Drennan Red Range Carp Feeder/Carp Waggler rod and Method Feeder/Pellet Waggler rod

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)

Matrix Horizon 10ft Carp Feeder rod Review

Matrix says its new Horizon Carp Feeder rods were developed to cope with the ballooning size of carp in modern match waters.

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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.

Our Verdict: 

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. 

Price: £139


Sonik Vader X carp rods

tech spec

  • Slim, lightweight matt black carbon fibre blank with progressive casting action
  • Double leg black SiC guides and anti-frap tip ring
  • 50mm butt guide on all 3lb tc models and above
  • Fold-friendly ringing patter
  • 17mm black DPS reel seat to house the largest of big pit reels
  • Line-friendly custom contoured Sonik line clip 
  • Slim Japanese shrink-wrapped butt grip
  • Black anodised butt cap, laser etched with Sonik’s ‘S’ logo   

It's said that you only ever get what you pay for, and 99 per cent of the time this is true – especially with fishing equipment. 

But occasionally something goes against that old adage by offering true value for money, matched by a performance to enthuse over. 

Take Sonik’s excellent and affordable Vader X carp rods. They start at just £64.99. For that small sum you might expect a budget composite material with an action either poker-stiff or more wobbly than jelly on a plate. Not a bit of it! 

The bang you get for your buck is a slim, light, carbon fibre rod, tastefully dressed with high-gloss black whippings over a non-flash gunmetal grey blank. Double-legged black SiC lined guides are fitted throughout, starting with a 50mm butt ring and ending with an anti-frap tip ring. There’s also a dependable 17mm black DPS reel seat to take big pit reels.

Subtle white graphics, a slim Japanese shrink-wrapped butt grip and a custom contoured Sonik line clip all add up to a rod that wouldn’t look out of place on carp venues of the utmost cultishness!

The 12ft, 3.25lb test curve model on live test duty can be used for everything from Method feeder to solid PVA bag work. Other rods in the Vader X range include 12ft (2.75lb and 3.5lb), 13ft (3.5lb) and a rather handy 4.5lb test curve hybrid Spod and Marker rod.   

Although pitched by Sonik as a medium-to-long-cast tool, the 3.25lb tc model can be used for close-range and margin work too. 

During the live test it easily chucked a 4oz lead more than 75 yards. This is quite a pokey blank, but unlike many of today’s ‘value for money’ carp rods this one retains sufficient cushioning in its progressive action to absorb the lunges from big lumps without risking hook-pulls. Use it with Method feeders, PVA sticks, solid bags, or straight leads up to 4.5oz.

Price: £74.99

Verdict: Sonik Vader X carp rods are very decent medium to long-range big-fish tools. Ideal for the novice carp angler, they are well built and nicely furnished, with an action perfect for pits and lakes where distance casting is paramount.

Preston supera 10ft Pellet Wag Review

Preston Innovations bills its Carbonactive Supera range as the ultimate all-round rod collection.  

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The eye-catching ensemble, in a jet black gloss finish, features short 9ft and 10ft feeder rods – the 10-footer stepping up for live test duty – as well as 11ft 6ins and 12ft 6ins models. An 11ft pellet waggler rod completes the set. 

And if you think that little lot favours feeder over float, remember that these days feeder rods outsell their floatfishing counterparts by at least six to one.

My initial thoughts were the four feeder rods shared a softly progressive, through action. 

Soft blanks cushion against hook-pulls when targeting skimmers and bream, or chub and roach with small hooks and light hooklengths. 

Followers of my Live Test slot might point out that I seem to be stuck in a bit of a rut right now, reviewing so many short feeder rods. In my defence, these are extremely popular for winter commercial tactics, offering pinpoint casting accuracy and an action perfect for dealing with F1s, stockie carp and the odd lump.

All this brings me nicely on to the live test venue – Stretton Lakes, just off the A1 halfway between Peterborough and Grantham. This peaceful and well-kept fishery has four day-ticket lakes that are more popular with pleasure anglers than matchmen. 

The rectangular carp lake holds fish of all sizes, every one of them scale, fin and mouth-perfect. 

These commons and mirrors show a definite taste for baits presented on a Method feeder cast to within half a rodlength of one of two small islands. This tactic tests a rod’s casting attributes. 

In the 10ft Supera Feeder’s case they are just what you’d expect from a top-end Preston Carbonactive model – arrow straight. This rod will cope with up to a 30g loading, and its effective casting distance tops out at 35m-40m. Much past that and you’ll find your feeder or lead wandering off line. 

However, any lack of distance-casting prowess is made up for by a seamless, non-locking action. This takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s something rather special. 

The rod has a pleasing sense of transmission and ‘feel’ when dealing with your fishy quarry. 

A new style of handle, with an enhanced EVA grip block on its end, provides a firm, non-slip grip, but that may well prove a Marmite moment for some. 

To that you can add three graded, colour-coded push-in quivertips which all blend seamlessly into the carrier section without any flat spots, and top-end low profile lined guides throughout. 

Price: £170.99

Verdict: 

The new top-of-the-range Preston Supera 10ft Feeder rod is ideal for short-range commercial tactics, especially in swims just beyond a pole line. Build quality and furnishings are undeniably good. Casting flatbed Method feeders up to 30g with precision and accuracy is where it really scores, and its soft fish-playing action can see you land soft-mouthed fish that in winter can make all the difference between winning matches and becoming pools-fodder. 


Tri-cast trilogy 13ft feeder review

The latest Tri-Cast Trilogy Long Range Feeder rods target those who fish big open waters for bream and skimmers and cast heavy feeders a long, long way. 

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There are three versions – Medium (12ft), Long (13ft) and Extreme (14ft). As you’d expect from a company that designs and builds carbon rods right here in the UK, Tri-Cast has again pushed the boat out, with quality materials and the best possible furnishings. Add to this high modulus and high tonnage carbon cloths and we are talking rods that are close to perfect. 

All three models have stiff butt and lower sections to help power out big feeders and pick up line at distance. At the same time, the softer tip sections make for easy bite detection and the confident playing of fish. These rods can handle small hooks and reasonably light hooklengths – you are unlikely to pull out of soft-mouthed bream and skimmers. 

Tri-Cast kindly sent me all three of these new rods for live testing. The 14ft Trilogy Long Range Extreme, I reckon, would be ideal on very deep, wide European canals where you need to chuck to the horizon.

That left me a choice of the 12ft Medium or 13ft Long rods, and as I wanted to test their distance-casting properties I opted for the 13ft model. 

I was somewhat strapped for a suitable venue, with most local rivers and lakes being out of sorts, but Decoy’s ever-reliable Beastie Lake holds shedloads of skimmers and F1s. If I cast up the lake, either side of the island, I was sure to get more than a decent feel for the way the Long rod would perform. 

Out went a 20g Drennan maggot feeder into open water 50m-55m away to my right. The 13ft Trilogy is supposed to be able to handle a 120g (4.2oz) casting weight, a tad optimistic perhaps, but 20g was on the light side to get the best from it. Anything around 3oz, though, and the blank’s old-school fast taper construction kicks in.

Be in no doubt, properly loaded the blank will help you to fairly sizzle out a feeder or straight lead past the 100m mark. 

When you play a fish the stout backbone and a softish top section free of flat spots makes the rod seen quite tippy in the hand. But take it from me, it copes beautifully with the headshakes that big bream are so prone to. 

All three rods come with 1oz, 1.5oz and 2oz push-in carbon quivertips, enlarged diameter guides that can be safely used with shockleaders and braid, and new winch reel seats that will withstand intense casting pressure and remain rock steady. 

Price: £249.99


Verdict

With an upsurge in the popularity of feeder fishing (we can thank the England Feeder team and the exciting FeederMasters series for that), the demand for top-class distance-casting rods has never been greater. 

Sadly, for those on tight budgets, the carbon content and high design specifications of rods that measure up to the job mean they don’t come cheap!

That said, the Tri-Cast Trilogy, although quite expensive, is not stupidly priced, yet it’s up there with the very best. 

The blank’s old school fast taper design results in an impressive amount of casting grunt, nicely balanced by just the right amount of cushioning that ensures hooked bream stay hooked!

Rage Prism 5-21g 210cm Dropshot Rod Review

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Fancy keeping fit and healthy while you fish? Then have a wander round your local canal, lake or river with a light lure outfit – it’s better than the gym and a good deal less sweaty. 

Pack rod, reel, landing net and a few lures and you’re ready to go. If you’re an urban angler it’s a given that there’ll be some free fishing close to your doorstep.

Listen up, then, while I tell of a recent drop shotting session I had while running the rule over a rod, reel and lure combo from Fox Rage’s latest Prism range. Lincoln seemed the ideal destination, riddled as it is with small waterways including the upper River Witham, the Fossdyke Canal and Brayford Pool. 

All hold huge shoals of small silver fish, not surprisingly preyed upon by pike and perch. 

The day got off to a very slow start on the normally pike-prolific Brayford Pool, which lends itself well to a jigging approach. Even the latest Rage Fish Snax Dropshot Fry lures, with their colourful multi-fibre tails and a provocative ‘eat me’ wiggle, failed to bring a take as I worked them across this large expanse of water. 

On, then, to the Fossdyke Canal, usually nailed on for a few ‘wasp’ perch at least. By now I’d changed to a drop shot set-up, using a small-bodied Rage Fly multi-fibre tail lure that can be made to dance and jiggle in a most enticing manner. I twitched this for a good hour, but the perch had clearly done one. 

Then, right before my very eyes, surfaced the reason for this fish famine – a fully grown dog otter with a head the size of a cocker spaniel and jaws to rival those of a shark. He and his missus, completely unfazed by the hordes of onlookers, worked their way back down the Fossdyke and into Brayford pool, feasting on hapless perch as they went. 

I don’t blame the otters – they are only doing what comes naturally. Problem is, the fish are Lincolnshire born and bred, but these otters are not!

Despite the lack of fish during the live test, I can happily report that the pencil-thin, 210cm 5-21g two-sectioned Rage Prism Dropshot Rod is light in the hand, with plenty of ‘feel’, and will whip out the lightest of lures without a problem. The classy understated white whipping on the two top guides impressed me no end, although you normally feel the pluck of a bite (especially when using braid) well before you see the tip move. 

The tip section has just the right blend of stiffness and cushioning to drive a small hook home, neither too pokey nor too flimsy – many other modern drop shot rods can’t do this but still seem to satisfy the tackle tarts who think slimmest is always best.

Price: £79.99     

The Verdict

Exceptionally light and comfortable in the hand, the 210cm (6ft 10ins) Rage Prism makes an ideal small-water roving rod. There are also 240cm 5-21g and 270cm 7-28g versions. 

The one on test had a fast, crisp casting action yet retained plenty of sensitivity where it was needed. The high modulus carbon blank has a softly parabolic fish-playing curvature, perfect for smaller perch and zander, although there’s enough mid-section backbone to cope with the odd larger fish too.


Daiwa Yank n Bank 9ft Mini Method Rod Review

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Yank n Bank is a brand you might well associate with out-and-out hauling power – the name says it all, really. 

Yet the latest rods of this ilk to be released by Daiwa are not all in the bruising doorman class. 

There are four Match/Float rods, three of which (10ft, 11ft and 12ft) are Pellet Waggler models. The other is a lightweight three-piece 13ft rod aimed at the silver fish angler. 

Six Feeder models include 9ft and 10ft Mini Method rods, and of the two 11ft Method Feeder rods, one is a Power model to tame feisty commercial carp.

They are all light in the hand, with a rapid line-pick-up and a crisp, progressive action. 

From comments made to me at a recent trade show, Daiwa is expecting great things from these latest incarnations of its famed Yank n Bank rod range. 

Sure enough, all 10 rods are a significant improvement on their predecessors (which were themselves no slouches). Certainly the finish is far better than that on all previous Yank n Bank models.

Live testing a rod, no matter how good it may be, always tends to be a hit-and-miss affair in winter – after all, the fish are shoaled up tightly, and can be somewhat reluctant to have a munch. 

However, if you can find them you’re always in with a chance, and it was with knowledge gleaned from recent Decoy winter leagues that I knew a few fish could probably be found out in the middle of the Elm strip lake.

That suited me, as I had wanted to get a much closer look at Daiwa’s latest 9ft Yank n Bank Mini Method Feeder rod since first clapping eyes on one. It struck me at the time that it could be the perfect tool for fishing at 18m-25m, just beyond pole range, and be very well suited to taming the odd bigger fish – Decoy has its fair share of these Gruffaloes. 

However, there’s a huge selection of short feeder rods out there now, so what would make this 9ft Yank n Bank offering stand out from the crowd?

For starters, the asking price of just £89.99 is pretty impressive, and you’ll be able to get it even cheaper if you shop around. 

Technically it’s extremely well built from high-grade carbon cloth, with a one-tonne carbon weave along its classy gloss black butt section. 

This combination not only helps to firm up casting distance and accuracy, but ups the weight it can comfortably handle and provides added steel through the backbone for extra fish-playing control. 

The geeky stuff does not end there – the blank’s carrier/tip section boasts a low-glare tape finish. This, although completely at odds with its shiny butt section, imparts a light feel matched with a crisper line pick-up and post-cast tip recovery .

To all that you can add quality furnishings such as stainless steel guide frames with lightweight lined guides, aluminium hooded screw-down reel seat, woven carbon butt frame with rubber cap, ready rod carry case, and a keeper ring as a nice final touch.

On the bank, all this carbon alchemy morphs into a pleasingly lightweight tool which is more than capable of casting 30g with little sign of strain.

Casting performance is further enhanced by its high weight loading point – this enables it to achieve pinpoint casting accuracy, ideal for tricky short distance casts to just past the pole-line. 

Obviously it is hugely important to keep your feed pattern tight, and the short 9ft rod is perfect for this, enabling you to keep the bites coming once the fish have been located.  

The Yank n Bank’s three graded 1.5oz, 2oz and 3oz push-in carbon quivertips are all well matched to Method feeder use (as it name suggests), although the supplied lightest quivertip is just about soft enough to be used in conjunction with a half-ounce bomb.

Personally I prefer the heaviest, stiffest tip for Method fishing, as that way the fish hook themselves.

The fish-playing action is rapidly progressive, with most of its curvature spread across the top couple of feet, very much in keeping with all modern style short rods. 

The seeming lack of playing action should not be taken as a criticism, though, as there’s still enough bend in the rod to absorb the lunges of the heaviest fish, with enough cushioning effect not to drop smaller fish. 

However, the purist F1 fanatic may find the rod a tad overgunned for hook sizes above an 18, and hooklengths under 0.12mm.

Price: £89.99

VERDICT

If you're in the market for a quality Method feeder rod for use on smaller lakes, or casting just beyond pole range for decent-sized fish, the new 9ft Daiwa Yank n Bank Mini Method is the ideal tool. Surprisingly steely, it will handle the largest commercial carp while retaining just enough softness to make it usable with lighter set-ups for smaller fish.

Free Spirit Hi S Carp Feeder fishing rod

If fishing rods came with a pedigree, Free Spirit’s new Hi S Match rods would be pinnacles of the tackle trade aristocracy. 

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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. 

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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. 

Mark Sawyer

PAY AROUND
£280 (abbreviated handle)
£300 (full cork handle)

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