May 27, 2020

DRAGONtail MUTANT zx380 Zoom Tenkara Rod - review

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, my wife and I were send back to the States the end of March. This has given me an unexpected opportunity to do some fishing and evaluate some new gear. Some of that gear is a new rod from DRAGONtail Tenkara!

I received a call from Brent at DRAGONtail, and he said that he had a new rod in the works. He wondered if I'd like to have a look at it and take it fishing. I, of course, said YES!

The new rod is called the MUTANT zx380. It is next in a series of double zoom (zx) rods that started with the successful Mizuchi zx340. But one thing that's exciting about the Mutant is that it has been specifically designed for level line tenkara! Like the Mizuchi, the Mutant can be fished at three useful lengths. For the Mutant those lengths are 315, 350 and 380 cm. 

The rod has the classic DRAGONtail appearance, with a colored logo section just above the handle. In the case of the MUTANT the color is lime green. The handle is good quality cork and has a more Japanese hyoutan gourd shape than other DRAGONtail offerings. It fits your hand nicely and allows multiple hand positions for casting. The handle is 24 cm (9 5/16 inches) long. Above the rod designation, the blank is flat matte graphite in coloration. There are thin green decorative bands on the tipward portion of the lower rod segments.

Like the Mizuchi, the Mutant comes with two different tip plugs. You get both the standard insert plug and a universal tip cap. You decide which you'd like to use. The tip plug has a loop of extra lilian material, just in case you have to do a field repair. The butt cap is black nylon plastic with a zoom segment retention post and O-rings. The butt cap is knurled and has a coin slot. No air hole is present.

The lilian is red and has an excellently executed glue joint. The tip segment easily passes through the second (from tip) segment so the rod can be fully disassembled for drying and cleaning.

Here are my measurements:
Fully collapsed (with tip plug): 65 cm (25.5 inches)
Extended: 314, 351, 381 cm (10.3, 11.5, 12.5 feet)
Weight (without tip cap or plug): 81.5 g (2.87 oz)
CCS: 12, 12.5, 13 pennies
RFI: 3.8, 3.6, 3.4 respectively.
Rotational Moment: 3.9, 4.9, 6.1 respectively. 

RFI Comparison chart
RFI Comparison chart. Click on chart to enlarge

As far as casting the Mutant, it is delight to cast! The Mutant is full flex and loads easily at all lengths. I cast the rod with my usual line, a 10' #3 fluorocarbon level line with 3' tippet, and the rod fairly sings at all extension lengths. The balance is excellent, as is tip dampening. This rod is a far cry from the first rod DRAGONtail made and shows the commitment Brent has for advancing tenkara outside of Japan  in general, as well as listening to his customers suggestions. 

I fished the rod on a typical mountain stream for my geographic region. It has brown and cutthroat trout mainly in the 8-12 inch range. The gradient is moderate. There are overhanging tree branches and other challenging obstacles from the encroaching riparian vegetation. 

I fished an 8.5 foot #3 fluorocarbon level line with 2.5 feet of 6X tippet. The rod cast this line beautifully at all rod lengths. It was easy to hit specific lies and control the line. Hooking fish was accomplished with a gentle raise of the arm. As one would expect, since the rod has an RFI in the mid to upper 3 range, controlling larger fish in faster current required more arm movement and rod manipulation than would be required with a rod in the RFI 5 range. This is not a criticism, this is just a reality of more full flex rods. I really enjoyed fishing the MUTANT and I don't have any complaints. 

Here's a video of me using the rod:

Conclusion: I really like this rod. As I have stated above, I think Brent and DRAGONtail have advanced tenkara in America by providing some really great products. The MUTANT is just another rod that shows that they listen to the needs of their customers. The MUTANT is well made, and performs wonderfully! If you are a full flex tenkara rod person, and are in the market for a new rod, then you ought to take a look at the DRAGONtail MUTANT zx380! I think you'll be pleased!

Here's a link to the product page for this rod:

Disclaimer: My opinion regarding this rod is just that, my opinion. Your opinion may differ.  Also, your rod may not have the same length, issues, or functionality as my rod. There are variations between rods, even in the same production run. No description can fully tell you how a rod feels or fishes. For this, you must personally hold, cast, and fish the rod then make up your own mind. Don't just take my word for it.
I have no financial affiliation with DRAGONTail Tenkara.

1 comment:

  1. Tom thanks so much for all your reviews and the sharing of your experience and information... fish on