Henry Gilbey
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Let’s take three 9’6’’ lure rods at £150, £200, and nearly £300 - is there much difference between them?

If there is one thing I don’t really like to do or indeed feel qualified to do, it’s to try and compare lure fishing rods rather than simply review them, but of course I get asked about it a lot - what do I think of one rod over another rod and so on. I have fished with enough lure rods to know exactly what I personally do and don’t like, and because I do these reviews on my own time I will naturally err towards fishing gear I at least have some desire to go fishing with. I was sent three lure rods the other day to have a look at for example and they are so much not my thing at all that I asked the kind company to please have them picked up because I had zero desire to take them out fishing with me. I feel bad, but these gear reviews are obviously based around me fishing with what I review, and my fishing time is too precious to waste using something I actively don’t want to fish with. Why don’t I tend to write bad rod reviews especially? There’s your answer……….

Anyway, back to the title of the blog post - let’s take three “regular casting weight” 9’6’’ lure rods that I know and have fished with a lot, and let’s see if we can dial down into why I think their UK shop prices are different. I happen to think that these three rods represent about as much 9’6’’ lure rod for their respective prices that I have personally come across so far and it’s best if I talk about lure rods I have had recent experience with - the £149.99 HTO Nebula 9’6’’ (2.9m) 7-35g, the £199.99 Major Craft Triple Cross EU Custom 9’6'' 10-30g, and then the £279.99 Tailwalk EGinn 96ML-R 9'6'' Max 35g. Three currently available here in the UK 9’6’’ rods that I think deal very effectively with a lot of the lure fishing for bass that we might do here in the UK and Ireland, at three different prices - why?

The handle on the Tailwalk

The handle on the Tailwalk

First off has to be the guides and handle - I believe the three rods all have Fuji guides and handles, the Nebula I think has the cheaper Fuji alconite guides versus Fuji SIC guides on the Major Craft and the Tailwalk. I don’t know how much these differences actually translate to in price differences, but I’d hazard a guess it isn’t very much - we aren’t talking about a set of Fuji Toriztes here which are not cheap at all. Perhaps I am going about it the wrong way here then, because for me it’s down to how the rods feel and fish in the real world. All three rods are very light, and any of these three rods would do a hell of a lot of lure anglers more than proud.

So going on price only, is the Tailwalk essentially twice as good as the Nebula, and how does one actually measure if a fishing rod is twice as good as another one? The most obvious thing for me to say here is of course not, indeed how does one actually measure that, or in fishing terms, are you going to catch twice as many bass if you spend twice the amount of money on your fishing rod? You know the answer to that, and in terms of going fishing with the rods, I can’t sit here and tell you that the Tailwalk is twice as good as the Nebula, or the Major Craft is a third better again than the Nebula but only two thirds as good as the Tailwalk - and so on. Hell, if I carry on like this I am going to tie myself in knots! They are all good rods that I really enjoy fishing with………….

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But they are all subtly different rods. I can’t argue with how much rod you are getting with the Nebula, but it’s a very “obvious” lure fishing rod that kinda reveals everything to you when you pick it up and waggle it. It’s lovely and light and I think for £150 that the fixtures and fittings on it are superb, but I waggle it a few times and I reckon I can tell exactly how the rod is going to actually fish - I then take it fishing and this is confirmed to me. What you feel is very much what you get, and you either like this lightning fast/very pokey kind of rod or you don’t. I do like it, and because of the blank design I am going to naturally adjust my casting style and drop lengths to better suit it - but then I would with any lure rod I fish with.

Spend another £50 and you can get the Major Craft, and whilst you’re never going to find three rods exactly the same unless the various companies have sourced the exact same blanks - it happens, make no mistake - this Major Craft to me is a bit of a step up in how it fishes. Now this might be down to how you personally like a lure rod to be, but to me there’s just more subtlety and smoothness to this Major Craft. The “instant like” in me can’t help but waggle the Nebula and be pretty amazed at how fast and pokey it is, but overall I do think the Major Craft is worth that £50 more. I feel that the increase in price is giving me a more nuanced rod that perhaps would grow with me a touch more as I started to fish different techniques with different kinds of lures - but then I’d take the Nebula over the Major Craft for surf based lure fishing because that slight lack of subtlety with a tip that doesn’t bounce around lends itself to banging metals out especially in my opinion.

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Price of course plays a big part for most anglers when buying a fishing rod, and I think here that with these two rods offering so much for the money it is also going to come down to what sort of lure rod you prefer fishing with. As I said I happen to think the £50 more expensive Major Craft is giving me more of a lure rod to grow into and appreciate, but we’re talking about two really good fishing rods that if price wasn’t a consideration you’d go for purely depending on what suits you better. I don’t know enough about how these rods are actually built to comment on the different qualities of the carbons that are used, but on the other hand I reckon I am feeling that difference.

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And then we come to the £279.99 Tailwalk which again isn’t going to catch me any more bass than the other two, and whilst wearing compression gear under your waders has been scientifically proven to make you more manly, fishing with more expensive lure fishing rods annoyingly hasn’t been yet. So what the hell does another £80 over the Major Craft or £130 more than the Nebula get you then? A bigger hole in the bank balance is the obvious one of course, but to me that jump up to the Tailwalk is actually the most noticeable to me here, and note again that it could be because of the three rods I have chosen which in turn I have done so because I have fished with them all a lot.

Anyway, is the Tailwalk rod here worth more than the other two? It can only ever be my opinion, but I am nearly always finding that the more expensive lure rods take a little longer to fully open up to me because they so need to be fished with rather than simply waggled in a tackle shop - which I recognise is therefore a bit of a problem because that’s pretty easy for me to say when I get to actively fish with so many different lure rods and most of you don’t, plus of course we can waggle rods in shops yet the shop owner isn’t exactly going to let you go out on the rocks with it and make that rod second hand. Unless you know anglers who have got particular rods and let you use them, it’s not easy finding the right fishing rod, and I guess this is reflected in how many people are looking at the Fishing Tackle pages on this website.

With the Tailwalk here, to me it’s firstly how it feels like the rod isn’t remotely straining when you move through the different lure weights (casting a DoLive feels as good as casting a Patchinko etc.), and then how seamlessly the rod actually fishes them. Call it “tension” if you like, but the most expensive rod here sits in my hands with a feeling of balance and precision that to me is a slight step up over the other two, and when I twitch a DoLive or work a Patchinko across the top, the tip on the rod feels like a seamless part of a whole fishing rod - and my apologies if I am starting to get a bit flowery about a bit of carbon, but I can’t think of how else I can try to describe why I think there are these price differences here. I tend to fish a DoLive Stick so much that I can’t help but gauge a rod I’d fish with on how it casts a 15g soft plastic like this - it’s when I lay the rod back and move through the cast at say 75% power into a gentle breeze that I know when a lure rod is seriously speaking to me. All the rods here will fish a soft plastic like this all day long and do it so damn well into the bargain, but annoyingly perhaps it is the most expensive rod here that I think is transmitting the most to me. None of my feelings here are remotely fact, and when I read back through this blog post I am not sure at all that I have achieved what I set out to do, but I have tried to get the differences across as I see them as best I can. I’d more than happily take any of the three rods for my own fishing, but the question still remains - do the three rods all feel a bit different more because of the prices, or is it more because the rod designers are designing different feeling rods? I’ve tied myself in enough knots already and it’s only Monday morning…………

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