When it comes to selecting a quality 10kg to 15kg graphite rod for popping and jigging, you can spend an awful lot of money – or you can go for a Samurai NV9 and spend the rest on a heap of lures, braid and other goodies.
I bought an NV9 on the recommendation of Wayne Lodington when he was working at Frogleys Offshore. I was heading to Fiji in 2004 for a week of throwing poppers at coral and plumbing the depths with metal and had lobbed into the Frogleys warehouse looking for advice or maybe a loaner rod for the trip.
“You could do a whole heap worse than just buy this one,” said Loddo as he handed me an NV9 blank built up by Gary Howard of Australian Rod Manufacturers. It was feather-light and as he loaded up the tip, the butt plunged into my gut, my arms straightened and I began to see stars.
“It’s not a stump-puller but it’s pretty sweet and loads up well – and recommended retail is only about $275 so it won’t send you broke,” said Loddo, sealing the deal.
That rod has racked up a lot of miles and a lot of sea time and has fought critters far above its class without flinching. In fact, these days I usually start giving in well before it might.
Most fishos are familiar with the Samurai blanks, which have been around for decades. The 001 and 002 have been popular bream blanks and the latest round of premium Samurai ready-made rods have just hit the shops, generating plenty of interest.
For the technically minded, the Samurai NV9 is a 7’ blank with a butt diameter of 18.0mm and a tip of 3.2mm. It’s made of Samurai’s Net V graphite material and is rated for 10kg to 15kg line.
For the less technical, it’s a feather-light pole with a heap of progressive power and can cast poppers to 120g and rip jigs to about 180g without folding over. It’s a reasonably smooth-taper rod with a gentle parabolic bend under power and it’s just great for 50lb braid on a 4500-size threadline. My Saltiga Blast 4500 is a perfect match.
I’m in my 50s and don’t pump iron but I have no trouble casting this sucker around 50m all day. It’s the fish that knock me about, rather than the casting!
The ready-rolled Australian Rod Manufacturers version I bought (RRP $275) comes with Fuji heavy-duty reel seat and the standard BSVLG Hardloy guides as well as a long foregrip. Build quality is excellent and all guides are underbound.
My NV9 has been hauled around Australia and the Pacific in PVC rod tubes and bundled up loose with armfuls of other rods by Fijian deckies with all the finesse of Springbok rugby props, and it’s come out relatively intact.
While many people will sneer at the normal Hardloys and demand SiC guides, I’ve had a lot of 50lb braid crossing in both directions without marking the rings. The only casualty I’ve had has been a chipped Hardloy ring which I failed to notice until it had ‘mysteriously’ cut the line at the rod on a nice GT and then a good red bass.
Fortunately I usually travel with a couple of spare Fuji guides, one of which slotted in perfectly as a replacement, safely held in place with a couple of wraps of gaffer tape and I was back fishing in minutes.
The NV9 is a tad long to be an all-out jigging rod but it also fills the bill there when called upon. I’ve landed some nice kings and some great pearlies in home waters and knocked over some lovely deep tropical critters on it. It doesn’t get too doughy to work a 150g jig so those interested in building their own could possibly trim 6” to 8” from the butt and still end up with a dedicated 15kg jig stick for not very much money at all compared with the imported models.
It’s a little stiff in the tip to fit the bill as a ‘come-here’ rod for soft plastics over the reefs but I’m planning to run some 60g to 100g Okta jigs on it in 40m-plus depths next snapper season and trial runs seem to be promising.
When Adrian Watt of Matava Resort spied my NV9 outfit, he rated it as a top unit for switch-and-pitch techniques for billfish with 8kg to 10kg line so there’s another feather in its cap for versatility.
Ready-made NV9s should be available through any retailer who stocks product from Australian Rod Manufacturers, while the blank is readily available just about anywhere in the country.
• Value – RRP around $275 for Hardloy guides, more for SiC
• Lightness – cast or jig all day
• Power – progressive strength to 15kg-plus line
• Versatility – pop, jig or switch-bait
• At 7’ and one-piece, cumbersome for travel. This would be an unbeatable pole if it pulled down to about a 5’6” top section fitted to a spigot above the foregrip.