Major Craft X-Ride XRS-892L 7-23g Review
Major Craft have produced some very good value for money rods. My first one was a Solpara 10-30g, classed as an economy rod it was however still a very good rod, didn't break the bank and caught me loads of fish. An excellent rod for someone just starting out with lure fishing and doesn't want to spend too much.
However, I like to fish light. Heavier lures just don't sit too well with me and although I have a Major Craft Solpara 15-42g rod, I hardly ever use it - I just feel it's hard work and after a couple of hours or so I'm wishing that I had left it at home.
Then I read a review on Henry Gilbey's blog of the Major Craft X-Ride XRS-962ML 9'6'' 10-30g and was very impressed but didn't want a 10-30g rod. So I started looking at a lighter weight X-Ride and settled on the X-Ride XRS-892L 7-23g, which I managed to find on eBay from a seller in Japan that was offering it at a very reasonable price of 1000 Shekels including shipping. I knew from previous experience that I would have to pay another 300 Shekels or so for VAT etcetera when it got to Israel. It would still work out 500 Shekels cheaper than buying it from a tackle shop in Israel and so it was ordered. It arrived about 5 days later and, after paying the taxes, I got it home and was amazed at how much craftsmanship had gone into the rod.
It is constructed from Toray high modulus and low resin carbon utilizing Fuji Titanium KR-frame SIC ring small guide setting (the rings on the upper part of the rod are amazingly small but are designed that way to help straighten out the line for smoother, tangle free longer casts (according to the Fuji website). In the five months that I have been using it I have never had any issues with line tangles or wind knots - so it probably does work for the better although I need my reading glasses to thread the line through them!
The handle is also Fuji and is the VSS type reel seat + KDPS nut and hard EVA - which to a layman just means that it is very comfortable to use and sits beautifully in the hand.
The handle is also quit short compared to other rods a mere 32 centimeters from the reel foot to the butt end, which for me is near perfect as I always seem to struggle with longer handles that annoyingly get caught in the straps of my backpack when making a cast.
It is very light compared to the other rods that I have and at only 125 grams it feels as if it is an extension of my arm - not like a rod at all. Coupled with a Shimano Aernos XT C3000 loaded with G-soul Upgrade PE 0.8 (real breaking strain about 8lb see here) it sends hard lures flying!
The X-Ride is rated for lures from 7 grams to 23 grams and line from 0.6 to 1.5 PE (that's about 6lb to 15lb although on the rod it says 6-12lb but I'm not going to argue).
I started off with hard lures in the 12-15 gram range and quickly found that the rod has a strange characteristic - the harder you try the worse the cast is; but cast smooth and gentle, letting the rod load up and the X-Ride does it for you. Get it wrong and the lure will fly with a tail wobble, get it right and it's like an arrow flying through the air.
So after I got used to casting the lighter weight lures I then tried some heavier ones but getting up to around 19 grams it really felt like the rod was reaching its maximum and I didn't want to end up with a broken tip as some other Major Craft owners had done recently, according to a few posts on the World Sea Fishing Forum. I didn't want to chance it and anyway, lures from 7 grams to 15 grams were right up my street for the kind of fishing I do, so I was very satisfied with my new X-Ride. A real pleasure to use and it never left me feeling like I need to put it down for a bit for a little rest.
So after a while of using the X-Ride and feeling that I was somewhat restricted to lures up to 19 grams I seriously considered buying a Yamaga Blanks Early Plus 7-32g so that I could use some of my heavier lures. It's not a cheap rod but I figured that I could afford it and it would be a rod that would give me a greater variety in the lures that I could use.
After a few weeks of being sure about getting the Early Plus I decided to give the X-Ride a good hammering with a couple of 20 gram lures to really find out how the rod responds to lures near its maximum casting weight and to know for certain if I really needed a new rod or not.
I took with me a homemade topwater that somebody had kindly given me and I had previously weighed it and written on its belly "20g" - or rather that is what I saw when I was hurriedly getting my selection of lures ready for a Friday morning session. After an hour or so I clipped on the homemade topwater and for some reason (which I found out later) it just felt heavy when casting and so I only made about ten to fifteen casts with the lure. I wasn't pushing the rod too much as the lure felt heavy and I still wasn't so confident in the X-Ride's ability; the X-Ride however was getting it out there quite well in spite of everything.
After casting the homemade topwater for a while I clipped on a 19 gram Payo SeaShot minnow and it just felt light and very comfortable to cast. The rod was making an easy job of getting it out. I was really impressed that my initial fears of using a 19 gram lure were quickly evaporating - the lure just felt sweet as the X-Ride effortlessly cast it out time after time.
When I got home and weighed the '20 gram' homemade topwater and found out that it was actually 26 grams instead of the 20 grams that I had thought that it weighed, I was a bit dumbfounded. Here I was thinking that the X-Ride couldn't handle anything remotely near its claimed maximum casting weight and I had inadvertently been casting a lure 3 grams over that - and without any major complaints from the rod. Okay I wasn't pushing it too hard but still, casting a lure 10 grams over what I thought was its comfortable maximum and I would say successfully, finally made me come to the conclusion that the Major Craft X-Ride XRS-892L 7-23g is a fine bit of kit and can handle lures up to its max comfortably.
I would further add that the rod is not only easy to cast all day but it handles all sorts of lures just about perfect - for my style of fishing anyway. Topwaters are a joy to use with the X-Ride; just a gentle, short, firm movement of the wrist and a lure like the Daiwa Morethan Scouter happily walks-the-dog with seemingly no effort. The rod gives tremendous feedback when using sub-surface minnows such that you can feel every movement and changes in current, little eddies and the like. It also gives not only great feedback whilst fighting a fish but has enough power in it to easily control the fish and bring it to the net without commotion.
So do I need a more expensive 'better' rod like the Yamaga Blanks Early Plus? It's not even in my thinking anymore. The Major Craft X-Ride XRS-892L 7-23g is far more than I could dream of and suits my style of lure fishing to a T.