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Bassterra XT – The Barramundi Killer
It has been a long time since I last went fishing with my good buddy, Ken. I really miss those days where we would take turns to arrange for short fishing trips together with some of our other friends over the weekends. If the fishing trip was set on a Monday, whatever “blues” during that day would somehow vanish immediately. I would also tend to find my job over the next four days an enjoyment even if it wasn’t actually that smooth sailing. Fishing seemed to be the purpose of living then.

However, good times never last, which is why we always hear people talking about the “good old times”. As my friends and I one by one got married, our time spent on fishing naturally went down. For me, most of my time over the weekend would be spent with my wife and taking care of my little son. As such, my fishing ventures logically had to be sacrificed...
A New Local Freshwater Fishing Pond
So when Ken called me up on a Friday night recently, I knew that something fun was going to happen soon. True enough, the moment when I answered his call, a familiar and exciting voice came asking, “Oei Jason! long time never do any fishing liao, Wanna go fishing together?” My immediate response was of course, “On lah!” He then went on to tell me that he recently heard from one of his colleagues that there is a local commercial freshwater catch & release fishing pond which holds quite a number of big Barramundis (a.k.a. sea bass, Kim Bak Lor, or Siakap by the local people) ranging from 3kgs to 11+kgs. The Barramundi (barra) has been one of our most targeted species since we started fishing together. Both of us just love the way a barra fights to get itself free from the hook. Often known for its spectacular leaps from the water during the fight, the barra justifiably commands respect from those who seek it out. Furthermore, the fish responds well to lures as well as live baits, and this allows us to use our preferred methods when targeting them. After confirming the location of the fishing pond, we decided to invite some of our “old fishing buddies” Andrew, Wayne, Patrick, Joseph, Tan and his wife … and give it a try together tomorrow night.
The Bassterra XT
As a fishing fanatic, I would always prepare my “fighting gear” very much in advance. So I eagerly asked Ken what kind of tackle would be required for the trip. He told me that a light to medium tackle should suffice. Since our main targets were barras there, we both decided to bring our new weapon (Bassterra XT rod or so call the“barramundi killer” rod) there to have a try on it.

Ok before I start my story Let me give you a brief introduction of why this Bassterra XT Rod is also called “the Barramundi killer rod”.

Bassterra XT (“one of the member of Bassterra Rod family”).
Bassterra: the all round ever reliable bass rod that is specially designed for targeting Bass species. Upon much research through repeated Field-Testing from Shimano,it was found that the hookup rates for fishes such as the barramundi on lures while using braided lines were extremely poor. This is attributed to the fact that the Barramundi feeds by suction and needs to inhale the lure properly to ensure of a proper hookset. Taking this study into consideration, Shimano engineered the New Bassterra XT Rods with a slightly lighter and softer tip action that allows the fish to inhale the lure properly. This light tip action also gives some flex allowance that is required when using braided lines. This keeps tension on the fish at all times, yet absorbs all shock on a jumping fish, making thrown hooks and busted lines a thing of the past.
The Bassterra XT comes with Fuji Silicon Carbide Guides, Fuji VSS/ACS reelseat and a spiral guide concept system for the B60M baitcasting model.

“Tackle we use”
Ok back to the topic, We gathered at a coffee shop near my place for a sumptuous “zhi cha” dinner, got ourselves some drinks and snacks at the supermarket and off we went to meet our Barra friends. Upon reaching the fishing pond at around 9 pm, we saw that there were already quite a number of anglers down there fishing. We quickly found ourselves a spot to place our stuff and began setting up our fishing tackle, the tackle me and Ken are using were Bassterra XT S50M(6-14lb) with Technium 1000FB, Bassterra XT S60M(8-16lb) with Stradic 2500FI.

While chatting with some of the people there, I got to know that the pond also holds other types of freshwater fishes such as Patin, Pacu, Peacock Bass, Walking Catfish, Redtail Catfish…………….. and it seemed that the “main leads” of the pond were the infamous Thailand Chaopraya Catfishes. Most people have actually come only for sake of fighting these heavyweights. “Wow! This pond is getting so interesting now”, I thought to myself.

Since Barramundis are well-known for their aggressive takes on lures, I decided to start the ball rolling by using a rubber minnow. One point to note when fishing in this pond is that all your hooks, whether you are using lures or baits, must be debarbed. This is to minimise the damage caused to the fish. My first cast landed somewhere in the middle of the pond. I find that the soft and yet strong tip of the Bassterra XT makes lure casting an easy task. A little effort is all you need to send your lure to the far end. Furthermore, the rod is very light and I think that this is one of the most important features that a lure fisherman would probably look into when he is purchasing a rod because he would most likely be holding the rod for the entire day while making repeated casts of his lures.

As I just started to reel back, I immediately felt a slight tug at the end of my line. Uh ha! Here comes my first victim of the night. I held my rod firmly and gave it a good strike! Eh, what happened??? My line just went loosen without any tension being felt at all. Bewildered, I retrieved back my line to find that my 30 lbs leader had been bitten off just right before where the lure was being tied to... what fish could it be? I wondered. What the... I had bought that lure in the afternoon and made only one cast of it... $@%#%!!! Cool man... Never mind, the night is still young, let’s try again. So I retied my leader to another rubber minnow and casted repeatedly around the same area. However, there wasn’t any bite after casting for nearly 15min. Maybe the fishes were not hungry, and even the rest of my kakis who were using live baits did not get any response from the fishes too. Feeling a little tired, I decided to take a break and have a puff.
First Fish of the Night
As I sat down on my chair and took out a cigarette from my pocket, Ken suddenly exclaimed, “Yes! Fish on!” I turned my head and saw that his rod had bent into a beautiful C shape. He had a solid hook up just a metre away from me. What luck I had! That was only his third cast of the night. He was using the same lure that I was using (because I lent mine to him...), and he was also casting around the same area that I had casted...

The fish was a pretty strong fighter. The line kept peeling off from Ken reel despite the tight drag setting. However, as it did not make any jump, I had initially guessed that it was not a barra. “Eh friend, this rod is pretty shiok (nice) to use”, Ken commented while fighting the fish. Five minutes later, the fish began to surface. I got all excited when I saw a glittering silver body under the dim light. “It is a barra!” I cried out. Well done, my friend! Using a grip, we held the fish up and it weighed around 6kgs. Not bad for a start. We quickly took a photo with it and released it back into the pond.
Another One But Not Mine
I thought it was only sheer luck that he got that barra, so I wasn’t really bothered by it and continued with my smoke break. The moment I sat down on my chair, Ken had another hook up at the same spot again! What a lucky chap! Maybe, it was just not my night. This time I confirmed that it was another barra because it instantly made a number of consecutive jumps upon being hooked up. For a minute, this fighter kept dashing towards the pump. Keeping his cool, Ken slowly forced the fish to move out into the open space. Soon, the fish gave up. Another beautiful barra landed by this lucky guy. This one weighed around 5kgs.

After releasing the fish, Ken turned around to me and said, “Eh Jason, I casted four times already caught two fishes. You casted thirty times didn’t even get one bite ah?? You don’t have skill, lah!” Upon hearing that, somehow a sudden feeling of embarrassment rushed all over me! That was because I had actually said the same thing to him a few years ago, and to think he actually still remembers it now! What a petty man he is!
Switching of Strategy
No point complaining about other people’s luck, I had to do something to turn over my situation. So I quickly finished up my cigarette and went back to “work”. However, no matter how I worked on the lure, the fish just did not want to “give me face”. Basically, I had wasted another hour or so merely enhancing on my casting skills... I thought that maybe I should just change my approach. I decided to try using live baits. So I detached my lure and switched to a live bait rig with floater, hooked up a live prawn and placed it just one metre from the side of the pond. My efforts had finally paid off. In the next moment, I saw my floater went down the water. Wasting no time, I quickly held onto my Bassterra XT, tightened my line and gave it a hard strike! Yes! A nice barra leaped into the air followed by the cry coming from my reel. My line kept on going out non-stop for a number of seconds before it eventually made another acrobatic jump. However, I guessed I was too “pro” (professional) to be intimidated by all these acts. “No matter how you are going to struggle, you are still going to be mine in the end, wahahaha!” I guessed the fact that I did not get any fish in the last one hours had made me a little mentally unsteady because I was actually trying to talk to a fish!

The Bassterra XT had really given me great control over the fish during the fight. Its sensitivity had allowed me to directly “feel” the fish. I somehow knew it whenever the barra was going to jump and was able to take the necessary action to stop it from doing so. Though it may sound a little exaggerating, I could actually play around with the fish in my way. No matter how hard the fish tried to dislodge the hook, I just had this feeling of confidence that it would never succeed in getting its way. It was really only a matter of time before I finally emerged as the winner. This barra was landed in about 7 minutes and it set the weighing scale to approximately 9+kgs. Not bad for my first fish here!
The One That Bitten Off My Lure
Using the same method, Ken and I landed three more barras weighing about 4 to 5kgs each after that. Before calling it a day, I tried spinning with a rubber minnow again. At the fifth cast, I experienced a sudden fast and strong take. There was totally no warning given at all. The fish just took my lure and dashed immediately to the other side of the pond. The moment it leaped up from the water, Ken and I were both surprised to see a huge Pacu at the end of my line. It then went on to make a few more spectacular jumps to entertain the surrounding crowd. The fish was so strong that my line seemed to be only going out. For a moment, I could not even reel back my line a little bit. The tug of war lasted for about 15 minutes before the fish gave up. Weighing at nearly 10kgs, it was considered a pretty good catch for us that night. After landing this Pacu, we then realised that the one that had bitten off my lure earlier on might be its relative. As the result was pretty good, we decided to visit the pond again the following day and try targeting the Chaopraya Catfishes and the Patins.
Day Two
Our session on the second day went just as smoothly as the previous day. The interesting thing to note about this session was that our friend, Joseph, who was using a Bassterra rod (blue) with a Twin Power C3000 reel, caught a Chaopraya Catfish weighing at about 25+kgs using a 6 inch live Tilapia as bait. It took him about 25 minutes to land the awesome beast. Tan wife did the same thing too by landing her first ever Chaopraya Catfish which weight in at about 20+kg in 40min.

All in all, our catch over the two days was as follows:

Chaopraya Catfish x 2 (25+kgs)
Barramunidi x 19 (3kgs to 9+kgs)

Pacu x 2 (8 to 10+kgs)
Patin x 3 (3 to 7+kgs)
Redtail x 2 (6 to 12+kgs)
My Conclusion of the Bassterra XT
The Bassterra XT truly lives up to its name. It gives you a good grip and control when fighting a fish and its well-adjusted flexibility make it such that it is not too rigid and also not too soft. On the whole, I would say that this rod is pretty well balanced in all aspects, which make fighting an acrobatic fish like the barra an easy task. So if you are thinking of getting a rod for barra fishing, you should consider the Bassterra XT.

WahooFishingTeam fishing123.