The Force Master AX 11ft Commercial Mini Feeder is part of a six-rod series announced last October by Shimano in readiness for a spring launch this year. The full range is now in stock and readily available.
These rods are aimed at the commercial fishery angler on a budget. The one on test gives the option of 10ft or 11ft blanks, both offering virtually identical fish playing and casting actions. So, with little to choose between them other than the length, it comes down to what suits the individual angler.
Personally I would go with an 11ft model. I believe this gives you that bit extra fish playing control, line pick-up speed and distance casting performance. But many would argue that the 10-footer works just as well, and could even provide an edge when it comes to casting accuracy.
Either way, the two-piece XT40 graphite carbon blank is nicely constructed, with two quality double-legged guides giving added strength and stability on the butt and seven lightweight but flexible single-legged guides well spaced along the carrier section. Other build features include a decent length cork and EVA handle, with EVA thumb grip, a hooded screw-down reel seat, and two push-in carbon quivertips with 2oz and 3oz ratings.
My first impression of the rod was that it would be very much at home casting flatbed Method, open end or pellet feeders weighing up to 40g. It isn’t going to throw huge distances, but 60 yards is enough to tackle ninety nine per cent of commercial fisheries.
Those of you that regularly read my reviews will know that a few weeks ago I live tested a quite expensive Shimano feeder rod. Unfortunately I was less than impressed with the quivertips provided. Hooray! No such problems this time around with the Force Master AX Mini Feeder. The carbon tips supplied are a bit on the pokey side, but they have the effect of stiffening up the end section, which in turn improves the casting performance of what is quite a soft blank.
Anyway, let’s face facts here, most bites on a Method feeder are unmissable wrap-arounds, and the use of a stiffer tip does help to send the hook home when using what is effectively a bolt-rig. This is something that didn’t go unnoticed by my old Essex County travelling partner and friend Kim Milsom. Without fail he’d use a 3oz carbon tip when fishing Method feeders.
Reel lines of anything between 5lb and 10lb would be fine with this rod, as would hooklengths as low in diameter as 0.12mm. The softness of the second section helps to give the blank a parabolic (constant rate of curvature) type of action, which keeps hook-pulls to a minimum, even when piling on the power.