The Noodle-Armed Review is intended for those players, like myself, who aren’t power arms and don’t quite hit 300 feet. Sure, it would be nice if you could throw longer, but let’s just hope you have a solid mid-range game to make up for it.
Disclaimer: If you throw more than 300 feet, please disregard the following review and assume that the disc in question flies like a mighty Pegasus on wings made of platinum and pixie dust. Or, keep reading and give it a shot for yourself.
In short, this one’s for the little guys.
Experience: 13 months
Favorite disc: DX Teebird
Throwing style: Lefty backhand
Max Distance: 280 feet
Preferred driver weight: 164-168 g
PDGA Rating: Unknown
Summary: Just your average player who is happy to get a few rounds of disc golf in a week, but can’t seem to build up a cannon arm yet.
Name: FD Jackal
Weight: 168 g
Plastic: S-line (opaque premium)
Other available plastics: D-line (base), C-line (translucent premium)
Manufacturer’s Ratings: Speed 7 Glide 6 Turn -1 Fade 1
Manufacturer’s description: “Discmania’s first true fairway driver is also known as the Jackal. The FD is (such a) controllable low-speed driver, that once you learn its magic you’ll never leave it out of your bag. Packed with gigantic glide, this bad boy is also sneaky long if thrown accordingly. The Jackal is at its best when you need to make an accurate drive and land smoothly on the fairway.”
The Internet hype machine kicked into overdrive once Discmania, purveyors of the beloved PD Freak, announced plans to release a fairway driver. When test discs hit the scene, I read all kinds of glowing praise about them, many comparing the FD to a more controllable Latitude 64 River or a hybrid of Innova’s Leopard and Teebird-L.
Hook, line, and sinker. I am a fairway fan boy enough as it is, so I was dead set on picking up an FD as soon as I could get my hands on one.
Still, I had to keep one thing in mind — These “testers” must have pretty excellent disc golf credentials, so any disc is going to fly differently for them than it would for me at a low power level.
And the Noodle-Armed Review was born.
Once the disc finally arrived (free shipping has its drawbacks), I couldn’t get it out to the field fast enough. Picking it up for the first time, the plastic felt as durable and grippy as most other Star plastic I have used (and since Discmania is manufactured by Innova, this only makes sense), with a little bit of flexibility in the flight plate.
The most noticeable attraction of the disc, though, was simply how it felt in my hand. The outside rim had a similar feel to my TL, but it was more blunt, allowing it to nicely sit in the palm of my hand. Simply put, it was just plain comfortable.
And that is about how it felt in the field, too. Put up against a Gold Line River, Star TL, and Pro Leopard, the FD held its own. It didn’t have the same glide as the River, so it wasn’t quite “sneaky long” like the description claims, but it was more controllable. It flew the closest to my seasoned Star TL, with a nice beginning turn and a bit of fade to end things out, with no discernible skip. Out of the box, that is a pretty nice flight.
Distance-wise, I was putting it out to about 250-260 feet. Since this is the Noodle-Armed Review, I have to admit I was hoping for a little more than this, especially given the high glide number. (Noodle Arms are always looking for the next big thing to level the playing field for us, so there is always a little disappointment inherent in any new disc.) Chalk it up to high-end plastic stability. Once it is broken in, I anticipate more length out of this thing.
But in the field and on the course are two different animals, and if a disc can’t perform on the course, it isn’t going to make the bag.
On the Course
The excitement factor peaked as I took the FD for its first full round of 18. My home course has an excellent mix of wooded and open holes, but plays mostly to the strengths of right-handers. As a result, this gave me a chance to work on all kinds of release angles and try and punch the disc through as many tight gaps as possible.
Without boring you with the details of all 18 holes, allow me to summarize. Versatility is the Jackal’s bread and butter. Hole 1 necessitates a slight anhyzer release (for a lefty) to wedge the disc and turn left toward the basket, and my first drive with it was able to hold this line and flex back just a bit at the end.
Hole 2 allowed me to air it out and, much like in the field, did not yield the distance I would like. Hole 3 takes a downhill bomb through some trees, and with a flat release the FD was able to weave in and out of the trees like one of the squirrels that inhabit the course.
Drive after drive, I grew more comfortable with what the FD could do. It handled all of the Noodle-Armed power I could give it without turning over, and more often than not yielded a straight shot with some fade at the end. The plastic barely showed any nicks, even after finding some trees; this particular blend of plastic seemed more durable than any Star I have ever used.
The shortcomings, though, were obvious: I couldn’t get the glide on this thing dialed in, and throwing it uphill just wasn’t a positive situation, as I would try to hyzer flip it with no success.
Sure, the disc was accurate, but just didn’t have the kind of range I would like. For example, hole 18 is a blast to throw — downhill, wide open to the basket. I put the FD up against my beloved DX Teebird and another Innova disc, a Star Roadrunner. All three went straight, but the FD left me furthest from the pin.
Usually at this point of testing a new disc, I would intentionally beat it up by throwing it into some trees at close range, but I wanted to provide an objective, out-of-the-box review for people with low power. Hopefully, given some wear, the FD will be much easier to get to stand up flat on a hyzer release and will discover its advertised glide.
Overall, the Discmania FD Jackal is a solid disc. It can carve lines with the best of them, and it generally performs accurately.
Do I see it displacing other discs, though? I am not so sure. The River seems to have more glide, while the TL could gather more distance. The fairway market is already pretty crowded, so I think golfers’ current loyalties may get the best of Discmania’s newest offering.
That being said, I would recommend trying one out. It is a fun little disc to throw, and if you aren’t married to your fairway drivers, it is worth a shot, if for no other reason than the durability and versatility it can offer.
Steve Hill covers all angles of the game for Rattling Chains, even if he can’t hit those angles himself. Is there a disc you want him to review? Contact him at steve [at] rattlingchains.com and follow him on Twitter @OneMileMore.