I am a simple man when it comes to fishing. I’m as easily content chasing panfish and trout as I am chasing bass and larger game fish. I do, however, value the experiences at a high level. Part of that comes from the scenery and wild things you will only see on the water alone, just you with the fish and nature. Part of it comes from using ultra-refined tools that offer an added layer of experience and craftsmanship to a meaningful endeavor. Some guys like shooting a bow with a high-end compound setup. While some find a bigger thrill and enjoyment using a handcrafted recurve. That’s the type of experiences I gravitate towards in fishing, and why I was so excited to test the Megabass Great Hunting Huntsman rods.
Full disclosure, these are ultra high-end trout enthusiast rods, built purposefully and skillfully for the wild pursuit of native trout in very remote locations in Japan. Everything from the ergonomics to the handle and the smoothness of the line drag on the guides to the whipsnake nature of the rod bend to launch a small artificial lure into tight crevices offer opportunity for once in a lifetime specimens. It’s not going to appeal to your “catch whatever you can with a $20 rod” crowd. So we all agree on that going into this.
But those who want a deeper dive into a fascinating tangent of ultra-precise rod building, then come along with me as I share my insights on the Megabass Great Hunting Huntsman rod.
A BUILD LIKE NO OTHER
Out of the gate, you will realize this rod was built for specific purposes. The travel case is padded and durable and then has an inner sleeve that protects the rod pieces even further. That’s because the rod was built to travel into those hard to reach places and tempt trout maybe no one else has ever tempted.
For my testing, I tested the GHBF511-4L rod. To break that down further, it’s a 5-foot, 11-inch light casting rod made for bait finesse system fishing for remote stream trout. It’s one of two 4-piece rods in this 4-rod line of Great Hunting Huntsman rods. There is a separate Great Hunting lineup as well with more standard grips.
This 4 piece rod was built to handle 2 to 8-gram lures with an extra fast to medium fast action. The ferrules fit together easily and line up with a simple dot system. The rod balances extremely well, even with a custom hand-carved, hardwood, one-hand handle.
The handle obviously sparks the conversation around this rod when anglers see it for the first time. The truth be told, while the rod looks like it would fit your hand like a glove, it in fact fits more than that. The unique finger grip grooves in the handle actually fit a variety of grips on the handle. That’s largely due to rod being engineered for how an angler will need to cast when faced with the narrow passage along a creek that could block side arm and back casts. So the rod was engineered to grip one handed and make roll casts, up-down casts, flip casts and more with incredible precision.
When you realize that you can grip it differently, and every different grip feels like it was cut for that grip, you will be mesmerized by the thoughtfulness and contemplation it took to design that handle. Then to carve it out of ivory rosewood by hand for each rod—well you can see why such a small number of them were made and why their price tag is one of the highest in the space.
This rod was literally hand carved and reverse-engineered on a platform from the idea of how the rod would be employed in narrow, remote venues.
REMAPPED GUIDE TRAIN
So something to consider with BFS rods that many anglers miss is the guide train. When I talk about guide train, I’m talking about all the guides working in unison to get your line out smoothly without friction to allow the lure to move unimpeded to the target. If the line gathers too much in the guides, you get a backlash. If the line flows inconsistently you will get errant casts. So the designer must consider everything from the materials, to the size and placement and finally the angle of the guides to allow for a consistent, untethered performance.
This rod actually opened my eyes to that fact. All of the attention in bait finesse system lies with the shallow spool on the BFS reel and the required low start-up inertia required to cast light lures. But in my opinion, how the line flows through the guides compares equally if not more importantly.
The Megabass Great Hunting Huntsman used titanium guides with SiC inserts with a very strategic placement that also called for an angled guide to create the frictionless train to deliver perfect casting performance.
UNIQUE FLEX AND RECOIL IN THE BLANKS
This specific Great Hunting Huntsman rod offers a unique flex and recoil. I am able to up-down cast, roll cast and even bow and arrow cast some thanks to its unique flex and taper. The up-down cast was one I used a lot this summer on my creek adventures. Some of my creeks are pretty narrow with trees along side, behind and even above me at times. So I had small windows to move the rod to propel a lure into very specific spots like behind a rock breaking current, or under a log laying across the creek.
I would let out about 10 inches of line to my lure and then I start the lure upward with the rod in front of me, then quickly change direction to down between my legs and when the rod has a good load to it, I shoot the lure forward to the spot I want to hit with an underhand cast. The up-down motion gives you a bit more load and momentum than you can generate with just an underhand pitch which can be difficult with light lures. It takes some practice and mastering your timing, but it’s a super effective cast with the Great Hunting Huntsman rods.
These rods have a flex that mimics a one piece thanks to its flexible ferrules that allow for a smooth taper throughout the three joints that join 4 rod pieces.
OTHER GREAT HUNTING HUNTSMAN ELEMENTS
The foregrip, nut and seat were all machine milled from solid block aluminum to create a very light and ultra rigid platform to mount your reel. I played with both low profile reels like the Daiwa Silver Creek Air TW Stream Custom as well as round reels like the Shimano Conquest Calcutta BFS 23. Both reels were dynamite on this combination and never slipped or had to be re-tightened while fishing all day.
You’ll notice little fishy notes etched throughout the rod on the reel seat, blank, and more. Giving you that one of a kind custom feel.
FISHING WITH THE GREAT HUNTING HUNTSMAN
Proof is in the pudding, and I’ve been fortunate to take this truly unique rod to a lot of different locations to chase a lot of different fish. I’ve been stream fishing for smallies in Tennessee. I’ve been trout fishing in Kentucky and North Carolina with it. I’ve been chasing giant panfish in Arkansas and Kentucky with it. I’ve taken it kayaking in Indiana and Nebraska. And through all of those travels, I’ve tested the Great Hunting Huntsman rod with several different BFS reels, several different lines, many different lures and a plethora of techniques.
While I like the load and casting on this rod with small hard baits, I did think it got a little soft jerking a topwater. I liked it most probably with small hard lures that I cast and jerk along. I also liked it fishing spinners and spoons in current. I think it’s a great treble hook rod and an good jig rod for micro jigs. It does give quite a bit, and it can be hard to drive a jighead on a long cast. But this rod is a caster so you can sometimes be stretched past its best performing range with baits that don’t have treble hooks. That’s all said so you are mindful of where its limitations lie. It has quite a bit of backbone for its size and light action. With a 5 to 10-pound braid it’s very good.
My favorite was small, flat-sided jerkbaits with this rod. I really enjoyed how the rod fishes those both on a steady retrieve and with small pops and snaps.
LIMITED SUPPLY FOR THE ENTHUSIASTS
The Megabass Great Hunting Huntsman affords a very unique experience to a select few anglers. To my knowledge, there are only a few hundred out there as of now. Not sure when the next drop is coming to retailers. I was able to snatch this one up as soon as they dropped. And I’ve had a ball traveling and exploring with it. The rod went with me to 6 new fisheries this summer, and I hope it will get to 20 more in the near future. It’s going to be going out west with me and to the Smoky Mountains as well.
The Great Hunting Huntsman offers a unique experience for the natural explorer in most anglers. If you are building the perfect custom trout BFS setup to chase fish with small hard baits, spoons and spinners, this would be a really fun option for you.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE GREAT HUNTING HUNTSMAN ROD
Like most folks, I will never own a Tesla automobile. But I still find some of the innovation and technology in them fascinating, and I want to hear other folks experiences with that technology. In the world of internet snark, reviewing these examples of craftsmanship in fishing are lost on many. But they are not lost on me and other kindred spirits like mine. Because I am a stoic at heart with an appreciation for the aesthetic beauty in things natural and also manmade.
The Megabass Great Hunting Huntsman rods truly showcase works of art in the realm of building the perfect tool for specific fishing situations. I have an appreciation for hand carved things. Most of us can appreciate toiling at something until you perfect it. Man is actually capable of creating beautiful works of art that also function in a higher purpose. Sometimes those come in the form of tools we use to enjoy our own personal, avid pursuits. I believe Yuki Ito set out to create the perfect tool to capture remote fish in remote places, and he was successful in that endeavor.
Probably the best place to find one is at TheHookUpTackle.com. They are out of stock at the moment, but more will come at some point. Meanwhile there is also a line of hard baits made specifically for these rods that you can also find at TheHookUpTackle.com and also at FishUSA.com.