Having met Kaj ‘Bushy’ Busch several years ago and having fished with him myself a few times now, it’s obvious the guy is about as smart as it gets when it comes to tackle design. I’ve been using some of his lures, and in particular the Stiffy Popper, with great results, and I was really looking forward to seeing his new rod range when it eventually hit the market.
Instead of just one range, however, Shimano released two late last year – one range specifically for bait fishing and the other for lures. Known as the Bushy Lure Legend and Bait Legend series, both were designed in conjunction with master rod builder, Ian Miller, who is the driving force behind all of Shimano’s fishing rods these days.
There are seven rods in each series, and those I’ve seen so far are brilliant. Given that we’ve been chasing kings and bluefin quite a bit lately, Shane and I each grabbed one of the heavier lure casting rods – the Kingy 722 – and matched them up to Shimano’s popular Biomaster 8000SWA. The reels were spooled with 300m of 30 pound Power Pro Slick 8 braid and we were set to go.
There are four Biomasters in the SWA range – a 4000, 5000, 8000 and the 10,000 – and although they sit in the shadow of some of the more upmarket Shimano threadlines, there can be no doubting their quality. Each has six plus one stainless ball bearings and the 8000 is capable of 13kg of drag; not that we were contemplating ever using that much with 30 pound braid, but it’s nice to know you have plenty of drag power available if it’s needed in a desperate situation.
The Biomaster 8000SWA has a retrieve ratio of 5.7:1, which is ideal for the type of lure casting we had in mind. It’s quick enough for surface feeding bluefin if you crank flat out, but not too fast for stick baits and poppers when retrieved at moderate pace.
The first time I clamped my Biomaster onto the Kingy 722, it felt like the two were made for each other. The 8000 size reel is spot on for 30 pound braid and, at 550 grams, it’s definitely not too heavy for extended casting sessions. Nor is it too expensive.
I really like the way Ian Miller has set this rod up. The high modulus graphite blank is what I’d call medium/fast in action, with a heap of lifting power in the lower section – precisely what you need for fish like tuna and kings that do a lot of their fighting directly beneath the boat. Guides are lightweight zirconia and grips are high quality shaped cork. The foregrip is 25cm long and behind the reel seat are split grips that are ideally located for comfortable casting. For a stick that boasts so much power, it’s light to hold and, as mentioned, balances well with the Biomaster 8000.
The recent run of southern bluefin tuna around much of the South Australian coast provided the perfect opportunity to test the Biomaster/Bushy Legend combination. Casting lures at feeding tuna schools is something we love to do, and although a 30 pound outfit is perhaps a tad heavy for the average 15-18kg bluefin, the chance to try it out on a recognised gamefish was too good to pass up.
The rod is rated to cast lures of between 30-90 grams, which is a fair spread of weights. Shane stuck to his beloved Lock lures, which he has proven to be absolutely deadly on tuna that are feeding on pilchards or anchovies. I was keen to try them on stick baits and soft plastics, so the new rods were set to be tested on a wide range of lure profiles, actions and weights.
More to assess the rod’s ability to cast lures at the heavier end of its rating than anything else, I tied on a 70gm stick bait and was amazed at just how far I could throw it. I have no doubt that 90 grams would be well within its capabilities. The tuna would follow the stick baits each time I put one into a feeding school, but the action just wasn’t right and the fish would invariably veer off half way through the retrieve. Obviously, they needed something that I could crank back faster and straighter.
Meanwhile, Shane was having a ball using the Lock metals on the Bushy/Biomaster outfit. These lures weigh 50gm and, despite using heavier line than normal, he was able to cast them the proverbial country mile with the Bushy stick. If we pulled up 50 or 60m short of a tuna bust-up, Shane was able to ping the lure well beyond the fish and crank it back through them with next to no effort. Bushy and Ian Miller did design this rod specifically for casting, and there can be no doubt it does the job well.
I enjoyed the same casting efficiency using Squidgy soft plastics on 28 gram heads. Plastics aren’t anywhere near as easy to throw as a streamlined metal baitfish profile, but I was still able to reach the surface action from a reasonable way off, so the Kingy 722 passes the casting exam by a good margin!
The same applies after hook up. The Biomaster 8000 drag is about as smooth as anything we’ve ever used, and that includes Stellas and similar top-of-the-range reels. Both Shane and I pushed the outfits hard on each tuna we hooked, and I can tell you that rod has a surprising amount of stopping power. Once each fight progressed to the inevitable deep circling under the rod tip stage, we were able to muscle the fish pretty quickly up to the landing net. You can spend a lot of time on a half decent tuna as it begins a series of anti-clockwise circles at mid water, and this is where a rod with plenty of low down power comes into its own.
The Bushy/Biomaster’s next assignment – and this one might well be tougher – is throwing stick baits and other top water lures at some kingfish.