New Products from Apia Japan (and an HRF ratings quandry)Ben Field
Apia have been working in Japan on an upgrade to their “Brute” (HRF) rods to bring in the latest technology seen in the Foojin’Z and Foojin’RS series. Our first stock should be available sometime late in November.
Japanese HRF rods can be hit or miss. Not because they’re not great rods for what the clever Japanese folks have designed them for, but because the ratings used on them are often defined (for whatever reason) slightly differently than the “Seabass” rods we’re all familiar with. Often an HRF rod may suggest “30g max”, but feel more like it has the power to blast 50g – unlike the seabass equivalent which may even struggle to cast the stated 30g. I’ll find out in time why this is the case. It’s the same on their freshwater bass rods too.
The way to understand these rods I have found is to consider all of the measured rod specs and less so the casting weight.
PE rating: Often the first port of all. If you’re using a rod for our normal UK bass fishing, any rod with a rating above 2.0PE will be a bit of a powerhouse. 3.0PE or above and it’ll be an absolute poker. At 2.0PE you’re often looking at rods that will likely handle 50g casting weights – even if the HRF rod in question says 30g max. I can’t suggest actually casting 50g with it, but it will be a powerful rod. Of course I’m generalising a bit, but the PE ratings give more away than you’d imagine.
Butt diameter: With time we’ll be publishing our own measurements of every rod that passes through our door, but if the manufacturers website does state such things, the butt diameter often gives you a good idea about the power level. Simply, the fatter the butt gets the more power you’ll likely find there. Again, generalising a little as it can depend on the blank material, but it’s a simple rule to follow if you have experience with various rods within your usual budget. For me, once they get over about 13mm or so, you’re finding quite a bit of power. Apia are a great example to use, but also to explain how I would actually measure them a little differently. The popular Foojin’RS range – as you can see their website (here) – you’ll notice that butt diameters are mostly over 13mm. I think they’ve measured over the top of the cosmetic whipping at the top of the reel grip (whipping depth between rods may vary – and this obviously adds varying mm’s to the measured diameter), so for our own measurements I tend to move 25mm forward and measure just in front of the whipping so I can ensure I’m measuring the blank – which is more consistent. For your information, a 10mm butt diameter on a bass rod would be VERY slim (Tailwalk Hi-Tide TZ is still the slimmest I’ve seen), while your typical 35g rod may be somewhere around 12mm. The materials and design used in Japanese HRF rods isn’t much different, so you’re looking for these kinds of butt diameters if you’re trying to compare with your usual bass rods.
Tip diameter: This one is less to do with power but does give you an idea of rod action – although it’s not entirely precise. It depends on the materials and construction but again you could surmise that the thinner the tip the softer the rod is (or faster – depending on where the butt diameter starts). Thinner tips often explain how a manufacturer comes up with a very low “minimum casting weight” too. Even if the power kicks in very quickly with a fast taper, it’s hard not to wonder sometimes how any normal bass rod will ever actually fish 5g or even 7g while also smashing 50g… Sometimes I think that lower rating is genuinely made-up from a real-life fishing perspective, but as a buyer I’d use it to give you some idea about what the tip is like. It’s a minefield though as I know (absolutely know!) that many lower ratings are literally made up. As a result, I never suggest buying a rod according to what the minimum rating says.
Rod weight: It’s not generally a fair comparison for using on rods as lightweight rods can easily be tip heavy while heavier rods can (as a result) have excellent balance, but if two 9′ rods of similar price, each rated to 35g have a gap of 50g in physical weight, you know that the heavier one is likely a bit of a beast in comparison. It is however equally likely that the heavier rod will handle far more weight than stated, so it can’t fairly be compared to what is actually a much lighter action rod. It’s a minefield really! Apia are another good example here… Many Japanese seabass rods will struggle to really cast their maximum stated weights with ease. Apia on the other hand will easily cast what they say they will, and often more. So comparing a “40g” rated Apia to another brands “40g” rod on specs alone is unfair and impossible. Like I said, MINEFIELD!
The NEW Apia Grandage BRUTE rods arrive with us late in November. Considering all of the above I’ve made a decision to concentrate on the “Belle Epoque 86M” rated 5-32g. At 8’6″, for an HRF rod the ratings specs mentioned above all look considerably normal for an HRF rod (a rarity). Dare I say it, considering the title it actually looks like an insane bass rod for us on paper! I really can’t wait to see them. Who doesn’t love an 8’6″, 32 grammer?!……
In the meantime you can check out the full range of Grandage BRUTE rods here: https://www.apiajapan.com/product/rod/grandage-brute/
And on our website for prices etc. here: https://artoffishing.co.uk/category/lure-rods/?yith_wcan=1&yith_product_brand=apia&product_cat=rockfish