Every now and again I like to fish with a real ‘top-end’ match rod just to see how far technology has moved on, and to compare it with less expensive rods that most of us can realistically afford.
Second only in terms of price and quality to Shimano’s flagship Aspire Ultra Match rod, the Speedcast kicks off with a wallet-wilting catalogue price of £269.99, but a likely, real-life shop price of £199.99 – although you still don’t lightly spend that kind of cash on a float rod.
There are five different versions of the rod available from 13ft to 15ft in length and designed to cast floats from 5g-15g to 10g-30g, with full book prices from £169.99 to a thunderous £309.99 (suggested shop selling price £239.99).
This spread covers most angling situations from normal waggler work with silvers and small carp to ‘bagging’ carp and river trotting.
I chose to test the 13ft Speedcast 390F that I reckon will find most favour on a typical commercial pool where you might get a 6oz roach one cast and a 6lb carp the next.
Visually, it has to be said that there’s nothing very exciting about the traditional, plain matt-grey, slimline three-piece float rod.
As you would expect from a blank in this price bracket it is fitted with a quality Fuji DPS reel seat and Fuji Alconite guides, but that’s about it. Even the graphics are plain and fuss-free.
The big bucks you’re handing over are for something you can’t see – the high class HPC200+ grade carbon cloth that the slimline blank is built from.
Weighing 194g (6.8oz) the rod balances beautifully with a modern 2500 or 3000-sized match reel and feels fast and crisp in the hand.
A ‘semi parabolic’ action means it bends through the top third to cushion small hooks and land smaller stamp fish before the blank goes rock solid to deliver big-carp stopping power.
I’d be happy to fish reel lines to 6lb on this rod and hooklengths down to 1.5lb on river or stillwater, so it’s a functional bit of kit with a multitude of applications.
The good, responsive carbon sent a standard 3AAA waggler flying like an arrow and picked up the line and set the hook instantly at 30 yards at the flick of the wrist.
In this test, fishing a 4lb reel line, I caught carp to 5lb, tench, roach, rudd and skimmers and appreciated a thoroughbred piece of cutting-edge kit.