My best (red) fishing rod of 2008

Being perfectly honest, I don't end up buying many fishing rods these days - working as a consultant for Hardy Greys means that I get to use and abuse plenty of different rods, but good as most of their gear is, they would be the first to admit that (at the moment), they do not make specialist bass plugging rods. Loads of UK tackle companies make very good spinning rods that will work just fine for a lot of bass fishing, but none that I am aware of actually make what I would now refer to as a "specialist bass lure rod", or in our terms, a plugging rod.

But do you really need to get into all this specialist kit ? Entirely up to you, but let me say that 2008 saw me finally come around to realising just how much we have to learn about ultra-modern bass fishing, and on that front I am referring to the gear as well. My friend Graham Hill and I have spent far too long over the years talking about what we would ideally like to see from a plugging rod, but neither of us really knew who to turn to. I was hearing more and more about bass fishing over in France, and I had seen plenty of catalogues, but still I had never actually held a rod that I felt was a proper "plugging" rod. I mean a rod that is purpose designed to work with modern lures, not an all round spinning rod that is designed to chuck virtually anything.

I have to give a lot of credit to Mick at Mr.Fish over in Jersey for putting me onto my ultimate plugging rod. There are various people that I talk to on a regular basis within the tackle industry, but it was through Mick that I first started to hear about these red Tenryu rods. Mick took himself off to France and did his own research - remember that the man is a serious bass junkie himself. We spoke a bit, he told me how good he believed they were (and bear in mind here that there are a lot of talented, forward thinking bass fishermen in the Channel Islands), but still I had not actually held one. But I had spent enough time and effort looking for the rod that I felt had to be out there, and I decided to take a punt on it - "go on Mick, here are my card details, please send me over the Tenryu Red Dragon Express". It was like a light bulb going on in that head of mine..............

My thoughts have not changed one bit from when I first got hold of this awesome fishing rod - in fact the red rod keeps growing on me every single time I use it. Few rods I have owned over the years have given me as much pleasure as this one. See my original thoughts on the rod right here, from when I first got hold of it. I stand by everything I said. They are not cheap, but I am so into my bass fishing that I would have paid more if required - this rod does exactly what I want from a plugging rod, and sometimes I actually try to prevent people I fish with from picking it up, because I know that one wiggle and one cast and they'll be getting one for themselves. It has happened on several occasions. I still get emails from anglers asking me "I am using so and so spinning rod and it works just fine, so can the Tenryu rods really be that much better ?" Take it from me, they are a whole different world apart from what we have been used to. The sooner we accept that here in the UK we could really learn a whole load more about our bass fishing, the better we are going to get at it.

I am not saying that every single angler who fishes with lures for bass should go and get one - make up your own mind, assess what you want, and take it from there. There must be something about them though, for more and more of these red rods are creeping into all the photographs I take of bass fishing. See here for example. Of course there are lots of spinning rods out there that will do the job really well (check back through my blog in 2008 for some thoughts on these kinds of rods), but it just depends on how far you want to take it.

So without a doubt, my fishing rod of 2008 is the Tenryu Red Dragon Express - but I am now thinking about getting the Tenryu Rod Bar 270 as well, and I'll explain why. The Red Dragon Express does me perfectly for my shore based bass fishing, and I feel totally comfortable with the length of it - roughly 10' long. But I have used the Rod Bar 270 a fair amount as well, and it is an incredible bit of kit - and it is roughly 9' long. My own personal opinion is that the modern soft plastics that we are really getting into can be worked that little big more effectively with the 9' rod and a tiny bit more give in the tip. The Rod Bar 270 is as lightening quick as the Red Dragon Express, but as an overall bass rod I think perhaps it offers a more rounded solution to some of our bass fishing. I would be really happy to own both, and I can see myself using the different rods on different spots. Come on, I'm a fisherman, and I love fishing gear as much as the next man. My lure addiction shows no sign of abating for starters......

So I had better start saving up for the Rod Bar 270 then !! This is serious money to spend on rods, but it is what I do and love, and I reckon they represent excellent value for money. I spend a lot of time with outstanding fly fishermen all over the world, and they have no problem accepting that if you want the best, you have got to pay for it. Take a top of the range Hardy, Sage or Loomis fly rod - they cost that much because they really are that good. Same with a rod like the Tenryu. Traditionally us UK sea anglers do not tend to like spending much money on spinning rods, for to us they have tended to be mere "add ons" to our more regular (and sometimes very expensive) high-tech beachcasters. But the world is changing, and a load of technology and thought is being poured into lure rods the world over. And us UK sea anglers are slowly but surely catching up................

Del rang me from the Isles of Scilly with tales of more big mullet, including a stunning fish of 6lb 10oz - to any of us this is a proper mullet, indeed I have never caught one that big, but Del did say that that particular fish managed to grab his bait just before a very interested 10lb plus fish got there. These are problems I would love to be dealing with, believe me !! I know so many good mullet anglers over here, yet so few of them seem to get their head around the potential for huge fish over in the Isles of Scilly - and I can say that about Ireland as well. Too much to do, and too little time.

I had a good day up with the guys at Hardy Greys on Monday, and what came out of it could be really exciting further down the line. Plans like we laid of course will take time to come to fruition, but if all goes well then we should be doing some cool stuff. Further news as and when I can say will of course come through this blog.