APIA Foojin'X Grove Stream 93ML 9'3'' Max 32g lure rod review

One of the most efficient and easiest to use lure rods I have ever fished with, yet I can't remember struggling so much to "get" the timing of a rod as I initially did with this 9'3'' long APIA Foojin'X Grove Stream 93ML (9'3'' long, max casting weight 32g, 10th Anniversary Limited Edition). I know little about the Japanese tackle company APIA other than they make some lure rods which just really work well for me and the way I fish. Usually though I can pick up a lure fishing rod and within a few chucks I am feeling pretty comfortable with how the rod works and the timing needed to wind it up. I may not necessarily love the rod I am trying out, but I back myself to understand at least the majority of what the rod is meant to be doing. Why then was I struggling with this Limited Edition 9'3'' APIA Foojin'X ?

It's rated "up to 32g", and from the off I really liked the thing with the smaller lures, something like say the MegaBass X120 - and oh how my life was improved when I discovered that I could fit an X120 in that narrow slot on the side of the draining-type lure boxes I like using !! Sad I know, but it's the way it is. Wind the rod up and a lure like this just flies. Put a Salt Skimmer on or even that increasingly killer Rapala X-Rap Walk and it's close to being a joke how far they go and how effortlessly you can make these kinds of lures work at long range. But then I put something that bit heavier on like the IMA Hound 125F Glide and for some strange reason I am not feeling as if the rod is properly doing its stuff. Why though, because it's rated well about the weight of a lure like that ? I must assume that it's a degree of angler error on my part, but after my first half day fishing with the rod and I handed it over to James in Ireland with words along the lines of "not sure it's for me, I can't get the thing to work properly"- and I then feel even more useless when James starts fishing with it and straight away remarks on how awesome the thing. Meanwhile I went back to another rod and put this APIA out of my mind for a while............

But I don't like being beaten. If I could get the rod to feel as good as it did with the smaller lures, why on earth could I not do the same with a larger one ? Pick this APIA rod up and I defy you not to be impressed with both the build and the action, albeit a few waggles hardly tells us that much in reality. I can't pretend that I was remotely looking for a "regular" kind of casting weight category lure rod over the 9' length (say around 7-30g, that kind of thing), hence perhaps a little bit of reluctance and maybe even a bit of predetermined negativity towards the thing was clouding my judgement. I am convinced that my reticence if you like towards the longer lure rods came about via the ones I initially tried out a few years back being too heavily rated and thus just too unwieldy/cumbersome and powerful for what I was trying to do with them - until that is I started to come across some of these Japanese rods that I will admit have changed my opinions on "longer" rods completely. I can't think of a way how best to tell you that this APIA Foojin'X doesn't feel anything like 9'3'' long when you fish with it because that of course sounds a bit silly when the rod actually is 9'3'' long - but anybody who has picked the thing up has said exactly the same thing almost immediately, essentially "wow, it doesn't feel like a long rod at all". Make any sense ?

And I reckon that was my problem with the rod's timing. I was treating it like a longer rod, fishing with a longer drop, slowing down the cast a bit and loading it more from the back. I thought about it, took the rod back out of its rather nice neoprene rod bag and took it out fishing again - but this time with an instruction to myself to treat the rod differently. Believe me or don't believe me here because it makes no difference at all, but it only went and worked. A rod that I initially walked away from because I just couldn't "get" it has now become a lure rod that I just can't let go of. One of the lads on the Morocco trip had a go with it and just kept on turning round and grinning to me as cast after cast put the lure out there like it wasn't even trying - and guess what he said ? "It doesn't feel 9'3'' at all", and if you read my blog then you will know how much that feeling means to me. I love that 9'3'' 10-35g Graphiteleader Argento Nuovo for example, but it's a very noticeable step up in power and as such I can get my head around the slightly longer length. I don't know how APIA have made a lure rod over 9' long feel so much like a wand, but if you ask me they have, and I have come almost full circle with the thing to the point that I think it's just an awesomely efficient and ridiculously easy to fish with "modern" lure fishing rod, the sort of rod that I feel is about as perfectly suited as possible to the way many of us fish in the UK and Ireland (plus Morocco etc.)

I have used two reels so far with this APIA rod, the Shimano Sustain 4000FG and the AR-C Aero C14+ 4000 (a reel which I am fast coming to the conclusion is about as good as a reel can get for our lure fishing, see my review here). As you might know, I am doing some work with Shimano, but that aside, reels of this size (Shimano 4000 and equivalent Daiwa etc.) seem to feel very natural on the rod. I have no idea what this rod might cost in the UK, or indeed even if it will ever be made readily available, but if you are in the market for something a bit special then this Foojin'X is seriously worth a look (I note that on the APIA website here that this 9'3'' Foojin'X is a few thousand YEN cheaper than the simply incredible APIA Flow Hunt). The weather might be perfectly revolting at the moment, but there's no harm in dreaming about the year to come......................

Monday Morning Metal Madness - Let's welcome in this somewhat windswept and wet start to 2014 with a bit of Blighty's finest, the mighty Winterfylleth. This kind of atmospheric black metal really says our current weather to me. Turn it up, let it wash over you like a warm blanket, and then buy their awesome album "The Threnody of Triumph". Here's to a great metal year.