Fishing, Photography, Tackle

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Swimbait Rod Review

Swim baits have been one of the biggest things to hit the Aussie Cod fishing scene for a while, and while the big baits have become more available, suitable rods have been a bit thin on the ground. Baitcast rods that are ideal for casting lures in the 80g and up are also useful for species such as barramundi, mulloway and big snapper. Other uses include casting stickbaits over shallow coral reefs and even slow pitch jigging.

The rods we currently have in stock are from Zenaq and FCL Labo


Zenaq Plaisir Answer-B80
This rod is designed for casting swimbaits at Sea Bass in the saltwater as opposed to freshwater largemouth bass fishing, which many of the style are built for. The 8 foot length is suited to long casting in open waters and casting weights from 30-70g (max100g). This covers most of the small to medium swimbaits in use and crosses over well for a variety of species, not just Murray cod.
Zenaq Glanz B70-3X
This rod is an all-round swimbait rod for local conditions, perfect for most Murray cod lures. It is rated for 60-120g, but we have happily cast up to 140g swimbaits on it. This covers a lot of the current crop of lures currently in use. The rod is light in the hand (215g), very comfortable for long casting sessions and has plenty of power down low to set big hooks into a metre cod or barra!
Next month we should have stock of the heavier Zenaq Glanz B78-10X, which will cast right through to a monstrous 400g max – great for the massive soft plastic baits coming out for pike and bass.


ZENAQ Swimbait Rods
400g tip loading



FCL 73L and 73M Baitcast

If these rods sound familiar, that is because they are simply the overhead versions of the popular bluewater spin rods. The difference with the baitcast rod is that the extra binding (more guides on overhead) and the longer casting style used with two handed overheads mean that the cast weights for the rod are significantly improved the 73L is ideal for lures up to 100g and the 73M is fine for 130g baits. These rods have longer butt sections than the two Zenaqs, which takes a lot of the effort out of the cast, helps to balance larger baitcasters, such as for black bass fishing. The butt length is also handy if the rod is to double up for slow pitch jigging for reef species!

FCL Labo UCB Baitcast Rods

400g tip loading

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We just had a top up on the 7 foot Carpenter BLC rod range, so we now have all three of the available models! They range from PE3-4, 60g cast weight through to PE4-6, 100g max cast weight. The taper on these rods runs from a softer, springy tip, ramping up quickly into a very powerful bottom end. These rods are extremely versatile for variety of species, capable of tackling anything from impoundment barra to some large bluewater species. The soft tips on the BLC rods are designed for working stickbaits, but also are great with large soft plastics, minnows, vibration baits and smaller cup face poppers.

Carpenter BLC 70 SMC Rods

350g tip loading

BLC 70 SMC 350g

The BLC 70/16 SMC rod is right at home chasing longtails, smaller kingfish, mulloway and dam barra as well as coral reef flats fishing.

Next up, the BLC 70/18 SMC can put the wood on larger kings, mid-size tunas, dolphinfish, mackerel and other medium pelagics.

The big hitter of the range is the BLC 70/20 SMC which will tackle medium size GT, good size Yellowfin, large kingfish, wahoo, small billfish and more!

An interesting comparison of these Carpenter rods is with the FCL Labo light tackle range. On paper the rods are quite similar, but in the hand they are very different beasts. The Carpenters have softer tips that load easily into the mid-section before ramping up rapidly into a powerful and stiff bottom end. Comparatively, the FCL rods are crisp and responsive at the tip, becoming stiffer in the middle and smoothly continuing the power all the way through to the butt.
So what do these differences mean out on the water?

FCL Labo UCB Offshore Rods

350g tip loading

UCB Offshore 350g

The softer tip action on the Carpenters are a bonus when working tricky floating stickbaits or hopping plastics and vibes deeper in the water column. This can also be very handy at the end of a long day when the angler is not concentrating so well at getting the best action from the lure. Moving to the FCL rods; the faster recovery at the tip and increased stiffness in the middle, results in long, flat, accurate casting. The ability to work poppers or any aggressive jerking action on stickbaits is also enhanced by the recovery and stiffness of the FCLs.


FCL Labo UCB 73L Offshore (above)
Carpenter BLC 70/16 SMC (below)

350g tip loading

UCB 73L- BLC 7016 350g

FCL Labo UCB 73M Offshore (above)
Carpenter BLC 70/18 SMC (below)

450g tip loading

UCB 73M- BLC 7018 450g

FCL Labo UCB 74 Offshore (above)
Carpenter BLC 70/20 SMC (below)

450g tip loading

UCB 74- BLC 7020 450g

When setting hooks and fighting fish, there are notable differences as well. The Carpenter loads up closer to the angler, which makes for a very easy and comfortable fighting style. This can make a big difference in drawn-out fight with a fish like a tuna slugging away under the boat. The power comes on much sooner when loading the FCL rods, from around mid-way down to the butt. When trying to set the hooks on ‘hit and run’ reef species like coral trout and red bass, this is the ideal because the faster the power is applied, the better the chance of turning the fishes head before it can reef you. In less than a second these fish can strike and turn for home, so the faster the response, the better the chance of success! When lifting a big fish from the deep, the stiffer mid-section and fast recovery of the FCL will tend to tire the angler out faster than the Carpenter (less of an issue in the lighter rod, more so in the heavier end of the range) However, with good rod technique the angler can still use the faster recovery of the FCL to take advantage of any mistakes the fish makes – as long as the angler is on their game and keeps the fish coming the moment the fishes head is turned.

TSU Double

Which rod is best then? Well that depends on the lures you like using and personal preference in rods. Both are excellent blanks with superb fittings, so quality is not an issue with either series. If you like a smooth, easy handling rod and a bias towards lures that benefit from a more delicate touch – like floating stickbaits, then the Carpenters have the edge. If you like your rods crisp and responsive to your every twitch and use a mix of lures from jerkbaits and stickbaits to poppers, then the FCL Labo rods are right up your alley.

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Sage Salt Review

It is always a good day when a big box of rods arrives at the store, but there is something extra special about a whole new series of fly rods arriving. Particularly releases from Sage; the world’s largest fly rod manufacturer. The expectation levels are pretty high for them to do something amazing with each and every new piece of gear.

The expectations of anglers, along with the hype from the marketing team can be pretty hard to live up to when faced with the fish of a lifetime at 60 feet. The good thing these days, with the high levels of R&D that occurring, the chances of a new rod turning out to be a lemon are pretty remote. The big question that remains is, will the new rod be a bit of an improvement over the old or is it a significant enough step forward to stop what I am doing to rush out and buy a new rod.

So, to the arrival of the new Sage Salt. Out of the tube there are no particular surprises. The blue blank is typically understated Sage. It’s not likely to win a beauty contest nor is it going to offend anyone either. The rod weight is etched onto the reel seat for easy identification, which is nice touch, especially handy for those who may end up with a whole quiver of these rods. The guides towards the tip at first appeared smaller than the predecessor; however, it appears the wire used is a little lighter gauge rather than the guides themselves being smaller. This means less weight at the tip which helps with the responsiveness of the blank. The stripping guides are stainless framed Fujis, which again is a pretty safe choice. Guides with a titanium frames would have been nice to see as they are certainly more durable in the salty environment for which the rod is intended.

Weight wise, there is not too much difference to the previous model either.  Jerry Siem, Sage’s head rod designer had said that he felt there not much to be gained in making these rods any lighter with the current technology available; so the technological advances have been used to achieve improved strength, tapers and feel.

The first thing I noticed when casting the Salt was that the rod loads further down the blank than most of the others in the Sage range. After the super-fast Method series, it is nice to come back to a rod that bends a little more. That is not to say that the Salt is slow or unresponsive; quite the opposite in fact. The Salt loads smoothly and easily and you can feel the power in the blank loading and unloading on each stroke. The tip has a nice elastic feel, presenting accurately and quite delicately. The mid-section loads through nicely, without feeling spongy on a long cast. All that may not sound like much; it loads smoothly and flexes progressively through the rod. However, this rod is certainly a lot more special than that. Casting the Salt is great. It loads easily and accurately at short range, the mid-ranges are a breeze and still has the ability to punch a long line. Tight loops, open loops, short headed flylines, long headed flylines, the Salt eats them all up. As you load up on a longer cast, the Salt encourages you to push harder and harder; it takes a lot to bottom out this rod!

The lighter models are definitely more in the all-rounder mode with better ability in the short game and presentation side of things than the heavy rods. Meanwhile the heavier models (10 and up) take a step up in stiffness for serious work with more grunt both in the casting and fish fighting departments. Other heavy models in the sage range such as the One and Method would best be characterized as being heavy flats rods, whereas these are true bluewater thoroughbreds with more lifting power and fish fighting ability.

All up, the Salt does exactly what you would expect it to do: it will go pretty much anywhere in a saltwater/heavy freshwater environment and catch plenty of fish. There are rods in the sage range that may cast a little further (Method) or present a little more delicately (One), but I can’t think of a rod in the Sage range that can cover as much territory with ease as the Salt can.