There’s really 3 kinds of plastics that Innova produces. I’ll categorize them here.
Premium blends are the Star, Gstar, Champion, Champion Glow, Blizzard, and Halo. These are the more costly ones, I assume because they last you longer so you don’t have to buy more and also because they’re a higher quality material.
Standard plastics are Pro, R-Pro, and KC Pro. These are kind of in the middle plastics, they’re definitely a step up above baseline in durability but not near a premium blend.
Baseline plastics are XT, DX, Nexus, and JK Pro. These are going to season quicker, and may be for more gentle throws. It’s some of the grippiest, and it’s the least expensive because you may need to replace discs in this plastic more frequently.
As a general rule, premium discs tend to be more overstable than their counterparts. Whether that’s the firmness, or the fact that they usually weigh more, I don’t know.
How much does the plastic affect the flight?A whole lot.
Champion and Halo plastic tend to be the most overstable by far. If you purchase a disc in this plastic you can expect it to have more fade than the numbers will give it on the front. I’m a big fan of Champion plastic because I like that extra stability it offers my discs. My Champion Wraiths take a long time to season.
Champion Blizzard plastic on its own is a little different. It’s still that super durable blend and it’s a little more overstable than other plastics, but because it’s lightweight it’s easier to overpower. Folks who may not have the arm speed to get a Champ Wraith up to speed may find that it’s possible to get that Blizzard Wraith to flip.
Star Plastic is some of the most common on the course. It’s got a wide range of weights, colors, and it’s what pros have as their go to plastic on a lot of discs. Star won’t be nearly as overstable as Champion or Halo plastic for long. This beats in, generally it takes a couple of months of throwing and hitting things. But it will develop a smooth edge and start to have more turn.
Pro and GStar plastic are very similar when it comes to flight stability, so why do I have them in different categories? Pro flies like a beat in star plastic disc almost immediately. GStar it depends a lot on the weather. The G can stand for grippy or gummy. In warm weather the GStar discs will be way more flippy. I like GStar discs in the winter months here in Maine. When I can’t do a full run up, have long sleeves on, and I’m mad that all of my premium blend discs aren’t flipping over when I want them to.
KC Pro, DX, Nexus, and XT plastics all fly fairly similarly. These are the baseline or slightly above plastic. They’re harder and stiff, but some of the best grip you can get. They’re cheaper than premium blends because they do season. These are some of the best plastics you can get your putters in or your slower mids. My dad has a DX Aviar that he only putts with or throws about 150 foot shots with. It still lasts and does well for him. KC Pro tends to be the most overstable of these, but even with the harder plastic it still beats in and loses that dumpy right out of the box hyzer. The Nexus plastic is a little more for putting putters, so far it’s come out for the Aviar and the Firefly and it’s best on hotter days.
JK Pro is some of the softest baseline plastic out there. It’s what I tell people they can use for a turnover right out of the box. It’s like a DX disc that you’ve left in your car on a hot summer day. It does get chewed up as quickly as other baselines. So I recommend using it for those approach shots or putts.
It sounds like premium is just the best plastic all the time.Not all the time! In fact I almost always steer people away from premium putters unless they’re using them to tee off. That baseline DX is what you should be putting with. It’s going to get those little nicks and dings in it. That gives it the you better grip and when it hits the chains it’s less likely to slide. I find that Star and Champion plastic in the hand on short range don’t have that same level of grip that you’re looking for.
Baseline blends or standard blends are perfect for when you’re not throwing as hard as you possibly can. A good DX Shark is a fantastic disc that I’m not a fan of in champion blend plastic. I think lots of mids and putters with extra grip give you more control over the flight of a disc than they can in a premium blend.
When else should I look at other plastics?Weather is a big key here. We all know we’re supposed to stable up in the wind. But in the colder months our plastic is going to shrink in the cold. It’s time to get out those less stable plastics and throw them! That Pro plastic disc that’s too flippy in the summer might be just right for that cold November round with your high school buddies.
I also think that rain makes DX and XT Plastic the GOAT when it comes to rainy weather. You can bag as many towels as you want, but you’re still going to need that extra grip from those nicks and dings. Champion and Star plastics are really tough to use because of how smooth they are when your fingers are all wet.
Why are the numbers for the flight ratings the same on discs of different plastics if the discs fly differently?I don’t know.
As this blog explained, discs made in different plastics do fly differently. A DX Destroyer is something I could probably throw and get some flip out of quickly. A Halo Destroyer like Calvin Heimburg throws is one that I wouldn’t be able to flip in a headwind.
I’d argue that a DX Teebird and a Champion Leopard3 are very similar in flight path. Maybe we just all take the 4 number flight rating system with a grain of salt.
Is there a reason to get a driver in baseline blends?Yes. I think they make excellent roller discs and for folks who have slightly slower arm speed but like the feel of a disc. You know how sometimes you just love the way a disc feels in your hand but you buy it, throw it, and then you hate it? If it’s because the disc is much beefier than you thought it was going to be you can always get it in a lighter or a baseline plastic blend.
Are new discs better or old discs better? You said you want those dings and nicks in the disc.I can’t think of many pieces of sporting equipment where it’s better to have a used one. New stuff is fresh and has the most life in it. But disc golf discs when they’re brand new tend to have an overstable flight path. The reason that some pros have recognizable discs they throw is that you want something that you know every time. If discs had to be replaced and only had a short shelf life, pros would do it every tournament. New discs haven’t earned that trust yet, while they’re more stable than they will be over time, they still aren’t as reliable. Sometimes you do have a disc that becomes flippy after too long and too many tree hits. You can give that disc to someone who doesn’t throw as hard. A gifted broken-in disc is one of the nicest gifts you can give in disc golf.
I’d like to go in order from top to bottom so you can see the most overstable plastics. That way if you’re thinking you’d love a Wraith, but you’re not sure what you’d like it in you can see. Not every disc is available in every plastic, in fact the Archangel is only offered in DX plastic.
Most Overstable to least overstable.Halo
These plastic types from Innova have a variety of uses. Check out Innova Captain Nate Sexton’s Bag. He’s got Star, Champion Glow, Champion, KC Pro, Nexus, R Pro, and XT in the bag. To play disc golf you’re going to need at least a couple different plastics.
I hope that this blog helps answer some questions for you. I often have folks who come in and want to know which plastic they should get a disc in. It comes down to feel, what you’re using the disc for, weather, and sometimes just what your gut tells you. Let me know if you have any specific questions and I’ll answer them here or on Sabattus’s Twitter @PlaySDG.
May your discs miss all the trees,
Andrew Streeter #70397