Travel Rod Review | Nitro 007 Viper, Magnum Butt & Traveler Final Review

0 Posted by - 21/01/2012 - Fishing Rods, Gear Reviews

This post is an update of the initial review, providing more detailed information following field testing in Belize. Check out the initial review out here

Nitro 007 Travel Rods

There is nothing worse than missed opportunities and I have certainly had my fair share of  “#%&$ why didnt I bring a rod” moments over the last few years. Most memorable was my best mates wedding when a huge school of kamikaze Australian Salmon descended upon the beach during the post wedding photo shoot. As best man I really had the opportunity to put the icing on an already fantastic day and well….. I failed! Since arriving in the US I had been on the look out for a travel rod to throw in the car or suitcase just in case of an emergency but, having left all my fighting sticks back in Australia, I was also after a quality rod that I could use day to day that would not feel like a travel rod. I was seriously considering an offering from G Loomis, St Croix or Temple Fork Outfitters but, having borrowed a Nitro 007 Viper some years back and taking it to the Caribbean to play with Bones and Poon, I knew I would be crazy not to invest in a Nitro myself. In typical fashion the idea grew legs and Christmas came early this week when these 3 little cases of compact travelling angler joy turned up on my doorstep in Central California. God Bless Australia!

Nitro 007 Magnum Butt, Viper & TravellerThe Nitro 007 spin trio (Traveller, Magnum Butt & Viper) in their triangular, length challenged, hard cases

I ended up with the 007 Viper (6-8kg), 007 Magnum Butt (4-6kg), and the 007 Traveller (2-4kg). They seemed to complement each other so well that I just had to get them all. I could hardly wait to test the waters with my new toys but clearly a trip to the local Central Californian lakes to chase Bass wasn’t going to cut it! After all, these were travel rods and I would hardly be doing them justice if I didn’t travel! Luckily a trip to Arkansas for Christmas was already being planned and we managed to route our flights through Belize for a week of Caribbean fun.

The first thing that struck me about the 007 series was their diminutive travel size. At 23 inches (58.5cm) the Magnum Butt has the longest case but this easily fits into your average suitcase, at the other end the 16.5 inch (41.9cm) traveller is just tiny! Innovator achieves this portability by slicing the rods into 5 or 6 sections compared to the usual 3 as found in the more common travel rod offerings from the likes of G. Loomis, St. Croix, Temple Fork Outfitters and Okuma. Interstingly I could not find the travel case length of these other offerings online but we can safely assume a 7 foot rod broken down into 3 pieces is going to be at least 75cm (70cm plus 5cm for padding and case), which is 45% longer than the equivalent 5 piece offering from Nitro! And if you think 75cm will fit in your suitcase then I challenge you to measure it up – I own 3 large suit cases and their maximum internal lengths span just 63,65 & 69cm.

To further tip the scales in Nitro’s favour, the case lengths as published on the Nitro website, which are reproduced in the table below, are 1-2cm longer than the actual measurements I achieved.

Now this may all seem insignificant but I became acutely aware of its importance when I realised my 2 fly rods would not fit in my checked luggage and they became one more thing I had to lug around as carry on through security and on and off too many planes. It is a wonder I didnt forget them along the way… leaving them in an overhead locker or under some dingy departure lounge bar.

The ability to fit your travel rods in your suitcase is critical, despite being called ‘travel rods’ 3 piece spin rods just don’t cut the mustard unless you have oversized baggage. Luckily the portability of the 007 range means you never have an excuse for not packing your fishing gear again.  

First impressions always count and in this case Nitro have excelled. The hard cases are tough and compact with the triangular cross-section preventing it from rolling away. Externally the cases are lined with black cordura while ripstop nylon adds additional protection internally. Both ends are protected by plastic caps complete with foam inserts and access is gained via a zipper on one end, hopefully corrosion resistant – time will tell.  The IM8 graphite rod sections are further protected from each other by a nice soft pouch which ensures a snug fit. To round it out there is a carry handle and the Nitro logo emblazoned along one side to let everyone know what you are packing. When I first opened the hard case I was surprised to see the stripping guide exposed from the soft pouch and sitting directly adjacent to the zip, however, this is easily resolved by inserting the pouch into the hard case the other way around.

Nitro 007 Magnum Butt, Viper & TravellerThe 007’s soft pouch, foam padding and perfectly sized hard case ensure a secure fit with little room for movement.

Nitro 007 Magnum Butt, Viper & TravellerThe soft pouch is separated into differently sized individual compartments for each rod section.

Like the other rods in Nitro’s range, the 007 series are refined and simple in their appearance; nice cork butts, quality fittings and simple black bindings. They certainly do not shout “look at me” which is a nice change from the current crop of brightly coloured ‘bling sticks’ (you know who you are). The corks on all three of my rods were flawless on arrival but I did manage to take a small chunk out of the fore-grip right next to the reel seat when I used it to retain a lure. The trim ring on top of the fore-grip also came loose on the Viper however this was easily resolved with a little superglue.

 007 Magnum Butt, 007 Viper & 007 TravellerNitro’s 007 spin range – all business here! Note the ferrule to fore-grip join which has not been completely inserted on the traveller (bottom) 

 Nitro employs the tried and tested Fuji Alconite guides on their 007 series of rods and the bindings are flawless; showing no signs of cracking or damage even after significant load and bend thanks to a few rampaging Tarpon which put the Viper through its paces. The butt over tip ferrule joins fit like a glove, so smooth in fact that I found myself pulling them apart again and again for another go. According to Nitro, the precision ferrule joins allow a smooth flawless taper providing a multi piece rod with a 1-piece action. I have to admit it is hard to disagree – it certainly didn’t feel like I was using travel rod, let alone a 5-piece travel rod. I was a little apprehensive that I would struggle to get them apart after a week of hard fishing, especially the fragile tip sections, but I needn’t worry as they pulled apart as easily as they slipped togethor.

Nitro 007 butt over tip precision ferruleThe butt over tip precision ferrule joins ensure this travel rod performs like a 1-piece. Note the significant ferrule overlap.

 Nitro’s 007 range of spinning rods provide the travelling angler with 3 options that will suit  most light to medium applications. To save on space I only packed the Magnum Butt & Viper for my trip to Belize however in retrospect the Traveller would have been the obvious option for playing with all those mid-sized Bonefish. Don’t be tricked into thinking that the 6-8kg Viper won’t have enough muscle at the low end for the fish you intend to tangle with, a quick look at the Nitro facebook page will convince you otherwise. As well as trophy Tarpon I have seen these rods take down Tuna, Wahoo, Snapper and Kingfish without too much trouble and knock over more than one big Samson Fish… eventually.

007 Traveller, Magnum Butt, Viper, Undertaker SpecificationsNitro’s 007 series of travel rods. Note the Undertaker (not reviewed here) is a casting rod equipped with a pistol grip for overhead baitcasting reels. 

While in Belize I had the opportunity to throw all manner of lures from both the Magnum Butt and the Viper and I was impressed with what I saw. On still days I used the Magnum Butt to whip feather light flies to bonefish and while I was never going to break any distance records I could get the fly into the zone from far enough away as to not spook the Bonefish. On the other end of the scale I spent hours casting the 6 inch long, 53 gram (almost double the recommended casting weight) Bomber Wind Cheater for Tarpon and achieved impressive distances considering the lures hefty bulk. Surprisingly the rod even felt like it loaded and unloaded effectively with this lure weight as long as the cast speed was cut back marginally. Casting a 30 gram metal slice on the other hand was like launching a rocketship and I certainly didn’t feel like I was dealing with a travel rod.

The light weight of the IM8 graphite blanks ensured these rods were a joy to use (assuming they are balanced with the right size reel for the task), which is especially important when you intend on fishing hard every minute of daylight that is available while on holiday. I am not even going to delve into an explanation of IM8 and open up a massive can of worms. All you need to know is that IM8 is more a trade name than an industry standard and therefore there is no way to compare apples with apples. While it may sound impressive it unfortunately tells us little about the rods performance or build as the quality of the next manufacturer that quotes IM8 may have a far superior or inferior blank.

Fishing BabyThese lightweight rods are a joy to use, and even light enough for little people

IM8 aside, these rods are a dream to use and if I wasn’t sure of this after the first few Bonefish I was certainly aware of the quality in my hands when I tangled with 60lb Tarpon. The Viper handled the initial close quarters battle, with a Tarpon that spent more time in the air than not, with ease. The rods stiffness helped me to stay connected during wild jumps as it bucked back against any slack that was offered. Once the Tarpon settled in a little deeper the Viper had a surprising amount of grunt at the low end to keep the pain on and and keep things moving.

Nitro 007 Viper CI4 TarponThe light weight of 007 Viper ensured the Angler felt every move but the Viper had the grunt to win out in the end against this 60lb Tarpon.

The faster action and extra length of the Magnum But definitely lends itself a little more to finesse fishing, unfortunately however I never got the opportunity to test the Magnum Butt on a Permit as I was too intent on nailing one on fly first. I did get to play with some Bonefish however and the outfit knocked the mid-size Bones over with ease as well as a many local Snapper, Jacks and Barracuda. There is nothing quite like a Bonefish on a super  lightweight spinning rod however and I cannot wait to hook one on the Traveller.

Nitro 007 Viper Magnum Butt Traveller ReviewRight tools for the task: 007 Magnum Butt & Stradic 2500FI rigged with DOA crab for Permit (left) |007 Viper & Stradic CI4 4000 rigged with Bomber Wind Cheater for Tarpon (right) | The traveller would have been the perfect outfit for Bonefish!

007 Travel Rods come from the Innovator Nitro stables, a small Australian rod builder that is going from strength to strength in building quality rods for Australian conditions and species. I first came across these guys 10 years back with their Innovator Distance fly rods – a few good friends swore by these reasonably priced rods, even more so after successfully putting the Nitro Rod Insurance to the test after a few drunken (mis)adventures. Their insurance agreement is quite simple – in the event of a breakage, an insurance excess of AUD $60.00 is payable for each section broken – no questions asked! I certainly like the ‘no questions asked’ piece of the deal and it is comforting to know you have this at your disposal as the tip section does look fragile.

Without being able to offer a direct comparison to the Nitro 1-piece equivelants or the other popular 3-piece travel rods on the market, there is little use in me ranking this rod on any scale system. At a RRP of $450 AUD this rod is not going to be for everyone. It is definitely at the more expensive end of the travel rod stables however you are paying for a compact 5 or 6 piece rod that plays like a quality one piece rather than a 3 piece that feels like a travel rod.

There is no doubting Nitro’s 007 spin sticks are quality rods and the ability to condense that into a small travel length is a huge win for me. Not only can you pack it just  in case when flying overseas or interstate, it is also easy to throw under the seat of your car or in your backpack  in case you encounter something you weren’t expecting – and that spells less missed opportunities.

Nitro 007 MAgnum Butt TroutLuckily a Nitro travel rod was in my suitcase when the opportunity for a days trout fishing in Arkansas arose.

Kayak anglers will love its small length broken down as they can securely store it under the hull as a second rod or to keep it secure when beach launching. The 007 travel rods would also be a good choice for travelling fly-fisherman who want to take along a spinning outfit to give them a break every now and then. They would be invaluable as a backup in the unfortunate event that you broke your go-to outfit on a once in a lifetime trip.

The reality is however, these Nitro 007 travel rods will be my go-to rods for the foreseeable future – they are just a dream to fish with and I do not have a need for a light-medium one piece with these 3 quality spinsticks at hand!