I’ve managed to get my hands on Shimano’s best-selling rod of 2010 - and it retails for under 50 quid!
Shimano is right on the money when it comes to developing top quality, well priced rods to cope with the various styles of commercial matchfishing.
I’m sure this is largely due to the involvement of consultant Steve Ringer.
Over the past few months he’s had a hand in the design of the Forcemaster rods, the perfect complement to the popular Beastmaster series but with the budget-conscious angler very much in mind.
Pricing for the six rod Forcemaster range starts from just £49.99, rising to just £59.99 for the powerful 12ft Commercial Feeder.
I chose to test the two-piece 11ft Forcemaster Mini-Feeder for two reasons.
First, this length of rod will, in 99 per cent of cases, easily deal with all commercial feeder or straight lead situations. Second, at £49.99 it is around the cost that most anglers are willing to lay out on a feeder rod.
You might be thinking that for a penny under 50 quid Shimano is not going to bother much about build quality or action, and that maybe the company would just throw it all together and hope for the best.
Well, that isn’t the case at all. Build is as good as you would find on any Shimano rod, and having now fished with the Forcemaster 11ft Mini I was not at all surprised that it topped the sales charts.
The moment you remove it from its sleeve you are struck by the understated dark blue finish of the blank. I know this has absolutely no bearing on performance, but it is certainly different.
The playing action is through the entire blank, rather than being progressive, and it’s quite spongy for a feeder rod.
That said, many anglers ¬ including myself ¬ prefer a softer actioned rod, because these are less prone to hook-pulls than stiffer blanks.
The down side to the softer action is that ultimately you do lose quite a lot of the rod’s casting potential.
But unless you needed to go for a really big cast with a heavy feeder, the Forcemaster will cope with any size of Method feeder, with casting distances up to around 30m easily achievable.
During the live test, however, the majority of fish were taken just yards from the near bank, with a small Method feeder baited with Peperami and swung out underarm so that the feeder came to rest up against the rushes.
The reel line used was 8lb breaking strain, and this is about the maximum you would want to use with this rod. Anything heavier than that and your casting distance would be considerably reduced.
Bite detection with the the heavier push-in quivertip in place was very easy, and every fish hooked at such close quarters just pulled the rod top around. Remember, with most of the tactics you’ll be using on commercials, that tends to be the type of bite you’ll get, and the slightly thicker than normal quivertip does actually give the fish something to hook themselves against.
After four hours of fishing, and a run of decent fish taken down the edge, I decided I’d enjoyed my session with the Shinano Forcemaster Mini-Feeder.
All in all, if I had been in the market for a good, all-round feeder rod and had bought this one, I would definitely have considered it to be 50 quid well spent.