£179 (13ft), £189 (14ft)
The original three-piece Drennan Acolyte Match rod, launched last June, must rank among the best lightweight silverfish rods ever. Its seamless, progressive action combines with a top section forgiving enough to be used with gossamer hooklengths and tiny hooks, and of course the finish of the quality carbon blank is impeccable.
If this rod has any faults (or, more properly speaking, limitations) it’s that it struggles to cast heavy floats long distances, and is at the limits of its power when dealing with really big fish.
In true Drennan style, and in response to positive criticism, Drennan has duly released this a stepped-up version of this masterpiece – the Acolyte Plus. Just like the original, it has been designed in consultation with five times World Champ Alan Scotthorne and comes in 13ft and 14ft versions. The real difference lies in the engine room – this will cast bigger floats further and fight specimen fish harder. Drennan suggests it will be at its best with with reellines from 4lb-6lb (1.8kg- 3kg) and hooklengths from 3lb-5lb (0.13mm-0.16mm).
This extra power has been made possible by subtle changes to the blank. As well as being a bit faster and stiffer, the top two sections have been designed to load up higher along the blank when it’s under stress. This way the classic softly progressive action is retained, but with a bit more grunt when it’s needed.
Where would you use a rod like this? The Acoloyte Plus is ideally suited to deep-water slider fishing for bream, skimmers or big roach, but will appeal equally to the big-river enthusiast using top and bottom floats on the Severn, Wye, or Trent, where a steel fist in a velvet glove is a requirement in the fast currents. I see it selling best of all to the purist natural venue float fisherman targeting decent-sized tench and bream, and these were just what I had in my sights for the live test at Northamptonshire’s peaceful and pretty day-ticket Rysons Lake. This venue lends itself well to waggler tactics, and my set-up was simple enough – 5lb (0.18mm) reel line attached to a 3lb (0.12mm) hooklength. My 3AAA waggler was shotted shirt-button style with a series of No8s culminating in a size14 hook baited with a lobworm tail.
The casting potential of the Acolyte Plus was barely stretched by this standard waggler set-up, and the rod could have easily handled something much heavier. I am not sure, though, that I entirely agree with the Drennan claim for it being ideal for pellet waggler and missile fishing on commercials. The finesse of the tip section would eventually lead to – let’s say – a ‘disappointment.’
That minuscule criticism aside, what a fabulous big fish playing action the rod has. Every lunge is met with an instant response, the transmission of ‘feel’ along the blank is simply astounding, and when you pile on the side-strain the progressive curve takes it all in its stride.