Browning's third generation flagship Xitan Z16L pole is a bit special – hardly surprising, considering that the Xitan range (starting in 2008 with the Z3 and Z4 models) has been a pace-setter ever since.
The company was the first to introduce long butt sections, pre-cut and bushed top kits (and top-kit package choices) – not to mention factory-fitted side pullers.
Now, anglers in the upper echelons of match fishing tend to stick with their favourite make of pole… or rod, or reel, for that matter. I have half-a-dozen or so mates who all own Xitan poles. They love them to bits, catch loads of fish with them, and rarely break sections in the process. They think these poles are brilliant, and nearly all these characters have upgraded their Xitans every time a new model appears.
I was lucky enough to have a quick waggle with a prototype Advance Z16L late last year when I visited Browning’s Bremen factory, and for my own reasons I was desperate to get out on the bank with the finished product. Here’s why...
Let’s not pull any punches here, this is a top-end flagship pole costing around three grand, not cheap by anyone’s reckoning. But here’s the rub. Browning already has a top-end flagship pole in the Sphere Zero, that I rate as one of the top three poles in the world today. The Sphere is a bit dearer than the latest Xitan, but not by much. So I was intrigued to find out how, if at all, the two flagship poles differ.
As far as top kit, spare and short fourth sections and mini extensions go, both come with more than enough to divvy up among your friends. The real clue to how and why these two exceptional poles are completely separate entities became apparent even before I wet a line.
It just so happened that I had a Sphere Zero pole in the car with me as I pulled into Steve Gregory’s Rushfield Lakes car park. Putting this, and the Xitan, together, it’s apparent they are built on completely different mandrels.
As for performance, the Xitan Advance Z16L would make a perfect all-rounder but is the ultimate pole for commercial carp fishing. Its long sections impart a real feel of sturdiness, enhanced when you fit the square-sectioned ergonomic pole protector.
It’s also clear that Browning has used the experience gained from developing the Sphere to make the Z16L significantly lighter and stiffer than any previous model, without sacrificing any of the strength and reliability that Xitan poles are renowned for.
The Z16L is a true length 16m pole without the need for mini-extensions or extra-long top kits to reach its full length. With its pole protector fitted it measures 16.7m, and, with further extensions available, that can go up to 18m.
The Z16L package also includes a radical new multi-length top kit design, which allows the same kit to be used as a conventional 2.6m two-piece item or as a one-piece kit of 1.95m – perfect for F1s, fishing shallow or when using short elastics for silver fish.
Even when taking the one-piece route the pole still reaches a true 16m. The pre-bushed and side puller fitted Multikit it comes with is an ultra-stiff top kit that should meet your every need in the elastic department.
Our Verdict: On the day, I handed the Xitan Z16L Advance over to Steve Gregory, a Sheffield lad who has caught as many big carp on a pole as anyone you’ll ever meet. He certainly doesn’t mess about!
I left him while I had a walk round the lake, all the while keeping an eye on what he was doing with the precious Xitan.
His verdict on the pole couldn’t have been better if he’d owned and fished with a Xitan for years, and was just what others had told me: “Brilliant!”
Price: £2,999 (16m UK set)
Spurred on by the success of its iconic Yank ‘n’ Bank rods and poles, Daiwa has extended the range.
Among several new items, the 14.5m Pro Power Pole is the subject of this week’s live test. It comes with enough spare top kits to cover every commercial fishery scenario and is built around the same fast-taper mandrel as the new 13m Power Yank ‘n’ Bank pole, with sections that fully interchange with the current 9.5m Yank ‘n’ Bank model.
The Pro Power pole is designed to be that little bit more robust than its stablemates and is built from the same high-modulus carbon fibre cloths as many of Daiwa’s far more expensive poles.
However, the cloth from which it is cut has different specifications to give added power and awesome section wall and joint strengths.
Built like a tank it may be, but it certainly doesn’t handle like one – it’s as nimble as a sports car, with a fair turn of handling pace.
I discovered that and much more while testing the pole at Miracle Baits boss Steve Gregory’s super-popular Rushfield Lakes complex – although with the car’s temperature gauge reading minus two, it was never going to be an easy day. Ice was forming at an alarming pace across the surface of Canal Lake and I found my confidence rapidly ebbing away.
However, this L-shaped lake is jam-packed with fighting-fit carp, which put up a devilish scrap even in the coldest of water conditions.
I rigged up with a 6mm disc of punched bread set to fish at dead depth in the deepest water – no feed, just the hookbait.
Just to make things even more interesting, it started snowing (that Beast from the East again!).
Luckily, before hypothermia could disable me, the float gave a little waggle and disappeared from sight. Oh joy! With a lightly-set No8 hollow elastic streaming from the pole-tip, the fish charged straight underneath the ice.
I was reminded of something my Angling Times predecessor Dave Woodmansey once wrote – he described a carp pole as having ‘enough pulling power to drag a snarling Alsatian from its kennel’. This time around it was a very angry carp that needed extraction.
Playing a decent fish underneath ice will exert an awful lot of stress on a pole. You need to keep piling on the pressure, but you can’t see where the elastic is going – all you know is, you need to keep it and your rig line well away from the razor-sharp edges of that ice.
At this point you learn the strengths and limitations of a pole. And I can happily report that the new Yank ‘n’ Bank Pro Power does exactly what the name suggests.
Should you have a recalcitrant Alsatian that needs dragging out of its kennel, get yourself a Yank ‘n’ Bank Pro, tie some hefty elastic to the dog’s collar, and give it go. Trust me, the dog will move first!
Price: Expect to pay around £765
Our Verdict: the 14.5m Pro Power is a chip off the old Yank ‘n’ Bank block. It has many of the build qualities of its thoroughbred Daiwa stablemates, and it comes with a more than handy selection of top kits and accessories. All this makes it an outstanding one-stop commercial weapon, quite capable of delivering a super power play performance both down the margins and at longer range.
Price: 14.4m £1,499.99
Standard package: One Match top-4 kit; three Match top-3 kits; three Big Bore top-2 kits; one Interex short No3 section; one reversable power mini butt 8-9 section; one stiff top-2 cupping kit with two cups; deluxe holdall complete with all tubes; Tri-Cast baseball cap and towel
We don’t mess around at Angling Times, so when the very latest long pole from Tri-Cast arrived in the office it was elasticated and on its way to the bank just a couple of days later.
The Trophy X-Type 80 is built on the same mandrel as the flagship Excellence Pro model, although it uses a slightly different carbon, and Tri-Cast says that a new light resin has altered the way the fibres have been laid out, improving overall performance.
The operative word here is ‘reinforcement’, and as I put the pole together I couldn’t help but notice how well protected all the ends of the sections are.
This is something Tri-Cast has a reputation for. Its super-reinforced wraps eliminate wear and chipping, especially at the female ends. The top kits also feature wrapped areas to drill a hole for a puller bush, although I’m not quite sure why they feature on the top half of the top kits as well.
For the test I selected an end peg on the canal-style lake at Stretton Lakes near Stamford. If you’re going to sit on a peg, it might as well be a good one! It would have been all too easy to go out to the island in front of me, a ‘mere’ 13 or 14 metres away, and have a comfortable day.
But I decided to test the pole a bit more by fishing to the island in front of the next peg to the left, a full 16m away with the handy half butt added. No way was it going to be easy, as there were loads of branches overhanging the water and a slightly naughty cross wind that decided to get up shortly after I began fishing.
A massive plus point is the Super Slip finish. I haven’t actually sat down and fished with a Tri-Cast pole for a long while, so I was pleasantly surprised – it’s very easy on the hands. You can ship it at speed, and as I started hooking the carp of Stretton Lakes I began to appreciate this.
Most were small commons, but what they lacked in size they made up for in enthusiasm. They were soon trying to swim around the gaps in the small islands to the other side of the lake, meaning I had to have my wits about me in getting the pole back swiftly.
At its 13m and 14.4m lengths I found the pole good. At the full 16.1m there are stiffer poles out there for the price, but it was still perfectly acceptable. I fitted a Kinder pot to mimic a fishing situation and there was a little bit of bounce. Putting the short number three section in solved this somewhat, and if I didn’t need to fish at the absolute full length then I’d recommend making full use of this short piece, especially if you want to fish up in the water and slap the rig on the surface.
There’s no doubt that this is a solidly strong pole too, with the sections barely willing to budge when squeezed. I’d be happy to fit a grade 20 elastic. I can’t sign off without mentioning the total spares package here, as it’s impressive as standard (see panel).
If it’s not absolutely perfect you can tailor it to your own needs by contacting Tri-Cast first. You might want more big bore, power orientated kits, for example, so you can’t say fairer than that!
Our verdict: A good solid pole with a very nice finish. Everything about the sections inspires confidence, from the wraps to the overall feel, leaving no question about its strength. There are probably a few stiffer poles than this in the price range, but are they are as strong or as well made? I doubt it!
After four successful years as Drennan’s best-selling flagship pole ever, the Acolyte hands the reins to the Acolyte Pro.
The newcomer, designed from the ground up, will handle everything from carp and F1 bagging on commercials to whipping out silverfish on natural lakes, rivers and canals.
Five-times World Champ Alan Scotthorne has been heavily involved in its development, as indeed he was with its predecessor, and with more than 12 months of rigorous field-testing on every conceivable pole venue, you can rest assured the new Pro won’t disappoint.
The changes are more significant than mere cosmetic tweaks, as can be the case with flagship models.
Like cars, poles are to some degree slaves to fashion, and some manufacturers prefer ‘go-faster stripes’ to genuine technical innovation. Not Drennan!
Advancements in carbon technology have given the Pro greater section strength and improved linear rigidity without any significant difference in overall weight at any length.
The major change, though, is the use of an updated mandrel for the No5-No11 sections of this perfectly balanced powerhouse of a pole. However, owners of the original Acolyte pole wishing to upgrade need not fret, as existing top-2, top-3 and top-4 kits will all still fit.
True, the new pole’s butt sections are fractionally wider, but less than a millimetre’s increase in diameter is barely noticeable. Drennan, in fact, says the change improves tip end recovery.
This, I have to say, was quite exceptional, as I discovered while live testing the pole on Decoy’s Six Islands Lake. Having fished with the original Acolyte I feel I can cut straight to the chase.
The Pro is a very different beast from the original. It’s a hell of a lot meaner, with improved section wall strengths coupled with hexagonal patterned reinforced joint ends. And there’s little, if any, post-strike movement.
But it’s when you hook something that pulls back a bit that you really appreciate the Acolyte Pro.
It’s downright powerful, but not in a pokey, over-gunned way. Steely strength with subtlety is what it’s all about, making it bang on the money for any UK venue you care to mention.
Our verdict: Yes, the new Acolyte Pro is another beast entirely from the original pole, but only in a good way. Teamed with lightweight Drennan A top kits, it shows superb silverfish form.
Its core of steel instils confidence in the user to take on the largest fish, and it’s more than up to commercial bagging tactics. This is Drennan’s best pole to date, perfectly combining a modern build with top-end performance, and multi-venue versatility.
• D-S7 Combat Carp 14.5m pole (including standard Drennan top-2 kit) • Two top-2 Carp kits • Double 2 Carp kit • Double 2 Ghost Carp kit • Top 2 Cupping kit• Two reversible mini-extensions (fitting 13m and 14.5m and sections
6 and 7) • Five Roller Cones • Extractor rod
• Five Skid Bungs • EVA nose cones • 36 PTFE bushes • Six intermediate bushes • 40 Side Puller Beads • 250ml pole pot • Extra Cupping kit adaptor • Drennan Visi Case
• Drennan 4-6 tube holdall
Launched around 2003, Drennan’s Series 7 range of rods, reels and – of course – poles has become a benchmark name for classy fishing kit at affordable prices.
With superb design, quality fittings and Drennan’s deserved reputation for durability and reliability, it’s little wonder the Series 7 range is so popular.
Its designers have the happy knack of keeping their finger on the pulse of the latest tactics and reacting quickly to market trends in rods and poles – in other words, Drennan gives its customers exactly what they want, when they want it.
All this brings me nicely on to the latest member of the clan, the D-S7 Combat Carp pole – the abbreviation, obviously, stands for ‘Drennan Series 7’.
This is a modern style of pole with a true 14.5m length, ideal for bagging match carp on commercial fisheries. It does have more than one string to its bow, though, being light and responsive enough to target silver fish too.
Many manufacturers claim their poles combine equal degrees of strength and finesse, but few actually achieve this. However, the Drennan development team are experts in both areas, and having fished with the D-S7 Combat Carp at a mixed commercial fishery I wouldn’t refute their claims.
And so to the live test at Decoy, where sport at the fish-packed Willows Lake was somewhat slower than it should have been. A nasty side wind didn’t help, doing its damnedest to wreak havoc with my presentation.
This, I hasten to say, wasn’t the fault of the D-S7, which remained straighter than a fireman’s greasy pole. It was more down to the lightness of my rig, and the fact I was trying to lower it tight up against a reed bed at 14.5m on a very short line.
The odd F1 and skimmer hung itself on my hook, demonstrating the pole’s balance at full length, and a faultless shipping performance.
Even when I had to break down twice, due to lack of room and poor swim selection on my part, there was no discernible bounce, and the sections came apart easier than I would have expected with a brand-new pole.
I had also fed a margin line against the reeds, in hindsight rather too far away for comfort. However, the pole comes with two reversible mini-extensions. One, at 60cm, fits on to the end of the sixth or seventh sections and the other, at 64cm, fits on to the 13m and 14.5m sections, giving that bit of extra length when needed. I found this particularly handy when targeting that margin swim.
The pole has a more than generous selection of spares, and all its top kits are fitted with the Drennan Roller Cone side-slot puller system – in my opinion the best there is.
That spares package consists of two Double 2 Carp kits, one for use with shorter lengths of elastic and perfect for margin and up-in-the-water work, and the other with a light grey Ghost tip, also ideal for shallow water tactics.
You also get an array of skid bungs, nose cones and Roller Cone accessories, PTFE bushes, a cupping kit and cups… in fact with this package you’ll be armed with everything you need for carp combat.
Our Verdict: In my opinion by far the best pole Drennan has released in the Series 7 range. Easy to use, it’s a pleasure to fish with and would make a perfect addition to any keen club or pleasure angler’s holdall. The depth and quality of the spares package lends itself to all types of venue, and helps to make it an outstanding pole at its price.
When I first heard that Daiwa was launching a 13m Power Carp pole I wasn’t sure which of its best-selling ranges it would join – Tournament, Team Daiwa, Match Winner or Yank-n-Bank.
As it turns out I was wrong on all counts. The newcomer is a stand-alone model with a very modest price tag. This puts it within reach of the newbie pole buyer who fancies a crack at some really big commercial carp, and wants to do it with a branded Daiwa pole.
This is quite a shrewd move by Daiwa, the leading seller of poles in the UK and reckoned by most discerning match anglers to make the best top-end models. Over the years I’ve lost count of the conversations I have had with people whose very first pole was a Daiwa. ‘Once a Daiwa man, always a Daiwa man (or woman)’ is not far off the mark.
So, if you choose to tread the jewel-strewn Daiwa pole path, what performance and build can you expect from this latest 13m, nine-sectioned model? Well, clearly power, strength and reliability are written large on the specification sheet.
Beefy anti-ovalling joints and super-tough sections give the impression of the pole being bulletproof. Its brawny fighting action spreads across the top five sections, leaving the angler in no doubt as to who’s in charge.
Rated to a 20 elastic, it can be used with heavy hollows and generates enough fire-power to see even the largest commercial fish wave the white flag. Having this unbridled stash of munitions at your disposal does come at a price – but in this case, not a particularly high one.
Yes, it’s undoubtedly easier to fish with at 11.5m than at 13m. But it remains reasonably well balanced and easy to handle at its full length, and there’s no hint of a droopy stick of rhubarb when all sections are put together.
A bit of post-strike bounce and wobble doesn’t interfere all that much with the pole’s action, which remains more than angler-friendly considering all that pulling power.
Weighing in at 1,250g, it isn’t the lightest power pole I’ve ever handled. You need to adopt a good firm posture on your seatbox, with the pole’s downforce weight spread over your knees or across a bump bar, then it won’t feel uncomfortably heavy.
Although the Power Carp is designed to be a cold steel ‘they don’t like it up ’em’ sort of weapon, Daiwa has been clever enough to throw in a few sweeteners – so along with all that power come pleasantries such as alignment arrows, which ensure you are always using the pole at its optimum stiffness.
Pre-bored side puller carbon reinforcements on the second sections are nice enough, although I have to say that it’s high time all Daiwa top kits came with factory-fitted side pullers as standard.
A pleasing slide-easy matt tape finish makes for speedy, painless shipping, while a super-robust mini butt comes as standard and fits into the eighth and ninth sections, giving that little bit more length if and when you need it.
Live-testing this type of pole is not always that simple – to get the best from it you need to subject it to some serious grief without actually smashing it to pieces.
However, the first couple of pegs on Decoy’s Beastie Lake are fringed by a huge bed of Norfolk reed that houses many of its largest residents. Barbel and carp abound here, and both need a fair degree of persuasion to quit their lairs.
So, rigging one of the Power top kits with a size 16 hollow elastic, and attaching a 0.18mm line and size 16 hook baited with a banded 6mm pellet, fight-time was here.
A steady stream of carp and barbel close to double figures were duly extracted with the minimum of fuss and bother, and the pole did its job faultlessly. Who could ask for more?
Our Verdict: Pretty much as its name suggests, this is a no-frills pole that won’t win any beauty contests. But then it doesn’t need to. It is what it is, a reliable branded Daiwa pole with a more than half-decent spare top kit package, at an absolute steal of a price.
Browning's 6m-long Brutale margin pole is the toughest member of the Hyper Carp family.
All are built to cope with the stresses and strains of tackling French ‘Carpdrome’ venues where the playing and landing of 20lb-plus carp on the strongest of tackle and heaviest of elastics is the name of the game.
The four-section Brutale, as its name suggests, is a proper ‘take no prisoners’ weapon, quite capable of taming the largest carp under any conditions, in any swim.
The ultra-strong pole comes ready to fish with no cutting back of the tip section required, while an unlimited elastic rating gives you some idea of its fish-stopping qualities.
For those of you that may already own a longer or higher spec Browning Hyper Carp pole, however, it’s fully section-compatible with all five of its family members.
It’s difficult to know just where to live-test a pole of this ilk – double-figure carp are more of a happy coincidence that turn up late on in matches than a regular occurrence, unless you’re a
boilie-bashing bivvy dweller.
If you fall into that category, of course, you are hardly likely to be even vaguely interested in the merits of this pole, other than to use it with great big baiting spoon attached to the end for carpet feeding the margins!
One of the best big-fish waters I know of is the Oaks strip lake on the Decoy complex. The lakebed is paved with elastic-stretching brutes averaging over 8lb, and each one you hook seems to be even angrier about it than its predecessor.
Big baits always sort out the better fish, so lowered gently into the margin went two cubes of gravy-dripping catmeat on a size 12 hook. Surely a ditch-pig of a carp would oblige?
Sure enough, it wasn’t long before the thick-bristled float disappeared and out flowed yards and yards of size 14 hollow elastic.
The pole, which to be fair isn’t at all brutal, just dead strong, is surprisingly light at just 285g, and comes up nicely on the stiff side of rigid. It is neither clumsy, bendy, nor top-heavy when it comes to playing fish.
The section walls, of course, are as tough as a gendarme’s riot shield, as are the super-resilient reinforced carbon joints – but the Brutale is definitely not over the top in any department.
The Verdict: Don’t be fooled by the name, this isn’t a scaffold pole wrapped in carbon. Yes, of course it’s strong, but in a Bruce Lee rather than a Chuck Norris sort of way, and it can be comfortably used all day long without resorting to a back brace. Big fish from snaggy swims are what the Brutale is all about, and faced with such power, even double figure carp tend to come quietly…
Sensas Power Match NanoFlex 875 16m Competition UK pack
RRP: £2,399 SSP: £1,999
- NanoFlex 875 16m pole
- Two Top-5 Competition kits
- Two Top-4 Competition kits
- Two Top-3 Competition kits
- Cupping kit
- Two-pocket London Holdall
Sensas Power Match NanoFlex 875 16m All-Round UK pack
RRP: £2,399 SSP: £1,999
- NanoFlex 875 16m pole
- Four Fighting Big Fish Top-3 kits
- Two Match Top-3 kits
- One match Top-4 kit
- Cupping kit
- Two-pocket London Holdall
I first took a peek at the new Power Match NanoFlex 900 range of poles during a visit to Sensas HQ just before Christmas.
They were one of the first products that UK boss Mark Downes thrust into my hands, enthusing about what he said were the best poles to come from the French company so far.
That’s a big boast when you consider that Sensas has made some timeless classics down the years, many of which are still going strong today.
However, in keeping with advancements in pole technology across the board, the new NanoFlex range sees stiffer, stronger and lighter models than their predecessors, all made with the UK fishing market in mind.
There are six poles in the range, from the entry level 825 to the
top-of-the-range 895. All have the same characteristics of stiffness, strength and lightness, even at their maximum length.
Of particular interest to me were the revolutionary new Inter Extensions which all NanoFlex poles come supplied with.
These extensions are classic long butt sections, but rather than fitting into the back of a pole section and then being held by the angler (increasing the overall diameter, weight and balance of the pole), each extension is cleverly designed to fit into the front of the pole’s butt section.
This ensures that the diameter and stiffness are not affected and weight is kept to a minimum – very clever stuff, as I’ve lost count of the number of poles I’ve slapped an extension into, only to see them droop alarmingly.
Mark suggested I test the 875 model, which is mid-range at a shade under £2,000 for a full-blooded 16m match pole with an impressive range of kits and extras. The main body of the pole is an ‘all-rounder’ for carp and silverfish work on natural venues.
You get reinforced joints and a comforting wall strength that shows little sign of give after a good pinch and squeeze. Then simply add the top kit that relates to the kind of fishing you do (carp or small fish) – neither kit, I was assured, adversely affects the pole’s overall performance.
All good stuff, so off we went to Stretton Lakes in glorious Rutland to give the 875 a good going over.
The Carp Lake is home to fish of all sizes, with every chance of a double, so I fitted one of the Fighting Big Fish top kits with a strong hollow elastic to let me give it the big ’un when I hooked a carp.
Fishing open water at 14.5m with one of the Inter Extensions in place, I could see how Mark was right about the balance not being affected. In fact, if I hadn’t known that I had the extension in place I never would have guessed.
They’re far from a gimmick, and do help you when fishing longer ranges over time. Carp number one wasn’t far off coming, and a crisp strike set the hook with no trouble at all before the fish roared off. I stood my ground, held firm and let the pole take the strain. It bent well but not stupidly, suggesting there’s plenty of flex through the sections to prevent hook-pulls or breakages.
The fish was netted with minimal fuss and in the next few hours a dozen of his mates joined him in the net. I quickly that the 875, fished with a Power kit, offers strength in all the right parts and great stopping prowess when you hook a fish. I liked it a lot and never felt in danger of a section folding, nor did I have that nagging feeling that the pole wasn’t up to the job it is intended to do.
If you go for the Competition pack you get two Top Five Competition kits, a pair of Top Four Competition kits and two Top Three Competition kits. The All-Round option gives you four Fighting Big Fish Top Three kits for carp work, two Match Top Three kits and a Match Top Four. If I had to choose one I’d go for the All-Round pack.
You’ll also find a cupping kit, a pole holdall and, as with all Sensas poles, the Joker Card promise – if a section breaks within the first 12 months of use, Sensas will replace it free of charge!
Angling Times says:
The new Sensas NanoFlex 875 is a true all-rounder which can be purchased with a choice of either match (Competition UK pack) or commercial (All-Round UK pack) top kits. Having said that, because of its robust nature, section wall strength, reinforced joints, and solid performance at 13m and 14.5m lengths, for me it leans more towards being a top-notch commercial fishery pole.
Price: £2,399 (but shop around)
• Choose between More Power or More Match kit packages
• Integral taping system on
sections 5, 6 and 7
• Diamond Satin slide-easy paint on sections 8, 9, 10 and 11
• Supplied with Air XLS holdall
Arguably the most iconic pole of all time, Daiwa’s legendary Tournament Pro has been refined to meet the exacting demands of modern match fishing.
The new Tournament Pro XLS combines reliability you can stake your life on with a proven track record. Such is its reputation that if you draw next to someone using one it’s a racing certainty that you’ll be in for a tough match – as long the workman is even half as good as his tool, that is.
So why would Daiwa even attempt to fix something that clearly isn’t broken? The fact is, the 100 per cent UK-built Tourney Pro has been re-worked with cutting-edge carbon advancements. These include integral taping on its fifth, sixth and seventh sections, a Diamond Satin slide-easy paint job on sections eight, nine, 10 and 11, and extended length 13m, 14.5m and 16m butt sections – albeit by only 10cm in each instance.
Despite these improvements from Daiwa nothing particularly earth shattering has happened to the overall feel of this, its latest incarnation. Instead, minimal advancements add in small increments to the pole’s overall performance.
Elongated butt sections help to shift the pole’s fulcrum point further down towards the butt, reducing its downforce. This means more responsive handling, with a more rapid tip speed and recovery rate. The latest Diamond Satin slide-easy finish on the larger sections makes shipping in or out at any length a super-slick operation, so long gone are the days of the infamous Tourney Pro ‘sticky squeaky’ effect.
Integral taping on the top sections sees them fairly rattle through your hands, something to make the silver fish speed freaks hug themselves in delight.
But the new model isn’t all about shipping speed, as proved on the live test at Decoy’s carp-rich Six Islands Lake. Pinging pellets long is currently the in method at Decoy, so that’s just what I did.
At 13m (nine sections) there is no mistaking that this pole is a chip off the old block – just a stiffer, quicker, easier-to-handle chip! The unmistakable steely feel of the original is still there as you ship it out to 14.5m, and at its full 16m it remains a joy to fish with.
Feeding accurately with a catty, using a short-line rig and holding the pole was not a problem, despite a nasty side wind. Its linear rigidity and balance is up there with the very best.
Its strength comes through in abundance when you lean into a fish that doesn’t wish to go in the direction you want it to. It also seems that Daiwa has sorted out the irritating joint-sticking that had been known to accompany its new poles. Not once during the test did any section even threaten to come apart, and they came together with a reassuring swish.
When the Tournament Pro was introduced in 2004 it came with six spare Match and Power top kits and cost £3,999. This latest version has exactly the same price tag, but you have a choice of eight Match or Power kits, making it even better value for money than the original, the performance of which it matches and then surpasses.
Angling Times Says: The go-to top-end pole for discerning match anglers, the latest Tourney Pro has improved technical specifications and spare kit packages. A true all-rounder in every sense, it’s more than capable of snatching silvers at speed, bagging commercial carp, or running a long line down a river. It’s an iconic pole with a proven track record which, just like a fine wine, only improves with age.
16m pole fitted with Match kit
10 Powerlite Power kits, slotted & bushed
Cupping kit and cups
Bi-Conical Mini Extension
Fighting No4 and No5 sections
Two No4 sections
Holdall and tubes
16m pole fitted with Match kit
Four Powerlite Power kits, slotted & bushed
Two Match top-4 kits
Two Match top-3 kits
Cupping kit and cups
Bi-Conical Mini Extension
Fighting No4 and No5 sections
Maver is poised to introduce three new Signature Pro poles to its portfolio, including the Flagship Signature Pro 900.
This 16m marvel has everything you could wish for, and then more besides. Quite simply it’s the most beautiful pole ever to come out of the Reglass factory in Italy. The most technically sophisticated Maver pole of all time is graced with a strikingly elegant black Suncore anti-friction finish that allows you to ship in and out at speed in all weathers.
This unique finish incorporates toughened epoxy resins and Nanolith technology for added durability. For the technically minded, the Signature Pro 900 is built from new STER resins interwoven with an incredibly fine honeycomb metal structure that’s ingeniously impregnated into the pole’s surface. In everyday angling speak, the end result of this is super-strong section wall strength.
This flagship model, as you might expect, comes with a very comprehensive kit package that includes the quite superb Maver Powerlite Power top kits. These substantially reduce the pole’s overall weight while contributing perfectly to its overall rigidity and strength. This makes it man enough to tackle 99 per cent of modern commercial pole fishing scenarios.
For heavier, hollow elastics the Powerlite kits are reinforced with additional carbon banding and come ready fitted with a quality PTFE side puller slot. They also have factory-fitted internal PTFE bushes, and feature Magic Step and Fusion carbon technologies.
It doesn’t stop there – the pole’s third, fourth, fifth and sixth sections all boast Maver’s innovative Teflon joint system that helps cut down on carbon-to-carbon friction and reduce wear. The Pro 900 also comes with fighting fourth and fifth sections, which are built to withstand the stresses of fishing down the edge, or when short-range paste or pellet tactics are called for.
A more than useful Bi-Conical mini-extension can be fitted on to the ends of the larger butt sections to avoid possible elbow damage, and – as with nearly all the latest top-end poles being sold these days – the Pro 900 comes with a choice of Standard or Commercial kit packages. Searching around the net, I find that Benwick Sports in Cambridgeshire has the pole available with a bespoke river kit package too.
So what sort of performance can you expect from a 16mm carbon tube that’s going to set you back around £2,999.99 of your hard-earned? Well, obviously it’s as stiff as a frozen snake, and every bit as good at its full 16m as it is at shorter lengths. The lightweight Powerlite top-2s provide an instant response with little discernible tip recoil – the snake awakes, making the pole viper-quick at the business end.
Although I spent a few hours catching carp and big F1s from Decoy Lakes’ picture postcard-pretty Willows Lake, it struck me that the pole’s superb shipping qualities, ease of joint breakdown, tip-speed, lightness and balance would have been well suited to running a long line down a river. Don’t take that to mean that it’s not powerful enough for commercials, because it so is!
Maver has undoubtedly thought long and hard about where and how this pole should perform. Basically it’s beautifully balanced, as rigid as an Eskimo’s flagpole, and blessed with an enviable lightness and ease of movement that would run Darcey Bussell close in the deportment stakes.
Response is crisp and there’s strength to burn, basically putting the new Maver Signature Pro 900 among the top 10 poles currently available.
Once again Maver has come up trumps with its best-ever pole. The carbon build is almost frightening in its complexity, but at the end of day this is a very serious piece of match fishing equipment that rightly earns a place among the world’s best.
Ideal for commercial and natural waters, it is a true all-rounder, more than capable of turning in a highly polished performance in any situation.
16m Sphere Zero-G pole
1m Sphere extender section
Square ergonomic pole protectors
Reversible pole protector to fit sections 6 and 7
13 x 2/1 Sphere Duo 3.9mm and 4.5mm Multikits
Two short C/3 sections
Full length D/4 section
Xitan multi-pocket holdal
The new Browning Sphere Zero-G F1 Plus 16m is a simply stunning fishing pole.
As ever, Browning is ahead of the game when it comes to pole-building, and full marks to whoever came up with ‘Tactile Precision Points’. These are raised areas on the butt sections that you can feel as you ship out, enabling pinpoint accuracy when feeding and fishing without the need to look down for painted markings.
Then there’s the ‘Multikit’ top kit that can be used conventionally at 2.5m or as a 1.75m one-piece kit without any loss of pole length. To those clever innovations you can add a new metre-long Extender butt section which either takes the pole up to its full 17m, or offers different length options when fishing against islands or features. Finally, special versions of Browning’s unique SEPPS square pole protector sections make fishing at longer lengths and in windy conditions stable and safe.
The Sphere is built from the highest quality Japanese carbons to provide the optimum marriage of weight, stiffness and strength. No wonder Browning claims it will out-perform rival flagship poles in all these respects. As you can see from the image, the pole at its full 16m length is beyond poker-stiff. And on one of the wildest, windiest, wettest days of the year the Sphere still turned in a blistering performance.
An assortment of big F1s and carp from Decoy’s Beastie Lake never stood a chance against my short line pellet tactics. Interestingly, Browning doesn’t specify an elastic rating for the Sphere. Instead the company claims that it should cope with any situation where a conventional top-end pole would be the tool of choice.
In case you think Browning’s reticence on the subject is a bit of a cop-out, you can forget any notion that this pole is all six-pack with no real poke. Rigged with hollow size 10 elastic through the 1.75m top kit, it coped admirably with hard-fighting F1s and carp to around 6lb, even as it was flung around unceremoniously by the gale-force wind.
What’s more, due to lack of space behind me, it had to be unshipped twice before I netted the fish. Potentially very tricky – but the Sphere’s non-stick joints, over-wrapped and banded on its high-wear sections, made the task a doddle. There were times during the live test when my heart was in my mouth, notably when the wind blew with such gusto that the pole took on a snake-like shape. With a decent fish attached to the business end it was being put under severe stress, but I had no need to worry.
I wouldn’t suggest that this pole is ideal for crunching out a netful of really big fish. Instead the Sphere has sublime poise, balance and lightness at any length. Arguably stiffer than any pole currently on the market, it has an instant response tip speed with minimal visible recoil or bounce. No wonder many top UK match anglers have splashed out the cash in return for near-perfection – the Zero-G really seems to defy gravity!
Other than having to send it back after the live test, there was nothing I didn’t like about the new top-end Sphere Zero-G pole. It’s stunningly stiff, quick and lightweight at 16m. It ships like a dream, and the Tactile Precision Points along the butt sections really do what they claim to. The square pole protectors add an extra dimension when you’re fishing long, or in strong winds, providing you with something comfy, strong and reliable to hang on to.
All Match Winner poles developed using the same mandrels plus section alignment system
Top kits pre-bushed with UK-made PTFE bushes and pre-bore wrapped for side pullers
Slide Easy matt paint on cosmetic sections
Daiwa ITS tape finish on sections 5, 6, 7, 8
All poles come with high-grade mini extension fitting sections 9, 10, 11
Supplied with cupping kit and cups, holdall and tubes
Daiwa Match Winner Competition poles. A new range unmistakably from the Daiwa stable with butt sections resplendent in the eye-catching silver livery we've come to associate with its flagship Tournament and Airity models.
Staying in line with their thoroughbred counterparts, all new Match Winner poles have fully interchangeable sections. This lessens pain in the wallet area, should you wish to upgrade to a higher spec pole. Daiwa hasn’t skimped on the spares packages either – even the 13m introduction-level C1 comes with two Power top-3 kits, a short Daiwa Phex extension (giving the pole a tad more length than stated), and a cupping kit.
The top-of-the-range 16m C5, the pole on live test duty, is supplied with a whopping four Power top-3 kits; a Match kit inside the pole; cupping kit; two mini extensions that fit on to the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth sections; and a Phex mini extension that takes the pole to its true 16m length. All models are fitted with 3mm (Match) and 4mm (Power) pre-cut pure PTFE bushes, and boast pre-bored wrapped areas for fitting side puller kits. Considering the classy carbon build of these poles, and their generous spares packages, they’re actually a bit of a bargain!
With prices starting at just £499, going up to £1,199, there’s a model to suit most pockets. If you shop around, I bet you can find them all for less than the RRP, too. So much for what you get, but how a pole performs on the bank is what really matters. Where better to start than at the top of the pile with the Matchwinner C5?
This resilient pole has areas of reinforcement only where they are required, keeping the weight right down. This means the fourth and fifth sections, which get the most use, are also the strongest. This is what you might expect from any pole with a price tag of over a grand. But the C5 Competition has that little bit extra – it oozes class, elegance and poise, and reminds me very much of my very first Daiwa Tournament X pole.
Steely rigidity is backed up with superb balance and handling speed to knock out silverfish at a rate of knots. Of course, there’s also ample power to deal with carp of most sizes. This I discovered during the live test at the superb day-ticket Stretton Lakes complex just off the A1, north of Peterborough. The pole does dip a bit at its full 16m length, but not enough to pose a problem. It’s really good at 14.5m, even better at 13m. The two short mini-extensions allow for plenty of tactical flexibility, and as they are thicker-walled than the sections, they will avoid breakages when fishing at shorter ranges.
One of the best all-round poles I have handled for some time, Daiwa’s Match Winner C5 Competition comes with a good spares package, plenty of add-ons, and mini-extensions that suit it perfectly to modern day-ticket venues. For my money this 16m pole is reminiscent of the original Tournament X, which is held in dewy-eyed awe by many of the UK’s top matchmen.
4 x Roller Pulla Power kits
Cup and adaptor
Weighs 1,100g at 13m
Preston Pro Type Carp pole. If I had £700 of my own money to spend on a pole I might agonise over which one to buy.
But one thing’s for sure – Preston Innovations’ latest 14.5m Pro Type Carp would be high on my shortest of shortlists. Most of my fishing these days is done on commercials, so I need a pole with an abundance of big-fish stopping power. Nor does it end there. Because I fish all year round, and most places I frequent have healthy stocks of fast-biting F1s that come into the reckoning as the winter draws on, my weapon of choice needs to be stiff and quick enough at its longest lengths to cope with delicate short-line/long-pole-and-pellet tactics.
That seems like a very tall order, unless you’ve got a couple of grand to splash out on a flagship pole. Realistically you can’t expect to buy much more than 14.5m of balanced and user-friendly power pole for under a grand. But it’s not all bad news – most commercials these days respond best to margin, two-plus-two or 13m approaches. A 16m pole is simply not needed. What you want is something well balanced, easy to ship, and fully at home with delicate rigs, light elastics and short-line work.
Naturally, then, Preston’s new Pro Type Carp is right on my radar – it will deliver all that and more. Its lower mass carbon build increases its strength and responsiveness and it feels good in your hands even at its full 14.5m. It boasts reinforced butt sections and joints, section alignment arrows, and an Easy Ship finish that slides through your mitts like a greased grass snake. A generous spares package includes four spare ready-fitted side-elastic Roller Pulla Power top kits, cupping kit with cups, and a half-extension that fits on to its 13m and 14.5m sections.
So, on to the live test at golden peg 6 on Decoy’s Lou’s Lake – the one that wiped the floor with the rest of the field during the recent Winter League final. However, under leaden Cambridgeshire skies whose dark clouds seemed to delight in stopping off to dump a cocktail of rain, sleet and snow over me, it seemed an unlikely place to sit and catch a few. The exposed forward-facing corner peg was being buffeted by a hacking side wind, making rig presentation, feeding and even at times hanging on to the pole something of an ordeal. But when I got it right, plenty of bites were to be had.
At 13m, the pole’s rigidity and unquestionable section wall strength gave me the confidence to lean into the wind, holding fast against the blustery conditions.Even when it was being blown about, the pole-tip remained stiff, and was responsive enough for me to connect with most bites. Most of the carp I caught were in the 4lb-6lb bracket, good weight-builders. And catching them was where the new Pro Type Carp really excelled itself. Look at the main picture and you’ll notice that there’s little linear movement other than along the top four sections. This makes shipping back with a fish on a quick and stress-free operation.
The Preston Roller Pulla top kits that are part of the package are faultless, and can be matched to any type or size of hollow elastic within reason. At its longest 14.5m length it isn’t quite as rigid and quick as it is at 13m, but it’s more than fishable, and would make a great commercial fishery weapon for most match and pleasure anglers
Across the board, this second generation of Preston Pro Type poles has much improved build specifications and spares packages over the originals. The new Pro Type Carp is designed solely for use on commercials – stiff but not overly heavy, with good section wall strength. It’s also exceptionally well balanced for a power pole and not at all top-heavy, and it ships flawlessly. The Roller Pulla side-fitted top-2 Power kits that are part of the package are ‘must haves’ and suitable for most elastic sizes.
Colmic Airon F66 16m pole
Eight EC200 top-2 kits
Three mini half-butt sections
I've fished with Colmic margin poles and rods on several occasions, but until recently I’d never had the pleasure of wielding one of the company’s long poles.
Yet there’s a huge fan club among matchmen for its Italian-made Jolly Floats and Nuclear hooks, not to mention the iconic 16m Colmic X5000 pole and latterly the Airon F55 poles. Its successor, the F66, is on live test duty today. This flagship pole is a hot topic right now on virtually every match fishing website. It’s a full-blooded 16m competition tool, reputed to be able to handle anything thrown at it (almost literally). Light yet ridiculously strong, thanks to high-spec materials and a clever section design, it’s well balanced, with a responsiveness to hit the quickest of bites and the rigidity to tame big fish in less time than it takes you to read about it.
So far so good, but why drain your wallet to the tune of around £2,600? That’s the shop-around price tag, by the way. Live testing a pole of the F66’s pedigree wasn’t easy. It’s so far ahead of what you might reasonably expect it to do; it’s difficult to find a suitable test venue. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, so it was off to the day-ticket Cuckoo Canal Lake at Townsend Fishery near Wisbech.
This is a typical snake lake where fishing just down the shelf in a couple of feet of water in the cold, or tight against the far shelf in warmer weather, will always be a rewarding experience. Both tactics call for just a few inches of line between pole-tip and float, when a gentle lift will set the hook without spooking feeding fish. To do this perfectly requires a pole without bounce or wobble along its top sections.
There needs to be enough mid-section poke to move fish out of the swim without too much of a commotion, and you should be able to lean into the butt sections without fear of them going snap, crackle or pop. Well, in all my years of tackle testing I have never handled anything so uncompromisingly stiff at its longer lengths than the Airon. You feel as though you could lift a decent-sized fish straight out of the water and on to the bank, never mind into a waiting landing net.
These bullish properties are further enhanced by a unique mandrel design in which the 100-tonne, superbly rigid butt section with graphics is installed behind the No8 section to take it to 13m. For a 16m pole, add section No9 behind the butt section, effectively extending its length, and providing it with the added backbone and balance that the superior 100-tonne carbon-built section instils. The pole’s joints are all superbly well reinforced, with enough wall strength to make Hadrian wish he’d used carbon instead of stone.
As for the downside – such as it is – the pole does feel a little wider in diameter on its butt sections than some others, but with all that unbridled power it’s an unavoidable consequence I could easily live with. It still handles superbly, and despite my mini-mitts I never found it uncomfortable to manoeuvre around the swim, even at 16m.
Without a shadow of doubt the Airon F66 is THE big-fish pole of the moment, and should be your weapon of choice if you are the least bit reckless when it comes to striking, handling or playing then netting big fish. It will take far more punishment than most flagship models and still come back for more. The Airon is being promoted as an all-rounder, but if you intend to use it for silvers I suggest you invest in a couple of the relevant top kits readily available for this pole from Colmic.
Four Roller Pulla Power Kits
One match kit inside pole
One Kupping Kit
One half extension
The eagerly-awaited second generation of Preston Innovations’ Pro Type poles has arrived.
The new 210, 310, 410, 510 models – plus a dedicated carp pole – boast many impressive new features, while retaining many of the positive characteristics that made the originals so popular among match anglers. These latest poles are lighter, stiffer and more responsive than these, and are said to be stronger and even more rigid. Anglers will welcome reinforced butt sections, section alignment arrows and an Easy Slide finish, while an improved spares package includes pre-fitted PTFE top kits, roller bushes and protective tubes.
The 16m top-of-the range 510 model on live test duty comes in at under a thousand quid, with a suggested price of £849.99 – not to be sniffed at for a 16m pole these days – and having surfed the net I can confirm that it’s available even cheaper if you shop around a bit. It’s got a comprehensive spares package, and comes with enough top kits to make it multi-venue- friendly straight from the holdall.
You get a spare Match kit, ideal for light elastics and silvers, as well as four Roller Pulla Power kits for normal commercial fishery use. To that little lot you can add a Kupping kit with Kups and a handy half extension. Ideally suited to the keen club angler, this pole is very much at home on the smaller ponds, pools and snake lakes that most clubs favour for their matches, where match-sized carp, F1s and silvers are the targets.
With that in mind, the new 510 was taken for its day’s trialling to the picture-postcard Monkhall Fishery (www.monkhallfishery.co.uk). Set in deepest Shropshire, its five lakes are carved into the south-facing side of a rolling valley, with a superb scenic backdrop to your fishing. If you want a day away from road noise, walkers, bikers, boats and general irritations, this is as peaceful a venue as you will find. It also has a café and a small caravan park, and caters for bed and breakfast guests.
Anyway, back to the real reason for my visit. The 10-section 510 pole comes in three pieces – a 13m butt section containing seven sections, including the Match kit which comes with it, plus 14.5m and 16m parallel extensions. During the trial all joints fitted together really well, and came apart without fuss first time, every time. This was despite the wet weather, which often proves the undoing (or the reverse!) of many new poles.
Fished at its longest 16m length there were no annoying knocks, squeaks or cracking noises, and every one of its section arrow- aligned joints felt strong and reliable for the long haul. The Easy Slide finish was clearly evident and played its part in the wet. Shipping damp rain-spattered sections often proves sticky and tricky, but not this time. The 510 handles with a silky smoothness that belies its lightweight price.
At its 13m length it’s fairly stiff and certainly quick enough to hit fast-biting F1s and silvers. However, I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I said it handles as sweetly at 14.5m and 16m as it does at 13m. I did, though, fish quite happily with it at 14.5m for most of the live test.
If I owned this pole I would choose my elastics with some thought to the length of its top kits, especially when coupled with hollow elastic. From a size 14 upwards there’s a slightly top-heavy feel reflected in the handling, especially when you have a pot sitting on the top kit. But if you aim at hollows from a size 12 and under, and solids above that, you won’t go far wrong. I haven’t checked with Preston's about the Pro Type 510 maximum elastic recommendations, but I’d have no qualms about threading a solid 16 through one of its Roller Pulla top kits.
A great improvement on Preston’s original Pro Type poles, this new top-of-the-range 510 boasts plenty of key add-ons such as section alignment arrows and an Easy Slide finish. Absolutely bang on the money for the keen club match angler, it’s usable at its longest lengths and would be every bit as good at bagging carp as it would at snatching silvers. What’s more, the spares package doesn’t need further investment to make the pole compatible with a host of venue types.
Elastic: Rated to a No25
The package: Trilogy 2 Power Margin 9m pole with spare top-2 kit, cap, towel and holdall
Additional spares: 10.6m extension £109.99; 12.2m extension £114.99; Big bore top-2 kit £69.99; Top-2 cupping kit with two cups £68.99; No3 section £59.99
November isn’t normally the greatest month for margin fishing. Falling temperatures and morning frosts spell crystal-clear water, and fallen leaves blanket the bottom of our lakes.
But when Tri-Cast brand manager Steve Hopkinson told me of the imminent launch of the company’s latest Trilogy 2 Power Margin Pole – which is now in the shops – I knew I had to get out on the bank with one straight away, whatever the conditions.
To stand any chance of catching in the margins at this time of year your swim needs to be at least 3ft deep, and if there’s any cover alongside it, so much the better.
Luckily Kingsland Reservoir near Coates, in Cambridgeshire, is absolutely perfect. Its reed-fringed margins are more than deep enough to hold a few fish. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
First, let’s take a closer look at some of the technical attributes of this latest Tri-Cast pole. The standard 9m Trilogy 2 Power Margin is said by Tri-Cast to be streets ahead of both the original Trilogy Margin and its iconic XRS Power Margin, which for years was considered to be the ultimate bagging tool for down the edge.
The Trilogy 2 is made from a unique military grade of carbon cloth which is both strong and reliable. This is formed around the exact same mandrel as was used for the first Trilogy Margin, so if you’re simply looking to upgrade your existing pole, all your top kits and sections are interchangeable.
It’s slighter lighter than the original, but significantly stiffer and more responsive, even at its full 12.2m length with the two extension sections fitted.
I began the live test by fishing the Trilogy 2 at its standard 9m length, and with experience of both its predecessors I can confirm that it is stiffer and more responsive than either of these.
It’s astonishingly quick at the tip, and completely bounce-free at its 9m length – very much in keeping with how all the latest margin poles are designed to be. But even these laudable qualities pale into insignificance compared to its fish playing power. Unyielding section strength is enough to pluck the largest and stroppiest carp from any snag-strewn pit. The pole handles well, shipping effortlessly in and out, and its lightness and sense of balance are pure class.
Taking the pole up to its 10.6m and then full 12.2m lengths, should you wish to invest in additional extensions, you will have a margin pole to reach well past the next platform on most commercials – in fact it’s a very decent all-rounder at a crackingly competitive price.
A superb example of Tri-Cast’s ability to build a super-powerful pole that’s light and well balanced, and sure to find its way into the rod-holdalls of many top-class match anglers who demand the very best.
The pole comes with three Power top-2 kits with 4mm internal diameter tips and second sections that are fitted with a carbon-reinforced area to drill and fit side-puller kits.
The new Yank ‘N’ Bank 950 has a manufacturer’s elastic rating of 20. This means it can be used with Red Hydro and the heaviest of hollow elastics when big carp are the target.
Despite its ability to absorb heavy lunges, each section of the pole has a virtually impenetrable wall strength. This makes it ideal for heavy hauling tactics on commercial fisheries.
Section aligner arrow system
Each joint is marked with alignment arrows. Keeping these straight helps to align the pole’s spine, providing optimum performance at all times.
The new Yank ‘N’ Bank 950 pole has had a makeover for 2016 and now has the same graphic style and colour as Daiwa’s top-of-the-range Tournament range of poles.
Each section is finished with Daiwa’s Easy-slide paint job that makes shipping a quick and smooth operation in any weather conditions.
So far 2016 has been a bumper year for the release of margin poles.
A trend has been to replace an ‘old school’ all-through action – which sees the pole bend like a tree branch – with a far stiffer, more aggressive build that relies heavily on the elastic to absorb lunges and bring in fish.
Such new-breed margin poles, with improved linear rigidity, faster tip speed and superior
all-round handling, work best for big fish in snaggy swims.
However, with an appropriately matched top kit the old-fashioned bendy poles allow anglers to tame hefty commercial carp in the margins, and have worked a treat for years, saving the shattering and explosive end of many an expensive carbon section.
This nicely sets the scene for the introduction of Daiwa’s latest
Yank ‘n’ Bank 950 Power Margin pole, launched 10 years ago and now in its third incarnation.
Lifetime Daiwa rep Simon Wheeler can lay claim to coming up with the name Yank ‘n’ Bank, and although it’s not a lot to show for 25 years of service to the firm it seems to make him happy!
The new 950 Power Model is definitely of the old school bendy persuasion, but has undergone a full cosmetic and materials makeover. The silver-on-black graphics on the 8m and 9.5m butt sections remind one of Daiwa’s top-end Tournament poles, giving it a thoroughbred look.
It boasts numbered section alignment, top kits with pre-bore reinforcements for drilling and fitting pulling kits, and decent-sized 4mm internal tips – although fitting larger hollow elastics (it’s rated to 20-plus) does mean trimming a bit off the tip ends.
The new Yank ‘n’ Bank is reasonably light, with pleasing handling qualities, but in reality it’s all about the power. Its seven super-strong sections have impenetrable wall strength that almost beggars belief when they are put under severe pressure.
I found this out while live testing the pole in a quiet corner of Six Island Lake at the Decoy complex near Peterborough. The large carp and barbel in the margins here are far from stupid, so you need to present a bait tight into the bank or against a feature. In this swim it happened to be a paddle aerator.
I was not taking any chances with these doughty denizens, rigging up a beefy 16/18 elastic with a matching take-no-prisoners pole rig. I would rather not have a single bite than get one, only to lose the fish.
Tipping a potful of pellets and corn tight against the reeds at the back of the paddle, it didn’t take long before the mettle of the new Spank the Plank was put to the test. A full-throttle bite was met head-on with a pole-tip travelling in the opposite direction, and there could be only one winner. The fish was dragged unceremoniously out of harm’s way and into open water.
Time and time again the pole performed the fishy equivalent of dragging a reluctant Rottweiler from its kennel, and as my confidence in the Yank ‘n’ Bank grew apace, even barbel were won over in the twitch of a whisker.
Daiwa’s latest Yank ‘n’ Bank has all the outstanding hallmarks of the originals, and plenty more.
It’s super strong, and is safely usable with the heaviest of elastics. Its ability to soak up punishment is truly impressive, if a tad daunting at first. But once mastered it’s a dangerous commercial fishery tool – think of it as a Lightsaber, and may the Force be with you.
Darkside Series 2 pole fitted with
Powerlite top-2 kit with a Match tip section
Six Power kits
Cupping kit with cups
Rated to a 20 elastic with Power kits or a 12 with Match kits
Three EVA Clean Caps
Maver Deluxe pole holdall
Power top-2 kit with side slot: £79.99
Match kit: £89.99
Short fourth section: £79.99
I first clapped eyes on Maver’s Darkside poles at the company’s first trade show of 2015. At the time I was somewhat shocked that the company was going to replace the Elite Carp range which, in my humble opinion, were great poles that hadn’t been around long enough to be sidelined.
After waving all three Darkside poles around in the show’s pole alley, though, I conceded that they had impressive handling and a steely rigidity normally only associated with flagship models.
However, ‘impressive’ alone doesn’t cut it these days – price, versatility and spares packages all need to be taken into account, as must the company’s back-up service, should anything go wrong. Should you break a section, you need to know that it can be replaced quickly and without fuss.
It must be said that these days nearly all major pole manufacturers, Maver included, carry plenty of spares in stock. After all, with potential buyers having so much choice, no company wants to see its products castigated by the impatient Moany McMoanface keyboard warrior clan.
So, would the force be with you using the new Darkside? It boasts a raft of carbon features including a unique new resin matched to high-tensile carbon fibre cloth, said to make a stronger, stiffer, lighter pole.
All sections are finished with a unique black Suncore anti-friction finish which, interestingly, is a fine metal honeycomb structure that enables the angler to ship at speed in all weathers and provides additional wall strength.
A superb spares package includes more than enough top kits (seven in all) to fish any match, and they are all Power top-2 kits with a reinforced carbon side puller area and internal PTFE bushes. To that little lot you can add a cupping kit with cups, a mini extension, EVA Clean Caps and a deluxe pole holdall.
The pole is classed by Maver as a true all-rounder, and it would certainly get my vote as a commercial fishery pole. It proved its mettle in the strength department, as a procession of big, angry carp were led to the net during the live test at Stretton Lakes, just off the A1 in Rutland.
Rigged with a hollow size 14 elastic, and up-in-the-water pellet rig fished at 16m, the Darkside was impressively stiff with a fast tip reaction speed, exactly what you want when you’re fishing long and shallow.
Big carp hooked shallow on any deep lake have a tendency to dive for the bottom, which puts tremendous pressure on the fourth and fifth section, especially if the fish gets itself underneath the pole. But there are no worries. Every section held fast, without so much as a creak.
As you might expect of a pole that is likely to set you back the best part of £1,600 it ships like a dream, and its Teflon joints butt up with a reassuring swish and not a hint of sticking.
I also found that fitting the pole with its half butt elbow saver section had no negative effect on its balance – a common fault, but not with the Darkside. It’s also extremely light, weighing in at 875g at 13m. That’s with its mini extension fitted, so its silverfish talents can shine though.
Linear rigidity, tip speed, shipping prowess and modest weight all combine to make the Darkside probably the best all-rounder Maver has ever produced.
Without doubt the Darkside Series 2 is one of Maver’s best true all-rounders for still and running waters. It’s not the cheapest pole around, but when you consider this is a top class and highly versatile model you can make savings by not needing to carry separate margin and power poles. Maver’s trade spares, incidentally, are very reasonably priced.
Even I would agonise over what to buy if I had £400 of my own money to spend on a pole.
But I’ll tell you something: Middy’s Nano-Core XT15-2 would be high on my shortlist. Most of my fishing is done on commercials, but because I’d still rather catch 25lb of roach on casters than 100lb of carp on pellets my pole would have to double for silverfish work at reasonably long lengths.
So a strong carp-capable 13m weapon, well-balanced, easy to ship and at home with delicate rigs and light elastics is right on my radar. The Nano-Core XT15-2 will deliver all that and more.
It weighs in at just 720g at 11.5m, so its handling qualities are quite exceptional for a pole at this price.
How can this be possible, I hear you ask? Well, the carbon cloth undergoes a unique curing process under extreme pressure, forcing out tiny air imperfections. This gives the pole a consistent linear action and increases section strength. The graphite used in this pole can also withstand temperatures equivalent to over 3,000ºC which does help to keep all nine sections stable and fishable even in the roasting summer heat.
Other key features include a section alignment system, top kits interchangeable across the entire Middy Nano-Core range, and a new distance numbering system on the butt section for precise fishing and feeding.
Colour-keyed bands show exactly where you need to cut the tips when fitting bushes. And, like all Middy Nano-Core poles, this one comes with a Safe-Zone mini reversible butt. This fits both the 11.5m and 13m sections, and the EVA domed end protects the pole when shipping it back.
The spares package includes a Match3 G-16 top kit ready fitted, an F1 G-16 top kit and a Karp2 G-22 top kit. You also get Hi-Viz elastication kits and and Xtreme pole holdall – not an eye-popping package, but one that suggests the bulk of the asking price has gone into the pole itself, rather than added extras. If you do want more top kits an F1 G-16 costs £39.99 and a Karp2 G-22 £47.50.
So, under a sun-drenched sky with fish cruising all over the surface of Old Wood Lake on Newark’s Portland Waters, I fished a 12/14 elastic through the resilient Karp2 G-22 top kit. Bites were easy to come by as a procession of small roach, ide, crucians and F1s proved only that the pole is nicely balanced and quite at home shipping in silvers and other small fish without so much as a wobble.
Using a slapping rig to attract the larger carp proved a harder test for the pole’s rigidity and tip speed, but although it was a little bit bouncy it wasn’t all that difficult to handle. Soon elastic was streaming from the tip as a larger fish grabbed the hard pellet hookbait. Side strain stopped it running through my neighbour’s peg, and the Karp2 top kit was powerful enough to make short work of the netting process.
For the money (it’s available for well under £400 if you shop around) the XT15-2 has all the features I would look for.
Middy’s Nano-Core range has undergone a transformation, and these poles are now reckoned by many to be as good as anything else on the market. There’s something for everyone, no matter what your angling status or skills set. The XT15-2 would make a great second pole for the keen club or pleasure angler. It’s easy to use, comfy to hold and will cope with both silvers and carp. At such an affordable price, who could reasonably ask for more?
This ridiculously strong 4.5m pole from Matrix will land the biggest commercial carp that swims, and is intended for use with the heaviest of hollow elastics.
Its powerful progressive action is ideal for snaggy margin work, and because it’s virtually unbreakable it will appeal to the most ham-fisted beginner.