Rivalley are one of those Japanese companies that makes the highest quality items for very unique purposes and in unique time scales. The work on a seasonal basis, which means that some times they create products in just single production runs and when they’re gone, they’re gone! It’s brilliant, but also super annoying! Their last series of hip bags naturally gained themselves a quick reputation as the ultimate saltwater piece of luggage. And they no longer make them…
In to the latter part of 2015 and their Autumn/Winter range of products, they’ve released an equally high quality alternative. Typically well built (designed to last) and incredibly well thought out in terms of layout and features, this is their new “Light Fishing Bag” (code 8676).
Unlike the previous hip bag, this one is mostly for the LRF or perch anglers out there who want the best! They’re not cheap (circa £54.99) for a small bag, but anybody familiar with quality luggage from Simms, Fishpond or Patagonia won’t find it excessive when they understand the quality. If you want build quality it generally needs to be paid for.
The front compartment has a hard case cover. Since they came in to the shop a week or so ago I’ve been eyeing them up numerous times, trying to figure out firstly what I’d use them for (naturally they’ll make superb bass bags too if you don’t want to carry much – for those short sessions) and then where I would put what! So many options with that hardcase front and foam board insert.
The fact they’re available in 3 colours too will naturally appeal to any proper tarts out there that need their luggage to match their rod, reel, jacket etc!
This year has really flown by. We’ve had a few weeks of it now, but it’s evident from being in the shop and talking to anglers that the blowy conditions we’ve been having of late have really put a dampner on the last part of the bass season for us.
I’m sure our catching season has changed over the decade or so that I’ve been lure fishing. While I used to start going out in March and winding things down by the end of November, it’s very much a May to December/early January season for us (from the shore) these days in North Cornwall. To back that up it is evident that there are still plenty of fish to be caught out there – while the water temperature hold itself up – but howling winds and big seas have hampered the efforts of many anglers. Although I bet the bass are loving it!
This week I popped out for a little look just down the road from home. An incredibly grey day to be taking any photos on, but it gives you an idea. Defin
itely a day for wrapping up warm, holding on to your hat and getting your best pout on!
And this is actually one of the more sheltered bays locally…
It’s not often I get scared when creeping right to the edge of sheer cliffs to have a peak over (always on the lookout for fishing spots), but the wind was blowing to the degree that I had to stand back a bit to ensure I wasn’t taken over the edge! A lovely days for a walk though and at times I wished I had a rod with me, but any time a set wave came through I know I’d have been a gonna!
It’s a real shame that it has been so rough – from a fishing point of view. That said, there is one bay locally where it may be just about fishable when the sea gets big, but even that would be a 10′ rod and 42g Savage Eel type of session. Could be fun though, and this is the time of year to snag one of those big fish that may be poking around so maybe over the next couple of Sunday’s I’ll get out to have a go for a couple of hours!
Every so often, a product comes along that genuinely is a little bit different from the norm. A product that makes fishing easier and simplifies our tackle choices.
In the shop over the past 12 months, the one thing that everybody has been asking for more and more is weedless jigheads. Getting hold of anything but a few sizes has always been really tricky though, and most manufacturers don’t make them in a lot of the sizes that anglers really want. The hook sizes or weights are always too big or too small.
Now though, Spro have come up with the perfect solution! And it’s more than just a weedless jighead…
They basically consist of a round ball lead with a slit running through the middle. In to this is inserted a very tight “paper clip” type bit or wire. The fit is very tight so it doesn’t move. On to this you can mount any hook that you choose – whether it’s a size 6 weedless hook, or a 6/0 straight shanked Aberdeen. Or anywhere in between! They’ll be most popular with weedless (worm) hooks, but the point is that you can use any hook you like! The wire that runs through the centre is fine enough to accept all normal hook types with ease.
Here’s how they work:
The other thing about this style of link is that unlike standard weedless jigheads where you try to push the soft plastic up against the lead itself, the fact that there is an articulated gap is a good thing when flexibility/movement of the lure in concerned. Just one type of retrieve that this benefits is an idea that I first came across a idea few years back when I started playing with the Fish Arrow lures. One of their videos showed a lure being nose hooked on a wacky style jighead, and then fished with a constant wiggle of the rod tip (I’d always done this a lot with LRF to be honest, but this jighead style adds another dimension). With the lead sat away from the nose of the lure and this twitching motion, it really gets the lure rolling and moving in a way that you can’t achieve with a standard jighead. Check it out below (jump to about 50 seconds):
Inexperienced anglers may look at it and think to themselves, “that looks weird” (with the gap between head and plastic). If you think about it through, as soon as you turn it even just a few degrees off side-on, the gap disappears. From a fishes point of view a) they don’t seem to care anyway (certainly the excellent TT Snake Head jigs prove that point), and b) they’re not going to be sat looking at it side on, even if they did care. They’ll be underneath it or behind it.
That said, that is just the “bonus” feature… Of course, the Bottom jigs will be ideal for all of your standard types of retrieve as well! With sizes going down to just 1.5g, they will suit you, whether you’re a bass angler who fishes shallow, rocky ground, or a perch angle
r on the canal! And stepping up eventually (through 3g, 5g, 7g, 10g, 14g) to 18g weights, they will cover most of what we do – especially from the shore!
I’ll certainly be using these a lot these year, even for Wrasse fishing. The only time I would choose a standard jighead through preference to one of these would be when I’m swimming a lure back with more aggressive, darting twitches (where the fixed nature of the head will get the lure darting more effectively). Or when I need to use more than 18g.
Lures are another critical factor for every company these days. Much of Spro’s older ranges are based around what I would call more “traditional”, freshwater aspects of the sport. A lot of the lures look simple. And big. Proper pike lures in a lot of cases, I think. They have some lovely bits within the range though. Like the rods and reels, we’ve not sold a lot of Spro lures previously in the shop. Partly because of the fact that they felt so pike orientated to me. When you look through past catalogues though, they just weren’t as good looking as they are now. I suppose this isn’t necessarily just a Spro trend these days. All of the main manufacturers are starting to realise that lures need to look better (to us – anglers) than they ever did before. It doesn’t matter whether they work any better or not; when one manufacturer launches something that looks real (and works), everybody else has to follow. They don’t get a choice.
I must admit, seeing all of the Spro lures in the wall in Holland it’s hard not to like them really. Just the way they’re displayed even. That’s how I want my shop to look! In a weird kind of way it would be a shame to mess it up with other colours and brand names. Ideally I’d like to own a supermarket with an aisle for every brand. They just look so rubbish when you start having to mix them up due to lack of space! Like the rods and reels though, there are various lures in the range that I personally have no interest in. As excellent as I’m sure the lures are, I’m not a big lure, pike angler, so (sorry to those folks) I’m not going in to detail about those kinds of lures here. Spro are renowned for the likes of their bigger BBZ and crankbait models though. They speak for themselves a bit. On the smaller end of the scale though there are some real beauties!
Being used to dealing in high end Japanese equipment my standards and expectations are high. However, I appreciate now more than ever that there is a time and a place for long casting, expensive (some would say) lures, and in some situations there is just no point in splashing top dollar. That’s actually where brands like Spro come in to their own. I’m talking hardbaits here, of course. On narrow canals for example, or on any freshwater venues surrounded by tree roots and branches you don’t need supreme casting distance, and you’re constantly aware that you’re going to snag a lure from time to time. It’s a bit different to when you’re out on the north coast of Cornwall with a gale howling in your face and waves crashing around (you’ll appreciate the casting and stability benefits of a Â£20 lure then!).
Anyway, I digress. What Spro do (like most mainstream European manufacturers) is provide a range of quality lures that fit perfectly in to the middle price range (as I see it). Small hard lures all under a tenner, and packs of soft plastics for anything up to about six or seven quid. Freshwater anglers are fishing lighter and smaller right now than they ever have done, particularly for Perch. Being based in the Netherlands, they are surrounded by Pike, Perch and Zander, and as a result the lure ranges are biased in this direction. They have (sea) bass over there too, and the lure range is starting to include a couple of good value options for these too. I’ve caught bass on their various soft plastic lures before anyway, so we obviously know they work. The simplest thing is for me to get straight on talking about various standout lures that I liked and will be stocking, rather than babbling for ages.
SOFT LURES (Hard Lures in Part V)
Spro Bony Shaker 80, 95, 140
I’ve always loved this type of lure. I catch stacks of bass every yea
r (there’s a 140mm version available that I’d use for that), but it’s the two smaller sizes that I loved the most! The 80mm version especially. As a dropshotting lure this will be superb. Amazingly soft, you can see a video below to give you some idea.
While the two smaller size will make great dropshot lures in particular, the 140 has potential for bass. Rigged weightless and weedless, it will cast far enough, and action through the water should be absolutely superb.
Spro Arrow Tail 80
I can’t deny, this lure is almost exactly the same as the epic Ecogear Grass Minnow L. I must admit though, I prefer the colours available from the Spro range. Check them out on the Spro website: Spro Arrow Tail 80. Being designed in Europe, the colours are more natural on the whole, but also include some great traditional perch colours – or versions of them. I love the one below especially. I’ve caught loads of bass on the Ecogear version (very often copied these days), so I know these will catch almost anything.
Spro Komodo Shad
This isn’t a new lure for Spro, but one I’d completely ignored before the trip. I look at them and see just a nice ‘normal’ USA moulded soft plastic. Perhaps not one I’d have initially been drawn to though. They don’t look all that fancy. The benefit of seeing there (and any product) in the flesh though, and perhaps one of the most enjoyable things about working in fishing, is when you surprise yourself. Many anglers out there will already have fished with and appreciated these. However, they’re newer to me, and I just love the softness and feel to them. They’re a lot nicer than I thought they’d be. I especially love the 60mm size! These will catch perch all day every day, but will also suit LRF anglers. As you run through the different sizes there is something there to catch nearly any fish to be honest.
Spro Super Natural Baitfish 80/100
I’d never seen these in the flesh before either. Wow! How impressive they are though! Soft, and a lovely size too. I’m looking forward to fishing with them as I’ve not done so yet, but certainly they feel lovely and soft and like they will fish superbly well.
Spro Fat Papa 70
Again, from looking at the catalogue, this wasn’t one that initially grabbed me. It just looks too simple and cheap. Grab one out of the pack though and they’re really sort and the profile of them is very, very slim. I imagined them being fat and bulky, but they’re far from it. They’ll make a great big perch lure for this year!
Spro Shy Goby 100
The Shy Goby looks great! Anything Goby related is always going to go down well with wrasse anglers in particular, but they also have various similarities with freshwater mini-species too. In all honest, I wish that they were 3″ long rather than 4″, but certainly this size will be popular with some. With the outward sticking fins, they may not cast as well as some lures, but due to the nature of what you’ll likely be fishing for when using them, that probably doesn’t matter too much. Under the water they should make up for it with a huge presence – sending out lots of vibration as they pass through the water.
I think that gets to the end of my main favourites. There are lots in the range that we’ll be stocking in the shop this year now that I’ve seen them. Some are in already, so if you have any questions or requirements, give me a call, email or check the website and I’ll try and help you out.
Part 5 is going to be a bit of a beast of a report because the range or hard lures this year is brilliant.
If I’m really honest, we’ve always struggled to sell Spro reels in the shop. Previously, when you picked them up side by side with a Shimano (or whatever), the Spro model always felt heavy in comparison. No matter how smooth they might have felt, weight is a vitally important factor when customers are physically handling and comparing reels before making a purchase. Buying blind too, we sell far more Shimano and Daiwa reels than anything else we have ever stocked – just because they’re names that people know they can trust in. Buying something that you just don’t know much about, or haven’t read positive reviews for, just isn’t something that people do all that often. It’s the same across the board with all kinds of products really. Sometimes it’s a shame because while I may have tracked down or found a new product that I think is amazing, it can sometimes take customers a year or more to twig that something really is worth giving a go. The brilliant OSP DoLive stick (soft lures) is one example. We’ve stocked them for 5 years, and although we sold just about enough to make it worth our while keeping them in stock, it is only in the last two years that people really began to trust and believe in how brilliant they are. It is a completely random process sometimes. Sometimes all it needs is Henry’s say-so. Other times popularity for a product will come completely out of the blue. I can absolutely guarantee though that there are heeeeelluva lot of amazing products out there that people just aren’t aware of and will never know about because of a general (and natural) reluctance to spend hard earned monies on something they’re not 100% sure will be a good buy.
We will always sell more Shimano reels than anything I think. Particularly online when people don’t necessarily have the benefit of playing with some of the reels mentioned below in the shop.
For those that do venture down to the shop one day, there are some brilliant new reels available this year that will sell themselves upon physical examination!
Spro have actually had an epic evolutionary advancement this year. Many of their older models remain (and I know we won’t be selling many of these), but their new models are lighter, smoother and better looking than any of their previous reels. All of a sudden, we have an extra range of reels in the shop that I expect we will sell as many of as the Shimano’s and Daiwa’s I already love.
Springing straight to mind are the Custom and Addiction models. Both are similarly priced actually, and for around Â£45-Â£60 they are both excellent reels. I like the handle design on each, and they’re certainly lighter in the hand than older Spro models. They may be harder to get hold of to begin with, but well worth looking at if you’re after a new reel in the price range. I think they’ll sell very well along side the likes of the new Addiction rods. Sizes run from an ultralight 1000 model, through to some larger 5000 sizes. Sizes I suppose are quite similar to the Shimano versions – just so you know what you’re looking for. Although I think the 1000 is perhaps just a smidgen bigger than the Shimano equivalent.
There’s not actually too much more to say about them actually. They feel very well made, impressively smooth and are much lighter in weight than any of their previous models. Apart from the Hyperlite…..
The Hyperlite range of reels isn’t actually new. They were available last year too but it wasn’t until now that I had a proper play with one. Like I said, my impression of the Spro range (and almost anything not Shimano to be honest – under Â£100) was that they must surely be quite heavy. This is a really, really, really lovely reel though! Again, they’re not expensive either. I’ve only just checked the price list actually, and I’d convinced myself they were selling for around about Â£120. I’ve only just realised that they’re less than Â£80!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! These could actually be the best value reels available at the moment. They look more expensive and feel it too!
The Hypalite competes sits roughly in between the Shimano Aernos and the Exage. Although I think it feels lighter than either. I probably wouldn’t buy one if I was spending all of my time getting splashed in salt water due to the open spool design, but freshwater anglers will struggle to find better reels for the money! It’s also got some competition from the brilliant new Daiwa Exceler models. which will probably sell for about the same. I don’t know which I’d pick to be honest. It would have to come down to your own personal styling preferences I think. Both are super light and smooth. The fact that I am comparing the Spro with the Daiwa and Shimano’s though is credit enough.
There is also a brilliant new model called the Soraia (the idiot I am, I forgot to get a picture). This is officially a saltwater model – although anybody who has chatted to me in the shop about “saltwater” models will know how dubious I generally am. I really think that most of the time, the more you spend the more corrosion resistant the materials become. That aside, this is a really nice reel. Again, lighter than previous models, and better looking too I think. There is actually something that differentiates it from “normal” reels though. There is no anti-reverse lever or option. the idea is that it means there is one less place for water and/or salt to get in! A good idea. The drag is a big one too. Inshore anglers should really like these. They’re all around the Â£45 mark! I think we’ll sell loads to be honest.
I keep stopping to think about which other reels I liked. The truth is that every one that springs to mind is a new model for 2015.
The last one that is lure relevant I think is the Venura. This is a top, top reel. Subtly stylish I think. Again I didn’t know how much they cost when I was playing with them. Retail is around Â£95. They are well worth it too. Very light and smooth, as by now I’d come to expect. It has quite a wide spool and big drag and head on I think it looks a really lovely reel! The design is subtly classy and black.
It doesn’t blow me away with the way it looks to be honest, but when I picked one up I was so, so impressed!
Oh, one other. In the much cheaper ranges, their new Reset range was impressive for around the Â£20 mark. Easily as good and better than anything I’ve seen for that money. And also the Urban reels are well worth a mention. I’ve started selling a few of these already as they actually give us something that is as good as the brilliant little Shimano Catana. The Urban is about the same money and every bit as good. We’ll sell squillions of these in 2015. However, if you can afford an extra Â£15 or so, upgrade to the Custom!
Their baitcasting reels are worth a mention too. I don’t think too many of them are new models necessarily, but one which is brand new is the RUFF. This one actually intrigues me hugely just because it’s priced so cheaply but feels a really, really nice reel. Time will tell how they fish when they become available early in 2015, but it’s looking likely that it may be possible to pick one of these up for under Â£40! The rods carrying the same name are also superb value. So you could be fully set with a brand new baitcasting setup for well under Â£100!
Certainly there is a lot to consider within the range. Getting a good look at them this year has changed my impressions of them completely. I wasn’t a massive fan. Now I am. And I don’t mean that just because I’ve met the guys. I’ve actually remained impartial, despite sounding like I just love everything! There’s a lot that I’m not mentioning too. It’s not at all that it was bad kit, just kit that isn’t what I think we need right now in the UK.
So, in conclusion, we’ll concentrate in the shop this year around the models which I think are right and best suited.
In conclusion, these are:
Urban: Amazing value starter reel for less than Â£30.
Soraia: Saltwater reel. Again, just brilliant value for around Â£45. Will win lots of fans.
Custom & Addiction: These will be Spro’s biggest sellers this year I think. They’re easily the best value reels I’ve seen. Very evenly matched, you can take your pick pretty much on whether you prefer black and red or silver in your colour scheme! Â£45-55.
Hypalite: Freshwater loveliness. Super light and smooth. Â£75.
Venura: Very classy. Smooth and light. Brilliant. Â£95.
Ruff: Brilliant value baitcaster for anybody who wants to invest in either a setup they won’t use often, or doesn’t have the cash to spend big. You won’t be disappointed! Â£40.
To sum it up, I’m with everyone who has an understandable reluctance to try something new. Especially if you’ve experienced older models from Spro. They have always made some lovely reels, but I noticed the weight and people’s preferences just through being in the shop. 2015 is definitely different though. Do check some of these out! All of them come in sizes from 1000 to at least 4000 so they cover pretty much all of our lure fishing needs.
In part 4 I’ll be running through some of their lures for the upcoming year!!!! 🙂
Part two of my SPRO 2015 report (having just got back from Spro HQ in Holland, playing with the whole range of new products for the upcoming year) is all about their rods!
If I’m honest, I’d never been truly blown away by the majority of their rods in the past. There are some standouts for sure (Mobile Sticks and Micro Shooters to name but two), but there was a lot in the range that didn’t really interest me. I think I’ve said before in this report somewhere that when the 2015 catalogue arrived on my desk I couldn’t have been more excited by what I saw. Everything they lacked for me and the shop before was in there!
Let’s get straight to it!… (in no particular order)
The Boost Stick is one of their new ranges for 2015 and they cover everything from 7 to 9 feet and casting weights from 12g through to 60g as their maximums.
I must admit, this is the one range of rods that I wasn’t expecting to much from. I was sure they’d be nice but I was expecting to be more blown away by others in the range and likely end up not stocking them.
Anyway, I was very, very wrong! Good job I persuaded Stu to let me go with him or I’d never have known… They certainly have their own place within the range and after my initial deliberation they could quite possible be the most popular rod of the year with our bass anglers!
Obviously they are not so refined, as slim or as perfect, but I actually look at them as a cheaper version of the Major Craft Skyroad’s. They have a level of stiffness to the blanks (lower down in particular) that will make them exceptionally easy rods to work hard lures with in particular. Surface lures too! The 8 foot, 30g model (MH) will be the daddy for that kind of fishing. For roughly Â£90 in the UK I expect to sell a lot of these next year. I would go as far as saying that I prefer these rods to anything we currently have or have had in the price range. I still love the softness of the tip on the Daiwa Powermesh X, but these rods will sit side by side with the Powermesh in 2015. They’re different in reality, although I’d likely buy the Spro with my own money given the choice today (if we were talking 30g rated rods). The 20g model will handle it’s rating as well, and become the choice for anglers wanting to fish a lot of soft plastics among their hard lures. If you do a bit of both, and don’t really fish plugs over the 20g mark (most of mine are well below) then this lighter option will be just the ticket! With a lot of 30g rated rods only realistically handling 20g, don’t be put off by the “low” (20g) rating on this one. It will handle it.
The 9 foot options too will be good for anybody wanting more length. The 30g models will be very popular and the 60g models will come in t their own for rough conditions or long distance.
The casting weights on the rods feel pretty accurate to me. For example, if you are mostly fishing smaller hard lur
es and general soft plastics, the 20g model (M) will be lovely for it. If you’re chucking Xorus Patchinko’s every day though then the 30g model (MH) will be the one. Pike anglers will enjoy them too.
I’ll likely not stock too many of the lighter or shorter models in the range. Not because they’re not good, but because anglers today (in the UK) looking at 12g and 15g rated rods have a huge choice of more refined options. It’s where the “Addiction” comes in to its own!……
For less money than the Boost Stick, the brand new Addiction range is a superb looking range of very modern rods! With a minimalist design, when you look at the specs in the catalogue the first thing you have to make note of is the physical weights of the rods. Even the heaviest – an 8 footer rated to 42g – only weighs 100g!!!
As a range it includes models from a stumpy 6 footer for the canal through to two 8 foot models. I struggle to pick my rod of the bunch (we’ll stock all of them), but I obviously have a liking for 8 footers as the 16g and 42g rated 2.4m rods would suit me personally.
The Addiction Crank Performance 240 is rated from 3-16g. In reality it’s perhaps a touch over rated, but not far off. It’s not got as much power lower down as some rods genuinely capable of whacking out 16g, but with a lovely fast, forgiving action it’s a perfect heavier LRF/light bass/longer perch rod! It will find very wide applications. This one is perfect with their 2000 size reels like the Addiction or Custom.
The Addiction Hardbait & Shad Performance 240 is a lovely all-rounder. Rated 14-48g you’d naturally think it’s a bit of a beast! Far, far from it, it’s a lightweight rod with a lovely action. It is however, nowhere near capable of chucking 48g. I’d compare it most favourably with an average 30g rated rod to be honest. I’ll need to have a cast with one very soon to get a better idea. As a 30g rod though, it’s an absolutely lovely rod for less than Â£90! I’d say not so suited to fishing larger surface lures, but ideal with everything else. Despite the high rating it will make a lovely bass rod for fishing with soft plastics even. I’d match this one with their 3000 size reels.
The range in general is just superb. We had the 6 footer (Addiction Micro Bait Special 198) matched up with a 1000 size Addiction and Custom reels and it was just such a precise little tool. You immediately imagine yourself bouncing a little plastic back along the bottom with it. It’s a proper little wand. Particularly for freshwater anglers, you’ll likely find what you need from within this range (when a level of finesse is required). Perch anglers in particular need look no further. Saltwater anglers will love the 8 foot models (heavy LRF or Bass). There are loads of models in between as well. This range will do very, very, very well for Spro this year! I’ll be recommending them a lot in the shop too.
To jump up a level from the Addiction, you’ll find the super sexy Hypalite. I’m sure I’ll be sounding like a walking sales pitch by now, but the rods really are that good in general. I’ve found literally nothing better so far in the respective price ranges currently being discussed. The Hypalite is Spro’s top offering, and even these are still in the very much affordable Â£120-Â£125 range.
This range is a bit more traditionally European I reckon (rather than the softer, Japanese rods I’ve become used to). Over the past few years, every European brand has started to look towards the ultralight/LRF market and rods have become lighter and softer. Any pike angler in particular however, will understand that it’s not all about softness and lightness though and agree that you still need a level of stiffness and power to ensure that hooks are set properly. On paper the Hypalite range are physically heavier than the Addiction’s, but the style of the rods is quite different. Components are superior (titanium guides for example) and styling makes them look absolutely lovely, but the rods hold much more power in the butt section. They’re thicker blanks. Throughout the range they blend sometimes soft tips in to the perfect amount of power lower down – either for setting hooks or playing larger fish. Beautiful things! Sometimes I think anglers can and do try to go too light at times.
I’m completely in love with the 5-18g rated Hypalite 76S Ex-Fast/ML. Seven and a half feet long, it is just perfect really if you’re in to any kind of lightweight salt or freshwater fishing. I lovely, light pike rod; an all-round perch model; the perfect bass rod for fishing light soft plastics, it’ll do a bit of everything really. I love the feel and balance of the handle. Not as light in the hand as the Addiction, but it has a quality, robustness about it and is superbly balanced. There’s not a rod in the range I couldn’t appreciate for different fishing situations. Some will even suit our inshore boat fishing perfectly too in the heavier ratings, despite them being designed for freshwater predominantly. Titanium guides won’t rust – which is a bonus in the salt!
The other range that has really come in to its own this year is the Insync 2.0. The Insync rods first came in last year and were a hugely freshwater orientated range of models. None really suited our shop at the time. The Insync 2.0 aren’t a replacement for the originals, but bulk the range out very nicely. As far as my bass fishing goes, I’m even more tempted by the 8 foot, 7-22g model of the Insync than I am by any other in the range. I’ve never been the most massive Tenryu fan (although they very definitely have their time, place and fans), but this rod reminds me very much of a lightweight Injection 78ML – my favourite of that range. It would be like a rod that Tenryu are yet to design (and is therefore different) but it has that very quick tip to it, plenty of power in the butt section and a little bit more length than an equivalent Injection. Getting past the “weird” concept of the Microwave guides (which doesn’t scare me personally), this model deserves a lot of success. Again, mostly with soft plastics but also with lighter hard lures in mind – I’m thinking of the 22g, 8′ version here. I would state that I think this model will be better with soft lures than hard
though. The casting weight is probably fairly accurate. It is just a lovely, light all-rounder! In fact, I’ve just run over to pick it up again. Zander anglers will love it too! Anybody fishing jigs from 3g to 12/15g or so (plus lure).
For rougher days or bigger surface lures, the next model up (also 8′, rated to 38g) makes a better choice. Between these two any bass angler would be very content, assuming you’re not fishing in the very roughest conditions. One for the pike angler too!
The range as a whole is quite big. They’re all impressive, and it includes some new travel models too. These were beefy rods, and there is no real “middle” option at the moment (i.e. 8′, 30g) but if you’re travelling overseas and are looking to launch big lures from the shore, the 9 footer rated to 75g is ideal. In reality it’s probably not quite that capable weight wise, but if you need a longer rod with a bit of power then they’re really nice rods!
The Micro Shooter range have been around for a year now. We sell quite a lot already because they’re excellent rods! Suited mostly to salt or freshwater, they cover everything on the lightest end of the scale. Like lots of rods these days, I think the stated casting weights are a bit out (over-gunned), but the ML models in particular are my favourites – having slightly more power but remaining lovely and ‘elastic’.
The thing I’ve always loved about the Micro Shooter’s is there “elastic” action. As soon as I first picked one up, literally the only rod I could compare them to were the Nories Slow Retrieve range. The Nories are Â£400+ worth of perfection and the fact that these are similar in ways (obviously not quite so refined) makes them a standout rod along side any other rod from any other manufacturer. They’re superb! The “L” versions are rated to 12g officially (more like 8g in reality), while the “ML” versions are rated to 18g (more like 12g in reality). Both are really, really, really good LRF or perch rods. A bit soft for specifically targeting pike, but the ML obviously has the power to land them. They actually offer you stacks of length options between 7 and 8 feet to you can kind of buy the rod that really suits your personal preferences. I’d have two for myself and match the lighter 7’6″ model for harbours and lighter stuff, and the 8′ ML for the summer on the local headlands. Freshwater anglers can take their own picks. I highly recommend them though. Not everybody will love the white colour, but coming from a saltwater background where brighter colours are very much more accepted, I love it! It really helps if you’re fishing after dark too (being able to see the rod tip). Freshwater guys shouldn’t be put off.
After all of that, there is obviously one range that I really wanted to see! The new, heavier models in the Mobile Stick range have massive potential. The Micro Game models within the range are absolutely brilliant rods so I really just hoped that the longer, heavier versions would be as good.
I’m glad to report that they are superb! (I know, like everything else I’ve mentioned so far!). The thing about the Mobile Stick range in general is that they feel just like 2 piece rods when you’ve set them up. I
‘d happily fish with any of them as my rod of choice, and not just treat them as a travel/convenience option.
Spro got the range just right on these. Three length options (7′, 8′ and 9′) in MH and H ratings. The lighter models are rated to 22g and the heavier options to 35g. Again, both are slightly over-gunned (like the lighter models all are) but this leaves us realistically with a 15g+ and 28g options now within the range. Brilliant stuff! The tips are tubular rather than solid like those on the Micro Game models. They actually feel lighter in the hand than most of the two piece rods on offer.
Phew! Rods over! There are stacks more great options in there too – such as the brilliant Triffic dropshot rods – but those above are just the standout new models for 2015. I saw a bad review about them recently, but with an open and my own opinions I really can’t find a way of knocking them (for Â£40). They’re the best Â£40 dropshot rods I’ve ever seen. End of. They feel like they could be Â£70 worth to be honest. I’ve handled worse rods for more than that. I can picture myself using one of the 8 footer versions for bass after dark. With a 5g jighead and an old, trusty XLayer or something I’d be happy as Larry. I take a few of our customers out in the summer for the odd little taster session and will be having one of these to lend them for the soft plastic lessons. I have a choice as to whether I want to stock things or not. These are great rods and they’re available here: SPRO TRIFFIC DROPSHOT
Oh, I forgot to mention their RUFF range of baitcasters. With a matching reel, you could end up with a brilliant little baitcasting setup for under Â£100. They’re not available yet but hopefully will be early next year.
Just a quick rundown on their main models:
Triffic: An incredible rod for the money! By far the best of this style in this price range! I’d happily recommend them to anybody on a budget or who is just starting out.
Addiction: Softer action throughout (I don’t mean they’re not fast actioned though) which is what contributes to it’s ambitious casting weights. Pick the right one though and they’re incredible rods!
Boost Stick: These are incredible value. Fast actioned. For soft or hard lures, they fill our range when it comes to bass rods! Pike anglers will enjoy them too.
Insync 2.0: Soft tip and very powerful butt. Lovely for fishing soft plastics in the lighter ratings. Ignore your concerns about the new/different Microwave guides. The rods are worth buying!
Hyperlite: Somewhere in the middle. They look absolutely lovely! More of a modern-traditional freshwater rod. Sensitivity where it’s needed but with the power lower down for handling decent fish.
Think that pretty much sums it up. Like I said somewhere above, I have a choice as to whether I stock these rods or not. If there are better out there I will stock those instead or as well as those mentioned above. From all of the major brands though, I honestly don’t think I’ve seen or
felt better in the different price ranges of those mentioned above. I can’t say any more than for the millionth time say how impressed I am with what they’ve pulled out of the bag this year.
Reels next in part 3, coming soon! There are a few nice surprises there too! I just hope a few of you are finding these reports useful.
I’ve just got back from a brilliant trip over to meet the men and women behind European fishing tackle brand, SPRO. Based in the Netherlands, I travelled with the UK’s distributor of the brand, Stewart Lister (Stewart’s Angling Services).
I’m lucky in a way that I’ve known Stewart for a lot of years, having matched fished together around Cornwall. And now that he has control of the SPRO brand across the UK, it’s super convenient having him based just up the road. No waiting on the post – I know if I need something SPRO I can just go and get it!
The brand itself has been available in the UK for a long time. It’s one of those European ones that I think has sat on the side lines a little but though – while anglers more familiar with Shimano, Daiwa et al stick religiously to what they know. Across Europe however (particularly in Germany and Holland) the SPRO brand is massively popular, and continuing to grow fast!
Mention “Gamakatsu” in the UK and most anglers will be familiar with the almost elite status that the brand has. Did you know that Gamakatsu actually own SPRO and that there are huge similarities between their product ranges? While Gamakatsu have that respected air of greatness about them, Spro are perhaps yet to find their feet as a mainstream brand in the UK. It will come though – or at least massively deserves to! The products are obviously designed for the European market (while Gamakatsu is more Japan orientated), and the result is a range of high quality products, produced at very reasonable prices, and specifically designed for the venues and fish that we target here.
Until this year (or next year – from now on), we’ve not stocked a huge range of Spro equipment. The jigheads have always been the best value out there, and their ultra-light travel rods have always been out best value, best sellers, but on the whole their range has been too freshwater orientated for our shop. Being based in Cornwall and surrounded by sea, obviously that is where our main customer base lies. Their 2015 range however, fills in literally all of the blanks! If I had said to them last year (and they were willing to listen) that we need “this”, “this” and “that”, what they have come up with is exactly what my list would have contained! Longer, more powerful rods for a start (to suit our bass anglers)! And longer, lighter rods too to suit the growing number of both light saltwater anglers and freshwater anglers looking for a 8 footers rather than 7’s. These types of rods crossover hugely well now between fresh and salt water.
I’ve been visiting a lot of trade shows during the latter part of this year. As a result, it’s been really nice to compare tackle across different brands. To be honest, I’ve mostly been looking at coarse fishing kit (a past and present love) but naturally I’ve seen a lot of lure stuff too. It’s been a huge benefit to me in that I’ve seen both a lot of kit that I expected to love even before seeing it (and did); a lot that I expected to love (and hated); a lot that I expected to hate (and loved!) and a lot of stuff that I just thought ‘d never give much of a look or thought (which I’ve been completely blown away by!). As far as stocking the shop goes, it’s probably saved me a fortune in buying duds, but it will also lead us in to 2015 with ranges of tackle that I can be superbly confident and happy with. Obviously our range will include far more than just SPRO, but this report is obviously about those products.
Back to the trip, we took a long thirteen hours to get over there. Once settled though we spent one and a half days meeting the guys involved (in Europe and
Japan), playing with pretty much the entire range of tackle that is permanently on excellent display in their showrooms, and seeing just how massive their warehousing departments are! Anybody who had any doubt about the place of SPRO in the market (as a big player) needs just to see the enormity of the operation they have there – with regular truckfull’s of fishing tackle arriving and leaving every single day! It’s an extremely professional operation.
On the way over I think we discussed items we particularly wanted to see. Like any anglers, Stewart and I are immediately drawn to what catches our eyes personally. This is always a nice starting point when it comes to stocking the shop, as it seems that most people think in just the same ways. Above everything else, I think the new “Addiction” range of rods and reels was high on the agenda, as well as the “Custom” reels and new models of their “Mobile Stick” travel rod series. There was just too much to list to be honest.
I’ll keep the exact details of some of the standout products for the further four reports to follow. This is the introduction obviously. Then we have:
Part 2: Rods.
Part 3: Reels
Part 4: Lures
Part 5: Other Stuff.
For today though, I’ll leave you with a few more pictures. They don’t quite show true enormity of the place, and for security reasons I can’t show anything of the huge warehouses, but hopefully these will give you an idea of where we were….
Rod report to follow in a couple of days. Did I like them?! Yes I did!
We have a lot of new product ranges arriving during the year ahead, but not many as exciting as the Duel stuff.
Duel as a brand has been available in the UK for a long time, sold alongside their export brand, Yo-Zuri. They may have been dumped in the same bucket to a certain extent, but Duel is actually the parent company of Yo-Zuri, with the Yo-Zuri brand generally including their export product ranges. The Duel branded products are their true, Japanese range. Higher quality than Yo-Zuri, but affordable at the same time.
Duel are actually the World’s second largest lure manufacturer – behind Rapala. As a result of their size and associated production runs, they produce high quality lures at prices generally lower than equivalent competitors. Having said that, they’ve been expensive in the UK in years gone by and the range available has always been minimal.
However, from this year onwards there is a much larger range available to us, and the prices have all been reduced too!
I’m in love with the Silver Dog 90 surface lure already, and it will be a big seller for us this year. It’s worth checking out. The Hardcore Lipless Minnow 120 too is a brilliant, brilliant lure at a good price. There don’t seem to be many duds in the range actually. Plus, for me as a shop owner, I get a bit anal about things looking good on the wall. Not that it will ever help you catch more fish, but I love the Duel branding and how it makes the wall’s of the shop look good! 🙂
Before I go, check out the braids and leader materials too! Again, brilliant quality and value. I’ve been trying some of them out for the past 6 months or so and got on absolutely brilliantly with them.