Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g lure rod review - £199.99 UK price (all hail the new Skyroad!)

How on earth does a lure rod company go about replacing the Skyroad range of lure rods? I don’t pretend to be a businessman who knows about this sort of stuff, but I do recognise that product ranges need to be refreshed from time to time. Various Skyroad rods were in my opinion so damn good that I wish they could have been made forever, but product life cycles and all that I presume brought about them being discontinued - and then this new Major Craft Triple Cross range appeared.………...

 The discontinued 9’ 10-30g Skyroad in action

The discontinued 9’ 10-30g Skyroad in action

Fishing tackle is of course a very personal thing, but if there was one lure rod that forever changed my thoughts and opinions on what could be done for the money it was the Major Craft 9’ 10-30g Skyroad, and then some more rods from that range as I got to try them out. We still have an 8’6’’ and a 9’ Skyroad over in Kerry that have been used and abused like you would not believe yet they carry on without a whimper whilst I “gently” ask our clients not to go overloading them with Bass Bullets etc. when fish fever takes hold!

 The (non-EU custom) Major Craft Triple Cross 9’6’’ 10-30g going through the gears out in Ireland

The (non-EU custom) Major Craft Triple Cross 9’6’’ 10-30g going through the gears out in Ireland

Anyway, so the rather nice people at Chesil Bait’n’Tackle kindly sent me a Major Craft Triple Cross 9’6’’ 10-30g rod as soon as they got them (note - NOT the brand new EU Custom version), and because I was so excited to see what Major Craft had done with this new range I took it out bass fishing as soon as I could - but try as I might I just didn’t fall for it like I was so hoping I might. It’s a bloody good rod that will catch a lot of anglers a lot of fish, but for me there just wasn’t that overall “crispness” as there is on the (discontinued) Skyroad Surf 9’6’’ for example. As ever though, fishing rods are incredibly personal things and my mate Mark for example really enjoyed fishing with it, and we had a client in Ireland back in July for example who had bought one of these Triple Cross 9’6’’ 10-30g lure rods and he was getting on with it brilliantly - which yet again proves that we simply can’t all love the same fishing rods.

Because I review fishing rods like this on my own time, I fished with this new rod a couple of times and then left it alone to move onto something else. Naturally I rang the nice people at Chesil Bait’n’Tackle to tell them what I thought - which let’s be honest is only my opinion and what the hell do I know anyway? - and to say thanks very much but it made me mourn for the Skyroad rods even more.


What Major Craft and the people at Chesil Bait’n’Tackle (who are now fully responsible for importing a growing range of Major Craft gear into the UK) do is of course none of my business, but blow me down if a while later I don’t get the news that together they have come up with a brand new “EU Custom” range of Triple Cross lure rods that would be sitting alongside this current Triple Cross range and would I like to try one of these new ones? Apparently these “EU Custom” rods are that bit faster and steelier and damn right I am starting to get excited all over again, and in due course this Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g lure rod which I am reviewing here arrives. There are four rods in total in this brand new Triple Cross EU Custom range:

TCX-902L/EU Custom – 9ft – 7-23g (I have this one here at home for some proper testing this autumn)

TCX-902ML/EU Custom – 9ft –10-30g (the rod I am reviewing here)

TCX-962ML/EU Custom – 9ft 6in – 10-30g (so, so want to see this one)

TCX-962M/EU Custom – 9ft 6in – 15-42g

EU Custom.jpg

Okay, so I have given you the build up and story behind this new rod, and because you have got this far I’m going to make this nice and easy for you - take the (discontinued) Skyroad 9’ 10-30g, add let’s say something like 20% more steeliness/crispness, and you’ve got this rather bloody brilliant Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g lure rod.


As much as I am happy to fish with cork handles like on most of the Skyroad rods, at the end of the day I do prefer a duplon grip long term, and we’ve got them on all the Triple Cross rods. I also like the fact that this particular Triple Cross EU Custom rod has a slightly shorter handle length than on the comparable Skyroad. I have fished a lot with this rod and I have also handed it to various anglers I know plus a few of our clients over in Ireland as well, and praise for it has been universal. It’s just a really, really good 9’ lure fishing rod that in my opinion works so well for how so many of us fish for bass here in the UK and Ireland.

 Joe hitting the Patchinko II properly hard on the Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g

Joe hitting the Patchinko II properly hard on the Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g

I would fish the bigger Patchinko on the Skyroad 9’ 10-30g rod, but you knew you were getting towards the top end of the rod in the “how much more is there to give” stakes when you really started to wind a lure like this up. Not on this new Triple Cross EU Custom rod though. Holy cow does this 10-30g rod animalise a lure like the Patchinko and keep on going. I very much agree with the 10-30g rating on this rod if that helps - twitching a 6’’ DoLive Stick around is great, the Patchinko 125 goes out like a dream, fishing any number of hard lures is as good as you’d expect, but then say I need to work along a reefy bottom with the 120mm/18g Search Head Black Minnow combination which comes in at a shade over 28g and this Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g lure rod doesn’t break a sweat.

So yet again I have to hand it to Major Craft here, plus of course the bods at Chesil Bait’n’Tackle. We’ve got a 9’ 10-30g lure fishing rod for just under that £200 price bracket which is an absolute peach for how so many of us go about our bass fishing. I know a lad who has been fishing extensively with a sample of the Triple Cross EU Custom 9’6’’ 10-30g rod and he is raving about it. He has landed bass to over 10lbs on this rod from the shore, and if he ever parts company with it for a while then it’s going to come down to me for another thrashing around various parts of Cornwall.


But I guess you want to know if I think that this new Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’ 10-30g lure rod is a better rod than the discontinued 9’ 10-30g Skyroad? Bearing in mind that I have fished with a hell of a lot of lure rods at all kinds of prices since I first got my mitts on that 9’ Skyroad, and then as much as I don’t really like trying to compare lure rods, well yes, I’d take this new Triple Cross EU Custom over the Skyroad. I like that extra dollop of steeliness, I prefer the duplon grips and the overall handle design plus the fact that it’s shorter, and what floats my boat a lot here is that we are still looking at a hell of a lot of proper lure fishing rod for for a penny under £200. Hail the new Skyroad then!

I am heading back out to Ireland tomorrow for a couple of weeks of co-guiding work in Kerry, so I will update the blog when possible. I’ve got a 500 mile drive on my own tomorrow with a 3.5hr ferry crossing in the middle, talking to myself about all things lure fishing all the way and listening to various rugby, cricket and serial killer podcasts, plus some new episodes of Season 4 of the “My Dad Wrote a Porno” podcast which cracks me up no end.

Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

One year down the line with the Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG spinning reel

I kept a note of the fact that I bought this Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG spinning reel in early August 2017 and it has been used pretty solidly ever since. I wrote a blog review of this reel in early November 2017 (check here) and I thought it would be interesting to give you my thoughts on this spinning reel after more than one year of owning and using it. It has been my go-to spinning reel on any lure rods around 9’ I have used since then (and especially the stupidly good Shimano Exsence Infinity S900ML/RF 9’ 5-32g lure rod, review here), it has been loaded up with a few different braids, and from time to time I have oiled and greased the various parts of the reel that I can easily get to. When I get back from fishing I tend to wind the drag down tight, hose my rod and reel down outside, slacken the drag off, and then let it stand until dry…………….


Now perhaps I am lucky here and I got a particularly good reel, but for the life of me I can’t recall using a spinning reel this much and for this long and it remaining genuinely as smooth and easy to wind as when I first lifted it from its box. Damn right it’s not a cheap spinning reel and you could say this is to be expected, but I have usually found that a year of use around a saltwater environment tends to do some kind of harm to a spinning reel. Perhaps it’s a little grindy or there’s some sort of “rasping” sound coming from a bearing somewhere in the reel that’s on the way out and needs to be replaced, and so on, but not in the slightest with this little Twin Power XD.

This is without a doubt my favourite spinning reel of this size that I have ever lure fished with. The line lay was perfect out of the box, I love how a lightweight 3000 size Shimano reel sits so nicely on lure rods around that say 8’6’’-9’3’’ mark (and this one sits particularly nicely on that awesome HTO 9’3’’ Shore Game rod, review here), the drag is great albeit how much do we really need a serious drag system for our bass, the reel handle does it for me, you don’t get a spare spool which obviously niggles me but then we never seem to anymore (I blame Brexit!), and overall this Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG spinning reel is about as good as it gets to me.


I keep expecting something to go wrong with this spinning reel because we are so conditioned to saltwater harming our fishing tackle, but so far I can’t find a single thing that’s in any way iffy about this Twin Power. Via regular checking/oiling I found some small traces of saltwater that had got into the line roller area (white residue which I believe is salt), but I’d expect that on any spinning reel save for a sealed Van Staal and I would always argue that whatever a tackle company says about so-called sealing you should be regularly checking the line roller area especially - and then cleaning and oiling up as required. Think about how you wind your wet braid in and now see how it’s always driving saltwater into that line roller area. If I ever end up hearing any “raspiness” at all on this Twin Power, it will be the line roller bearing that I check first.

 The old Shimano Rarenium that I wish I had bought a few of!

The old Shimano Rarenium that I wish I had bought a few of!

Try as I might I can’t report back with anything that is or has been niggling me with this spinning reel over the course of the last year plus with it. I guess that in due course Shimano in all their wisdom will upgrade/replace this particular Twin Power XD range of spinning reels, but I like this 3000 much that if money were no object I’d be tempted to buy a bunch of them just because I can’t really imagine how a spinning reel for my roughly 9’ long lure rods can get much better than this one. Things obviously move on, but it’s interesting how some reels seriously get the love whereas others don’t - why for example did those old Rareniums get so much love and respect whereas the next generation of them for whatever reasons didn’t seem to achieve that status here in the UK?


Over in Ireland the other day I propped my rod and reel up against a rock while I was taking some photos and the wind then blew the setup over and into a rockpool. This was the first time this reel has been completely submerged in saltwater and it was only a brief dunking to be fair, but when we finished fishing and got back to the house I tightened the drag up, filled a sink up with warm water, and then put the reel underwater and turned the handle for a while. I then slackened the drag off, left it to drip dry, oiled the various bearings I can easily get to, put a bit of that blue Penn reel grease on a few areas, and to be honest the reel’s as good as it ever was. And regardless, with the amount of saltwater that washes over and into a spinning reel when you’re surf fishing, there is no way I am taking a high-end Japanese spinning reel into the surf zone with me - that’s a job for this increasingly impressive Penn Slammer III 3500 (review here).


So there you go. In my review of this reel I said I’d report back in due course and I have. Because this thing continues to perform so flawlessly I can’t exactly tell you much else about it save for the fact that I absolutely love this Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG, and I can only hope that it continues to perform like this for a long time to come…………….

Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

Surf fishing for bass seriously floats my boat

I still pinch myself at how much fun lure fishing for bass is, and sometimes when I wake up early I like to think about the many different ways we can go about it and what is my favourite way to do so - which doesn’t remotely matter of course, but as an early-riser I can assure you that the brain works in mysterious ways!


We’ve had some nice surf conditions out here in Ireland and we have been lucky enough to find a fair few bass mooching around - and I absolutely love fishing like this. Standing in the surf as those tables of water move around is hypnotic, and I have a huge amount to learn about it back home especially. A big part of it that I really like is that the lures can be so simple and uncomplicated, indeed most of the bass we have caught have come on these ultra long casting Savage Gear Seeker lures in the 28g size especially. I am sure there are a million different ways to work a metal like this, but whacking them out into a decent bit of surf and simply winding them in seems to work just great - right time and right place of course……….


This bass of mine above which Steve put at about 8lbs absolutely smashed my Savage Gear Seeker - you know that feeling when it’s like you have hit a snag with the lure, but then the snag bangs back hard? Damn I love it.


Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

It seriously floats my boat when a brand new lure works so well from literally the first cast

Do many of us here actually need any new lures? Come on, am I the right person to answer that?! It’s an addiction, plain and simple, but as mad as march hares a lot of us might be with this whole lure fishing thing, as and when a lure comes along that I think (or convince myself?) is doing something a bit different for me when compared to (boxes and boxes of) other lures I have then I tend to be all ears……….


A very kind person very kindly sent me an interesting looking new lure the other day, a Samson Lures Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait. Made from what looks like the same material as those GT Ice Cream lures designed and handmade by a serious bass nut who I have seen on video landing some donkey bass in some hectic conditions down in Portugal as per below, I kinda liked that this Samson Lures Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait is a tough as hell, long-casting and very much non-flashy “buy me” lure that is designed to be walked and twitched just under the surface in all kinds of conditions. So I put it in box as I really enjoy playing around with new gear.

I managed to get out fishing just before I came over here to Ireland and of course I couldn’t help but make my way to where I was lucky enough to land that big bass the other day. A few small fish were intent on impaling themselves on my surface lure (obviously that Whiplash Factory Spittin’ Wire because how could I not be fishing with it after my experiences with it?) but to be honest things were a little quiet - so why not I thought, and on goes that 30g Samson Lures Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait. I had watched the video above before I went out fishing to get an idea of how the lure is meant to be worked, so I whacked it out and did exactly that. 

Blow me down with a lovely pair of compression tights if a 6.5lb bass didn’t go and absolutely smash the lure on my very first cast with it, and I know it was a 6.5lb bass because I was fishing on my own and had deliberately taken a set of scales and a lightweight weigh sling to see what it was like weighing bass on my own - and it’s a pain in the backside! I estimated the bass at 6lbs when it came in and it went 6lbs 8oz on the scales, but of far more importance to me was the fact that a hard-scrapping bass had jumped on the end of my new lure on my very first cast with it. If lure fishing is hugely about confidence then that’s the big time shot of it I need with this new Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait lure!


So we had our first day fishing out here in Ireland yesterday and things were pretty quiet until the tide started to flood where we were. At one point I looked around to see Steve bent into what looked like a good fish, so I started to make my way over to get ready to shoot a few photos if he got the fish in - which he did, and the sneaky bastard had only gone and clipped on his very own Samson Lures Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait! But Steve had let the side down and had caught the roughly 6lb bass on his third cast with his brand new lure - bad angling if you ask me………..


I shot a few photos as you can see here and then because I had made sure to put my own Samson Lures Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait in my lure box as I am obviously full of confidence with it after the other day and where we were fishing here in Ireland I kinda fancied it could be useful, well I went and clipped my one on. 

Holy frigging cow if about four casts later I don’t go and hook a good bass. For a split second I actually thought a sea trout had jumped in front of me, but in fact it was the tail of the bass obviously slapping the water as it absolutely smashed my lure while I was kinda twitching/walking it sub-surface. I had removed the front treble after I caught that nice bass at home on the lure and I had also put another split ring on the back to the size 2 treble hook - and yes, I’d be perfectly comfortable with a big barbless single hook on the lure but the ones I have ordered hadn’t arrived before I left home on Wednesday.

I landed this bass and estimated it at around 6lbs and then I got to thinking that after about ten casts between Steve and I with this Samson Lures Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait we’re looking at three 6lb or so bass, and however many monsters you yourself may catch and put those fish to shame, to me that’s some pretty good bass fishing. Would those same fish have jumped on another lure? Well that surely is the beauty here - we will never know, and because we are addicts with an affliction that knows no bounds, well obviously I am now praying that the one Samson Lures Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait I have out here doesn’t find a snag! I also note that there’s a 50g version of this lure that now I am obsessing about for a bit of surf fishing back home - and so on. Does it ever end?!

I have linked to a tackle shop in this blog post where I know you can buy this lure, plus various others from the Samson Lures company. It’s not an affiliate link hence me not putting a disclaimer down the bottom as I usually would, and Danny the owner of the shop was so kind the other day in asking me if I would like to try one of these Samson Lures Enticer Sub Surface Tweak Bait lures - thank you kind sir.

Shimano Dialuna S90L 9' 5-25g lure rod review - €289.95 (and I am off to Ireland today)

I find myself becoming a bit of a fan boy when it comes to the Shimano Japan lure fishing gear that I have fished with so far, so it’s even more frustrating that Shimano Europe in all their “in touch with what’s going on in modern bass fishing” wisdom are making so little of it available to us lure anglers. I am currently fishing with two Shimano Japan bass lure rods that are by a distance the two best 9’ and 9’6’’ weapons that I have ever used (reviews here and here), many of us here fish with Shimano spinning reels, I am currently fishing with a Shimano Japan braid that is utterly sublime, and I have even bought a small selection of Shimano Japan hard lures for bass fishing that are incredibly well made and the components on them just aren’t rusting. 


So whilst Shimano Europe are now making a selection of four rods from the new Shimano Dialuna S range of lure rods available to our marketplace (and I’d love to know more about who chooses which four rods to offer and why), for whatever reason they haven’t included this new Shimano Dialuna S90L 9' 5-25g lure rod in there - check here for a company over in Ireland that is now selling this particular rod (there are more Dialuna S rods on their website here), and it’s thanks to them for kindly letting me to have a proper play with this rod. I don’t know the people at JDM Fishing Tackle in Ireland, but damn they are listing some fishing tackle on their website that I am doing my best to pretend I haven’t seen! I am not aware of anybody else selling these stupidly good Shimano Exsence Infinity lure rods for example - not cheap, but as per those reviews of mine, for me they are the ultimate lure rods.


I got to fish with a 9’ rod from the previous and now discontinued Shimano Dialuna range and I thought it was a lot of rod for the money (review here), so I was really interested to see how this slightly lighter 5-25g rod from their new JDM Dialuna S range might or might not work for me and how I tend to go about my bass fishing - which I might add continues to vary the more I learn and the more locations I fish. As much as I tend to err towards the one “do it all” lure rod, in reality I can’t do it all with the one rod because of where and how I am increasingly bass fishing these days. A rod that I might use on a bouncy north Cornwall day isn’t the same rod as I’d want to use for stealthily fishing a local estuary and so on, and some years ago I never would have even looked at a 9’ long lure rod which was rated to cast “only” 5-25g. How things have changed though…………

And this 5-25g is an interesting rating to me - it’s neither an out and out lighter lure rod, yet it’s not quite a say 7-28g or 10-30g rod that I would guess a lot of us use. If the bigger Xorus Patchinko is one of your go-to hard lures then yes this rod will cast it, although you can’t exactly lash into the cast but it doesn’t really matter because if you need to regularly use that lure then you’d be fishing with a slightly more powerful lure rod anyway. Put the new and smaller Patchinko 125 on this Shimano Dialuna S90L 9' 5-25g lure rod though and it’s about as sweet a casting and fishing experience as I can imagine - a smooth cast and good timing proves yet again me just how impressively the smaller Patchinko 125 goes out on a good rod like this. Of course a rod rated this relatively light isn’t going to be a poker, so yes it bends, but I don’t like sloppy, slow lure rods and I am happy to report that this Dialuna S is rather lovely indeed. 


I happen to think that with how increasingly important that soft plastics are becoming to so many of us these days that a light and crisp lure rod like this which is rated 5-25g is in fact a rather useful weapon - there’s enough there to push things a bit yet you can also go nice and light and touchy/feely with ease. I would hope that this Shimano Dialuna S90L 9' 5-25g is a bit of a peach with a soft plastics like the 6’’ or indeed 4.5’’ OSP DoLive Stick - and it is. I have been fishing with a 3000 size Shimano spinning reel on the rod and in my hand it just feels right. I absolutely love the handle design and would cheerfully have this exact design on any lure rod because it’s that nice to fish with. As good as a lure rod might be, we won’t be drawn to it if it doesn’t sit right when you pick it up, and from the off this rod felt right in my hands. I don’t have enough experience of Shimano Japan lure rods to be able to say definitively, but the four I have fished with so far leads me to believe that they are making rods that for various reasons seriously suit how I like my lure rods to be. 


I’m not sure that there’s a whole lot more to say here. I’m not going to take a rod like this up to the north coast of Cornwall when conditions are bouncing and I am not going to buy it if all I was going to do was whack out a bunch of bigger hard lures and crank them back in. Nope, to me this stunner of a lure rod is asking to be used beyond simply whacking and cranking - work soft plastics with it, let the rod sit loosely in your hand as a DoLive tumbles about in a bit of white water, twitch various surface lures back, night fish with it, and grin like a gimp because to bass fish with a rod like this is quite simply a pleasure. It frustrates me how seriously Shimano Europe and UK could go at the growing bass lure fishing market, because if a rod as good as this Dialuna S90L 9' 5-25g can be had for what I think is pretty reasonable money, and then with their high-end rods like these two almost stupidly good Shimano Exsence Infinity lure rods I own and fish with, with the name Shimano and all that this brand implies, surely there are plenty of anglers out there who would want to see more of their specialist lure gear in our tackle shops? All credit to JDM Fishing Tackle over in Ireland then………..

I am off to Ireland today for a week of fishing and photography around Dungarvan, so as per usual I will do my best to keep this blog updated when possible.

Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

At 79cms long and in seriously good condition, I feel entirely confident that yesterday afternoon I landed my first 10lb+ bass from the shore

I wasn’t sure whether to write this blog post because if there one thing I despise in life it’s any form of boasting, and not for one second did I want to boast about the fact that yesterday afternoon I hooked and landed a bass that was 79cms long, in fantastic condition as you can see from the various photos here, and in my mind was therefore my first 10lb+ bass that I have landed from the shore. But damn I am one happy angler and I trust that you kind people will take this blog post exactly as it’s meant to be……………


I need to say a serious thanks to my mate Mark for so kindly holding the fish for a few photos, and before anybody asks where the photos are of me with this fish, well there are none. I don’t need photos of me with fish and it’s not why I go fishing or shoot photos of fishing. I am obviously over the moon at catching a bass like that, and I am so glad we were fishing together yesterday because to me it’s so much more fun to share something special like this with a mate rather than on my own. 

I caught this bass off the top in a bit of current, and it was one of those big, lazy swirls on my surface lure that I reckon tends to mean it’s at least a decent fish. I was still berating myself after fishing like a complete tit the day before and literally pulling my surface lure right out of the mouth of a bass before it could properly take it, so you can imagine how determined I was to wait for my rod to properly bang over this time around! I knew the fish was big the moment I bent into, but I can’t pretend that I had any idea it was a double.


Now I know that I am prone to banging on about fishing with a properly tight drag, fighting fish hard, and of course using barbless hooks, but I do at least practise what I preach - and thankfully it worked yesterday! The barbs were crushed flat on the two treble hooks on my surface lure and because I have fished completely barbless for bass for so long now, well I just don’t worry about it when I am into a fish. As I said, we were fishing in a bit of current and my drag was set so that the bass could have taken line if it really needed to - I pulled the living hell out of the fish to get it away from a bit of structure and not one inch of line came off my spinning reel during the short but intense fight. I trust my gear and I am confident with how hard I can pull fish on the sort of lure gear that so many of us fish with. 

Anyway, I got the fish in quickly and then secured my fish-grip thing to its bottom jaw so that I could turn the bass over to Mark while I grabbed my camera. We kept it in the water while Mark got his BASS tape out and took a measurement for me at 79cms. I don’t carry scales so I will never know the exact weight - and to be perfectly honest I couldn’t care less - but at 79cms long and in outstanding condition, as per the title of this blog post I am entirely confident that I had just landed my first 10lb+ plus bass from the shore. As much as I love Ireland with a passion, I am kinda chuffed that I caught this fish in UK waters, and also for a number of other reasons that I won’t divulge to protect where we were fishing.


As for the gear I caught the fish on, well the successful surface lure was this increasingly lethal Whiplash Factory Spittin’ Wire (95mm, 15.5g) in the S06PLG Ayu Ghost as per the photo above. I obviously can’t say whether this bass would have taken another surface lure or not because I can only fish with one lure at a time, but I have had enough nice bass on this Spittin’ Wire now to firmly believe that is is something seriously special - and I owe a big thanks to this Spanish angler here for so kindly putting me onto it. They are not cheap lures and they are not easy to track down, but I have got mine from here if that helps at all.

I was fishing with what is by a margin the best 9’ lure rod I have ever used, this outrageously good Shimano Exsence Infinity S900ML/RF 9’ 5-32g - review here, and whilst it’s not a cheap rod at all, I have found a place in Europe that is now listing them. From day one with this rod I have used a Shimano Twin Power XD C3000HG spinning reel on it (review here), and it was loaded up with the consistently brilliant and has never, ever let me down Sufix 832 braid in the 20lb/0.15mm breaking strain. My leader was 16lb YGK Nitlon DFC fluorocarbon, of course secured to my braid by an FG knot, and on the end of all this was a little Breakaway Mini Link lure clip. So simple, but utterly reliable. I have caught plenty of bass on this Shimano Exsence Infinity S900ML/RF 9’ 5-32g lure rod now, but it did feel good to horse a properly big bass on it and see it bend properly in the most delightful curve.

So there you go. I am seriously happy and I know what a bass like this means to those of us who obsess about these fine fish so much. I am doubly glad that Mark and I were fishing together yesterday, because I know what I’m like - if I had been on my own I’d have slipped the hooks out of that bass and eased her back without measuring or weighing or photographing her. I have zero interest in setting up self-timer shots of me with fish, I won’t photograph bass lying flat on tape measures and out of the water like that, and for the most part I don’t carry scales but probably should when I am fishing on my own come to think of it! Perhaps things are simply meant to be sometimes? That bass could just as easily have taken Mark’s lure yesterday afternoon, but for whatever reason it hit mine, and that’s it really. Right place, right time and all that, but luck plays such a big part in a fish like that - and for whatever reason lady luck was on my side yesterday………...

 By far my favourite moment of the whole experience yesterday

By far my favourite moment of the whole experience yesterday

Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

When you’re trying something slightly different, nothing gives you that vital confidence boost like catching

Aside from a couple of baby bass, the first three fish I hooked this year all felt half-tidy but all of them came off pretty quickly. Obviously it’s fishing and we are never going to stay connected to every fish we might hook, but with how hard those three bass hit - and I saw one of them take my lure as well - I fancied my chances. But the hooks pulled each time and because I was trying something a bit different on the hard lures I happened to hook the bass on my confidence was naturally a little dented and obviously I started to question things. 

I crush all barbs on any of my hooks in lure fishing and nobody has ever convinced me that doing so loses me fish, and especially with how I tend to fight my bass compared to a lot of other anglers I see. Give a fish slack line and I agree that a barbless hook could fall out easier than a barbed one, but none of the three fish ever had a single inch of slack line, indeed they came off too quickly for something like that to have gone wrong. I am pretty sure those three bass were hooked on the sadly discontinued IMA Hound 125F Glide (why oh why would IMA stop making a lure like this?).

Over the winter I had been looking into a bunch of different hooks (otherwise known as cabin fever), and because I don’t really like trebles but I accept that some lures don’t work properly without them etc., I tend to take the middle treble off a hard lure that has three of them on there, and then on many hard lures I will replace that rear treble with a specialist single lure hook. Most hard lures seem to swim the same like this, but a few don’t, and whilst I have tried singles on surface lures I quickly went back to trebles with how bass tend to hit lures off the top. 

 VMC 7238BN Inline Single Barbless hook, size 1/0

VMC 7238BN Inline Single Barbless hook, size 1/0

Anyway, so I got a bit excited to find a barbless single lure hook, the VMC 7238BN Inline Single Barbless hook to be precise. The biggest available size at the moment is a 1/0 - and yes, why singles and trebles for lures can’t somehow have some sort of correlation with the sizing is bloody annoying - so I got hold of some and then rigged a few lures up with this new hook, including a beloved Hound Glide. A VMC 7554B BN Barbless treble size 4 at the front (really, really nice trebles), no hook in the middle of the lure, and then that 1/0 VMC 7238BN Inline Single Barbless hook at the back. 

So I go and drop those three bass on three separate fishing sessions and it starts to play on my mind. The fish all hit really hard in some bouncy conditions and I just couldn’t work out why at least say a couple of them didn’t stick, so I started stewing on it and I did what I often do and asked around on Facebook to see if anybody had any ideas. I explained my setup and soon started to get some interesting feedback and ideas.

 VMC Specimen Inline Single 7266, size 1/0

VMC Specimen Inline Single 7266, size 1/0

Some anglers suggested that my single hook might be a little on the small side for a fairly chunky hard lure like the Hound Glide, so I had a close look at the 1/0 VMC 7238BN Inline Single Barbless hook and compared it to a few others I have here, including another VMC hook I got hold over winter, the VMC Specimen Inline Single 7266 in a size 1/0 as well. It’s not barbless, but it is noticeably bigger and with a wider-gape than that 1/0 VMC 7238BN Inline Single Barbless hook on the end of my Hound Glide, and it just looks like a good hook. So not all 1/0 single lure hooks are the same size and dimensions then, and even from the same manufacturer…………...

And then a lad came up with a really interesting comment on my Facebook post: “Several years ago after losing several large bass on singles and trebles on metal and hard lures I made a fake bass mouth out of pipe and foam rubber and hooked it in a number of places on the inside lip and began to pull the line at various angles to replicate a fighting fish, what was apparent was how the lure could ‘lever’ the hook out when turning its head away from the angler (as only a larger bass would be able to do) so I added an extra split ring between lure and hook this allowed the lure to fold back better on the outside of the mouth presuming the bass was able to turn and run away from me... I’ve never looked back since, all my hard or metal lures have 2 or 3 split rings between lure and hook, whether it be treble or single hook and I hardly ever have a hook pull now.”

I don’t know if this bloke knows it, but I believe this two or more split ring thing comes from the sea trout and salmon worlds where sea trout especially are famous for throwing hooks. I also wonder if those of us who might use single hooks should perhaps think about using bigger singles on bigger lures especially, and perhaps that “small for a 1/0” VMC 7238BN Inline Single Barbless hook I had put on the rear of the Hound Glide was a touch too small for that particular lure. As you can no doubt guess, those three lost bass got my brain churning with the whole single versus treble thing!


The info that the guy kindly put across on my Facebook page made a lot of sense to me, and when I started looking around I realised that a few of the hard lures I have here that originate from Scandinavia and the saltwater sea trout world especially do indeed have two split rings to the hook - as per the Westin Kongetobis above, and then the Salmo Wave below. The Scandinavians with their sea trout experience have obviously thought things through here, and whilst bass are by no means sea trout, they do of course thrash around a lot. 


I can think about it all day long, but nothing in my mind beats actually trying stuff out in real fishing situations. I know that the killer little IMA iBorn 98F is one of those hard lures that swims just fine with a single hook on the rear - so I rig it with two split rings and one of those lovely looking and slightly bigger 1/0 VMC Specimen Inline Single 7266 hooks, as per above (you can get these from a 1/0 all the way up to some seriously big sizes), with a crushed barb of course, plus a VMC 7554B BN Barbless treble size 4 at the front of the lure. In my lure box this lure goes, and as per this blog post here from the other day, when a 70cm bass wallops your lure hard and then hooks up good and proper, wow doesn’t that single fish give me all the confidence I need that firstly this system can and does work, and secondly that it’s worth giving it plenty more water time. Food for thought? You all have a good weekend.


Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you. 

White DoLive Sticks are back in the UK

Apologies for this brief blog post this morning, but ever since the solid white 6’’ DoLive Stick came into the UK a few months back and then sold out almost immediately I have been getting emails and messages from people asking me if and when they might be available again. So I found out yesterday evening that white DoLive Sticks are now back in the UK (here), but because these lures are a custom run I don’t know how long they are going to be around for and I wanted to give those of you who are looking for them a heads-up. 


Please don’t shoot the messenger and all that! There are of course plenty of other soft plastics out there that may or may not catch you more and/or bigger bass, but as you may have gathered I have the utmost faith in DoLive Sticks in a number of bass fishing situations. And yes, I can’t ignore this donkey of a bass that I talked about here, caught on a white DoLive Stick in bright sunshine a few months ago. Anyway, there you go and I hope this short blog post helps a few of you out.


Disclosure - If you buy anything using links found around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you anymore to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

Penn Slammer III 3500 spinning reel review - under £150 in the UK

I love fishing with a buttery smooth and light as a feather spinning reel as much as the next angler, but with how a lot of us go about our lure fishing, the argument is always going to be there that far too many of these often not cheap spinning reels simply aren’t up to what we are putting them through. It’s not the size of the fish we catch that’s harming our reels (I wish!), rather it’s the constant casting and retrieving and then of course the many chances there are for saltwater to get inside various parts of the reel which we all know tends to be the start of the decline process………….

I’ve seen and also heard of too many higher end spinning reels essentially trashed and in need of a service after only one or two hectic surf sessions over in Kerry for example, and how many of you have accidentally drowned your lovely smooth coffee grinder and found that it does indeed feel like you’re grinding coffee beans when you next take it fishing? Why do you think I am so intrigued to get hold of the Van Staal VR50 that I spoke about on here the other day? I look after my gear as best as I can, but I know for example that my spinning reel took a lot of saltwater on board after a couple of north coast sessions recently. I have washed it as best as I can - I submerge the reel in a sink of warmish water and turn the handle multiple times, then I take the spool off and leave it all to dry - but of course I worry that saltwater has got inside and in due course I will end up fishing with a not bloody cheap coffee grinder.

 Penn Clash 3000

Penn Clash 3000

Nobody is ever going to argue that the US tackle brand Penn make the lightest or uber-smoothest or subtlest spinning reels in the world, but a hell of a lot of use with their Clash 3000 has left me wondering why on earth more UK and Irish lure anglers haven’t latched onto this thing for example. For sure you need to underfill it otherwise it simply will not behave on the wind knot front, but if you don’t get greedy then to me the Penn Clash 3000 is a serious amount of spinning reel for the money (review here). The one I have here is as smooth as it was on day one, and whilst that smoothness might not quite be as smooth as say a decent Shimano reel, firstly how many lovely, shiny spinning reels don’t stay smooth enough for long enough, and do we obsess about smoothness and uber-lightness when instead there has to be the argument that longer lasting and more robust would surely serve us better?


So we come to the Penn Slammer III series of spinning reels, and specifically this 3500 size one that I have had here for a while now. It’s the smallest in the Penn Slammer III range and is about the same size as a Shimano 4000 spinning reel although with that big gold handle it does look more substantial. You also get an optional “soft grip” handle in the box - the same handle that I like so much on a Penn Clash - and whilst I initially changed to this when I first got the reel because that kinda blingy gold handle looks heavy, in fact it isn’t at all (it’s hollow) and I changed back to it. I love winding in with this big gold handle and it gives me such a feeling of confidence. Damn this reel is a machine!


It’s smooth, but not that buttery smooth sort of feel as a Shimano or a Daiwa out of the box. This Penn Slammer III 3500 loaded up with line weighs 403g, whereas the 2016 Daiwa Certate 3000 loaded with line weighs 280g and the discontinued Shimano Sustain 4000FG loaded with line weighs 300g. The Slammer is obviously a touch heavier and this might put some anglers off, but it’s interesting once you strap this spinning reel to various lure rods how good it feels to fish with, and how that extra bit of weight in fact helps balance some rods out. I come back again to do we obsess about feather-light spinning reels and do we actually need them to be ever lighter? 

Interestingly this Penn Slammer III 3500 that I have been using a fair bit and also handed over to a couple of clients in July is arguably smoother again than when I first loaded it up with line (I had to play around with the washers to get a good line lay), indeed it slightly reminds me of how a Van Staal seems to almost run in over time. I can’t prove this and it may be a load of rubbish, but this Slammer is plenty smooth enough whilst also giving me a huge amount of confidence that I could pull the plug out of the sea with it. There’s a reported 30lb of drag on offer if needs be, which let’s face it we don’t for our fishing, and as much as I tend to wind my drag up tighter than most anglers, if and when a fish takes a little bit of line, crumbs does it come off nice and smooth and easy. Not a hint of snatching. As I said, this thing is a machine.

Now the big thing to me is Penn saying that their Slammer III range has “IPX6 Sealed body and spool design” and also “Sealed Slammer drag system with Dura-Drag”. I looked around for a definition of IPX6 waterproofing and came up with this “In order for a product to receive an IPX6 rating, one of the many tests that the product must endure is a minimum of three minutes of powerful jets spraying at least 100 liters of water per minute all over the outer casing of the product without the water ever penetrating. There are also various dust tests conducted to ensure the product is sealed and completely dust tight. It is important to remember that an IPX6 rated product is not submergible in water. Completely submersible products with absolutely no entry points for water intrusion are awarded an IPX7 rating.”

So because this is not my reel and it doesn’t really matter what happens to it, on multiple occasions now I have fully submerged this Penn Slammer III 3500 in saltwater when it’s on the end of a lure rod, given it a good bit of shaking around in the water, and then carried on fishing with it. When I get home I tighten the drag down, hose it down with freshwater as I would with any spinning reel I have been fishing with it, loosen the drag off, and leave it to dry. I know this Slammer isn’t designed for full submersion, but it isn’t even a single percent less smooth or rough or noisy and I have to say that this fills me with confidence when I am lure fishing and because of conditions and/or location I simply can’t stop my spinning reel getting good amounts of saltwater over and no doubt into it. I have oiled it and greased it just as I would any spinning reel, and sure it’s a little heavier than other similar sized spinning reels I have here, but damn this Slammer III continues to grow on me. I really, really like it.


For the most part I have strapped it to longer and more powerful lure rods when I am doing that kind of lure fishing because it feels like that kind of reel, but I did put it on a brand new Major Craft 9’ 10-30g lure rod for one of our clients in Kerry last month and he got on with this setup really well (rod review to come). I have heard from a few anglers using this reel on rods like this and they are getting on with these setups really well. As I said earlier, don’t get greedy and try to overfill a Penn reel although if you stick to that final gold line on the spool then you can fill a Slammer III up a little fuller than you can a Clash - which to me matters not one bit because who really cares if you lose a metre of distance to get a spinning reel which behaves properly? I was trying out a new braid out on the reel to start with and there were a few wind knots which did worry me a bit, so I changed over to the rather awesome and not expensive but for whatever reason seems to fly under the radar SpiderWire Stealth Smooth 8 braid (review here), kept to the loading guideline on the spool, and there hasn’t been a single hint of casting trouble since. And yes, I stopped using that new braid!

Logic might say that I should be using the lightest spinning reel possible on what is by a degree the lightest and most responsive and downright special 9’6’’ lure that I have ever fished with - the outrageously accomplished Shimano Exsence Infinity S906M/RF 9’6’’ 6-38g (review here) which somehow keeps on getting better and better the more I use it and discover how much it can actually do - so last week I thought it would be an interesting exercise to see how this slightly heavier Penn Slammer III 3500 spinning reel might do on it. I’ve been fishing a very light Shimano reel on this rod since I first got it, but up on the north coast especially I’m shipping too much saltwater into this reel for my liking - hence giving the Slammer a go.


And blow me down if this Slammer/Exsence setup doesn’t feel rather bloody lovely, indeed as I made reference to earlier, there’s an argument that a slightly heavier reel on the butt-end of a lure rod can actually help balance the thing a bit better. It probably also helps that Mark and I had a really good session on medium sized surface lures when I was trying this setup out, but I was surprised how good this rod and reel felt together. I will definitely be fishing this setup more and more, and especially when conditions are bouncing etc.


So there you go - so far this Penn Slammer III 3500 is one hell of a spinning reel, and the fact that I can easily find it online for under £150 makes it remarkable value for money in my book (you don’t get a spare spool, but that seems increasingly normal these days). As ever I will report back in due course and if anything were to go wrong with this reel, but at the moment my confidence levels in it are sky high. I really want to try a bit of heavy duty surf fishing this autumn and winter especially, indeed I’ve got a St.Croix Mojo 10’6’’ ¾-4oz Surf Spinning rod winging its way to me for a bit of a play to see how it might work for this style of bass fishing (these bods here are now selling and distributing doing St.Croix here in the UK)  - and as sure as mullet might refuse a nice bit of bread I won’t be strapping a high-end Japanese spinning reel to this rod and wading out into a surging dollop of autumnal swell. Nope, on this rod will be this Penn Slammer III 3500 spinning reel because so far I am trusting it to keep going in conditions like this, plus it’s a bit of a stunner to fish with……………….

Do many of you swim paddletails nice and shallow for bass? And yes, my brain is in churn mode…….

Amendment - Just got back from a dog walk where I quickly had a few chucks with the Z-Man/weedless hook with hitchhiker setup which is described in more detail below - it doesn’t work. The Z-Man looks stunning in the water when you swim it nice and shallow, but the moment I put any power into the cast and the hitchhiker popped out of the front of the lure - because of the material I guess it’s not actually “catching” into the soft plastic. It’s going to work though, I just need to find another hook to get this thing swimming shallow. Perhaps the TT Lures ChinlockZ, and then add some lead strip to act as a belly weight? More to come.

If you listen carefully as you are reading this post you can probably hear my brain whirring away! If there is one thing that an intensive period of fishing with a few other anglers who I know and trust gives one is the chance to learn a whole lot more about this lure fishing thing, indeed I would always argue that the angler who fishes with other anglers but doesn’t watch and listen and learn is shooting themself in the foot by not doing so. Never for one second would I claim to be some sort of great angler, but I pride myself on wanting to learn more all the time……………


So I briefly mentioned the other day that during this week of charging around Cornwall and generally fishing our socks off how Steve had been doing well on the  5’’ MegaBass Spindle Worm fished on a 4/0 Gamakatsu Worm EWG Weighted Spring Lock hook with the 3.5g belly-weight - and naturally it has got me thinking a whole lot more. For sure I have swum various paddletails nice and shallow for bass a fair bit before - and with a good degree of success - but for whatever reason I kinda moved away from it as I tried other stuff.

Which of course is one of the dangers I suppose of striving to learn all the time and expand your armoury as such - you can sometimes almost forget a method that you used to use, but then that is also the beauty of fishing with other anglers. We are naturally going to fish in slightly different ways and sure enough somebody is going to do something that strikes a chord with you. If you bass fish from the shore with lures then I would guess you’re fishing a lot of shallow, reefy ground where the water can sometimes fizz around a bit, and to me it makes so much sense to swim certain paddletails nice and shallow and for the most part fairly slowly, indeed Steve had a few bass last week by literally holding his lure in the backwash or small rips created by the fizzing sea.


Obviously I went and bought a few packets of those 5’’ long MegaBass Spindle Worm paddletails - it’s not as if I need much encouragement to drop some dosh on lures after all! I have various weedless hooks here with belly weights on them already - and if it helps, I have used and really like the Owner and VMC ones, but I can’t get away from how well those Gamakatsu ones sit on the Spindle Worm as well. I must have bought some a few years ago because I found a couple of packets of them squirrelled away here in my office.


And blow me down if I didn’t go and find another stunning looking paddletail that I completely forgot I had here, and as per the photo above it looks pretty damn tasty rigged on a belly-weighted weedless hook. I have used some of the almost ridiculously long lasting ZMan soft plastics a lot for wrasse fishing, and whilst you need to keep them in their packets and separate from your other soft lures and they can be a little awkward to rig, to me they are more than worth it with how lethal they are for the wrasse.

Anyway, so I stumble upon this packet of Z-Man Grass KickerZ 5'' paddletails and I start wondering how nice they must surely be swum nice and shallow for bass. I realise very quickly that because of the weird plastic the lures are made from I can’t simply wind a hitchhiker on a weedless hook into the front of the lure, and then because we can these days, I go looking for help on YouTube and I found the video above. Sorted, and rigged with a VMC Drop Dead Weighted Weedless Twist 3.5g (belly weight) 5/0, the combination weighs 16.2g - and bear in mind that for whatever reason these VMC Drop Dead Weighted weedless hooks are big, and this 5/0 as per the photo is far more like a regular 6/0 if you ask me. Nice hooks though. I am really looking forward to giving this combination some water time, and I also like how the Z-Man soft plastics aren’t very expensive at all when you also factor in how long they last compared to other soft lures.


There are of course loads of options out there for lures like these. I found an old blog post from mine that refers to catching on the Yamamoto Swim Senko for example, a paddletail that some mates in Ireland put me onto a few years ago. And of course these paddletails can be fished nice and slow without any belly weight on the hook in calm conditions, although I don’t yet know how the very buoyant Z-Man Grass KickerZ 5'' paddletail might swim like this. A tip that I picked up from John Quinlan over in Ireland was to carry a few thin strips of lead to wrap around a weedless hook if you needed to add some weight and/or don’t have any belly-weighted weedless hooks to hand. And so on. A simple way of bass fishing that I find myself very excited to almost come back to and learn far more about, and to me it’s an option to turn to especially when the conditions might be a touch too fizzed up to properly control something like a 6’’ DoLive Stick rigged weedless and weightless. 

I mentioned John Quinlan and his lead strip thing earlier, so I am really pleased to see my interview with him in this month’s Sea Angler magazine. He is a blast to work with on this co-guiding stuff we do together over in SW Ireland, and it was great to finally find a bit of time to sit him down and fire a few questions at him. Professionally guiding as he does and has done for so long now doesn’t half give you some interesting insights into fishing. 

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Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

Apia Grandage 96ML 9’6’’ 7-28g lure rod review - £309.99 UK price

Crumbs does the Japanese fishing tackle brand APIA make some serious lure fishing rods, and this new Apia Grandage 96ML 9’6’’ 7-28g lure rod is from their new Grandage series of lure rods that I believe replaces their previous and extensive Foojin’R range. I have fished with and reviewed a number of APIA rods over the years (see here), but funnily enough the one I used that I liked but definitely didn’t love was the previous incarnation of this new Apia Grandage 96ML 9’6’’ 7-28g lure rod, the Apia Foojin'R Best Bower 96MLX (9’6’’, 6-32g) lure rod (review here).


But wow is this new Grandage 96ML a whole different ball game - I liked this one from the first cast, and over a couple of sessions with it I grew to seriously like it and not really want to hand it back. By no means is £309.99 a remotely insignificant amount of money to spend on a lure rod, and for that price you have every right to expect a well built rod. This rod has all that in spades with a bloody nice handle/Fuji reelseat plus Fuji SIC guides - and at that 9’6’’ length with a 7-28g rating I kinda know what I want so that the whole package feels like proper value for money. We are after all getting pretty close in price to the outstanding HTO Shore Game S962MLM 9'6'' 7-35g lure rod (review here).


From my experience of a fair number of APIA rods now, they don’t seem to try and make the out and out lightest lure rods in the world and instead seem to concentrate on an overall feeling of robustness and confidence (this one is quoted as weighing 175g) - which I really like. Pick this Grandage 96ML 9’6’’ 7-28g lure rod up and fling a few lures out and very quickly I am feeling supremely confident that this rod will simply deal with things. It’s a different feel from say the 9’6’’ 10-30g Major Craft lure rods that I have fished with - not better or worse I might add, just a different overall feeling of serious robustness against a slightly “finer” feeling I get from the equivalent Major Craft rods. I am glad we are seeing more APIA rods trickling onto the UK market because I think that their lure rods are well suited for the rough and tumble of UK and Irish bass fishing. 

 Casting a 6'' DoLive Stick

Casting a 6'' DoLive Stick

And this Grandage 96ML 9’6’’ 7-28g lure rod does the lot. Not for one second am I advising you to go and overload this rod, but because it’s not mine and if it breaks on me then that’s part of the testing process, I deliberately cast my increasingly beloved 25g/120mm Fiiish Black Minnow combination which comes in at around 35g. The rod wasn’t stressed even when I was seriously winding this lure up, indeed if I was putting a rating on the rod I think I’d be calling it 10-35g which to me ties in with how robust a fishing weapon this rod is. This thing is a machine yet it’s got plenty of finesse with say a 6’’ OSP DoLive Stick if needs be, and then wind a Patchinko or indeed the increasingly lethal Patchinko 125 up and you can put them out of sight if needs be. Please don’t go overloading it and blame me if something goes wrong, but this Grandage 96ML 9’6’’ 7-28g lure rod is one capable bit of lure fishing kit.


This Grandage 96ML 9’6’’ 7-28g lure rod is faster and far more precise/steely than the previous generation Foojin'R Best Bower 96MLX, and if you read my lure rod reviews then you will know how much I am drawn to rods like this. A 4000 size Shimano spinning reel feels about perfect on the rod to me and over the course of a couple of sessions in some bouncy conditions I deliberately went through my two lure boxes to see if I could trip this rod up, but to be honest it’s so accomplished and so damn nice to use that I just got on with enjoying fishing with it and landed a few bass on it as well. As I said, I tend to like APIA rods and this Grandage 96ML is the sort of rod that if I owned would be getting a hell of a lot of use with the sort of lure fishing for bass that I might do through the course of a season. If I was in the market for a “proper” 9’6’’ lure rod around the £300 mark then I’d be sorely tempted to go for this Apia Grandage 96ML 9’6’’ 7-28g, and with how good this one is I can’t wait to see more of the Grandage range as they come onto the UK market…………


Disclosure - if you buy anything using links found in this blog post or around my website, I may make a commission. It doesn’t cost you any more to buy via these affiliate links - and please feel entirely free not to do so of course - but it will help me to continue producing content. Thank you.

It absolutely wrecks my head when you catch a nice bass on a hard lure in a specific colour and you then find out that the colour is no longer available!

Holy cow that was a fun week or so of charging around Cornwall with Steve and also Mark when he could get some time off work. It’s August and for the most part we have had huge tides which aren’t exactly my favourite, so the fact that we caught bass at every single mark we have fished in Cornwall is pretty damn good I reckon. For sure there have been a lot of smaller bass, but in between we have picked up a few nice fish, and as ever for me it’s been how much fun we have had that will live in the memory……………

So the other day Steve, Mark and I made a plan to fish a location that none of us really knew but we had a good feeling about it. We decided to get there on the HW and fish the tide out, and when Steve landed a nice bass almost straight away that for me was the day made to be honest. I know I like my lures and it’s not as if I need any more, but Steve has been doing really well this week on the 5’’ MegaBass Spindle Worm fished on a 4/0 Gamakatsu Worm EWG Weighted Spring Lock hook with the 3.5g belly-weight. For some reason this exact combination has been doing the business for him in a bit of bounce and backwash and fizzed up green water especially. It’s some kind of sickness, because guess who is now purchasing this exact lure combination! 


Anyway, Tuesday of this week was a whopping big tide and the water just kept on stripping out and out to expose more and more stunning ground - so we followed it out. Steve pulled a fish out to my right and then he moved off to fish some more ground, but I couldn’t walk away quite yet as there was a nice looking lump of rock just underneath the surface that I hadn’t covered yet because I couldn’t get my DoLive Stick at it with how the wind was coming in and across us.

So I delve into one of the two lure boxes I carry when I am out fishing. You already know of my increasing obsession with white lures in almost all conditions and times of the day and night, and sitting there winking at me was a white coloured (“Ice Shad”) little IMA iBorn 98F that has done really well for me over the last couple of years. I liked the iBorn from the first day I saw one when a couple of clients brought them over to Ireland and they worked almost straight away, and whilst I do use more and more soft plastics these days, as I said I wanted to cover that particular rock and I needed a hard lure that swam nice and shallow and casts like a little bullet to get me into position. 

Steve’s two or three bass had already made my day and proven to me that this particular mark warrants a lot more attention (wow is there a section of the location that is wrecking my head with how I think it might fish at night), but a couple of casts later with that stunning little iBorn and I get one hell of a bang on it. I keep turning the reel handle and a second or so later my rod slams over and there’s what feels like a decent fish on the end - and as well as the fish scrapped it never received a single millimetre of line from me. Each to their own as ever, but I would rather use the bend of the rod to control the fish rather than let it scream off when it doesn’t need to. I get a glimpse of the bass thrashing around on the water, I use a nice wave to help dump the fish at my feet, and I radio Steve to ask if he could please come back over to me as I needed to get a few photos of this bass.


We measured the bass (in the water I might add, more to come on this) at 70cms and of course I was over the moon to have caught this beautifully conditioned fish from a new mark in the height of summer and not very far from where I live. I have caught and seen enough serious fish around the world to never worry for one second who catches what, so as much as I am obviously happy that the bass jumped on my lure, it’s the fact that we took a calculated punt - and credit to Steve for suggesting we move way along the mark to cover the actual ground we were on instead of sticking it out where we had been fishing - and that our punt paid off which is what really floats my boat. I love fishing new ground and exploring is such an important part of lure fishing for me.


When we get back to my house I put a head shot of the bass up on Facebook and because I can’t see a reason for being all secret squirrel about what lure a fish was caught I mention the lure and the specific colour of IMA iBorn 98F on there as well. In no time at all a few anglers post on my Facebook page to tell me that this lovely “Ice Shad” (white) colour of iBorn is no longer being made by IMA over in Japan - aaarrrggghhhh! In some respects it’s my fault for not having bought a backup or two of this particular lure which has continued to produce bass for me - and yes, as ever I don’t know if the colour makes a difference and I have caught on various other colours of iBorn and they may well have caught that particular bass if I had had a different one in my box and so on - but as per the title of this blog post, it absolutely wrecks my head when you catch a nice bass on a hard lure in a specific colour and you then find out that the colour is no longer available! 


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