We've had the first day of the Nantes bass show, and it is easily as impressive as I thought it was last year. There are I think sixteen of us guys who have made the journey over from the UK, the Channel Islands, and even from Ireland, and I reckon that is pretty impressive. What will the numbers be next year ? What a great bunch of people. It gets to me so much in these kinds of situations how awesome fishing is that it can bring such a varied group of people together with such ease.
Us lot who travelled over from Jersey on Thursday night got to the show just after midday after spending the night in St. Malo. Any time you come to France is always a blast, I have always loved this country and I have a huge amount of time for the French people. Last year was a massive learning curve for me out here, indeed it essentially blew my mind to the point where I hardly slept for the three days. This time around I feel much more "up" on things, but there is still a huge amount going on the show that is new to me. And of course there is a vast array of some of the most incredible fishing tackle you could ever hope to see. You will have to go a long way to find a more friendly or open bunch of fishermen than the French, and the more I get to know some of these fantastic anglers, the more lucky I feel.
The Ultimate Fishing stand is very different from last year, with more guys working it, and a bigger range of red rods and more new lures and patterns that you could shake a stick at. They are now doing a whole range of the stunning red Tenryu Injection "finesse" rods, and believe me when I say that I am doing my utmost to avoid simply giving in and getting one of them. My worry is that I just don't have enough of this "finesse" to my bass fishing, but perhaps I could justify the purchase by making myself adopt a more subtle approach. I seriously fancy one of those new Shimano Rarenium in the 3000 size on a rod like this - what an awesome looking reel for the money.
One of the Ultimate lures that really stood out for me straight away is the new DUO MOAB (Mother of All Baits - great name !!). My mate Bruno Pebe was showing me this thing working away in one of the tanks and it was all I could do to stop my jaw hitting the floor. It's a very good looking DUO minnow with a fibre bib that just seems to have an action all of its own, plus it can be jerked very effectively. Leave it alone and it just suspends there nice and stable. Very impressive. There was also a really interesting looking DUO lure that was some kind of mix between a vibration lure and a jerkbait, and Bruno could get this thing turning backwards on the retrieve. I can't for the life of me remember that name of it, but I will find out. There are a lot of new lures on the very impressive looking Ultimate stand, with some truly stunning colours to them. There is a very good looking kind of casting/vertical jig that also has a loud rattle in it that has my name on it big time. Not that I have a problem or anything like that.
Now although I do like good fishing rods, I actually consider myself "relatively" under control with my urges for them (a new Tenryu Injection aside, loved them since Belle-Ile last May). But then Ben took me over to the Daiwa stand to show me their rods - why on earth Daiwa UK aren't bringing some of these "modern style bass rods" into the UK is beyond me. We looked at a lot of what seemed to be really, really good rods at lots of different price points, but then Ben took me over to a special range of rods on their own little Daiwa stand in the corner. Thanks Ben, and you can now stop that smirking. The "Morethan Branzino" range of Daiwa lure rods are just off the scale stunning bits of kit. They are seriously expensive, but in particular the 7' and especially the 7'6'' models were just some of the finest feeling lure rods I have ever had the fortune to pick up anywhere. Are they worth the money ? Only the anglers who buy them can answer that one, but I have a serious case of rod lust going on now. Do I need one ? No, of course I don't. But do I want one or even two of them ? Yes. Very seriously yes. You simply can not believe the balance of these things. Just the sheer smile it puts on your face when you pick one up. You know how some of these modern lure rods feel like wands when you pick them up and fish with them ? Well these Daiwa "Morethan Branzino" lure rods go way beyond that feeling. There ain't ever anything wrong with dreaming......
Sakura have a big, very impressive looking stand at this Nantes show, with a whole bunch of rods, plus lures from the likes of IMA, Sebile, and Molix. The Sakura soft plastics (Snoop and Magic Eel I think they are called) look really good to me, and in the demo tank they were stunning. It is really getting to me all over again how well the French guys fish their soft plastics, and how confident they are to use them so much of the time. I have not seen it yet, but some of our lads were raving about some demonstration going on where a bloke was fishing with two soft plastic shads on the same trace that were almost pirouetting across each other on the way back in. Sounds strange, but I saw some video footage and it looks incredible.
The show seemed to be packed for most of the afternoon, so I would imagine that over the weekend it's going to be really hectic. I am loving being here amongst all this "buzz" about bass fishing, and it really makes me think a lot about where it might all end up going in the UK. Take where we are now and then think about where it could go. Will the interest levels keep on growing ? Will anglers keep on looking for different gear to use for their fishing ? Will we still have enough decent bass around us to catch in ten years time ? I personally believe that if we have the fish, then this more modern approach to bass fishing is going to go to places we could never have imagined a few years ago, and its influence will spill over into other kinds of fishing as well.