A couple of years ago, the distribution of Shimano tackle in New Zealand changed when local agents, Douglas Johnson and Co Ltd, was sold to Shimano Japan, resulting in the formation of Shimano NZ.
Kiwi anglers have benefitted in several ways, including the creation of a range of rods designed specifically for New Zealand conditions (Abyss and Carbolite), along with access to Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) product. We couldn’t wait to trial some of this new tackle.
Like many Auckland anglers, we were aware of some great workup action remaining in the Hauraki Gulf this winter – the hard part was waiting for a break in the weather to get out amongst it.
Finally, all the stars aligned, and we left Half Moon Bay armed with a selection of the JDM jig rods and the new Shimano Coltsniper Wonderfall jigs on board, heading for the bottom end of Waiheke Island (thanks to some intel from Nick Jones of Wave Dancer Charters).
There, we encountered the birds, dolphins and kahawai herding up pilchard and jack mackerel schools over a wide area. The hard part was getting the jigs through a plague of hard-fighting XOS kahawai – along with the occasional kingfish – to the snapper waiting down below. The result was steady action throughout the day and a nice bin of snapper and kahawai for the table and smoker.
I am very familiar with the Coltsniper Flatfall jigs released 12 months or so ago. My first drop with one while fishing in 50 metres of water off Bream Bay last October produced an eight-kilo snapper – I was immediately hooked on them, you might say!
The Coltsniper Wonderfall jig range is new for this season, having a more pronounced fluttering action on the drop than the Flatfall model, and coming rigged with a twin-assist-hook rig incorporating two VMC Stinger hooks. However, this lure’s enticing action and associated slower sink rate made them particularly vulnerable to the attention of the hordes of kahawai feeding right through the water column. On the plus side, the kahawai were big fish, ideal for testing tackle (Kerren even caught a kahawai on each hook for an interesting ‘double’) – and when we did manage to get down past them, there were plenty of hungry snapper about, too, along with the odd kingfish.
Once set, these hooks proved difficult to remove, and given this situation again, I will probably crush down the barbs to make releasing fish with minimal damage easier.
The Wonderfalls are available in five colour combinations: Blue Sardine, Pink-Silver, Green-Gold, Real Anchovy and (this writer’s favourite) Red-Gold. At the end of the day, the survivors had withstood the onslaught well, the tough paint job still looking good despite numerous crash-tackles. Six weights are available: 30, 40, 50, 60, 80 and 100g. –GD
It was with considerable interest that we got to use some of the new JDM tackle. After all, Japanese anglers and tackle companies have had a considerable influence on fishing practices here in NZ in recent decades, especially lure fishing. So, the JDM products, previously not available on the local market, were likely to offer plenty of interest to keen fishers. To make sure the gear was suited to NZ conditions, a team from Shimano NZ didn’t just choose items from a catalogue, they travelled to Japan to lay their hands on the gear and thoroughly check it all out before making decisions.
This 1.9m-long, two-piece (separates at the top of the foregrip) spin rod is designed for a range of inshore lure fishing, particularly jigging and casting; it is rated for up to 120g lures and PE 1.5 (about 8kg) line. It features EVA grips, partly skeletonised above the butt, but offering plenty of protection to the blank when placed in a rod holder, and long enough for double-handed casting. Other features include an up-locking reel seat, six single-foot Fuji SiC spin guides plus tip, and blue-black cosmetics with a gold trim.
The rod was paired with a Sustain Fl 4000 XG reel, second only to the up-spec’ed Twin Power range in Shimano’s new-season spin reel introductions. It features: 11 kilos (max) drag output; a nippy 6.2:1 gear ratio; eight S-ARB bearings and an anti-reverse roller bearing; extra-tough Hagane gears and body; along with X-Ship, X-Protect, Magnum Lite Rotor, Coreprotect line roller and roller clutch; a one-piece bail arm; aero wrap; and a water-resistant drag.
This fast-actioned rod is a useful all-rounder for a wide range of lure fishing, and combines nicely with the attractive, smooth and solid-feeling Sustain. Although we were fishing with the Coltsniper Wonderfall lures exclusively this day, the rod and reel would also be at home with small stick-baits, poppers, tuna ‘slugs’, slow-jigs, kabura or inchiku types – even soft-baits, although I personally prefer a longer rod for this. In short, it’s a useful all-rounder, light in weight and with a crisp action, but offering plenty of fish-fighting power. It dealt well with a whole bunch of big, hard-pulling kahawai and medium snapper over the day, and represents a refreshing step back from the over-specialisation of inshore tackle in recent years. –SM
We had two rods from the Engetsu range to try, and this one – the Engetsu BB – is a 2.05m, two-piece (separates at the top of the foregrip) model rated for jig weights between 45-200g and line weights to PE 1.5 (around 8kg). The BB is a lower-priced version of Game Engetsu, which we will get to in a moment.
Like the Grappler BB rod, it incorporates a TafTek graphite blank, with the addition of a super-sensitive, but very tough, ‘nibble tip’ made of solid graphite, which can detect the lightest of takes. Shimano says these tips are 250% stronger than standard solid carbon, lighter in weight, faster in action, and more sensitive.
The EVA grips are minimalized, keeping the weight down, although not offering as much blank protection against the metal edge of a rod holder as longer grips might.
There are eight Fuji guides (plus tip) bound in a spiral around the blank (called an ‘acid wrap’ in NZ) to eliminate rod torque. Cosmetics are red with silver tips and black and gold bindings.
The Engetsu BB rod is set up for bait-caster reels, and in this case was matched with the new-model Curado K 200 HG reel, which features: thumb-bar release; Hagane gears and body; double-paddle handles; X-Ship; micro-module gearing; Shimano Stable Spool; Super Free-Spool; six S-ARB bearings plus roller bearing; and SVS infinity casting control. It can output a maximum drag of 5.5kg, and a 7.4:1 gear ratio means a decent retrieve speed is possible when required. A left-handed version is available.
The rig is like a feather in your hand, and thanks to its ‘nibble tip’ and acid-wrap guides, certainly looks out of the ordinary. The ultra-light-tip section makes it easy to see the lightest take; in fact, you really have to re-calibrate mentally between what is a bite and what is just a brush with the seabed. Yet despite the extra-fine diameter, the nibble tip seems really robust, and when the rod is loaded right up, just folds away and follows the line.
I guess you would have to call this a medium-action rod, as the top-half folds away under a fish, yet reasonable power is available in the blank’s lower half.
This rig had no trouble dealing with the snapper and kahawai we were catching; its big moment came when a modest-sized kingfish grabbed a jig and provided a protracted battle. The Engetsu BB took this in its stride, too.
In conclusion, the rig gives anglers on a budget access to many of the upmarket features in the JDM range at an affordable price. –SM
The best has been left till last. The Game Engetsu rod is 2.08m long, two-piece (again, separating at the top of the foregrip), and rated for a maximum of PE 1.5 line (7kg approx.) and 45-200g lures.
It features 10 Fuji Sic guides and tip (again in a spiral ‘acid’ wrap), an ultra-light nibble tip, along with spiral graphite wraps on the blank, internally and externally, improving hoop strength and making it extra-tough.
Cosmetics consist of a red-grey-white blank with black, gold and red bindings. The split EVA butt section is extended on this rod, cushioning the blank when in a holder.
The Game Engetsu was paired with a new-model reel, the up-market Tranx 300 baitcaster, featuring: 5.8:1 Hagane gears; a spool capacity of 300m of 6kg line; a thumb-bar release; centrifugal cast control; double paddle handles; seven S-ARB bearings plus roller bearing; 11 kilos maximum drag output; Hagane body; X-ship; Coreprotect water resistance; Super Free Spool; and a Stable Spool system.
This rig was a real weapon. Although a bit heavier than the BB version, this is due to the tough materials used and gives the outfit a robust, high-performance feel to it. You get what you pay for.
Again, the construction of the nibble tip made the rod ultrasensitive to takes, but fish could haul the whole tip under the boat without fear of breakage, the fold-away blank and spiral guideconfiguration taking much of the rod pressure and twist away.
Meanwhile, the Tranx reel performed faultlessly, the drag smoothly releasing line at all times, making it a pleasure to use, particularly with the rod buckled hard over!
This exciting rig proved ideal for slow-jigs, inchiku and kaburastyle lures, but could be turned to soft-baits and even stray-lining at a pinch.
A thoroughly fun and productive day. Shimano’s JDM products look set to offer Kiwi anglers some exciting new tackle choices over the next few years.
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