Henry Gilbey
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Henry Gilbey blog

The Early rod catches the bass

Please forgive my somewhat pathetic attempt at a play on words there, but I wanted to tell you about a lure rod that I got the chance to play with over in Ireland the other day. Ben from the Art of Fishing has started to sell the Japanese brand Yamaga Blanks through his two excellent tackle shops and he kindly lent me the Early 88MLRF 7-28g lure rod to have a proper thrash around with. I have heard a lot of very good stuff about Yamaga Blanks but had never fished with any of their rods, and again I have to give credit to those people out there who are doing the hard work required to bring specialist items of fishing gear like this into the UK. I have to surmise that the Yamaga Blanks Early range is their more "affordable" lure rod collection when you compare it to the more expensive, higher-end Ballistick rods, but at £249 for the Early rod I fished with it's certainly not at the budget end of the scale, indeed it smacks of serious quality from the off..............

I am never going to understand the various discussions that fly back and forth about whatever lure rod length works best, because at the end of the day it's utterly pointless if you think about it. Use what you feel comfortable with. How easy is that ? Don't ever take what I say about the rod lengths I prefer as being "correct", because they are the "correct" rod lengths for me. Not for you necessarily, but I do still note with a degree of interest that not one person I regularly lure fish with either here or over in Ireland is using a "modern lure rod" over I think about 9' in length, and mostly they are around the 8-8'5'' mark. Horses for courses, but at 8'8'' long I did from the off find this Yamaga Blanks Early 88MLRF very much along the right lines for me length wise, and the casting weight rating of 7-28g is what I am becoming more and more comfortable with using for the bulk of my UK and Irish bass fishing. There ain't a bass that swims that can't be landed on a rod like this.

I have thought a fair amount about my few days fishing with this rod, and for all that I could come up with, at the end of the day it's just a great rod to go lure fishing with. The name Early could just as easily be replaced by "Easy" - it's just so easy to use. I genuinely don't think any lure angler out there could not enjoy fishing with this particular rod. There's nothing to give you grief if you go and mistime a cast for example. It's very light and incredibly responsive. The build quality looks stunning, with those fantastic Fuji K-guides and some fairly chunky duplon grips. A friend who I fish with here in south east Cornwall did find that the lack of duplon where the back of your reel hand might sit made it a bit uncomfortable for him, but I am finding that many of these Japanese lure rods seem to be finished like this and for some reason my hand sits just fine and I get no issues at all. Horses for courses once again. I still think that the Daiwa France Branzino 80ML rod is one of the best fishing rods I have ever used for example, but where your reel hand ends up sitting on the rod is to me perhaps the worst design I have ever come across on any fishing rod (fine when your hand is dry, a pain in the rear when it's not). But then I have heard very few other people complain about this particular aspect on the Branzino and it's most likely just me and the way my hand sits.

I did particularly like fishing the weightless soft plastics with this Yamaga Blanks Early rod - I could watch the tip all day long when you twitch senkos and soft plastic jerkbaits around, indeed it seems almost custom built to fish a lure like that OSP DoLive Stick (see here). All manner of hard lures go out there and come back very well indeed if you ask me. Yes, you can put the Xorus Patchinko out there pretty easily, but as is the case with many of these rods when you are casting a lure close to their maximum weight rating, if you slow down and load the rod up a bit differently you'll get more out of it. Rods with a very "true" stated casting range will deal with their upper end, but obviously when you are close to that upper end you need to treat it differently (that insane high-end Graphiteleader Argento Super I reviewed here seems to be a complete freak of nature on this front though). Drop down in size to something like the IMA Salt Skimmer and you can cast just as fast as you like, but perhaps the only tiny niggle I have with this rod is that when fishing surface lures at range I would prefer just a slightly stiffer tip - but then to counteract this I would not actually want the tip on this rod changed because it's great. I have fished with lure rods that have stiffer tips, indeed when I first waggled this Early rod here in my office I was a little sceptical - proving yet again that a mere "waggle" means very little. The rod's got plenty of grunt, but it's a real lure rod and not some scaffold pole of a weapon. If you went looking for a serious lure rod that does very well at covering all manner of different kinds of lure fishing then make sure to drop into either of the Art of Fishing tackle shops and have a look at this particular Yamaga Blanks rod, or indeed the many others in the Early and Ballistick range (see here). Some bit of kit...........