Henry Gilbey
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Major Craft Skyroad SKR-962 Surf 9’6’’ 5-28g - £180 (bargain of the year?)

Please note that this review is about the Major Craft Skyroad SKR-962 Surf 9’6’’ 5-28g lure rod, and not the Skyroad 9’6’’ 10-30g (longer brother of the very impressive 9’ 10-30g Skyroad, review here). My understanding is that this Major Craft Skyroad SKR-962 Surf 9’6’’ 5-28g has been designed for targeting flatfish from the shore with lures over in Japan, but whatever the case, this is one scary-good lure fishing rod for how many of us go about our bass fishing these days……

I have only waggled and not actually fished with the longer 9’6’’ 10-30g Major Craft Skyroad, but on the few occasions that I have picked it up it’s felt pretty damn impressive. I note that although Major Craft’s rod action ratings are in my mind fairly irrelevant, the 9’6’’ 10-30g Skyroad is rated “Regular”, whereas this Skyroad Surf version is rated “Regular Fast” - and as far as I can remember how the non-Surf version felt via a few waggles, this Surf perhaps feels a smidgen faster.

Personally I like the cork grips that I have fished with on Major Craft and APIA lure rods, but of course I am also more than comfortable with your more regular duplon grips - and this Skyroad Surf has got duplon grips on, with a handle length that suits me well (about 35cms from reelfoot to end of butt section). You’ve got Fuji K-Guides with some of those pretty small guides towards the tip, and I am not going to bother going into how comfortable I am with small guides like this, indeed I really like them - the least amount of weight possible on the tip section especially if you ask me. There’s also a Fuji reelseat which Major Craft say is a VSS version if that means anything to you, because it doesn’t to me. I just like it.

All of us like different things when it comes to our fishing gear, but so far it’s the 9’6’’ 10-30g Major Craft Truzer (review here) that for me is just about the most perfect lure rod I have ever used - and holy cow if this 9’6’’ Skyroad Surf isn’t pretty frigging close to the somewhat more expensive Truzer. Sure, this Skyroad Surf feels a tiny (and I mean tiny) bit heavier perhaps, and there is perhaps a tiny bit more give in the butt section, but as much as I am having a love affair with that 9’6’’ Truzer, I can honestly say to you that I would be more than happy to fish with this 9’6’’ 5-28g Skyroad Surf for evermore - hence my phrase “bargain of the century” in this blog post title. This fishing rod floats my boat in a big way.

The fact that such an out and out lure rod like this can be bought for £180 here in the UK is an absolute steal if you ask me, indeed I defy you to pick up this rod and go fishing with it and find anything remotely un-proper about it. Sure, you might not like the way this rod fishes as much as me, or indeed it may well suit you down to the ground, but whatever the case, compared to what else we can lay our hands on in the UK and Ireland as regards lure rods, this Skyroad Surf to me is one of those lure rods that I come across from time to time that really freaks me out - it’s just the most incredible rod, there’s nothing remotely budget about it, and it stands right up there with plenty of far more expensive rods I have fished with.

Everything about the way this Skyroad Surf fishes suits me and my bass lure fishing. Surface lures, sub-surface minnows, weightless soft plastics, ripping Crazy Sandeels, bumping Black Minnows or retrieving them slowly through the rough stuff, I can’t trip this rod up. It’s a pretty fast rod (very steely, got to get it in there somewhere) but very easy to wind up and get the best out of it, and I love how this Skyroad Surf is as happy with the smaller lures as it with the heavier ones that are getting towards that 28g maximum recommended rating. If you and I met in a fishing tackle shop and you asked me to try and describe my ideal lure rod action, to be honest it would far easier to just hand you this Skyroad Surf. I just like lure rods that behave like this - nice and fast but easy to use, a tip that just feels so precise it’s like looking down a gunsight, and the fact that it doesn’t remotely feel like a longer lure rod.

What more can I say? I know that I have ended up reviewing a number of Major Craft rods on this blog (see here), but I am not going to apologise for it. They tend to suit how I fish, it’s my blog, it’s my (unpaid) time that I spend doing it, and at the end of the day I can only use and review fishing gear that the people I know within the fishing tackle industry are kind enough to get me access to. From first picking up a Major Craft rod a few years back and not thinking much of it all to now believing that they are arguably the finest and also the best value for money saltwater lure fishing rods that we can get our hands on here in the UK and Ireland, that’s the way I feel, and yes, of course, lure rods absolutely fascinate me - and especially when they are as outrageously good as this Major Craft Skyroad SKR-962 Surf 9’6’’ 5-28g. This is some rod, and at £180 it’s a bargain - I have never come across this much fishing rod for comparatively so little money. Oh, and before anybody asks me - yes, this rod can chuck the Patchinko, in fact it animalizes the lure without even trying.

But - not long after writing a first draft of this review, the tip section went and snapped on me in two places during a cast. Of course I want to blame the rod and not my bad casting, and as far as I can remember I didn’t “ding” the rod along the way and then suffer a breakage because of that. I do know though that on the particular cast when the tip section broke on me, I was fishing very rough conditions and I was doing one of those slightly dodgy casts when you run down to the water’s edge and cast at the same time, whilst also making sure to then run back out of the way of the huge waves coming in. I was also casting the 150mm/20g Crazy Sandeel, which I have found out might be just over the 28g recommended weight on the rod, albeit this shouldn’t really matter that much.

I know my timing was a bit off on the cast when the tip section broke, and I know that I properly larroped that cast (larrop is a very technical casting expression in case you were wondering!!). The more I think about it, the more I think that there’s a chance the braid went and wrapped around the tip. It could have been a flaw in the rod of course, but why would it break in two places as per the photo above? I pushed this rod hard before it broke and I never had a second’s bother, and unless it’s proved to me otherwise, I am going to go with me and some mistake I made being the reason the tip section broke - nothing changes my opinion that this Skyroad Surf is an outrageously good rod (buy from a UK or Irish Major Craft dealer and you get the support in case something were to go wrong), and what upset me the most was that I had to stop fishing with it, because this is a lure rod that I am absolutely in love with.