Major Craft Skyroad SKR-832MW Wind Custom (8'3'', 7-21g*, £195) lure rod review
The Major Craft Skyroad SKR-832MW Wind Custom lure rod - 8'3'' long, rated to fish 1/4-3/4oz* (around 7-21g), although bear in mind that these ratings must be for "wind fishing". Go back to this recent blog post of mine here and you can watch a Japanese video that kind of explains (in Japanese) what "wind" fishing actually is. Aside from last Sunday morning when I took this rod and properly fished/blanked with it, my playing around with it previous to that has been using the excuse of walking my sheepdog Storm to take it out and cast/retrieve with all the kinds of lures and techniques I might use - although you could technically call this fishing, with the time of year and the conditions, if a fish had chowed any of the lures I think I might have passed out.
I know as much about wind fishing as I can tell from that video, so I have been looking at this particular Major Craft rod with my completely non-wind head on (and it's wind as in turn, not wind as in gust or bad smells), and wondering if it might be any good for the sort of lure fishing I do. The outstanding Major Craft Skyroad 902ML (review here) was my lure rod of 2014, but this Wind Custom version is a different animal.
So what on earth is it, aside from being a lure rod designed for wind fishing? Well I happen to think it's a pretty stunning bit of kit. If you are looking for a sub-9' lure rod for blasting heavier lures into big seas then don't buy it, although to be honest the rod can cope if needs be. It may well say "1/4-3/4oz" on the blank (7-21g), but I have wound the thing up repeatedly with the Patchinko, and although the rod is not meant for lures this heavy (bear in mind the ratings are for wind fishing), it was putting the lure out there with ease. The biggest MegaBass DOT Crawler as well, no worries. Don't do this with the rod though and then go complaining to the shop if you break it!!
I have said before that I have given up worrying what rod is meant to be for what, and instead I just base what I use on what feels right to me. This Skyroad Wind Custom is rated as having a Regular/Fast action, but as with the previous sentence, I have also given up on trying to reason with rod action descriptions - remember, fast is not stiff. The Skyroad 902ML is described as being Regular, but to me it's Regular/Fast at least, and this Wind Custom I would describe as at least Frigging Fast, to the point that if I ever saw a Major Craft rod actually rated Fast, I reckon it would be so fast you'd miss it. So whilst I reckon this rod has a fast action, by no means is the thing anywhere close to being too stiff for me and what I want to do with it - which I believe comes from the the rod being rated around that 7-21g mark. If this length of rod with this kind of fast action was rated say 15-40g then I reckon it would be far too stiff and unfriendly for how I fish.
The word "precise" keeps popping into my head when I chuck lures on this Wind Custom. Because it's so fast and light, I always have this feeling that I can land my lures on a sixpence - even if I can't! The length and action means that I can move the rod very quickly in the cast and feel that my lures are going pretty much where I want, and with that fast, very steely/crisp action, it just feels like an absolute wand in my hands. It just feels precise, indeed I can't think of a better word for this Skyroad Wind Custom. The rod itself weighs so little it's almost ridiculous, and aside from me ideally wanting the butt to be an inch or so shorter, the actual handle configuration is pretty much perfect for me - remember that this Wind Custom rod is designed for wind fishing, and not what I have been doing with it. It's just that I happen to think this is one awesome lure rod for a lot of what we do. The guides are very small up by the tip, but since that knot just never catches in any guides I have come across, I have given up worrying about the size of rod guides. Put a small reel around the Sustain 2500 size on the rod and you've got a gloriously balanced setup. Saying that though, I paired the Sustain 4000 with the rod on Sunday morning and it felt fantastic.
As I said, you could push the heavier conditions with this rod if you really needed to, but for me it's a precision tool to use when you're scaling back say for calm to medium conditions, quiet bays, closer quarters estuary work, night stuff etc. - fishing soft plastics rigged weedless/weightless for example, this rod feels born to it. Fishing surface lures say 20g and below is just awesome, and the regular to smaller sub-surface stuff just wants to climb out into the sky - not bad eh? I hesitate to use that word "wand" again when describing this lure rod, but it is. I have owned both the 8' Daiwa Branzino and the 7'3'' Tenryu Injection (awesome rods), and hand on heart I would rather have this much cheaper Major Craft SKR-832MW Wind Custom lure rod. Wind fishing aside, this rod could almost be along the lines of a lighter and more responsive French style of lure rod if that makes sense, albeit with a distinctly Japanese feel to it.
I also have a growing suspicion that it would make a very good wrassing rod as well. I really like a fast tip for bumping Texas rigs around, and with this rod it's like having a telephone line to the terrain it's so sensitive. I guess some anglers might argue that a rod like this could be on the lightish side for wrassing, to which I would say tighten your drag up and work on horsing the fish in properly instead, because this rod has plenty of guts to deal with what are, let's be honest and realistic, fantastic fish that aren't going to reach 10lb in weight.
I know that I could find a lot of uses for a rod like this Skyroad Wind Custom, and especially when I think about the fact that I just don't tend to fish with very heavy lures. I think about last year and how often I needed to fish lighter than usual, and I can't help but want a lure rod like this for those very situations. I absolutely love it, and you never know, this Skyroad Wind Custom might make a half-decent wind fishing rod as well! There are three other models in this Wind Custom range (see here), but I haven't seen them yet.