With the parent company now owning its New Zealand distribution operation, the ‘Downunder’ Shimano staff members are having greater input into the style of tackle, rods in particular, being sold here.
A prime example is the Shimano Energy Concept range of 13 rods, launched at the 2016 Hutchwilco NZ Boat Show. The range reflects the dramatic increase in the popularity of lure fishing in recent years, kicking off with soft-baiting and followed by a resurgence in jig and popper/stick-bait techniques.
This saw Shimano NZ have its own stand at the Hutchwilco Boat Show, enabling it to highlight the latest product range, as well as support those retailing its product.
It was manned by the Shimano NZ staff who’d helped develop the range, along with Mangawhai-based charter operator Tony Orton, who was involved extensively in the field testing.
I finally got the chance to try them over the Queens Birthday Weekend, taking three of the lure outfits with me to Waipu Cove, along with an overhead Shadow X 4-8kg stray-line rod. These rods were:
THE FIRST DAY Ivan Penno and I launched the www.fishing.net.nz Extreme 6.1 Game King at Mangawhai, and after crossing a benign bar, we headed back towards Bream Bay, where we’d seen birds working off Langs Beach while making our way over the hill.
We didn’t get that far. In the vicinity of McGregors Rock there was a heap of birds working above the kahawai, which in turn were feeding on shoals of whitebait. The sounder showed plenty of marks through the water column, some of which were hard on the bottom – we were hoping these were snapper.
However, the trick turned out to be getting the lures through the kahawai to reach them. While not huge, the two-kilo kahawai were still solid specimens that gave the new gear a good work-out if nothing else.
Moving slightly away from the bird action there were still good marks on the sounder, and with fewer kahawai around, we were able to get to the bottom. The snapper were not that big, typically being in the 2-3kg range, but perfect for eating, and for a while it looked as though our limit would be reached in no time.
But just as quickly the birds dispersed, the kahawai disappeared, and the snapper followed. The bite had finished.
Fortunately though, I’d managed to catch fish on all three test rods, and liked what I experienced. The micro-jig rod, in particular, had a fast, parabolic action, ideal for fishing these light lures. Similarly, the slightly heavier and longer 6’6” jig/spin unit handled the weightier 135gm Rock Hopper lure with ease.
Most of our initial efforts were in moderate-depth water around 25m, but even further out, where it was double that, the rods performed well.
No that I was surprised. After all, the componentry includes: top quality Fuji reel seats and guides fitted to the latest SVX2 technology (essentially uni-directional carbon-fibre blanks), making the rods feather-like in their feel. So no worries with comfortably fishing these rods all day.
I particularly enjoy soft-baiting in deeper water around 40-80 metres, so of the three rods, the heavier 7’ Lure/Spin rod is my favourite. It has plenty of flex in the tip section to handle 1-1.5oz jig heads, yet possesses plenty of low-down grunt to control the bigger fish often encountered in these sorts of depths.
I also like the ‘Safe’ bags these rods come in, allowing the rods to breathe if washed and put away wet.
My only long-term concern is the fine graphite blanks, especially the tips, which proved susceptible to slipping into fine cracks and gaps; I found myself catching them in all sorts of unusual places. So anyone purchasing these lighter rods needs to treat them with due respect!
Three of the Energy Concept range could be considered ‘travel’ versions: the twoto three-piece PE3-6 rated top-water spin and a 5-10kg spin, along with a twopiece 15-24kg sport-fishing rod. That’s nice to know if you like flying to different destinations, with the airlines charging plenty for oversize baggage.
I hadn’t had a decent bait-fishing session for some time, so Ivan and I checked out one of our favourite Hen and Chicks spots. Despite it being in the middle of the day in bright sunlight, the wind and the tide were heading in the right direction.
Anchoring in 23 metres of water, we let the current wash our berley back into the rising foul ground thirty metres behind us.
Six-kilo is my favourite line-class for snapper fishing, even when stray-lining down a berley trail over rough territory. It was therefore time to bring out the overhead Shadow X 4-8kg stray-line rod attached to a Shimano Torium 14 multiplying reel, spooled with 6kg line. On the end was a short length of 60lb Black Magic Hard Trace, rigged with an eighth-ounce ball sinker sitting atop two 4/0 circle-hooks. (I’ve used conventional suicide hooks for snapper in the past, but a dodgy shoulder has been preventing me from striking. This has seen me opt instead for the circle hooks’ softlysoftly approach, with only steadily increasing pressure needed to roll the hook into the corner of the fish’s mouth.)
After casting out, I found the well-balanced outfit tucked nicely in the crook of my left arm, leaving my left thumb ideally positioned to control the spool.
We soon found the fish were playing ball, with our baits getting regularly nailed; it was only a matter of time before the ‘bigger kids’ came out to play.
The upshot of all the above prelim is I ended up with a snapper PB for the day that was comfortably into the old-fashioned double figures.
I liked the rod: it cast the lightly-weighted baits well, felt nice and solid when hooking-up, and offered plenty of stopping power to turn the bigger fish before they reached the weed line.
The Shadow X range fits between the Energy Concept and Backbone Elite ranges. The rods are designed specifically for bait fishing and are well spec’ed, their features including: nanographite blanks; custom EVA grips; Fuji reel seats; MNOG guides; and butts capped with rubber gimbals. Included in the range are two overhead models, two spin, and one surf design.
In summing up, I think Shimano are on the mark with this range of ‘fit for purpose’ rods. In addition to looking the part, they represent good quality, perform well, and offer great value for money
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