this rod's sensitivity and as one might expect, it performed very well. Those North Fork Composite blanks are the real deal and Kistler Custom Rods definitely chose the right company with which to partner and build these rods.


... and a split rear grip of good quality cork.

Power: The KLXBBC70M is labeled from the manufacturer as a medium powered rod with a fast taper. The rod we typically use in our baseline assessment of "medium" powered rods is the now discontinued MBR842C GLX by G.Loomis. Our initial goal in charting rods and establishing baseline models with which to compare was so an individual, after reading one of our reviews, can go into a tackle store, search for that baseline rod, pick it up and get an idea of how the rod we reviewed might feel by comparison.


Fig 1 : The deflection chart above shows the KLXBBC70M (red curve) as compared to two medium powered sticks from G.Loomis. You can see the KLXBB70M's curve is higher than both meaning it is lighter in power than our baseline sticks in this category.

All this is assuming the rod we reviewed is not something your local tackle store might carry or at least does not yet have in their store. We choose G.Loomis for most of our baseline comparisons because it's difficult to find a rod manufacturer as ubiquitous as G.Loomis. The MBR842C GLX is now no longer in production, but fortunately, G.Loomis has another stick that's similar and that's the NRX 852C JWR.

Lab Results for Kistler Custom Rods KLXBBC70M

Model
Avg RoD (2-32 oz)
Taper
Measured Weight (oz)
Balance Point (inches)
Balancing Torque (ftlbs)
Kistler Custom Rods KLXBBC70M
2.38
Fast
3.4
8
0.15
G.Loomis NRX 852C JWR
2.01
Xtra-Fast
3.7
8.5
0.15
MBR842C GLX
1.99
Fast
4
8.5
--

Back to Kistler's KLXBBC70M, this stick is about half a power softer than either of our two medium powered baseline rods. The interesting thing here is if you look at our RoD chart, above, you can see the KLXBBC70M's deflection curve follows almost the same exact arc as that of the MBR842C GLX, but is just higher up on the chart.

Performance Ratings for Kistler Custom Rods KLXBBC70M

Pitch (1-5)
Cast (1-5)
Sensitivity
(1-5)
HookSet (1-5)
Control (1-5)
Total
Possible
Rating
4
5
4
4
4
21
25
8.4

 

Next Section: A closer look at features and design


 

 

 

 

 

 
 





 

 



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