Henry Gilbey
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Apia Foojin'R Best Bower 96MLX (9’6’’, 6-32g) lure rod review - £284.99 UK price

Be careful what you read, or at least that’s what springs to mind with this particular Apia lure rod. By hook or by crook I have ended up fishing with a number of rods in Apia’s Foojin’R range now, but this Apia Foojin'R Best Bower 96MLX (9’6’’, 6-32g) eluded me up until Ben at the Art of Fishing kindly let me have an extended play with it. To be honest though I had kind of ignored this rod because of what I had read about it on a Japanese website which I have to assume was either a bad translation or a lack of understanding of the English language - which I would like you to note I am not about to criticise, not with my complete lack of understanding of Japanese!

I quote what I had read about this Apia Foojin'R Best Bower 96MLX: “The Apia 2014 Foojin’ R Best Bower 96MLX is the standard model which has elastic and whippy action which is developed to be applied to all fields. Though the material is high strained graphite, but the blank is really mild for comfortable casting.” I suppose you could take that in a number of different ways, but to me it implies that it’s a through sort of “elastic” action which to be honest I tend to shy away from with my lure fishing. Hence my not really getting excited about wanting to see this rod, and my saying be careful what you read when translations come into play.

Now I seriously like the slightly more powerful APIA Foojin’R Best Bower 95M 9’5’’ 7-35g as per my review here, but it is definitely a step up over your more regular casting weight lure rods say sub-30g or something like that, and whilst my technical knowledge of lure fishing rods is at best limited, it’s interesting how this 6-32g Best Bower 96MLX sits so precisely just under the 95M, but still a noticeable and potentially useful step up in power over something like the ridiculously good Major Craft Skyroad Surf 9’6’’ 5-28g, indeed if it wasn’t then I would be questioning APIA’s rod ratings.

First off, and it always seems to be the case with APIA rods - I love the handle. So simple, so effective, just so well thought out and it just works. Good length, good grip, what more do you need? As for details on rings, handle lengths, blank diameters and curve diagrams, I am going to shamelessly acquire a screenshot above from the excellent Art of Fishing website, and then direct you to the rod right here to check out all those details up close and personal. I don’t know anybody else doing APIA rods here in the UK, so again it’s credit to Ben at the Art of Fishing for making them available to us tackle junkies. There’s not much point in me trying to describe the tip on this rod to you when you can see the info so clearly in the above screenshot.

If your bass fishing tends to revolve mostly around putting regular and larger size minnow style hard lures out there then this rod is born to it, and it’s a joy for working the larger surface lures plus say bumping Fiiish Black Minnows down a strong run of current. Give me an IMA Hound 125F Glide and a bit of bounce on the sea and this rod is flying. And yes, before people ask me, as with the slightly more powerful 95M, this 96MLX puts a surface lure like the Patchinko out as far as you could ever need to get it. Need to go further? Try something like a GT Ice Cream or the 30g Westin Kongetobis (which is essentially the discontinued Bass Bullet) - or else buy a kayak!

You can of course then turn to fishing with soft plastics rigged weedless/weightless such as my beloved OSP DoLive Stick in the 6’’ size, plus the white senkos that we use so much for night fishing - and the rod will do it, but it’s not what I would describe as nice and comfortable doing it, not like the freak of nature HTO Shore Game S962MLM 9'6'' 7-35g (review here) which is so damn special in the tip that it seems like it can do almost anything. Sure, if I was looking for a lure rod to really major around fishing soft plastics rigged weedless/weightless then I would not be buying these kinds of rods anyway, but I far prefer the HTO rod over this particular APIA as and when I might clip these kinds of lures on - there’s more precision in the HTO tip and I think it handles those lures much better. The APIA does it ok, but to me it so wants to help you blast lures out there and crank them in or splash them across the top etc. I can’t get away from how much a part of my lure fishing these days those soft plastics rigged weedless/weightless are, hence me thinking more and more about this when playing with various rods.

This Apia Foojin'R Best Bower 96MLX is a serious lure fishing rod that works well for a lot of our bass fishing. I like it, but I don’t love it, indeed I can’t help but prefer the slightly more powerful Best Bower  95M - it just feels more “together” to me. These rods are not cheap, but from my own experience of a number of APIA rods now, you’re getting some serious rods for the money. As it increasingly seems to be these days with far too many nice lure rods that I want (need?) to own, check out the excellent Art of Fishing website for the next best thing to actually getting out and fishing with a rod like this.

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