Calstar 800L Swimbait Rod
Author: Rob Belloni
Half Graphite/ Half Fiberglass
The Calstar Grafighter series rods are a hybrid rod with the butt section made from stiff graphite material, and the tip section made from softer fiberglass. The butt section on these rods is incredibly stiff, but about 2/3 of the way down the blank the fiberglass starts, and the tip section has a nice soft give to it. These rods are designed for saltwater fishing, but when wrapped with light materials they can make a killer heavy swimbait rod. You don't want to use stainless steel guides because the make the rod heavy and too flexible. You want to do a double wrap of the guides only (no under-wrap) with double foot Fuji Hardloy or comparable guides. The Fuji alconite or S.I.C guides would be a nice upgrade if you want to spend the extra dollars. This style guide keeps the weight of the overall rod down, and keeps the rod from getting too whippy of an action. The more wraps and epoxy you put on the guides, the whippier the rod will get.
This rod is a big gun for freshwater bass fishing. There's not much point to having this rod for lures under 3 or 4oz in size. I typically reach for this rod when throwing the big Stocker Trout, 12" MS Slammer, 12" Castaic, 9.5" Rago Live Trout, and other big heavy baits like that. With this rod, you really can cast a 12" Castaic Trout, and that says a lot.
I love the graphiter blank action overall for these big baits because I can get a good cast out of the rod, then stick it under my arm and crank hard on a big bait without getting tired out. When a big fish hits a big bait on a light rod, your rod will get pulled down hard, which can let the fish get away. With this rod if you get bit, you can crank into the fish and set without giving slack to the fish. That's a big plus.
When you get a fish hooked up on this rod, that's when the fiberglass tip comes in to play. It has enough give that you don't rip hooks out on short line. There are some other very heavy duty, stiff rods that are commonly used for big bait fishing, and the main problem with them is that the tips are just as stiff as the butt sections, so when you have a fish skin hooked inside the mouth or barely hooked in the lip, the odds go up that the fish's skin will simply give way and the hook will rip out. I've had great luck with this rod once the fish is hooked and I believe it's because of the give in the tip.
The first problem you'll have with this rod is getting one. Calstar does make a stock rod with the 800L blank, but it is heavily wrapped, whippy, and not at all what you want for throwing trout plugs and swimbaits. You have to get the rod custom made.
The only other bad thing to say about this rod is that is simply not a good all around rod. If you are only going to buy one rod for swimbaits, do not buy this rod. And don't go and tie a 7" bait to this rod and go fish with it. It's just not right for that kind of stuff. This is big big bait only.