10ft-11ft model - £244.99
11ft-12ft model - £249.99
I can’t remember the last time I used a swingtip. For that matter, I can’t remember the last time I saw anyone else using one either.
This retro method that was once synonymous with bream fishing on big lakes and slow-moving rivers seemed to fade away without so much as a whimper, replaced by the more versatile and easier quivertip.
So when I heard that Tri-Cast were producing what they billed as a ‘better-than-ever’ swingtip rod based on the best models from that bygone period, I was half unsure but half excited with dewy-eyed nostalgia. There’s never been anything to beat watching a swingtip nod a couple of times before sailing majestically upwards as a bream takes the bait.
The rod that arrived was labelled the Trilogy X4 Specialist Feeder. In truth it is a multi-purpose feeder tool, coming complete with two separate top sections.
One of these can be used with the supplied 1oz or 1.5oz glass quivertip, while the second is completely dedicated to the swingtip, of which two are supplied. One measures 11 inches with a medium-stiff right-angled rubber connector making it ideal for most fair-weather fishing conditions. For windy conditions, the shorter 8ins swingtip is better. In fact Tri-Cast refers to this one as their ‘wind beater’ model.
So accompanied on the drive by the soundtrack from The Who’s Quadrophenia album from the late 1970s - when swingtip fishing was all the rage - I was really getting into the vibe and looking forward to some proper bream action at the majestic Ferry Meadows complex just down the road from the office
This is prime swingtip territory, consisting of two large windswept lakes full of ‘proper’ bream and millions of skimmers that needed a fair chuck to catch. I also had some inside information from deputy editor Kevin Wilmot - permanent peg 101 on the Gunwade Lake was apparently the place to be!
Now for the uninitiated amongst you, using a swingtip can be best likened to attempting to fish with a broken rod end. It doesn’t feel quite right, it certainly doesn’t look right and for the opening hour of the live test it just wasn’t right.
Hitting the reel clip with any sort of consistency seemed nigh-on impossible, partly due to my own rustiness with the job in hand. But slowly, I got used to the feel and action of the rod and with confidence growing, accuracy and casting at distance became more acceptable. Never has the phrase practice makes perfect been more apt than when applied to using a swingtip!
Tri-Cast has been quite clever with this rod’s design as it has enough stiffness through the swingtip section to cope with the additional weight and movement caused by attaching a tip to it. The high-modulus carbon blank has been built with enough backbone to cast a decent sized fully-loaded feeder while a bonus is that this mid-sectioned casting power has been combined with a sweet parabolic fish-playing action.
The Trilogy X4 is never going to be a long-cast tool but then it doesn’t need to be. It’ll cope with hand-sized skimmers up to huge dustbin lid bream with equal aplomb.
The only unanswered questions are why and when you would use a swingtip? The answer to the first question lies with the way that bream feed. They upend to pick up bait and at this point you will get a solid enough indication on the tip.
However, now is not the time to strike. This is when ‘sitting on your hands’, so well described by the master of the swingtip, the late Ivan Marks, comes into play. Wait until the fish starts to right itself and then moves off. The swingtip moves slowly and inexorably toward its horizontal plane, and it’s at this moment that the bite becomes unmissable. Using a swingtip defines this movement in a way which no other bite indicator will; it is visually exciting and something which all natural venue anglers really should experience.
Where would you use it? Well, the method was invented by Boston matchman Jack Clayton for use on slow moving bream waters such as the Rivers Witham and Welland where a forward-facing rod was perfect for pointing through gaps in the nearside weed as well as ‘reading’ those bream bites. And the same holds today. In fact, Peg 101 on Gunwade was a tightly-enclosed swim and ideal for the swingtip if you didn’t fancy wading several metres into the lake.
The only drawback with a swingtip I think of would be for very long casts, which are better suited to a quiver. However, for moderate, easy casts, or chucking down the middle of a slow river, this rod comes into its own.