Whenever I review fishing rods and fishing reels, I like to do what I call “the blindfold test”. No, I’m not weird enough to put on an actual blindfold but when I first remove one of these products from the package, I actually close my eyes and purposely don’t look up the price point. Based solely on feel and nothing else, what do I think this rod or reel is worth? I do this because a lot of pretty expensive things have come through my shop and didn’t feel too great in my hands. I try to go into each and every review with an unbiased mind and this little exercise certainly helps me do that.
So I did this little experiment when I had an opportunity to get my hands on the Daiwa Tatula XT Casting Rod. With very little knowledge on the rod, I took it fishing for several weeks and purposely never looked up the price. After having some fun with it, I finally found out the dang thing was only $99. To be quite honest, I was shocked. If you are looking for an affordable rod series that can do just about anything, I think you should check these out immediately.
Let’s dive into exactly what I like about this rod.
Aesthetics and function
Above the foregrip, you won’t notice a soft EVA or cork-style nut. It’s made from a harder material which transmits a lot more feel and vibration to your hand throughout the retrieve. Throughout my testing I’ve been able to feel very slight transitions in bottom composition when fishing bottom-contact presentations such as Texas rigs and lightweight jigs. I’ve also been able to feel very subtle differences in my moving baits’ vibration and cadence. So if a bass eats the bait from behind or quickly swipes as it, I’m able to detect that small difference quickly and set the hook before I miss my opportunity.
In addition to the clear functionality this feature offers, it also adds a really good-looking component to the overall look of the rod. I would expect this type of look to come from a rod twice the price. As I previously mentioned, when I took this rod out of the cardboard rod tube, I figured it was going to be on of Daiwa’s higher-end offerings but at $99, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. So not only will it help you feel a few more bites but this small, seemingly menial detail will look good in your rod collection, too.
Daiwa exclusive reel seat design
This has been an interesting design characteristic throughout my testing. The blank-through reel seat design is very sensitive and transmits vibration excellently. No matter how to prefer to grip the rod throughout the retrieve, your hand and fingers will be in direct contact with the rod blank which sharpens and intensifies each and every movement of your bottom-contact bait or fast-moving reaction lure.
The trigger is a little sharp in my opinion, if that makes sense. I’ve become a huge fan of jerkbaits the past few years and this trigger seems a bit bigger than many of the others I’ve tested. If you want to fish a jerkbait for an entire day, it’s probably not going to bother you whatsoever; in fact, it’s really comfortable. But if you’re going to take a few consecutive days off work and chuck a jerkbait for 3 straight days, this larger and sharper trigger may start to rub a raw spot on your fingers.
The JDM EVA-style split grips hold up well
I don’t know all about the specifics of EVA foam in regards to manufacturing and specific quality but I can certainly say I’ve tested some EVA grips that fall apart after just a few months. They’ll start to crumble and even worse, they’ll leave black stains on your light-colored shirts after a day full of hooksets and what not.
From what I can tell so far, the Daiwa Tatula XT Casting Rod features higher-quality EVA-style split grips that feel better and perform better than several I’ve tested over the years. The butt-section won’t stain your shirt and you can maintain a solid grip on the rod even after unhooking or culling fish.
Great balance for the price
When you dabble in the $99 price range, you really don’t know what you’re going to get in regards to balance. This may sound a little silly at first but if you fish a long, hard day with an unbalanced rod, you’re going to feel it when you get home. It will lead to forearm and elbow fatigue and totally unneccessary soreness. It can also seriously impact your casting accuracy because whether or not it’s tip- or butt-heavy, an unbalanced rod can screw up your release points and cause you to make some pretty gross and unproductive casts.
I have been very pleasantly surprised by the balance of this rod. It’s just a little bit tip-heavy but absolutely nothing that would deter me from fishing with it. I’m right-handed, so when I’m dragging a Texas rig or jig, I can feel a tiny bit of added pressure on the heel of my left hand but my gosh, I honestly think that’s just picking pepper out of fly poop. You’re not going to find a better-balance rod for this price point. And if you do, I want to know about it.
Final impressions of the Daiwa Tatula XT Casting Rod
This is an outstanding rod and the $99 price point is just a bonus, in my opinion. It can be tough to find ‘em in stock and that’s a good thing; it means people like them and are buying a bunch of them. Whether you like to pitch and flip or cast reaction lures, you’re going to become an instant fan of this insanely priced, high-quality bass fishing rod.