I don’t take testing fishing rods lightly. At the risk of sounding a bit cliché, they really are your lifeline on the water. You can put the right bait in the right area, but if you don’t have the sensitivity to detect the bite, the power to wrench ‘em out of thick cover and the durability to boat-flip a 4-pounder, you’re simply putting yourself at a disadvantage.
I’ve had an opportunity to fish with the new Abu Garcia Villain 2.0 Casting Rods for several months now, and after a lot of experimentation with various techniques, I’ve become an instant fan of this particular rod series.
What you’ll like about it
I touched on it briefly, but it’s essential to dig down to the core characteristics of a fishing rod. When most anglers make a purchase, they’re looking for a few primary things: Sensitivity, power and durability. So let’s quickly discuss each aspect.
The Abu Garcia Villain 2.0 Casting Rod has impressed me with its ability to detect even the slightest bites on tough, post-frontal days of fishing. You’ll be able to feel slight changes in bottom composition, subtle bites and your bait and lure movement without any issues. Whether your squarebill has a small leaf sprig of grass on it or your Texas rig is dragging across a diminutive shell bed, you’re going to be very in-tune with your bait of choice.
The power of the Villain 2.0 is perhaps the most impressive characteristic to me. Its 40-ton graphite blanks and V-Wrap carbon construction combine nicely to give you a bona fide whomping stick. Although it’s powerful enough to boat flip decent bass, it’s also shockingly lightweight for its $199.99 price point. You’ll often run into powerful rods that are far too heavy, but I can certainly say that this rod feels beautiful in your hands.
There’s no point in owning a rod that’s going to snap like a twig, so I made a point to put the Villain 2.0 through its paces. When you set the hook, you won’t hear any cracking or popping and even after spending a lot of time in my stuffed rod lockers in rough water, there aren’t any scratches or structural deficiencies to speak of. The zirconium inserts have stayed put, the tip is in excellent condition and the EVA foam grips look as good as new.
My experiences with it
I chose the 7-foot, medium-heavy Villain 2.0 for testing because it’s a perfect length and action for a myriad of techniques. Whether you’re a cranker, dragger, flipper or frogger, this is a solid starting point that can cover most of your bases.
In regards to cranking, I’ve really enjoyed this rod while using larger squarebills. It loads up wonderfully when a bass bites and it has enough tip to allow for easy, pinpoint roll casts to key pieces of cover. Its fast tip absorbs boat-side runs very well without ripping the treble hooks from the bass.
I’ve used this rod most often, however, when pitching and flipping Texas rigs and smaller finesse jigs. In my opinion, this is where it shines brightest. It casts wonderfully and has an excellent blend of power and sensitivity. I’ve yanked bass over the cross braces of docks, out of deep brush piles and away from thick vegetation with no problems whatsoever. I’ve been able to feel a bunch of ridiculously soft bites without getting into a “feeling contest” with the bass and alerting them to my presence.
You can be sure I’ll be using this rod for the remainder of the year. It has handled everything I’ve thrown at it effortlessly and as I mentioned earlier, it’s an awesome-feeling rod; it’s comfortable to fish with for hours—heck, even days—on end. If you’re looking to buy a new rod in the $199.99 price range, take a very close look at the Villain 2.0. I really believe you’ll love it.