TESTED: Azusa AJS542H-CFB jig rod

FISHING rod design and manufacture has progressed significantly over the past decade with trends seeing off the shelf items rivalling their custom built competitors in terms of quality while still providing reasonable value.

Azusa is a relative newcomer to the fishing rod market and whilst the brand is young, managing director and Japanese angler Yoshi Motoi has a long history in angling and the tackle industry. Yoshi has capitalised on this experience to develop a suite of rods that are differentiated from others in the market place by design and also feature quality components while retaining affordability.

I first met Yoshi at the AFTA tackle show in 2010 and was shown the jigging series of rods in the AZUSA range with the AJS542H-CFB being the one that most suited the offshore jigging in my home waters of Sydney. AZUSA jigging rods differ to others in the market with their interesting detachable butt system that joins the rod at the fore grip via a screw-in ferrule arrangement. The join itself is sturdy and has caused no issues during extensive testing – most other jig rods utilise an interference fit that requires force to attach and generally require much more force to detach, especially after prolonged periods of attachment, whereas the AZUSA butt section easily attaches with a notch in the ferrule locking into a pin in the butt section for perfect alignment. You simply slot the rod into the butt section then screw the locking nut down tightly.

The theory behind thebutt system is to allow a level of customisation with a number of varying butt grip lengths available to facilitate tailoring of the rod to an angler’s frame and arm length. The measurement excludes the reel seat and the rod on test has five different butt lengths available, starting at 12 inches and increasing in inch long increments to 16 inches – I used the 15 inch butt section which felt a decent fit for my body. The butt section and fore grip feature a rubberised grip over a cork base which allows for firm, non slip control.

The specifications show the rod rated as PE 4-6 with jig weights of 150-300g and maximum reel drag of 14kg. The rod is 5’4″ overall when matched with the 15 inch butt section and features the new Fuji Silicon Carbide K guides which help to reduce tangles while vigorously jigging – some might find the overall length a little short if fishing towards the lighter end of the rod’s rating, however, I have been fishing towards the heavy end of the scale and prefer the mechanical advantage of shorter rods when battling big fish.

I have used this rod for the past six months while jigging off Sydney and I also used it in New Zealand. For local waters I teamed the rod up to a Saltiga Z4500 loaded with PE5 line while fishing for the leviathans in New Zealand saw me mate the rod to a Saltiga Expedition Z6500 loaded with PE6. The sweet spot would seem to be smackbang in the middle of the rod’s rating with PE5 and jigs in the 200-250 gram range being optimal so the manufacturer’s rating is a good indicator.

The biggest kingfish landed to date has been around the 25 kilo mark, with the rod being punished on a number of fish in the 15-20 kilo range and passing all tests with flying colours. Close inspection after a season of heavy use shows the rod intact with no areas for concern. The rod has been pushed to the hilt and the only signs of torture appear cosmetic with some slight discolouration to the binding at the base of a couple of guides. The grips and rod appear otherwise unmarked and have handled the rigours of multiple offshore sessions surprisingly well.

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Recommended retail for the AJS542H-CFB with 15-inch butt section is $330.

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