One of the perks of being a part of the Team Rainshadow Pro-Staff is that I get an opportunity to field test their latest and greatest rods. As the stack of rods in my garage can attest, Batson Enterprises is constantly working towards staying at the cutting edge of tackle technology. But after over eight years of fishing Rainshadow Rods Matt Kotch and my “go-to” quiver had become pretty well established and we were confident that each of the rods we used where the best for that specific application.
But as the company’s owner and master rod tinkerer, Bill Batson, is known to do he threw us a compete curve ball last year when he released the new Judge Series of rods.
To me it seemed as if the release came out of the blue but that’s only because Batson’s design team had kept the project quiet during the 18 months they spent developing this new series of rods. Made in the USA, the JUDGE Series blanks feature a proprietary blend of custom formulated S-Glass, RX7 graphite and an exclusive state of the art DPH Technology (Diamond Poly Helix carbon wrap) which increases lifting power and reduces torsion. At 10-15% lighter than similar Rainshadow blanks, the difference in feel of the JUDGE series was surprising to say the least.
Of the models I’ve fished so far, my favorite is the JDGLB70L-CG I use for throwing weedless swimbaits for calico bass. This rod took the place of my RCLB70L and while I loved the previous model the JUDGE series just felt more nimble and reactive. If I were to describe the difference in terms of vehicles, fishing the RCLB has always felt like my driving my reliable Chevy Silverado but the JUDGE Series felt more like I’d traded it in on a Camaro. After a day spent making several thousand casts with the new rod I can honestly say that it replaced the RCLB as my “go-to” weedless rod.
The other two rods that I really like are the JDGLB810ML-CG and the JDGB8010M-CG. Both of these rods come in at just under 9-foot in length and the Medium/Light version is a killer for throwing the big hard baits as well as flylining sardines for school sized tuna. The Medium version has taken the place of my trusty RCLB80M as my “go-to” jig stick. The extra foot of length gives me a little more casting distance and the action is good for firing jigs from a Tady C up to a Salas 7X. If the big yellows show up again this year I might have to order a JDGLB80M-CG to keep from getting my butt kicked on the longer rod but after what I’ve seen from the JUDGE Series, I’m sure I’ll love that one too.