Back on February 23, 2011 I received two packages from Okuma Fishing Tackle as stated in my first article regarding this set up “Okuma Fishing Rod/Reel first impression”. The rod and reel were packaged very well with extra care to ensure both the rod tip and butt were protected with reinforcement inside a solid shipping tube. The Citrix Low profile 7.3-1 high speed reel was in its original reel box and placed in a second shipping box and packed just as secure. Both arrived safe, without damage and shipping was quick.
My preliminary point of view was the reel wanted to roll slightly to the right as I held it in my left hand. Please keep in mind that I’m left handed so with the natural position of the reel rolling to some extent to the right I’d hoped I could flip without having the line tangle in the reel handle as it sometimes does with other reels. Also, the rod was rated by Okuma as Medium Heavy for line 10 to 20 lbs and lure weight of ¼ to 1 ounce so the first thing I did was rig it for punching. This was a mistake as the action of the rod and tip speed proved “at least for me” that this was not the ideal application for this combo. Although it was more than able to handle the load and size of the ¾ ounce weight casting I found while flipping or pitching with any bait above about one ½ ounce caused the tip to slingshot my lure skyward.
It is sometimes difficult to compare rods as the blank/bait specific action/price point/materials and building technique all vary from company to company. It is of my opinion the citrix rod is on par than say a like type crucial rod, yet I found it lighter and better balanced than the same. Whereas Okuma’s ratting is of a Medium Heavy if I put it head to head with a crucial I’d have to match it more to a Medium crank bait rod yet it is still $40.00 less and has proven to hold its own in strength and durability and has the back bone to keep and retain control of fish bigger than you might expect when holding the rod for the first time. I’d like to praise Okuma for the aluminum reel seat threads, it is a great feature, but I’ve found that unless you snug them down quite hard the large threads tend to back off; letting the reel feel loose. Again I think the aluminum reel seat threads are way above par but would recommend they opt for a thinner tighter thread pattern.
The trigger in my humble opinion is about one half inch to far back on the rod. With the compact design of the reel, I find that the combo is difficult to hold over the course of a full day of fishing. I’m able to fit both my middle and ring finger in front of the rod trigger while with other rods only my middle finger is resting on the trigger. Also, the trigger when I first got my hands on this rod were very smooth where the two sections were joined together and stated so in my initial review. However, having to crank down on the aluminum reel seat so much to ensure it stopped backing off I’ve found a gap to be forming. It appears as the trigger has separated a bit but to risk sounding like a broken record on the subject I believe retooling the threads to a smaller tighter pattern will fix both issues.
The use of EVA foam is in contention from angler to angler. I normally prefer cork but that is based on my preference and that, over the years, I’ve found EVA to vary so much from rod to rod. Some times it’s way too soft and the sun makes it crumble over a short time. Or, it is so firm that it’s just too hard to keep a confident grip on the rod while in use. For me, the Citrix EVA foam was very comfortable, firm and has a tacky kind of feel; however, I found it a tad short for my liking and it tapers in at an abrupt rate so with bigger hands it feels like part of the grip is missing.
I remain impressed by the sensitivity of the rod and for a light weight blank it has the back bone to put good fish in the boat. I have found that it is an all around rod at home with top waters like a spook/PopR/chug bug as well as moving baits like a swim jig/rattle traps/vibrashocks/square bill crank baits and spinner baits along with light 1/4oz and under rigged soft plastics and for me excels as my wacky rigged flick shake or weightless fluke rod.
As far as the Citrix reel, I found and still believe that, for a high speed application, I’d buy this reel before I picked up another Curado. I’m not saying I believe the Citrix is that much better, rather I no longer believe the Curado is worth the additional price just for a high speed reel. The reel was and remains smooth as can be the handles are large and comfortable if not a little to firm for my taste. I am fond of the swept in drag star because I’ve found that while palming the reel “left hand” I’m able to reach under the rod and reel with my middle finger to engage the reel out of free spool to be ready for the hook set while pitching or flipping wacky rigged a Hatch Match Stick “Stick Bait” without having to let go of the line and use the handle to do so. I do like the big paddle style grips on the reel handle. However, I wish there was a little more flexibility to the material or were made with a tacky texture. In the heat of the day, or when my hands get wet lipping a fish or in the rain, they are a little bit slippery.
The Citrix reel is a lot of fun to use, it casts very well, and I’ve not had a single issue with its performance. It remains as smooth today as it first did back in February. The drag is strong and even when fighting a larger fish and has handled the surges at the boat with ease. I had some slight worries as the handle and star drag stick out a bit farther from the frame than other reels that I use. However, with the handle and star drag being swept back to the reel, I’m pleased that I can still (while holding the reel in my left hand) engage the reel with my middle finger by turning the drag star or handle as soon as the bait hits the water; without having to take my right hand off the line to do so.
The external centrifugal brake design is a fantastic option, very easy to set up and adjust on the fly with changing weather conditions or baits adjustments and is a highlight of this reel. The brakes are adjusted with a dial like with magnetic brake reels but uses the External adjustable centrifugal cast control system. Giving you get the speed and ease of adjustment of magnetics with the strength and time proven reliability of centrifugal brakes.
Over all, I believe that both the rod and reel are a good buy at the $119.00 price point. You are getting a quality rod and reel, that fishes as good as it looks for a reasonable amount of money. If you would like to upgrade or are a seasoned angler and want to add a combo to your line up without breaking the bank, Okuma, might have what you are looking for. I know full well I was picky on the few things I brought up, but when I do a review I’m equally as brutal with the products as I am with any praise if any are warranted because I’m very hard on my equipment and understand the difficulties we all face when looking to part with our hard earned money on the slew of fishing gear, tackle & accessories on the market. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the rod, reel or the pair as a combo to add to your line up because I believe Okuma understands the meaning of value.
See You on the water.