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     Batson Enterprises has a well established industry reputation of manufacturing/distributing quality and value oriented rod building blanks and components.  Their proactive approach to market trends and consumer demand has grown their product lines and offerings substantially over the past decade.  As evidence, their website and catalog is overflowing with just about anything and everything a beginner to experienced professional could ever want and/or need in rod building.  With that said, having the opportunity to review the XST1383F RX8 float blank over a period of two full seasons of NE Ohio steelheading was exciting!  The blank, when first received, was a newer offering to their float lineup and given its specifications was destined to be tested to its fullest through the course of this review.

 

Batson Enterprises Home Page

 

Batson Enterprises XST Float Blank Line-up

 

XST1383F TC 11'6" 2 8-12lbs 3/8-3/4oz 0.424 5.0 Fast M 3.62oz Medium float rod / center pin

    

     The blank arrived packaged from Batson's plant unscathed and with ample padding within a thick walled PVC tube complete with blue end caps.  After removing it from the plastic sleeve and rubber bands, the first thing that caught my eye was the appearance of the finish.  If you've ever owned a Honda, you'll remember the metallic sand paint colors. The titanium chrome finish of this blank is close in appearance to this type of automotive paint and is very eye catching.  It seems to posses an every-so-slight sparkle to it when the sun hits it just right.

 

 

     The check list I follow when unwrapping and inspecting a blank as a professional rod builder is:

  1. Does it have any abnormalities in the surface and or finish?

  2. Are there any scratches?

  3. Are the individual sections straight and does it maintain this straightness assembled?

  4. Is the paint application consistent throughout each section?

  5. How well is each sections fitment to the next? 

  6. Does each section appear to be cut crisp and perpendicular to the length?

     Needless to say, this blank arrived in excellent condition and fit together as one would expect a high quality rod should.  I could tell, by holding it assembled, that this rod blank would be super efficient and allow me to fish with a goal of banking fish as quickly as possible.  It was obvious that it was built with more power and speed than most of the typical "noodle action" rods on the market (built or in raw blank form).  I intentionally ordered the 8-12# rated blank because of this goal and I wasn't disappointed!

 

     

     I tend to use rods in the 13-15' length when drift fishing wider rivers.  And granted, I completely understand that the rivers of NE Ohio are not all that wide (as compare to others).  Nevertheless,  Because of this bias and as a matter of being fair, I stuck with narrower rivers and creeks in Ohio and NW Pennsylvania to review this 11'6" 2pc.  Having the ability, over the course of two seasons, to fight and land close to 300 stocker steelhead, I can say without reservation that there was never a time that I felt under gunned or over powered by any of them.  Although I was unable to test the blank's performance attributes against a charging salmon (the real power machines), the fresh lunkers I was able to do battle with were still no match.  What I like most about the  XST1383F and the longer XST1562F is their inherent reserve power under load.  The tip section of the XST1383F is on the slightly faster end of the spectrum, but handles lighter pound test tippet well.  This, of course, is very dependent on experience and correct timing.  The minimal break-offs I experienced were my fault and not due to rod action.  It would also help to know that for most of the fish hooked and landed during this time period of testing, I employed a "getting to the bank as fast as possible" hauling method.  Not normally the case for the steelhead territory I tend to fish, I chose to upgrade my running line to 15.5# and use 10-6# fluorocarbon tippet during most outings.  During one especially memorable trip, a buddy and I landed steelhead back-to-back and in tandem for a couple hours straight.  Using this method, I was able to bank the fish with great efficiency and fully understand the dynamics of Batson's proprietary blend of RX8 and RX7 graphite.  Fast, but light in the tip and all business from the mid to the butt section of the blank.  Impressive!   

 

 

     Currently, the MSRP of this rod is just under $164.  Considering competing blanks from other manufacturers, especially the higher end models, the value of this rod becomes quite evident.  While we would all like to see components and blanks go down in price, it just isn't going to happen anytime soon.  Overall, the price point on this blank is indicative of quality.  Couple that together with the facts that you're supporitng a US based family and headquarters with your business, a company that will be able to honor your warranty and provide service quickly, the value only increases.

 

 

     I truly enjoyed fishing this blank and felt that it could stand up to any steelhead that I might face here in NE Ohio.  Having some past experience salmon fishing, I feel it would be just as able to fight salmon across the Great Lakes Region.  At no time did I feel concerned that the action of the rod was forcing me to play fish longer than intended.  The weakest link in the system was anything other than the power and performance of this rod blank.  Given that this review was a two year audition, by now the reputation of the XST line has been well established across both the United States and Canada, so this may come as now surprise that we found it to be such an awesome fishing catching machine.  This blank is certainly worth your scrutiny if considering building a high performance, powerful and sweet looking center pin float rod.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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