There are actually a few of these "designed in France, made in Japan" Daiwa Morethan Branzino lure rods around, but the one that is most applicable to us seems to be the 80ML (8' long, rated 8-35g). Whether an angler chooses to or indeed is actually able to drop close to £600 on a lure rod is a matter entirely for that angler, but through the course of my work I get the chance to play around with all manner of bits of fishing gear, and up until now the 80ML Branzino is up there as perhaps my most favourite lure fishing rod I have ever fished with. It just works for me and the way I fish. As ever though, please take into account that these are my own opinions on this blog. I am neither right nor wrong, but I do know what I like myself.
There is another Daiwa France Branzino rod that I reckon has a lot of potential value to the way we tend to fish with lures, and I finally got the chance to spend some decent time with it and form some opinions on the rod. The Daiwa Morethan Branzino 90MH is 9' long and rated 10-40g, and although you can tell straight away that you are handling a Branzino when you pick it up, it's a different animal to the 8' version that in my opinion is a whole bunch of rods in one single package. That is why I like it so much, and rightly or wrongly I tend to compare other lures rods I try out to the 8' Branzino. Yes, I take into account wildly different costs etc., but the 8' Branzino just has an action and a feel that I really like for lure fishing, and as I have said before, I am tending to look for lure rods that can do more than just one thing really well. I still reckon this MegaBass rod here is one you seriously need to look at if you want something that fishes along the lines of the Branzino but at substantially less than half the price.
The 90MH Branzino seems to take over where the 8' finishes at if that makes sense - for a start it does not really feel like a 9' rod, and I mean that as a big time complement. It just feels right in my hands. This thing eats up rough seas, long distance casting and heavier lures. That little bit of extra length and power pushes stuff out there with consummate ease. In truth I do not tend to fish with really big bass lures, but I can't tell you how well the 90MH deals with them, yet at no time does it feel like some kind of meaningless, lack of feel blaster to me.
Anybody can make a stiff fishing rod, but to make fishing rods that feel "steely" - that is something entirely different. I like my lure rods to have a fast kind of action, but without some kind of tip you might as well be fishing with a scaffold pole for all the feel and feedback it gives you. It was the red Tenryu rods that really got me understanding about "steely" rod actions, where they are fast to I suppose moderately-fast, but with great tips, and I would put the 80ML Branzino in that kind of "steely" category. You can put the 90MH Branzino in there as well, but it's a whole lot more rod. Longer, more powerful, still ridiculously light, and in my opinion just awesome to fish with.
If you are after a high-end lure rod and tend to fish more with the slightly heavier lures more than you do the lighter ones, then do all you can to check this 90MH Branzino rod out. I made sure to fish with all manner of hard surface and sub-surface lures, plus weightless and weighted plastics, and I personally reckon the 9' one can do the lot. OK, it has not got quite as much finesse for the lighter stuff as its smaller 8' brother, but that might be what you are looking for. You get loads and loads of that Branzino sort of feel (fish with one and you will get my drift), but with a whole lot more grunt to it and a noticeably stiffer tip. This is one powerful rod, indeed a friend of mine tried it out and found it to be too much for him when compared to his Tenryu Red Luck Super Distance (what a rod in itself). Yes, it is a powerful bit of kit, but in my opinion it translates a huge amount back to me. Personally the 8' Branzino is the one I would choose for my own fishing as a true "do it all" lure rod, but if I wanted a slightly longer and more powerful high-end rod then I would be hard pressed to let the 9' go. If you ask me it's one hell of a serious lure rod for shore fishing and it will deal with any bass that swims in our waters. It also costs some serious money. Is it value for money though ? If you had asked me five years ago as to whether I could possibly imagine a lure (spinning ?) rod could possibly be good value for money at close to £600 then I would have laughed at you. But I have spent enough time fishing with the 8' Branzino and comparing it to any number of different rods to seriously revise what I once would have thought. Look at what fly guys will spend on serious saltwater rods or freshwater double-handers for example, and look at what the high-end GT popping rods from Japan are selling for (Carpenter, Ripple Fisher, Smith, Fisherman etc.) Awesome gear is always going to cost, but at the end of the day it can only be you that decides whether something is good value for money or not. I know what I think.