Okuma slow-jig and softbait options

Okuma slow-jig and softbait options

Grant Dixon recently spent a pleasant afternoon off Tiritiri Matangi Island aboard the Surtees 750 Game Fisher, Okuma Matata, where some of the latest Okuma soft-bait and slow-jig gear was put through its paces.

Okuma product has come a long way in recent times, to the point national distributor Composite Developments (NZ) Ltd can now offer a complete range of reliable tackle to take on everything from the mega trout of the Mainland’s Mackenzie canals to big marlin and tuna well offshore, and everything in between.

For us, though, it was recognition of the importance lure-fishing for snapper plays for many anglers. The new models certainly looked the part with their new liveries – but how would they perform?

On the water…

We launched Okuma Matata at the Hibiscus Coast’s Gulf Harbour, then poked our nose into a stiffening 15-knot easterly breeze – and the Surtees was not found wanting, slicing effortlessly through the chop.

With two BF150hp Honda VTEC four strokes on the transom, there was plenty of torque, the large props punching us through the wind-against-tide chop in the Tiri Channel and beyond. Being a fully enclosed wheelhouse model, there was shelter from the wind and spray.

Unfortunately, thanks to the snapper being in spawning mode – a notoriously fickle time – and the brisk wind ensuring fast drifts, the ensuing fishing was far from fast and furious. But by working a range of Savage Eel soft-baits and slow-jig lures, which have been very effective for us in the past, we ended up with a decent feed for four families. We also managed to get plenty of positive thoughts and impressions on the gear being used, which are as follows…

The gear

Firstly, Okuma gear will not break the bank. The most expensive combo we fished was the Okuma Metaloid 5N reel matched to an Okuma Nano Matrix slow-jig rod, retailing for a recommended price of $549 (line extra).

This lever-drag reel claims a maximum 11 kilos of drag (7kg if retaining free spool) – plenty to stop even the most rampant snapper, and also giving most kingfish a run for their money. The reel features a ‘spool-access port’ for easy access and, more importantly, quick adjustment of the Velocity Control System – the latter an adjustable six-pin centrifugal braking system designed to prevent backlashes.

The other slow-jig combo featured the Okuma Citrix Ci364a reel, which has the same features and is also available in lefthand wind. This level-wind reel is ideal for slow-jig fishing. A big feature is the spool-driven level-wind, which means the level-wind follows the line off the spool, preventing acute angles when fish pull line off against the drag.

Both soft-bait combos were similarly well-priced. The most expensive was the Okuma Helios-Nano Matrix combo at $379, making it very affordable for most. The Okuma Helios SX is a nice, light reel and proved well balanced when combined with its chosen rod. One of its features is RESII, a second-generation Rotor Equalising System that incorporates a computerbalanced weight system precisely placed in the rotor, offering nice balance and eliminating reel ‘wobble’ than can occur with some spin reels.

The rods all have a nice feel to them, with the Okuma Nano Matrix slow-pitch jig rod being my favourite among the four, offering excellent sensitivity when working the jigs (in this case Savage Squish and Erratic Fall slow-jigs) as well as positive hook setting. They come with quality Alps and Fuji componentry.

New this season are the Okuma Tournament Concept rods in both spin and overhead configurations. Their main claim to fame is the patented Unidirectional Fibre Reinforcement manufacturing system. This lays longitudinal fibres around the rod blank to significantly increase power and strength to the tip section, making them among the strongest and most ‘bulletproof’ rods available.

I would be happy to fish any of these combos longer term and believe they offer very good value for money.

OKUMA METALOID 5NS REEL AND NANO MATRIX SLOW JIG ROD

The reel

• 6.4:1 retrieve

• 4 ball-bearings

• Stainless steel gears

• Full aluminium body

• Carbon drag (11kg max – 7kg with freespool)

• Alloy spool

• Ergo-Grip handle.

RRP: $329

The rod

• Made using nano materials

• Lure weights to 150g

• Alps guides

• Length 1.87cm (6’3”)

RRP: $249 | Combo RRP: $549

OKUMA CITRIX 364 REEL AND TOURNAMENT CONCEPT SLOW JIG ROD

The reel

• 6.4:1 retrieve

• 8 bearings (7BB, 1 RB)

• Alloy frame & drive side plate

• Brass gearing

• Carbon drag (11kg max)

• Clicker

• Quick-set anti-reverse

• Spool-driven level-wind Paddle handle, with a ‘power handle’ available (sold separately)

• Left-hand version available.

RRP: $299

The rod

• Graphite blank manufactured using Okuma’s patented UFR (Unidirectional Fibre Reinforcement) process

• Increased point-load resistance

• Acid-wrapped guides

• Lure weight 80-150g

• Length 1.87cm (6’3”)

• New this season

• Designed specifically for New Zealand conditions.

RRP: $179 | Combo RRP: $479

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INSPIRA ISX 40 REEL AND TOURNAMENT CONCEPT SOFT-BAIT ROD

The reel

• 5.0:1 gear ratio

• C-40X Carbon body with TCA (Torsion Control Armour)

• Oiled-felt drag (6kg max)

• 9 ball bearings

• Available in a 30 size

• Quickset anti-reverse.

RRP: $159

The rod

• Graphite blank manufactured using Okuma’s patented UFR (Unidirectional Fibre Reinforcement) system

• Increased point-load resistance

• Recommended line-weights: 6-10kg

• 2 piece.

RRP: $179 | Combo RRP: $279

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OKUMA HELIOS SX 30 REEL AND OKUMA NANO MATRIX DROP SHOT ROD

The reel

• C-40X Carbon body and rotor with TCA (Torsion Control Armour)

• Full carbon drag (6kg max)

• 9 ball bearings

• Available in a 40 size

• Precision elliptical gearing

• Alloy spool.

RRP: $199

The rod

• Manufactured using Nano ultra-light carbon technology

• Fuji reel seat with stainless steel hood

• Down-locking front grip

• Recommended line weights: 6-10kg

• Alps Guides.

RRP: $249 | Combo RRP: $379

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Okuma Matata – big features in a trailerboat package

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Having recently sold his launch, Composite Developments MD Marty Johanson was looking for a boat that delivered many of the features he had enjoyed in the bigger vessel, but in a trailerable package.

The solution came in the form of a Surtees 750 Game Fisher, appropriately christened Okuma Matata; she provided the platform for testing the Okuma product for this review.

In putting the project boat together, Marty hoped to replicate many of his Riviera’s features within 7.5 metres.

“We still wanted to be able to head across to places like Great Barrier Island and spend a couple of days aboard, and the way this boat has been set up, we can still do that,” Marty says.

This meant having features such as: 80 litres of hot water for showering; a gas cooker; electric toilet; refrigeration; and decent sleeping space in the forward cuddy, making overnighting a breeze.

“With 300 litres of fuel underfloor, the economy delivered by the Hondas gives us plenty of range, even with two motors.”

On the fishing front, Marty appreciates having plenty of cockpit space, and the unique Surtees flooding keel ensures a relatively stable platform from which four anglers can fish in comfort.

The transom is walk-through, providing good access to the water via the stern, and a canvas bimini over the cockpit offers some protection from the weather.

There is a heap of rod storage, including four holders on the bait-station, and there’s also a good-sized live-bait tank, as well as outriggers for the gamefishing season.

Raymarine electronics feature prominently at the helm, and include an Axiom PRO 12-inch hybrid touch sounder-plotter-radar that interfaces with the Evolution I autopilot. There is also Garmin engine monitoring for the Honda outboards, and the Lone Star GX3 drum winch is helm operated, too.

Marty says he is pleased with what Surtees has produced, and is looking forward to the summer game-fishing in particular.

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