I can’t even begin to count how many rods I’ve tested throughout my career. Regardless of price point, I consistently look for three very important characteristics before anything else: Weightlessness, sensitivity and durability. It’s quite difficult to find a rod that has all three.
I’ve spent a lot of time this year testing the Abu Garcia Fantasista Premier Casting Rods. It’s a high-end rod that’s priced at $299, so I had some lofty expectations once I saw the price tag. We all work hard for our money, so I needed to make sure that it was worth the extra Benjamins before I recommended it to any of our readers.
Here’s what I’ve learned about these rods.
Weight and durability
I can confidently say that the Abu Garcia Fantasista Premier is the lightest rod I have in my collection—by a long shot, if I’m being totally honest. The balance is impressive as well and it has allowed for some extremely long fishing days with very little, if any, arm fatigue.
I always get a little wary, however, of these ultra-lightweight rods. There have been lots of companies who have tried this approach, only to learn that the rods break in the first few months of heavy use. So I made a concerted effort to beat the tar out of this particular rod.
I have boat-flipped several fish in the 4-pound range with this rod and have yet to have any issues whatsoever. I’ve set the hook as hard as I can and ripped fish from under boat docks and heavy grass mats and the Fantasista Premier has held up wonderfully. The responsive tip transfers beautifully to a powerful backbone and you won’t hear any “concerning” noises—cracking, rattling or popping—when this rod is under a heavy load.
These carbon blanks are designed with Tetra axial construction and a 3M Powerlux 500 resin system, which allows for these high break strengths and lightweight blanks. This is certainly one of the strongest lightweight rods I’ve had an opportunity to test thus far.
I’ve accidentally stepped on these line guides two or three times and they have not broken, cracked or been bent. The Zirconium inserts stay in place and they also remain smooth, even after excessive use of braided line.
How does it feel?
This can be hard to articulate via written word, but I’ll give it my best shot.
Cork handles aren’t usually my favorite choice, but I must say that the Fantasista Premier’s cork handle is quite comfortable and tacky, especially when your hands are wet or covered with fish slime. I’ve used this rod for hundreds of hours and I don’t see any signs of pitting, premature wear or discoloration in the cork.
The reel seat trigger fits comfortably in the hand and it won’t rub your hand raw or cause any blisters when you’re fishing topwater lures or jerkbaits.
Although I’ve already briefly touched on it, the balance of this rod is difficult to overstate. I’ve used just about every technique with my Fantasista Premier and they all seem to match up with the rod beautifully.
I’ve been using the 7-foot, medium-heavy action model and it loads excellently on the back cast with smaller, lighter baits such as weightless soft jerkbaits and undersized topwater poppers. In the same token, you can tie on a topwater frog and jerk big largemouth out of thick cover without any problems. The versatility has been impressive.
I’ve done most of my damage fishing squarebills and Texas rigs on this rod—both techniques require an elevated level of sensitivity, so that should be a testament to the responsiveness of this rod.
With bottom contact-presentations, the Fantasista Premier has a very crisp sensitivity to it; nothing really feels “mushy” if that makes sense. I can pitch into and around vegetation and feel nearly ever stalk of grass and if I’m fishing deep brush, I’m able to clearly feel each and every limb of the tree. Changes in bottom composition have also been very evident throughout my testing.
Reaction lures has been equally, if not more impressive. You’ll feel every vibration of your crankbait, spinnerbait or vibrating jig and even when the bass aren’t biting aggressively, you’ll usually catch them because you can feel very slight differences in your lure’s behavior. When the vibration stops, it’s time to set the hook.
If you’re thinking about splurging a bit and buying yourself a high-end rod, I would absolutely recommend putting the Fantasista Premier near—or at—the top of your list. It’s the rod that most of my buddies want to pick up first on the front deck of my boat. When you put one in your hands, I think you’ll agree with everything I’ve said.