ROD REVIEW: LOX Ambassador 810MT-4 spinning rod

Regular AANZ blog followers will know that over the past few years I have completed the switch from short to long spinning rods, especially those over 2.6 metres in length, as they are ideal for shore-based estuary fishing. The main reasons for this are explained in: – THE BENEFITS OF LONGER RODS

In New Zealand the issue, especially when fishing small hard bodied lures and soft plastics, has always been finding a long rod that is light enough to use for long periods of time, yet powerful enough to cast long distances and handle heavy fish. Fortunately, this type of long spinning rod is finally now becoming more readily available in NZ, especially in the South Island. This is primarily to anglers targeting massive trout on soft plastics in the Tekapo canal system and needing long rods to cast lightly weighted rigs or jig heads as far as possible across the canal.

Recently I decided that I wanted to experiment with lighter soft plastics in saltwater and move to down from 7 grams to 3.5-gram jig heads. The reason being to increase the hang time of the soft plastic in the last hour of the ebb tide when flows start to become anaemic. I’d found that a 7-gram jig head was ideal in shallow channels (less than 4 metres deep) I target for the flows between 1-3 hours from dead low tide but too heavy for the final hour before dead low. Unfortunately, none of the rods in my arsenal were ideal for casting the lighter jig heads.

I started to search the internet for suitable rods and discovered that Complete Angler in Christchurch had developed a range of longer spinning rods for the Tekapo canals with an Australian rod maker, Lox Fishing. If you want to view the range click on the video embedded in the following link: – https://www.completeangler.co.nz/manufacturers/lox-142/

The website suggested that the Lox Ambassador 810MT 8’10” 4-piece 3-7 kilogram was the best option, so I called the store and spoke to owner, Malcolm Bell, about its suitability for the task I had in mind. He assured me that the rod would be ideal, so I took the plunge and ordered it. Delivery by courier was prompt and the service from Complete Angler was first rate.

THE ROD

As is the case with most of the high-end spinning rods, the Lox 810MT is constructed of Japanese Toray graphite with a tensile modulus of 42 msi. It is rated as having a fast to ultra-fast action and weighs a paltry 137 grams. The butt section up to the butt guide has additional cross hatch and rib fibre reinforcement and it is polished. Above the butt guide the blank is left ribbed and not sanded to provide additional strength as the taper is reduced.

The rod taper from butt to tip is much less aggressive than any of my other spinning rods, being closer to that of a fly rod. In fact, when I measured tapers on my spinning and fly rods the Lox 810MT was closest to an Orvis Helios 3D fly rod. The taper difference with other spinning rods ranged between 25 – 50% which is remarkable. The Lox has a thinner butt section and slightly thicker tip. Think of the Lox 810MT as a “fly rod on steroids”.

The guides, 9 in total, are Fuji SIC single foot and they are raised well off the blank and angled forward to prevent choking. I’ve not had a single tangle while using the rod, so the guide placement and design is excellent. The guides in the top section have small holes so I had to ensure that I kept the trace knot outside the rod tip. Note that I routinely use 7-kilogram braid and an 8-kilogram monofilament shock trace when fishing in saltwater so the trace knot is reasonably large.

Lox-Ambassador-810MT-CC

The ferrules are “sleeve-over” or a “tip-over-butt”. Lox classifies them as infinity fit and they have allowed plenty of room for them to wear deeper down the blank in as the rod ages. I regularly check ferrules during a fishing session to see if they have moved and the Lox ferrules are very well machined with very little movement. I’ve not yet added any ferrule wax to aid fit.

The rod handle is split cork with a Fuji up locking reel seat. The cork foregrip has a protective EVA ring sandwiched between red aluminium spacers and is around 9 cm long. The cork butt grip including spacer and protective EVA butt cap is around 11 cm long. The EVA butt cap is separated from the cork by a gold / champagne coloured aluminium spacer which blends very nicely with the cork. The cork is rated as AAA+ which similar to most fly rods in this price range. The grips would suit average to large hands, but I have large hands (i.e. typically wear 2XL gloves) so they are slightly smaller than I would prefer. More about this later.

The rod finish, thread work and epoxy coating thickness is excellent, exactly what you would expect from a rod at this price point.

The rod comes in a monogramed, Cordura clad, hard rod tube. It is triangular in cross section so stays put when you place it on a hard surface. Inside the tube is a nylon rod bag with a velour outer face which holds the rod.

PERFORMANCE

In the hand the rod is incredibly light and when it is paired to a lightweight spinning reel (e.g. Daiwa Luvias 3000 with a Zaion frame) it is truly a lovely rod to fish with for long periods of time. Zero fatigue after 3-hour sessions.

The rod is rated for lures between 4 – 42 grams. Over the test period I’ve mainly used lightly weighted soft baits (3.5 – 7 grams) and metal lures up to 20 grams. I have cast some larger stick baits which are close to the upper limit without any issue, but it is in the lower weight ranges that the rod truly excels.

It casts best when minimal effort is applied, and the rod is allowed to tip flex to the lure weight naturally. By this I mean applying extra force doesn’t lead to an appreciable increase in casting distance. A simple wrist flick using both hands synchronously propels soft plastics a long way (up to 50 metres), depending on jig head weight. It routinely sends a 10-gram Toby over 70 metres without effort. Impressive stuff. The only issue that I found was that it lacked tip stiffness to rip bibbed lures through the water. It does the job, but the angler has to work harder to optimise lure action. It is worth noting that I’ve never used a rod that does everything perfectly but the Lox 810MT comes very close.

I naturally use a side cast on the flats as it is invariably windy, and I want to optimise distance by keeping the casting trajectory low. Initially I did find it awkward to do this as having large hands close together on the rod handle during the casting stroke feels strange. However, once I got used to the rod this issue disappeared. Overhead casting was not an issue. Casting accuracy is outstanding and the lure definitely goes where directed.

The rod feel is excellent and every bump and knock on the jig head as it bounces it’s way downstream is transmitted to the angler. It is an excellent soft plastic tool as it is light and responsive. This is probably down to the increased transmissivity of cork and why cork handles are best for bite detection. For more on this click on: – ROD HANDLES – CORK OR EVA FOAM

The Lox 810MT has a working curve of 0.5 – 0.7 kilograms which is significantly lower than any of the other spinning rods that I own. This perhaps explains why the rod is so adept at casting light jig heads and why it casts best with minimal effort as it doesn’t take much weight to load the tip and optimise the flex in the tip section.

I’ve mainly caught kahawai on the rod to date. Nothing massive to truly test it but from what I’ve seen it is an excellent fish fighting tool. Very few losses when fish are in the shallows which again speaks volumes for the rod action. If it was too stiff with greater working curve, then this often increases the chances of losing fish. I can see why anglers targeting trophy trout in the canals rate this rod so highly.

If I was designing this rod to suit my personal preferences I’d probably increase the length to 9’ and add an extra centimetre of length to each of the handle grips. The downside is that would potentially upset the balance.

Overall the Lox 810 MT is an outstanding rod and I really enjoy using it. Would I buy it again or recommend it to others? Most certainly on both counts.

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