Henry Gilbey
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APIA Foojin’R Best Bower 103MLX 10’3’’ 6-35g lure rod review (around £240 delivered)

I have had a bit of a thing for APIA lure rods ever since this rod here came along and freaked me out. Together with Major Craft, Graphiteleader etc., APIA make some class rods and also produce ranges of lure rods that offer serious performance without breaking the bank, and I find it such a shame that APIA rods are not more readily available here in the UK. Why review an APIA rod then? Because I like most of the ones I have seen, I have found out that a guy I know in Portugal is starting to sell APIA rods throughout Europe, and the prices are pretty good (check here, and bear in mind that these prices include delivery). Sure, it’s a punt to go and buy a rod without even seeing it, but at least I can tell you what I think of this particular APIA rod that comes from their more “budget” Foojin’R range.

First off, via the few Foojin’R rods that I have tried now (see here), there is nothing remotely budget about their performance - accepting of course that around £240 delivered is hardly an inconsequential amount of money. I have fished with a couple of their Foojin’R Art Magic range - proper rods, but a bit on the tippy side for me to want to own them. Move to the Foojin’R Best Bower range though, and from the two I have now fished with, they are very different to the Art Magic ones (deliberate I am sure, and check here for a full breakdown in Japanese of the APIA Foojin’R range). The Best Bower rods I have tried so far are more suited to how I lure fish.

I’ll tell you straight though - this APIA Foojin’R Best Bower 103MLX 10’3’’ 6-35g lure rod is not something that I need to own. I have enjoyed fishing with it and it’s a serious bit of kit, but I don’t feel the need to step up to a 10’3’’ long lure rod for the coastlines I go lure fishing for bass from. If I fished say the north coasts of Portugal and Spain and spent a lot of time chucking say 150mm plus sub-surface minnows into big Atlantic swells though? Different story I am sure. This APIA Foojin’R Best Bower 103MLX 10’3’’ 6-35g is a machine of a lure rod, but because it’s designed to deal with 6-35g lures, by no means is it some kind of monster that would only come out on special occasions. If you are after a longer lure rod than I would use myself, have a think about this particular APIA rod. I can’t compare it to other 10’+ lure rods that cast these sorts of weights because I haven’t come across any others yet, but crumbs this is one proper fishing rod. That bit too long for me, but I can appreciate what it’s meant to be doing.

It may be rated 6-35g, but I don’t think this APIA Foojin’R Best Bower 103MLX really gets going until about say a Salt Skimmer weight of lure - let’s say 14g plus, that kind of thing. The rod will put the lighter lures out there, but I can’t pretend the actual fishing of them then feels that great. Step up to something like the IMA Hound 125F Glide or the ubiquitous Xorus Patchinko and to be honest I have never seen these lures fly so far. Now the rod’s fishing. Holy frigging cow when you get the timing of this 10’3’’ rod it can get lures out there, but to me the secret if you like is to really concentrate on timing and not the out and out speed of cast. You’re not going to move a 10’3’’ rod through the air as quickly as you might an 8’ lure rod anyway, but get this APIA rod bending properly with the slightly heavier lures and it really is something else. A casting machine that also happens to be very easy to fish with. APIA quote a rod weight of 168g, which to me seems pretty damn good for a rod this long.

I can’t pretend that I enjoy working surface lures on a 10’+ rod as much as I do say on a steely 9’6’’ and shorter lure rod, but to give this longer APIA rod its dues, it’s pretty easy to do so. The rod is plenty light enough, but that extra length to me takes away the wand-like feeling that you can get from a good shorter rod on surface lures - but then I can’t imagine that a rod like this APIA Foojin’R Best Bower 103MLX is designed with surface lures in mind anyway. Nope, to me it’s a casting machine that suits bouncier conditions and those times when you need to really get sub-surface hard lures and various soft plastics out there. I said earlier that I don’t feel the need to go to a longer rod than 9’6’’, but you might, and with this particular APIA rod you’re still getting a lure rod that is very much suited to “our” lures and “our” bass. Putting specific lures into an autumn Kerry surf is so well suited to this APIA rod for example.

You have probably guessed that a rod like this is going to put soft plastics like the Fiiish Black Minnow and Crazy Sandeel out there a country mile if needs be. The 20g/120mm Black Minnow and the 20g/150mm Crazy Sandeel especially have never gone out as far in my hands as they did on this APIA rod, put it that way. Distance is by no means the be all and end all of bass fishing, but I would imagine that anybody thinking of buying a lure rod like this has one eye very much on the ability to get their lures out a long way - and this rod delivers that in spades. I might not want a rod like this, but the more I fish with it, the more normal it feels, and I’d love a decent excuse to give it a thrash down in Portugal and Spain for example. Or Morocco of course.

I reckon this rod’s got a kind of fast-medium action. Highly efficient yet easy to work with if you think about timing, lure drop etc. APIA put good handles on their rods, and this one is no different. Their Foojin’R range may well be the APIA entry point, but this is a class rod and I can’t find anything about it that I would want to change. Sure, I might not need this rod, but if a 10’3’’ long lure rod can be this easy to fish with, it makes me wonder what some of the much higher-end Japanese lure rods around this sort of length might be like. I must assume that with our coastline and our bass that the market for a lure rod like this in the UK and Ireland is at best limited, but just because I am not into the idea of owning a longer rod than 9’6’’ (yet?) doesn’t mean that you don’t want one.