Location: New Caledonia
Source: Brandon Khoo
In January 2012, we conducted a testing trip to the northern end of New Caledonia. On the trip were Konishi San and Kawachi San from Japan and Tak and myself. The charter we went on was Powercat Charters, run by Captain Olivier Quach.
Powercat Charters are based in Port Moselle in Noumea so arrangements were made for Olivier to take his big powered catamaran up to the port of Koumac in the north.
The primary objective of the trip was to continue the testing of a range of prototype rods and lures. Carpenter has a very long testing horizon on its equipment as Konishi San is insistent on ensuring that equipment is comprehensively tested in a range of locations and conditions before it is released.
New Caledonia was kind enough to roll out some nice conditions for us to go fishing. The objective was to fish our way up to the Belep Islands in the far north and back over the five days.
We had the opportunity to test the following prototype rods:
- EP 86/40R-P1 prototype rod
- TBL 80/40 prototype rod
- TBL 83/32 prototype rod
- 43lb prototype rod
- 45lb prototype rod
- 46lb prototype rod
The rods that have been designated (eg. TBL) are at a more advanced stage of testing whereas those that are undesignated are at an earlier stage.
On lures, a number of prototypes were tested. Tak and I were very focussed on the new Sea Frogs in the 120, 140 and 170 sizes. We also had the new Pandora 155+ 30 that will be soon released to the market and the BF 140 which is in its final stages of testing as well. I won't go into other lures as they are not at a point where we want to discuss them yet.
We were fortunate enough to have some great fishing conditions during the trip. This meant a south-easterly with winds of 10-15 knots. Unfortunately, it decided to intensify to 20-30 knots at times but the big boat handled the conditions comfortably.
Olivier did a great job in getting us to good locations and active fish made for an ideal testing environment.
I was focussed on testing three rods - the TBL 80/40 and two undesignated rods, the 43lb and 46lb. On lures, I concentrated on the Sea Frog 170.
I fished the TBL 80/40 with both PE8 and PE10 with a range of both surface and sinking stickbaits. The rod works both Gammas 160 and 200 beautifully with the tip being about the perfect balance between being sensitive enough to impart the necessary action but still strong enough to cast and retrieve the Gamma 200. For anglers who have been waiting for a heavier specialised stickbait rod from Carpenter, this is the rod. I would regard it as a heavy PE8 or lighter PE10 rod. Tak fished a lot with this outfit through the trip and he really loved this rod and the combination overall.
The undesignated 46lb rod is one which we have been discussing with Konishi San for some time as we see it filling a gap in the market. The prototype did not disappoint. I was extremely impressed with the all-round usability of the rod notwithstanding the enormous power in the rod. I won't say anymore at this stage about the rod till it gets further down the development route.
I won't say anything about the 43lb rod either at this stage except that when it gets finalised, this is going to be my next custom rod. I landed a big GT on this rod running a brutal amount of drag and it's going to end up as a permanent addition to my rod tube for future GT trips.
I also fished the TBL 83/32 prototype rod for a couple of hours one afternoon. I normally spend little time on the lighter GT rods but with a 5000 Saltiga loaded with PE6, I was casting a Kattobi 110 enormous distances. I landed a couple of decent GTs on this outfit and it would be ideal for an angler looking for an outfit that is easier to handle. I was surprised by how much pressure I was able to exert with what I regarded as a light outfit.
Onto the lures.
We are getting closer to finalising the new Sea Frog range. The new lure has been in development for quite some time now and it is going to be a very impressive lure when it finally gets released. Carpenter customers will have to be patient but the next generation of what is arguably the most famous lure in the sport will not be released till it has been and survived a brutal and extremely testing program.
The smallest member of the new range is 120g with the 105g having been released some 18 months ago. The lure actually has quite a lot of presence in the water for a small popper. As you move up the family, you get to the 140g and then the 170g. I didn't test the 140g on this trip but I did spend a great deal of time on the 170g during the trip. I tested multiple versions of the popper and had great success with it.
Of other lures tested, Konishi San had great success with the BF 140 as well as the Pandora 155+30. The prototype heavier Pandora has been designed to sink faster to get down to the desired depths much faster. I was amazed at how successful this lure was when the GTs were not active on the surface. While we didn't have the opportunity to test it this way, I believe that the heavy Pandora has enormous potential for dogtooth tuna. Casting to sea mounts and permitting the lure to sink before retrieving will in my view see this lure being deadly on dogtooth.
We also tested prototypes that were modified versions of existing favourites but these are still at a very early stage and still to early to discuss.
Overall, a very successful testing trip. Our thanks to Olivier Quach for a great charter.
I will be continuing the testing of a couple of the rods in other locations this year.