It's been 3 years since I've been doing all of my trout fishing with this absolutely amazing piece of equipment that is the Smith Dragonbait Trout 6' rod (because this is the version that I'll be reviewing in this short post).
I am not going to say that this was my first option, or that I have jumped on it as soon as I saw its jaw dropping photos in the Smith EU catalog. Especially considering the price tag. But after a couple of months of scouting the internet, weighing options and making lists of pros and cons I knew I had to have it!
And I am so glad I decided to go for it!
Length: 6' ( 1.82m)
Lure weight: 2-8g
Line weight: 2-6lb
There is not much to say about the design except that is absolutely fantastic.
Awesome paint job, great attention to details, custom winding checks, burl marble wood, great quality cork grip, translucent tread on the guides, everything is spot on!
It almost looks too good to go and fish with it... Almost.
CONSTRUCTION & PERFORMANCE
As soon as you pick this rod up and have a waggle with it you can tell that the blank was specifically designed for twitching and jerking minnows. The tip on this rod is absolutely perfect for that!
Fast, with just enough power to efficiently make a heavier minnow twitch, dart and flash in strong currents, but soft enough to pick up the slack line in between jerking motions or softly animate a lighter and more subtle lure.
The middle section of the blank has plenty of elasticity to temper and tame the most hard fighting trout, while the butt section of the blank is just raw power. This rod punches way above its weight when it comes to fighting big fish.
Being a fast blank with a quick transition from the lively tip to the powerful middle section, casting with it takes a bit of time to get used to. It will punish every hesitation, every wrong or clumsy move. But once you get used to it and learn to cast with confidence, it has pinpoint accuracy!
The reel seat is a metallic custom one, with a fossil wood insert. Locks down pretty well from the beginning especially on the Shimano reels. On my Daiwa reel it took about 2 or 3 months of use until it loosened up enough to have the locking nut come all the way down and not leave a small gap in between it and the wood part of the reel seat (I am picky, I know).
The grip is made of AAA grade cork and gives a great grip on the rod (which is essential when you are twitching and jerking while having wet hands most of the time).
The rear grip is not made out of cork as one would expect but of burl marble wood, that first of all makes the whole thing look even more ridiculously good, and also helps to better balance your rod and reel combo since it's heavier and keeps the center of mass low on the rod.
The guides on the rod are probably the only thing that I am not 100% at peace with. At this price point I would have expected Fuji guides. Even so, they have SIC inserts, they're really light and work perfectly well. So my demands are more about the tag rather than the actual performance.
After all I had absolutely no issues with them so far.
I have used this rod with everything from small plastic lures and light jigheads up to 10g+ spoons and metal jigs and it performed flawlessly, but I have to say that the best way to fish it is with 4-6cm minnow jerks like Smith D-contact, DUO Spearhead Ryuki, Illex Timon Tricoroll, Zipbaits Rigge and so on. It is incredibly easy to make these lures come to life, and control them even in strong currents while still having enough power to properly set the hook when the bite comes.
This is a fast, light, well balanced, sensitive and incredibly responsive rod.
It will help you cast anything from a light weighted soft plastic up to a heavy sinking minnow without sacrificing distance, accuracy or control.
It will leave you the pleasure of fighting even a tiny fish but also give you piece of mind when a big fish is at the end of the line.
It is not remotely cheap but you will get exactly what you paid for, and then some.
Yes, the guides could have been Fuji, but that is something I totally forget about once I pick this rod up and start fishing with it!
Am I happy with my choice? Well, let's put it this way: if one day I would break it, I would probably order the exact same rod the next day!