Kistler Helium 3 MAD rod review - Major League Fishing

Kistler Helium 3 MAD rod review

A flipping stick for all occasions
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Kistler Helium 3 MAD series rod. Photo by Chris Burgan.
October 6, 2015 • Kyle Wood • Archives

Walmart FLW Tour pro Mark Daniels Jr. teamed up with Kistler Rods to create his own signature series stick – the Helium 3 MAD series. Daniels grew up fishing the California Detla, so it’s no surprise that the MAD is a heavy-power, moderate-action, 7-foot, 11-inch rod designed to haul bass from heavy cover. After watching him put the rod to work over the course of the 2015 season, I decided to take it for a spin myself.

A few features stuck out to me.

– Great for heavy cover

– Versatility

– Good looks

Great for heavy cover

Kistler Helium 3 MAD series rod.

When Daniels designed this rod he wanted something strong enough to drop big weights through heavy cover but “soft enough” to keep fish buttoned when they got hung up in the vegetation. Without question this rod excels at both.

Whether I was fishing thick milfoil, heavy pencil reeds or cattails, this rod had the strength to pull fish out of their hiding spots. It’s also light – tipping the scale at just 5 ounces – and extremely sensitive, which made it a breeze to detect even the lightest bites.

When it came to setting the hook, a simple lean back was more than enough to drive the hook home. If the fish got buried in the jungle of vegetation, steady pressure kept it buttoned up while I went in after it. Keeping fish hooked was made easier because of the parabolic bend (the rod has even flex throughout the blank), which reduces the odds ripping the hook out of their mouth compared to extra-heavy, extra-fast flipping sticks.

On a side note, the rod is built to flip with braid, so if you like to flip big fluorocarbon this rod might not fit your style because the slight stretch of the fluoro combined with the parabolic bend of the rod could provide too much give when setting the hook.


When you drop $300 on a fishing rod it’s nice to be able to use the rod for multiple applications to help get more bang for your buck. In addition to flipping, the MAD rod is suited for lobbing a big swimbait or winding a deep-diving crankbait. The length and parabolic nature of the rod make it ideal for bombing long casts and throwing bigger moving baits that need a little give in the rod to help the hookup ratio.

The MAD rod also works well for dragging big football jigs or Carolina rigs because of its low weight and sensitivity.

Good looks

Kistler Helium 3 MAD series rod.

Obviously, having some eye appeal is a bonus for most anything in the fishing world. If it looks cool, we want to own it. I’m not a big fan of shiny finishes on rod blanks, so the matte black look of the MAD rod was very catchy to me. Like most Kistler rods, this one features very little text on the blank, and the text that is there is printed low between the butt of the rod and the grip. The subtle blue wrapping around the tangle-free Fuji Macro guides and stainless-steel hook holder help round out a very clean design.

I’m not usually a fan of split-grip rods for flipping because I feel like you beat your ribs up a little more, but a little bit longer cork piece and EVA foam on the butt of the rod made it surprisingly comfortable to use.

The verdict

Kistler Helium 3 MAD series rod.

If you like a parabolic bend in your flipping stick then this rod is for you. It also would make a nice addition to any arsenal for offshore or swimbait fishing. The versatility helps make it easier to bear the nearly $300 price.


– Very light and very sensitive

– Versatile enough to cover a wide range of situations, not just flipping

– Great looking

– Casts a mile


– Steep price

– Not as stiff as the traditional flipping sticks that some anglers prefer

– Best suited for flipping with braided line


Company: Kistler Rods

Series: Helium 3

Power: Heavy

Action: Moderate

Length: 7-11

Warranty: Three-year replacement plan

Price: $299.95