Words: Kosta Linardos
I’m a big fan of dedicating outfits to a specific species and technique. This isn’t something everyone has the luxury of doing but over time, if you’re enthusiastic enough about fishing, it’s something you’ll start amassing in your collection. It’s the ‘one-percenters’ in fishing that can mean better casting, retrieving and fighting fish, and anglers are always looking for better performance.
I’m therefore always keen to test gear that has an intended purpose, in this case it’s Daiwa’s new Presso rod and reel, which targets trout. Daiwa have always had trout-specific rods, and it’s a strong part of their DNA as a company. Recent years have seen the Silver Creek range, which I loved and still use, and now Presso has taken over with a range of lures and now the rod and reel.
Aesthetically both the rod and reel look amazing but let’s talk about the rod first. It’s built on Daiwa’s HVF Nanoplus blank with an X45 wrap. The blank is crisp and highly sensitive, enhanced by this rod’s most unique feature – Daiwa’s new Air Sensor reel seat, which leads down to a carbon fibre hollow butt that is very light and looks very cool.
There are four models in the range and I tested the 602ULRS, a 0.5-3kg rod. Its short length makes it perfect for small creeks and rivers, but the blank has enough bounce in its moderate-action taper should you need to cast longer distances. I tested it on a hard-running Goulburn River where at times I was pushing as hard as I could to reach the other side of the river (about 35m) with a 90mm jerkbait; it couldn’t quite make the distance with a bit of wind coming at it, but it got close. If you’re looking for a rod to suit those larger trout rivers or even dams where distance is important, this isn’t the rod you’re after. However, if you want accuracy, light weight and a beautifully balanced combo, the Presso offers it in spades. It isn’t the most accurate six-foot rod I’ve ever used, but it’s probably the most accurate $239 rod I’ve ever used. For the price you’re getting a lot of bang for buck.
It’s the perfect rod for casting and retrieving plastics, spoons, spinners, small jerkbaits and crankbaits. I worked a mix of all these lures and never was I wanting for any attributes the rod wasn’t providing. The Air Sensor reel seat and carbon fibre rod butt really do provide a lot of sensitivity, which is important in a trout rod where you’re working lures near, over and within nasty structure and you want to be in constant contact with what your lure is doing.
The only thing I found a slight negative was the butt was a little slippery after you had dealt with a fish and had wet hands. Aside from that I couldn’t fault the rod. I caught fish from 300g through to 4lb and the Presso handled each with great control and muscle worthy of its 3kg rating. I also loved the addition of some cork above the reel seat, creating a comfortable spot to rest your finger when working lures. The Fazlite guides look great, and they can withstand the rough terrain these rods encounter as you’re walking through the bush. Importantly, the design of the rod, the placement of the guides and the balance with the Presso reel is exceptional.
The Presso reel looks great with its black finish and orange highlights. It’s ultra-light at 150g, ultra-smooth thanks to its 12 bearings (and one in the line roller) and the LT 2000 size is just perfect for trout. As a combo it’s the perfect size for trekking through thick scrub, changing lures while you’re in the river and its light weight is a huge benefit on the long walks.
The Presso features a low gear ratio of 4.9:1, so it’s a great reel for working spinners, crash divers, crankbaits and plastics and perfect for extracting fish from structure thanks to its low gear torque that’s aided by the large MQ gearing. The low gear ratio does struggle when working jerkbaits across fast tailrace rivers and I would love two versions of this reel in high and low gear. It’s well designed for back country small rivers and streams offering finesse presentations, but it can deal with big fish, and big fish do reside in small streams.
I caught over 30 fish on the test day using this combo and loved it – it was a complete joy to use, and I’d recommend it to any keen trout angler. If you can’t justify the $780 for a combo that is just for trout, keep in mind that both the rod and reel can be used in the salt. The reel is Magsealed and the parts on the rod can withstand salt. This would make a great plastics rod from a boat or walking the banks chasing perch, bream and bass. It’s one of Daiwa’s best-looking and feature-packed combos so worthy of consideration for those wanting a set-up for general light tackle use.