Graphiteleader Argento Nuovo 962ML 9'6'' 10-32g lure rod review (£349.99)

A good friend of mine owns this rod and loves it, so by virtue of regularly fishing together I have tried this Graphiteleader Argento Nuovo 962ML 9'6'' 10-32g rod out on numerous occasions and really liked it. Then the other day I had another proper go with it after not having used it for a while, and this time I seriously struggled with having to give it back to him. I have owned the 9' Argento Nuovo (review here) but sold it to a mate who was after a proper lure rod (yes, I regret getting rid of it), and I (now used to) own the 9'3'' Argento Nuovo (review here) - whilst it's a fantastic rod, the truth is that I just don't find myself turning to a very powerful 10-35g rod enough for my bass fishing to warrant it sitting there. Yes, I have gone and traded in my 9'3'' to get this 9'6''...........

As much as I like the 9' and 9'3'' versions of Graphiteleader's Argento Nuovo range, the 9'6'' continues to creep up on me as arguably the pick of the bunch - bear in mind that I have also fished with the 10'3'' and wiggled but not fished with the 8'6''. These days it's a lure rod around the 9' length that I find myself drawn to the most, so I am not quite sure how this 9'6'' Nuovo has gone and crept up on me like that - but then as my mate and I were talking about, it's such a special lure rod that in the hand it doesn't feel remotely like a longer rod to fish with, but at the same time you are getting what a longer rod can give you. Does that make sense? Can a 9'6'' lure rod possibly feel like a wand? Well this one does.

This 9'6'' Nuovo is just effortless, and I mean seriously effortless. Roll with the cliche of moving a hot knife through butter because it's a good way to describe casting this fishing rod - something like that Major Craft 9' Truzer (review here) is a rod that needs to be moved fast and very precisely to wind it up, and I love it. Try and cast this 9'6'' Nuovo like that though and you won't get the best out of it. Nope, play with that drop length, slow down a bit, load the rod from the back, bring it through nice and smoothly, and just let that lure fly - if you don't grin from ear to ear then you've got a great deal more self-control than me!! Coming back to this rod the other day after not casting it for a fair while and I'm beaming with every cast that I feel is at least half-decent.

As per that DFR 9'6'' rod I reviewed fairly recently (here), and coming from an angler who favours the shorter rods, there is no getting away from how well a decent longer rod can get your minnow-type hard lures out there if your casting is working well with the rod - and especially the larger 140mm+ versions. Same with the 9'7'' Tenryu Swat I reviewed here. Load a good longer rod up properly and they are effortless casting machines, and I could simply cast say 120-140mm minnows out there all day long and just enjoy the experience all on its own. The same with bumping lures like the Black Minnow in current and at range - a pure delight. Because of where and how I am almost forced to fish though, I am always after a lure rod that can then cover my surface lures and weedless/weightless soft plastics work as well, and this is what tends to bring me back to lure rods around the 9' length, albeit that 9'7'' Tenryu Swat is in my mind one of those slightly freaky longer rods that to me feels comfortable doing the lot.

And I can easily put this 9'6'' Argento Nuovo into that category, to the point that I now own it to fish exactly like that - working surface lures and weightless soft plastics makes me smile as much as smoothly launching sub-surface minnows out there. How a 9'6'' rod can sit so deftly in the hand is beyond me, but it does. I reckon you're getting all that you get with the 9' version plus what an extra 6'' can give you if needs be (tee hee) - or rather, this rod is so efficient and easy to fish with that I can see only positives that the extra 6'' is giving you for any way in which we might go about our bass fishing. I am always keen to try new stuff out and the more I stumble upon these 9'+ lure rods that still feel like mere wands in my hairy paws, the more I am drawn to them. I loved fishing with that 9'7'' Tenryu Swat, but this 9'6'' Nuovo works better for me. Rods are personal things remember.

It's not remotely poker-stiff, but then it's miles away from a soft sort of salmon spinning rod that I can't stand fishing with - every single part of the rod just blends together and compresses so effortlessly on the cast (steeleasy?), and of course there is stacks of power there to abuse the living daylights out of any bass we are ever likely to hook. I hear the term "JDM action" a bit these days, but I can't pretend to know what a Japanese Domestic Market rod action is meant to be when I fish with more and more Japanese rods and they are all so different - but there's no getting away from my belief that from the lure rods I have fished with, it seems to be the Japanese who are really good at designing the sort of lure rods that work so well for how we fish, and I can't help but be drawn to them. I hope one day to get to fish with a few of the US based St.Croix Legend Elite blanks that Richard at DFR can custom build, because I had a few chucks with the 9'6'' 8-28g one earlier this year and it felt hugely impressive.

Now there is one small gripe I have with this rod, indeed I have it with the entire Nuovo range - over time it has begun to annoy me slightly that the back of the reel seat where your hand sits is simply the screw bit on the bare reel seat, as in there is no duplon or cork on the screw bit where the back palm of your hand naturally sits as you fish. By no means a deal-breaker, but I do wish there was a comfortable grippy bit for the back of the hand as you find on many rods. There must be a reason why the reel seats are like this, but give me a reel seat like on the APIA Foojin'AD range any day of the week. This admittedly minor gripe aside, I now own a 9'6'' Argento Nuovo, and I suppose my praise for it can't speak any more highly than that. Graphiteleader rods are not all over the place, but for starters it's worth checking out Lure Heaven (the UK distributors) and Absolute Fishing over in Ireland. Not cheap, I grant you that, but holy cow it's some lure rod...............