February 08, 2019
Editor’s Note: The following is a review of the RODgeeks XC804 blank built into a musky rod. It is written by Dan M, who lives in the Chicago area. It has been slightly edited for clarity, but not for content.
I've been using the XC804 for Musky fishing since August 2017, when Billy gave me a prototype to test. I found the sweet spot on this rod to be 2-6oz. It excels throwing double 10s and 13 bucktails (up to 4.3oz). I have also tested it with Bulldawgs up to the Mag Alpha Dawg (9oz). It cast the regular bulldawg (3oz) and the magdawg (6oz) very well. I could lob a Mag-Alphadawg, but I felt it was too heavy for this rod to efficiently cast. I also tried casting smaller bucktails and topwaters and found that I could cast 1 -1.5 oz lures, the distance was not what I wanted. I have other rods for those.
A buddy of mine loves to fish regular sized bulldawgs (3 oz) but would only fish for short periods because it was so much work to cast with his favorite all graphite rod. When he told me this on one of our fishing trips, I let him fish the 804 for a day. He absolutely loved it. He couldn’t believe how much easier it is to cast the larger baits. He liked it so much that he now owns the first one I built and I had to build another for myself. True story! The XC804 has become his go to for both jerkbaits and topwaters.
For jerkbaits, the moderate action imparts a nice gliding action to the bait. The glass in the XC804 allows the rod to load up and gives the Bulldawg a different action than I am used to when I fish it. Using a traditional stiff musky rod, the bait "stops" when you stop working the rod. The 804’s tip gives the lure a more gradual start and stop when you are working the rod, so even when I stop moving the rod, the lure is still moving forward for just a bit longer.
For topwater, I used it down to 2oz and was loving how easy it was to cast. I usually enjoy catching Musky on topwater (who doesn't!), but I haven’t used topwaters as much as I would have liked. I just tested how light of a lure I could cast, and 2oz was it.
The biggest plus for me with the 804 is the ease of casting. The traditional stiff musky rods wear me out casting long before the day is done. When casting larger baits (2.5+ oz) with all graphite rods, I could feel the load right in my elbow and it hurt. The glass and graphite composite construction results in a rod which loads up the lure weight so it doesn’t get to my elbow. The rod does all the work. I can use it all day without all the pain and fatigue issues. Casting distance is excellent. As effortless as it was to cast though, I had to adjust to the different action of the XC804, but once I slowed my casting motion a little I was able to fire lures out there.
Fish fighting - the action and glass in the blank gave me such an advantage when hooking fish close to the boat. The hooks seemed to stick better since there was a bit of a "cushion" or "shock absorber" when the fish hit. Also a big plus when a fish is thrashing boat side. I was worried about getting a good hook set at the end of the cast, but hooking fish far from the boat was not an issue. The XC804 has more than enough power to drive hooks home.
Although it casts the bigger bucktails well, figure 8ing with double 10s and double 13s is a weak spot. The XC804 would load up when you sped up during a figure 8, and as a result it was more difficult to make a wide 8 than with a stiffer rod.
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