Before I get going with this review, let’s get a few things out of the way - I am not here to tell you that importing a (not remotely cheap) lure fishing rod like this from Japan is going to procure you any more fish on the bank as such, nor that with the gear I have here at home do I really need a rod like this. Want and need are interesting things in fishing are they not though?! I’m not here to justify what I spend my money on, but I have owned this particular rod for a while now and I thought it might be of interest if I told you what I think of it………
A while back I reviewed the lighter version of this Shimano Exsence Infinity S906M/RF 9’6’’ 6-38g lure rod, the shorter and slightly less powerful Shimano Exsence Infinity S900ML/RF 9’ 5-32g - a rod that completely blew me away and continues to freak me out how good it is whenever it comes out fishing with me. I held out against getting this longer 9’6’’ 6-38g version as long as my pathetic, lure tackle addicted self could manage, doing all I could to tell myself that I didn’t need a more powerful lure rod because I’ve got stuff here already that does the job very well indeed - such as the hugely impressive HTO Shore Game S962MLM 9'6'' 7-35g (review here) - but in the end I failed. Damn I’m glad I did though. Holy cow.
If there is one thing these two high end marvels of Japanese fishing rod technology have proved to me, it’s that a few wiggles or indeed waggles tell you very little about them. As per my review of the 9’ Exsence Infinity, my first few waggles with this longer 9’6’’ version when it arrived at my front door didn’t exactly floor me, but you so need to get rods like these out fishing instead of standing there and waggling away like we really know what we’re talking about!
Sure this rod is light, but then I knew it would be - look here where Shimano Japan quote 132g for this rod, and I see no reason to dispute that. I love the whole handle design, but then I knew I would because it’s the same handle as on the 9’ (I hadn’t realised that the butt grip is actually part of the rod therefore it’s hollow), and the rod felt impressive but not outright special when I first waggled it a few times. As a contrast to this, I knew from the very first waggle (or wiggle) with that far too good for the money HTO Nebula M 2.7m (9’) 7-35g lure rod that I was going to love it (review here). My feeling is that these somewhat more expensive and indeed refined fishing rods have that bit more to them which tends to really open up to you as you spend more time fishing with them……..
Which is exactly what has happened with this utterly ridiculous Shimano Exsence Infinity S906M/RF 9’6’’ 6-38g lure rod. I’ve got my perfect 9’ lure rod now for doing a certain amount of my bass fishing, but I do like that slightly longer, more powerful rod for bouncier seas and/or windier conditions, and especially for the sort of lure fishing I might do on the north coast of Cornwall and other similar types of grounds and conditions. And what I really want - indeed this is the reason I took the punt on getting this new rod - is for this more powerful rod to be 100% as accomplished at dealing with the lighter, more finesse stuff, plus I’d also love it if the longer rod felt like fishing with a shorter rod. This one does all that and more - but I couldn’t imagine that I’d end up truly loving a 9’6’’ lure rod easily as much as a 9’ one.
If anything though this 9’6’’ 6-38g version is an even more impressive lure fishing rod, and I will try to explain why. As freaky good as the 9’ 5-32g version is, I kind of expected (hoped?) a high end lure rod of that length and casting weight was going to be effortless to fish with - which it seriously is - but now step up a gear in length and also power and I was hoping the rod was going to be pretty damn nice but it would surely require more of me to get the best out of it, plus wouldn’t I surely be losing something by stepping up? If anything though it’s the exact opposite, indeed the harder you lash into this 9’6’’, the less I feel that I am getting out of it. The rod is so ridiculously accomplished and effortless that I need to keep telling myself to cast nice and smoothly at say 75% power and any number of different lures go out there as smoothly as one slips into a shiny pair of technical tights. OK, let’s no go there………….
I haven’t got a clue how Shimano Japan’s rod people have achieved this, because as good as some of the 9’6’’ rods I have been lucky enough to fish with in the past have been, none of them have been quite as versatile and smooth and easy and controlled as this Shimano Exsence Infinity 9’6’’ 6-38g. A 34g casting jig goes out as easily as a 6’’ DoLive Stick, both with no wobble at all because there is just no point at all in lashing into your lures with this rod. Watching that lethal DUO Slim 140 Flyer fly out into the north Cornwall sunshine the other day was something else (I think I might have got a little emotional), and when I slow down (75%) with the Patchinko II and use a slightly longer drop, well I can’t prove it because I have never measured a lure cast, but my gut is that I have never put this missile out as far. Seriously, it makes me giggle it goes out so well. I have never felt a rod feel so utterly “whole” or together when you cast and fish with it - except for the shorter 9’ version that is.
So the rod does the bigger stuff really well, as indeed it bloody well should for the price and the specs, but how about what the 6-38g rating implies? I genuinely feel that the lighter 9’ version is working as well with a little 4.5’’ DoLive Stick as it is with say this new Xorus Patchinko 125 and upwards through to 32g, but surely this beefier 9’6’’ 6-38g rod can’t be quite as accomplished? Well it is, indeed it’s quite something how I can stand on a rock and punch out say the new Size 80/35g Fiiish Power Tail Saltwater into a bit of clean and green north Cornish surf and then move a few yards and gently work a calmer section of reef with the DoLive Stick or a smaller hard lure like the killer IMA iBorn 98F. I can’t tell you if this 9’6’’ 6-38g rod does the 6g lures really well because I don’t carry lures that light, and especially not when I am taking this 9’6’’ because of conditions or location, but it’s almost scarily impressive how good the rod feels with a wide variety of lures and weights. As I said, I am not here to tell you that you need to go and spend this kind of dosh on a lure rod, but on the other hand I reckon this incredible 9’6’’ Exsence Infinity would be the perfect do it all lure rod for a lot of anglers who would find that slightly heavier casting weight useful.
To me it’s all about the tension, indeed with both these Shimano Exsence Infinity rods I now own it’s the one word that springs to mind the most. They’ve both got these utterly divine tips on them and it’s when you fish and cast and retrieve and work lures that the tips on these rods and how they so seamlessly feel part of the whole rod make perfect sense - the “overall tension” if you like. There is some serious power here if you need it, but it’s so easy to get at. There are lure anglers out there who know far, far more about the north coast of Cornwall than me for example, but with what I do know about where I might fish up there, this 9’6’’ is my perfect rod for it. It’s got the power I need for the lures I might use in some often heavier conditions, but it’s like two or three more rods rolled into one. It’s that overall feeling of perfect tension through the whole rod that I think is key, and as good as I have found a number of lure rods to be, it’s these two Shimano Exsence Infinity rods that stand above them all now. It’s hard to explain but for me it all becomes very apparent when I go fishing with them.
And then we come to “walking” or bumping the Fiiish Black Minnow across a really rocky, snaggy bottom in a shallowish to medium depth, and categorically I have never fished a rod that gives me as feedback as this awesome Shimano Exsence Infinity S906M/RF 9’6’’ 6-38g. I accept that you’d expect to feel a lot from a solid jig head bumping and bouncing over hard rocky ground, but I am utterly convinced that this rod is taking that feedback to another level of translating what is going on down the 9’6’’ rod length and into me. I am a conduit! I have used the Black Minnow loads and loads over the years, but I have been guilty of neglecting this often lethal way of covering reefy ground, and the first time I did it with the 120mm Black Minnow and that rather lovely 18g Search Head in some bouncy conditions I got one hell of a shock with what I could feel. It’s unquantifiable and I can’t prove that I am getting all this extra feedback, but I’ve fished with enough lure rods at all kinds of prices to know when I am fishing with something a bit extra special.
As I said earlier, I just didn’t expect this longer and more powerful 9’6’’ Exsence Infinity to impress me quite as much as the shorter and lighter 9’ one, indeed if I am perfectly honest I was worried that I’d gone and made a bit of a mistake once I had clicked buy and was waiting for delivery of the 9’6’’. How could it possibly be as impressive as the 9’? Well I take my hat off to the Shimano Japan people who are responsible for these new Exsence Infinity lure rods, because the two I have here are in my mind the best two lure fishing rods I have ever used. They are not available in the UK and I therefore very much stand by my statement the other day that the HTO Shore Game S932ML 9'3'' 7-30g lure rod (review here) is the best “available off the shelf in the UK” rod that I have fished with so far. It’s an incredible rod that will catch me just as many bass as these Shimano Exsence Infinity rods might, but there’s a great big world out there full of nice shiny lure fishing tackle that I am sure you have guessed absolutely fascinates me. I love messing around with stuff and I am not into trying to compare tackle when it’s such an individual and price driven thing of course, but I look forward to the day (my wallet doesn’t) when I get to fish with a couple of lure rods that do it for me as much as these two new Shimano Exsence Infinity beauties……….
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