In December of 2020 (I feel dirty putting that number on here for some reason), I was able to get out and try a new rod & reel combo thanks to Tony Faggioni at FishGum. I wrote a quick review on it (on Facebook and Salt Strong) but wanted to give it its proper due, as it truly is a very nice stick. Below is my review with a few updated parts.
12’ Ninja Dagger
After getting off work, I was able to test out some new toys, thanks to Tony Faggioni of Fishgum. He lent me his 12’ Ninja Tackle Ninja Dagger to throw. BLUF (Bottom line upfront): This is a shockingly amazing stick!
Images courtesy of Ninja Tackle
I took the Dagger down to the local causeway to throw so I wouldn’t be in anyone’s way, and I could get a feel for it. The first cast was on Tony’s Pompano Rig and a 4 oz pyramid weight. Loaded up, started the throw, and at release point, SNAP! I broke his Pompano Rig, and it went flying. Yep, I felt (and still do) bad right away because I just broke a friend’s rig. I overdid it. I put one of my Pompano Rigs on and have a replacement forthcoming for my egregious error.
I took my newest sputnik sinker and attached it to the line directly. I loaded up to cast, step forward, and sent it out. Smooth! The distance was a bit further than I had expected, but ok. Load up again with a little more power. Smooth also, with a definite distance gain. Ok, maybe there is something to this rod. Let’s get after it.
This time, I decided to get a little more serious about distance, and I felt more confident in the setup. I load it up and launch at about 50% power. While the sinker and rig are flying to their destination, I remember thinking, “Why do I still hear line going out of the reel?” Then while I’m looking at the line leaving, I see a color change in the braid. What’s this all about? The sinker splashes down a lot further than I expected. Reel in, reset, load up, and launch. The same thing happens, and it’s FAR out there. I’m definitely over the bar if I was at the beach.
I text Tony and ask how much yellow line was on the spool before it went to green. While waiting for the reply, I send out two more casts back to back. This thing has magical voodoo power sprinkled on it! My phone pings me with an incoming text, “130-150 yards. Did you crush a cast?” was his reply.
I did. Without using my cast cannons and whole body type of cast, I have to do with my 11’ Surf Runner & 12’ Ugly Stick. What is this madness that is lurking in this rod?
I move over to my 11’ Surf Runner rod that I can typically launch out with my new sputnik attached. Lock & load my cast cannon and set up to cast. I’m determined to beat this Ninja Dagger with my rod. I step into the cast, and *SNAP* I broke the line and watched my new pretty yellow sputnik fly into the sky. I knew what happened as I saw it, and words were said that I could not repeat here. I am still watching the sputnik fly to its destination in its beautiful spiral pattern when it finally splashes. It landed right where I expected it to with this rod and significantly shorter than the Dagger. I didn’t need a second demonstration or test, as I knew that the Dagger would reign supreme over my 11’ rod. I packed it up and returned the magical rod to its rightful owner.
I can say after testing; the Ninja Dagger is a good option. When a rod fits my casting style and can help me reach where I want to with less effort than my other rods, I am sold. Very well done, Ninja Tackle, and thank you, FishGum, for letting me try it out.
This was the end of my review but not the end of the story. I went fishing a couple of days later down to Fort Pickens, and Tony let me borrow it again (I put my rig on it this time so I wouldn’t break another one of his with my wildcat cast). This time out, though, I got to feel it in action. I also spent a little more time getting to know the rod and got a better feel for it. My initial response and feelings haven’t changed, as it truly is a good stick! There is only one thing that I didn’t like about it: the butt end.
Image of a used rod for sale from www.striperonline.com
My other large rods have a thicker base and a rubber bulb on the bottom. This has become my typical feel, and I am very used to it. The Dagger has more of a narrow base and a blunt end. This comes down to a preference per angler situation because I know I could likely put a rubber end on there that would match what I would like to feel. I like the bulb rubber end because when reeling in a large fish, I put the butt end onto my right thigh for leverage, and it does not slip nor feel uncomfortable. It is a narrow & blunt point directly pinned into my leg with the Dagger, which did not feel awesome.
That night I went fishing with it, I hooked into my very first Black Drum (the big ugly and 30” no less!). I’ve never fought one before but had seen my friend Justin do it not a week prior, so I had an idea as to what was going to happen. Sure enough, that monster started taking drag and swimming hard as it could away from me. The fight took several minutes, and the Dagger did an excellent job helping me horse it in. As you can see from the video, the rod bends VERY nicely.
I sent the monster safely back out to the Gulf of Mexico to keep doing the good things it does and to catch it another day. It was such a great fight and a remarkable memory that I know I won’t be able to forget. The rod did everything I could have hoped when pulling in such a large fish. I believe it to be an outstanding one, and I’m glad that I got the chance to fish with it.
Thanks for sticking around here, and I hope this gave you a better insight into the rod than my first report. You can order the Ninja Dagger from Ninja Tackle at https://ninjatackleva.com, Pompano Rich at https://www.pompanorich.net, if you’re in the Panhandle region, you can order it from Blake Hunter of Reel30A or call him at 850-687-6063. Stay tuned for more in the future!