A few waggles with this new rod before going fishing and two distinct thoughts hit me : 1 - The tip feels a bit soft for my liking. 2 - No way is this rod is going to deal with around the 28g end of its 6-28g rating. Not a great start then, but the least I could do though was to take it fishing and give it a decent workout. Well I'll tell you the next rod-related thought that popped into my head about half an hour or so later - "bye bye Van Staal, it's been nice knowing you". Read on and I will explain..........
I rarely carry a hard lure much bigger or heavier than an Xorus Patchinko II for my bass fishing, hence this tends to be the one I turn to when I want to see how this kind of rod might cope. Initial negative thoughts aside I did like the understated looks of this new Graphiteleader Argento Nuovo GONAS-902L/ML (9' long, 6-28g, classed as Fast action with a Light/Medium Light power rating), but while walking to the fishing spot I could not help but think perhaps this was going to be the first Graphiteleader rod I had tried that did not really do it for me.
So I clipped on the Patchinko, sorry, Savage Gear SG Panic Prey (slip of the keyboard there) - let's see what this rod is made of from the off, and although Graphiteleader as a rod brand has fried my brain over the last year or so (and again I must give credit to the very nice Lure Heaven people for sourcing and importing this Japanese brand into the UK), this new Argento just does not feel like it could possibly do what it did to the lure - but in fact the rod did so much I had to ask Mark and Andy to have a few chucks to check I wasn't seeing things.
I know a lure like this is designed to fly, and believe it or not I can put a lure out there just about ok if needs be, but this is where my lack of understanding about rod design and manufacturing is going to let me down - because I simply can't figure out how a rod that feels so light, responsive and yes, "wand-like", can possibly take a lure like the Patchinko and literally animalise it out to the kind of distances which caused the three of us to simply stand there watching it fly out there again and again - and then giggle when it landed. Holy cow, it can't be right, but distance is not everything of course.
I still think the "budget" Graphiteleader Argento RV GOARS-862ML-PE is the best sub-£200 lure rod I have ever fished with, but you know when you are getting close to the upper end of the rod's weight rating. The rod works just fine with a lure like the Patchinko, but you need to slow down a bit and you can feel the rod working that bit harder to get it out there. But not with this Argento Nuovo. Talk about deceptive. It feels like the thing is not even trying it's so effortless and efficient. Note though that this Argento Nuovo is about 2 ½ times the price of the cheaper Argento RV.
Around £390 retail in the UK is what it is - a lot of money for a fishing rod, but then so is say £60,000 for a Porche when somebody like me drives a heap of cow poo with around 125,000 miles on it and various species of mould unknown to science growing around the window trims. But do I begrudge the driver of this Porche as he roars past me on the motorway ? Nope, not a bit. I don't do jealousy, indeed I believe it is one of the uglier human traits and I don't buy into it. If somebody out there wants to spend this much money on a 9' long lure fishing rod then I say good for him or her, and I hope they love fishing with it.
Price aside then, there has to be something pretty serious going on here that revolves around more expensive materials/carbons/manufacturing processes etc., because how else do you explain a rod like this ? I don't mean that I want to go casting way over the recommended weight rating for the rod, rather that I notice more and more with these higher-end lure rods how effortless they are to fish with. The rod is rung with these Fuji KR Concept guides which I have no previous experience of, but they seem to work just fine and I can't think of anything about them that irks me.
OK, so I was wrong with my initial thought no. 2, but what about no.1 - the rod tip ? It is very responsive (more responsive than I am used to really) and even feels a little on the soft side when you waggle it, but here is a good example of waggling a rod bearing little relation to actually fishing with it. Yes, I am lucky that I can take rods like these out fishing, so I can only hope that my experiences with the things might prove useful to some of you at the end of the day. I am pretty sure that a few years back I would have had those initial waggles and then said thanks but no thanks to a lure rod like this, but that was then and this is now.
There is some serious grunt/power in the butt section that shows itself when you cast the heavier lures, but to me this Argento Nuovo is so much about the tip. It's just awesome, it really is. I don't know what Graphiteleader have done, but somehow they have taken a tip that I initially had (waggling) doubts about and have come up with a lure rod that feels about as right to me as any fishing rod I have ever fished with - and I have thought about what I am saying here. Very steely when you cast, but with the most incredible amount of feel and finesse when you fish with it - whatever the lure. Honestly, there's something freaky going on here and once I got used to the timing of this Argento Nuovo I didn't want to put it down for a second.
I did actually get a tape measure out when I got back from fishing with it the first time because I was that convinced that Graphiteleader might have been conning us with its claim that this Argento Nuovo really is 9' long, because it does not remotely feel that long to fish with - I can't get the word "wand" out of my head as a way of describing this awesome rod. In case you were wondering, this 9' Argento Nuovo (and yes, it is actually 9' long) is a noticeably different rod to the slightly more powerful 9'3'' 10-35g version that I reviewed back in December - as indeed it's meant to be. Not better or worse, just different.
I have fished all the kinds of lures I might go bass fishing with these days on the rod. Small to largish sub-surface and surface lures, weightless soft plastics like the 5'' Wave Worms, various sizes of Black Minnows that I bumped along the bottom, etc. A part of me wants to say to you that the rod struggled with at least something, but I just could not find any lures within the casting rate or indeed any technique I might use that this Argento Nuovo did not deal with as effortlessly as Wales cut us to pieces in the Millenium Stadium (ouch).
At the end of the day this Graphiteleader Argento Nuovo GONAS-902L/ML is a lure fishing rod that I have very seriously loved fishing with and I am happy to see my initial impressions cast aside like the English front row was in the Millenium Stadium (ouch again, and yes, that defeat is still causing me much anguish). If you want to see this rod then contact shops like Lure Heaven, The Art of Fishing and Absolute Fishing over in Ireland and see if the thing's in stock.
Anyway, to finish let me tell you how much I like this fishing rod. I like it that much I am going to sell my Van Staal VSB150 spinning reel which is just not getting any use. Why ? To help pay for this Argento Nuovo 9' 6-28g rod. Holy cow it's an awesome bit of kit and I can't face this review rod going back. Enough said ?