My first serious bass rod, was a Phenix 55M2 with an Abu Garcia 4600 round reel, ala Don Iovino, doodle worm fishing. I have fished Shimano most of my adult/post-college could afford boats and serious tackle life. The last couple years, as I’ve been eyeing the Pacific Ocean, I’ve ventured out and explored rods and reels from various companies and brands. I sorta wanted to check in and see if anyone had caught up to Shimano, or get a feel what these other brands, like Daiwa, Quantum, Okuma, Lews, etc could do. My intention was always to blog about those experiences. I have lagged at blogging, but let this kick off that conversation.
Fast forward, a couple months back, as I was getting into my first groove with the good sized, solid calico bass at San Clemente Island (aka SCI). I posted a video of my Daiwa Tatula HD reel being a pain in the arse, reel handle sorta seized up, gears making grinding noises as I’m fighting a fish (find me on instagram @southernswimbait ). Anyway, I got a note from my friend Brad Rutherford. You know, that ‘kid’ who was in college and was part of Southern Trout Eaters? He now works for Pure Fishing. Pure Fishing is the conglomerate that owns Berkley, Abu Garcia, Fenwick, Stren, Sebile, Spider Wire, etc etc Brad works for Pure Fishing out of Columbia, South Carolina. See this cool story from Brad’s father, Bob Rutherford who posted this on Facebook recently. I hadn’t heard this story before. STE = Southern Trout Eaters:
Brad sent me a couple of saltwater grade, big spool, low profile, heavy duty, casting reels to try out. I really appreciated the gesture and wanted to provide some feedback. I recently invested in some Shimano Tranx, which is the Shimano low profile saltwater grade reel, so I feel like I have good feel of the current state of the market. What really drew my attention to the Abu Garcia Revo Toro Rocket was the super quick gear ratio, paired up with this beast of a reel, with a massive 4×4 twin paddle handle. You can tell this thing has amazing torque and power, when you reel it right out of the box. Shimano has NOT yet figured out how to make a double paddle power handle, that I feel like is up to grade. Abu Garcia has knocked it out of the park with the handle on the Revo Toro Rocket. I find the single power knob handles, the kind that saltwater guys adore….is hard for me as a swimbait guy. I have lost my grip a couple times at key moments. Something about the size and the singular knob hasn’t jived with my style of reeling and swimbait fishing. When I slow down and fish lead heads or something, no problem. But something about how I grip that knob aint working for me. The Tranx power knob is oddly too big for me to hold by my middle part of my fingers, and it’s caused me problems.
My buddy Chris Lilis (Christos is his Greek name, and since I too have Greek roots, I like to call him Christos) has a bunch of Abu Garcia Toros and Beast reels. Find Christos on Instagram at: @LBCEEZ He has been telling me how rock solid they are and how saltwater worthy they were. I sorta went thru some reels year, and he was giving me his feedback. After fishing this thing a few trips now, I have no doubt this reel is totally solid and fishes really well. It casts a mile. It holds a ton of line, especially for bass guys. It moves an incredible amount of line per crank. You need to able to fish fast with a lot of your baits. You fish with fast reels cover water, to make more casts, to get slack out of your long casts, to reel quickly back to the boat thru dead water, etc. It’s less physically demanding to fish certain baits with fast reels. I rarely like to fish anything 5:1 or slower, even 6:1 are slow to me, except Huddlestons, and a handful of really big baits these days. A lot of my game has changed. Braid changes things too.
I am totally impressed with this reel. I haven’t fished an Abu Garcia reel in a long time, and I am certainly impressed. I would like to get more of these, and continue trying them out in new applications. They work great with 65/80 pound braid, and calico bass, which means they will rock at big largemouth hunting too. A-Rigs. Big Jerk Baits. Big Spinnerbaits/BuzzBaits. Big topwater, etc.
A number of my friends swear by the 790H Ultra Classic Swimbait rod from Phenix. I took a trip to Phenix a few weeks back and loaded up on some new sticks for the saltwater. I knew I wanted to pair the Revo Toro Rocket with the 790H because I knew I was going to be fishing the ShellBack Customs 6″ Swimbait. I knew I would be getting bit, and would be having chances to test the tackle, get some fish on film and really see how it would work.
The 790H feels amazingly like these Teramars from Shimano I have had for 17 years, that I just adore. Really beefy and strong, but just a little tip. My friends were not lying when they told me this was the best all around swimbait rod they might pick if they could only have one. I could throw a 1 oz warbait spinnerbait or a 8″ Huddleston or a Slide Swimmer 250.
You notice in the above video, I literally jack a fish like 4 feet out of the water on my hookset. Paired with braid, and a good solid 300/400 series low profile fast reel like the Revo Toro Rocket, you are becoming a dangerous weapon. You can cover water, and not fatigue yourself. You can burn your baits and then stall–which creates bites. You can hook and land most fish you will ever encounter. Kevin Mattson caught like a 250 lb arapaima on this rod. It can handle the biggest baddest fish of the Amazon. I can see myself getting more of the 790H. Two of them, is not enough!