by Rupe •
Swimbaiting as a fishing technique is nothing new. What is new is the amount of coverage it’s had, and more importantly the amount of specialised gear that has been made available to Aussie anglers through local wholesalers and retailers. Daiwa, a company with a rich history in swimbaiting in the US and Japanese markets (where this technique really evolved from) have been supplying international anglers with quality gear for decades. Now they have brought it to Australia.
Good news for us!
Being a gen Y dude born in the 80s, with an attention span no longer than my arm, I’m a sucker for new trends. When Cranka Crabs came out, I had to have a dozen, even though I don’t fish for bream much. iPhones? I’ve had ‘em all. I did manage to avoid having a man bun, so points to me on that occasion, but once the big bait craze hit our shores it was only a matter of time before I called Daiwa HQ in Sydney asking them to invoice me for a swimbaiting combo. Boy, did they deliver.
The Tatula Swimbait TAT76H-SB is a 7’6”, 5-9kg beast with a fast taper and a split butt built to launch big lures a long way without you having to spend more at the chiropractors than you did on the rod. Built on Daiwa’s SVF carbon blanks with tough EVA grips, it surprised me just how light it was in the hand. I have literally cast all night on this thing without ending up feeling like I’d gone 12 rounds with Mike Tyson. While working a lure you can feel every thump of its tail or bump on structure, thanks to the minimalist skeleton reel seat which keeps the reel low and out of the way, and once you hook up the fun really begins. “The tug is the drug” as they say, and even a smaller fish will put a smile on your face. The fast taper not only helps with extra inertia transfer when casting, but also means you can have plenty of fun when hooked up. That’s true whether you’re connected to a run-of-the-mill sized fish or a real giant of the species, and there’s still plenty of balls in the back end to keep you ahead in the fight.
My Tatula HD 200H is the first larger (200 size) Daiwa baitcaster I’ve owned. I’ve had smaller models from the Pixy and Alphas range for throwing light lures at bass, but certainly nothing with a ‘HD’ attached to the end of it. As soon as I opened the box I liked what I saw. The 200 size did scare me a little, as I like my reels nice and compact, but to my surprise they’ve engineered this much like modern cars – they’ve fit a lot into a shell that’s not actually that big. The aircraft-grade aluminium spool offers as much space as you’re likely to find without going to an old school barrel-style baitcaster, and that’s just the start of the fun. The 200H features an impressive 6kg of drag, which I found to be quite smooth during a fight. Some of the older Daiwa baitcasters had a reputation for being a bit stop/start and biting too hard at times, but that has improved out of sight. Daiwa’s patented T-Wing System allows for extra casting distance and line control not found in any of my other baitcast reels. My only tip when using a T-Winged reel is to practice and perfect your knots so they pass through without hassle. Another improvement on models I’d used 5-8 years ago was the cast controls. I took the time to throw a casting plug a few times in the front yard, and once it was set it stayed how I like it and made for very few bird’s nests. The ones I did get were from my own overexcitement and lost concentration. No fault of the reel. You’ll notice I did make some changes to the reel with the help of Daiwa’s Reel Custom series of bits and pieces. This goes back to my need for trendy new things, and I’ll talk about those bits later.
Having spent much of my life working in a tackle industry, fondling every braid that came through the door – from bulkier, traditional American fibres right through to the thinnest of Japanese offerings – J-Braid 4 would probably not have been my first choice. Being a 4-strand construction, it’s a little coarser and thicker than I’d normally go for – even on a baitcaster, where a slick profile isn’t as necessary as on a spin reel (the physical turning of the spool does lots of work for you on the cast). I was still excited to try it though. The price is certainly right – you can pick up a 135m spool for around $23! If I’m to be honest with you, the loyal readers of Fishing Monthly, my first few casts I wasn’t completely sold on the J-Braid 4. It was holding some water and felt waxy. It took probably 50 decent casts before it properly softened up and ran smoothly. Well and truly worth the $23, but not as nice as I’ve used in the past. Since that point though, it has been really nice to use. The knot strength is great, abrasion resistance is above average and it’s held colour quite well. It’s now accounted for some nice king threadfin salmon, flathead and Murray cod, all of which tested its limits on various types of structure in both the fresh and the salt.
Anything that allows me to be me is a winner. Weird coloured shoes? I’m in. Offensive punk music? YEP! So it’s hardy surprising that I identified with the endless possibilities that the Daiwa Custom Project offers me as a fisherman. Spools, handles, knobs, caps and accessories let me express myself anywhere I am on the water. Aside from the aesthetics, they also offer functionality by way of different constructions and sizes. You can add or drop weight, have longer or shorter handles and in just about every colour of the rainbow. It’s a winner. I chose a swept aluminium handle and a couple of Zaion handle knobs, and couldn’t be happier.
As A Whole Combo
Love it. I’ve thrown everything from little 7cm stickbaits and soft plastic jerkshads right up to 6oz+ swimbaits and wakebaits without thinking twice. I’ve had friends on the boat with combos twice the price who haven’t been able to match the capabilities of this combo. It’s a weapon. Weather you’re fishing the surface or working a sinking swimbait down deep, it’s got everything you need and is tough as nails. Sexy, 7’6” black nails with Fuji guides.
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