Ok so I have given you insight into my LRF setup and why I chose the gear I did. Next its onto the big guns as I drag out the arsenal I use to go HRF fishing..
As I have intimated before HRF for me is what I would expect one of my non fishing buddies to come up with if I asked them what fishing was about. I look for a good piece of coastline and the gear reflects this more rugged terrain. LRF is the ultimate in mobility coupled with a pick up as and when you feel like it ethos. HRF is a more planned approach for me as it means taking the right kit and normally driving some distance to get to my preferred marks.
So lets look at what I have used and currently use for my HRF fishing..
When I first started to branch out into HRF fishing I had already spent some money on an LRF setup. This meant I needed to be shrewd with my initial HRF gear. Luckily I had already made an excellent choice of reel in the Shimano Rarenium 3000. As I explained in my LRF discussion this was purely a future proof purchase to cover both styles of fishing as it comes with 2 spools and as they are shallow spools it fits the LRF and HRF braids easily.
So I had the reel ready to go and already tested heavily in the LRF sessions I had been on. So I made a visit, my first visit, to Art of Fishing in St MERRYN and spoke to Ben FIELD about braid lines and rods. My reason for my first HRF rod purchase was to take part in the Lure Forum D&C bumble of 2011. I had limited knowledge of Bass angling or HRF and after we discussed budget and plans I walked away from the shop with the 8' Shimano Beastmaster Dropshot. My reason for buying this rod.. simply price!! At £100 this rod is a capable rod for plugs and plastics. It looks beautiful too in the bronze and gold and shimano is a brand I have come to trust for quality fishing product. For me HRF was but a vague idea I had overheard Mike SULLIVAN talking about. This rod was to open a whole new world of techniques and lures in the form of hard plugs and the amazing soft plastics I use extensively now.
I now have one word for affordable HRF when considering rods and it is simply Majorcraft, Majorcraft, Majorcraft!! Ok I am a little biased here. For me the Crostage range of rods are a thing of beauty. Very well priced these rods are affordable, cast like a dream and handle both plastics and plugs with class. For all my HRF angling I currently use a MC Crostage Hard Rock at 7'6". This baby tames Wrasse with finesse on the plastics and still has the guts to bring home a disgruntled Bass on hard plastics! I have had both Wrasse and Bass to 4lb on this rod and I know it will push me further this season. I have had so many people cast this rod and be amazed at the distance and power produced by this little hidden gem. This rod will be my angel on my shoulder until I can afford my dream HRF rod, The 7'3" Century HPR.. Im in love with this rod!! I have used it for a number of sessions and its the ultimate Wrasse rod in my opinion. Designed with a particular role in mind JBG's Keith White has helped produce a superb piece of gear. Texas rigging, weightless worm rigs and still capable of handling the hard plugs, this is my end game rod for HRF.
Other rods of mention in each price bracket are
Entry level rod - Shimano Beastmaster and Speedmaster in 7' and 8', Sakura Shinjin 782 and 862, Spro Vortezza S80ML, Garbolino Magister Allspin 240 and the awesome Savagear Bushwhacker.
Mid level rod - Majorcraft Crostage range, Hearty Rise Bass force range, Sakura Mazzera 742 ML, Anyfish Anywhere range and Lucky Craft ESGII.
Upper level rod - Century HPR 7'3 and 7'7, Tenryu Injection range, Tenryu Super Mix range, Nories Rockfish Bottom Jighead Snapper, Nories 'FlatFish Program' Rough Surf 88, Megabass XOR XX SXX-85L
The list is endless so I have taken some of the ones I see out regularly or talked about in the circles I mingle :) Now I have purposely left this very simplistic. When it comes to HRF your rod choice CAN be very dependant on the type of fish you are specifically targetting. Some rods are designed more to be used with Bass, others with Wrasse etc. Again you cant go wrong talking to your local dealer or local anglers to get an idea whats best for you, your budget and your style. I use my Crostage for the majority of my HRF angling, however if I want to go Bass specific and the conditions are a little rougher than I would like or Im casting surf off the beach I do have a Graphite Leader Argento RV 9'6" to assist with the conditions. It allows me to casts heavier weighted plugs into winds and allows me to get the line up out of the surf should I need to. This is an example of how HRF rods can differ in function.
Ok so we now know I fish the MC Crostage HR and to start I was using the Rarenium 3000. This reel has now been moved to exclusively LRF trips out as I purchased the delectible Daiwa Caldia 3000 to take over my HRF fishing. Now I came about this reel purely by accident as my intention was to go with the Theory 3000, also from Daiwa. Due to some unforeseen circumstances I ended up with the Caldia.
On its merits its a super smooth retrieve and casts very well. Mag sealed, a process developed where a magnet and mag oil creates a barrier betweenthe opening of the body and the rotor of the reel causing a seal between the inside and outside of the body. This stops salt water getting inside the body of your reel causing potential smoothness and repair issues later on. It has quite a large body, which I like and balances just as well with my 7'6" as it does my new 9'6".
My main concern about this reel is spools. It comes with a spare spool which is great but Im a bit dissappointed with the build in the drag plate. Compared to other reels I have had this seems rather weak in regard to the strength of the components and I find I have to swap my spools over carefully so not to cause metal spurs developing on the section of the drag plate which runs the reel spindle through. Not ideal for someone with my patience, it isnt a strong trait of mine :) However that aside the reel is light and comfortable to fish for hours at a time. Very good reel for the price, which I was expecting to be much higher than what I paid for it.
So there we have my current HRF setup. The MC Crostage HR with a Caldia 3000 loaded with a spool of Sunline Castaway 1.2 PE with 16lb siglon leader for Bass and a lighter Sunline Castaway 0.8 PE with 12lb Siglon leader for everything else.
Im going to be sensible and split lures into two later posts. Wrasse fishing on plastics is a particular passion of mine and I will write endlessly on the subject. Bass on the other hand covers the world of Hard plugs and some interesting plastics so Ill cover that seperately.
To finish with, a quick run down of the extras and how I carry them.
Due to the nature of HRF fishing I tend to find myself out on the rocks in numerous types of conditions so quickly switched on to the safety aspect of this fishing style. As a measure toward that I hooked up with the RBB flotation vest as my main luggage option for HRF fishing. This vest is the ultimate carry all for the gear you require to fish effectively. The front pockets are good for small sized lures boxes or small bits and bobs boxes. It has a holder for a flask and a rear "backpack" for lunch or more of your favourite gear. I usually wear mine with a small Snowbee lure box in one pouch and a pouch for leader, scissors and bits. I also have a Spro Boga Grip mounted on the side of the left front pocket which does not hinder my fishing in the slightest. On the right pocket I have a pair of small pliers and Rapala Carbide Pro Pliers, these are a do it all set of pliers and I havent required anything over and above them. A further luggage option.. which will likely be my replacement purchase for my RBB is the Ultimate Fishing Vest. This vest appears to have better pocket placement and no "Backpack" which I do sometimes find annoying on the RBB vest. And for those calm days in the sun with low risk of being swept away to Davy Jones' Locker then there is the awesome slingbag. This is an alternative to the vests and believe me on hot days I would rather be carrying my essentials in one of these over wearing a heavy vest. My slingbag of choice comes from snowbee. Easy to carry and easy to access all your gear there isnt many better options out there in my opinion.
To finish.. a means to stay dry. HRF can mean wading through gullies to get to a particular mark, standing in the path of sea spray or just plain falling around in the drink (this is me btw!!) so my final piece of advice is get a pair of waders and boots. This was the single most important purchase I made as it makes HRF more accessible.
I personally use the Scierra CC3 chest waders with the Riptide boots and have found them to be everything I require. Both have already given me a good year of service and I dont expect ill need to replace them this year either. Now you can spend anything from £90 - £700 on waders and boots. It is purely down to your choice but I can point you in the direction of Glasgow Angling Centre HERE if you wish to have a look at some of the styles available. I would also suggest you look local, as I did. I found it invaluable to try on before I bought as the sizing chart is confusing at the best of times. A recent article from Henry Gilbey also spiked my interest as it was on the subject of waders so Ill include the link HERE.
So here we go. HRF rod reel and arsenal covered. The next few posts on Rockfish Rookie will be around HRF lures and how to rig/use them. Ill start off with Wrasse HRF on soft plastics and I cant promise a short post on that subject :)
Till then .... tight lines and happy fishing!!