Reel lines: 4lb - 6lb
Hooklengths: 3lb (0.13mm) - 5lb (0.16mm)
Supplied with: Padded rod sleeve, retaining bands and rod socks
Widely considered to be the best available, Drennan’s award-winning 13ft Acolyte match rods need little introduction.
The original super-light (4.5oz) Ultra makes floatfishing on rivers and lakes a pleasurable experience. The rods have a crisp yet forgiving action teamed with a viper-fast striking speed that can still set a tiny hook without fear of snapping off gossamer-fine hooklengths.
So, with all the boxes ticked, why would Drennan even think about making changes to these rods? Well, the company has… and yet it hasn’t. Let me explain. For those who prefer the original three-piece Acolytes, these rods remain unchanged and widely available.
However, they have been joined by two new Acolyte Compact versions, the 13ft Ultra and the stepped-up 13ft Plus.
These new two-piece rods have a patented design that enables the bottom 31cm of the handle to be unscrewed, leaving you with two similar length sections that can be quickly, easily and safely broken down with your rigs in situ. That’s never before been possible with 13ft match rods, unless of course you want to risk tip breakages, or spend more time untangling your rigs than setting up again from scratch.
The Compact Acolyte’s two sections are said to actually improve the rod’s balance and action by having just one ferrule in front of the handle, rather than the usual two, and that makes perfect sense.
But rather than simply just take the manufacturer’s word for it we took the Compact Acolyte Plus to the bank to see for ourselves – already all-but convinced by Drennan’s impeccable rod-building prowess.
As with the original three-piece Acolyte Plus model, the new Compact has the power to cast large floats and subdue quality fish. Essentially it’s a stepped-up version of the Ultra, but where would you use it? Well, it’s ideal for all long-range waggler and sliding float work, but legging-up a few skimmers and roach isn’t really much of a live test.
What was needed was a venue where we could use a big float and heavy line to catch something that pulled back – and not a carp!
Waters around Nottingham available on a Scunthorpe AA club book are among the finest on the Trent. So, armed with the Compact Plus fitted with my precious Hardy Conquest centrepin reel and little more than a few top-and-bottom floats, a pocketful of accessories and some bait – not forgetting the waders – I was off to a shallow, picture- postcard stretch where the float rules.
Wading into the shallows, surrounded by white foam created by the crashing weir behind me, I found a flat crease around four rodlengths where I thought the float would pass unhindered over the rocky riverbed.
Feeding Dynamite Baits Hemp with Snails, mixed in with small pieces of the meat carried in my bait apron, I soon realised why it’s important to use a light rod and reel combination. Regular feeding, and constant casting soon take their toll, especially when you’re not used to it.
But I have to say the Drennan/Hardy combination was as light as thistledown, and I fished for several hours without need of a rest. Casting a 4g alloy-stemmed Avon float proved effortless for the Acolyte Plus, and it could have easily handled double that weight.
It also fairly snapped the line off the surface with little more than a flick of the wrist – no great sweeping arcs of strike needed here to hit the bite, as the rod has a super-fast action with virtually no recoil or tip bounce.
I must admit I feared the worst, striking at distance with a two-piece 13ft rod, but my fears were groundless – it’s just perfect.
But the rod’s crowning glory is its awe-inspiring parabolic action. Its top section has a cushioning tip that tightens further down to generate a ‘power play’ fighting curve quite capable of handling the largest of fish.
That was proved as some whacking great chub and ‘never say die’ barbel were beaten in white water – after putting up the kind of scrap that would have given most other rods one hell of a beating!
Well, I’ll keep this short. During the live test I did lose a few fish, all very big barbel. It had nothing at all to do with the rod, it was simply poor preparation on my part, as I hadn’t loaded my reel with a heavy enough line.
This episode played on my mind all week, so I simply had to return and have another go. Reloading the reel with something more substantial, and re-rigging the rod at home, meant I could safely carry the made-up rod in the car all ready to go.
The result was my biggest-ever barbel on a float rod, estimated at 10lb-12lb. It fought like a demon, and no wonder I shall be forever grateful to Drennan’s new Compact Acolyte Plus.