Lure fishing for predators seems to be growing in popularity by the year. Ever on the case, the tcf team has taken a closer look at some of the many rods on offer.

tcf Buyer’s Guide
Whether it’s pike, zander, perch or chub you’re after (and sometimes even carp), fishing with artificial lures is becoming increasingly popular with predator anglers who like to travel light in search of hard-battling fish.
The problem is, which rod do you choose as there is a vast assortment of one- or two-piece rods out there not forgetting the multi-piece travel rods.
In this look at lure rods, the tcf team is sticking to the one- and two-piece choices that come with a wide range of price tags.
When buying a lure rod one of the first decisions to make is whether to go for a one- or two-piece tool. The downside of a one-piece is that it cannot be packed away, so transportation could be an issue for some.
And what about rod length? Is there any advantage to be gained when casting different weight lures with rods of differing lengths?
Firstly, can the rod you use actually cope with the casting weights stated on it? If that’s a no-brainer, can the rod you select handle more than its rating, and is its casting badly affected if too lightweight a lure is used?
There are two styles of lure rod: a jerk type that requires a multiplier-style reel and a standard spinning type that takes a small fixed-spool reel. If you go for a jerk then there is a choice of a single- or double-handed version, each having a trigger grip.
The right sort of tip action is also important. If the tip is sensitive its soft action will help to impart a smooth movement on the retrieve as the lure is worked and allow you to land and enjoy the fight from the likes of chub, perch and small pike and zander.
A stiffer-tipped rod is better for jerking a bait through the water and imparting action into larger lures, and will have loads of power to set the hooks and play larger pike and zander.

tcf THE TEST
To put our selection of rods to the test, the tcf team is spending the day on Daventry Country Park Reservoir, close to its headquarters, on a blustery day. Plenty of pike are known to live in the venue and we’ve grabbed a shed-load of differently weighted lures.
To be honest we are not expecting to catch fish in these cold conditions, but the test will allow us to see how each rod performs out in the field. We decide to fish the dam wall where we’re casting into a wind and that gives the casting capabilities of each rod a true test. For each one we fish with a number of lures inside and outside of each rod’s stated casting weight range. As for reels, we’re using bait casting ones for the trigger grip models and a small fixed-spool reel for the others. All the reels are loaded with braid – the lack of stretch in braid helps you to feel the lure working through the rod as it’s retrieved.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A LURE ROD
1 What is the casting weight rating?
2 Is it a one- or two-piece?
3 Does it have a trigger grip?
4 Is it suited to a fixed-spool or multiplier reel?
5 Does the rod have a soft or rigid tip?
6 What’s the action like?

 



SHIMANO
NEXAVE-BX SPINNING
RRP: £44.99
Pieces: Two
Length: 2.70 metres
Trigger grip: No
Casting weight: 15g to 40g
Guides: Area system rings
Reel seat: Ergonomic twist lock
Handle: Full cork
Contact: www.shimano.com

tcf Verdict
Steve says: This is a light lure rod with a progressive action that’s got plenty of spring to cast smaller lures a fair distance with little effort. This ability is also helped by its length, but I would advise that you stick with the rod’s stated casting rating. The rod’s soft action tip allows the user to impart plenty of life into spinning baits and gives excellent control when using a sink and draw-style lure.



Steve’s Choice
BERKLEY
VERTIC 202 JERK
RRP: £109.99
Pieces: Two
Length: 2.02 metres
Trigger grip: Yes
Casting weight: 20g to 100g
Guides: SiC rings
Reel seat: Twist lock
Handle: Full cork
Contact: www.purefishing.com

tcf Verdict
Steve says: A beast of a rod. Although its casting rating is stated at 20g to 100g I would not recommend you use anything less than 50g. In fact, it’s probably more powerful than the other Berkley rod we look at here, which is a proper jerkbait tool. With its very stiff tip, this is geared to targeting quality fish with big lures where the angler has to impart all the action. Its slim but powerful blank makes it the stiffest of the rods on test. Suited to use with a multiplier reel.



TF GEAR
MATT HAYES V SERIES
RRP: £69.99
Pieces: Two
Length: 6ft 10in
Trigger grip: No
Casting weight: 10g to 40g
Guides: Fuji rings
Reel seat: Twist lock
Handle: Predominately cork
Contact: www.totalfishinggear.co.uk

tcf Verdict
Steve says: The shortest of the light spinning rods on test, this is a real fun rod to use. The slim blank has a through action that really allows you to enjoy the fight. There’s loads of power there though, so the rod can handle lures to the top of its rating with ease and cope with better-than-average sized predators. Although the rod is at home with a fixed-spool reel, I actually used this rod with a multiplier and had no problem casting a wide selection of lures. I like it!



GREYS
PRODIGY BAITCASTER
RRP: £64.99
Pieces: Two
Length: 2.13 metres
Casting weight: 25g to 75g
Guides: SiC rings
Reel seat: Fuji twist lock
Handle: Full cork
Extras: Unconditional, lifetime guarantee
Contact: www.greysfishing.com

tcf Verdict
Gareth says: This is the longest of the trigger grip rods on test and it’s shorter than all the light lure rods other than the TF Gear. It has a progressive action with all the power in its bottom half. This is the rod that I caught with during the test and I found it perfect with a medium-sized spoon attached. It coped admirably with the 5lb pike I hooked and will handle much bigger fish. Suited to multiplier use.



SHAKESPEARE
ROYALTY XL SPIN
RRP: £33
Pieces: Two
Length: 2.70 metres
Trigger grip: No
Casting weight: 10g to 40g
Guides: Gunsmoke lined rings
Reel seat: Fuji twist lock
Handle: Full cork
Contact: www.shakespeare-fishing.co.uk

tcf Verdict
Gareth says: This is the most powerful of the light lure rods on test and I’d put it more in the medium category. Although the action can be described as progressive the tip section is more powerful than any of the other light spinning rods on test. The rod’s real power kicks in very quickly at the spigot. This means that you can use lures up to and above the stated range and set the hooks well, but it’s not suitable for very light lure work



Value For Money Choice
MASTERLINE
IDEAL XL
RRP: £34.95
Pieces: Two
Length: 10ft
Casting weight: 15g to 35g
Guides: Quality lined rings
Reel seat: Twist lock
Handle: Full cork
Contact: www.thenumberone.co.uk

tcf Verdict
Gareth says: This is the longest of all the two-piece rods on test and it has a progressive action similar to the Daiwa, Maver and Shimano rods. Because of its length and long cork handle this rod is designed for use with a fixed-spool reel. The length is a real bonus for flicking out light spinners and other small lures. I suggest lures in the 10g to 35g are ideal. Very good value for money.



DAIWA
SHOGUN ADVANCED LURE
RRP: £130
Pieces: Two
Length: 9ft 3in
Trigger grip: No
Casting weight: 10g to 40g
Guides: SiC rings
Reel seat: Tournament twist grip
Handle: Full cork
Contact: www.daiwasports.co.uk

tcf Verdict
Gareth says: This is one of the longer lightweight rods on test and is suited to light- to medium-weight lure fishing using a fixed-spool reel. The progressive action on the blank allows you to use lures at the top of its 10g to 40g range and to set the hooks well. It’s a good all-rounder that will handle a wide range of predators other than out and out perch work. The rod has a high-quality finish and top drawer fittings but no keeper eye.


FOX
PREDATOR XS SPECIAL LURE
RRP: £66.99
Pieces: One
Length: 7ft
Trigger grip: Yes
Casting weight: 60g to 110g
Guides: Low-profile SLIK rings
Reel seat: Fuji TCSM18BC Trigger twist grip
Handle: Full cork
Contact: www.foxint.com

tcf Verdict
Gareth says: A one-piece lure rod in the heavy category that’s got more action in the tip section than either of the Berkley jerkbait rods on test, so can be used for covering a few bases, such as heavy plug work, trolling and jerkbaiting. Its longer cork handle means it’s not ideal for casting with a multiplier one-handed, but it gives you that bit more leverage to punch out heavy lures two-handed some distance.



Gareth’s Choice
CORMORAN
BLACK STAR TITANIUM
RRP: £130.45
Pieces: Two
Length: 2.40m
Trigger grip: No
Casting weight: 10g to 40g
Guides: SiC rings
Reel seat: Fuji twist grip
Handle: Full cork
Extras: Three-year guarantee
Contact: www.foxint.com

tcf Verdict
Gareth says: This cracking rod has the softest tip section of all the light lure rods on test. The rod’s power kicks in at the spigot so has the ability to handle bigger predators too, but is soft enough for perch work. The rod’s extra-slim blank makes it feel very light in the hand. It’s slightly shorter than the Shimano and a little meatier, so will handle medium- and lightweight lures with no problem. The rod’s large first ring indicates it’s best fished with a fixed-spool reel and the flat spot on the front of the cork handle allows for a firm grip on the cast.



BERKLEY
LIGHTNING JERKBAIT
RRP: £64.99
Pieces: One
Length: 6ft 6in
Trigger grip: Yes
Casting weight: 80g-plus
Guides: SS304 rings
Reel seat: Twist grip
Handle: Full cork
Contact: www.purefishing.com

tcf Verdict
Steve says: This is almost as powerful as the Vertic, but it’s a one-piece and the shortest of all the rods on test. Suited to multiplier and braided line use, its stiffness makes it ideal for jerkbaiting when the angler wants to impart life into a lure. The cork handle beneath the reel is the perfect length so that the rod becomes an extension of the arm allowing for stress-free casting. Good value for money.



MAVER
DISTINCTION HIGH ACTIVE SPIN
RRP: £55
Pieces: Two
Length: 9ft 6in
Trigger grip: No
Casting weight: 10g to 36g
Guides: Quality lined rings
Reel seat: Twist grip
Handle: Full cork
Contact: www.maver.co.uk

Gareth says: This rod has similar properties to the Shimano and Daiwa light lure rods and is the second longest of the three, making it ideal for flicking out very lightweight lures, such as blade spinners. There’s plenty of action in the tip section, but overall the action is progressive. I’d advise that you stick to using lures within the stated weight range. As with all the light lure rods on test I recommend it be used with a fixed-spool reel.

 

Gareth snared this seven pounder from
Daventry Reservoir.

Conclusion
You might think that a lure rod is a lure rod, but you’d be very wrong. The species and size of fish you target dictates what kind, and weight, of lure you are going to use, and that in turn influences what type of rod will allow you make the most of your session.
Jerkbaiting is a method that has really come to the fore in the last few seasons. With this method you use large wooden lures which do not feature veins on the front to give the lure any action or diving capabilities. Instead, it’s the angler that imparts all the action into the lure by jerking the rod up and down, and from side to side. For this to work the rod has to be extremely stiff so that the tip can’t soak up the action you are trying to impart to the lure. Short, stiff, specialised rods are absolutely necessary for this method, and almost all of them are designed for use with multiplier reels. However, they are so stiff that they are of little or no use in other forms of lure fishing.
For general pike work with medium-sized plugs, spoons and spinners, a rod with a medium action is ideal. The best of these medium rods will balance the power you need to cast decent-sized lures and set your hooks on a take with enough action in the top to soak up the lunges of powerful fish.
Most lure rods carry a stated lure weight range. In our test we used both multipliers and fixed-spool reels, both carrying braid, and it was noticeable that to get the best out of the rod when fishing a multiplier you needed to use lures towards the top end of the weight range.
As a general point, those rods with a trigger incorporated into the handle are designed for use with multiplier reels and are hard to use with fixed spools because the trigger gets in the way on the cast. These also tend to have a smaller first ring than those designed for fixed-spool uses.
With light lure fishing with small lures, however, you need another sort of rod again. In order to cast out small blade spinners and the like you need enough give in the tip section for the rod to compress slightly on the cast; as the rod recovers the small lure is flicked out but a medium rod would be too heavy for this. Extra length helps cast out small lures too, although when you are fishing for perch, for instance, the rod can’t be too stiff or you’ll pull the hooks out.
Of the lightweight rods we felt the Cormoran stood out, being light in the hand with a lovely, soft, tip section and power in the lower part. The MasterLine Ideal was very similar in action to some of the more expensive models and is excellent value for money while the TF Gear rod will give you plenty of fun.
Of those that fell into the heavy lure/jerkbait category, the super-stiff Berkley Vertic ticked all the boxes for us – we liked the fact that the reel seat allowed you to feel the movement of the lure through the blank. It had the most rings in this category too, which helped when casting.
For those with less budget, the Berkley Lightning Jerk also impressed us.
Our favourite medium rod for all-round piking was the Greys – and this was the rod Gareth caught fish on. It was very lightweight but ideal with medium-range spoons and plugs, and handled the fight of the fish with ease.


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