16m Xitan Z14-1 pole
Three Xitan Advance square pole protectors
Spare full-length C section
Short C section
Eight single length top kits of your choice
Two 1.9m one-piece top kits
Cupping kit and three cups
Z14 pole holdall
16.8m Standard Package £3,099
18.6m Pro Package £3,699
18.6m Super Pro Package £3,899
The first exclusive live test of 2015 kicks off in fine style with Browning’s jaw-droppingly good new flagship pole.
When the company launched its Xitan Z12 in 2012, you could have been forgiven for thinking that the boundaries of pole design couldn’t be pushed any further. After all, the Z12 had the lot in terms of strength, balance, stiffness and performance, and won rave reviews.
But push the boundaries Browning did to produce the re-vamped Xitan Z14-1 Advance, at a price significantly lower than for many other top poles.
Extensive research, development, and rigorous field testing have gone into creating this pole, and only when Browning was satisfied that it had hit the target on all fronts was it happy to release it on to the market.
In almost every category that you would look for in a pole the Z14 excels, and it’s all down to a highly resilient silica-reinforced carbon and resin production process, the first time this has been used in pole manufacture.
But leaving aside the technical wizardry, what’s it actually like to fish with?
On a bitterly cold and windswept but bright winter’s morning at Kidderminster’s Moorland Farm fishery I was soon to find out. To make this an even more enjoyable tackle testing session, I’d arranged to meet up with my old friend and match foe Des Shipp – there was never much love lost between Essex County and Dorking. Des was extolling the virtues of retro match tactics to catch most things that swim our commercial fisheries these days for an Angling Times feature.
While I was putting the Z14 together, the mighty Shipp muttered something in pure Bristolian about having heard this pole was ‘something a little bit special’ from his local shop, and that’s praise indeed coming from him.
The pole shares the same long section configuration as the original Z12, but this should not be frowned upon as it helps to give exceptional linear rigidity and tip speed – they just take a bit of getting used to. I know more than a few proud Browning Z12 owners, and not once have I heard a word of complaint, or indeed seen a mid-match section breakage. This speaks volumes for the pole’s mandrel and basic design specifications.
At its full 16m, and in fact at any length, the Z14 is exceptionally quick, with a virtually non-existent tip recovery bounce, so connecting with lighting-fast bites from F1s is a virtual certainty. It can be shipped faster than the proverbial greased whippet.
Extra carbon reinforcement on the male and female section ends inspires confidence and makes them easy to take apart every time. I would guess this solidly built pole, with fortified stress points, has a very long lifespan ahead of it.
As a flagship model there is little (if anything) that this pole could not, or would not handle. It has more than enough power and flexibility to confidently cope with hauling commercial carp, while its stiffness and tip speed, matched with its ease of handling, makes it a killer pole for silverfish.
All areas of the pole have been upgraded from its predecessor, including the spares package. These include the revolutionary square pole protectors that make fishing long more comfortable on the forearm and elbow without damaging the pole sections, as can happen with standard round parts. Three are included, and fit on to various parts of the pole depending on the length you wish to fish it at.
Top kits are plentiful. Choose from standard 2.6m single length kits or Browning’s latest two-hole Side Pulla top kits, which have a directional PTFE bush for ultra-smooth and reliable elastic performance. For tackling shallow swims, Browning has also provided a pair of 1.9m top kits that still let you fish at the maximum length if used with pole protectors.
Spare C sections are there to fish deeper water when needed, and a short C section serves for carp work. You also get a cupping kit and cups and a deluxe Xitan Z14 pole holdall.
Buy the Super Pro package and you also get Browning’s 9.5m Xitan Xtreme Margin pole complete with two Power top kits. This is fully compatible with the Z14.