Last week I did a review of an almost stupidly good value for money lure rod, but this week it's time for a bit of an "out there" rod. If you read this blog and my articles in Sea Angler or glance through the Fishing Tackle section of this website, you're going to notice that for my own bass fishing I tend to like using a lure rod of around 8' to 8'6'' long. Rods like this suit me for various reasons, and one thing that I tend to find is that the longer lure rods by virtue of physics and/or cost simply have to be that bit less responsive or "steely" than the shorter rods - this may only be some very small margins on some of the better rods, but in general it has to happen. It's not a criticism, merely an observation linked to what I understand about rod building - not that much I grant you, but I have played and fished with a few of the longer 9' plus bass fishing lure rods and whilst some of them I think are awesome rods that are going to work for lots of anglers, for the most part they are not for me long term and I go back to my 8' to 8'6'' ones. OK, so the 9' Daiwa France Branzino is a bit of a freak of nature for example, but you're paying for it, and it's one powerful rod that is not really designed for the lighter lures. I believe that to get a seriously responsive, very light, "steely" longer rod that in fact feels like a shorter rod to fish with has no option but to cost..........
If you think the Daiwa France Branzino rods are expensive (they are !!), the other day I got to have a brief play with the single most expensive fishing rod that I think I have ever actually cast with. Yes, I would imagine that 99% plus of saltwater anglers simply can't or would not even contemplate spending just north of £800 on a lure fishing rod, but the fact is that this rod is now out there and I got to have a play with it - so I thought it would be interesting to at least tell you what I thought and then we can walk away and get back to reality. But I know some fly guys who drop serious wedge on high-end fly rods, and look at the cost of some of those freshwater poles - sure, maybe 99% of lure anglers are never going to buy this rod, but some anglers somewhere are always going to want and buy the highest end gear out there almost whatever it costs. But does a high-end price mean a serious jump in performance ?
The Graphiteleader Argento Super GOSAS-972L-ML 9'7'' 5-28g lure rod has just come into the UK and at the moment the retail price here is £816.95 - check here. Ouch !! This is very serious wedge to even consider dropping on a fishing rod, but look at the UK prices for example of the Loomis NRX saltwater fly rods. High end gear is what it is and I am not about to try and comment on whether I think fishing rods can or indeed should cost this much, because it doesn't matter. Somebody always wants either the best or the most expensive. Is this rod worth over £800 ? I can't tell you that because it's down to the people who might buy a rod like to this to decide that for themselves. This new Graphiteleader Argento Super costs what it does at the end of the day and it's up to the individual as to whether they even consider spending over £800 on a lure rod. Some people drive old Ford Focus estates (me !!) and some people drive Porches. It's the way it is.
OK, first off this is one stupidly light rod to pick up - it weights a mere 138 grams, and compare that for example to 189 grams for the comparable but somewhat cheaper (!!) 9'6'' Argento RV, or 155 grams for that shorter 8'6'' Argento RV that I am so in love with (see here). There are far better lure anglers out there with far more experience of lure fishing gear than me, but from my exposure to it all I was fully expecting a lure rod as long as 9'7'' to really feel like a 9' plus rod if that makes sense. But it doesn't, and this to me is the whole key to this high end Graphiteleader Argento Super. I categorically don't want a lure rod that is 9'7'' long, but that was before I had a play with this one. I want one now. Holy cow do I want one !! I love my topwater fishing, and as always it's a very personal thing, but I just have never felt that comfortable fishing surface lures on the longer 9' plus rods for any great length of time. It might just be me, but I find it slightly awkward and more tiring than with more "steely" lure rods that are less than 9' long. But not with this one.......
Look, I write for a big part of my living, but how on earth do I describe to you that casting and working lures with this 9'7'' Graphiteleader Argento Super does not feel remotely like casting and working lures with a 9'7'' long lure rod ? It's impossible to properly convey, but that is how it felt to me from the moment I whacked a lure out. I kind of like the extra length because of what it might give me in some situations, but what I really like above all is the fact that I get the extra length without the rod feeling any more than about 8' long in my hand. I have never, ever picked up a lure rod like this before - it feels that unique to me. Do other lure rods like this exist out there ? They may well do, but they're going to cost some proper money and take some serious expertise to make. I would guess that some of the Japanese Daiwa Branzino rods for example might well be off the chart, but I have not picked them up and therefore I can't tell you what they are like.
In the brief time I spent with this rod I worked surface lures, different sizes and weights of hard minnows (about 8-22g lures), weightless senkos, and I even bumped a few XLayers on light jig heads. The Xorus Patchinko is a killer but fairly heavy surface lure for example (27g), yet this Argento Super did not even feel as if it was trying when I clipped that lure on and blasted it out. I am not saying you'd want to fish heavier than the suggested weight ratings for the rod (5-28g), rather the rod's so stupidly competent that a lure close to its maximum casting weight was not putting it under any undue strain at all. It just ate it up with such unflustered ease. Working my beloved IMA Salt Skimmer (14g) just made me grin it was so much fun. Then drop to an XLayer say on a little 7g jig head and bump it along the bottom and by rights a rod like this should simply not be able to transmit that much information to you. It is that responsive. The recovery on the rod when you cast is just scary, hell a long lure rod just should not be able to behave like this one.
This rod has some tip, and somehow this tip blends seamlessly into the rest of the rod in a way that I have never quite felt before. I don't think I have ever used a lure rod that felt like such a complete rod if that makes sense, in that the tip, mid-section and butt feel in complete and perfect symmetry with one another when you cast and retrieve. The action is described as "regular fast", and initially I was worried that this might imply a longer rod losing that little bit of "steeliness" that I like so much - but I was very wrong. I just don't understand how it is possible to make a lure rod like this that weighs so little, is so comparatively long, yet is so responsive, "together", and so stupidly easy to fish with. I love the handle, the rings do it for me (Fuji Titanium SIC K guides), and it's got a rod bag that I could live in it looks so comfortable. It just feels like one hugely class product - which it is - at a serious price I grant you, but this Graphiteleader Argento Super GOSAS-972L-ML is what it is. The single most impressive fishing rod that I've ever picked up from any discipline - bearing in mind of course that my fly casting leaves a lot to be desired. Of course I would love one, but I live in the real world and as much as I want to I can't work out a way to justify buying one quite yet. I could sell my car but then I couldn't drive to my fishing spots, and I'm not actually sure my car is actually worth as much as this rod !! But if there is one thing that playing around with this rod has done is to teach me a whole lot more about fishing rods and what is actually possible. I am totally open to a longer lure rod if it feels as good as this, but then I also accept that to get the kind of overall feel you're looking at here is some seriously pricey stuff.
I will not be held responsible for any crimes that might be committed by the weaker-willed amongst you in an effort to buy this rod. When you are in court for bashing a beloved granny over the head, don't make references to my blog post as a part of your defence. Be aware that there are three more rods within this high-end Argento Super range - an 8'7'' rated 5-24g, a 9'1'' rated 5-24g, and a 10'6'' rated 5-45g. I dread to think how impressive they are. As much as I would love to see them all in the fullness of time, I also know how weak-willed I am when it comes to fishing tackle and if I was sensible I would never pick a rod up like this again. It's ingrained in my head now and it won't go away, but I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to seeing the "regular" Argento range of rods later on this year that are placed between the "budget" RV ones and these "very high-end" Supers. Graphiteleader continue to absolutely blow me away with how good their rods are at almost all price ranges.