Stylish snapper stick

WE’RE lucky now in that we can walk into just about any tackle shop and purchase a quality off-the-shelf rod. Rods from all the leading brands are well built, feature quality components (usually Fuji) and are designed for serious fishing. You can buy these mass produced rods at reasonable prices and there’s one to suit all fishing styles and requirements. But there’s nothing like owning a custom built stick.

The level of build quality is usually at a much higher level than the off-the-rack sticks, components are usually of the highest quality and the new breed of custom rod builders put a lot of time into the look and style of the rods they produce. NSW Central Coast rod
builder Jan Mikula is fast gaining a reputation for exciting designs using the latest high performance blanks and cutting edge componentry. Jan sent me down a GUSA C70XH spin stick mid last year. He’d built it for a trip to the Kimberley and thought I’d like to try
it out. This rod, which was the subject of a Rod Builders’ Workshop in the April 2009 issue, has since become my favourite heavy plastic stick. Fitted with either a Daiwa Certate 3500HD or a Shimano Stella 5000SW, this high quality rod is ideally suited to casting 7” plastics on 30lb braid. I’ve also used it with Japanese mini jigs, spinning with 40
and 65 gram Raiders and even floatlining pilly cubes for reds. At seven-foot in the old scale, it has the length to allow good casting distance.

The US-designed blank is powerful without being stiff or unwieldy. For what is essentially a fairly serious spin stick, it possesses a fair degree of sensitivity. I used it to good effect recently on a 10kg king which ate a 7” white Gulp jerkshad meant for a big snapper. The king sucked the Gulp right down – all I felt initially was a tiny tap – and then all hell broke loose as the kingie headed for the reef. You can check out a video showing the fight on our website,

The length and butt power of the GUSA rod certainly made dealing with the king easier than, say, a shorter, less responsive rod would allow. Apart from accessing the best blanks
and components, custom rod builders impart individualist appeal to the rods they make. I’ve never been one for overly flash rods, but I have to say this rod has a stylish look which I really like. Along with Fisho’s resident rod builder Mark Fisher, Jan is an advocate of fairly spiffy thread art. The work Jan’s done here reflects the appeal of a custom blank – you just can’t get this level of artistic creation on an off-the-shelf rod. The rod features an attractive Matagi reel seat and a split grip butt set up. I’m not a huge fan of split grips but I have to admit this style of rod trends to look better with this form of grip.

All in all, this rod looks as good as it performs. If you’re interested in discussing a custom rod, contact Jan at

By Jim Harnwell

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