The Team Daiwa product line of the 1990s was one the most iconic collection of not only fishing pros but the rods and reels designed for them. Fast forward to 2017, and there is a whole new lineup of professional anglers and the new line of Daiwa Tatula Elite Signature Series rods that are actually designed individually and specifically by each pro.
The pros on the Daiwa team sat down with designers and engineers to create specific fishing application rods with unique handle lengths, tapers, powers, actions and materials to make each rod perfect for that technique per the angler that has used those techniques to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in bass fishing competitions.
I first saw the new Daiwa Tatula Elite Signature Series rods at the Bassmaster Classic in Houston. Brent Ehrler nearly won the event using the rod specifically designed by his Daiwa teammate Ish Monroe. When you're talking flipping and frogging, Ish Monroe definitely comes to mind. When you're talking finesse spinning applications, names like Meyer, Ehrler and Feider come to mind. When you're talking cranking Takahiro Omori and Randy Howell both come to mind having won Bassmaster Classics on crankbaits. So I had high expectations for the designs of the rods but was equally curious about the blanks, Fuji guides and reel seats, and custom Daiwa designed guides and seats.
Thus far, I've been able to experiment with the Cody Meyer Drop Shot rod, the Randy Howell shallow crankbait and topwater rods and the Ish Monroe frog rod. They do not disappoint! Cosmetically the rods are very attractive with a new silver color and chrome and grey accents. The new Daiwa Exclusive Super Volume Fiber-Modulus SVF™ Graphite blanks were very sensitive on all the models, and the frog and big topwater rods were both very strong when fighting and swinging bass into the boat.
I found the guides to be very well done with both the Fuji Alconite Ring guides and the new custom Daiwa AGS carbon fiber guides. Ish's Frog Rod was the only one I used with the new Daiwa AGS guides that were designed for further weight reduction, which is nice on a powerful rod like a pitching or frogging stick. The Daiwa AGS Guides are framed with Carbon Fiber for increased sensitivity as they are more rigid which transmits into more sensitivity to the angler's hand.
The handles are unique to each application and design. The big topwater rod for instance is a strong rod, capable of throwing 1 1/2-ounce topwaters yet the handle is short so that it's not constantly hanging in your shirt or jacket as you work the lure back to the boat. Some of the handles are full EVA while others feature split grip designs with EVA foregrips. This really kept the weight down on the rods in conjunction with the guides and Fuji reel seats.
I caught several frog fish on Ish's rod this spring, several Chatterbait fish and even a few tremor head fish on the Randy Howell big topwater rod and several nice bass on the Cody Meyer drop shot rod while fishing deep on ledges. I caught a handful of small bass on the Randy Howell crankbait rod but it's equally as good if not better than one of my all time favorite shallow water crankbait rods, the Daiwa Tatula ML 7-foot rod that he used to win the Bassmaster Classic. I did find myself wanting a little more handle when trying to fish the Big Topwater rod out deep and make long casts to open water targets. But it was a great rod for single-hand, target casting a Chatterbait on cover with that smaller handle.
The lineup includes 20 rods currently, designed by Brent Ehrler, Cody Meyer, Ish Monroe, Randy Howell, Takahiro Omori, Andy Montgomery and Seth Feider.
The rods vary in price from $179 with the SVF graphite and Fuji Alconite guides to $299 for the larger model rods featuring the custom Daiwa reel seat and custom Daiwa AGS rod guides. But at $179 I found these rods to be very responsive, very sensitive, and still powerful enough to play a fish down quickly on the fight, making them a tremendous value at that price point. Plus the silver really looks great paired with a Daiwa Steez or their new Tatula SV TW reels.
I'm hoping to get to play with some of the Tatula Elite Glass rods for cranking in the near future, especially that 8-footer Brent Ehrler designed for throwing big plugs.