Top positive review
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626 Grams of Backpacking Joy
on September 11, 2012
Picked this rig up for taking on backpacking trips after reading all the reviews on here. After a few trips into the wilderness with this little thing of beauty, I am definitely in love with it. The pole assembles in a matter of seconds and feels both sturdy and sensitive at the same time. The reel does feel a little cheesy to me, but seems more than adequate for backwoods travel. The feel of the pole grip took some getting used to - the lower end of the grip is necessarily short and the overall feel of holding the rod seemed sort of wrong at first (compared to most other poles I've used), but after spending some time with it, it became quite comfortable. The metal ring that slides up and holds the reel in place has a tendency to get stuck and I've had to smack it with the edge of my knife to get it to pop free in order to take the reel back off after use - not really a major problem so far, but noted for posterity. The tip section seemed VERY tight on first assembly and I thought it was going to be a problem, but after a few uses, it settled in to a very nice fit - the pole stays together perfectly. Tried with both 6 and 4 lb monofilament, and as others have mentioned it seems the 4 lb is definitely the better choice for this rig. The case is sort of a funky shape for fitting into - or onto - the backpack - am still working on the best place to attach it, but after breaking the tips off of a couple of regular poles that were lashed the side of my backpack while going through thick brush or crawling under downed trees, this sturdy case is perfectly awesome and I'm happy to deal with it. The latches are obviously going to be the first thing to go, but will deal with that when it happens - bungee strap or something. Was able to cram about a dozen lures, a couple of floats, hooks, weights, swivels, and several little crack-baggies stuffed full of various baits (e.g. salmon eggs, garlic marshmallows, etc.) into the various nooks and crannies molded into the case and completely left my soft-sided tackle box at home - which freed up a lot of space in my backpack all by itself. For those wondering how much this thing actually weighs (was wondering myself but couldn't find the info elsewhere) the digital scale I tossed it onto said 626 grams or about 22 ounces (without any extra gear in the box of course). Not exactly "ultralight" in the backpacking sense (yes, different meaning than "ultralight" in fishing pole jargon) but worth every single gram as far as my personal backpack is concerned. All in all, a well built, well thought out unit that has helped me to enjoy a couple dozen delicious alpine lakes rainbows over the last few weeks, and expect to enjoy many more. Will update if anything unusual happens.
UPDATE 7/9/2014: Going into my third season with this setup and am still 100% happy with it for use as a backpacking pole. My main reason for posting this update was to report that the issue mentioned above where the tip section was VERY tight upon first assembly has recurred at the beginning of each season. Both last year and this year it got stuck so tightly the first time it was put together that I was absolutely certain it was going to break before it could be separated again. Obviously a tight fit is necessary as the last thing you want is for the tip to go flying off during a cast - and maybe some of these are made looser than mine was - but based on my experience, I would absolutely suggest putting a very light coat of petroleum jelly on that last joint before inserting it for the first time (and again at the beginning of each season). The tip section joint is just raw fiberglass and seems to depend more on friction to stay put so I wouldn't use anything lighter or slipperier than petroleum jelly to lube it as it might make the joint more prone to come apart. All the other sections have a different type of joint and they have worked flawlessly every time.
Also, when breaking it out for the first time this season, I noticed that the reel felt a little stiff, so broke it part way down and squirted a little WD-40 into it and it instantly worked like brand new again. As with any machinery, I suppose a little lube now and then would be a good idea.
At any rate, am still extremely happy with this little beauty - definitely money well spent.