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)