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TICA Kazumi Pro slow jigging rod review

You may be wandering what a review on slow jigging is doing on a fly fishing website. Well, it’s something I’ve been doing a lot of lately, and there are parallels with swinging streamers and tight line nymphing.


I live near the beach, and for more more than a decade I fished exclusively with a fly rod on my kayak, catching mostly kahawai, with the odd red gurnard, John Dory, barracouta, and blue and jack mackerel.


About four years ago I bought a couple of Inchiku, aka ‘jitterbug’, jigs to try my hand at slow jigging when there were no workups about. My first few trips produced a good number of decent snapper between 2.5 and 6kg, a handful of red gurnard and even a rig or two - but there were days when the fish were there and I couldn’t tempt them to take.



Three caught snapper with a shark in an orange kayak

Three handsome snapper and a shark caught with TICA Kazumi Pro


I next discovered Kabura-style sliders with curly tails, and my catch rates and consistency jumped up a level.


My approach to jigging is pretty much the same as it is for streamers: I plonk the lures in the water, where I can see them, and play around with action until I find one that imitates the prey I think fish may be feeding on.


Snapper are fairly Catholic in their diets, and mobile prey species that feature in my area are predominantly crabs, with some octopus and small fish.


My go-to fishing action for summer is to sweep the rod upward at medium speed through half a full stroke, pause for a second, then continue the sweep, pause at the top, drop halfway, pause and then drop to the bottom. In winter I find a slower sweep works best.


I like to use the lightest jig that will enable me to feel the bottom, as I believe this provides a better natural action. This usually means 80 grams for depths of 50 - 70 m, but sometimes 100 grams when currents and wind do weird things.


With this approach I’ve caught snapper, kingfish, blue moki, trevally, red gurnard, John dory, blue mackerel, kahawai and barracouta.


Using two rods, I always get more fish in summer on a jig that I am moving, than the one bouncing up and down just off the bottom and attached to the rod in the holder. The rod in the holder gets more strikes when there is a good swell to move the line. This suggests the fish like jig action when the water is warmer.



Favourite orange sliders on a wooden background

Favourite sliders: fluorescent orange or orange and gold, both with curly tails

For the first three years I used an old 7.5 ft broomstick of a boat rod with a top shot of 30 lb braid on an old surf casting spinning reel. This rod allowed me to impart a lot of action to my jigs, but being so stiff it gave the fish a lot of leverage against my biceps, and with little give I ended up losing a few, especially on days with swell.


In February 2022 I capitulated to try purpose built jigging rods - I was receiving a lot of ribbing from my mates, especially since they know how much I invest in fly-fishing gear.


Most specialised jigging rods have a split butt design to reduce weight and increase sensitivity. I soon discovered, though, that they are not all made equal, and rod action was almost as complex as for fly rods.


Some purpose built slider/Kabura rods have very soft tips designed to absorb the rocking of a boat to keep the head of the slider as stationary as possible, so just the skirt wafts in the current. Any movement is achieved by a few ultra slow turns of the reel handle, before dropping the jig back to the bottom. But this rod action did not suit the style of jigging working for me.


Other slow jig rods have soft ‘noodly’ parabolic actions, designed to load and flip slow-pitch jigs with minimal effort, or just a single quick crank of the reel. These rods are not designed for fighting fish, so when hooked up they are usually pointed at the water and the fish are fought with the reel. This is not a comfortable option when sitting on a kayak, where you definitely need some backbone in the lower portion of the blank to lift any fish. The noodly action would also not suit my style of jigging.


What I was looking for, I discovered, was a general purpose light jigging or perhaps a heavier soft bait rod.


Kayak fishing is hard on gear, it’s always getting doused in sea water, reels are occasionally dunked, and I’ve lost a couple of rods over the side. So I wasn’t looking at top end outfits - for which the rods alone cost $350-$500.


The TICA Kazumi Pro S701 30-150 g, with touted fast taper design for quicker hook setting, and affordable 90 bucks a pop, seemed to tick all the boxes - so I ended up buying two.


I chose the spinning version because it would potentially allow me to cast light spinners and soft baits if I needed to, and decent overhead reels are expensive to buy and maintain under heavy kayak use. I was also not an advocate of the ultra slow three-turn wind-and-drop technique that overhead reels excel at.


When the rod arrived and I opened the cardboard tube I was struck by the quality of the hardware of the Kazumi Pros, including Fuji tangle free Alconite guides, as well as the outstanding craftsmanship. The epoxy work was better than many fly rods of ten times the price.


The slim feather weight blanks are constructed using high modulus graphite with nano resin technology, a combination used for my favourite Loomis and Hardy fly rods, which also happen to be the toughest fly rods I’ve ever used.


Favourable first impressions aside, it was on the water that these new rods really shone.


Incredibly light and sensitive, the tips are stiff enough for me to impart the action I like for my 80 - 100 gram sliders, but soft enough to allow a fish that’s grabbed to turn and properly hook itself. I found I missed far fewer fish with these rods than with my previous broomstick.


At 7 ft (2.1m) the Kazumi Pros are a little longer than the average jigging rod, but the extra length makes for a longer jig stroke, which compensates for the shorter lift when sitting on a kayak. Other advantages of the 7 ft length are that it allows me to easily guide the line around the nose of my kayak when it swings around with the breeze, and the rod length makes for longer casts with spinners or soft baits.


Fighting fish on the Kazumi Pros is an absolute pleasure. I’m happy to report I drop noticeably less fish on the way up. I also destroy fewer hooks.


Once hooked up, the front two thirds of the Kazumi Pro doubles over, absorbing the shock of any thumping and surging snapper, as there is no give in the braid, but there is heaps of power in the lower portion of the blank to put on the breaks and lift heavy fish. The rod is rated to 15kg.


So far I’ve caught snapper and blue moki to 7 kg, as well as some big barracouta, and a mate of mine recently had no trouble with a 15 kg kingfish.


I’ve no problem lifting the rod’s butt section under heavy load to around 45 degrees from vertical. On one occasion a powerful 2.5 kg blue mackerel streaked under the kayak, putting a serious hair-pin bend in the tip, which to my surprise did not snap - thanks to the nano technology.


Like many modern jigging rods, the Kazumi Pros have tiny tip eyes to reduce the line wrapping around them while jigging.


Learning the FG knot is essential if you want to avoid the irritation of an Albright braid-to-leader knot sticking each time you drop the jig over the side.


The long split butts on my new jigging rods, pretty much standard these days, took a little getting used to, particularly when fighting fish. Also, when working the jigs, the reel is positioned at my top hand, instead of the bottom hand, which means I lift the weight of the reel each time I lift the rod.


An unexpected advantage of the long butts on modern jigging rods is that when in a kayak rod holder they lift reels further above the water, where they receive significantly less spray when paddling.


The exposed blank in the butt section of the Kazumi Pro is covered by an epoxy coated fabric to strengthen this part of the blank and protect it from rod holder damage. A removable sliding butt ball ensures the rod fits securely into any rod holder. A couple of wraps of your own insulation tape will ensure the butt ball remains adjustable but does not remove itself.



Eight strand braid is round and easier to handle than braids with a lower thread count, but different braids out there vary considerably in diameter for a given breaking strain. Thinner is always better, but it usually comes at a price.


I’ve found Siglon PE 8X provides a great trade-off between diameter and price. It is a little more expensive and considerably thinner than Shimano Kairiki braid, which is also good. While most brands go from 20lb directly to 30lb, Siglon PE 8X is available in 25lb, which is cotton thin and strong enough to handle any fish I might encounter.



As far as reels go, I have a TICA Flash Cast FC 4000 on one rod and and an old Shimano Baitrunner 4500 on the other.

The Flash Cast has a carbon composite body, so is very light. The reel has a good 7 kg drag, which is way more than I need, and runs smoothly on 9 ball bearings. It will comfortably take 300 m of 30lb Siglon PE 8x braid. I need 100 m of 8 lb Maxima backing to fill it with 300 m of 25 lb Siglon braid.


The TICA Tempest TT 4000 would be a slightly better kayak reel as it has an alloy body and is sealed (waterproof) with gaskets and O-rings. It is not yet available in New Zealand, hopefully it will be soon.


Fortunately reel manufacturers now make small light fixed-spool reels with impressively strong gears and drags. Modern 8 strand braid is much thinner than mono, so you can fit twice as much braid on a reel than you can with mono having half the breaking strain. Braid is critical for slow jigging for two reasons: no stretch means you feel both the bottom and bites, and being so thin it is affected less by currents.


Mono backing

Mono backing serves two purposes: it stops the braid spinning on the spool and it is a cost effective option for filling a spool. You don’t want to go thicker than 8-10 pound mono as going any thicker can cause the braid to pack unevenly on the real. With 300m of braid on top of the mono you won’t go anywhere near it when fishing. Attach the braid to the mono using a double uni knot with five turns in the mono and 10 turns in the braid.



All in all I’ve found the Kazumi Pro rods to be fantastic for kayak fishing with Kabura style sliders and Inchiku jigs of 60-100 grams - fighting fish on them is so much fun. They also have great action for casting spinners and soft plastics in the 20-40 gram range.


Kazumi Pros have completely changed my kayak fishing experience. My only complaint is that I didn’t buy the rods a lot earlier. Value for money, Kazumi Pros are impossible to beat.


Kazumi Pros are made exclusively for Kilwell Sports, the New Zealand TICA distributor, and available from many saltwater fishing-gear outlets in New Zealand.


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