Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

My first extended play with some Japanese lure rods

I have never made any secret of the fact that I very much like lure fishing with these French style, generally fast action lure rods - ok, so many of them may well actually be made in Japan (or China, Korea etc.), but from my understanding the "French designed" style of lure rod tends to be a fast to very fast action. Either this tends to suit my own fishing, or otherwise over time I have made it suit my fishing. Does that make sense ? I guess we all become used to the stuff we use, and most likely up until the point where we have unknowingly convinced ourselves that it works well for us. Which the gear does for me. Just fine in fact........

But the more I do all I can to keep on learning about lure fishing, the more of course I have been drawn to wanting to at least play around with some of the Japanese designed lure rods. Rods that have actually been made for Japanese anglers, and from my limited but hopefully expanding knowledge, the Japanese tend to favour what we might call a medium fast action for their lure fishing - but with a very fast recovery if that makes any sense. OK, I am having to generalise here, so please take note of that. Trying to describe rod actions is something I do not find remotely easy, for anybody can build a daftly stiff rod and then call it fast action. But how about a fast action rod that still has plenty of feel yet with that all important "steeliness" ? See what I mean ? It's a minefield..........

I have to say a big thanks to Richard from Dorset Fishing Rods here - he more than kindly offered to send me down a few of the Japanese rods that he is then custom building and starting to sell to his clients. Timings wise it tied in perfectly with the trip I did to Ireland the other day, and soon enough a long tube arrived with some very interesting looking rods to try out for the week or so we were there. And from the off I have to say that it is with a degree of sadness that those rods are now sitting there in their tube for shipping back to Richard.

The main two rods I wanted to play around with from Richard were the 8ft6'' and the 9ft6'' - both are rated at 8-28g and come in two equal sections which I liked from the off. Bearing in mind that I am so used to say 8ft "French style" lure rods, it was with a degree of trepidation that I strapped reels on and did the usual wiggle thing. Now from the off the 8ft6'' felt like my kind of rod, whereas in all honesty my first thoughts when wiggling the 9ft6'' was "nope, not really my kind of rod". But once again it was rammed home to me that wiggling a rod around counts for nothing compared to actually going fishing with it. Talk about a completely different opinion.


First off I am going to have to say how awesome I think that Richard builds his rods, and through the course of the week I really came around to those ultra-lightweight Pacific Bay guides that he likes to use. Sold completely, to the point that if I ever get a lure rod built from blank or indeed rebuilt I am without doubt going to have these rings you can see above put on. They just make perfect sense to me, and especially the fact that they weigh so little. And believe me when say that I had almost already decided that I was not going to like the guides (rod rings) because they were not Fuji K-guides. How wrong was I again. These Pacific Bay guides seem to be fantastic. I very much like the fact that Richard himself is a lure fishing nut, indeed by his own admission he has a growing problem with nice shiny lures. That makes two of us. Plus a whole lot more anglers as well !! We all need help.

These blanks that Richard is using are the T-Russell Silky Sea Bass range, but to be perfectly honest that means nothing to me. What does matter to me is that fact that Richard just asked that I make up my own mind, and to remember that these are Japanese lure rods. Not French. Not British. Not remotely European in fact. Out and out Japanese (plenty more details here). The first one I fished with was the 8ft6'' model, and from the off I found this just a very easy lure rod to use for long periods. OK, so with a wiggle it does not feel quite as "steely" as say an out and out French rod, but after fishing with it I am sold on what it does. I used all manner of soft plastics, minnows and surface lures, and in my opinion it handled them all really well. OK, so the much smaller say wrasse-sized plastics were I think on the little too light side for this rod, in that I think I was losing a bit of feel, but otherwise this rod ate everything else up. 8ft6'' felt very comfortable in my hands after fishing so long with straight 8ft rods, and Richard's rod seems to recover staggeringly quickly on the cast. Bearing in mind that I am always on the lookout for these lure rods that I believe can either "do it all" or "very nearly do it all" (I am trying my best never to have to carry two rods, it is just not me, and especially when I am always carrying varying amounts of camera gear), and I reckon this Japanese style 8ft6'' lure rod is one of those pretty unique blanks that works for our fishing really well. But to be perfectly honest I had expected to really enjoy fishing with this rod after a quick wiggle. Bearing in mind of course that a quick wiggle means very little, but you know what I mean !!

And so we come to the 9ft6'', the rod that from a quick wiggle I was already feeling pretty negative about. Well talk about getting it wrong and being somewhat ignorant !! I made myself take this thing out fishing, and it happened to coincide first off with some pretty heavy onshore conditions we had which required us to blast out some of the heavier sinking minnows such as my new found best friend, the over the horizon IMA Sasuke 140S (sinking). I have used this lure before, but I had not cottoned on to quite how far it can cast and then quite literally bite and grip into a rough sea, but then I have to hand some of this casting distance to that 9ft6'' rod I was now using. For a while I just fished away and kept telling myself how stupid I have been to have nearly gone and made my mind up from a mere little wiggle. What I suppose put me off at first was the fact that the rod actually seemed to have a fast kind of throughish but very "steely" action, indeed it made me think of that forthcoming 9ft Century HPR rod that is about to hit the market. Richard's 9ft6'' is a rod that so badly need to fish with before you come close to making up your mind. As an out and out rod for casting and blasting all manner of minnows I reckon it's one hell of a rod. It bends with you to assist on the cast, but it then recovers so incredibly quickly. I am not good enough at this to properly explain what is actually going on, but I guess that this is a part of the Japanese technology and know-how going into these rods, and I do subscribe to what is happening. I cast in a variety of different ways when lure fishing to try and suit both the lure and the rod, and this longer blank seemed to benefit from a slightly longer drop and a smooth build of power instead of any kind of "whip" style of cast. I have to say that I was not much of a fan of trying to work surface lures on the 9ft6'', but this is not the rod more the actual overall length feeling awkward. Give me a shorter rod for surface work any day of the week. As for plastics I would echo my findings from the shorter 8ft6'' model. If I was in the market for a lure rod that is perfect for fishing mainly minnows (so much of our bass fishing after all) then believe me when I say that this rod tube going back to Richard would be one rod less !!

Anyway, those are my own personal findings. Might these rods work for you and your own fishing ? I don't know. Rods are a very personal thing, but I can safely say that my first experiences with some proper Japanese lure rods have left me both massively impressed and also utterly intrigued. I know that I need to learn a lot more. If you have any questions about all this then by all means give Richard a shout or drop him an email here. Oh, and I have just put a new photo gallery up from my trip to Ireland last week right here. What a place, but then I have been having a serious love affair with Ireland for many years now that seems to show no signs of abating at all.......