A cold and blowy winter’s day isn’t exactly ideal for live-testing a 16m pole, and when the implement in question is not the easiest one I have ever had to wield over water, the process turns into a battle of wills – Man V Pole.
Face it, the sun doesn’t always shine when you’re out fishing, but to be brutally honest I would rather be sitting stark naked in the snow, fighting it out with an unruly pole while wearing nothing more than flip-flops and a paper hat, than French polishing chairs. That’s what I used to do for a living when fishing was merely my hobby.
The wind-lashed Elm Lake at Decoy was so rough when I pulled up in the car park that froth covered its far end, pushed there by the galloping white horses racing over the surface. This was slightly unnerving, considering that deputy editor Kevin Wilmot, basing his judgement on a quick glance out of the window from the comfort and warmth of the office, had described the weather as ‘pretty much tropical’.
What’s more, from Kevin’s experience of fishing a club match here the previous day, he reckoned the far end of the lake was ‘absolutely solid’. He went further: “You’ll empty it!” he said. Kev should know, as these days he’s so much a part of the scenery at Decoy, he’s been given a permanent peg number.
Undeterred by the near-hurricane conditions, I set up to have a go with the 16m Stillwater Pro Matchstix Competition pole. As often happens late on a December afternoon, the low winter’s sun was guiding a few of its golden rays between the scudding grey clouds, making for a glowing end to an otherwise gloomy grey day.
So, to cut to the chase – as soon as you start assembling this pole, you realise that at some point it’s likely to turn into a bit of a brute. Every section has a wall strength and thickness that wouldn’t look out of place wrapped around an armoured vehicle. This gives it enough stopping power to halt a charging rhino, but at some point this means it is going to come back and bite you on the bum. In the case of this particular pole, that bite starts to kick in at 13m.
Heavy and uncompromising it certainly is, but it remains just about fishable at all lengths. At 13m it’s powerful but ponderous, at 14.5m it’s even heavier and slower to move, and at its full 16m it would be the perfect tool for Shrek if he ever took up fishing.
However, a pole of this type should really be judged on it price and its plus points.
So, for a penny under £350 you will get a 16m carbon pole. No, you absolutely won’t want to fish with it at that length all day long, but it’s there for the odd time when you might need to.
It’s very usable all the way up to 13m, and would be perfect for heavyweight commercial fishery hauling tactics with really powerful elastics and super-heavy rigs. I can think of at least two venues off the top of my head where the locals would find a use for it, especially when the entire pole costs less than a replacement mid-section on many flagship models.
The reinforced carbon joints are ridiculously solid, refusing to oval even a tiny bit under pressure. One thing the Matchstix isn’t is weak or unreliable. It might not be the prettiest of poles, but it certainly won’t let you down in a fight.
It also comes with its own take on a Suncore finish, called Climate Control which, as well as amusing me greatly on such a foul day, does make it fairly easy to ship around. As for my afternoon’s fishing – well, for those of you who remember comedian Les Dawson, it was a cheque book and pen for me.
More information: www.chapmansangling.co.uk