Rugged Maver Competition could be the perfect pole

Maver will hit the banks with eight new Competition poles this season, in what promises to be its most impressive, and strongest, line-up ever.

Angling Times can reveal that the range features all the usual Maver pole refinements such as Sun Core finish, Fusion-enhanced top kits, Teflon joints and more, but has been further improved by building in added strength.

Identifying key areas on each pole and employing new carbon construction, Maver's engineers have created what they believe to be the Competition range's strongest long poles, with every one in the series more than capable of handling heavy elastics and tackling double-figure fish.

There are also impressive packages of extra kits with each pole which have been specifically designed for the modern UK pole angler. These ensure that this new range is not only super reliable, but extremely versatile.

To suit every depth of pocket there are a range of price points, with the entry-level, 13m long Competition 131 starting at just £450, rising to the top-of-the-range Competition 501, a 16m pole with a simply huge extras package, for around £2,600.

Angling Times tackle tester Jonathan Taylor and I couldn't wait to get one of these packages to the wintry banks.

The first of these new Maver Competition poles to be exclusively live tested by Angling Times this year is the 16m long Competition 321 that retails at a penny under £1,400, and includes a wide-ranging spares pole package.

Assembling the pole, you immediately notice the added strengthening that the technicians have incorporated, especially on the fourth, fifth and six section walls and joint-ends.

This added fortification of the mid-sections gives a steely rigidity and beefier feel to the pole, especially when it is being used at its longer 14m and 16m lengths.

All this added strength and power, however, does not hinder the pole's overall weight, neither does it interfere with the pole's balance, and if anything this particular pole actually feels lighter and stiffer than virtually all last year's higher-priced Competition models.

After a couple of hours' fishing with the 321, much of it at its full length, we both agreed that this latest Competition pole is super stiff at 16m, extremely sturdy and strong in the hand.

Yet neither of us felt it was ever top-heavy or unwieldy, and the slim-profile made it deceptively quick to handle.

The power-play action is well suited to bagging-up on commercials, and if you are looking for a top-class pole then our joint advice would be to take a long, hard look at this one.

If most of your fishing is done on commercials, and you are considering buying a flagship pole costing two grand upwards, the Maver Competition 321 could save you a lot of money. Only one question remains unanswered ­ just how good are the three higher priced models above it?