Ignore the Labels and Just Fish It : Lucky Craft's LCMG 761XHF
Sensitivity: Despite Lucky Craft’s position as one of the premier manufacturers of hard baits in the market, their hard bodied swimbaits are not highly sought after. Perhaps it’s due to the fact they were very slow to come out with a true “big bait” and when they did come out with one (The Real California Supreme 200), they released it prior to thoroughly testing the product. Witness our preliminary review of their Real California Supreme 200. While the joints in this bait have been fixed and the updated version of this bait is in our hands for a follow up review, it’s difficult to bounce back from early failings - even if you're Lucky Craft.
... and super clean cork.
Even so, we find it somewhat ironic that, given the ratings of both the 761XHF and 800XHXF together with their specified tapers, these sticks were probably designed more for softbodied swimbaits than the hard bodied variety. But with that in mind, we’d expect these sticks to perform well in the sensitivity department and they did. While not mind blowingly sensitive, I’d rate them at just above average. If these sticks were a little more streamlined with regards to weight, they’d probably be even better in this department, but as is, they are pretty decent.
This rod's true power rating depends on context. It is at least a heavy powered stick, but in some applications it can be considered extra heavy.
Power: I’m not quite sold on these sticks’ extra-fast tapered ratings and while certainly not as fast or powerful as the G.Loomis Jig and Worm series of rods, the 761XHF is still a stick with very good power. I mostly fished this stick with the Owner Flashy Swimmer fish head spin type of lead head tipped with a Sawamura One’up Shad swimbait body and when it came time to set hook, the 761XHF did not disappoint. You can reel down and swing with confidence with this stick.
The LCMG 761XHF features top end components including a full set of Fuji stainless steel framed guides with SiC inserts.
Design/Ergonomics: Where this stick did disappoint, I’ve already discussed. That rear handle is just too short for my liking during the cast and to a lesser extent when battling a fish. When I have a hard puller at the end of the line, I like to brace the rear grip against my forearm for a little extra leverage. The nine and half inch (9.5”) rear handle on the 761XHF is just a tad short to comfortably brace against my forearm.
While this stick makes a good soft bodied swimbait rod, it's real value belies its label.
Application: Though rated to only two ounces, realistically, this blank can handle casting duties with baits up to four ounces with little difficulty, but with its relatively short rear handle, the 761XHF feels more like a flipping and punching stick than a big bait stick. This actually makes it great for big topwater baits like Black Dog Bait Company's Lunker Punker. In fact, the 761XHF might make the perfect stick for Black Dog's line of injection molded Punkers but by the time the thought occurred to me I didn't have any on hand to test this theory.
Lucky Craft offers two rods with this exact same "761XHF" label and lure and line weight ratings, so are they the same stick?
Next Section: Applications and Ratings