Shimano's new Purist Tench Float rod hits the spot

Walk around most specimen stillwater fisheries these days and the chances are that most anglers present will be sitting behind a set of matching rods and bite alarms, waiting for the electronic signal to strike and reel in a fish.

Nothing wrong with that I hear you say, and I agree ¬ it’s a highly efficient way of catching fish and one I have adopted almost exclusively in pursuit of big tench in recent years.

That said, at the start of each season I tell myself that this will be the year I revert to my formative years and use a float rod to target my favourite species. So, at the start of each session I pack a float rod, full of good intentions but, I’m ashamed to say, it has remained in its bag every single time.

However, this summer I was more determined than ever to right the wrong and, after several unsuccessful legering sessions using bolt rigs, decided that the time had finally come to bite the bullet and go back to basics.

So, when Shimano’s new Purist Tench Float rod landed on my desk, I wasted no time in heading to Bluebell Lakes in Northants in search of an early morning tinca or two.

It’s an old cliché that first impressions last, but as soon as I picked up this 12ft 6in long, two-piece rod a warm glow came over me. Sporting a dark olive green satin finish, a slim cork handle and a  two-piece construction ¬ so it can be broken down and easily transported between swims ¬ it oozed pure class.

Obviously, looks can be deceiving ¬ I’ve bought several rods over the years which looked the part but failed miserably in the performance department ¬ so it was time to nick two kernels of sweetcorn on to the hook, suspended below a traditional peacock quill, and swing the offering to the edge of a set of lily pads a rodlength out.

Loosefeed scattered around the float, I settled back in my chair as the sun came up. Nothing happened for 20 minutes, but then the inch of neon orange rose a fraction before sliding away. Heart in mouth, I struck and the rod bent into a pleasing arc as a startled tench sought sanctuary in the lily roots. Piling on the pressure, the soft tip of the rod cushioned the lunges with the minimum of fuss and I felt in total control, never worrying that my tiny size 16 hook would be ripped out.

The power reserves in the butt surprised me, and the extra length came in handy when the tench made a last gasp dash for safety in a marginal bush. Steering it away from danger and towards the net, I could see it was a decent fish, and so it proved, going 8lb 7oz on the scales.

Over the next hour the scenario was repeated twice more, albeit with smaller tench, but the result was the same, leaving the final score at: Shimano Purist Tench Float 3, Bluebell Lakes tench nil.

I left a happy man, safe in the knowledge that not only had I rekindled my long-lost love affair with floatfishing, but also that a new one had begun. The Purist isn’t a cheap rod, but to my mind it is worth every penny. It really is a classic case of getting what you pay for.