The Daiwa Commander series is one of the first series of AGS rods to be released by Daiwa. There is no doubt that the AGS guides have been a game changer in rod development and they are now being implemented over a number of new Daiwa models. For those of you that aren’t aware about AGS guides or what they are I suggest you jump on Daiwa’s site and have a look at what it’s all about. In a nutshell they are a carbon fibre guide that adds a whole new element to the fishing rod. They’re super light and ultra sensitive and you need to use an AGS rod to understand just how great they are.
As you would expect a new concept like this placed on a beautiful blank was never going to be cheap, so Daiwa released two AGS series; the Battler series and then the Commander series, which is significantly less in price than the Battler. However, owning both I must say the Commander series only has a marginal difference in quality and some may even prefer them.
The Commander Bayonet Division is a 6’6 1-2kg rod that I always have paired with a 1003 cerate spooled with 3lb braid. I bought this rod to suit two specific purposes. The first was to target trout in skinny rivers. I needed a rod that was on the shorter side of things as I was often casting around overhanging growth. Even moderately tall reeds on a trout river can pose casting issues with a long rod. I also wanted something stiff with outstanding recovery on the cast. If you ever want to see how a rod recovers just give it a tap and watch how long it takes to stop vibrating and be still. The Commander Bayonet offers ridiculously good recovery, a very fast action and therefore excellent casting accuracy. This is important when trout fishing as you may only have one cast to get it right and if you mess that cast up you can say goodbye to that fish.
I also wanted it for a similar scenario and that was casting at deep snags up fairly skinny rivers for bream and other estuarine species. I don’t have a bass boat with a flush deck so there are things such as the centre console, rods and the other angler that can get in the way of the cast. The shorter length allows me to have more casting freedom and the accuracy allows me to cast under branches, next to snags and right along rock walls and pontoons.
While you may think this rod is a great rod for light weighted soft plastics, which it is, I never use plastics with it. I use it for big hard bodies around 55-65mm in length. It can cast these lures an absolute mile and it does it with extreme accuracy.
While the Commander’s ability to cast a lure is phenomenal it is equalled and maybe even exceeded by its attributes when retrieving a lure. The sensitivity offered by the AGS guides, the Bias Wrap construction of the blank and the Surround reel seat is close to perfection. I don’t believe any angler could retrieve a lure with this rod and not want to own it. I can tell exactly what my lure is doing at all times with this rod. If the rear treble fouls up on even a small piece of grass, the bib brushes a stump or a small trout has a swipe I can feel everything. Not only does it give me better control of my offering, but it also makes my fishing more enjoyable as I am always in contact with what is happening. Some lures where I used to think I was slow rolling I have now realised I was going too fast, the lure was swimming fine and there was action, but I just couldn’t feel it.
When in battle the Bayonet punches well above its weight. It has a lot of grunt right through the whole taper and offers control over fish in various scenarios. Whether it’s a brown trout using the current to escape me or a bream racing for the snags I can stop the fish, turn its head and put as much pressure on as my line will take and remain in full control. The all round sensitivity of the rod allows me to have a great understanding of exactly what the fish and the line are doing at any given time. It’s a remarkably powerful rod for its rating, sensitivity and ability to cast light weighted lures.
The black and green motif of the Commander series is subtle and looks great. I love the feel of the surround reel seat and the mix of EVA and cork. It looks stylish, fits in the hand perfectly and offers increased sensitivity.
While all the AGS rods come with a high price tag, they are well worth the investment. This is a very special rod and all the high praise I am placing on it is well deserved. There aren’t many rods that can do it all but this rod can. It isn’t whippy but can cast small weights long distances. It’s stiff, yet highly sensitive. It’s extremely light in weight and the reel doesn’t negatively affect the well-balanced blank. You have to pick one up to experience just how great a rod this is.
The only thing Daiwa got wrong was the rod bag it comes with. The rod splits apart just below the stripper guide and the opposing weights of the two sections feel as though too much pressure is being placed on the tip section. Aside from that the rod is faultless. It is my most favourite rod I’ve ever owned and I own many including the more expensive Battler.