When it comes to rods, Drennan’s classy Acolyte family is right up there with the best.
The latest additions to the clan are these two delectable 9ft Feeder models that come in both Ultra (light-actioned) and the stepped-up Plus versions.
The pencil-thin, high-modulus carbon blanks come with three graded push-in quivertips, with all the furnishings and finishes you’ve come to expect to find on top-end Drennan rods.
Both versions are ideal for short-range straight lead and feeder work on natural and commercial fisheries.
•Best matched with reel lines from 4lb to 8lb (1.8kg to 3.6kg)
•Two-piece construction folds into a rod sleeve in seconds
•Neoprene rod socks also included
•Supplied with 1.5oz, 2oz and 2.5oz push-in carbon tips
•Extra tips also available
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The most talked about rod-range of 2018, the Tournament SLRs are already winning fans in the feeder market, most notably Angling Times columnist Steve Ringer.
SLR stands for Super Long Range and these four blanks are the next step up from the original Tournament distance models designed for the European market. With natural style and long range feeder fishing enjoying such a boom again in the UK now too, Daiwa has tapped into this market here, with spectacular results.
Built using Daiwa’s latest X45 carbon technology, these rods feature distinctive red butt section artwork, a boat load of power to cast even the shortest 11ft version a long way, and a fantastic progressive curve for playing fish.
The rods were designed and tested by Steve himself, who described the 12ft version as “the best rod ever”. A 13ft and a 14ft complete the range for extreme distance or big river work.
Other features include Fuji Alconite guides, a Fjui reel seat, dedicated 70cm carbon quivers, Bias Carbon V-Joint, an Armlock handle, a hook keeper and a new 1.5oz quiver on the 11ft model.
Granted they don't come cheap but if you want total perfection than you're going to have to pay for it and the £400-plus price tags reflect this.
£405 - £472.50
As a keen specimen angler I find myself travelling to different venues in order to seek my chosen quarry. One week I might be tackling the strong currents of the River Trent for big barbel, while the next I could be sitting behind bite alarms on a tench pit.
These venues obviously require a number of different rods to cater for the different styles of fishing. Then of course you have to take conditions into account. Will the river be in flood? Does the lake require a long range cast? This common dilemma often means taking at least two different rods to the bank to cater for whatever conditions I’m faced with on the day.
It’s the reason I got rather excited when Korum’s new Twin Tip Plus rod landed on my office desk. It’s a rod that has been designed to give the angler the choice of fishing a different test curve without the need to buy more than one rod, and still enjoy all the quality and endurance of Korum’s usual high standards.
With its spliced hollow 1.75lb and 2.2lb top sections, it allows the angler to set up their rod according to the conditions, venue or species they’re targeting on the day and the user can always change over if, for example, they are feeling under-gunned.
Surely Korum already offers something like this in its current Twin Tip version, I hear you ask.
However, while those rods have been faithful servants to anglers over the years, they still ultimately only really offer the same test curve whichever tip you may change to.
Korum’s new product means that only the butt section is the same when changing tops, making it noticeably obvious to the angler that he or she has more or less punch.
The company designed the rod for multiple scenarios and species. For example, you could use the 1.75lb top section for float fishing for big fish on a river while the 2.2lb tip could be handy for casting out to 70 yards on a gravel pit for carp, bream and tench.
With its choice of two test curves, the rod will ultimately appeal to barbel anglers, though, and this is really where it comes into its own.
The proof, of course, is always in the pudding, so in order to fully test out the idea I decided I was going to sample the rod’s capabilities twice over.
In other words, instead of fishing just one venue, I was going to test out each tip on two separate venues to re-enact the common scenario as described above.
Normally, when I visit the River Severn, I will fish a rod with a test curve of over 2lb, but with few snags and the river running lower than usual, plus the fact I was fishing into the deep channel on the inside, I opted for the 1.75lb top.
I fished a scaled-down rig with small pellets to cater for the clear water conditions. It didn’t take me long to test out the rod’s action when a 7lb barbel ran off downstream with my hookbait. Pumping the fish back in the flow, the high modulus carbon blank performed excellently, bending right round to the butt but with enough power to get the fish in without disturbing the feeding fish in my swim.
Two more fish followed but it was soon time to test the other tip so my next port of call was some 120 miles away on a very narrow stretch of the River Nene known as Castor Backwater. Snaggy and full of features and, of course, barbel, I knew this would be the best venue to test out the heavier tip.
Again the rod came up trumps and handled everything I threw at it, as I landed a barbel of 5lb and a chub well over 4lb.
This is shaping up to be the year of the long-range feeder rod.
Most major tackle companies have either launched new models or added to their existing ranges.
The growing popularity of feeder fishing has spurred rod designers and product teams into developing models that will chuck leads to the horizon on big, open UK venues such as Ferry Meadows, Meadowlands and Barston Lakes, where bream and skimmers are match fodder but carp are also likely to be present.
Enter Drennan’s latest Acolyte family member, the three-piece 13ft Distance Feeder.
Drennan doesn’t hold with new rods that each boast its own specific casting distance or weight rating. Instead, in typical ‘ticks-all-the-boxes’ fashion, the company has taken its time to produce one rod that does it all.
The 13ft Distance Feeder has a crisp, responsive parabolic action, and comes nicely furnished with braid-friendly, low-profile double and single-legged SiC ceramic-lined guides.
You get an original Fuji DPS screw-down reel seat, full-length cork handle, and three bespoke carbon quivertips with test curves of 3oz, 4oz and 5oz. These have enlarged guides for the smooth passage of shockleader knots, eliminating the friction and congestion that at best will slow down the cast and at worst can lead to crack-offs.
The rod took shape over two years, and was tested on a wide range of venues by many top international anglers. Drennan says it’s ideal for use with 6lb-10lb mono or 0.8mm-0.12mm braid. It’s said to be able to chuck feeders and bombs to a maximum of 3.5oz (100g) up to 100m, if you have the necessary casting skills, of course.
With all that information under my belt, where better to run the rule over the new Drennan Distance Feeder rod than one of the best long-range bream venues in the UK – the currently out-of-form Ferry Meadows?
I’ll tell you now, as apart from catching a few ‘wasps’ and ‘skerrets’, the exercise was a complete disaster!
The un-breamy combination of sun and lack of wind was exacerbated by the annual Peterborough school holidays, which saw gangs of kids going afloat in a dazzling array of imaginative watercraft.
Most of the little treasures ended up thrashing the water to a foam directly above my carefully fed spot… bless ’em!
I can, at least, vouch for the Acolyte’s casting clout – it will chuck a hefty feeder a very long way, with unerring accuracy. My chosen spot was slightly to the left of a marker buoy around 70 yards out into about 8ft of water.
I was using a big cage feeder packed with groundbait, chopped worm, caster and dead reds, and once I’d got used to pushing through the rod’s fairly fast action I hit the clip firmly every chuck.
The blank lived up to its maximum casting weight rating of 3.5oz (100g), and anything over 50g positively sizzled through the rings.
However, you need to adopt a flatter, carp-style overhead casting action to launch heavier feeders and leads any distance, even though the blank will take them in its stride.
What I’d say about this very well thought-out distance weapon is that it takes some getting used to.
Don’t be afraid to give it a proper whack… its fast tip recovery speed and impressive backbone will withstand all the rigours and stresses of long-distance work.
Since the live test I have given the rod another outing and can report a good ‘feel’ through the blank, matched with pleasing mid-section sensitivity – ideal for bream and skimmer work. Nor did it let me down when the inevitable carp muscled into my swim.
Our verdict: another Acolyte winner for me from Drennan. Nicely put together, it’s very classy looking, with dependable fittings, and shows all the signs of having been designed and tested by those who know what to look for in a rod. I rather fancy it would make a quite superb summer barbel feeder rod, as well as a respectable tool for long-range winter carp, too.
If fishing rods came with a pedigree, Free Spirit’s new Hi S Match rods would be pinnacles of the tackle trade aristocracy.
The company’s equally well-connected Hi S Carp rods have long been considered be the best that money can buy.
Free Spirit entered the match, pleasure, and specialist arena around three years ago with its mid-priced CTX range. But it was surely only a matter of time before match rods with the same top-spec build and quality carbon as the Hi S Carp rods entered the fray.
The comprehensive 16-rod Match range first saw the light at last year’s The Big One show, where those that saw them – me included – were wowed by their modern looks, quality fittings and almost frightening transmission of ‘feel’ through the blanks.
All are constructed from ultra-low-resin 40t carbon with woven butt sections. This makes them extremely light to hold, yet extremely strong.
The unique ‘Perdurable’ finish does away with paint or lacquer– it’s just the carbon, which is made to be ultra-resistant to damage and helps the rods to retain their showroom looks.
Hi S Carp Feeder rods (the 11ft version of which was on live test duty) are all fitted with high-end Kigan Z guides along the blanks themselves, while the quivertips bear anti-frap MZ rings that reduce the chances of the reel line or shockleader catching in them and causing a crack-off.
Something else that makes these rods that little bit different is their unique hollow quivertips. These eliminate any flat spots, since there is no abrupt transition from solid tip through to hollow blank – instead you get a seamless, progressive action.
To that lot you can add Fuji skeletal-style reel seats with a cut-away forward finger area, giving added feel and control when playing fish. Carp rod-style abbreviated handles allow easy directional changes when playing a hard-fighting fish close to the net, and ‘fold-friendly’ guide spacing allows you to break down a rod with reel and rig in situ.
Add all that up and you have to agree that Hi S Carp Feeder rods are a bit special.
Not only do they look classily different, they also feel and behave differently in the hand.
This was instantly apparent on the live test. The two-piece 11ft Carp Feeder rod is so slim in the butt section just above the handle – just 150mm in circumference – that it doesn’t look capable of casting a small float, never mind a feeder. How wrong can you be!
Not only will it chuck 3oz (85g) feeders with some ease, but it will propel them an awfully long way, certainly far enough to cope with most commercial venues.
The rod’s progressive action is equally admirable – the hollow quivertip gives it a seamless curvature, and it has enough power in its locker to cope with everything from F1s on light gear, through to big girls on heavy Method tactics.
The cut-away reel seat allows you to feel every movement of a hooked fish, and while the abbreviated handle may not be to everyone’s taste, it balances perfectly with the blank and is just the ticket for winding up a cast or piling on the pressure when it’s needed.
£280 (abbreviated handle)
£300 (full cork handle)
Not so long ago a three-piece 13ft float rod would be standard issue for all match and pleasure anglers, and I’ll tell you why.
The industrial cities of Sheffield, Leeds, Rotherham and Birmingham gave rise to legions of angling aficionados (pardon the pun), many of whom worked in the nationalised coal and steel industries.
These had massive working men’s associations with affiliated angling clubs. Every weekend would see coach loads of fishermen arriving on the banks of the Witham, Welland, Trent, Severn and Thames, where float fishing with 13ft rods ruled the roost.
Those were the days, when fishing was basically the only recreation for many a working class bloke.
Tackle was functional first and foremost. Wicker creels, rods in canvas bags, Intrepid reels, Au Lion D’Or hooks, a handful of handmade floats – oh, and an Efgeeco baitbox containing a pint of ‘gentles’ in sawdust – was about par for the course.
The best float rods of the day were built mainly on fibreglass Golden Jubilee blanks, and appeared under the WB Clarke All-England, Milbro Enterprise and Billy Lane Match brands. The first carbon rods weren’t far away, though, although when Fothergill and Harvey launched them in 1975 they cost a king’s ransom at £133. Bearing in mind that back then a Mars bar cost sixpence (2.5p) and you get an idea just how expensive this rod was.
Thankfully, modern 13ft float rods are vastly cheaper in relative terms, as well as being better built, better balanced, lighter in the hand and an altogether superior product.
Enter Maver’s 13ft three-piece Reality, which can be found for as little as £49.99. It’s also available in 12ft and 14ft versions, and all three decent enough lightweight blanks with their medium-fast action will cast wagglers up to 25g.
Key features include a full cork handle with EVA lock-down foregrip, quality lined guides, folding keeper ring, and a classy jet-black glossy coating.
It’s not the crispest float rod I have ever come across, and it may lack a bit of finesse. But it can cope with whatever comes its way, as I discovered on the live test at Stretton Lakes’ day-ticket Silvers Pool, just off the A1 north of Peterborough.
I was hoping for roach with hopefully the odd better skimmer thrown in. Feeding groundbait laced with a few micro pellets and casters, my basic set-up saw a 3AAA straight peacock waggler attached to 3lb reel line, 0.12mm hooklength, and a size 18 hook with a double maggot as bait, fished overdepth.
Small roach and rudd gave me a bite a chuck, but these skerrets hardly tested the rod’s prowess. Bites then dried up, and I wondered if this was a prelude to the skimmers clocking in.
I didn’t have to wait long to find out. The float’s blaze top vanished and my strike was met with far more resistance than any skimmer could muster. The rod took on its full fighting curve in an action best described as on the stern side of progressive – pretty much what you need from a float rod if you’re likely to encounter bigger fish.
Eventually my balanced tackle got the better of a decent-sized carp, and what a handsome fish it was – bristling with indignation, it had clearly never been caught before.
The Reality Match had done its job, absorbing the carp’s every lunge without cause for concern. Yes, of course this rod was made to tackle silvers on rivers and stillwaters, but when it’s called to battle stations you’ll be glad to have it your side.
Our verdict: What's not to like about this rod? It’s very well priced, easy to use, feels reassuringly sturdy, and is ideal for all float work, trotting or static. As proved during the live test it also has a touch of steel about it, which means it will handle big fish with little hassle.
The latest feeder rods bearing Browning’s Black Viper name are aimed more towards those who fish big open-water Continental venues than at your average UK commercial angler.
But did you really think I’d bother testing a rod of no use to anyone here in Blighty? Negative!
Within the range are three Black Vipers that I’m sure will appeal to the ever-increasing band of anglers who target bream, skimmers and even the odd carp on wide expanses of water such as Peterborough’s Ferry Meadows or Barston Lake in the West Midlands.
The trio in question are the 12ft 80g, 13ft 100g and 13ft 140g versions. In three sections, they are made from quality high modulus carbon fibre, and their good old-fashioned, slightly stepped-up action makes them deceptively powerful and accurate casting tools. This is especially true of the 13ft 140g rod being live tested (the 140g spec refers to the maximum weight it will comfortably cast).
All three rods perform equally well on still and slow-moving waters, and despite their fast action the carrier section is soft enough to enable the use of small hooks and lightish hooklengths without fear of fish losses.
This is a key factor when choosing a decent bream rod. You don’t need it to send cold shivers down your spine every time a proper bin-lid nods its head en route to the landing net, and in this respect the Black Viper is decidedly non-venomous!
In my book, Browning has been ahead of the game for the last couple of seasons in the design and construction of distance casting rods for bream. And regular readers of my tackle reviews will know of my fondness for the German firm’s outstanding (if rather expensive) top-of-the-range Sphere models. These are arguably the very best distance bream rods on the market.
Not that any of the Black Viper Mk 2 rods are the poor man’s Sphere – anything but, and with prices from £199.95 to £239.95 they will cause a sharp intake of breath as you hand over your hard-earned.
On, then, to the live test, and although the big-bream venue Ferry Meadows is basically at the back door of the Angling Times office it’s a tad out of form at present. Instead, a trip to Rysons Lake in Northamptonshire was hastily arranged.
This lake has two floating islands at around 65 yards and the fish drift between these. More often than not it’s a case of laying down a decent carpet of bait and waiting for the bream, which run to around 8lb, to turn up.
This tactic provided me with ample opportunity to test the rod’s casting accuracy and weight loading capacity. My large feeder packed full of groundbait, pellets, worms and dead reds weighs the best part of 4oz (113g), more than a decent test for a rod rated to a 140g maximum.
I got the feeling that the Black Viper was right on the line at 4oz, but that said, it went the distance. And once the feeding cycle was complete, it fairly sizzled out a loaded 35g feeder against the reel’s line clip.
Bites are detected via one of three supplied carbon push-in quivertips. The gaudily painted blaze and white tip ends may not be to everyone’s taste, but they show up well enough.
The real beauty of this Black Viper, though, lies in its ability to cast a long way and deliver a big soft-mouthed bream or skimmer safely back to you.
To that end it’s one sassy snake.
Our Verdict: Another absolute belter of a bream rod from Browning. Ideal for all stillwaters, I rather fancy that its casting prowess and cleverly cushioned softness will also endear it to those who line the banks of Norfolk’s River Yare every summer.
Sturdy low-profile Fuji K-guides, a full cork handle, and enlarged quivertip eyes (to allow for the smooth passage of shockleaders) combine to make the Black Viper Mk 2 another class act from the Browning stable.
Check out the video below for a closer look!
After around a 20-year absence, Daiwa’s iconic Powermesh rods are back with seven new Specialist models for the big-fish angler.
The full collection includes a bespoke two-piece barbel rod; 13ft, 14ft and 15ft float rods; and 11ft 6ins, 12ft 6ins and 13ft 6ins feeder rods with graded 1.5oz, 2oz and 3oz quivertips.
All are constructed from an identical high grade of reinforced carbon, the weave of which gives them that powerful, steely backbone we associate with the Powermesh name.
The rods are furnished to a very high standard, incorporating original Fuji reel seats, full-length cork handles and hard-wearing stainless steel frame guides with lightweight LS ceramic-lined rings.
To that little lot you can add a folding keeper ring, aluminium butt cap and a padded sleeve large enough to house a reel, so rods can be taken to the bank ready made-up.
With ‘demanding situations’ high on my live test objective sheet, a trip to a tackle-devouring stretch of the Trent was in order.
The river here is very shallow and clear, running fast over clean strips of gravel interspersed with waving fronds of streamer weed. You might just catch a glimpse of a pristine golden flank as a big barbel momentarily reveals itself.
As they say, ‘other methods are available’, but nothing beats presenting a bait beneath a float fixed top and bottom. From matching the weight of the float to the river’s flow, to slowing the travel of your bait at just the right moment, or mending the line before running your float through at the same pace as your loosefeed, trotting is an art form. Get it right and at some point your landing net will be graced with a truly stunning wild-born fish.
The rod on test, the 13ft Daiwa Powermesh Specialist Float, allows the use of heavy lines without feeling heavy or cumbersome in the hand, and will cast a waggler or stick float as the situation demands. There’s enough cushioning in the blank to permit the use of sensibly sized hooks and hooklengths.
A rod with all these qualities is a rare beast indeed, and on a day when the river had extra flow after recent rain it cast a hefty 6g alloy-stemmed balsa float without a hitch. At just 6.7oz, the rod caused me hardly any wrist fatigue while I waded the stream.
But it’s when a big fish is hooked that this Powermesh shows its true mettle. It boasts loads of mid-section persuasive power, but the sweet parabolic action cushions sudden lunges when needed, and it transmits plenty of feel through the blank.
In fact, it’s nothing like the broom handles that are often passed off as specialist rods.
As well as being a river rod, Daiwa’s new 13ft Specialist Powermesh Float is ideal for big tench and bream on the float.
It will cast a big slider or bodied waggler a very long way when needed. It can also be used for big carp in the margins.
The rod is built to stand a bit of abuse, and with all that versatility it’s sure to find its way into the rod holdalls of a host of big-fish specialists.
French giant Sensas has added several superb feeder rods to its comprehensive range.
The Black Arrow comes in three categories – 300, 500 and 800 – and within each there are different length rods to cover everything from light leger work through to blasting a feeder 80-plus yards.
The 800 series are top-end rods, starting at £179.99 for the slender 11ft model and rising to £249.99 for the 14ft Super Heavy model. Four others are midway between.
I first got to have a play with the rods at the Sensas HQ just before Christmas, when UK boss Mark Downes was positively bursting with enthusiasm about his new arrivals. Forget what had gone before, he told me, these were the best rods Sensas had produced and, more importantly, they are designed specifically for the UK market. They looked good and felt lovely in the hand, but as ever, there’s only one way to give them a proper going over – hook something that pulls back!
With the pick of the 800 series to go at I went for the 11ft model. This is your typical tip rod that’ll do everything from river bream fishing to a spot of mixed fishing on lakes, and arrives with three tips of various grades.
I headed to Kingfisher Lake on the Townsend complex in the heart of the Fens, home to lots of big skimmers plus F1s, crucians, tench and, of course, plenty of carp. There’s a sunken island to cast to at around 40 yards, a good enough chuck to test the rod’s action and accuracy when teamed with a little flatbed Method feeder.
First cast was on the money, and made so easy by the cracking through action of the Nanoflex blank. It’s smooth, and lacks the overly-aggressive power of some rods that can see a cast fall short due to the lack of forgiveness down the rod. Bite number one to three dead red maggots was not long in coming, and a 1lb skimmer was duly wound in – they don’t fight much on a size 16 hook and 4lb hooklink.
To get a good idea of how the rod acts when a fish is on I really leant into the next one, a bigger skimmer of around 2lb.
The rod is superby soft down to the mid-section, and you can really put a bend in it without any danger of a hook-pull. Already I was thinking that this was the sort of bream rod I could have done with 20 years ago when fishing the Fen drains and River Welland.
Skimmers are all well and good but they don’t exactly fight. A change was needed to get a bigger fish, so on went a banded 6mm pellet and after a few minutes, a 3lb F1 obliged.
This was more like it! On the strike the rod locked up quickly to set the hook but then relaxed as the battle began. Once again, leaning into the fish sent the Black Arrow into a perfectly-crafted bend but still had plenty more to give when the fish took off.
Once under the rod-tip, which is where a lot of fish are lost as they bounce around, the rod cushioned every lunge handsomely, and the F1 was netted. A dozen more followed, plus a few more skimmers, and none posed a problem. Nor did I suffer a hook pull or a crack-off on the strike. That was remarkable, as I can be cack-handed at times.
The true test would be when a proper carp turned up and, sure enough, one did. I can’t fib and say the fight wasn’t without a few nervy moments but nothing to send the old ticker into overdrive.
I would say that the Black Arrow is not a rod for dealing with carp alone, as it is too soft, but then that’s not what it was built to do. After all, you wouldn’t fish the pole with a match kit for big fish, would you?
Our Verdict: From the moment I hooked that first fish I liked the rod. It’s soft, forgiving, casts like a dream and you can get anything out that you hook. I wouldn’t fish for carp with it, though, but on a mixed fishery or a trip out for bream and roach on a slow-flowing river it’s a belter. With other options in the range, Sensas Black Arrow rods are all you’ll need if you take your feeder fishing seriously.
BUY NOW for £94.99 at Chapmans Angling
Preston Innovations has recently introduced four rods aimed at anglers who fish commercials. The Monster range includes two Carp Feeders, a Method Feeder and a Pellet Waggler model.
All are packed with key features such as unique low-profile reel seats that bring the reel closer to the hand, making the rods easier to fish with. To these you can add EVA butt and thumb grips for added casting support, and low-profile lined guides that greatly reduce tangles and the likelihood of snap-offs on the cast.
Two equal-length high modulus carbon sections make the rods a doddle to carry to your peg ready made-up. All this adds up to innovative, well-built rods with plenty of key features, utilising the latest technology. Despite this they are priced sensibly enough not to cause the missus to throw a hissy fit when the Barclaycard bill hits the hall carpet.
Not that these rods are merely cosmetically pleasing – Preston has refined their performance, which results in a slightly beefier backbone than before. You get more casting clout and extra pulling power through mid-sections to show the biggest of fish who’s boss.
So, with the summer sun in full water- warming mode, and carp cruising about all over the surface everywhere I’ve visited, it was high time I took a much closer look at the new Monster Pellet Waggler.
This 11ft rod, the name of which says it all, has had plenty of input from world-renowned anglers Tommy Pickering and Des Shipp. Together they probably know more about how a fishing rod needs to perform than the rest of us put together.
My live test venue was Steve Gregory’s Horseshoe Lake, on the day-ticket Rushfield complex near Lincoln. Its heavyweight carp are suckers for their pellets, and always willing to feed close to the surface – ideal candidates for pellet waggler tactics.
My set-up was simple enough – nothing more complex than a 6lb reel line matched to a 6g pellet waggler float, 0.17mm hooklength and size 16 hook with a 6mm banded pellet.
The rod will cast floats up to around 15g, but there’s not quite enough whip in the tip for it to cope with anything much less than about 4g.
Firing in little more than half a dozen 6mm pellets every 20 seconds or so, it wasn’t long before dark shapes hove into view as soon as the feed hit the water. However, as often happens on a well-fished venue, as soon as the float splashed down, the fish disappeared.
The trick is to feed twice, immediately before and after casting. But you will also need to feather the line, so that the float lands with a gentle kiss rather than a sloppy smacker on the water’s surface. Get it right and bites will be savage. But you need to get your hooked carp out of the feeding zone as quickly and quietly as possible.
To do this you need the reel’s clutch set quite tight, but not locked up. Then, with the rod tip kept as low as possible to the water, lean into the fish. Without changing the rod’s position, pull and wind at the same time until your quarry is within netting range.
Once you’ve done this a couple of times, playing even the largest carp becomes pretty straightforward, provided you have full confidence in your kit. And this is where a rod with the performance of the Monster Pellet Waggler really earns its corn. Its progressive action will cope with all the lunges and head-shakes of a big carp with enough muscle through the middle to lower section areas to keep you in charge at all times.
Even when the blank is under full parabolic compression its non-locking action provides enough of a safety buffer for you to dish it out without hook-pulls or snapped lines.
The blank was able to deal equally well with other species. Plenty of smaller F1s and ide joined the party, and although they don’t have the fighting qualities of big carp they are still welcome weight-builders in a match. With some other pellet waggler models these smaller fish tend to come off at the net when the rod is held in a vertical position. But I can happily report that such irksome events don’t occur with the Preston rod.
Preston Innovations’ new 11ft Monster Pellet Waggler rod is the ‘one size fits all’ answer to all commercial pellet waggler scenarios.
This to be fair, covers everything except perhaps long-distance work with heavy floats on open water venues such as Boddington Reservoir.
The progressive action is about as good as it gets in its price bracket, and it seems to have the happy knack of kicking in at just the right moment, giving the extra oomph needed to play big fish. Despite this steely side, the blank is light enough to be held for long spells without discomfort, an immense help when you are catapulting out feed little and often.
BUY NOW for £94.99 from Chapmans Angling
- Specifically designed for distance feeder fishing
- Casting weights up to 160g (4.5oz)
- Ultra high modulus carbon blank
- Extended spigot joint for improved casting power
- Oversized guides enhance casting performance
- Slim fast taper, fast-actioned blank
- Supplied with carbon tips of 2.5oz and 4oz
- Unique detailed weave print applied to all sections
- High-grade cork and EVA composite handle
BUY NOW from £169.99 at Chapmans Angling
It's always struck me as slightly ironic that many of the best distance feeder rods are designed by our Continental counterparts.
That said, modern UK match tactics are starting to influence the build characteristics and specifications of many rods, wherever they are made, and the four Horizon XD Class rods from Matrix are a case in point.
The emphasis across the Channel used to be on propelling a feeder a long way, but now more thought has been given to the cushioning effect that allows the user to reel a big ‘bin lid’ back without pulling a reasonably sized hook out of its mouth. This is reminiscent of our home-grown bream tactics.
These latest three-piece Matrix Horizon XD Feeder rods, in lengths of 13ft, 14ft and 14ft 7ins, and with maximum casting weights of 100g, 130g, 150g and 160g, all feature extended spigots for added casting power, and enlarged guides (including on the quivertips) that shockleaders and heavy lines can pass through unhindered.
The blanks are of the fast taper type, with high weight loading areas and a rapid post-cast tip recovery rate. All are bound to put a few extra yards on your cast.
Four models will be of particular interest to the UK bream angler who frequents large open-water venues such as Bough Beech Reservoir in Kent, or Coventry’s Meadowlands Fishery. They are the 13ft 100g (3.5oz) and 13ft 130g (4.5oz), 14ft 150g (5.2oz) and horizon-busting 14.7ft 160g (5.6oz) rods. For the live test I chose the 13ft 130g rod, which I reckon will be the best seller in the range.
It looks and feels ideal for out-and-out bream and skimmer venues such as Ferry Meadows, near Peterborough.
Rather handily, this was where I came across a certain Mr Steve Ringer who was practising for a forthcoming match.
After a little gentle persuasion, World Feeder Champ Steve agreed to let me use his seatbox, feeders and bait to run the rod through its paces – despite knowing it would likely mean the spoilation of his carefully fed swim.
Instead, selfless Steve decided to have a wander round the venue for an hour rather than watch me cast all over the place and ruin his chances of catching anything else!
So, what are you likely to get in terms of performance and handling from the new Matrix Horizon XD Class? I can tell you straight off the bat that it can be used with any type of feeder, although I found the window type best to achieve distance and accuracy. This is probably more down to the feeder’s sleek design and rear-end casting weight than to how well the rod propelled it.
In truth, the new 13ft 130g Horizon XD will cast anything you care to tie on to your line up to 3oz in weight, and do it with sublime ease. At 4oz, though, the blank’s mid-section lacks just a tad of steel. It still managed to chuck 80 yards-plus without too much effort, and I suspect better casters than I’ll ever be would take it to the next level.
But face it, how many stillwater match anglers are regularly casting 4oz weights those sorts of distances anyway?
Were I looking to use beefier feeders at super-long range, my choice would be the 14ft 150g (5.2oz) rod, which packs a fair bit more oomph.
Back to the rod under test, I can happily report that the 13-footer has a nicely cushioned parabolic through action, with just the right blend of power and subtlety from mid to tip sections.
This means it can be used with lightish hooklengths from 0.12mm upwards and size 16 hooks or bigger, with either mono or braided mainlines from 4lb-10lb. Thanks to its enlarged guides it can accommodate a shockleader too.
The verdict: The four new Matrix Horizon XD Feeder rods are quite specialised, and almost certainly made with an eye to the massive European demand for rods of this type.
They are still likely to find their way into the holdalls of UK match anglers who regularly fish open-water bream venues.
They are easy to cast a fair distance, even in the hands of inexperienced anglers and without heavy weights. A non-aggressive action gives a cushioning effect, so the rods can be used for skimmers and big bream alike without resorting to big hooks.
The latest British-built rod in Tri-Cast’s prestige Trilogy series is light in the hand but heavy on performance.
Weighing just 132g, the Trilogy F1 Commercial Waggler 10ft (a bit of a mouthful, that) has to be one of the most technically advanced short float rods ever made. It’s built from the same carbon cloth currently used in the aerospace and F1 motor racing industries.
A phenomenal line pick-up speed, matched with a thoroughly forgiving, progressive action, allows the angler to strike at lightning-fast bites without fear of snapping off a light hooklength. The cushioning effects of the rod’s top section sees to that.
The pencil-slim, two-piece blank’s equal-length sections are furnished with 10 featherweight single-leg SiC ceramic lined guides. These, whipped on with electric blue and silver-tipped thread, are spaced at carefully calculated decreasing distances towards the tip of the rod to give it a seamless fish-playing curvature under stress.
I was rather hoping to see this in action while live testing the rod on the banks of Norwich’s finest commercial, the F1 and carp-stuffed Willow Lake at Barford Fisheries.
It’s obvious from the moment you slide together the two sections of the new Trilogy F1 that this is a very special, if somewhat specialised, fishing rod. Clearly aimed at the commercial match angler looking to bag up on F1s and stockie carp, the blank feels crisp and almost rigid in the hand. But, as Tri-Cast claims, it does indeed give sufficient cushioning through the top section to alleviate breakages.
This I discovered when attempting to connect with the super-fast bites F1s give, especially up in the water.
I had tackled up with a 4lb reel line and a 0.13mm hooklength terminating in a size 18 hook, baited with a banded 6mm pellet pretty much standard F1 kit.
I started the session on a slim 6g balsa pellet waggler, which the blank handled easily enough, although I ended up using a stubby 4g model once I felt the fish were becoming wary of the longer float.
Maximum casting range with the Trilogy F1 if you want to keep things super-accurate is around 40m. Floats with a casting weight of 8g-10g would be as heavy as I’d fancy loading up with.
As it turned out, the fishery was deluged by a storm of Biblical proportions, with thunder, lightning and torrential rain – and the lake’s sturdy F1s became even more fidgety and difficult to catch.
However, swings and roundabouts – the larger carp, always up for a shallow-fished pellet, went on the rampage and tested the rod to its limits. You can’t help but be impressed with a 10-footer that casts arrow-straight, is easy to hold in one hand while feeding, and can deal with F1s and carp to double figures on reasonably light gear.
On the day I was accompanied by Angling Times features editor Richard Grange, a colossus of a man not noted for his deftness of touch. As he said: “Right, mate, give us a go with that rod,” I had visions of splintered carbon shards in his shovel-like hands and a ‘sorry but’ email to Tri-Cast’s Steve Hopkinson.
But as I sheltered from the monsoon under the rear door of my car I watched in awe as Sid
(for so he is known by his colleagues) slid the net under half-a-dozen great big carp in double-quick time.
The little rod bent almost double, and in keeping with his almost Vicious (see what I did there?) style there was no messing about from the old boy.
As the sixth fish was deposited in the keepnet, a sodden Sid turned to me and said: “Well, that’s a bit special isn’t it?” That seemed to sum up the rod’s performance brilliantly.
Angling Times says:
This super little rod is aimed squarely at the commercial match angler. It’s very well thought out, brilliantly built, and furnished with top-end fittings all round.
But where the Trilogy F1 really scores for me is in its flexibility – you can fish pellets in summer and switch to autumn/winter wag and mag tactics with equal success.
Ideal for use with reel lines from 3lb-6lb and hooklengths down to 0.11mm, this little beauty is bound to be gracing the holdalls of many anglers who appreciate pure class.
SHORT feeder rods are still very much in vogue on commercial fisheries and the 10ft 6ins version of the new Maver Diamond Feeder rods are no exception.
BUY NOW from £179.99 from Chapmans Angling
Super-accurate on the cast, they can be tucked down the side of a platform out of the wind, and are that bit easier all round to handle when elbow room is at a premium.
Provided you’re not faced with a seriously long chuck, rods like this will cast far enough to put you on the fish on most commercials. And, needless to say, they are ideal for Method tactics in the margins where really big fish are about.
Maver’s latest Diamond Feeder 10ft 6ins rod, in two sections, is the perfect length for most commercial feeder and straight lead tactics.
It’s one of four in the range, all boasting high-modulus carbon, cork handle with EVA casting and thumb grips, low-profile lined ceramic guides and the ever-handy folding keeper ring. You also get three graded carbon quivertips.
Unlike a number of other shorter rods that I have tested, Maver’s 10ft 6ins Diamond Feeder has the casting clout to propel a 30g flatbed Method feeder a decent distance with a fair degree of accuracy. I proved this during a live test at Decoy’s mixed-stock Horseshoe Lake… and before any of you familiar with this venue clamour that this lake hasn’t got a long cast on it, I also spent some time casting different weights and distances on the much larger Beastie Lake.
My findings weren’t all that different from Maver’s recommendations, but in my opinion the blank’s limits are being pushed with anything over 60g (2oz) chucked 60 yards.
To be honest, that’s more than enough power and distance for most day-ticket fisheries. A huge plus point is the rod’s non-locking, progressive action with no flat spots.
As you can see from the picture, it tightens up really quickly from a third of the way down the top section, putting you in command when a fish is at the net.
Despite this the rod is not overly stiff, and you’d need to be really clumsy to suffer many hook-pulls. As Dame Shirley Bassey sang, ‘Diamonds are forever’…and sure enough, this rod’s a keeper!
The delightful jet black Diamond Feeder gets a huge thumbs-up from me. It’s everything you could wish for. It’ll cast a fair distance when you need to, it’s super-accurate at short range, and it can be used with a wide choice of weights for tactical flexibility. At just 181g it’s very light, and its progressive action combines controlled pulling power with enough softness to make it suitable for reel lines from 4lb to 8lb, with hooklengths down to 0.12mm.
To the best of my knowledge these new Shakespeare Cypry rods are the first from Shakespeare to be aimed specifically at carp anglers. Priced to appeal to the novice, junior or ‘just about managing’ carp fan, the line-up of 10 rods includes three-piece and telescopic models – popular on the Continent, less so over here.
BUY NOW from £32.99 at Amazon.co.uk
It’s the three 12ft two-piece rods with test curves of 2.5lb, 2.75lb and 3lb, as well as the beefier 13ft 3.5lb and 10ft 3lb rods (for work at close quarters) that will be of most interest to UK carpers.
The full carbon, two-piece blanks all feature an abbreviated handle with EVA thumb and casting grips, reliable screw-down reel seat, and a set of six hard-wearing ceramic-lined guides.
As I have said many times before, I hate using a carp rod that feels like a reincarnated telegraph pole. One of the best aspects of carp fishing is feeling the fight of the fish. If you stifle that fun by using a poker-stiff rod, you take away much of the motivation for going carping in the first place!
Now, I know there’s a time and a place for beefy carp rods. If you need to chuck a heavy lead a very long way you need something with the power to do the job.
But frankly, most carp anglers don’t demand such extreme performance. Many of them fish relatively small lakes where a 100-yard cast would land the rig in the trees on the far bank, in someone else’s swim, or even in a completely different pool.
Consider this too – an increasing number of pleasure anglers use a carp rod as a second ‘sleeper’ set-up, sitting it on a bite alarm beside them while they fish a pole or feeder. The aim is to produce one or two bonus big fish during the day, and the chances of that happening are greatly improved if the rod in question can chuck a baited hook a manageable distance where loosefeed can be accurately placed in the same area.
So, when putting Shakespeare’s budget-priced Cypry 12ft 3lb test curve carp rod through its paces, I knew I’d taken hold of a bit of kit that should prove hugely popular with a large number of anglers.
For the great majority of venues, this rod will cover every eventuality. Its workmanlike action will handle reel lines from 10lb to 15lb, and cast large Method feeders and solid PVA bags. In the hand it’s reasonably light and comfy, and it gets a big tick for its surprisingly responsive tip, which generates considerable casting clout when needed.
Plenty of transmission makes it a joy to play fish on – you can really feel every twist and turn of a hooked carp. The progressive action firms up quickly around the mid-section, providing enough backbone to steer fish away from snags and safely into your net.
During the live test at the quite superb day-ticket Willowbrook carp lake in Northamptonshire I used a variety of tactics to land fish approaching 20lb – small PVA bags, Method feeders and even surface controllers were well within the rod’s capabilities.
I got to thinking that it wasn’t all that long ago when I’d have expected a rod with this one’s build quality and all-round performance to set me back at least £100. At less than a third of that, the Cypry is an out-and-out steal.
Shakespeare’s Cypry range is ideal for anyone wanting to get into this addictive branch of fishing. It offers the would-be Terry Hearns lots of tactical scope, with enough power to handle Method feeders and solid bags.
A progressive action enables L-plate carpers to hit distant marks if and when required, but at the same time they needn’t worry that fish will break the line or pull the hook out at the net.
The Full Range
Black Arrow 800 Feeder
11ft medium – £179.99
12ft medium – £189.99
13ft medium – £199.99
13ft medium/heavy – £209.99
14ft heavy – £229.99
14ft super heavy – £249.99
Black Arrow 500 Feeder
9ft medium – £129.99
10ft medium – £139.99
11ft medium – £149.99
12ft medium – £159.99
13ft medium – £169.99
Black Arrow 300 Feeder
9ft medium – £59.99
10ft medium – £69.99
11ft medium – £79.99
12ft medium – £89.99
Feeder fishing has seen a massive upsurge in popularity, and nowadays the well-prepared match angler has a rod in his holdall that suits every eventuality.
Much of the fervour associated with all things feeder fishing is down to our friends from the Netherlands, who have made the tactic an art form.
Little wonder, then, that one of the largest Continental tackle and bait companies, Sensas, has brought out what looks to be the most comprehensive range of feeder rods yet under the name Black Arrow.
There are 15 rods in all, in three price bands – the 800, 500 and 300 series. The rods are built from Nano-Flex carbon and all blanks are furnished with quality ceramic-lined guides and supplied with three push-in quivertips, graded to suit the various test curves.
Sensas has achieved the perfect combination of power for casting with softness at the fish-playing stage, and running the gamut of slender 9ft light feeder models through to hefty 14ft super rods for long-range chucks on big lakes and rivers, there’s something for everyone.
- Casting weight: 15g-80g
- Line rating: 4lb - 8lb
- Length: 11ft (two equal sections)
- Guides: Low profile, ceramic-lined
- Handle: Cork hand & EVA
- Action: Powerful but progressive
Preston Innovations says its new Monster Commercial Carp rods are purpose-built to cope with the ever-increasing size of carp on many modern match waters.
BUY NOW for £94.99 at Amazon.co.uk
Big guns Des Shipp and Tommy Pickering have had an input into the design of all four, which don’t sacrifice any of their progressive fish-playing action despite being strong as Shire horses on steroids.
All rods are sensibly priced at under £100. There are 10ft and 11ft (on test) Carp Feeder models that come with graded push-in carbon quivertips of 1oz, 1.5oz and 2oz.
There’s also a dedicated 12ft Method Feeder rod, as well as what looks and feels to be a very handsome 11ft Pellet Waggler.
All four boast super-slim butt sections, cork and EVA thumb grip handles, secure screw-down reel fittings and quality low-profile ceramic-lined guides.
A useful keeper ring adds a nice finishing touch. Equal length two-piece blanks in all cases are easy to transport to your peg ready made-up.
The 11ft Carp Feeder, my Monster rod of choice for live test duty, is a tactically flexible feeder and straight lead tool. With an 80g (2.8oz) maximum casting weight, and rated to lines between 4lb and 8lb, it’s perfect for commercial fisheries where the carp have not signed up for Weight Watchers.
To prove its mettle, I needed to get the rod on to a water where bites come readily to a variety
of tactics, and few fit the bill better than the picture postcard day-ticket Lakeside Fishery near Towcester, Northants.
A swim opposite a small island gave me the option of a cast toward either corner or a long chuck out into open water to test the rod’s casting potential.
Setting up with Preston’s latest Inter-change feeder system allowed me to swap between different weights of Method and Banjo feeders, and with a straight lead line in the margins I pretty much had most of the tactics you would use with this rod covered.
Starting live test proceedings with a modest 15g flatbed Method cast tight to the island margin, I can report that at distances of up to 25 yards it casts sniper-straight, and that once you have clipped up, consistently hitting the target at anything up to 50 yards shouldn’t prove a problem.
This proved to be the case with feeders up to about 48g, after which the rod began to show its limitations. However, towards the end of the session I was still chucking a 30g Banjo 65-plus yards which, on most commercials, is like hitting a six out of the ground at Trent Bridge!
What the Monster does have going for it is a superb action, which has obviously come in for some serious scrutiny and field testing from the Preston Innovations team. Sweet as nut, and more fun than a day at the fair, it’s little short of commercial carp heaven.
It bends exactly how, when and where it should, with enough backbone to heave a reluctant lump over the net when you’re fed up with chasing it around the peg.
The latest Monster Commercial rods from Preston Innovations look, feel and fish just right. They are nailed on to become among the most popular commercial rod ranges on the market this summer, and are available at a price that won’t make anglers jump out of their skin.
Drennan Specialist Tench and Bream Rods Mk2. The pursuit of tench is the ultimate angling idyll. Imagine an early morning walk to the lake through dew-heavy meadows painted with golden shafts of sunlight.
Your every step is softly placed, lest the grass underfoot snaps with thunderous disapproval.
The dawn chorus quietens for a moment, then strikes up again – if the birds don’t know you’re here, no-one does.
The lake’s lily beds, bedecked with white and red flowers, are in stark contrast to the peat-stained water. Their stems twitch and bob, revealing tell-tale signs of fish movement below...
Romantic as such images may be, the fact is that modern-day tench fishing (especially for specimen-sized fish) is more than likely to be on a large open-water gravel pit. Such a place was where lifelong tench angler Peter Drennan developed so many of the tackle items and accessories that we all take for granted today.
Yes, the enigma of tench fishing has been the mother of tackle invention and innovation for many years.
All this brings me nicely to these two new MkII Specialist Tench and Bream rods from the thoroughbred Drennan stable. The original models were built for the discerning big-fish angler way back in 2009. These new 12ft, two-piece versions come with 1.75lb and 2lb test curves, and are easy to carry ready made-up.
They boast high modulus carbon build, quality SiC guides, original Fuji DPS reel seats (which can be used with all but the very largest reels) and a stylish anti-flash matt green paint finish.
But other than sharing furnishings and fittings, these two rods are as different as Chavs from chaffinches, as I soon found when live testing them on a free-to-fish public gravel pit in the middle of a Peterborough housing estate.
On a wild, windy and cold May afternoon, the Method feeder was my only option. I had originally harboured notions of using the lighter of the two rods with a big sliding float, just as I fished Gloucestershire’s tench-prolific South Cerney pits back in the day.
However, the hoolie blowing straight down the lake put paid to that trip down memory lane.
So, with the rods set on alarms, it was time to start. My set-ups involved 2oz and 3oz E-S-P flatbed feeders, both with fake corn hookbaits. The lighter 1¾lb model coped well enough with 2oz of casting weight, but that’s pretty much the limit of its chucking abilities, in my opinion.
It’s quite soft-actioned for its test curve, and the guide spacings lend themselves better to lighter feeder and float set-ups than to hurling feeders to the horizon.
It does, though, have a delightful lightness, tactile quality and response, making it ideal for specimen tench or bream, and perfect for the old-school tench angler looking for a super reliable all-round rod.
The 2lb Specialist Distance Tench and Bream model is an altogether more savage beast. Designed for long-range casting, it copes easily with 3oz of lead, and has enough stiffness in its butt section and a high enough weight loading point to blast out a feeder a very long way.
Furnished with larger and fewer SiC guides, this is a very modern tench rod for tackling the largest gravel pits. Both models have similar progressive fish-playing actions although, as you might expect, the Distance rod doesn’t have the same softness or tactile feel. However, having said that the rod is certainly going to provide an altogether much better fish-catching experience for the avid specimen tench and bream angler than they would get from using a distance-casting carp rod.
Angling Times says:
Drennan has clearly thought long and hard about both these rods. The fact that they are basically dressed the same as the originals says much about the popularity of the concept. However, these are specialist rods aimed at the modern specimen angler.
Take your pick between an old school progressive action, with lots of feel and an all-round remit, or a superbly well-built distance casting rod capable of hitting long ranges using heavy leads, and therefore ideal for large expanses of open or weedy water – especially when targeting really big tench.
Frenzee's latest 10ft 6ins Pro FXT Match+ rod, at £78.50, is easily one of the best I’ve used in this modest price bracket.
The two-piece carbon composite blank isn’t made for casting heavy pellet or splasher wagglers to the horizon on big open waters, but it chucks their smaller relatives out very proficiently. What’s more, it’s lightweight and comfy in the hand, something hugely important in a pellet waggler rod. Otherwise, constant casting, along with regular feeding via a catapult, can quickly become an irksome chore rather than the fun pursuit it should be.
The need to feed while holding the rod is a vital element of pellet waggler fishing, and proved a very necessary skill when I was live testing the Frenzee rod on Decoy’s fish-packed Beastie Lake. At 5ft-6ft deep, Beastie is an ideal pellet waggler venue. Sadly, though, it’s often plagued by an annoying side wind sweeping down the lake, making presentation a bit of a mare.
Once the float hits the water, it’s almost instantly dragged out of position by the wind – and carp, no matter how hungry or daft they may be, aren’t going to chase sideways-moving pellets with a life of their own. I started the day by fishing a 6g straight crystal waggler at mid-depth (around 3ft) with a hair-rigged 6mm banded pellet.
The wind was behaving true to type, and although I did foul-hook a few fish which shot off like finned cannonballs, every one of them parted company with me. They did, though, make me appreciate how much power this rod has in reserve, and that’s despite its pleasing through action – you can feel the blank bending all the way through to the handle.
With a few fish swirling on the feed pellets as soon as they hit the water, a change to a shorter, dumpier float, and a reduction in depth to just 12ins, was called for. I could only get bites on the drop, which meant casting and feeding every 15 seconds. Not only did the rod never leave my hands, but I needed lightning-fast strike reactions to zip line from the surface in the blink of an eye. Only then did I connect with the bites.
Neither constraint proved much of a problem for the FXT Match+, which was indeed a comfy rod to hold and quick to pick up line on the strike. But it’s not much use having the right rod if your reel’s not up to the job. This is where Frenzee’s new FMR MK2 3000 comes in. Used with its single handle option, it’s the perfect pellet waggler partner for the FXT.
Its large but lightweight Airlight bail-arm flicked open and closed every cast, and the clutch was soon fizzing as Beastie Lake’s strain of lean, fit carp made spirited runs and fought like fish three times their size. The reel’s double handle is more of an advantage when feeder fishing, helping to balance the reel when setting the quivertip.
This is an ideal pellet waggler rod for most commercial carp fisheries. Its through action is capable of safely handling the largest fish without worrying about hook-pulls or snapped lines. It will also cast wagglers up to 15g without a problem, and can be matched with hooklengths as fine as 0.14mm. All in all, for the price it’s one of the nicest pellet waggler rods currently out there.
- Weight: 325g
- Line Rating: 8lb - 15lb
- Eight ceramic line guides
- Full cork handles
- Heavy parabolic action
- Matt black finish
Now here’s something a little bit different from Korum, a new range of Carp Float rods in 12ft and 13ft lengths.
With 1.5lb and 1.75lb test curves, what’s so unusual about that, you may ask? Well, they are intended to put the fun and pleasure back into carp fishing, by enabling anglers to use stealthy float tactics rather than today’s more usual straight lead or Method feeder approaches.
The K-Flex carbon blanks have a powerful parabolic action that kicks in steadily as pressure is applied, and both rods will handle big carp with aplomb. Other key features include matt black livery, full cork handles, and rugged nylon reel seats with black metal hoods. You also get eight light, double-legged ceramic-lined guides.
The downside is that such a powerful progressive action reduces casting capabilities a tad, so if you’re harbouring notions of using one to plonk a 4AA waggler 30 yards out, forget it. They will indeed reach such distances, and more besides, but only when partnered with heavier floats from 20g upwards.
That’s not a negative in my book, as I reckon their longer lengths and superb action make these ideal stalking rods – the extra reach can be used to delicately present a baited hook close to marginal reeds or snags.
I can already hear mutterings that most stalking rods are short 7ft to 9ft affairs for dropping leads and PVA bags into holes in weed. But find a reed-fringed lake, get your chest waders on and put a few free offerings into likely looking spots. Chances are you’ll find a few fish feeding, and now you can silently drop a bait right on top of their noses, with instant and explosive results.
The reed-fringed waters of Willowbrook Lake in Northants play host to plenty of decent-sized fish that like to roam around the margins looking for spilled feed. So on a quiet Monday morning, armed with little more than a landing net and a boxful of corn, I wandered around the fishery with the 13ft Korum Carp Float rod.
Twitching lily stems revealed something moving down below, so I scattered a few grains of corn over the area and lowered in a small straight waggler shotted with three No8s spread down the line. Instantly my double corn hookbait was snaffled, and in a torrent of spray and boils the fish bolted off, leaving a wake worthy of any torpedo.
This is the moment when any carp rod worth its salt steps up to the mark. Tightening down on the reel’s clutch and holding the rod on the horizontal plane, I applied side strain that slowly but surely brought the fish to a halt.
The rod’s heavy parabolic action had more than done its job in tiring the carp, yet at the net it had enough flexibility in the tip to absorb my quarry’s last-minute lunges without risk of a hook-pull or a parting of the line.
Price | 13ft £44.99 | 12ft £42.99 |
Angling Times verdict
What a great rod from Korum this is! It’s loads of fun to use, with exactly the right blend of fish-playing power and finesse, and perfect for margin fishing when really big fish are on the cards. Its two-piece build means it can be easily carried to the bank ready made up, and is therefore ideal for a short evening stalking session with a float in the margins.
Toreon Nano Composite construction
2K-1K high modulus woven carbonfibre blank
Crisp progressive action
Carbon Armour blank finish
Fuji DPS-18 reel seat
Full Japanese shrink wrap handle
The Prodigy Apex is the latest addition to Greys’ best-selling Prodigy range of rods, which over the years have gained a well-earned reputation for incredible performance at an affordable price.
The Apex rods start at £169.99 RRP for the 10ft 3lb model, going up to £200 for the 12ft and 13ft 3.5lb rods. These prices put the rods into the mid-range bracket where you expect that little bit extra for your money as opposed to entry-level rods in the £50-£100 price range.
Greys had sent the 12ft 3.25lb model for us to take out and nowadays this test curve would be classed as a good all-rounder. If you’re only planning on investing in one set of carp rods these will cover most jobs. Although they may be a little overgunned for fishing close in, they’ll still do the job, but they can easily chuck a large lead or PVA bag a decent distance that a rod with a lighter test curve would struggle to match.
We made the short journey to Northamptonshire’s Willowbrook Lake and straight away found a few carp making the most of the early spring sunshine in a shallow bay at the top of the lake. A clump of reeds knocking no more than a couple of rodlengths to the right of the swim revealed fish location after throwing in a handful of corn and broken boilies a rig was flicked towards the spot and the rod placed on the ground.
A few minutes later, the tip hooped round and I was bent into a carp. The rod’s smooth, progressive action easily cushioned the powerful lunges of the fish as it did its best to find sanctuary in the reeds. Ultimately the carp was no match for the power and control of the rod and it was soon sat in the net. The Prodigy Apex has benefitted from the use of Toreon Nano composite material technology. This not only makes the blank incredibly slim and lightweight but also gives it increased strength and finesse. The rod action has been specifically designed to get the best out of modern, powerful, overhead casting styles and the Toreon technology promotes a super-fast tip recovery speed. This gives the rod a crisp and responsive feel normally associated with ultra-high end carp rods.
The sublime woven carbon finish is 2K on the butt and 1K on the tip and features a durable Carbon Armour blank finish. Other features include a Fuji DPS-18 reel seat, stealth black anodised collars, a slim, shrink-wrapped handle and balanced stainless butt cap. If you’re looking at making the step up from entry-level blanks, then the Prodigy Apex rods are worth serious consideration.
Not only do they perform great but aesthetically they look the part too. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had a price tag of over £200, so for £179.99 they are excellent value. Having used the 3.25lb model I can confirm that it is a real jack of all trades and will handle everything from catching carp close in beneath overhanging trees, to blasting out rigs to 100 metres.