Grace Sonda 702XUL. Which Type you prefer: Solid Tip or Tubular Tip?
Usually I don’t make any reviews immediately after the first fishing . You need to get used to any kind of spinning rod, feel its working properties in different situations, collect statistics. But here the situation is unusual...
The main thing is that I learned about this series at second hand. I witnessed its birth and then saw different prototypes and preproduction variants, submitted them to the most detailed inspection in laboratory conditions, talked to the engineers. But I didn’t have an opportunity to try it – for several reasons.
What is more important is that I managed to accumulate significant statistics just for one fishing in the mode of trendy area trout competitions. All in all, working fast, I caught 60 trouts with two Grace Sonda models, using lures of different types, which enables us to make some conclusions.
Another advantage is it’s not only my statistics that have been gathered. And the conclusions of other fans of angling are alike. And it is about angling with Grace Sonda 703 XUL that we are going to talk.
Why this length and power?
It’s all quite easy here. The length of 7’ (2.1 m) is optimal and universal in trout fishing both in on-shore fishing competitions, the so-called, “stream” and “area” fishing. Spinning rods of this length are equally perfect and comfortable for casting and managing different types of lures and retrieving them afterwards. But 6’6’’-7’2’’ rods are more comfortable for taking the fish in the landing net, moving with your tackle along the bank during tour and missing the barriers. At the same time number 7 is the happy mean.
But as far as the test, or the power, was concerned, I was a bit confused at first. On the one hand, I would mark the prefect test for trout angling rod at somewhere around 7 grams. But it’s according to the lure test. In practice I can’t remember a case when I used something more than a 5-gram spoon. Needless to mention that the main range of the heads used in fishing with soft lures varies from 0.3 to 1.5 grams. That is why we usually choose taking into account the parameters of the rod power, its ability to hold the fish of different sizes and good work in the lower test.
And here we have a doubtless plus of the team work. Nickolay Koldychevskiy, an old colleague of mine, with whom we went fishing for trout, recommended to pay attention exactly to Grace Sonda with the upper test up to 5 grams. At first I had some doubts – this test was covered in my arsenal with old Daiko Featherweight.
But this is the case when you need to understand that a lure test and actual power, and, moreover, work of the rod under load are correlating parameters. But a simple combination “the bigger the test, the higher the rigidity, the harder the gear” is more typical than simple spinning rods. But if the rod is smart (and there’s no other word), a cliché may be destroyed.
And that is exactly what happened to me. On the one hand – the lure test is quite delicate, no more than 5 grams, on the other hand, it works perfectly on the landing of such fish as brown trout. But it’s possible to force the landing process. Naturally, we are not talking about landing on the speedboat specimens of several kilos. But it’s definitely more comfortable to use it than classical Japanese area rods. But it works well with small fish too: I failed to catch any hatchling, but sometimes there were several trout. Conclusions – only positive.
The main thing is that spinning starts working gradually during playing with fish, and you can feel that there’s more power in the blank. Personally, I adore rods with suchlike action and power. A lot of people call such spinning rods “progressive” or “with complex action”.But I prefer the term “SMART rod”.
Smart at casting. Smart at working
I managed to put my hands on these rods just before the international trout tournament on the Shcharka ponds, Belarus. I didn’t have any opportunity to try it in the field – I had to rely on my gear and immediately start using new spinning rods. It is very rarely practiced in angling – most anglers prefer the gear well tried during the training sessions or previously in fishing. Or at least, they need to get used to it a bit, especially, when we are talking about two models potentially different according to their action and character.
But my “all-in” worked out in spite of the fact that I equipped my Tubular Sonda with a monofilament line and my Solid one – with a braided line. SMART spinning rods turned out to be quite comfortable at casting and retrieving. You have an impression as if this usual for me …
Why tournament anglers need several rods and why I have two Grace Sonda?
If the rod seems to be so smart, why do I need two spinning rods that are so similar? Perhaps, just one will be enough for all the cases? For me – not.
First of all, I always aim at doubling working sets. Anything can happen, and an embarrassing problem with the rod or a “bird nest” on the reel can be very unpleasant. And should it happen at the competitions, especially if you have just one working set on you – absolute defeat! It is because of this condition that anglers have several identical sets. At the competitions the tempo is so high sometimes that there’s no time to change the silicone lure, nor to say, to change the fluorocarbon leader. In this case only one thing can save you: grab another set and continue fight!
Secondly, often during the same tournament you need similar equipment which differs in some characteristics. Different types and sizes of lures, different casting, different distances, conditions, different fish activity and tempo – you may have to face it all at the same time. For example, often I am able to get used more quickly and easily thanks to monofilament and braided lines. Moreover, if everything else is the same, it seems to me that a nylon monofilament line is more preferable.
Thirdly, the dynamics and character if biting if you use soft lures are different from the one used with hard baits. It turns out that rods with solid tips are better for fishing with soft baits – they help to track careful biting and do not prevent fish from swallowing the lure. But spoons and other lures are more becoming for rods with tubular tips, which have a regular action and a rigid tip. They cast better and their presentation is more clear.
In Grace Sonda series there’re no such radical differences according to the action of Solid and Tubular tips – both models are seamless and differ just a bit. But it is this ‘”JUST A BIT” that is necessary and sufficient for comfortable and effective fishing. Especially when I need to use a single line and a braided line in turns, at the same time I shouldn’t feel any kind of discomfort while changing the sets.
Smart Solid Tip.
After the advent of popularity of rods with Solid tips manufacturers objectively started developing this direction. It’s impossible to describe the whole variety of different degrees of blank rigidity and length/rigidity of the tip. Though materials are much easier. Soft Solid is a classical version with a tip made of fiberglass. Hard Solid is made from graphite with a high degree of sensitivity.
Grace Sonda Solid Tip is produced from graphite. While designing them, engineers paid special attention to the smoothness of the joint between the solid tip and the main blank.
In general, I am quite skeptical about different “claims of producers”. And it is not always that I can understand the purpose of some decisions, at least, until they are properly checked in practice. Here I managed to do it.
“SMART solid” – that’s what I call this construction. On the one hand, the tip bends better that the one of a tubular tip, but not as well as classical fiberglass solids do. On the other hand, tactile sensitivity is as high. As a result, we have a well-balanced spinning rod without a tip which is too flexible, with a smooth joint between the tip and the main blank and high sensitivity. “SMART” – I haven’t found a better word yet.
Tackle ergonomics. And choosing between Solid Tip and Tubular Tip
If we are talking about usual kind of fishing, I mainly use braided lines. But as I have already said, as far as trout fishing is concerned, high-quality monofilament line is the best choice for me. Pontoon21 Zarkazma, Owner Broad – their thin diameters found their right place in my arsenal long time ago because of their comfort. Several times I got burned while using a braided line at the competitions of different levels. In most cases it happened because it wasn’t tensile enough, which combined by the spinning with Fast action resulted in bad landing efficiency.
That’s why I am quite critical towards rods for fishing with braided lines. That means that I want it to be as good on the retrieve as a well-balanced gear with a monofilament line. But at the same time there should be a certain advantage according to the cast and sensitivity given by braided lines.
As a result, when I took Grace Sonda GS702XUL (Tubular Tip) and GSS702XUL (Solid Tip) at the same time, I had an image that Tubular is perfect for fishing everything, using nylon lines, when fishing should be fast but the range of the cast is not crucial. Solid is a perfect match for braided lines, where the range of the cast and sensitivity are in high priority. It’s also good for soft lures.
What is more important, its comfort in fact wasn’t unexpected for me. But those small but important differences enabled me to het adapted to fishing, changing sets.
Fighting fish at “Tournament mode” is the strongest side of these models. Classical area toothpick-style rods for trout usually do not let to speed up the process. But here everything is Ok: there were just a couple of loosed fish with all types of lures.
But there’s a small minus for me – the tip remains quite noticeable in the tubular type. And though I don’t have a perfect eyesight, I could still see the bright loops of the Solid Tip. This is what Tubular tip lacks. But this is just a suggestion to the manufacturer. Anyway, you can paint them yourself.
What comes next?
In the near future for me personally Grace Sonda will be the main Ultralight rods. I wish the main stream competitions were this year, not the next one. That’s why my priority now is the fish that is less exotic, like pike or perch.
Moreover, both Solid and Tubular types have Fuji rings of a normal diameter, which will serve as a certain guarantee against frosting in the winter. And it seems that winter is upon us already… Usually, I don’t like super-small loops, but in this case they are alright.
Price segment and expectations
The recommended retail price for Grace Sonda GSS702XUL и GS702XUL is approximately 130 EUR in Lithuania and the same in Belarus, which, to my mind, is a bit lower than it should be for suchlike working properties. But in fact it’s quite typical for spinning rods, and for original lures by Pontoon 21 the price is also lower that it has been expected, but the quality is on the contrary higher.
Obviously, at the market there are a lot of budget spinning rods which very often resemble Japanese ones in terms of the exquisite design. On the display in a shop they look like good variants. But there’s one “but”. When you start using them, it turns out that these flamboyant rods without any “genealogy” are not that good in practice. Needless to mention that a high-quality gear should surpass all the expectations but it doesn’t. that’s why most budget variants have problems, and their ergonomics suffers too.
Here breakdown statistics vividly show that I made the right choice: the reliability of the series is alright. I am sure I wrote enough about their working qualities.
In lieu of an epilogue
I wasn’t the only one who chose these two models as perfect universal models both for fishing both in the stream and in the pond. It’s quite curios that I had to give my Sonda to Sergey Zubko, a friend and an tournament angler whose opinion I value a lot. Sergey is very attentive and pedantic when it comes to choosing the right rod. ОHe finished the tournament with it, and as he said, he won with Grace Sonda GS702XUL (Tubular Tip). And then, after the tournament he took Solid and made the same conclusion. If you had a chance to take more than one rod on you, both Sondas would be a perfect choice. And later he seized my Solid Sonda. It’s been a long time since anyone took a rod from me and this is a good sign.
Master of Sport of Republic of Belarus
P.S. Great thanks for photos for Sergei Skoblya, Sergey Zubko and Pavel Vychikoff
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