Every time I used the rod and reel I was reminded of the solid and dependable feel of the combo. I appreciated the casting advantage it delivered, and was continually amazed at the sensitivity that can be built into such a very robust rod.
It arrived in summer and I unpacked it, already having some idea of what to expect. I’ve owned and used TiCA Graphite rods and TiCA reels before and I wasn’t disappointed then. This time the rod looked familiar, but the reel had a completely new look. As I assembled the combo a first impression took shape in my mind: “Goodness me, that’s a long rod!”
I’m not sure why I was surprised, I knew it was the 9 foot (2.7m) model and I’ve fished with 8 foot freshwater and softbait spinning rods in the past and appreciated their advantages. The challenge before me was to use and to identify the particular niche of fishing application this robust combination might ideally fill.
The rod is made from flexible, ultra-high modulus graphite, is finished in an attractive cross-weave carbon pattern and sports a long, high-quality slimline Portugese grip and butt cap, ideal for tucking comfortably under the arm. The solid, comfortable reel seat was familiar, looking much the same as previous models. The rod features 10 Zirconia guides (including the tip) and is a two piece offering. The well-constructed spigot joint won brownie points with me straight off: this bullet-proof ferule arrangement ensures integrity with continued assembly and disassembly, and eliminates any flat spots in the action of this smooth parabolic blank. I was assured the rod would provide incredible casting distance and superb fish-fighting power.
The Samira SAAT2500 reel features a sealed drag, with carbon drag washers providing a smooth 4kg of resistance. The 10 rust resistant bearings combine with instant anti-reverse, a stainless steel mainshaft and worm shaft oscillating system to provide very smooth operation without any hint of play; the reel feels solid and continued to feel and operate that way even after considerable hard use which included some heavy fish. The retrieve of 75cm with each crank of the handle is from a fairly standard 5.2:1 gear ratio. The handle is machined aluminium alloy, and even though the knob is round rather than flattened, it’s also fluted and comfortable ‒ unlike some round-handle knobs. The reel is completed with a solid aluminium bail wire and a titanium plated anti-twist line roller to prevent wear from super braid lines, and a forged alloy spool.
The good people at Kilwell had kindly spooled the reel with 150 metres of four strand, 10lb Sunline Super PE Braid which has proven to be excellent ‒ easy to use, with superb performance and line management, just as you’d expect from quality Sunline products. The knots made with this line were very good. There was a spool of 8lb Sunline Super V Fluorocarbon which has proven to be excellent leader material, making for very good knots in the connection with the braid; it hasn’t once let me down.
Initially I wondered what I’d do with a relatively heavy (210gram) 9 foot rod rated at 6 – 12lbs. I wanted to try it in a freshwater river environment, on sea-run browns at Fortrose, and then perhaps softbaiting for blue cod, or casting for kahawai at the river mouth, or trolling ... and especially, fishing the Mackenzie hydro canals. I have kept the combo longer than I usually would and fished it more often and much harder than I normally would, because I wanted to be able to tell you what this unusual rod and reel combo excelled at.
First off, a walk down the tidal section of the Aparima suggested that it was a heavy and awkward rod to use in the confines of a modest-sized river system, and I felt over-gunned for the 2 to 4lb trout which were obliging on the day. I next took the combo on an excursion to fish for searun brown trout. However, we next fished from the boat on the incoming tide in the Fortrose estuary, and we were soon into some feisty individuals. This time, the rod was a superb performer at distance casting and still provided great sensitivity in the tip section, transmitting developments at the sharp end of things through the line, rod and cork grip ‒ for a big, robust rod we discovered it has a soft and sensitive side. It was also obvious that this was a rod where leaning on your fish was never going to challenge its integrity.
A little later I decided to cast shiny lures at the Mataura estuary mouth and into and beyond the surf. I was hoping that there were some late summer kahawai about ‒ there sometimes are at the bottom of the South Island ‒ or perhaps a searun brown. Unfortunately there were no connections made, although this possibly had more to do with the presence of a sea lion than other factors, I imagine! What the exercise did confirm however was the huge advantage a long rod provides in the distance casting department. The rod length was also beneficial in managing the line from the shoreline when the water is turbulent. It was clear that it’s an excellent specialist river-mouth performer, great for salmon, searunners or kahawai.
The TiCA made an outing or two to the Fiordland lakes, and once again it was the sensitivity of this long and solidly crafted rod that kept surprising me. By now I was getting used to the unit and its handling ... but I still kept asking myself “Where does this combo fit in an angler’s arsenal? What does it excel at?”
It was when I made several trips to the Mackenzie hydro canals that I found my answer. Casting distance with light jigheads (1/12 ounce) or very light sinkers when drifting egg imitations has always been a challenge even though both distance casting and sensitivity are highly desirable when canal fishing. And if you connect to something really large, the knowledge that you can lean on a trout in the 20 or 30 pound range is something worth having up your sleeve as well. The advantage that rod length provides when casting comes from the increased arc that a lure or weight travels through while being powered in the cast. For instance, a 9 foot rod moving through a 110° arc increases the arc by 30% compared with a 7 foot rod; you can expect a 5 to 8 metre advantage in casting distance.
The Hydro canals provided the ideal environment to let the rod speak for itself, both during the day and at night. Although the elusive 30 pound rainbow remained just that, elusive, I got to wrestle with fish of close to 20 pounds on several occasions at night. I was very impressed at my ability to control and dominate those big fish with a solid rod that provided confidence in truckloads. The length provided extra reach on the wider canals and the sensitivity from a high rod tip which felt every bump and touch of the softbait or egg imitation was very impressive.
At night you really do need to watch for tip wraps though, and you have to put the rod down to check the tip or to clear the line. My arms don’t span 9 feet but the cork butt proved handy when placing the rod on the ground. The reel was just a smooth all-round performer on these heavy fish, solid and dependable and built like the proverbial brick outhouse.
It was at the canals that it occurred to me that I would have every confidence targeting trophy snapper from the rocks with this outfit. Every time I used the rod and reel I was reminded of the solid and dependable feel of the combo, I appreciated the casting advantage it delivered, and was continually amazed at the sensitivity that can be built into such a very robust rod. Tony from Kilwell said I needn’t be in a hurry to send the combo back and I’m thinking I’d quite like to hook and land that 30lb canal rainbow on this TiCA New Graphite Rod and Samira reel.
We’ve got unfinished business!
TiCA New Graphite 9’ rod: RRP $139.99
TiCA Samira SAAT2500 Reel: RRP $199.99
Sunline Super PE Braid: RRP $ 39.99
Sunline Super V Fluorocarbon: RRP $ 24.99