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Rod Review

Ignore the Labels and Just Fish It : Lucky Craft's LCMG 761XHF (continued)

Applications cont'd: Instead, what I did have on hand were some new Paycheck Bait Company Repo Mans - the reincarnated Reaction Innovations Vixen. The Repo Man is a four and three quarter inch bait rated at only three quarters of an ounce but still comfortably within the 761XHF's rated range, so I switched reels to the smaller Ryoga 1016HL spooled with the new Sufix 832 braid to test my theory.

Our lab tests say yes, so we extended the test of the 761XHF by mounting a smaller reel on it (Daiwa Japan's Ryoga 1016HL), and putting it through some quick paces in other applications.

While the overall combo is certainly heavier than I'd prefer for a bait like this, the 761XHF handled casting and walking duties with the Repo Man perfectly. In fact, it did so surprisingly well further reinforcing my notion that this would make a fantastic stick for the injection molded Punker.

First up casting and walking duties with a Paycheck Bait Company Repo Man - a topwater cigar bait - the 761XHF passed the test.

Back to flipping and punching duties, we noticed how this stick shares the exact same rating as the Lucky Craft 7’6” Heavy Carolina Rig rod - right down to the model number. The only distinction one stick has over the is in their listed name: one is listed as “Heavy Carolina Rig” while the other is listed as “Swim Bait Special”. Curiosity got the better of us and we acquired the “Heavy Carolina Rig” version of this rod, put it up to our standard barrage of tests in the lab including an appointment with the RoD WRACK and guess what? They indeed are the same stick.

Second up some quick flipping and punching duties with Paycheck Bait Company's new living rubber Punch Skirts and the Reins AX Craw - the 761XHF passed this test as well.

So we also tested this stick as a traditional soft plastics rod. I rigged it with my new favorite bait, the living rubber Punch Skirt by Paycheck Baits, doubled it up with a traditional silicone punch skirt (to add color), and tipped it all with a Reins AX Craw for some pitching and punching exercises.

The 761XHF's tip loads easily for pitching duties.

Well, not only does the 761XHF handle flipping and punching duties well, but when matched with the Ryoga 1016HL, the pair make a powerfully deadly combo. It seems the 761XHF would be better served labelled as a general purpose extra-heavy powered stick than something built specifically for swimbaits or Heavy Carolina Rigging.

And the rod's short handle is spot on for this application.

Availability & Warranty: All of Lucky Craft’s bass rods are now readily available and are covered by a limited 3 year warranty that includes a $75 no questions asked replacement program that can be handled through your retailer. Please be sure to check with your authorized dealer for their participation in this program and for any questions you may have regarding this warranty.


Lucky Craft LCMG 761XHF Swim Bait Special Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Much like the 701MF, a very clean build 9
Performance Casts and pitches well, has good power and sensitivity 8
Price Not quite as attractive as the 701MF but still good 7.5
Features Top end components 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) Very conservative look and too short of a rear handle for "swimbaits" 7
Application Not so great for swimbaits, but good for big topwater plugs and as a flipping/punching stick... just ignore the "Swim Bait Special" or "Heavy Carolina Rig" labels 7.5

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable! For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:


J A surprisingly versatile heavy powered stick bordering on extra heavy in power. L This stick and its Heavy Carolina Rig counterpart does not need a label - just call it a 7'6" Heavy or Extra Heavy and list "swimbaits, big topwater baits, flipping, punching, etc. as recommended applications.
J Quality components  


Conclusion: While not quite as enamored with this stick or its longer sibling (the 800XHXF) as I was with the 701MF, there’s no denying the value this and the other Lucky Craft sticks represent. If Lucky Craft wants this pair of sticks to be considered for traditional big bait duties, they need to give me a longer rear handle. Not only would that help with two handed casting, but this move would help balance both rods out a little better making them less cumbersome to wield. Eliminating the full rear grip in favor of a split rear grip or better yet, just taking away that foregrip would also help in the visual appeal department. Otherwise, the blanks for both these sticks are solid.


Look past the LCMG 761XHF's labels and just fish it - you may soon find its versatility invaluable.

Taking a step back and just looking at this stick in a traditional sense, with no "Swim Bait Special" or "Heavy Carolina Rig" labels, and the real value of the 761XHF is revealed as a very versatile seven foot six inch heavy to extra heavy powered rod able to handle everything from traditional top water baits to punching duties to, in a pinch, big bait duties. Quite often, we get too caught up in what a rod is made for and forget to just fish the stick and let it tell you what it handles best according to your style of fishing. Case in point? If scored purely as a swimbait stick, the 761XHF would not have fared as well. Knowing that it has a twin brother in the "Heavy Carolina Rig", we looked past the rod's label and were pleasantly surprised. Looking for a general purpose heavy to extra-heavy powered rod? Guess what, while that may not have been Lucky Craft's intent, the 761XHF might very well be "the one".


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