How can a lure rod get any better for the money ?

With a bunch of us coming together on these Ireland trips I do, there is of course the chance to play with, test and ultimately review plenty of different items of fishing tackle. You either leap in with both feet and use some different stuff when the chance presents itself or you don't. Personally I can't see the point in me not testing out some different bits of gear, and especially because a part of my job requires me to try my best and stay abreast of what is going on with this fast growing lure fishing thing. Plus of course as an angler it just fascinates me. Yes, there is always going to be a minority out there who are utterly convinced that I am being paid vast sums of money by companies and individuals to test and use their gear, but I can't let this kind of garbage, sniping and petty jealousy stand in the way of what I like doing. If you can trust the fact that I am as much of a tackle tart as you are then please read on...........

Now if there is one fishing tackle company that I can't help but admire the hell out of it's MegaBass - they strike me as a modern Japanese company that is only interested in making the best stuff possible, and I really like the way that they seem to have no interest in cheapening their brand and image and trying to flood the market with cheaper products. We all know about the lures these guys make, but what about their rods ? Well I have to admit that I had always sort of presumed that any fishing rods they made just had to cost some very serious money indeed. I look at their lures and the attention to detail, then I think about the prices of these fish-catching machines and I come to a somewhat ill-informed opinion that any rod from MegaBass is going to be way out there. Well how wrong could I be ?

Now in no way am I ever going to say that a lure rod that costs £260 is "cheap", but then what is cheap ? £20, £100, 50p ? I am more interested in what I believe is value for money, or how much rod we can get for the money. The fact that we as anglers can more and more easily get our hands on all manner of modern lure rods these days is testament to what is going on, and it is due in no small part to a number of individuals who have helped drive things along. Look at somebody like Mick from Mr. Fish in Jersey with those awesome red Tenryu rods. I can't help but admire Mick for bringing these kinds of lure rods to so many anglers' attention - me included. They are not cheap, but I happen to think that in the context of other rods I have played with that they represent value for money. If you come from the fly fishing world then you will know all about high-end, high performance rods costing what they do. The best stuff is always going to cost, but if you look around these days then you can find some particular lure rods that are what I would term outstandingly good value for money.

So what can the princely sum of £260 buy you as regards a lure rod ? Well blow me down if it can't get you one of the most outstanding fishing rods that I have had the pleasure of fishing with, and my biggest surprise was that this frighteningly good lure rod is made by MegaBass. No, I am not remotely saying that £260 is not a lot of money, but when you compare this MegaBass rod to other stuff out there then I am fast coming to the opinion that it's a steal at that price. So what is this rod ? It's called the MegaBass XOR Shadow XX SXX-85L - it's 8.5 feet long and is rated to fish with 5-21g. I am always looking for these somewhat unique lure rods that I believe can come as close as possible to "doing it all" - hard lures, surface lures, soft plastics etc. I am not remotely interested in carrying two rods with me, indeed a big attraction to lure fishing for me is the fact that you can carry so little stuff (my camera gear aside).

I actually saw this particular rod last year, but because of where I was then with regards to lure rods and my own thinking it did not really register with me that much (my ignorance, nothing else). Forward wind to this last trip and I have been using the Daiwa Morethan Branzino 80ML rod for a long time now - not remotely cheap, but what a rod. For a while I have been gravitating towards the lighter rods that can still cope with all that I ask of them, and I still want that very "crisp", fast action but with lots and lots of feel. I am not personally aware of a lure rod out there that can give me more of that than this Branzino. So this time around I picked up the MegaBass XOR Shadow XX SXX-85L and was instantly starting to feel something for it. There is nothing like taking a rod out fishing to see what it can do though...........

Now I am not saying that this MegaBass rod is the Daiwa Morethan Branzino 80ML, but it feels very close to me. I like this style of rod very much, so of course I am drawn to lure rods that have an action along the lines of the Branzino. Please bear in mind once more that these are only my thoughts and opinions, and they are no more valid or right/wrong than yours. I just like certain kinds of rods. I think that the Tenryu Injection SP 73M for example is an incredible rod, but I just wished they did the exact same rod in 8' (the Branzino is essentially that kind of rod for me). I fished with the MegaBass XOR Shadow XX SXX-85L for a whole day over in Ireland and made sure to fish with surface lures, sub-surface stuff and of course these weightless plastics we were doing well on (check my blog post here for more info). I just can't find a single thing I don't like about the rod, and believe me, I was trying my best. Every single thing about it just smacks of thought, design and quality (love the handle and the Fuji K-Series rod rings, and the length feels perfect), and to fish with it's just awesome - along the lines of the Branzino with that fast but forgiving action, loads and loads of feel, but very easy to load up and I personally I reckon it can deal with more than 21g and heavy seas for example (which it did so for Andy). It loves weightless soft plastics as well, and I nailed a few bass on it with no trouble at all. The takes are electric. What a bit of kit. There is something about the Branzino that gives it the edge for me, but then the Branzino is well over double the price of this MegaBass rod. The Branzino should have the edge, but that MegaBass XOR Shadow XX SXX-85L comes awful close.........

As I said earlier, these are merely my own personal thoughts on the rod. I also took another of the Branzino rods out to Ireland for testing and evaluation, so there will some stuff on that to come in due course (I need serious help with these Branzino rods. They should be illegal they are so nice). When Nick Hart was over in Ireland with us he also fished with the MegaBass XOR Shadow XX SXX-85L, and he liked it so much he is going to buy one for himself. Andy also fished with it for a day and has already bought one !! I would be buying one for myself if I did not already have that Daiwa Morethan Branzino 80ML, so I guess you could say that our first proper foray into these MegaBass lure rods has left a somewhat lasting impression. These are exciting times for lure anglers..............