Monday, 4 August 2014

Rod review : HTO Rockfish 73

Following the destruction of my Corto Tronixpro HQ were quick to send me a new rod,with the summer season getting into full swing it was imperative that I had an LRF rod.
The rod I got my hands on was the HTO Rockfish 73 1-8g  solid tipped LRF rod.
When George said he was sending one up I was nervous as I had been used to using my tube tip Corto and with the difference in price being over £100 between the rods I was frankly very worried about stepping down to a budget model rod. That aside when looking at the catalogue pics I also thought the rod looked pretty cool I do like the new graphics and paint job, reminds me of a USA muscle car! ( I think that may just be me though!)
on the Tronixpro catalogue they describe the rod as such :

The Rockfish rod is a new addition for 2014. Sitting in between the older UL and L models the 73 has a casting range of 1-8g. Ideal for general light rock fishing this rod is equally as happy fishing finesse jig heads, small metals and drop shot. A real all rounder at a price to suit all pockets.

As soon as the rod arrived I was out playing with it and the first mission was Trout. I paired it up with my Technium 3000 reel and it balanced the outfit almost as well as my Corto.
It felt comfortable to hold which surprised me as the threads for the reel seat run onto the blank but don't run under your hand when you are using the rod. As with its predecessor the rod rings are still quite large and chunky but at least they are saltwater proof and tough enough for the job.
The solid tip is again the same as its predecessor but the overall blank is stiffer giving a much crisper feel and making the rod that bit more reactive.

Going from a tube tip rod to a fine solid tip did take a few minutes to get accuracy under control but as far as distance goes it was flicking a 1gram jighead just as far as my previous rod if not further.
After about 5 minutes of using it I had forgotten I was using a "cheap" rod as it was performing all the tasks of my previous rod. I was using a 1gram HTO light game jighead and knight worm combo casting across and downstream, allowing the lure to swing around before twitching it back upstream.When I hooked into a trout the soft tip really helped to cushion the mad dashes of the trout and soon it was landed and released.

So it passed the trout test admirably and the slightly shorter length ( my last rod was 7'9") was ultimately that bit more handy for fishing in and around the overgrown small trout rivers that I like so much.

Its next test was dropshotting in the kelp forests which uses much heavier techniques and as the ultimate target was wrasse at close range it was a much sterner test!
The end tackle was my standard dropshot rig, 8lb fluro, size 8 offset hook rigged with gulp Sandworm and a 7gram dropshot weight.
There was no difference in casting distance with the rod effortlessly casting the rig as far as my previous stick. The rod  does have a soft tip so I had to slightly over emphasise the lifts and twitches to the lure to get the action I wanted but it was all pretty sweet feeling. The rods stiffer blank really suited the way I was working the dropshot rig and felt a lot better than the Rockfish UL.
One of the great things about the soft tip was that when I started to get those electric plucks from wrasse it really made for positive bites. The wrasse up here can sometimes be very timid biters and I am sure the lack of resistance when they suck the lure into their mouths caught me more fish.
The other good thing was that even the subtlest of bites can be seen and felt before the fish realises its mistake!

Sure enough the session was a great one with pollock up to 4lb, wrasse up to 2.5lb, codling coalies and flounders the rod caught and dealt with them all perfectly!
When it comes to fighting large fish on it It did just as well as my previous rod and despite the fine tip it has plenty of power low down the blank.
Dropshotting in the kelp produces some big wrasse but the fight is brutal. With the drag tightened up you really have to hit ,hold then really bend into the fish quickly pumping the fish up beyond the kelp. Then you have to keep it from getting back into it. I am pleased to say that the rod again copes perfectly with this extreme fight and it has landed me my new PB Ballan Wrasse of 4lb1oz and 49cm.


Since I have been using the rod it has caught me lots of 3lb+ wrasse from the harshest of ground, Coalies, Flounder, Pollack, Scorpion fish, Sea Trout, Brown Trout, Pike, Perch and has dealt brilliantly with it all.

The rod really is a good all round LRF tool and can cope well with big fish as well as being sensitive to feel mini species at range. It does everything my Corto did at a fraction of the price and even although it lacks in high grade fittings it still looks the part too.
Retailing at under £35 everyone should have one of these, whether your starting out with LRF or just need a back up for your other expensive rods, you can't go wrong!
Tight Lines

Mulling it over...

I  managed to get out with Callum and  Lenny from Scotia fishing who fancied a change from their freshwater fishing so we headed down to the Mull of Galloway. The task was to find wrasse and preferably all 5 species to get the grand slam, this was something that Callum had accomplished a couple of years ago and I was keen to emulate his achievement!
After a bit of a walk and a scramble we tackled up with our LRF gear. Small hooks were the order of the day and I rigged a #18 hook to nylon NZ dropper style on my #8 hook dropshot rig, gulp sandworm was the lure of choice. Almost straight away we were getting bites and I quickly landed a corkwing first then a succession of rock cook  wrasse, which were just stunning wee creatures with incredible electric neon colours. I also managed a small goldsinny wrasse amongst the rock cook and corkwing onslaught.

First Corkwing of 2014

Rock Cook, what a fantastic wee fish!

First Goldsinny Wrasse of 2014

Lenny was the only one of us that managed a ballan from this mark which nailed a Lunker city ribster and it was his first on a lure  so he was pretty pleased. Callum meanwhile had been searching the shoreline hoping for bigger wrasse but despite a couple of tentative bites and a couple of pollack and coalies none were to be found.

We decided to try and find a mark that was out of the now rather strong wind and I suggested a mark I had fished previously which should have had the wind at our backs.
We climbed back up to the motor and then headed of to the new mark a few miles away. Typically enough when we arrived at the new mark it was even more windy and it had also switched around and was blowing strongly on shore. The tide was also high which made getting access to fish these particular gullies very tricky indeed!
I tackled up my LRF gear with a dropshot rig and good old Gulp sandworm was rigged on the hook, then cast up the gully and slowly twitched back. The wind made things really difficult but after about 20 minutes I managed to hook into a decent wrasse which put up a great scrap before being landed. I popped the fish in a rock pool and readied my camera deciding to get a quick photo before it was unhooked. I decided to move the fish over the pool so I could get a decent shot of it in my hands and with the fish in one hand and my rod in the other disaster struck!
The fish gave a kick and fell back into the rock pool taking the tip of my rod with it with an almighty crack of expensive carbon fibre!

Rod wrecker!

The Graphiteleader Corto EX lived up to its name and is now an EX rod.
That kind of finished the fishing for me and we gave it another 45mins trying with heavier gear but with no further action we made the long route home.
Even with the death of my rod it was still a great session and thoroughly satisfying to get 4 wrasse species and my first British rockcooks.
Goodbye sweet corto and thanks for all the fish!
Tight Lines