If there is one aspect of angling available to Kiwi fishers that has undergone the greatest evolution in the last decade or so, it must be inshore lure fishing.
Reading through NZ Fishing News back issues, there have been hundreds of thousands of words published on soft-baiting, slow-pitch, vertical and horizontal jigging, wash fishing, deep jigging, harbour tactics – you name a time, place and technique and it will have been covered, often many times over. Even our freshwater anglers have not been forgotten as new techniques and tactics are deployed to target the likes of the monster South Island canal dwellers along with the salmon population of the Mainland’s east coast rivers.
Several of the major international companies have developed tackle specific to our opportunities down under, especially around rod construction. No longer do we have to make do with what is available on the international scene, adapting it to our ways of fishing, but local anglers and influencers are having a major input in modern tackle development that is accepted globally.
One recent example is Shimano’s new iterations of the Dialuna rod range which feature monocoque carbon-moulded hollow butts and grips that add to the blank’s sensitivity. The rods are built using Spiral X construction where the carbon fibres are laid three different ways, giving the blank a better response. The upgraded and slightly understated cosmetics add to the rod’s appeal.
Shimano has developed TAFTEC, a process by which carbon solid tips are improved in both strength and sensitivity to detect even that slightest nudge of the lure. This results in a fast taper lure that offers maximum feel through the tip, along with strength through the middle and butt sections to manage high-load situations.
I joined charter skipper Tony Orton aboard Stella for an afternoon-dusk test session off Mangawhai. The snapper had been in close chasing the anchovy schools in depths ranging from just a few metres – basically behind the surf line – out to some areas of low foul in 40 metres. Tony had also given the gear a good workout on some XOS Mokohinau snapper – see his feature on wash fishing starting on page 8 – and given it great raps, so I was keen to see how it fished for myself.
On board, we had the Shimano Dialuna F80MH heavy-duty 8’ ‘softbait’ rod, plus the baitcaster option, the 7’6” B76M. These were matched to the newly released Shimano Vanquish 4000XG spin and Metanium 150HG baitcasting reels respectively.
The Vanquish is a little honey, described by Tony as a ‘Ferrari’ version of a Stella! I have a couple of Stella/Dialuna combos in my armoury which I rate highly – the Vanquish/new Dialuna is up there on that same pedestal for several reasons.
The newly released Shimano Vanquish range of reels have been described as a Ferrari version of the Stella, Shimano’s flagship spin reel marque.
Apart from its lightness (the 4000XG is just 205g), the way it casts is the kicker for me. This is down to the technologies of Infinity Drive and Infinity Xross. Simply put, the line is laid closer together on the spool, creating a dense winding pattern line lay thanks to a slower spool oscillation. Shimano claims this significantly reduces friction when the line leaves the spool during the cast. The result is increased sensitivity felt upon casting and during the line fall, while also improving accuracy and distance.
This is particularly advantageous to the angler when fishing the wash or shallows. A longer cast means you don’t have to get as close to the target space, creating less of a disturbance and likelihood of spooking the fish. Casting long and accurately into gutters or open areas among the bricks has obvious benefits.
When hooked up, a new drag system manufactured using washers with anti-friction performance sees the drag performance at the top of its game, even when set close to its 11.0kg maximum. The likelihood of suffering from wind knots is reduced thanks to the anti-twist fin, a small piece of plastic magic located just under the line roller.
I just liked the ‘feel’ of the reel. It was solid under load, the Hagane cold-forged manufacturing process eliminating any torque. Gear engagement was crisp, ideal for when you are fishing micro-jigs horizontally and need a quick response to any attention the lure gets.
I had never considered using a baitcaster outfit for conventional softbaiting until I saw how effective it could be in the hands of an expert like Tony. I had always thought their best application was slow-pitch jigging, or dropping and dragging a slider or softbait.
The Dialuna overhead rod is one that was developed in NZ and has been accepted worldwide. A 7’6” blank, it has slightly larger guides making it better for casting, earning its ‘all-rounder’ tag. I cast 3/8-ounce jigheads with ease as well as the smaller tungsten micro-jigs.
Features I liked include ‘micromodule gear technology’ that saw quicker, smoother spool engagement thanks to smaller gear teeth which increased the number of contact points between the drive and pinion gears. It cast well, the Infinity cast control reducing the chance of a ‘Bob Marley’ (over-run). Ergonomically, this reel just felt ‘right’, the combo nicely balanced, whether it be for just a quick flick of the lure ahead of the drifting boat or a fully loaded cast into the shallows. Both combos were easy on the arms, wrists and back, all quite noticeable when used over extended casting periods.
Summing the test gear up, both combos were hard to fault, meeting the expectations of the price tag. The Dialuna F80MH/Vanquish 4000 combo is a high-end specialist softbaiting outfit that is right up there with the best while the Dialuna B76M overhead rod/Metanium 150HG is a great all-rounder, capable to work everything from a softbait through to a micro-jig. Like its test mate, it has a healthy price tag but still represents value for money if you want top echelon tackle.
May 2023 - Grant Dixon
New Zealand Fishing News Magazine.
Copyright: NZ Fishing Media Ltd.
Re-publishing elsewhere is prohibited