Having recently run the rule over Daiwa’s turbo-charged top-of-the-range ZR5 pole, I was keen to find out if the rather more modestly priced entry level ZR1 Plus could generate a similar high-octane performance.
Obviously lengths and prices would need to be taken into account, since the ZR5 16m will set you back just shy of a grand, while the 13m ZR1 Plus relieves you of less than half that, at just £350.
All poles in the Team Daiwa ZR range are pitched by Daiwa as credible all-rounders with a leaning towards commercial fishery work, but with typical thoroughness the company hasn’t taken the easy route and built the ZR1 Plus on the same mandrel as its less aristocratic relation. Too many companies, it seems, use the same mandrel with an inferior carbon cloth wrapped around it for their introductory models – not Daiwa.
The entry level TD ZR1 Plus is built to a unique set of specifications, ensuring just the right degree of balance, flexibility, power and stiffness through every section.
Some of those accreditations I went on to prove during a bitterly cold and windswept live test session at the recently reopened and restocked East Delph fishery near Whittlesey in deepest, darkest Fenland.
“What?” I hear you cry. “Catching carp from a recently stocked lake is like shooting fish in a barrel!” But let me tell you this. When the waters freezing cold and there’s a penetrating easterly wind blowing across the Fens straight from Siberia, nothing with fins wants to eat, even fish that may never before have seen a hook.
In conditions like these breadpunch is really your only option – the bait should be set to fish a couple of feet off bottom. Then it’s a matter of throwing down the prayer mat before sitting and waiting to see if something inquisitive swims along and knocks into it. Feeding anything at all only lessens your chances of catching but bites, if they do come, are rarely missed. The fish suck in the soft, swollen dough and virtually hook themselves.
Pole set-ups should involve the use of softishelastics, and mine on the day was white Hydro. Don’t fish too light a rig, as you’re never quite sure what you’re going to hook into. This was exactly what happened during the live test. After two hours of bone-chilling torment, out of nowhere the float simply disappeared, followed by a streaming ribbon of white rubber.
The Team Daiwa ZR1 Plus took on an unexpectedly beefy fighting curve and showed off its big fish power-playing action that kicked in over its top four sections. No bouncing around wildly like an unruly décolletage, the pole was snappier than a crocodile handbag and tighter than a duck’s rear end.
I had already been impressed by its rigidity while shipping it out and now I was mega-impressed by its loutish nature.
It certainly isn’t the lightest pole at 13m I have ever handled, but it couldn’t be classed as overly heavy or unwieldy. Nor is it top-heavy, as so often happens with a cheaper pole. The section walls are sturdy enough to instil angler confidence without appearing to have been chiselled from granite.
But, most importantly, Daiwa has cleverly built a pole with a very fast taper. Not only does this impart impressive stiffness, it also helps to give it a top-end feel.
To its smart build specifications you can add top kits with reinforced side puller kit areas, section alignment arrows, and a reversible mini extension that fits its eighth and ninth sections.
All in all the ZR1 Plus stacks up very well against its much more expensive flagship stablemate.