Posted 09:25, 17 December 2014
- I would imagine that most fishing tackle shops get it a fair bit, and they must dread it - an angler walks in with a broken fishing rod, saying that he (or she) was casting or playing a fish and “out of the blue” the rod just snapped. How can the tackle shop prove otherwise, and how many anglers would admit to having made a mistake and therefore the broken rod was actually their fault? I personally think that it’s rare for a fishing rod to snap when it is being used correctly - sure, it can happen, and it has happened to me, but I still reckon it’s very rare when a rod breaks for “no reason”, and I wonder how much of the price we pay for rods is influenced by a company having to be ready for future rod returns? Is it a bit like the world of insurance, or is this me seeing a conspiracy theory that simply doesn’t exist?
- Like with anything we might buy that is made, there have to be manufacturing mistakes from time to time - many years ago I was used to fish with an awesome pair of Daiwa beachcasters, but out of the blue one snapped when we were filming on the Shannon estuary over in Ireland. I can remember the crew taking a break while we carried on fishing (because it was so good), and without warning one of the rods snapped when I was casting. All credit to Daiwa, they took a look at the rod and said straight away that there was a fault with it - they replaced it and I never had a single problem with the rods again. I’ve still got them in fact, and one day for sure I will have to dust them down and see if I can still remember how to cast 6oz of lead plus bait…………
- Most fly rods I have seen break were because the angler high-sticked the thing when fighting or going to land a fish (going beyond the vertical which places an abnormal angle and thus too much stress on the rod tip), although I have also seen a few simply snap when people are fighting big fish hard. It can happen, but I also wonder if the rods ever got “dinged” by a weighted fly on the cast? The fly hits the rod on a mistimed cast, you think it’s all ok, but it has created a weak point that then can break as and when the rod is next under serious load. The photo above is a classic example of how not to land a fish, and what you are seeing is the fly rod literally a split second before it snapped. Awesome rod, but angler error plain and simple - the best rods in the world can break if you use them wrong.
- As regards lure fishing rods, well from memory I am pretty sure that I haven’t seen a single one snap yet. Obviously we hear of rods breaking from time to time, indeed it might have happened to you, but again I wonder how many really are a manufacturing fault instead of the angler simply not admitting to or perhaps even not realising that they have done something wrong? If it is proven that a rod was not made correctly, then ok, it can snap, but I can’t help but be somewhat suspicious of anglers who claim that their lure rod broke when playing a fish for example - and especially with regards to the size of fish we tend to catch and also the fact that most UK saltwater anglers seem scared to actually bend their rod into a fish. It’s so easy to get overexcited and high-stick a rod when a fish is coming to hand and not even realise you are doing it - the rod snaps, you don’t realise what you did wrong, but you walk into your tackle shop (or complain on a forum, Facebook etc.) and say the rod is a duffer.
- Look at what lure rods go through when you’ve got an angler who can cast properly - ok, so the angle of the photo I shot is slightly compressing what you see here, but that is a (Graphiteleader) lure rod being bent to the butt on the cast, and there is no way that any of us are then bending a rod that much when we fight fish!! Think about how many times you cast a rod compared to fighting a fish. As I said earlier, rods can break out of the blue, but some of these lure rods are pretty fragile things and it’s up to us to look after them as best we can. As with a fly hitting a rod in the cast, have you ever dropped your lure rod for example, and it has then landed hard on the rocks? Does that bang then create a slight weak spot that over time might cause the rod to break?
- How about overloading a rod? For the most part the rods suggest what weights we should cast, but I know of situations when anglers cast over that weight and then wonder why on earth their rod has broken. OK, so some rods can be easily pushed over that casting weight advice, but if we choose to do that and then break the rod, surely that is our fault? I wonder though how many people would admit to have done so if their rod breaks “for no reason”? That rather lovely Major Craft Wind rod that I reviewed earlier in the year (check here) - I repeatedly cast lures that weigh over what is suggested on the rod and it did just fine, but if I had broken that rod then it would have been my fault entirely, and I would never suggest to anybody who has this rod to do the same as I did.
- You might be able to sometimes save a few quid by importing a rod from abroad, but to me the potential breakage issue is another good reason for buying my rods from recognised dealers here in the UK. Firstly, I am not brave enough to buy a rod blind, as in take a punt on something that I have never seen myself (ok, I am lucky in how I get to see so many rods, and that’s the reason I review them - in the hope that it helps some of you out), and secondly I want some comeback if the rod breaks. If it’s my fault, so be it, and I will admit to it, but if I get one of those (what I think are very rare) genuinely faulty rods, then I know that a decent retailer is going to sort it out.
- Still the best rod breakage I have ever seen though was just before the photo above. A really good South African fly fisherman casting at what everybody thought was a big GT on one of the ultra-remote Seychelles atolls. I am standing close to him and watching events unfold. The GT turns and charges the fly, but it’s not a GT, it’s one of those massive, 50lb plus Indian Ocean barracuda that you see from time to time. The cuda swims straight past the fly and right for this guy here. The angler comes to a snap decision and very quickly rams the tip of the fly rod down in front of his legs to try and stop the cuda hitting him at full speed with its jaws open, and if you have ever seen what a barracuda can do to a fish with those teeth, well rest assured you don’t want one of these things biting you. The rod tip goes down and instead of the cuda biting the angler, instead it bites the tip of the rod clean off - to this day that’s the only G Loomis Cross Current 12 weight fly rod that I have ever seen break!! I remember we all stood there rather nervously laughing at what nearly happened, and especially as there were a bunch of hungry looking sharks on the prowl that I am sure would have loved a sniff of this guy’s blood in that warm Indian Ocean water. I actually emailed G Loomis when I got home to tell them the story, and they said many thanks, nice one, but the best breakage they knew of was an angler having to beat a crocodile off with his Loomis rod!!
Posted 05:53, 15 December 2014
- I get why some lure anglers want longer rods, but that doesn’t mean I necessarily agree with all the arguments that are put forward for them. I just don’t want a longer lure rod that feels like a longer rod, and I can’t pretend that I go bass fishing in the UK or Ireland and think wow, I really need a longer lure rod - but what if I can get the same wand like feeling with a longer rod that a shorter lure rod gives me? Well I’m all ears now. I want the one rod I take with me to be really good at fishing the methods I feel that I need to use to give me the best chance at fish - and I am perfectly open to this particular rod being that bit longer if it doesn’t feel like a longer rod. Does that make any sense at all?
- Go check some of the well known European tackle company catalogues and you’ll struggle to find a lure rod around the 9’+ length that is around the 8-30g rating. Sure, you’ll find them at say 15-50g or 20-60g, but I don’t want this, because as much as I think I might sometimes want to chuck heavier and bigger lures in the UK and Ireland, I’m just not doing so (but should I be?). I’ll fish the roughest conditions I can get away with, but the fact remains that when it gets too rough where I tend to fish, it’s blown as regards lure fishing and I’ll try somewhere else. It seems that I have little choice but to come back to the Japanese (sea) bass fishing market to look for lure rods around the length and casting weight that I want.
- I reckon I could blindfold you, put this Major Craft Truzer TZS-962ML 9'6'' 10-30g lure rod (around £370.00 in the UK, somewhere like Chesil Bait n Tackle, Seaview Angling etc.) in your hand and give you ten casts with it, then swap the rod for a comparable feeling 8’6’’/9’ rod and give you ten casts again - and I reckon you’d struggle to say which was the longer rod. It’s taken me a long time to start falling for lure rods of this length, but then it’s a simple case of only fairly recently starting to come across ones that I really like fishing with. This Major Craft Truzer 9’6’’ has no right to feel as light and responsive as it does, because surely that’s the domain of the much shorter rods to feel like that? I think I’ve measured this rod at least five times now to check that it really is 9’6’’ long…………
- The acid test for me on a rod like this is if I can go back and forth between a number of different kinds of hard and soft lures again and again and not feel that I am fishing any of them any less efficiently than the others. Let’s start with say a fairly light 120mm sub-surface minnow like the MegaBass X120, then something heavier and longer range like the IMA Hound 125F Glide, and I don’t think I have used a lure rod yet that puts this particular lure so far. Next up is my go-to surface lure, the IMA Salt Skimmer, and then I might change to say a 12g/120mm Fiiish Black Minnow. Let’s follow this with my little experiment, the 20g Shore Head on the 120mm Black Minnow body, and then finish this test off with what to me can often find the chink in a rod - soft plastics rigged mostly weightless and weedless. Let’s use a 6’’ senko on a 6/0 weedless hook. Is there a weakness with this rod? Well not that I can find. It’s absolutely incredible how good/effortless this thing is, and it’s interesting how two guys I have fished with who have had a proper thrashing with it now both want one. We are talking here about one of the best lure fishing rods I have ever been lucky enough to fish with - at a price I grant you, but this is one insanely good fishing rod.
- Very fast but not remotely too stiff (yes, it’s steely), almost ridiculously light and wand like, yet with bags of grunt if needs be. No feeling of slackness at all in the butt section, hell it’s some feat to make a 9’6’’ rod as good as this. Is there much difference to the shorter 9’ Truzer that I reviewed a while back? (check here). Well the 9’ feels a little pokier because it’s shorter, and if you read my 9’ Truzer review you will note how I reckoned that you had to be on the money with your casting to get the best out of it - this 9’6’’ Truzer to me is an easier rod to cast well. It’s still incredibly precise, but that extra 6’’ seems to help make the rod feel a little more “approachable”, or kinder even if that makes sense. I really like shorter handles on my lure rods, and this 9’6’’ Truzer is 13.5’’ from the reel foot to the end of the butt section. I like cork grips, the reel seat is the same (excellent) one as on the 9’ version, and so far I can’t fault these new Fuji Torzite guides.
- Which Truzer would I have then, the 9’ or the 9’6’’? Well in a perfect world I would have both of course, but is push came to shove I reckon I might go for the longer 9’6’’ version. It’s a strange day when I find myself lusting after the longer rod, but it’s what I feel. I reckon I can do everything I want to do just as easily and efficiently with the 9’6’’, so why not go for the longer one and get what an extra 6’’ can give you on a good day? These Major Craft Truzer lure rods are some serious bits of kit that in my opinion are just about perfect for bass fishing in the UK and Ireland. I’ve had a bunch of bass on the one I have got here, and in some pretty serious conditions as well - the rod just does what I need while putting a bit smile on my face because it’s just so gorgeous to fish with. I am trying to find something about this (not cheap) rod that niggles me, but for the life of me I can’t. Can an item of fishing tackle be perfect?
- And above are some previews from the new issue of Sea Angler that comes out this week - note that there is a full feature of mine on how to tie what is without doubt the best braid to fluoro/mono leader knot that I have ever come across. Illustrations come via the excellent (Andy Steer) Angling Knots (check here), and I am hoping that this well laid out and easy to understand feature will help a lot of anglers with learning how to tie the perfect leader knot.
Posted 08:28, 12 December 2014
- On Monday I mentioned that I had been talking with a rather good Portuguese bass angler about a way to fish a lure like the Fiiish Black Minnow over say shallowish to medium depth water. By no means did I mean to be remotely secretive about this method in case you were wondering, and I apologise if it came across like that. I didn’t go into it because of time considerations my end, and also because I ran the risk of the blog post getting so long that you would all fall asleep.
- I would imagine that most anglers are relatively secretive about where they catch their fish, and especially if the locations they are fishing are for the most part fairly quiet and out of the way. Why? For a number of different reasons. But for the life of me I don’t understand why somebody would want to be secretive about methods or lures - I see something like the internet as a great tool for sharing our fishing knowledge and experiences. I will always remember a far better bass angler than me emailing me a few years back to tell me how a certain soft plastic lure was regularly sorting out bigger bass for them, but then hang on, the actual lure can’t be divulged!! Why email me to tell me about it in the first place if you ain’t going to say what the lure is??!! Do you know how this messes with my head?
- Now this method of fishing a lure like the Black Minnow is nothing more than a straight retrieve as close to the bottom as possible - which I would imagine is something that many lure anglers are already doing? But I was not, and therefore the way that this Portuguese bass lad was describing it to me was something a bit different and therefore registered straight away on my “information radar” - and of course when you go and hook (but then lose) a seriously proper bass on the method within five casts of first trying it, is there any better way to get a great big jolt of confidence in it?
- Some years ago I would straight retrieve something like those Storm Shads as close to the bottom as possible for say pollack over in Ireland, but I as good as gave up fishing like this because of the tackle losses revolving around that single hook standing proud. Hell, I remember losing over twenty sets of gear when we were filming pollack fishing in the Isles of Scilly and I was deep-spinning with sandeels or jellyworms - that bloody hook sticking out loves to get snagged up, plus the weight does I suppose. Effective, but a pain in the backside to keep setting up again.
- There are of course any number of different paddletails out there (soft plastic shads), but it just happened to be that the Fiiish Black Minnow was from memory the first one I happened to come across that gave me that chance to bury the hookpoint away in the body of the lure and drastically cut down on my having to set up again and again. The fact that it caught fish for me kinda helps as well, but I can’t pretend that fishing it with a slow and deliberate straight retrieve for bass over rough ground was a part of my armoury of techniques. Bumping the lure with a sink and draw along the bottom in current? Yes. Pollack fishing with it (sink and draw, straight retrieve in deep water etc.)? Obviously. Need to see if there are wrasse around? Goes without saying. A sink and draw over deeper rock marks for bass but pollack often grab it? Yes. Etc……………
- They catch some serious bass down in Portugal, in some serious conditions sometimes, and from some seriously brutal coastline. If I had not asked Armando as many questions as time allowed then it would have been remarkably ignorant of me, and one thing they are doing is to cast a Black Minnow out, let it hit the bottom, and then straight retrieve it - at what retrieve speed though? It’s a simple case of finding the speed which keeps your lure just above the rocks - feel it bump the bottom and speed up a bit. Feel no contact with the bottom? Slow down a touch, and then play around with this simple technique. Feel is key, but of course over time I would imagine that however snag free a lure is, you’re going to lose a few of them over really snaggy ground.
- My experience of fishing a lure like the Black Minnow like this is not even one week old, but already I have noticed how slowly you can actually retrieve say the 12g/120mm or even the 20g/120mm (the 20g head Shore Head that is designed for the 140mm body) and not keep smashing into the bottom. I remember watching the Fiiish lure designer Matt showing me in a tank how the Black Minnow moves so well at slow speeds, so while I am now fishing with this technique I’ve got a really strong mental image of how it looks down there. Del and I went looking for clear water yesterday after that storm blew out our local marks - we found some awesome conditions but had not a single sniff, and I tried this way of fishing the Black Minnow over and through some pretty gnarly ground, and so far I haven’t actually lost a lure. Sure, the heads get a bit battered, but does that matter?
- So it’s hardly a revolutionary new method, and as I said, I am sure lots of you are already fishing like this - for me though this is another variation that I can call upon of needs be. Of huge interest to me is being able to more effectively cover the whole water column on the hunt for fish. I am surprised how easy it actually is to fish a weighted soft plastic like this over fairly shallow ground, and I would imagine that over time you’re going to see some big wrasse and pollack as well. Have a good weekend, and here’s to hoping that the water around me clears up and gives us a bunch more chances at a few fish. It’s potentially a really good time of year around here, but we need the conditions………