There seems to be a fair barrage of graphite lure-fishing rod options available these days and while there are plenty at the higher end of the spectrum, with price tags approaching that of a car, what about an option to suit the more budget-conscious? Step into the sub-$200 priced and value-packed Archer series from Samaki.
Upon glancing over the rack of graphite rods aimed at the luring angler, the subtle styling of the little 692SXL stands out. While there is something to be said for eye-catching bling and shine on some of the high-end spin sticks, sometimes less volume actually speaks louder. In this case Samaki has created an excellent design that pops out with enough class to look at home in a rack of rods three times the price, while keeping a balanced and natural feel in the hand.
Subtle carbon inlays hide nicely in a custom down-locking reel seat, which is made of a firm and hard-wearing but soft-touch EVA, with a champagne gold trim to finish off the foregrip elegantly. The length and profile of this grip is crafted perfectly to allow precise blank control and feedback through comfortable placement of the index finger.
The rear grip and split handle length are ideal for this style of rod – being long enough to double-hand cast a heavier weighted offering or lock under the forearm for a bit of extra fish-turning power, while not obscuring underhand skip-style casting or hasty but accurate short casts. Comprising AA-grade cork, the grip has a firm yet natural feel that is very comfortable to use all day, whatever technique the situation calls for.
The action of the Toray graphite bank is light yet powerful down through the mid-section, while a soft and slow-loading tip helps in directing light lures into the right area with minimal effort. The Fuji ‘anti-tangle’ FazLite guide train lets long braid and leader configurations slide off the rod, while cushioning light lines well across the loading curve of the blank.
The Archer 692SXL Lure Special was the first choice for me when aiming to tackle bream and estuary species in Melbourne, and I was eager to put the rod through its paces. While the first couple of short land-based sessions were fruitless, the rod quickly gave me confidence. Paired with a 170g spin reel in the 2000 body size, the outfit was balanced perfectly and conformed to the grip of my hand, and allowed effortless casts into milk crate-sized gaps with hard-bodied lures in the 1-4.5g range.
Having a cast weight of 1/32 to 5/16oz, my lure choices fit the build and the rod handled them capably, with the soft tip perfectly suited for slinging lures such as the Tiemco Stick Minnow around poles and boat hulls with accuracy and dialled-back aggression. In my opinion the rod performed best with these small bream-sized hard-bodies, and would be my go-to rod when presenting these lures subtly around bank margins and scattered man-made structure, whether from boat, kayak or shore-based. It would probably also end up being my one rod when bream and southern estuary fishing from the kayak.
The rod again performed well when switching up to a few different soft plastic options, and got me seriously questioning my other plastics-specific rods back at home. Controlled twitches and pops of the plastics were easily imparted with comfortable grip, while subtle takes and taps were transmitted through the crisp and no-nonsense blank finish.
When it came time to capitalise, the cushioning nature of the tip easily allowed small hooks to find their mark and during my multiple sessions using the rod I missed only one bite – which was due to inadequate hook selection on a particular lure.
The lower end of the rod holds enough power to comfortably steer solid black bream from heavy cover without any real fuss, with fish around the 40cm mark controlled without any panic. A handful of school mulloway in the 60cm size range were also used as a test for the rod in a recent trip, with all fish coming to the boat without any raised eyebrows.
The Full Quiver
All in all the Samaki Archer 692SXL performed above my expectations for its low to mid-range price point, and is ideally suited for targeting bream, trout, bass, jungle perch and the like using small offerings, be it hard or soft.
The Archer series of rods covers five spin and three baitcast options to complement most lure angling scenarios, from this light estuary and freshwater-suited 692SXL right through to heavy barramundi and inshore pelagic work in the form of the ultra-powerful 701SXH. Whichever rod suits your scenario, rest assured that it will be packed with high-end class and performance, while packing a price tag that doesn’t have you sweating as you leave the tackle store.