The original Daiwa Battler range of rods were a huge success with Australian anglers when first introduced many years ago, some models such as the Sparrow & Kingbolt still retaining a cult following today. Daiwa’s vision for the new Battler series rods was to make the most lightweight and technically advanced rods available to date, with this in mind lets take a look at the Battler Water Zombie 701ULFS to see how they went.
|TDBA 701ULFS Water Zombie
|213cm / 7′
|0.5 – 4g
- SVF graphite blank
- x45 Bias wrap construction
- AGS – air guide system
- Airbeam reel seat
- Air foam grips
One of the first things you notice when picking up any of the new Battler rods is just how incredibly lightweight they are. Its one thing reading about new technologies such as AGS, but it’s not until it’s in the hand that you really notice the difference to the overall feel and especially the weight of these rods.
Cosmetically the Water Zombie follows the design ques we have seen from the company before with a very familiar looking reel seat and trademark black and red colorings of the battler series.
The blank of the Battler’s sport Daiwa’s SVF (Super High Volume Fiber) Graphite technology and X45 Bias Graphite Fiber Construction. While those are some fancy words and numbers, what does it actually mean? Here is an explanation from the Daiwa website.
SVF – Combines precise resin control with unidirectional graphite fiber to produce a blank with maximum graphite density. Blanks are extremely lightweight, powerful and sensitive.
X45 Bias Graphite Fiber Construction – Twisting in a blank reduces the rod’s sensitivity, by reinforcing Bias Wrap construction with a left/right 45 degree carbon weave X45 has eliminated blank twist and increased power. X45 also radically improved strength and durability, preventing the blank from loosing its round form as well as decreasing the physical weight of the blank and the blank diameter.
So does the blank live up to these claims? For the most part yes. These blanks are undoubtedly lighter, more powerful and more sensitive than other rods we have seen from Daiwa before, however strength and durability will require a longer test period. In an effort to keep these blanks as light as possible, there is next to no epoxy coating or paint work on top half of the rod, which leave the bare blank exposed and the rod feeling somewhat fragile and vulnerable. The blank of the Water Zombie in particular tapers down to a tiny 1mm thin at the tip end and special attention needs to be made when transporting and storing these rods.
Perhaps its best compared it to a crystal wineglass, under normal use and care you should have no issues whatsoever, but we all know accidents happen and I’m sure we have all experienced a time where a wayward cast has sent a jighead flying into the rod blank, or clumsy mate has misplaced his footing during the excitement of a catch and I’m just not sure if this rod has what it takes to take the hit and bounce back so to speak.
The blank has a fast taper and as such is very well suited to fishing styles that require a faster tapered rod such as top water, jerk baits and plastics fishing. However due to the increased rigidity and sensitivity I also found it equally well suited to areas where a slower rod would be advantageous such as crank-baiting flats. You can feel every little ripple in the sand that your crank bait rides over and even the smallest takes and hits were noticeable through the rod allowing for near instant hook sets. Although very crisp, the tip still carries some flex about it which aids in the both casting small weights and absorbing head shakes and lunges that may rip out tiny treble hooks with stiffer rods.
The blank for the most part features an un-sanded finish, which leave behind the ridges from the cellophane wrap over the blank material used to hold the graphite together during construction.
A mirror finish logo label adorns the blank in the spit grip.
GUIDES & HANDLE
While not the first series of rods sporting the AGS guides, the Battlers were the first range of rods that bring the AGS Guides to a somewhat affordable level.
For those that are unfamiliar with the AGS guides, a whole set of these guides can weigh as little as one single titanium SIC stripper guide. A weight saving of up to 40%.
This weight saving is achieved by using a carbon fiber frame instead of a metal one. By doing so rigidity is drastically increased, giving a much better sense of “feel” and vibration.
Throughout the use of this rod, tangling around the guides has been minimal and posed no reoccurring problems which is a testament to the design and shape of the guides.
Guide sizing seems to be adequate too with no issues with regards to leader knots passing through the guides when used with typical light line/leader combinations this rod is designed for 4/6/8lb.
Screen printed AGS Logo
The tip guide is the only one that isn’t an AGS
Like I mentioned earlier, there’s not much new in the handle assembly department, but that shouldn’t be considered a downside, we have seen this style of grip on many of Daiwa’s rods, both new and old and it proves to be a winner in both comfort and aesthetics. The grips are lightly textured and feature Daiwa’s Air Foam. It’s comfortable to hold in the hand for extended periods of casting and offers great grip even with wet hands.
Handle length seems to be about spot on with it being short enough for single-handed casts, yet still long enough to facilitate double-handed casts when extra distance is required.
Cosmetically these rods are a little understated with simple silver winding checks with a hint of red in the reel seat. Though not as “blingy” as we have seen in the past. This styling does suite the rod and the battler branding.
The rear locking nut on the reel seat features an audible clicker, and does a good job of holding the reel in place. Throughout testing we haven’t experienced any issues with the reel seat loosening.
The rear butt cap features a rather simplistic domed label featuring the Daiwa Logo. We would have preferred to see a laser etched label with the rods model on it to really individualize each rod in the range and add that little something else.
Casting with the water zombie is a very different experience from casting most other rods on the market, it’s probably best described as “effortless”. The blank of the Water Zombie is so crisp and deliver so much power that you almost have to retrain your casting style to adapt to these new rods.
I found I needed to slow down my casting movements and increase smoothness in order to achieve accuracy. Short snappy casts resulted in the rod overpowering the lure and usually driving it into the water well before the desired target was met. This shouldn’t be considered a negative as these rods can be just as accurate and well-behaved as any other, but it will require some getting used too.
We have come to expect a certain high level of quality from Daiwa products over the years, especially those in the upper end of the range and the battler rods are no different. Guide alignment is spot on as is the thread work and epoxy holding them in place. Throughout the 8 or so months we have had testing this rod we have found both the grips or AGS guides have had no premature wear and are holding up excellent to the task of regular use in both fresh and saltwater.
IN THE FIELD
The Water Zombie has been designed for lightweight lures and top-water applications in mind , however this rod is capable of a much broader range of application than that. In the field we have used the Water Zombie on a variety of situations, throwing big minnows for snowy mountains trout, fishing with medium weighted plastics for Port Phillip Bay Pinkies and of course throwing a variety of lightweight hardbodies and unweighted plastics for bream. It seems to handle all of the above quite well and will cast lures well outside its rated range.
The fact it is a 7″ rod means it is a good all-rounder for a variety of situations and species and has a surprising amount of low down power for such a lightly rated rod.
On the first few trips when I got the Water Zombie I found myself reaching for my other rods first as it felt that different and unfamiliar to what I was used to, however now after getting used to the rod and learning how to work its advantages in my favor, its one of the first and leaves other rods feeling flat and spongy. Highly recommended for those that are a looking for a higher end rod that will cover a lot of different lightweight applications. If you’re in the market for a Water Zombie or any other of the Battler rods, shop around as prices do vary quite a lot between shops.
Those that do a lot of traveling/bush bashing, don’t have the patience or commitment to properly care for their gear or those just simply accident prone may be better off looking for a rod which is a bit more forgiving.
PROS & CONS
|Price – may be a bit pricey for the average fisherman
|Good length for all round applications
|Lightness & Crispness leaves the rod feeling somewhat fragile.
|One Piece Construction might be an issue for traveling anglers
|Modern design and quality construction
WHERE TO BUY
The Battler range of rods can be purchased from most good tackle stores. A list of Daiwa stockists can be found here.