Kits: Middy Pro-16 Match top-3 kit, two Middy G-22 Karp kits, Middy G16-F1 kit, Middy Cupp Kit
Sections: Extra-short No4 section, reversible dolly butt section
Extras: Middy holdall, elastication kit containing four different elastic grades, four bungs, four connectors, four PTFE bushes and a seatbox sticker, instructional DVD
£1,375 at 16m, but shop around for the best prices.
Hands up how many of you out there own a 16m pole but rarely, if ever, fish it at that maximum length?
I bet the answer is ‘not many’ and a lot of that is down to the modern commercials offering anglers carp to catch at less than half that length.
However, the time will come when those extensions need to be added to the pole to go to its maximum reach, and I reckon this is one of the greatest tests that a pole can undergo.
With this in mind, I was pleased to be given the chance to test the new XP35-2 from Middy. Part of the new Nano Core range, the XP-35 comes off the back of the well-received Shock Core Fusion range launched back in 2012, and if the new steed was half as good as those originals, it’d be a belter!
The Mk2 version has enjoyed a full upgrade with new Nano Core carbon fibres to make it lighter, stiffer and stronger – it weighs just 870g at 13m.
The package that sits alongside the main pole is also impressive and covers a lot of fishing styles, packing two of Middy’s G-22 Karp kits for use with thick elastics, a Pro-16 Match top-3 kit for silverfish work, plus a new single length G-16 F1 kit, designed for speed fishing when using shallow or short rigs with puller systems.
A neat little addition is an extra short No4 section, and there’s also a dolly butt and a Cupp kit included as well as an elastication pack boasting four grades of elastic, bungs, connectors, PTFE bushes and an extraction rod, all fitted neatly into a smart holdall.
So the XP-35-2 looks good, but how does it fish? With an island at 16m, the Kestrel Lake on the Westwood Lakes complex near Boston was a logical choice for the test. Full of hard-fighting carp and F1s, some massive barbel and lots of smaller fish such as skimmers, ide and tench, it’s your typical commercial water and I was particularly interested in using the G-16 F1 kit to see how it stood up to mixed fishing using No10 elastic.
One of my biggest issues with long poles is a poor finish on each section, which results in that annoying squeak when shipping out with hands caked in groundbait or fish slime – a juddering motion that can often tangle the rig around the pole-tip before you’ve even got half way. Thankfully, the XP35-2 has Middy’s S-Slide finish lavished on it, and that means a pole that slides through the hands like a greased eel.
Now, anyone who has fished Westwood before will know that it’s often windy, and today was no exception. All 16m poles will struggle when blasted by the wind but their beauty is almost always demonstrated by how quickly they recover after being buffeted and how well you can present the bait and strike at a bite.
True, the wind did at times drag the pole wildly off to one side, but the bait was soon back in position and fishing, and holding the full 16m against the gusts kept the carbon arrow-straight and ready to strike.
My first bite saw the pole ‘clonk’ into something big and not very happy!
Off it steamed, but the XP-5-2 didn’t groan or moan and even with the relatively short length of elastic in the top kit, I never once felt any danger. Changing the angle of the pole mid-battle was easy enough and soon a football-shaped common carp of around 8lb popped up to be netted.
Next drop in, the float dipped and the elastic roared off again. I was getting to like this pole! A smaller mirror was next to find the net, followed by its mate on the next drop in and then another. When bites are coming thick and fast you naturally want to be in and out quickly to make the most of it, and the XP35-2 allows you to do that.
A big ide was the next fish to test the pole before a nest of small perch and skimmers rocked up. Bites from these fish were faster and less pronounced.
A few were missed but the bulk were hit, and that’s credit to the pole’s balance. I was surprised at how good the strike rate was, given the wind, and at times it was possible to forget I was even fishing at 16m.
Take a couple of sections off and fish at 13m and the pole is a dream that even the most inexperienced of pole anglers wouldn’t struggle to use.
So if you’re the sort of angler who recoils in horror when the words ‘fishing at 16m’ are uttered, slap the XP35-2 in your hands and you can take on the fishing world. It’s light, perfectly balanced, super strong but not so delicate that it won’t take a fair bit of stick, something Middy is famed for. It’s one company that makes top-quality gear aimed squarely at the UK market.