Launched earlier this year, the Shimano Tribal carp rods are thought by many top carp anglers to be the finest rods the company has produced to date.
There are three rods in the range - Carp, Longcast and Extreme - each of which is available in various test curves, and all of which have been manufactured using Shimano’s new HPC (high pressure carbon) procedure, hailed by many as a major breakthrough in rod design.
The process is claimed to improve the blank’s overall strength by more than 50 per cent - and without compromising its action.
Other new features on the Longcast rods include large diameter 50mm SiC butt guides that prevent ‘frap-ups’ (line wrapping around the butt guide on the cast), as well specially designed smooth-profile tip rings that prevent the reel line from catching during the cast.
Finished with an easy-grip handle that incorporates an oversized screw lock and 1k carbon reel seat, the thin profile of the demure blank matches elegantly with the sleek lightweight lined guides, giving the whole rod a modern-yet-classic understated look.
For the live test I had chosen to use the standard 12ft, 3lb test curve version of the Tribal Longcast range, as this length and test curve of blank is by far the most popular size of modern carp rods sold in this country today.
And, if they were going to prove to me that they are worth the £199 asking price, then they would need to be able to provide me with enough casting power to propel a good-sized lead and solid PVA bag a decent distance. All this while providing enough softness and subtlety to safely play out any double figure fish hooked at long range without ripping the hook out.
Carping in the colder water conditions of early winter can still be very productive, provided you adhere to a couple of golden rules.
First you will have to spend a little time finding them. Signs include any large flat spots, ‘bubblers’ and coloured areas of water, as well as the more obvious ‘head and shouldering’. In short, as long as you can find them and reach them, then they are most certainly still catchable in even the harshest of conditions.
The above scenario is exactly what happened when I took the Shimano rods with me to Peterborough’s prolific Maxey Lake, where I found the fish showing themselves at a range of between 90 and 100yds - perfect for seeing if the Longcast rods could really live up to their name. Both rods had been coupled with new Shimano Baitrunner XTR 1000 RA reels loaded with quick sinking 12lb Shimano Technium line.
The end rig incorporated a small brightly coloured hair-rigged hookbait, with a 3oz inline lead placed inside a small, solid PVA bag filled with pellets. Holding the rod directly above my head I pushed my weight forward, pulling my left hand quickly into my chest, while punching my right arm forward, causing the blank to fully compress and sending the payload sailing out across the water, hitting the 100yd mark with ease. First cast, and I was already mightily impressed.
In spite of its ‘grunt’, the tip of the rod was still soft enough to feel the weight of the bag hit the lakebed and before I even had the chance to bait up and cast out the second rod, I was in!
The Longcast handled the spirited fight of the upper double-figure common with aplomb, all the while plenty of feeling being transmitted through the blank, without it ever feeling sloppy or soft.
This was a scenario that was to be repeated a staggering 15 times over the next three hours, with the end result the same on each occasion. As the light began to fade, I packed up a tired, but very happy man.
My final verdict on the Shimano Tribal Longcast? In a nutshell, it’s a great-looking rod boasting impressive hidden reserves of power, yet one which still retains a superb fish-playing action that is perfectly matched to the rod’s test curve.