Once you commit to owning a flagship pole you’re talking in the region of three grand, so you need to be sure your investment will be a sound one.
Never fear – Preston Innovations’ latest 16m Response XS90 pole is one of the best that money can buy. All you need concern yourself about is finding the model or package that suits you best.
Now, I don’t often mention the competition when live testing an item of tackle, but I’ll make an exception in this case because Preston’s new pole is up against some tough opposition in the flagship category.
In no particular order of merit we have Daiwa’s Air Z, Middy’s Reactacore XK55-3, Browning’s Zero G Sphere, Matrix MTX Ultra 4, Drennan Acolyte Pro, Garbolino UK 1 Accomplice, Maver Signature Pro 1000, Tri-Cast Excellence, Sensas UK Nanoflex 1074, MAP TKS 1001 and Frenzee FXT 6E. Phew! I apologise if I have missed anyone out.
Each has its own special merits, from stiffness and power through to comprehensive spares packages. I know matchmen are brand-loyal, and tend to stick with what they know and trust, so let me tell you why the new Response XS90 is up there with the best.
For a start you get bucketloads of the finest grade Japanese Torayca carbon in the shape of a stunning 10-piece pole. Following in the footsteps of its Response M90 predecessor, it’s a strong contender for the accolade of ‘stiffest pole ever’.
Changes to the carbons used make all sections stronger and more hard-wearing – although in the case of the M90 they were pretty tough in the first place.
I haven’t seen my old match fishing mentor and great friend Des Shipp to ask him about the new pole (who said arch-rivals Dorking and Essex County couldn’t be pals?) but it’s my bet that the England ace has played a leading role developing the XS90.
The signs of a master craftsman’s touches are all there in the pole’s performance. It’s phenomenally stiff without feeling brittle, and superbly well balanced at its longer lengths.
I don’t mind if poles of this quality are made slightly heavier – I reckon they perform better and with more stability in the wind, and that’s very important. Commercial carp aren’t much given to chasing a pellet around a peg! Its shipping qualities are, as you might expect, ‘quicksilver’ and, in the right hands, it’s as fast as any pole on the market.
Slip on one of its 2.4m Roller Pulla Power top kits (capable of handling the heaviest of elastics) and the pole has section wall strength and linear flexibility in abundance to quickly tame the very largest commercial carp.
My live test session on the lump-infested Horseshoe Lake at Decoy Fisheries confirmed the pole’s mettle in every department.
Fishing long into open water with corn at 16m, and despite a nasty side wind, rig presentation remained easy.
That, teamed with a lightning-fast non-recoil tip action, meant missed bites were a rarity. Even with the odd foul-hooker, every tug-of-war ended favourably, and not once did I get the feeling the pole was being over-stressed, even with fish to 8lb.
I had a go short on the maggot, where the pole’s Bi-Conical sections that fit on to sections 5-6 and 7-8 gave me the confidence to strike as though I meant it, with no fear of the episode ending in tears and splintered carbon.
All female section ends have been internally reinforced, while there are now extra weaves on the male joint ends which greatly reduce carbon fatigue and wear. This pole’s real ‘wow’ factor, though, has to be its nonsensical degree of stiffness.
I have been lucky enough to see and handle poles with this degree of rigidity before, not necessarily in the UK, but let me tell you, they never had any sort of elastic rating and were likely to snap in half in the event of anything more shocking than the sun disappearing behind a cloud.
Take my word for it, in the XS90, Preston Innovations has a very special pole on its hands, and it ought to be in yours too.
Verdict: No-one who has seen or handled the new Response XS90 would argue that it is Preston Innovations’ best yet. It’s sharp as a tack, with the reaction speed of a striking cobra. Built from the finest Japanese carbons, its steely strong sections inspire the kind of confidence that you only get from using the very best. Plus, it comes with the most impressive array of pre-bushed side puller top kits and carbon add-on sections you will find anywhere.