Few months back I was fortunate enough to try a couple prototype rods at the GGACC from Leland's in San Francisco. The rods are put out by Red Truck which is a division of Leland's. They go by the name "Diesel". A very odd, but cool name I suppose. The prototypes were not much to look at but my buddy Will Widdicombe and I put em through the paces and we were both clearly blown away by the performance of the 7 weight 13' 6" rod. It excelled with most casting styles and line types so, I ordered one. I was informed that Leland's technical staff spent 1 1/2 years designing the rod through a well known manufacturer based in Asia. Alot of tweaking and trial and error. The first shipment steamed in yesterday (after a long wait) and we met again at the ponds. The word spread quick about this stick....those that heard about it had bought one and were all out casting like kids at Xmas.
The final delivered rod looks like an older Scott with a completely unsanded and uncolored blank; even rougher than Scott's lightly sanded blanks. Although some may be put off by this raw look it is functional...good idea to leave it au natural for strength. The stripping guides appear to be titanium oxide and the wraps are neat with no slop. No fancy wrapping or inlayed feathers and handwritten script. This rod is all business with no BS, it is a professional grade tool and, like any other, form must follow function. The handle has solid ergonomics and resulting sexy curves with very clear cork. There are no rubberized cork rings or ornamental rings used on this handle as you find on so many other offerings these days. The reel seat is spartan; just clear anodized aluminum, uplocking and gnurled, no insert, but it is smooth, solid and funtional. The ferrules are regular, non-spigot type. The ferrules on my rod stuck tight though and I had to call upon a second set of hands to free them. My buddy suggested using paraffin but maybe it would be best to let the graphite wear out a bit.
The rod tube is just plain extruded aluminum with no paint or finish coat. Also a very raw look but it beats PVC and nylon. I was surprised to find the rod tube cap has a freakin' bottle opener built into it on the back side. The quality of this particlur installation was very nicely executed. It is the only extraneous accutrement; and duly so as drinking is arguably of far greater import to the chronically afflicted steelheader than inlayed jungle cock feathers. This could set a new trend. Impress your friends at the tailgate when you pull the tube out and pop open a cold one at 5am. Maybe you could just store your bottles inside the tube for smuggling? The rod sock has a screen printed name "spare tire" in the upper corner at the tip pocket but I have no idea why or what that means. I thought that maybe there was a spare tip included in that pocket but there is not. I have not heard of Leland selling a blank but if they did I would stand in line like a teenage girl waiting to see Lady Gaga.
The action is fast and more progressive than regressive but with well placed flexing in the right spots at upper and lower quarters. The rod recovers very quickly. It likes to be tip cast with Scandi lines but will load well into the butt with heavier skagit lines. It is a true 7 weight and likes to cast within a 480-550 window. The thin tip would not do well with heavier lines. The rod has good butt strength and I think it could lick a helluva big steelhead but....anything over 15lb would probably end in hand to hand combat.
This is a lighter feeling rod, but I dont know what the actual weight is. I hope to put it on a scale soon. I do not know exactly what the graphite modulus is but I was told it is mixed and around 50+ million. Does higher modulus make a better rod? I don't know. I was however told that it is a lower modulus than the TCX rods. That aside, I would still compare the action to the Sage TCX rods however; there is no TCX rod in 7136 for direct comparison. It casts similar to the Burkie 13'4" 6/7/8 4 peice but....I won't compare it directly to that rod either.
As far as lines go, we cast an Airflo
540g compact skagit which it really liked. This ability was somewhat surprising since it seems to be specifically designed with true Scandi in mind. It is not really a friendly first timer Skagit rod though since the action is so fast you dont have time to feel the rod anchor and load like a highly regressive taper rod. It made long tight skagit casts (100'+) with little effort and 10' of T14... I am not as excited about Skagit anymore though so I cast the new Vector Ballistic 7/8 (a CND
Lee Davidson brain child) and it was a true pleasure at all reasonable fishing distances. It was very relaxing to cast and there was no over exertion needed. The rod would be well suited to those who do not want to toil all day with a heavier rig but still want some length, mending control and power to shoot through a breeze. Lightning fast line speed and lazor tight loops are the norm with the Ballistic line, even with a steady breeze.
Consistent 90-110' (measured) casts are easy for an experienced caster. It can be overpowered though if you are attempting anything longer which will crash this line into a pile if you force it. If you really want to shoot it through the wind with a stable ending we found scandi heads do the trick if you don;t mind all the stripping. Would like to try an even longer line (CND mid spey?).
The rod currenlty goes for $300 which is surprising since it performs like rod costing much more. Cost though is becoming less relevant to graphite rod performance.
Overall this rod gets a 9 out of 10 rating in my book.