Level NGX Casting Rod Review

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Today I’ll be reviewing the new Level NGX Casting Rod from BassMooch. These rods were designed by two-time Bassmaster Classic Champion Hank Cherry and offer quite a bang for your buck. 

Priced at $169, this is a solid rod for the money. There are 12 casting models as well as three cranking rods and three spinning rods in the NGX lineup. I will be talking specifically about the casting rods today. 

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PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

For testing, I went with the 7’3” casting rod in a medium heavy power with a fast action. I like a rod this size because I can do a lot with it. It has enough backbone to do some light pitching and flipping while also having enough tip to use with a swim jig, buzzbait or frog. It also makes for a pretty good casting and skipping jig rod. 

I found that the NGX 7’3” medium heavy/fast rod was, in fact, great for several of these applications. I really like it for a hollow body frog, a swim jig and for light pitching and flipping. There’s a 7’2” medium heavy model of the NGX with a moderate fast action that would have a little slower tip to it, which would probably make it a slightly better selection for skipping jigs and spinnerbaits. 

The rod as a whole has held up and performed well. It’s light, strong and casts great. I’ve had it in my hand a good amount over the last month and caught a few fish on it, but I’ve had a hard time getting a big bite. The fishing has been a little tough here in Alabama lately and I really like to put a rod under a heavy load with a good fish before putting the final stamp of approval on it. 

I’ve been chasing down that exclamation point with the NGX and I finally got my chance recently. I’m happy to report that the rod did not disappoint. 

CAUGHT ME A BIG FISH

I slipped out to fish the Wednesday night pot derby with my dad on our home lake from 6 to 10pm. The fishing has been tough this summer. There was one night when my uncle had 12 pounds, but the rest of them have been won with less than 9 pounds and as little as 5 pounds a couple nights. Two-pounders have been considered big fish several times. 

I say all this to set the scene—we weren’t on a hammer hole and the chances of me catching a nice picture fish with the NGX were slim. However, I was committed to chuck something on it to have a shot. Something told me to swap over from my trusty popping frog to a swim jig. So, I cut the frog off the NGX and tied on a Dirty Jigs No-Jack Swim Jig. 

About 10 to 12 casts later a good one exploded on my bait. A quick but ferocious battle ensued and then the kicker was in the boat. Against the odds I had been given my picture fish and the NGX stood up to the test quite nicely. The icing on the cake: we won the derby with four fish for 8.98 pounds and our bag included the big fish for the night—a 4.56 pound largemouth…courtesy of the NGX. 

 

SPECS

I have an emotional connection to this rod now with the fond memory of catching a good one with my dad. Let me get more into the specifics now. 

The rod is lightweight and solid, thanks to the Japanese Toray 30/40 Ton Carbon Blank. The Carbon X-Wrap that runs all the way up the blank acts to reinforce it, while also adding a nice finish to the product. Level went with semi-micro Fuji K Frame Guides with Alconite Inserts—strong and sturdy as well. The main grip is a comfortable EVA foam, with a carbon rear grip and carbon reel seat. All three of these features further lighten the rod up even more. 

FAVORITE FEATURES

The rear grip of the rod is a little different. Since Level went with a carbon rear grip (as opposed to using the more popular EVA or cork materials) they were able to take some liberties with the shape of the grip. Most cork and EVA rear grips have either a cylindrical or conical shape to them, to help the angler grip the rods when making a forceful two-handed cast. Level one upped the competition here with an asymmetrical rise in the grip that fits the hand nicely. I was impressed by this. 

I also liked the mixture of more traditional size guides near the reel that quickly taper to smaller guides up the rod—still not going quite as small as micro guides. The rod boasts my personal favorite style of lure keeper, positioned where I like it best. The open keeper allows both treble hooked and weedless rigged baits to be stored. The only problem with this style of keeper is that it can be prone to catch your line. Level mitigated the chances of this happening by putting it on the face of the rod just above the reel. Great attention to detail. 

FINAL THOUGHTS

The NGX lineup is available in 18 models total (12 casting, 3 cranking and 3 spinning). There’s something in the casting rods for almost any application, with models ranging in length from 6’8” to 7’10”.  They all retail for $169.

This is a great price point for this rod to be able to separate itself from much of its competition. I would put it up against most rods in the $200 to $250 range. I personally trusted it with money on the line and it came through for me. Bassmaster Elite Series pro Hank Cherry trusts it with money on the line every day. I give a round of applause to the two-time champ and BassMooch; the Level NGX Casting Rods are great. Kudos to both of you on the collaboration. 

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