There’s loads more choice out there these days if you want to splash out north of say £150 on a “proper” lure fishing rod, and without a doubt it’s the Major Craft brand that really helped to open my eyes up to “proper” lure rods for what I would term sensible money when compared to what you could so easily spend, but there are of course any number of rod companies out there who are after our wallets. I can’t help but be drawn primarily to Japanese lure rods these days for my own saltwater lure fishing, and I would guess that a number of internet-savvy anglers are at least aware of the name Yamaga Blanks. I have fished with a few of their rods over the years (check here), and I believe that this brand new Yamaga Blanks Early Plus 95ML 9’5’’ 7-28g lure rod was released pretty recently. I know of only one place where you can buy this rod in the UK, and that’s right here, indeed keep an eye on this website for Yamaga rods in the UK.
As far as the actual rod blank goes and the way it fishes a bunch of different lures, I can’t really find anything about it that I don’t like, albeit there are a couple of minor issues I’ll discuss later. Talk about an easy lure rod to fish with. Smooth as you like to cast, easily efficient, and I am left wondering how many lure fishing rods there must be over in Japan that would work for our own bass fishing. This Yamaga Blanks Early Plus 95ML 9’5’’ 7-28g has almost what one might expect now from a Japanese lure rod based on these sort of specs - accepting of course that different companies are going to put their own spin on individual rod designs.
I can’t help but compare this Yamaga Blanks rod to the similarly priced (in the UK) Major Craft N-One 9’6’’ 10-30g rod (review here) - both rods in my view will easily cover the majority of UK and Ireland shore based lure fishing for bass situations, and they will deal with most hard and soft lures I am likely to use. The Yamaga Blanks rod is perhaps a little “easier” in the tip than the Major Craft, and whilst of course they are different rods and meant to be so, I’m kinda happy fishing with either - but if I was to own one of them I’m going for the N-One because of that slightly faster tip and slightly steelier feel overall. These are not out and out powerhouse lure rods in say the French vein, but then my thing for French style bass rods waned some moons ago as I began to fish more with mainly Japanese bass rods. Sure, I like a fast to fast/medium sort of rod and I don’t like softish, through actions - but then I don’t like absolute frigging pokers either.
As I said, give me either rod and I’d be perfectly happy, but as much as I like how this Yamaga Blanks Early Plus 95ML fishes, the handle design does bug me. Sure, rod handles are no different to rods themselves - we all want different things, but try as I might I just can’t bring myself to like the handle on this Yamaga Blanks very much, or more specifically, the bit on the handle where the back of your front hand sits whilst casting and retrieving. Is it a big deal? Nope, and because this is such a personal thing it could well just be me, but it just doesn’t sit right on the back of my hand, and therefore I don’t find this rod particularly comfortable to fish with. OK, so spending more time with the rod makes it begin to feel more normal, but then I go back to a different lure rod with a grip design I really like and the Yamaga Blanks grip annoys me all over again! As I said though, it could just be me, although my mate Mark feels exactly the same as me about the grip.
Would I buy this rod? Well it’s plenty of rod for the money, as is the Major Craft N-One 9’6’’ 10-30g. I do prefer the handle design and indeed the smaller rings on the N-One, but both rods are a pleasure to fish with and I reckon they will work well for any number of UK and Irish lure anglers. The thorn in the side of these rods continues to be the cheaper Major Craft Skyroad Surf 9’6’’ 5-28g (review here) - this rod continues to amaze me just how good it is and what a frigging steal it is for the price. The Surf is that little bit steelier again than the Early 95ML, but of course it’s a matter of preference. Yamaga Blanks seems to have one hell of a reputation for their rods, and as much as I have enjoyed fishing with this new Early 95ML, there’s a couple of their brand new Ballistick TZ/Nano lure rods which sound very interesting indeed (check here).