Preston innovations Competition Pro 12ft Medium Feeder
RRP: £109.99 (but shop around)
PXR Pro 4000 reel
RRP: £104.99 (but shop around)
Not quite as cheap as chips, but more versatile than a Swiss army penknife, is this tasty pair from the Preston stable.
The three-piece 12ft Competition Pro feeder is as much at home dishing it out on rivers as it is battering them down at your local commercial carp venue. The all-carbon blank is nicely put together, and features an old-school full-length 25in cork handle with screw-down reel seat and EVA thumb grip.
Its seamless, flat spot-free progressive action is ideal when targeting big bream, carp, barbel, tench and, of course, chub. The lightweight blank has just about enough softness at its tip to make reel lines of 4lb-8lb with hooklengths down to 0.12mm diameter feasible and, like all good feeder rods, this one has a very high loading point.
This means that when a feeder is attached, the rod only bends from its tip, enabling its backbone to kick in and propel the feeder forward, rather than just lobbing it up and out, as happens when the weight loading area is too far towards the mid-section.
Other features on this Preston rod, which the manufacturers suggest will cast feeders up to 60 metres, are eight low-profile large diameter lined guides. The six equivalent guides on the two spare quivertips also have enlarged diameters, so if you’re off to Ireland, where heavy shockleaders are often used to cushion long casts and protect against zebra mussels, you shouldn’t suffer the annoyance of having the knots catching in the eyes.
The perfect foil for this rod would be its matching Preston branded reel, the award-winning 4000-sized PXR Pro. This model is ideal for winching in heavy feeders and is packed with features including a lightweight aluminium body, quick-release push button spool (plus one spare), precision front drag system, robust stainless steel hollow bail-arm and hard chrome-plated line roller.
Most importantly it runs smoothly and tirelessly on six stainless steel bearings and generates a 4.9:1 gear ratio.
Live testing tackle in winter can be tricky. With the bigger rivers out of sorts, but fed up with bagging commercial carp, where else could I take the Preston pair to prove their mettle? The light-bulb moment eventually came and we were off to Northamptonshire’s River Ise. A stealthy approach using a small cage feeder packed with liquidised bread, and flake on the hook, would hopefully prove successful. The set-up was simple. The reel was loaded with 5lb mainline straight through to a running feeder, stopped with No.8 shot 12in from a size 10 hook. First cast saw the tip tremble, and then it trembled again before pulling round in a classic chub bite. A spirited fight saw a fair sized fish lunging for the nearside reeds, but the 12ft Competition Pro Feeder had a bit too much backbone for any of that old malarkey, and quickly thwarted my quarry’s escape plans.
Through pouring rain, covered in mud, bread and fish slime, both the Preston items performed faultlessly and they get a huge thumbs-up from me.
If there were such a thing as a ‘one-rod does it all’ feeder model, Preston’s Competition Pro Medium Feeder would comfortable pass the test. Every bit as much at home on a commercial carp fishery as it would be bream-bashing on an Irish lough or fishing a big river for barbel, it’s a great all-rounder. As for Preston’s PXR Pro reel, you don’t have to spend long using one to see why the angling public voted it the best reel in its class last year.