The Search For One... Kistler Puts the "Z" in CuZtom
Power: The Phat Frog is an amazingly easy frog to walk and I was really getting into a zone casting and working this bait tied to the end of my ZBone stick. Granted with a medium heavy power rating more or less, this is a less than ideal frogging stick but that’s often how we, at TackleTour, find out more about a product by putting it into situations they were never intended to encounter. From the product’s perspective this can be good or very bad, but for our custom ZBone, it was all very good.
A medium heavy powered frog stick?
I was having so much fun slinging the Phat Frog into the unlikeliest of spots, the unthinkable actually happened – I got a blow up! And a blow up in the midst of moderate, wooded cover consisting of branches, limbs, and twigs - not overgrown mats of weeds. It was so all together unexpected, I froze for a moment, but soon after I felt the rod load up, so without a second thought, I reeled down and swung! The frog planted firmly into the fish’s mouth and the force of my hookset translated through the power of the ZBone forced the fish to the surface where I was able to pull and crank it right out of the wooded cover and into open water. A very brief battle ensued before we pulled the roughly four pound fish out of the water for a photo-op and then slid her right back in.
Don't try this feat on your home waters! But if you do, know that our ZB-4MH handled this bass surprisingly well!
This ZBone ZB-MH4 rod built on the North Fork Composite blank had power to spare in this encounter despite specifications and RoD WRACK measurements saying otherwise. I was both very pleased, and after some thought, very surprised.
We spec'd our ZBone with micros but had it tipped with a standard guide wrapped with strike indicator red thread.
Sensitivity: As if this Custom ZBone did not already perform well enough in the first two categories of this review, perhaps the most impressive characteristic of this stick is its sensitivity. This North Fork Composite blank coupled with the micro-guide build is one seriously deadly combination. On my first trip out on the water with this stick, on Pardee Lake, California in January of this past year, we were fishing some humps twenty to thirty feet down with jigs and I was truly astonished at the feel this stick afforded me of the rocky bottom. I could literally feel my jig dragging across the bottom and hitting the occasional rock. It was very easy to guide my bait along the bottom with the only thing really needed to complete the experience was a nice smallmouth hitting my jig – it didn’t happen.
Kistler threw in this touch on the rear grip or our rod.
Fast forward about a month to Falcon Lake, Texas where we were fishing this stick along with several other experimental builds with Trey Kistler himself and my impressions of the sensitivity of our ZBone custom was merely validated fishing weighted, Texas rigged senkos (mine dressed with a Punch Skirt). A little pitch or cast out to a clump of branches, let it sink and you can almost feel the fish inhale the bait through this rod. Even on those pickups (and there were many) where you didn’t really feel much but something just felt different – that different feeling was very easy to discern with this stick.
A macro look at the K-Series micro.
Warranty: We saw first hand out on Falcon Lake the type of abuse these rods were built to withstand. If each blank and each build were identical to the sticks we saw, held and used out on the water those few days in late February, the consumer would have very little to worry about. But we’ve seen enough inconsistency within the industry to realize no matter how perfectly you plan, no matter how careful you are during a build, you cannot account for every variable. At the time of this writing Kistler Custom Rods only offered a 90 day warranty on all ZBone purchases. Simply put, that is insufficient. I had a long diatribe about this policy and then, as if Kistler knew what I was writing, several days after I finished the article Trey Kistler got in touch to tell us the warranty period is going to change.
Kistler's ZBone balancing kit features this fun badge and a stack of
removable weights so you can find tune the balance you want on the rod.
Effective immediately, Kistler will be offering a one year warranty on all ZBone purchases. Certainly not the reassurance of a lifetime warranty still, but far more forgiving than a ninety day, and one year is a reasonable period, in our view, for defects in
workmanship or materials to reveal themselves. Anything longer is just putting the company at risk for an inordinate number of unsubstantiated claims by people trying to take advantage of the system.