There was a time when a ‘short’ rod was classed as 11ft maximum.
Nowadays a host of models in the 8ft, 9ft and 10ft class are available, including the Super Light 9ft Feeder from Preston Innovations. This is billed as a close-range tool for small feeders and bombs, and casts up to 30m.
It’s the baby of the Competition Pro range of feeder rods, which stretches right up to a heavy 13ft version. The Competition Pro is a definitely a series of all-round rods rather than out-and-out commercial tools, and although I could have taken it to a reservoir or a big lake and targeted small fish, it wouldn’t have been too much of a test. Instead it was thrown in at the deep end at Decoy Lakes’ ever-reliable Six Islands pool, which holds lots of carp in the 4lb-10lb bracket.
First, a note on the length. I absolutely love using a 9ft rod. Don’t get me wrong, it’s limited in terms of casting distance but for anything up to 35m or so it makes feeder fishing so effortless, especially with the hookbait tucked inside the frame of a Method or pellet version. A traditional open-end feeder with a long tail isn’t as aerodynamic, so a longer rod is needed to cast it properly.
With a 9ft rod, fish pop up under your feet for netting, as they do on a short F1-type top kit on a pole.
I clipped my line up for a short 16m chuck to the middle of the bowl at the car park end of the lake, where there is a sunken island. Believe it or not it’s quite difficult to discipline yourself to apply such a short cast – or it would be with a longer rod.
My 30g inline Preston Method couldn’t have been in the water much longer than 30 seconds when the 1oz tip I’d fitted pulled firmly round. A 5lb mirror carp was the culprit, and it was beaten in double-quick time. I quickly realised how much backbone and power this rod has, right through its faultless action. With several hooked carp I could feel the line grating through some submerged roots or vegetation on the bar, and I really had to give the fish some stick, standing up sometimes, to get them over it without breaking the hooklength.
Then I took the clip off and gave it a few good casts up the long sides of the lakes. This was surprisingly easy, helped by the large rod rings towards the base of the blank. I reckon you could punch a Method feeder 45m or 50m if you really went for it.
My final trick was at much, much closer range. I’d been throwing a few handfuls of pellets in the margins and a gentle underarm lob sent the feeder down there.
The rod was almost wrenched from my hands as I caught barbel and several more carp, including a double-figure common, which all made off towards a snaggy corner with an aerator. Despite a few hairy moments the Super Light Feeder took everything thrown at it, and smaller, softer rods like this mean fewer hook pulls too.