Shimano's new winter winner

This year Shimano has launched its second wave of Speedmaster Feeder rods under the AX banner, and there are eight different rods ¬ all designed for different situations.

We first saw the rods at Shimano’s tradeshow back in September where they were perhaps slightly overshadowed by the increasingly popular ‘baby’ Baitrunners. But, after handling the 11ft Light Feeder, I knew that this would be a great winter feeder rod for the commercials and an item that we simply must live test. And with the fish now going into winter mode it seemed like the perfect time to get out on the bank and put it through its paces.

It is the lightest rod in the new range and has a soft, absorbing action that makes it ideally suited to fish up to 4lb on commercials. Should the odd larger lump come along, the rod will still cope, but it might take a while to land! This makes it ideal as a winter lead rod on venues stocked with F1s and other small carp. Alternatively, for the traditionalists among you, it will also make a great rod for skimmers and bream on natural venues thanks to the sensitive tips that can spot even the shyest of bites.

You get three quivertips with the rod ¬ 0.5oz, 1oz and 1.5oz. The 1oz quiver definitely seemed to be the ‘true’ tip, but all three blended effortlessly into the carrier section with no hint of a flat spot.

The heaviest tip is ideal for times when you are getting lots of liners, although ‘heavy’ isn’t really a word to describe any of them.

I’m usually a fan of glass tips when it comes to rods of this nature, but the new Taftec tips seem to have made them a thing of the past for Shimano feeder rods, and I can see why. Carbon tips have always been crisper and lighter than their glass brethren, but were often let down by their lack of sensitivity and tendency to shatter in lower diameters.

This new production process from Shimano makes them up to 250 per cent stronger than your normal carbon quiver, which means that Shimano can create very thin and sensitive carbon tips that aren’t prone to shattering. In fact, these tips are so strong and flexible that you can practically bend the tip ring back on to the quiver tip itself, although I don’t recommend that you try this for yourself!

When fitted, all three blend into the rod’s short carrier section without the slightest sign of a soft spot, and the guides are well spaced to distribute the tension in the line so that you get maximum bite detection.

A reduced length handle compliments the short rod perfectly, and the deviations on the butt of this are extremely comfortable to hold when casting.

I wouldn’t use any feeder or lead over an 1.5oz (42g) with this rod as its beautiful playing action doesn’t allow for a backbone capable of chucking heavy feeders long distances. But for Method feeder or straight lead work on the commercials, casting distances up to 40m, then I believe this to be an ultra-accurate instrument that will allow you to fish with small hooks, yet not leave you rueing lost fish through hook-pulls.