Daiwa Tournament Pro XLS 16m

FEATURES

• Choose between More Power or More Match kit packages

• Integral taping system on
sections 5, 6 and 7

• Diamond Satin slide-easy paint on sections 8, 9, 10 and 11

• Supplied with Air XLS holdall

Arguably the most iconic pole of all time, Daiwa’s legendary Tournament Pro has been refined to meet the exacting demands of modern match fishing. 

The new Tournament Pro XLS combines reliability you can stake your life on with a proven track record. Such is its reputation that if you draw next to someone using one it’s a racing certainty that you’ll be in for a tough match – as long the workman is even half as good as his tool, that is.

So why would Daiwa even attempt to fix something that clearly isn’t broken? The fact is, the 100 per cent UK-built Tourney Pro has been re-worked with cutting-edge carbon advancements. These include integral taping on its fifth, sixth and seventh sections, a Diamond Satin slide-easy paint job on sections eight, nine, 10 and 11, and extended length 13m, 14.5m and 16m butt sections – albeit by only 10cm in each instance.

Despite these improvements from Daiwa nothing particularly earth shattering has happened to the overall feel of this, its latest incarnation. Instead, minimal advancements add in small increments to the pole’s overall performance. 

Elongated butt sections help to shift the pole’s fulcrum point further down towards the butt, reducing its downforce. This means more responsive handling, with a more rapid tip speed and recovery rate. The latest Diamond Satin slide-easy finish on the larger sections makes shipping in or out at any length a super-slick operation, so long gone are the days of the infamous Tourney Pro ‘sticky squeaky’ effect. 

Integral taping on the top sections sees them fairly rattle through your hands, something to make the silver fish speed freaks hug themselves in delight.

But the new model isn’t all about shipping speed, as proved on the live test at Decoy’s carp-rich Six Islands Lake. Pinging pellets long is currently the in method at Decoy, so that’s just what I did. 

At 13m (nine sections) there is no mistaking that this pole is a chip off the old block – just a stiffer, quicker, easier-to-handle chip! The unmistakable steely feel of the original is still there as you ship it out to 14.5m, and at its full 16m it remains a joy to fish with. 

Feeding accurately with a catty, using a short-line rig and holding the pole was not a problem, despite a nasty side wind. Its linear rigidity and balance is up there with the very best. 

Its strength comes through in abundance when you lean into a fish that doesn’t wish to go in the direction you want it to. It also seems that Daiwa has sorted out the irritating joint-sticking that had been known to accompany its new poles. Not once during the test did any section even threaten to come apart, and they came together with a reassuring swish.

When the Tournament Pro was introduced in 2004 it came with six spare Match and Power top kits and cost £3,999. This latest version has exactly the same price tag, but you have a choice of eight Match or Power kits, making it even better value for money than the original, the performance of which it matches and then surpasses.

Price: £3,999

Angling Times Says: The go-to top-end pole for discerning match anglers, the latest Tourney Pro has improved technical specifications and spare kit packages. A true all-rounder in every sense, it’s more than capable of snatching silvers at speed, bagging commercial carp, or running a long line down a river. It’s an iconic pole with a proven track record which, just like a fine wine, only improves with age. 

Mark Sawyer



Maver Oculus 999 16m pole

TECH SPEC

Oculus 999 16m pole, one Match kit housed inside the pole, fIve Powerlite Power kits (pre-slotted and bushed), Mini extension

Elastic rating: 20-plus

Extras: Three EVA Clean Caps, deluxe pole holdall and protective tubes, informative DVD

PAY AROUND

RRP £1,335 SSP £999.99

Besides being most anglers’ dream job, the role of tackle editor does give you a unique insight into exactly how and why companies develop their products.
That’s pretty much what happened when a chance visit to Maver HQ last year saw their boss Phil Briscoe handing me an unnamed and unfinished 16m pole. He was hoping to develop it into the best of its kind for under a grand.
My first thought was that the raw pole was good, very good in fact, but at its full length it had a little bit too much mid-section softness. As a result, the tip section had too much movement – so its backbone would need stiffening up a bit if the top section were to have more recovery speed.
Moving on a few months, I again found myself at Maver’s Redditch base, this time to cover their excellent product launches for 2016. As you would, I asked Mr Briscoe if the pole with no name I had seen a few months ago was ready to be unveiled. 
“We’re nearly there with it, Mark,” Phil replied. “It’s been a bit of a long slog, but well worth it. Here, take a look for yourself!” – and he handed me a holdall full of sections. Those as-yet unadorned carbon tubes came together with an altogether different feel to the last time I had handled the pole. Now it felt really stiff at its full length, with little discernible movement post-strike at the tip.
I remember thinking that Phil had accidentally handed me a flagship three grand model, such was its rigidity. It boasted Teflon joints on its third, fourth, fifth and sixth sections for added longevity, and just like all good modern-day poles, it came with pre-fitted PTFE side slotted top kits.
The technical side of its construction was then fully explained to me, and without sounding overly geeky and dull, it’s pretty impressive. The pole is made from high-tensile Japanese carbon, reinforced with toughened epoxy resins, before being treated to another strengthening process.
Add Nanolith fibre technology and the bottom line is that this is one tough cookie. Yet its lightness and finish make this pole just as much at home speed fishing for silvers as crunching out commercial carp.
All that it lacked was a name and some graphics, and Mr Briscoe promised me that as soon as he had a finished sample he would send one through to Angling Times. Lo and behold, two weeks ago a large package arrived from Maver.
It’s called the Oculus 999. I don’t know about the Oculus bit, but 999 no doubt refers to the fast-response services this pole offers the serious angler.
A few hours spent with it at Lincolnshire’s impressive and pristinely kept Westwood Lakes fishery saw the Maver Oculus slicing its way through shoals of ide, roach and skimmers at 13m using light elastics, small hooks and maggot rigs.
Then, later in the day, and used at its full 16m length up against an island with heavier elastics and winter corn rigs, it proceeded to trawl its way through carp of all sizes. Faultless, completely brilliant.
I simply cannot believe that a pole of this stature, with so many admirable qualities, can be owned for just a penny under a grand.
Come to think of it, that probably explains its 999 configuration more accurately than my own take on it – and as for ‘Oculus’, well, it’s an eye-opener well worth looking out for!


VERDICT

Maver’s Phil Briscoe set out to make the best all-round pole on the market for under a thousand pounds, and in my opinion he’s done just that. Yes, I know it’s all been said before, but technology marches on and pole production techniques are still evolving.
Take my advice, if you’re looking to upgrade from your current pole, or you have a budget ceiling of £1,000, get yourself down to your nearest Maver dealer, take a long hard look at it, then tell me I’m wrong!  

 

Mark Sawyer