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Rod Review

Swimbait Rod Wars Installment #5 : The Big Swimbait Special From Kistler (continued)

Features: The KBSBS80 features a moderately tapered IM7 blank, Fuji stainless steel framed Hardloy insert guides, and the afore mentioned full rear grip plus foregrip handle design. Quite honestly, nothing visually, or technically exciting. Though a bit tip heavy, it is relatively light in hand and easy to use all day long even when chucking and winding big, three and four ounce baits.


Attacking a line of tules late in the day on the California Delta

Application: Through the rest of that day, the KBSBS80 was my goto stick as I hooked and lost an even bigger striper and landed a few smaller ones. I just could not put it down. It really shined bright as an excellent stick for big moving bait presentations. On separate occasions, I was able to convince myself to try it with other types of big baits namely topwater and jig style soft plastics, but by the end of the day, I always retied with some sort of sinking, hardbodied swimbait.

The KBSBS80 was a hard stick for Cal to lay down, but that's exactly what he had to do as there are more sticks to fish in our Rod Wars!

Warranty: Kistler Custom Rods has a tiered warranty program. All new rods are protected by a 90-day full replacement guarantee against manufacturer defects or workmanship. Should a manufacturer defect or workmanship issue transpire after those first 90 days but within the first year of the rod's purchase date, Kistler Custom Rods offers a replacement warranty for $50 ($35 for the rod, $15 for shipping). Beyond this first year, rods are covered by a limited lifetime warranty but these claims are subject to inspection. For more information regarding warranty concerns, please contact Kistler Custom Rods directly. These coverages do not apply to accidental breakage due to use or neglect.



Kistler KBSBS80 Big SwimBait Special Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Not mind blowing but solid all around 6
Performance Casts really well with surprising power for a moderate tapered stick 8
Price Competitively priced 7
Features Nothing really exciting but very good quality cork in the grips 6
Design (Ergonomics) Relatively light in weight, but very conservatively designed 6
Application Fantastic with baits in the 3 - 4 ounce range 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 Relatively light in weight L The Hardloy inserts proved sufficient but most everyone else in this price range are using Alconite.
J Good stout construction L Because the KBSBS80 is not made in the US, it is not available for customization from Kistler
J Good casting performance
J Good hooksetting power
J For some reason I am unable to define, just a really fun rod to fish when throwing big baits


Conclusion: I really was not expecting much from this rod given its rather conservative design and lackluster component makeup. But boy, can it handle the medium sized big baits well. In fact, it has officially replaced my Evergreen Balista sticks as my go to rods to throw the Black Dog Bait Company Shellcracker. I just really like the way it casts this and any other similarly weighted bait. Add to all of that, the crazy morning on the water we experienced on really, the first official day of our Swimbait Rod Wars, and we're talking just perfect timing for the Kistler Big SwimBait Special.


"Only" ten pounds but an absolute thrill nonetheless - the very first fish caught on our KBSBS80


Were it any other rod I was tossing on that day, at that time with that bait, in that spot, and during that phone call, I could very well be singing the praises of that product instead, but it was not. It is by no means perfect, but for all the luck and sheer joy the KBSBS80 brought me on that day, I have no other choice but to give it the very first "Editor's Choice" award in our Swimbait Rod Wars. It may not be the last, but it is certainly the first. Congratulations Kistler Custom Rods and thanks for making such a fun product to fish.


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