With the intent of testing the G. Loomis GL2 rod, the Daiwa Certate 2500 and the Jackson pintail lure, veteran angler Alan Chan tagged along with the HOOKED team comprising of our photographer, Benjamin Soh, intern, Ooi Ju Lee, and, the then new writer, Sadat Osman, headed out to Pulau Ubin.

After a short boat ride from the Changi Ferry Terminal, we made a stop at a minimart for a quick drink. The weather was fine as it wasn’t scorching, and with the constant breeze, it was a perfect day for fishing.

Ten minutes later, after preparing our gear, we were on route to arguably the best fishing spot on the island. The grainy and uneven terrain is not your turn of the mill sidewalk along Orchard Road so comfortable footwear is a must if one plans to go on foot like we did. Rented bicycles aren’t a good idea as the good spots are off the beaten path and inaccessible to the two-wheelers. Pulau Ubin is also home to snakes, monitor lizards and other dangerous animals. So one has to stay alert to spot any hazards.

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Several stony pathways and bushy trails later, our expert finally pointed out the hallowed ground for the next three hours. At this time the tide was already going down but there was nothing to worry about.

“The tide is usually crucial but at this spot, it doesn’t matter,” Alan shared with us as he made his first cast. He explained that as the tide lowers, fishes will be enclosed in that body of water as rocks will form a dam-like structure, blocking them from re-entering the open sea. That can only mean endless fishing for us, but luck has it that we had practiced casting and retrieving a lot more that faithful afternoon.

The rod

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The G. Loomis GL2 rod was probably the ideal one for luring especially for light to medium-sized fish. Its flexibility made casting long distances a breeze seeing that Alan had a large body of water to work with. The rod’s lightweight allowed him to relentlessly cast into every nook and cranny for the first bite without fatigue. No matter what the casting style may be—over head, side swing, one-handed, two-handed, the GL2 works. Unsurprisingly, this is one of Alan’s prized possessions.

The reel

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With countless casts and retrievals, it’s easy to lose feeling in your hand and wrist but not if you have the Daiwa Certate 2500. It is a very smooth, tough and light-weight spinning reel, with long life and high reliability. Apart from archetypal tech talk, the Certate’s feather-light Air Rotor is the key component that helps an angler use less effort when cranking. Alan said: “Of all the spinning reels I have used over the years, this has to be one of the best.”

True enough, it was pretty effortless on the retrieve and to add to that, it was silent. A good reel if you want to fish the stealthy way.

The lure

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The team spent over an hour moving around the hallowed ground, trying to get the elusive first strike, but when it finally happened, it wasn’t a fish that attacked the Jackson pintail lure. A baby python succumbed to temptation a lot sooner than our intended target, the barramundi. The adolescent serpent wrapped itself securely around the minnow and it took us awhile to undo its burly grip. It was a scary 15 minutes for Ju Lee who scurried behind cover as soon as she laid eyes on the reptile, but at the end of it, no one was hurt.

The lure’s action just beneath the surface of the water should have been more than welcoming for any fish. The body had a good reflective shine on it and the ball-bearings were in full motion, but still there was no bite. There were fishes striking at smaller prey but not the Jackson pintail lure. Our expert was so close to giving up against the natural competition but it wasn’t long after the snake’s bite when the barramundi was hooked.

The full package

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At this point, the day’s handpicked selection was working together. The treble hooks on the lure were securely set and the fight was on. The rod bent to perfect curve as the barramundi attempted to flee. The drag was set for monster but the clicker didn’t even make a sound. Planting both his feet flat on the ground and with a slightly arched back, Alan swiftly cranked the fish in. He didn’t have a net at hand so he had to be careful when lifting it out of the water.

And there you have it–the only catch of the day. A decent 3kg kim bak lor that lived to see another day. No one wanted seafood for dinner and thus, the barramundi was gracefully released back into the wild waters of Pulau Ubin. The team continued to try to catch another, but before nightfall, it was over.

Nonetheless, Alan still felt that this location in Pulau Ubin is a great spot for fishing. “This place is usually good for barramundi,” he asserted.

“I remember when I hooked up six of them during one of my earlier trips and maybe this time we were just unlucky.”

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