Tri-Cast produces some mightily impressive commercial fishery rods these days – everything from refined snake lake and pond models through to powerful creations that will graze the horizon. Within the company’s range is something to suit everyone’s depth of pocket.
At the topmost pinnacle of Tri-Cast’s latest feeder rod releases is the new Excellence range developed in conjunction with match ace Andy Bennett.
These top-drawer rods, as you might expect, are not cheap. The new 11ft Excellence on live test duty will likely set you back around £209, but you definitely get what you pay for.
So what exactly will you have in your hand in return for your herd of eight little Cockney ponies?
Well, on the face of it you’ll be getting a great looking ultra-slim, ultra-light rod with lightning-fast reflexes and superb high-end furnishings.
Tri-Cast’s design flair and technological genius come together in a blank with both beauty and brains. In a nutshell, the rod enjoys a high resin-to-cloth ratio, which contributes to its non-locking action
In addition, Tri-Cast has used its not inconsiderable aerospace knowledge to realign the way the carbon fibres are wrapped together. This all adds to the rod’s lightness, rigidity and post-cast recovery speed.
Other luxury touches include three push-in carbon quivertips with coloured whipping bands – yellow (fine) 1oz, green (medium) 1.5oz, and red (stiff) 2oz.
Low-profile single and double-legged ceramic-lined guides, and a dependable Tri-Cast reel seat and full cork handle, complete this impressive package.
Tri-Cast claims the rod will cast bombs and feeders of around 50g using mainlines up to 8lb, which is standard manufacturers’ marketing speak for a commercial feeder rod of this ilk.
In my humble opinion, though, top-end or flagship rods should always have the ‘wow factor’. Yes, you’re shelling out for classy furnishings, fittings and carbon technology, but without that noticeable ‘edge’ all that alchemy counts for nowt.
And so, to discover the aforementioned edge, on to the live test. A favourite water of mine is the peaceful day-ticket Stretton Lakes complex, just off the A1 north of Peterborough.
The fish here are all of a decent size, and respond to open-water tactics, which makes them ideal helpmates for testing feeder rods.
As you put this Tri-Cast Excellence Feeder rod together you can’t help but be impressed by its pencil-slim profile. Its sections are pretty much of equal length when the carrier section’s quivertip is in place, so it can be moved around ready made-up.
I was not, though, wholly convinced by its suggested 50g maximum casting weight and, for me, the top end of the carrier section has a little too much play. There’s no denying its impressive recovery rate, but this rod is clearly not of the ‘give it a whack’ breed. An over-enthusiastic miscast could prove very costly in more ways than one!
But there the criticism ends. The performance of Tri-Cast’s aristocratic feeder-chucker will have you purring with satisfaction. It has a wondrous amount of torque and feel, and a handling performance up there with the very best.
The immaculate gunmetal grey blank has a phenomenal pick-up speed, and its responsiveness to any size of hooked fish is as smooth as peaches and cream.
Verdict: A GENUINE high-performance rod for the commercial fishery connoisseur, this top-end Tri-Cast Feeder will handle most weights of flatbed feeders and straight leads to 30g-plus. It’s as much at home using a maggot feeder with light lines and small hooks for F1s as it would be targeting far bigger fish with bread discs in winter.
Price: £209.99 (but shop around)
Latest to join the Tri-Cast gallery of excellence are new waggler and feeder rods.
The latest Excellence Commercial series (see what I did there?) has been masterminded by the seemingly unstoppable match juggernaut that is Andy Bennett.
He had the boffins at Tri-Cast burning the midnight oil in pursuit of rods with perfect casting and fish-playing actions – and the results were, well… excellent!
The blanks feature the best possible carbon cloths and ultra-light resins. After all, Tri-Cast also produces parts for the aerospace industry, so the company’s extensive knowledge of all things carbon has been called into play to tweak the angles of the fibres, and how they are wrapped in multiple directions. This gives different actions in various areas of the blank.
Tri-Cast also spent time playing with the placement of guides and whippings to get the very best performance from its new family.
The 10ft (on live-test duty) 11ft, 12ft and 13ft waggler rods, Tri-Cast tells us, have a totally new through parabolic action that bends from the butt right through to the tip. As a result, anglers can feel every movement the fish makes and stay in full control.
The rods behave like a soft cushion when a big fish is acting up, by absorbing its lunges and soaking up the pressure while still piling on the power.
The tip section, I’d been told, reacts as swiftly as a striking mamba, setting the hook firmly without risk of snapped hooklength tragedies.
All that sounds almost too good to be true, but then, these are no ordinary rods. As ever, the acid test was to get one out on the bank and see if the reality measured up to the manufacturers’ claims.
One of the busiest complexes in my area is the fish-packed Portland Fishing Lakes. This mature, very nicely kept day-ticket fishery in rural Nottinghamshire is renowned for its peace and quiet, comfortable easily accessible pegs and superb clubhouse.
Here, I made a beeline for Long Island Lake. At just over 20m wide it’s beyond the reach of a far-bank pole attack, but responds well to a small waggler and hard pellets. Its stockie-sized carp lap these up.
Terminal tackle was simple – a 5lb reel line attached to a straight 3AAA peacock waggler, 0.17mm hooklength, and a size 18 hook with a banded 6mm pellet.
The short 25m cast tight to the far bank, often a tricky distance for a waggler approach, proved ideal for the 10ft Excellence which, I later discovered, could push out heavy-ish kit towards 35m without many problems.
I was also pleased to find that the Excellence was adept at casting my lightweight 3AAA float, especially given its hollow tip.
The rod cast straight enough most of the time, maybe wandering slightly to the right (or slicing, as a golfer might say), but nothing to get too peeved about.
And, just as Tri-Cast had predicted, the rod showed lightning-fast line pick-up which, for a two-piece blank with a through action, is quite something.
The real joy of fishing with this new Excellence, though, kicks in when a fish is hooked. Be it a small F1 or a proper zoo-creature, this rod will handle both – and everything between – to the manner born.
I reckon this ‘one size fits all’ attribute has a lot to do with
Mr Bennett, who is widely believed to be the best F1 angler on the planet and would be looking for a rod with subtle tippy softness, yet enough steely backbone to cope with larger fish.
As is often the case when lots of stockie-sized fish are present, I overfed the peg with pellets, which resulted in a number of foul-hookers.
Most of these pulled out before the net, but the exaggerated fight of fish hooked this way gave the rod a chance to shine.
Handy for a waggler rod, the 10ft Excellence will handle most weights of floats, within sensible limits of course. The only limitation I can see is in its casting distance – anything much past around 30m and I’d plump for the 11ft or 12ft model instead.
What's not to like? The Tri-Cast Excellence 10ft commercial waggler is one of the best rods you can buy, funds permitting. Light in the hand, it’s easy to manoeuvre, super-fast on the strike, and has an extraordinary capacity to cope with fish of all sizes.
My only very minor nit-pick is the dull-as-ditchwater graphics. C’mon, Tri-Cast – this is a state of the art, cutting edge bit of kit, so why not dress it up to fully look the part?
Browning has pulled four inspirational new feeder rods from the hat, at a price that won’t bring on the hot flushes.
The Black Magic quartet is made up of Distance, Stillwater, River and Bomb (live tested) rods. All have a matt black gloss finish with matching whippings set off by classy red and silver detailing. Ceramic lined guides, a good length cork and EVA handle and a secure locking reel seat all add to their aesthetic appeal.
The carbon composite blanks are fast-tapered to hit the horizon, with the weight of the feeder loading high on the tip section. But it’s not all about casting clout, as the softly progressive, almost through action demonstrates. It offers reassuring cushioning against hook-pulls when targeting soft-mouthed skimmers and bream, or pursuing chub and roach with small hooks and light hooklengths.
Regular readers can’t fail to notice the number of short feeder rods I’ve reviewed of late – am I stuck in a rut? Well, no… I reckon this reflects the massive popularity of feeder fishing these days, and 9ft, 10ft and 11ft rods are especially sought-after.
For commercial fishery work their reduced length helps with casting accuracy, and their progressive action can’t be beaten for targeting F1s and carp.
All this brings me nicely on to the live test venue – the day-ticket Stretton Lakes, just off the A1 halfway between Peterborough and Grantham. This peaceful and fishery has four lakes on site.
These tend to attract pleasure anglers rather than ardent matchmen. The complex does, though, have a rectangular match lake with islands running along the middle, just perfect for very short-range feeder and bomb tactics. What better place to put Browning’s Black Magic C-Picker Bomb rod through its paces?
There’s a choice of 8ft 2ins, 10ft and 11ft lengths, the longest being selected for live test duty.
The carp in this pool show a distinct preference for baits presented on a tiny Method feeder, especially if it’s cast tight into the gaps between the islands. It’s not much of a chuck distance-wise, but the lake does test a rod’s casting accuracy which, in this case, was arrow-straight.
I reckon the blank will cope easily with casting up to 30g (although Browning rates it to 50g). That kind of goes against its ‘bomb rod’ tag, as I reckon ‘lightweight feeder rod’ describes it better. Effective casting distance tops out at around 30m.
However, it’s swings and roundabouts with this rod. Its non-locking fish playing action quite literally makes up for any shortcomings. If I had to criticise anything, it would be the top section that doesn’t blend all that seamlessly with the stiffer butt section, not that this affects its performance in any way.
I should also mention that I’m a lifelong fan of single blaze-coloured quivertips. I don’t like green or yellow, and I wouldn’t normally be seen dead with a banded multi-coloured tip.
I have to say, though, that this is the fourth Browning rod I have live-tested with the red and yellow Euro banded tip. It’s a proper attention-grabber – a bit like the rod itself.
A couple of months ago I showcased the new Cadence range of rods and reels, with a forward view to getting out on the bank and live-testing a couple of samples. Now that time has come.
But before getting into how this new tackle firm’s kit shapes up when being waved about over water, it’s worth mentioning that you will not see any Cadence products in your local tackle shop. They are all sold directly online.
This may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it means that prices are kept very realistic as there’s no middleman selling the product on.
The Cadence ethos of ‘believing in the future of fishing’ should be applauded, and the company promises to donate a pole to one of its registered charities for every online purchase of £50 or more.
So far, Cadence has presented more than a thousand 3m starter poles to ‘Get Hooked On Fishing’ for the charity to give away at its national teaching events.
Cadence is fronted by former Shakespeare brand manager James Robbins, widely accepted as one of the best running water match anglers in the country.
Given Mr Robbins’ penchant for flowing water, it’s pretty much nailed on that any of the Cadence rods he has designed for flowing water tactics will be spot-on.
Rather than have separate brands for commercial and natural fisheries, Cadence has two ranges, both labelled CR10, made up of seven Feeder rods and 13 Match Fishing (float) rods. But can that really work? Surely virtually all modern rods are targeted towards a specific angling discipline?
Well, to find out, I took the Cadence CR10 11ft Match #2 and Cadence CR10 10ft Feeder #2 along to one of my favourite live test venues, the day-ticket Stretton Lakes complex just off the A1 north of Peterborough.
The 10ft Feeder, with three lengths of quivertip rated to 2.1oz and 2.2oz, and the 11ft Match rod, will between them tackle 99 per cent of commercial fisheries. Both will cast 20g flatbed feeders up to 25m, or wagglers up to 10g.
Both rods are built from high-grade carbon cloths and dressed with Fuji Alconite lined guides, original Fuji reel seats, and full-length AAA grade cork handles with EVA thumb and casting grips.
On the bank, you immediately notice how slim and light these rods are, not to mention stunning to look at – but, as always, it’s performance that really counts.
So, on to the verdict. On the plus side, they are fabulously lightweight, and extremely easy to use and handle.
The fish-playing action of both rods is on the light side of progressive, making them ideal
for work with light lines and smaller hooks.
They transmit plenty of feel through the blank, which makes them great fun to fish with, and they will cast as far and as straight as you’ll ever need on a normal 20-peg commercial fishery pool.
Also, the finish is as good as that on many much more expensive rods – yet I am slightly hesitant.
Okay, I would happily make space for them in my own rod holdall for all my winter commercial maggot fishing, but my single criticism centres around one of the rods’ most notable plus points, the lightness and slimness of the blanks.
While this is quite exceptional, and they look a million dollars, they do feel a bit prissy and slightly wanting if you are intent on bagging up on large commercial carp.
I’m planning to keep hold of a few of the rods until winter league time, and I’ll report back to you after some further use.
EYE-CATCHING rods with a fast action and a nice crisp feel, these are better suited to mixed fishery use than out-and-out commercial slog.
However, the two models on live test would be serious contenders for my ‘best light line and small hooks winter commercial rods’ award!
More info and sales - www.cadencefishing.co.uk
Price: Cadence 10ft CR10 Feeder Rod £89.99 - Cadence 11ft CR10 Match Rod £89.99
I’ve always had a soft spot for all things Tri-Cast. Not only are they UK designed and built, but the Lancashire company’s kit is always up to the job asked of it.
When I got wind of its Excellence rod range, I confidently expected more of the same – but my enthusiasm was nothing compared to the excitement of
Tri-Cast boss Steve Hopkinson when he visited Angling Times.
He was positively brimming with joy over the eight new models. A long time in the making, these are the most technically-advanced rods to come out his factory.
All that development time was well spent tweaking and making minor adjustments to each rod in conjunction with Tri-Cast’s team of top match anglers including the mighty Andy Bennett. Tri-Cast has never been content to release rods and poles that are very good – they want to give the public tackle that’s beyond compare, and the Excellence range is just that.
Every aspect of modern UK match fishing is covered. Waggler rods ranging from 10ft to 13ft will handle commercial carp and river chub and roach with equal aplomb, and 9ft to 11ft feeder rods can do the same. There’s also a pocket rocket of an 8ft Power Wand for short-range work on carp lakes.
But what makes them so good? Well, aside from the fixtures and fittings that include a lightweight screw reel fitting, hook-retaining ring and delicate guides, the beauty of an Excellence rod lies in the very best carbon fibres and ultra-light resins used in its construction.
Not only does this keep overall weight down, and therefore improve performance in the hand or when a fish is hooked (the 11ft waggler model weighs just 148g), but it also delivers a parabolic action. In simple terms, this means that the rod bends all the way from tip to the butt. It’s this softness and flexibility that makes it as good at heaving big carp away from snags as it does scaling down to light hooklinks for roach.
The same can be said of the feeder rods and Power Wand, although the butt section is stiffer and provides the backbone to punch a feeder accurately to the distance required.
Couple this with the lovely soft through action in the remainder of the rod and you’ve found the holy grail of rod design.
Each feeder rod is supplied with three colour-graded push-in carbon quivertips that are fine, medium and stiff or – if you prefer to think in ounces – 1oz, 1½oz
In keeping with the modern vogue, all except the 13ft waggler rod are two-piece so they can be broken down and stored ready to go in hard case rod sleeves.
Tri-cast excellence rod range prices
Tri-Cast Excellence 10ft Waggler: £189.99
Tri-Cast Excellence 11ft Waggler: £199.99
Tri-Cast Excellence 12ft Waggler: £214.99
Tri-Cast Excellence 13ft Waggler: £299.99
Tri-Cast Excellence 9ft Feeder: £189.99
Tri-Cast Excellence 10ft Feeder: £199.99
Tri-Cast Excellence 11ft Feeder: £209.99
Tri-Cast Excellence 8ft Power Wand: £179.99
Mention the word ‘Guru’ to most anglers and they will think about items such as Hybrid and X-Safe Method feeders and ready-tied rigs.
So the company’s first venture into the rod market in March came as a bit of a pleasant shock.
Thousands flocked to The Big One Show in Farnborough for a first glance at these Aventus rods, which should be available in the shops this August.
Meanwhile, last week the Aventus range made its official UK debut at an invite-only dealer day at Partridge Lakes, near Warrington, and Angling Times was on hand to catch the action.
Six rods make up the range – 11ft and 12ft Float, 10ft and 11ft Feeder and 12ft and 13ft Distance Feeder models.
Priced between £375 and £450, they won’t suit everyone’s budget, but anyone who does splash out is in for a treat. They all ooze quality, and boast several innovative features. The handles are longer than usual – this is to aid casting – and finger grips are a novel addition.
Reel seats on the Float rods are extremely slim, for added comfort when using labour-intensive tactics such as the pellet waggler, and the guides on all rods are built so as to stop the line wrapping around them.
Current UK Champ and Guru product developer Pemb Wrighting, who played a big role in creating the Aventus range, said: “We always said we would never create a range of rods unless we felt they were the best on the market. It’s been two years since we first started working on them, and we are confident the final result will live up to all the hype.”
Preston Innovations’ latest ‘little monster’ of a rod is the delightfully named Wandzee – just the thing to pub chuck a bomb or feeder beyond the pole line.
This joint-free 5ft 9ins commercial cutie can be fitted with 1oz, 1.5oz or 2oz Monster push-in carbon quivertips which take it to a tad over 7ft in total.
Still quite a rarity on the bank, single sectioned rods have plenty of positives. Remove the quivertip and the Wandzee can be transported inside virtually any fully-zipped rod or pole holdall. Match it to a smaller 2500/3000 sized reel with a flat-fold handle and it can be slipped unobtrusively between your top kits in their plastic tubes.
Fair do’s, this rod isn’t going to cast much beyond 30m, but its seamless and flat spot-free parabolic action suits it to everything from small F1s through to fatso fish with attitude. Those of you not normally able to hit a bottle-top area every chuck will be be surprised how accurate you can get with the Wandzee.
This week’s live test took place at Decoy’s fish-heavy Horsehoe Lake which, at around 20m wide, is ideal for this type of short-range lead rod.
Straight off the bat, I’d say that the Wandzee would be more likely to find its way into my holdall for winter leagues, rather than midsummer matches. But this newest member of the Monster clan did turn in a jaw-dropping performance, and undeniably has year-round talents.
The rod feels reasonably crisp and very light. Some may find its through action a tad bouncy on the cast, but unless you’re clattering out a feeder to the horizon does that really matter?
It will comfortably handle most anything that swims, yet it can be used with light lines and small hooks with no fear of premature evacuation if something hefty tugs your line.
Preston tags the Wandzee with a 35g maximum casting weight, which is there or thereabouts for a fully loaded 30g flatbed feeder, and the rod is indeed on its limits with that.
Bite registration has to be seen to be believed. I’d kitted up with a fast-sinking pre-stretched 6lb mono reel line, and bites were nothing short of savage.
Watching them develop was interesting. With the tip very much in view, I could see all those little plucks and twitches as fish moved in to feed close to the bait… an early warning system before the tip hooped round.
For winter F1 tactics with a maggot feeder and matching hookbait, timing of the strike on those niggly little knocks you tend to get could be helped greatly by this rod’s shorter length.
The playing action is sweeter than a Wagon Wheel dipped into a jar of syrup and dusted in icing sugar, and will leave you drooling for more. In the wonderful world of non-locking parabolic actions, the Wandzee re-writes the book, handling anything from a newly-stocked F1 to a grumpy war vet of a carp with equal aplomb.
Verdict: I can foresee Preston’s new Monster Wandzee becoming a must-have rod.
It will find a place in my winter pole holdall, for times when the pole line is made unfishable by the wind.
It would be as much at home casting a straight bomb with bread discs for bigger fish in open water as it would be pinging a maggot feeder up the far bank of a snake lake for F1s. I suspect a certain Mr Des Shipp had a hand in its development, and the boy done good!
Commercial match anglers who insist on the best will welcome Maver’s new Signature rods.
Coming in at 11ft and 12ft, the Pellet Wagglers deliver a full parabolic fish-playing action to target carp and F1s of any size.
Superbly lightweight at only 141g and 157g, respectively, they really come into their own when lightning-fast strikes are required. Both will cast floats of between 2g and 8g, and can be used with reel lines from 3lb to 8lb.
Classy rod furniture includes high-quality SiC guides on the high modulus carbon blank, Fuji graphite screw reel fitting, EVA twist grip and a folding hook keeper ring.
Maver’s new 13ft, 14ft, 15ft and 16ft Classic Float rods have been designed and extensively tested by Welsh International Lee Edwards. They are intended primarily for river fishing, but will handle conventional waggler or sliding float tactics on deeper natural stillwaters too.
With their fine, hollow tips they are a dream to fish with when teamed with light lines and small hooks, and have already accounted for many winning match nets of dace and roach.
Although finesse is paramount, the three-piece rods’ middle sections have enough power to cope with chub and barbel from pacy swims. Instant response on the strike combines with a crispness that lifts line from the water in the blink of an eye.
Key features at all four lengths include comfortable EVA twist grips either side of the reel seat. These are slightly oversized to leave no gap between the handle and the user’s palm.
The upper reel seat grip is moulded to enable perfect placement of thumb and forefinger while holding the rod.
Contributing to sleek looks and understated cosmetics, the guides, whippings, blank and reel seats across the Maver Signature range are of a uniform black – sure to attract admiring glances.
Price: Pellet Wagglers from £189.99, Classic Floats from £229.99
Now that spawning is well and truly out of the way, commercial fishery carp are properly on the munch, and can be seen cruising the upper layers, picking off morsels passing in front of their noses.
It’s now that pellet waggler tactics start to come into their own, especially on venues dominated by big carp. But these fish, it seems to me, have learned the knack of feeding on the periphery of loosefed pellets.
They actually shy away from anything that hits the water with a resounding ‘plop’ – a total reversal of how the original pellet waggler tactic came into being, when noise would draw fish into the swim.
Anyway, to keep pace with that development, more modern tactics involve the use of lighter, clear, fully-loaded wagglers.
Few things are more satisfying than building a pellet waggler swim. Start feeding little-and-often and provided you are reasonably accurate with a catty, the fish will gain confidence. Get it right and they’ll soon be swirling at the pellets every time you feed… all of which tees me up nicely for this very modern new float rod from Matrix.
Matrix doesn’t brand this a pellet waggler rod, preferring to call it a ‘Carp Waggler’. This reflects the rod’s all-round pedigree, rather than it being a one-trick pony.
The super-slim two-piece blank’s equal-length sections allow it to be brought to the water ready made-up, saving time. It’s also incredibly light, being built from an ultra-high-modulus carbon cloth.
Key build features include premium grade slim ceramic guides that allow great distances to be achieved even with light lines and floats. There’s a unique detailed weave print on its butt section, and a tiny side-fixed keeper ring, which is a bit ‘Marmite’ in my opinion.
The Carp Waggler’s 11ft length lends itself perfectly to use on small and medium-sized commercial pools with casts up to 35m. I reckon it’s at its best casting floats weighing from 3g to 10g, with reel lines from 4lb to 8lb.
The blank has a parabolic, almost all-through fish-playing action to deal with everything from tiddlers to Titans. That perfectly suited the few hours I spent tempting a selection of carp from Decoy’s Elm strip lake.
With a niggling side wind to contend with, I spent the first hour or so of live-testing chopping and changing my way through any number of sizes, shapes and styles of waggler. Eventually I settled on a short crystal finned version carrying enough weight to cut through the wind arrow-straight.
The rods can actually cope admirably with floats from 3AAA right the way up to 10g.
In addition, thanks to the blank’s hollow tip section, it generates sufficient tip speed to instantly lift line from the surface, making hitting the quickest of bites relatively easy.
The hollow tip also offers a fair degree of recovery, giving it more casting potential than a spliced rod. Just one word of warning – in my opinion this isn’t a rod for heavy splasher-type wagglers, and certainly wouldn’t be up to coping with a big whack against a headwind. It simply doesn’t have the backbone for that. But for 90 per cent of commercial waggler fishing it will do just fine.
What the Matrix Carp Waggler does have going for it in spades is an ability to cope with very big fish on light gear, when its parabolic/through action takes on a superb lunge-absorbing curve. It works as a perfect cushion, preventing hook pulls and snap-offs.
There's nothing not to like about this latest Matrix Horizon offering. It’s light and comfortable in the hand, casts straight and true, and has more than enough casting power to hit the 30m mark. Ideal for floats, and fish of all sizes, it’s a true commercial fishery all-rounder with a very high standard of build that is more than matched by its performance.
Multi award-winning carp rod manufacturer Free Spirit has added eight new Power Feeder models to its top-end Hi ‘S’ match range.
Two years of input from some of the UK’s best feeder anglers have gone into the design of these long-cast rods. Specials are two- and three-piece blanks in 12ft, 13ft or 14ft lengths, all rated to a maximum 120g (4oz) casting weight. The souped-up Distance versions of the Specials will whack out up to 160g (5.6oz) – a really hefty payload.
In terms of build, High ‘S’ Feeder rods are up there with the best. High-end Kigan anti-frap guides and cut-away Fuji reel seats not only give the rods plenty of transmission and feel, but will accommodate larger big pit reels.
All Free Spirits rods are made from super-slim, ‘perdurable’ (non-scratch) Japanese low resin 40-tonne and 24-tonne carbon cloths with a 1k weave, which results in a sensational matt finish.
The blanks boast wickedly responsive casting actions, super-fast tip recovery and ultra-chuckability for bream and carp on big open waters.
Other key features on the new Distance Feeder models include long, hollow quivertips in the same material as the rest of the blank. These ensure a smooth, even power transfer, and longer casts can be made with smaller/lighter feeders. This suits the rods to situations when less feed at long range is called for.
Handles – abbreviated or full cork – are a standard 22ins but can be customised by Free Spirit to whatever length best suits you.
As you might gather by now these are high-class performance rods with a price tag to match, but then the best is never cheap. Overpriced they are not.
For the live test I chose a noted big bream water, Earlswood’s famous Yachting Lake. The bream run large, are no pushover to catch, and are regularly targeted in matches. They tend to feed quite a long way out, making them the ideal subject for live-testing a distance-casting bream rod.
My chosen Free Spirit model was the new two-piece 12ft Power Feeder Special – a first-rate bream weapon with enough backbone to chuck Method feeders at carp.
Put this rod together and you already know you’re on a winner. The sublime slimline blank, with its demure carbon weave and matt finish, is a thing of beauty, while the perfectly spaced Kigan guides add to its aesthetic qualities.
The long hollow quivertips (3oz and 3½oz) arguably add a touch too much stiffness to the action. But in full casting flight you realise that this is all part of Free Spirit’s intended package, a feature clearly adapted from the company’s distance casting carp rods.
The Power Feeder whacks out any type of feeder with no tip bounce, and indeed instant tip recovery. Cast, my word it certainly can cast…. 30g weights don’t even register on the blank, 40g weights power out without a hint of a wobble, while 50g weights, thanks to the blank loading quite high on the second section, still get blitzed.
I stopped at that weight, wanting to concentrate more on the fishing, and getting a feel for how the blank copes with bin-lids on match tackle. My set-up was a 10lb fluorocarbon shockleader to a 5lb reel line, a 0.17mm hooklength and a size 14 hook baited with two small pieces of worm.
Not a single fish was lost during the test, and a progressive action decidedly on the tippy side was no problem. The rod has enough cushioning through its mid-section to cope with headshakes and last-minute lunges without the hook pulling.
Expensive, yes, but if you’re seriously into your distance bream fishing this rod could be for you. Classy looks and furnishings are matched by a high-octane casting performance that may well give you an added edge.
I would have been happier with a 2oz quivertip, but having spoken with Free Spirit’ boss Simeon Bond I’m told that these will be available very soon.
At long last the carp on commercials are up in the water and ready to be targeted using float tactics.
The obvious choice is the pellet waggler, a tactic that will dominate matches all over the UK in the next month or so.
Few things are as satisfying as building up a pellet waggler line. Feed little and often, keeping the pattern tight, and fish will start to swirl at your feed pellets as soon as they hit the water.
Then, if you can deftly land a waggler by feathering the cast so your hookbait lands behind your float with an enticing little ‘plop’, you’ll reap the rewards.
If you ever get a chance to watch master pellet waggler anglers such as Perry Stone or Warren Martin conducting their way through a symphony of pulled strings, you’ll know where I’m coming from.
All this brings me nicely on to Middy’s latest Arco-Tech K-335 11ft/12ft Carp Waggler rod. Like all those in the range it has a soft, parabolic action to subdue large commercial carp. Key features include a slim, full cork handle and KTS smooth flow guides.
‘Match This’ winner Chris Cameron helped develop the Arco Feeder rods, while Kieron Rich is behind the Waggler versions – hence the rigid mini-butts with a Kevlar wrap, which strengthens up the section to pile on some real stopping power if need be. A foot-long extension which can be added without tackling down is another feature of Arco-Tech rods.
I wasn’t surprised that Middy has come up with something a bit special in the pellet wag department. Since the launch of the quite exceptional 3G X-Flex rod a few years ago the standard has been upheld with super fish-playing actions, lightness in the hand, super-fast line pick-up, accurate casting, and an all-round performance better than most.
On the live test at the impressive day-ticket Stretton Lakes my plan was to put the 12ft Arco-Tech through its paces on the carp lake with a heavy pellet waggler at distance, then drop down to the smaller match lake in the afternoon to target its stockies with the rod in its 11ft mode using smaller floats, hooks and baits.
The morning session was a bit of a disaster as far as fishing went, as three hours of non-stop pellet pinging with a rod that cast straight as a die failed to interest the carp, which were preoccupied with spawning in the margins.
I can, though, report that the blank will handle reel lines up to 8lb (just about, as the guides are quite small) and floats up to 10g with some ease.
A change to the match lake saw its stockies queuing up for a 6mm pellet, hung 18ins below a 2AAA straight peacock waggler. Using a smaller, less obtrusive float with lighter lines and smaller hooks seems to be the way forward on commercials these days, and in this respect the new Middy Arco-Tech is sure to gain many friends.
It has just about enough whip in the tip section to propel a lighter float, as long as you drop down the reel line diameter accordingly.
The blank, although admittedly not the fastest in the world, is still nicely responsive, with a softly progressive action across the top section that morphs into steely carp-stopping power going into the butt.
Constant feeding while holding the rod proved painless on the wrists, and the handle was just the right length to manoeuvre effortlessly around my body
The new Arco-Tech 11ft/12ft Carp Waggler is right up there with Middy’s best. With a softly progressive action but just the right amount of backbone, it’s light and comfy in the hand, and casts straight and true with enough tip-whip to hit the 40m mark with larger floats.
Line pick-up speed isn’t the fastest, but there’s enough finesse to handle light lines, hooks and floats even when big fish are on the cards.
Price: £119.99 (multiple deals)
After around 20 years away, Daiwa’s iconic Powermesh carp rods have returned to the fold.
Seven models span three 12ft rods with 2.75lb, 3lb and 3.5lb test curves. There’s also a distance-casting 13ft, 3.5lb rod, as well as Spod, Floater and Stalker versions, so all bases seem to be covered!
The Powermesh heritage is still spoken of in hushed tones by carp anglers of a certain age, although the new breed are a far cry from their classic namesakes.
These latest rods are slimmer, faster and considerably lighter than the old-school favourites. The one thing they still have in common with the classic Powermesh rods is unbridled power – but more of that later!
Clearly Daiwa, currently designing and constructing its best-ever carp rods across all price points, hasn’t skimped on materials and furnishings for its latest Powermesh offerings.
The slimline blanks boast a strengthened high-grade woven carbon build. When called upon to do so they serve up more than enough casting power for long-distance and PVA bag work.
The astonishing parabolic fish-playing action, as you can see from the image, tightens up quickly across the rod’s mid-section so you’ll stay in charge when faced with hard-fighting big fish in snag pit swims.
As to fittings, these new Powermesh rods are finished to a very high standard, incorporating original Fuji DPS reel seats, slim profile shrink grip handles, stainless steel frame guides with lightweight LS ceramic-lined rings (including a 50mm butt guide) and an aluminium butt cap.
With ‘demanding situations’ a high live test priority, a trip to Oxfordshire’s Clattercote Reservoir was arranged. The big carp on this prolific runs water respond best to long-range solid bag and margin tactics, although the latter option is not for the faint-hearted. Rods need to be picked up and locked up fast to stop fish (as the Drifters sang) going ‘under the boardwalk’.
My choice of rod, the 12ft 3lb test curve Powermesh, can be found online as part of a ‘buy two or three’ package for as little as £84.99.
Now, you may be wondering why, when 3lb-plus tc rods are so popular, I chose the 3lb option. It’s quite simple really, and worthy of note if you’re a prospective customer. Having handled the entire new Powermesh range last October, I felt the 3lb rod was at least the equivalent of a standard 3.25lb or even 3.5lb Daiwa model.
What’s more, having now fished with the rod, I am qualified to say that it’s a fair bit more pokey than its rating would suggest.
That’s almost certainly down to its crisp action rather than its test curve, but bear it in mind if you’re looking to buy a set.
That is a course of action you shouldn’t miss out on if you’re in the market for a set of quality, high-performance carp rods at a sensible price.
They cast brilliantly, will play the biggest of fish superbly well and, I may add, would make awesome French kipper weapons.
Our verdict: The new Powermesh carp rods have enough grunt to safely cast the heaviest of leads, and will outcast virtually all other carp rods in their price bracket.
The fish-playing action is unrelenting, putting you in control at all times – these rods are worthy inheritors of the iconic Powermesh name.
Price: £169, but shop around and look on the internet for multiple deals
The Sonik Sports brand is very familiar to pursuers of big carp, less so to commercial match and pleasure anglers.
All that is set to change, though, as the company is about to introduce an impressive new rod collection dubbed the Sonik SKSC commercial range.
The six rods comprise 9ft, 10ft, and 11ft Commercial Feeder rods, and three Pellet Waggler rods in the same lengths.
I’d originally intended to live-test a matching pair for both disciplines, but a recent spell of cold weather had well and truly put paid to fishing up in the water using pellet waggler tactics – so it was a case of feeder or bust. I chose the 10-footer.
However, before we move on to the bank, let me tell you a bit more about Sonik’s new SKSC range.
The rods have been thoughtfully designed, and are nicely constructed to meet the basic needs of the pleasure or match angler. They have modern, progressive fish-playing actions with plenty of backbone, making them ideal for commercial carp – a bit of added steel provides enough grunt to tame the odd zoo creature.
The slim, two-piece equal-length blanks are built from a high-grade 24 tonne carbon cloth and furnished with quality titanium oxide lined guides and a screw-down reel seat with EVA thumb grip. The decent length handle is a cork and EVA combo.
I’ve left the best bit till last – the price. If you want performance on a tight budget, you’ll need to fork out just under 40 quid!
So, what’s the rod capable of? It’s the ideal tool for short to medium-range casting, comfortably chucking 45g weights 40 yards-plus. Anything more and the rod will start to overload, which affects distance and accuracy.
It will handle mono reel lines between 5lb and 10lb, and can be safely used with hooklengths down to 0.12mm and hooks as small as an 18.
I kicked off the live test at Horseshoe Lake on Steve Gregory’s Rushfield complex, using a 30g flatbed Method feeder loaded with micro pellets, and a banded 6mm pellet hookbait – which proved to the liking of a string of stockie carp and F1s.
Although bites were at times quite savage, the fish responsible for whipping the rod’s top section round were at best bantamweights. However, I can happily report that nothing came unstuck as I quickly reeled them in – the 10ft SKSC has more than enough tip cushioning to deal with smaller fish without pulling hooks, even when you’re bagging.
A change to a lighter feeder, so as not to spook the fish, and a larger 8mm pellet hookbait cast down the margin, came up Donalds!
Two commons, one just over 10lb, put a serious bend in the rod, allowing it to show its full fighting curvature.
As you can see from the brilliant image captured by Angling Times staff photographer Lloyd Rogers, all the power in the rod is loading from just above the mid-section area, proving the blank’s steely resilience. In my book, that makes it the ideal commercial carp Method feeder rod.
Ever since pellet waggler tactics evolved to help anglers catch more and bigger carp from commercial waters, Shakespeare has had a top-selling rod for the job out there on the market.
Shakey’s award-winning Mach 3 XT Micro Pellet Waggler, for example, was a cutting-edge tool of its time, to be found in the holdalls of pleasure fishermen and matchmen of every skill set.
The tactic has stayed much the same over time, requiring a repetitive ‘feed, cast, feed’ sequence. Any changes revolve mainly around the type of venue we are now targeting, rather than anything more fundamental with the tackle itself.
Larger open-water venues such as Boddington, Larford, Barston and Meadowlands require longer, stiffer-actioned rods that will cast heavy floats and pack enough punch to play and subdue big fish.
Smaller commercial venues, such as snake lakes and 20-peg pint-sized pools pools, tend to be tackled with shorter 9ft, 10ft and 11ft rods, many of which are two-piece graphite blanks with a non-locking progressive action.
Even so, these can feel that bit heavier in the hand, and are not quite as quick at their tip-ends as all-carbon rods when it comes to lifting line from the water.
All this brings me nicely to this week’s live test rod, Shakespeare’s second generation Agility 2 Pellet Waggler 11ft, which is as close to an all-round pellet waggler rod as you’d wish to find.
At a push it will mix it up with heavier floats and big fish, while at the other end of the scale it can be used with small hooks and light floats for winter F1 fishing.
The live test at Decoy’s Beastie Lake proved the rod’s all-round mettle. I started in an open-water peg using 6lb mainline, a 0.17mm hooklength, size 16 hook and a 6mm banded pellet, all suspended beneath a hefty 10g pellet waggler to combat a nasty side wind.
Trying to keep the float still long enough to attract a bite proved nigh on impossible, and from experience I know that carp (no matter how daft) will not chase down a hookbait being dragged sideways across a swim!
So, despite my best efforts, all I had to show for an hour’s fishing was a couple of F1s, whose appetite obviously outweighed their intelligence. However, despite that niggling easterly, the rod cast the float straight and true and fairly whipped line from the surface on the strike.
A move to a quiet corner with a small island opposite proved just the ticket, and a much lighter 3AAA float proved no problem to cast for the Agility 2 Pellet Waggler 11ft. The rod’s reduced length handle is easy to manoeuvre around the body when feeding with one hand – an essential attribute – and the blank is impressively light and comfy.
Casting range I would put at 40m tops with a 15g float, that being as heavy as I’d want to chuck around with this rod, although Shakespeare does give it a 30g maximum casting weight.
Line pick-up speed is quite exceptional, thanks to its all-carbon build and fast taper design.
Seaguide double and single-legged stand-off lined guides, a quality cork and EVA handle, secure screw-down reel seat and a keeper ring add to the joy of fishing with this rod.
Its progressive, not to say slightly tippy, action gives it plenty of grunt, and helps make it an absolute pleasure to use.
Our verdict: It never fails to amaze me how Shakespeare has this happy knack of pulling something a little bit special out of the bag every year. The new Agility 2 Pellet Waggler 11ft looks, feels and performs every bit as well as rods costing three times its asking price. Slim and very light to hold for long periods, it makes easy work of feeding with a catapult. A viper-fast strike speed will help you connect with equally rapid F1 bites, even a respectable casting distance away.
Just before Christmas I was privileged to visit Browning’s German HQ and give their four new Hyper Carp Method rods a waggle.
Right away I felt these would be perfect for commercial fisheries back home, although at the time Browning seemed uncertain whether they would be available in the UK. However, I banged on and on to the company to release them, and to send me a couple of samples in for a live test. These the makers eventually did, so now I can deliver my verdict.
Now, Browning’s Sphere feeder rods are among the best money can buy, and these Hyper Carp Method rods are not a poor man’s version of these. They have an altogether different feel and action. There’s enough flexibility in the blank to pan large skimmers and bream without fear of hook pulls – the cushioning effect kicks in high up on the second section. This gives the mid-section a good deal more backbone, which you’ll really appreciate when the rods are being stressed to the limit.
All this and more I was to discover at Clattercote Reservoir, whose resident carp were wide awake and raring to go. My chosen rod from the Hyper Carp Method range was the 12ft version, which I reckon to be the pick of the bunch. With an 80g maximum casting weight, it has the length and three-piece build specification to launch a flatbed Method feeder a very long way. In my hands, however, it felt most at home with feeders up to around 40g.
The guides (including those on the quivertip) have sufficient inner diameter to allow the safe passage of 10lb shockleaders, which you need on most feeder venues requiring a mega-chuck.
Well, I hear you say, there are already dozens of long cast feeder rods on the market. What makes these from Browning so special?
For a start, the Hyper Carp Method will cope with all sizes of carp with some style, yet has enough flexibility to stay in touch with bream and skimmers right up to the net. Distances of 80-100 yards can be reached without you needing to be a tournament caster! And the price is remarkably reasonable for what you get.
The live test, I’m relieved to say, proved that the Hyper Carp Method rods are every bit as good as I’d hoped, and then some.
Once I got used to the blank’s fast taper action I was hitting the reel clip with a loaded 30g feeder at around 80 yards every time from a seated position, while standing up and giving it a proper whack I was getting past 90 yards. That was using a 4000 sized reel without a shockleader. I was left wondering how much further I could push its muscular cousin – the 12ft Hyper Carp Method Distance rod, with its £149 price tag – if it were fitted with a big reel and a shocker! This beast will chuck a 100g feeder with ease.
Back to the rod on test, and its fish-playing action proved remarkable. Even when subjected to huge pressure from proper lumps it showed no signs of locking up. After a few bream had put in an appearance not a single fish of either species was lost – which, as any Clattercote regular will tell you, is impressive.
The Hyper Carp Method is the best rod of its kind and at its price that I have ever handled.
Okay, the multi-banded Euro colours of the quivertips may not be to everyone’s liking. But I’ll tell you this – you certainly can’t miss them which, to be fair, is the general idea.
This was one of the best live test days I have ever had, made even better by the presence of Mark Eves and Phil Ringer, who are highly entertaining, class angling acts.
Price: £139 (but shop around and you’ll find it cheaper)
In a recent trip to Browning’s impressive HQ in Germany I was shown a range of Method feeder rods not originally designed or intended for the UK market.
However, their pedigree says otherwise. Start with a fast-taper, high modulus carbon build, giving a flat spot-free and progressive fish-playing action.
Add an array of impressive fitments such as graded push-in carbon quivertips and perfectly spaced lined guides capable of being used with shockleaders.
Top that off with long cork handles that generate the power to propel a feeder an awfully long way. No wonder it quickly became apparent that these rods were spot-on for the senior inhabitants of our commercial fisheries.
Happily, I am able to report that after a re-think by Browning, the quintessential big-fish quartet of Hyper Carp Method rods are now available here in the UK in lengths of 10ft, 11ft and 12ft.
A souped-up 12ft distance casting model is also available.
Their eminently affordable pricing should appeal hugely to anyone fishing matches or enjoying pleasure sessions at venues such as Boddington, Larford and Clattercote – in fact any open expanse of water holding decent-sized fish.
Watch this space for the exclusive live test next week on these superb new Method rods. Going from shortest to longest, maximum casting weights are 2oz, 2oz and 3oz, with 3.5oz for the Distance model.
Price: 10ft £125, 11ft £129, 12ft £139, 12ft Distance £149
Drennan's introductory Red Range rods are comfortably affordable, well-appointed and perfectly designed for the job in hand.
That said, I was somewhat perplexed when the two latest family members – the Combo Method Feeder/Pellet Waggler and Combo Carp Feeder/Carp Waggler rods – arrived on my desk. As first glance the pair, finished in Drennan’s trademark burgundy colour, looked like Tweedledum and Tweedledee – identical twins.
What’s more, it wasn’t that many years ago that combination rods only graced the sports pages of your mum’s Kays or Grattan catalogues. Such ‘one rod does it all’ tools were hideously heavy, multi-sectioned and multi-handled affairs, claimed to be suitable for everything from fly-fishing for trout to boat fishing for pike. In reality they were useless for everything.
Thankfully, such horrors are well behind us. Modern-day combo outfits are mainly well thought-out, intelligently designed and fully usable for all their stated applications. Most importantly, they are affordably angler-friendly, and all these praises can indeed be heaped on the Red Range Combo pairing.
As you’d expect from Drennan, both rods are very nicely furnished with lined guides throughout, secure screw-down reel seats, hook keeper rings, and a single push-in glass quivertip – 3oz for the Carp Feeder and 4oz for the Carp Method.
These rods are clearly targeting novice and junior anglers with limited tackle knowledge, and yet choosing between the two could be a confusing process. So, having fished with both, allow me to state the differences between them.
The Method Feeder/Pellet Waggler Combo has a bit more power, and is ideal for big fish using heavier kit. With its feeder top section fitted it will easily handle 30g-plus Methods, while with the Pellet Waggler section fitted it will cast floats weighing up to 15g.
The Carp Feeder/Carp Waggler model has a lighter action, suiting it to maggot, pellet, open-end and small flatbed feeders.
Fit its waggler top and it will cast floats upwards of 4AAA, offering a little bit more tactical flexibility.
For the live test, I decided on a joint appraisal, setting up both Combo models – the Carp Method in feeder mode and the Carp Waggler as a float rod. The chosen venue was the ever-productive Stretton Lakes just north of Peterborough, just two minutes off the A1.
The carp lake here holds decent-sized fish, and while it’s not as easy as your normal commercial day-ticket fishery, the carp here are always scale- and mouth-perfect, and fight like demons.
The Carp Method Combo with a 30g flatbed loaded with micro pellets has a maximum casting range of around 60 yards. Much further and you are going to lose some accuracy. However, once a fish is hooked the blank has a resolute flat spot-free progressive action, with enough backbone to give double-figure fish nightmares. I’d suggest reel lines from 5lb-10lb, matched to hooklengths of 0.15mm upwards.
The Carp Waggler Combo has just about enough tip flexibility and whip to cast normal straight wagglers carrying 4AAA or more.
The blank’s soft, semi-through action makes it ideal for taking on smaller carp and F1s, as well as tench, chub and big bream, using reel lines from 4lb-8lb and hooklengths of 0.14mm and beyond.
Our Verdict: These latest additions to Drennan’s Red Range are sure to be hugely popular with the solar-powered pleasure angler.
If you are reading this as a tackle shop owner, and you get a potential new customer that wants to have a go at commercial fishing, or someone on a tight budget looking to invest in new rods with commercial fishery potential, than I doubt there is anything better than this pair of beauties currently on the market.
Price: £85.95 (both models)
Now here’s a thing… what do you get if you cross the world’s best feeder angler with the world’s best rod manufacturer? The answer? Cast’izm.
That, for those of you who have had your head stuck in a groundbait bucket for the past month or so, is the name of the new feeder rod range designed by Steve Ringer and manufactured here in the UK by Daiwa.
These all-black beauties kick off with an 11ft 6ins rod capable of casting up to 60g (2oz) and suited to open-end and pellet feeder work, as well as a straight bomb. It will handle commercial carp and silvers with equal panache.
The 12ft 6ins version (on live test duty) is Mr Ringer’s favourite, very much at home on large, open bream venues such as Ferry Meadows and Bough Beech.
Its 80g (3oz) casting band is well capable of handling Method and Hybrid feeders.
After those two come the ‘big boys’ of the Cast’izm range, both really long-distance casters.
The 13ft 6ins rod can handle 100g (3.5oz) and is claimed to chuck more than 100yds, suiting it to rocket and window feeder work where every inch of distance is important. Natural venue species and commercial carp are meat and drink to it.
The biggest Cast’izm, 14ft 2ins long and with a maximum casting weight of 120g (4.2oz), is ideal for big rivers such as the Trent and Severn, and I suspect it will go down well with those who fish matches on the wide and deep canals of the Netherlands.
Despite their reasonable price, no corners have been cut with the Cast’izms. Their latest HVF Nanoplus carbon construction imparts a clean, crisp action, and a rapid tip-end recovery speed adds yards to the cast.
The three-sectioned models all have a carrier section, and to prevent any flat spots at the joints Daiwa has employed its unique V-Joint system that retains seamless and progressive curvature at all times.
Large-diameter K guides help to prevent tangles and speed the passage of line. Interestingly, the three carbon push-in Tournament Distance Tips are graded to match the rod’s capacity, although other test curves are available too. These are exactly the same tips as used on Daiwa’s top-end SLR rods. Enlarged ring diameters prevent tangles and possible crack-offs, and their wide spacing contributes to casting performance.
As for the live test itself, the only thing in plentiful supply was the rain. I knew full well that Ferry Meadows, near Peterborough, had been in poor form since last September but, after all, this is exactly the kind of place these rods are designed to be used at.
The 12ft 6ins Cast’izm fairly sizzled out every breed of feeder known to man. Matched with the right sized reel, it’s a lean, mean casting machine that loads the weight of the feeder high on the blank to keep pre-cast bounce to an absolute minimum. What it’s like to play a fish on I can’t say, as that bit didn’t happen.
As Arnie said: “I’ll be back”… later in the year, when it’s warmed up a bit, and the bin lids are lifting.
These four Cast’izm rods make up possibly the best long-range feeder quartet on the planet. The design influences of a world-class angler are clearly visible.
The right type of guides, and extra spacing between the rings on the carbon quivers, provide fluid casting power. The longer handle gives added speed through to the tip, so even if your casting action is a bit on the slow side you’ll achieve longer distances.
A progressive mid-section action makes the use of reasonably small hooks and lightish lines possible without fear of lost fish.
But there’s still enough severity in the the butt section to deal out punishment to big commercial carp.
What’s not to like? This is a rod fabulously designed and brilliantly built for use anywhere, for everything.
Price: £169.99 (12ft 6ins version)
Matrix says its new Horizon Carp Feeder rods were developed to cope with the ballooning size of carp in modern match waters.
Mark Pollard has had lots of input into the design of all four rods which, despite being as strong as Shire horses on steroids, deliver a progressive action.
There are 9ft, 10ft (on test) 11ft and 12ft versions to choose from, depending on how far you want or need to cast. One thing in common to all is three graded push-in carbon quivertips of 1oz, 1.5oz and 2oz test curve.
The fast-taper high modulus carbon blanks are quick off the blocks when it comes to line pick-up and casting accuracy.
All have equal-length sections for ease of transport, a uniquely detailed weave print on their butt sections and decent length cork and EVA handles. Incorporated into these are screw-down reel fittings, while the blanks are furnished with low-profile ceramic-lined guides and a keeper ring as a finishing touch.
The 10ft Carp Feeder, my Horizon rod of choice for live test duty, is primarily a tactically flexible feeder and straight lead tool and, as such, is likely to sell well. There’s no maximum recommended casting weight, but by my reckoning you’d be safe with anything up to 40g.
The same goes for the line rating (or lack of it), but again, for me, anything between 4lb and 8lb would be fine – just the job for any commercial fishery whose carp have failed to sign up for Weight Watchers.
I needed to get the Horizon Carp Feeder rod to a water where bites come readily to a variety of tactics, so where better than Buttonhole Lake near Wisbech, in Cambs?
A swim opposite a paddle aerator gave me something to aim at in open water, while a large island away to my right would challenge the rod’s distance-casting prowess.
A standard inline 30g flatbed Method feeder flew 30 yards arrow-straight and bang on target. Once I’d clipped up, I reckoned it would hit 50 yards with just a bit more ‘push-pull’ on my part, but around the 40g mark the rod began to show its casting limitations. However, towards the end of the session I was still chucking a 30g feeder a good 65 yards-plus. On commercials that’s equivalent to hitting a six out of the ground at Trent Bridge!
What the Horizon has going for it is a superb action, which has obviously come in for some serious scrutiny and field-testing from the Matrix consultancy team. Sweet as a nut, back of the net, and more fun than a day at the fair, it’s just perfect for the job.
The rod bends exactly how, when and where it should, and has more than enough backbone to heave a reluctant lump over the rim of the landing net.
As you can see, this beast gave me a proper run-around, especially when it tried with all its might to get its head underneath the platform.
I don’t need to say much more about how flexible a backbone this rod possesses – look at the image and drool at its fast, progressive fighting action.
The latest Matrix Horizon Carp Feeder rods look, feel and fish just right, with a very high overall level of performance.
On the commercial fishery front, they have just about enough flexibility to be used for carp of all sizes, plus big F1s.
The 10ft model is ideal for Method, maggot and pellet feeder work, and would be equally at home throwing straight bomb set-ups for bigger fish.
It’s worth noting that all the Horizon quivertips are interchangeable with those on Matrix Horizon XC and XS models.
Online tackle retailer Chapmans has produced quite a few decent rods under its own Stillwater brand since its inception.
But it’s fair to say that most have majored on economy rather than performance. Until now, that is!
Chapmans, in partnership with Daiwa, has just released an 11ft Pellet Waggler and a 10ft Mini Method Feeder rod under its new Stillwater Shuriken banner – and the pair fairly sizzle in terms of build quality, performance and quite astonishing value.
Both are made from slim, equal-length two-piece carbon blanks of some distinction. The 11ft Pellet Waggler is rated to reel lines up to 8lb, and designed for carp and F1 fishing. The 10ft Mini Method Feeder will handle 40g feeders, and comes with 1oz and 1.5oz push-in carbon quivers.
Key furnishing features on both include pleasing all-cork handles, aluminium oxide lined guides, classy gloss black whippings, and a keeper ring as a nice final touch.
And it doesn’t stop there, as I found out while live testing the wonderfully named Shuriken (pronounced ‘Shirken’) room-mates at Decoy’s icy cold Lou’s Lake. Happily, while one side of the horseshoe-shaped water was solid with ice, the other, where I was fishing, gave more than a fair impression of a balmy August afternoon, rather than a bone-chilling mid-February freeze.
But enough of the weather – let’s take a closer look at the Shurikens. It wasn’t until I got the rods back home and started delving into their construction details that I was even aware that Daiwa had a hand in their creation. However, within a couple of minutes of using them, I recognised that unmistakable steely ‘Daiwa feel’ running through the mid-sections, making them more than a match for the largest of commercial fishery denizens as well as pasty-sized stockies and F1s.
Not that these two rods are in any way cheapo whopper stoppers – both sport a quite superb and sweetly progressive action.
The seven white-tipped whippings on the 10ft Mini Method Feeder quivertips are brilliant. Regular readers will know of my dislike for quivers with anything other than a daub of blaze or orange paint on their ends. But I must admit that my attention was mesmerically drawn towards the white whippings, making missed bites very unlikely.
The 11ft Pellet Waggler has a very similar progressive action to its stablemate, but the tip-end is very slightly softer, giving it more whip and making it easier to cast light floats – in this rod’s case from around 4AAA (3.5g) upwards.
My first carp of the year on the float fell to a corn skin bait, set 3ft feet deep and cast tight against a line of Norfolk reeds – basically the waggler equivalent of dobbing.
Given the size and fighting spirit of the fish caught, I can certainly vouch for the power in reserve that still has enough cushioning to permit the use of reasonably small hooks and light hooklengths.
What's not to like about this pair?
The fact that you can buy both Shuriken rods for less than the price of a top-end feeder or pellet waggler weapon makes them a real steal.
Ideal for all but the largest of commercial fisheries, they have impressive fish-playing and casting actions, are very nicely furnished and fitted out, and combine good looks with an equally good performance.