Twenty years ago, the words ‘entry-level pole’ would conjure up images of a several metres of distinctly floppy carbon.
The response on the strike would be measured in minutes, not seconds and its overall weight would soon see you booked into hospital for a hernia repair.
Thank goodness that things have moved on since then!
Nowadays, if you want a basic quality pole that will do you proud over many seasons, there are plenty to choose from. Derbyshire company Middy is arguably at the head of the pack when it comes to no-nonsense tackle at a price you can’t argue with.
Of course, Middy manufactures top line kit too, but it has always had an eye on the beginner who works on a limited budget but still expects functional tackle that won’t let them down when they hand over their hard-earned.
The XM-10-3 pole is yet another Middy gem. Part of the much-talked about Reactacore range, the XM-10-3 is available in three different packages from 10m to 13m, each one having more top kits the more money you spend.
At the classic entry level is the 10m pole with two top kits... one Match and one Carp. All, in fact, that the newcomer to pole fishing will ever need.
Weighing 692g at 10m, it’s not a brute to fish with all day and, like all poles in the Reactacore range, the XM-10-3 is built using Middy’s Quad carbon technology and Maximus wrap joints to add strength to those vital areas on each section.
A new Spineline aligner system ensures maximum rigidity when lined up correctly, and the use of Foam Dome Top PS on the No4 and No5 sections is a nice touch to reduce wear and tear on section ends. It looks the part, too, with smart black, white and gold livery.
An opinion off the bank is all well and good, but how does the pole actually handle when something big and angry is having a go at the other end? The carp and F1s of Westwood Lakes were about to find out as I picked Kingfisher Lake at the Lincolnshire complex for the test.
Packed with carp, F1s, massive ide and some surprise tench, bream and barbel, the lake is the classic mixed commercial fishery that the XM-10-3 was built for.
Warm weather made fishing shallow a sensible option and one that would also test the performance of the pole when striking at fast bites and shipping and out quickly. At 10m, the length is just about right for this type of fishing and after ladling in plenty of maggots, the first big F1 of the day ripped the elastic out.
The pole bends pleasingly but not alarmingly. You’re always in control and there’s a shedload of power in each section to make pulling hard-to-get fish out of danger safe and simple. Each section wall is made of strong stuff and I defy you to break one, however cack-handed you may be.
A string of quality F1s, big roach and even crucians were landed with the minimum of fuss, and for a pole in such a low price bracket, the balance and stiffness were a bit of a revelation.
Initially I feared the worst, but needn’t have. Shipping out is easy, lifting and dropping the rig into place equally so and the reaction on the strike, although not lightning-fast, is plenty quick enough for picking off finicky F1s.
Of course, you may well not use the XM-10-3 for fishing shallow and I reckon that for general sport with baits on the bottom at a little shorter range than the full 10m it’ll be a winner.
Strong, balanced, light in the hand and with a couple of top kits (one Carp and one Match) supplied, it’s plenty more than you could ever ask for at the price!
If you’d offered me this pole when I began fishing many moons ago I’d have had your hand off! For the asking price it really is outstanding, and will catch you many thousands of pounds of carp in years to come.
Middy has put plenty of thought into the XM-10-3 rather than churning out a bit of a broom handle, and those neat little touches and design features all add up to a quality bit of kit. If you fancy beginning pole fishing or want a good back-up for days when heavyweight carping is on the cards, you have to give this the once-over.
RRP: £375 but shop around for best price