Although there are more lures at this Nantes bass show than even a lure junkie like me could possibly hope to use in a lifetime (but I'd give it a good go), what has really struck me about the show this year is just how many awesome lure rods there are that are tending to be between say 6.5' and 8.5' - ok, so there are lots of very fast action, "heavier" lure rods around the more regular 9' and even 10' as well, but I am really noticing the lighter, shorter rods this time around. Is that because there are more of them, or is that because I am evolving as an angler ? "La peche avec la finesse" is appealing to me more and more these days for certain situations (basically more subtle lure fishing with lighter, more sensitive gear, something that I am not very good at, but something I want to do more and more of).
I suppose that my understanding of bass fishing with an even higher degree of feel and subtlety really started to increase last year on Belle-Ile when Graham and I got the chance to spend a few days fishing with some of the Ultimate Fishing guys, and especially Bruno Pebe - the bloke who first showed me the 7' Tenryu Injection. When I got back home I told a bunch of mates about the rod and word seemed to spread about how gorgeous this thing was for fishing with smaller hard lures, small jigs, and a wide range of soft plastics. But I held off getting one, mainly because I did not think that I was either a good enough angler or even remotely ready to really take advantage of a rod like this. How about that for self-control ? Now though is my time to give in and look for a rod around 7' long that will help me do very specific things. There are a whole host of these kinds of rods out here, and at all kinds of prices as well, with some stunning bits of kit for not very much money at all. Plus some even more stunning bits of kit for lots of money as well.
If we put the 7' Tenryu Injection as the benchmark then (imagine asking me ten years ago if I ever thought I would have been lusting after a little 7' rod for using off the shore) - and also bearing in mind that there are a bunch of new Injections (one of which I played around with in a demo tank, what a rod, far too good for me), I will try and take you through some of the rods I have found. But please also bear in mind that there are a whole load more at the show that I have not even seen yet.....
Daiwa France have got a whole load of good rods - the Daiwa Ardito range feels incredible, and they are around the 200-220 Euros mark I believe. Honestly, if a company like Daiwa UK started bringing these rods into the UK I reckon they would seriously clean up (and if they are already then my apologies for my lack of knowledge). The Ardito range seems to have every single kind of modern bass rod we are after these days, and there is a very good 7' model that would be perfect for fishing with lures like the MegaBass Xlayer, the new baby Patchinko, the IMA Skimmer, 120mm minnows, you name it, I reckon these kinds of rods can do loads. I am also doing all I can not to look any more at the simply stunning Daiwa Morethan Branzino lure rods. If money were no object then I would buy them all.
I finally got to see some of the famous Smith bass rods, and there were three models that really were deeply impressive - not cheap at around 330-350 Euros, but just awesome. There were a 6'9'', a 7'2'' and a 7'6'' model of a Smith rod called the Bay Liner Boron, and although I would quite happily own and fish with them all, it was the 7'2'' model that stood out to me as the kind of finesse rod I am starting to look for. Higher-end I know, but these Smith rods are something a bit special.
Sakura do a whole bunch more stuff than I realised, indeed as a company I reckon they are hugely impressive in the products that they either make or distribute. From my understanding they have two main ranges of lure rods for bass fishing at the moment - at the cheaper end there are the Sakura Rookie rods, and slightly more expensive are the Sakura Mazzera. As with most companies, there are a load of different rods within these ranges that deal with all kinds of lure fishing, and personally I reckon some of these Rookie rods are just insane value for money. The ones I was looking at were around 100-120 Euros, all with genuine Fuji guides, and the actions just seemed to be incredible. I can't remember the exact models, but there was a 7' Rookie that just felt about as good as a 7' rod could possibly be at this sort of price. Put a blindfold on and it feels almost too good I reckon.
The more expensive Sakura Mazzera range starts I believe at around 200 Euros, and again there is a really good 7' model in there for the finesse fishing. Plus all the other kinds of lengths and casting weights as well that just felt really good in the hand. Sakura just seem to be making some very good modern lure rods.
But all rods, reels and lures aside for the moment, without a doubt the best part about this brief trip to France is the chance to spend some time talking with all the different kinds of people who are into their bass fishing. The fact that so many guys from the Lure Forum have made the trip down here is just fantastic, and it's a privilege to hang out with them all and yap fishing. I am going to do all I can to make it to the Nantes bass show next year as well, and I would bet on seeing even more anglers heading down from the UK and Ireland. Honestly, if you are into bass or lure fishing and you want to get about the best chance possible to see such a huge variety of modern tackle together under one (big) roof, then you should think about coming along to this show in 2011. We have about a half day left at the show and then a bunch of us are heading back to Jersey tonight - spending Sunday night there and then flying back home early on Monday morning. Plenty more information to digest and think about........