Flippin’ Switch? We Don’t Need No Flippin’ Switch!Flippin’ Switch? We Don’t Need No Flippin’ Switch!
Actually, This Switch is Cool…
By John Franchot
I had the opportunity to review Pinnacle’s entry into the professional level rods and reels, specifically a finesse spinning combo. I still have that combo, and use it almost every time I’m on the water. It’s got the backbone that my lighter power drop-shot setups lack, to pull fish from cover when the situation demands a finesse presentation. My fondness for that rod had me seriously giddy about getting to try out something new from their casting line up.
The only problem: Polar Vortex. By the time I received the rod and reel, we were already well into winter, and although in the past, I’ve had access to some open water, the winter this year hasn’t let up, with several weeks of sub zero temps. I did get a brief bit of trout fishing in before the deep freeze, and while a 6-7 lb. rainbow trout in tributary water isn’t quite the same as stroking your favorite jig in the weeds, it did let me know this was a capable rod, and gave me a pretty good idea about its sensitivity. I’m pretty confident this rod will be in my hands plenty this coming season.
I picked almost the same rod that another mod chose – except I opted for the new Micro Guide series. I have a couple of custom-built rods with micros, and I was really looking forward to a production rod that utilized these guides. Plus, what’s another jig rod in the rod locker? Sweetness, that’s what it is. You can never have too many jig rods.
So what about the rod? Well, I picked out the DHC5M-731CAMH, a 7’3”, medium heavy, fast taper stick. The “Jig – Carolina Rig” designation is exactly what this rod is about. I compared both the speed of the tip, and the full power bend of the rod under a typical fish catching load to a few other rods in my collection.
The medium heavy, fast specs are pretty spot-on for this rod, and compared to my Dobyns DX744c FH, it wasn’t quite as fast, but the tip was every bit as responsive – just a little more of the rod blank flexed with light pressure, but pretty equal in power under full load. I found it to be a bit faster than my Saint Croix LTBC70MF, and more powerful under full load. It was very similar in both action and power to my Saint Croix AVC70MHXF, but felt much lighter in hand.
Paired with the matching Pinnacle Optimus baitcast reel, the balance point fell a bit forward of the aluminum winding check, just forward of the reel seat. I expected it to be a little further back, given the micro guides, but it didn’t feel “logy” or “tip heavy” by any means. To the contrary, this combo has a light, crisp, nimble feel that so many high-end rods feature. At a MSRP of $169, that’s a huge compliment to the team at Pinnacle. I tried many of my own reels, as well some reels borrowed from friends, and I have to say, my favorite combination was my Zillion with a JDM short handle. The added heft of the Zillion didn’t seem to detract from the nimble feel, and may have balanced the rod better, for those that prefer a neutrally balanced rod.
The rod loads fairly quickly, and I had no problem slinging 3/8 oz. jigs (with no trailer) while practicing in my yard. Where the rod really shines is with a ½ oz. jig and chunk trailer. In fact, I like the feel of this rod a little bit better than my Dobyns. That’s saying a lot. Now, compare a similarly weighted Texas rig bait, and I would reverse the two, though it’s pretty much a tossup. The micro guides are pretty small, though 50# Power Pro braid with a 17# fluorocarbon leader tied with an Alberto knot passes through on cast without much ado. If you just let the bait fall, the knot will hang in the guides, but that sometimes happens with standard guides.
Overall, this rod pretty much has everything I like in a jig rod – light, crisp, sensitive, and just the right taper for accurate pitching and the side-arm casts I often use when fishing a jig. If I had to make one complaint, it would be that I prefer the choice of a full rear cork grip. That’s not to say this rod is uncomfortable, and in fact, of all the split grip rods I own, this has one of the larger rear butt grips – something I appreciate, since I use a two-handed technique for every cast, save for a pitch or a flip. It’s definitely not a deal breaker for me. While there are some very nice accoutrements, like aluminum winding checks everywhere cork or reel seat meets the blank, an ACS reel seat, and a real cool under-the-blank hook keeper, it is basically a no frills, understated rod, style wise.
If you are looking for a great rod, without spending big bucks, then take a look at Pinnacle Perfecta Micro rods. They got it right with this series.
What about the reel?
I didn’t really get to put the reel through its paces, though I found it as easy as any other reel to adjust to the baits I use, and my casting style. I run a pretty loose spool, and I found the braking system worked well at preventing backlashes. It’s particularly suited to a loose spool while pitching. The “flippin’ switch” is an interesting addition that very few reels at this price point feature. The concept is simple: press the button, conveniently located to the right of the thumb bar on the reel frame, and the spool is engaged. It works flawlessly. Flipping switches usually require you hold the thumb bar down throughout the entire cast, until you stop the spool from rotating. This is not comfortable or convenient if you palm the reel during the cast, or switch hands to cast. If you allow the reel to engage mid cast, you risk a break off from the shock of a sudden, jolting stop, or worse: stripped gears. Pinnacle’s system is reminiscent of flipping switches on older Abu reels, but now packaged in a modern, refined, low profile, high-speed reel.
Other than the Flippin’ switch, much of the reel is what you’d expect from a reel with a MSRP of $249. Magnetic brakes, drag pressure, and even the spool tension are indexed with some type of micro-click mechanism. This is not a must have in my book, but I have come to expect this in any reel more than $200. To be clear, this feature does add weight to the reel, and that combined with an 11 bearing count probably accounts for the somewhat conservative mass of 7.1 oz.
Now, that isn’t what I’d consider heavy, by any stretch, considering this is an aluminum frame, with aluminum crank and palm side plates. No doubt this contributes to the solid feel of the reel. So, where did Pinnacle trim the weight? This is where I think they did a good job – take a frame and side plates, and build them like a tank. Then use a light hardened aircraft aluminum main gear and drive shaft. The reel has a seven-element drag stack, but instead of a heavy steel, keyed top washer, they used light-weight ceramic. Finally, a carbon fiber handle with foam grips reduces the weight still more. These little weight savings add up.
Let’s take a look at the carbon fiber handle. It’s fairly thick, though swept, and I feel that gives it its rigidity. The knobs are interesting. My first impression was they were large, and the contoured recesses too deep. After a while I got used to this. I considered milling them more to my taste, but couldn’t figure out how to get them off. The end caps are very tight. As a reel tech, I like to be able to disassemble the knobs to remove dirt and degrease and flush the bearings occasionally. So far I haven’t figured it out.
Moving down the drive shaft, there is a drag star that appears to be made of aluminum and carbon fiber. It’s a neat, glam touch I hadn’t seen, initially. From there, removing the side plate – once you find the hidden screw behind the spool – reveals the drag stack. It’s a “wet” carbon fiber weave arrangement, and is very smooth. I did not get to measure the max drag power on the bench, but suffice it to say, it’s plenty strong for any bass fishing. Break away into slippage has no detectable chatter, or sticky points. The main gear serves as the last element in the drag stack, and is lightweight aluminum. One minor sticking point would be the Teflon spacer behind the main gear. Functionally, this doesn’t contribute to drag power, but I think if you are gong to spec a carbon fiber drag, then this should be carbon fiber as well.
One last area they did not skimp on was the clutch. Many big name reel makers are going to composite, nylon-like material for their clutch mechanism, but Pinnacle uses a steel clutch. I do have one minor concern, and that is the spool return kick plate. In my limited use, I found some scoring where the dog-eared gear engages to “kick” the cutch and thumb bar back, engaging the pinion with the main gear. This probably is normal wear, though some other makers ran into issues, and have replaced the brass kick plate with hardened steel. I serviced Kent’s (roadwarrior) long term Optimus last year, after a season of hard use, and while there was some wear, it wasn’t worn out by any stretch. It’s something I’ll watch for after long-term use.
All these parts also incorporate a lightweight, ported spool, and a bearing supported level wind. That’s a pretty impressive feature list for reel at this price point. I’d put this reel in line with Revo STX, Chronarch/Curado E, though it reminds me very much of my imported Daiwa Alphas – except it’s loaded with high-speed gears, and more features. The fit and finish is excellent, and I dig dark reels. Someday gloss black will come back in to style, like a classic tuxedo, but this reel is sharp, and works flawlessly. Stay tuned for more, as I get to put it though it’s paces.
If you are looking for a fully featured reel, without the bloated retail price, take a look at Pinnacle. They are opening eyes with their Tournament Class tackle. I know I can’t wait to put it to the test – just a few more months before tournament season!
Grow your fishing skills and improve your angling effectiveness.
Subscribe to the free weekly BassResource newsletter.