Okuma Guide Select GS-C-711 Swimbait Rods
Author: Rob Belloni
MH, H, XH
12-25lb, 15-30, 15-40
3/4 - 3oz, 1 - 6oz, 2 - 8oz
Fuji Alconite Concept
The Okuma Guide Select 7’11” swimbait rods are the second line of true swimbait rods produced by Okuma following their popular 7’6” models. These rods were released in the fall of 2006 and include three models, a MH, H, and XH. The rods feature Alconite Concept guides, a Fuji reel seat, Evo Graph reinforced butt section, and a trigger grip rod butt (more on this later).
Like the 7’6” Okuma swimbait rods, the first thing to talk about with the 7’11” series is the price. Retailing for $99, there is tremendous value for your dollar here and at the time of this review (Sept 2006) I feel that Okuma clearly leads the market in price to performance for swimbait rods.
The action on these rods of course varies between the models but generally they have stiff blanks that taper smoothly down the first 3 to 3.5 feet of the rod before closing off toward the butt section to a very rigid handle. All three models feature 10 guides, plus the tip top and I feel like the guide spacing and sizes are well matched for the length of the blanks. Unlike the 7’6” Okumas, the 7’11” comes with a hook keeper that actually keeps your hook. I am still not a huge fan of hook keepers in general, but this wire loop is a step in the right direction from the previous setup.
An interesting feature of the 7’11” series is the rod butt which is actually a shortened cork trigger grip. I was skeptical of this setup until I tried the rods. What the trigger grip section does is give you a greater surface area to palm for overhand casting and, more importantly, it presents a more rectangular shape to put under your armpit while retrieving the bait. This reduces the likelihood that your rod will get torqued to either side on a strong bite. If you’re skeptical like I was, pick one up and tuck it under your arm like you would normally to retrieve a bait and you’ll quickly notice how secure it feels there. Big fish can hit hard and they can hit at unexpected moments so anything you can do to keep from giving them slack on the strike is a plus and this rod helps achieve that goal.
Let’s break down the rod actions by the type of baits you’d be most likely to use with each model, starting with the MH. The 7’11” MH has a light whiskery feel to it, similar perhaps to the St. Croix Avid AC80HF. This rod is going to be your 4-7” bait rod. When I think about the MH I think Mattlures Gill or Baby Bass, 5-6” Big Hammer or Fish Trap, Castiac Platinum 6” or 8”, Rago Gill, Jackall Mikey or Lucky Craft Real California. The rod is rated to a 3oz lure and that rating is in my opinion an accurate one. This rod could also be a good option for guys who like to crank DD22’s, Manns 30+, or Deps Buzzjet.
The Heavy action 7’11” beefs up quite a bit from the MH but still has some feel to it. If you are looking for an all around swimbait rod, this should be your choice among the three 7’11” Okumas. When I fished this rod it felt best when matched with a 10” Triple Trout, 8” Rago Raptor, 9” MS Slammer, 6-7” Optimum and similarly mid-sized swimbaits. If you are looking for a Hudd rod or something to throw heavy baits like 9 or 10” Stocker Trout, you’ll probably want to look up a notch to the XH as the H does have some give in the tip section. If you’ve fished the 7’6” Okumas you know that the 7’6” H is a very stiff rod and is suitable for the big rubber lures, but in the 7’11” the heavy action rod is noticeably more limber so be aware of that before you buy.
The 7’11” XH is your big unit. And best of all, this broomstick can cast! It is hard to find a true XH rod that also has that intangible flick that will toss your bait for distance but the 7’11” XH has that quality. I can toss a ROF12 Hudd at least 15 feet further with this rod than the 7’6” and you sacrifice nothing on the hookset. This rod has the muscle to put 10lb+ fish in the boat in 10 seconds and it can handle the largest baits on the market. If you’re into the 12” Castaic or you’re lucky enough to own a 12” Huddleston Deluxebow or 13” Rago Tool this rod will fish those baits no problem.
I’m going to sound a little picky here so temper that with the fact that the rod retails for under $100 and read on.
My first issue is in regards to balance. The MH and H feel well balanced and have a natural feel during your cast and retrieve. The XH however feels a bit top heavy to me. To determine if it was the overall weight of the rod that was bothering me or the balance I weighed my custom wrapped Calstar 800L with hypalon handles for comparison. The Calstar weighed almost twice as much as the Okuma so clearly overall weight was not the issue. I then checked to see where the balance point of the rod was. With the Okuma, the balance point was about 7” in front of the center of the reel seat. With the Calstar it was about 3” in front of the reel seat. This made sense because I felt like when I was fishing with the XH, the tip of the rod wanted to tilt down which was slightly fatiguing after several hours of casting. This is something to consider if you are purchasing the XH and I may add a little weight to the butt of my rod to counterbalance this effect.
The second thing that bothered me with the rods was the reel seat. I found that I would tighten it down like normal before a trip and then in the morning after a few casts it would feel a little loose. After ratcheting it down good and tight it would stay tight for the rest of the day but it was just slightly annoying to have to ratchet it down so hard. I switch rod and reel combos frequently so I probably notice this more than your average guy but its worth noting that the reel seats in general are just average quality.
My last nit pick is in regards to the rod butt. I like the trigger grip from a fishing standpoint but it can create rod storage issues because it is so wide (approximately 2"). I fish from a kickboat and the butt section barely fits in my rocket launcher style rod holders. If you're using the rod in saltwater with a tube style rod holder or putting it in a quick draw type rod rack in a bass boat you may encounter simliar issues.
Overall I believe these rods will go on to become just as popular as the 7’6” models. At 7’11” they are legal for tournament fishing, they have decent quality compnents, legitimate swimbait actions, and they cover the full spectrum of swimbait sizes and weights. When you lay it all out and compare them to rods costing twice as much, there really is not a tremendous difference in performance.