The world is a changing, and with such a marked growth in interest surrounding lure fishing for bass especially, of course the angling trade will follow suit if they have their ears to the ground. Some of these distinctly budget Shimano Yasei Red lure rods especially (plus that Stradic 8'1'' 10-35g) have really caused me to sit up and take a bit more notice of this important part of the market, so it's with a real sense of interest that I was kindly lent these HTO Lure Game rods from TronixPro to have a play with.................
There are three rods in this new Lure Game range - an 8' 5-25g, a 9' 10-40g and a 9'6'' 10-50g - this review is about the 9' 10-40g rod as so far it's the one that I have been out fishing with. So when it comes to this new range of budget lure rods, what does roughly £60 buy you ? Well it depends very much on what kind of rod you want to use for your lure fishing - if you want something pretty stiff and perhaps more French in action then forget all about this 9' HTO rod and check out something like the Shimano Stradic rod that I reviewed - see here. If though you are looking for a sub-£100 lure rod that is perhaps more along the lines of a Japanese style rod then you really should check out this HTO thing.
But then what is a Japanese style lure rod ? Well I'm not entirely sure. As such I don't really know how best to describe the action on this HTO Lure Game 9' rod. It isn't "fast" when compared say to the Shimano Yasei Red Twitch 8' (a peach of a rod), but then I wouldn't remotely describe the HTO as being "slow" or "sloppy-through" like say a 10' long, old style UK spinning rod based on a salmon blank - it's kind of "fastish" if you like, but not "fast" like a typical French rod (if indeed there is such a thing). The HTO rod is not stiff like the Shimano Twitch either, but the HTO rod is not soft either. Does it have this JDM (Japan Domestic Market) action that I hear people speak about ? I don't know, because this HTO behaves very differently say to the GL Argento Nuovo 9' or APIA Flow Hunt 8'9'' - which again makes me have to ask what on earth a JDM action actually is ? Perhaps a good description of this HTO rod is that is has a "powerful through action"..................
Whatever the case, I love how this HTO Lure Game 9' rod fishes. It took me a couple of casts to adjust my timing, but once you're on the ball with this rod then it is just fantastic to fish with. So easy, but it's a "serious" rod, and make no mistake about that either. Easy casting but with loads of guts, an easy going tip that works well for the kinds of lures I fish with - ok, so fishing the longer casting surface lures at range could perhaps benefit from a slightly stiffer tip (the 9'6'' model might well come into its own here), but then I would gladly live with that and adapt to it rather than change the tip because it's so efficient to fish with (much like what I found on the Yamaga Early 88MLRF rod, see here). Sure, the recovery on a rod like the Graphiteleader Argento Nuovo 9' is faster, but then we are talking about a roughly £250+ price difference, and also considering how well this £59.99 HTO Lure Game rod bangs lures out there, I can't work out if a marginally faster recovery actually makes much of a difference.................
If you are coming from the more French-style of (generally) stiffer lure rods and are in the market for a sub-£100 rod then you might have second thoughts when you pick up this HTO Lure Game 9' rod, but give it a chance as it really is mightily impressive, and for the price I could argue that it's almost too grown-up if that makes sense. Bearing in mind the price then, what are you not getting, and what would I change about the rod ?
Well for the price you obviously are not getting Fuji fixtures and fittings, but it matters not a jot to me. The rod looks well built, and as with the other budget lure rods I have reviewed, I would say that at this price you will get potentially loads of use and then simply buy another if the thing falls apart on you - but I see no reason why it should. Those budget Shimano rods look to be very well built for example - "cheap" rods these days are so different to what "cheap" rods were like a few years back. I do though have a few minor things that I would personally like to change about the rod, but bear in mind that they are my opinions and you most likely fish differently to me.
Although I have not fished with the 8' HTO Lure Game rod yet, I far prefer the slimmer duplon grips and slimmer reelseat on this shorter rod. It's no big deal, and over time I am getting used to the chunkier than normal duplon grips and thus reelseat on the 9' long version - but I don't see the point of them. Give me the slimmer grips any day of the week. The reelseats on these rods are in fact perfectly nice copies of the Fuji versions that I think work well on lure rods. The rings look fine, although in a perfect world I would like to see the first (largest) ring on the butt section dropped a size as I don't personally get why this comparatively large ring size is required. Does it make a blind bit of difference to the rod ? I can't imagine so, but it just looks a size too big to me when I'm fishing.
One thing that does niggle me though is the length of the handle, i.e. the part that extends down from the back of the reel - it's too long for me by precisely 3'', but again, this is very personal and I know that over the last few years I have become far more comfortable with shorter handles on my lure rods. My perfect length of rod handle if you like is on my Graphiteleader Argento Nuovo 9' (nothing remotely to do with price difference here), and I measured this HTO Lure Game 9' against it - and it's precisely 3'' longer. I like a lure rod where I can hold the rod normally and the butt cap passes just inside the inside bend of my elbow (the crease between forearm and bicep if that makes sense). Is this technically correct ? I don't know and quite frankly I don't give a stuff, but it's what I like on a lure rod.
Look, the rod's £59.99. It's a serious amount of lure rod for the money, indeed it amazes me these days how rods like this can be made and then sold at this sort of price - a price that I would assume the retailer is going to make a proper mark-up as well (quite right). It's some pretty amazing stuff, and what I would like changed is, it could be argued, very little indeed and might also just be me and what I like. If I was to own this rod then I would perhaps be chopping 3'' off the end of the handle and sticking a new butt cap on, but in reality I would most likely get used to the longer handle over time and in no way is any of this stuff a deal-breaker for me. I can't help but give a whack load of credit to the TronixPro people for bringing such a fantastic budget lure rod like this to the UK market.
In the last few months I have fished with and reviewed three sub-£100 lure fishing rods - the Shimano Yasei Red Dropshot 9', the Shimano Stradic 8'1'' and of course this HTO Lure game. I have also fished with (but not yet reviewed) the Shimano Red Twitch 240M (8', 7-28g, £59.99) which is about as different from this Lure Game rod as is possible - both are great rods for the money, but the Twitch is one mother of a fast rod yet it still has a good tip. More budget rods like these are giving more anglers the option to get into lure fishing and fish with "proper" lure fishing rods and I personally think it's great news.