Tri-Cast’s rod-building reputation is built upon two core values – power and strength.
So when the Lancashire company’s new 8ft Excellence Wand dropped on to the Angling Times tackle desk, more than a few eyebrows were raised.
The word ‘wand’ conjures up images of flicking a little maggot feeder down the edge of a river to catch a quality roach or a big perch – not, as Tri-Cast bills its new arrival, a rod for banging out hefty carp and F1s from a modern UK commercial fishery.
Could the Excellence lay claim to both finesse and power without compromising both? I’m happy to report that a thorough going over at the remarkable Decoy Lakes fishery, near Peterborough, confirmed that appearances can be highly deceptive.
Before getting on to the fishing, though, let’s look at the history of the Excellence Wand and how it came to be. The initial idea was for Tri-Cast to work with multiple Matchman of the Year Andy Bennett to create a short, light bomb rod for winter fishing when the fish don’t pull that hard. It ticked all the boxes, and at that point both parties thought beyond the January and February chill.
Could the Excellence deal with high summer, when fish go like the clappers?
There’s a gap in the market for a short tip rod that can let you chuck a bomb on top of your long pole line or down the margins when the wind makes fishing the pole impossible... and that’s what got Tri-Cast and Andy interested.
A few tests in search of big summer carp soon proved that the rod could indeed take a hammering and give as good as it gets. At this point the Excellence began to be marketed as the perfect short rod for all seasons.
So, on to Decoy and the Horseshoe Lake’s big carp and F1s. With unseasonal gales to contend with, this looked set to be the ultimate test! Clearly the rod is extremely light in the hand, as a wand should be. The two pieces weigh just 108g and are rated to a 5lb line and a 30g casting weight. You’re not going to throw miles with the Excellence, but that’s not what it was built to do.
Supplied as standard are three carbon push-in quivertips in matt black, as opposed to having a coloured end. I prefer the latter, but thinking about it, a carp bite is savage so you’re not going to be striking at little knocks.
Plopping a 15g Method feeder tight up to the far-bank reeds was easy enough, and despite a stormy cross wind the Excellence had sufficient backbone in the cast to direct the feeder just where I wanted it to go.
Too soft a casting action and you’d not be in control, but that’s not going to happen with this rod. In fact, I’d say a good cast could be achieved if you were to fish a 30g feeder and put plenty of welly into getting it on to the spot.
A bite wasn’t long in coming, and immediately the rod hooped round almost all the way to the handle. That did set an alarm bell ringing. It’s a lovely action to behold, but how the hell would I guide a fish away from all those lily pads dotted around the lake?
The moment of truth came 30 seconds later, when the carp decided enough was enough and ploughed off to inspect the pads. Winding down, I pulled and pulled hard, and the fish stopped stone dead.
It might not look it at first glance, but there’s an acre of power in the bottom half of the rod, and that was even more evident at netting time. The 6lb mirror was bundled in with the minimum of effort.
Several more chunky F1s followed before it was time for a look in the edge.
A bait tub of micro pellets had been chucked in, and the boils and waving tails weren’t far behind. First drop in and the rod ripped round to the bite of a 3lb barbel before the first of a trio of big carp followed suit.
At such short range, a savage bite can bust you if the rod is too stiff, but owing to the beautifully soft action of the Excellence, there’s never any danger.
Our verdict: I’d happily use this rod on the river in winter with light hooklinks, such is its finesse, but the Excellence is built for carp and it puts a lot of its rivals to shame. There’s silk and steel in equal measure right throughout the 8ft of carbon, and if you invest in one, I’d say sit back and enjoy your fishing with this rod because it really is head and shoulders above anything else out there.
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
- 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.
Daiwa has reintroduced its famous Powermesh rods which, back in the day, had a reputation among carp anglers for being cutting edge.
The latest seven-strong collection includes a dedicated 2.75lb test curve barbel rod for float and feeder use. The float rods come in 13ft, 14ft and 15ft lengths and are well suited to heavy waggler and deep-water slider work using reel lines from 3lb-10lb. A crisp action makes them ideal for long-trotting with Avons and big stick floats on fast-flowing rivers for chub and barbel.
The three feeder models (11ft 6ins, 12ft 6ins and 13ft 6ins) all come with quivertips of 1.5oz, 2oz and 3oz test curves, and would seem to be as much at home with open-end feeders for summer tench as they would be tempting winter river chub using maggot and bread feeders.
With casting weights of up to 50g, 70g and 90g, respectively, each rod is built to take lots of stick, reflected in the use of high-grade carbon cloth with a 1k carbon weave along the butt sections for added resilience.
As you’d expect from Daiwa, the classy non-flash matt-black blanks are of the finest quality, with full cork handles, original Fuji DPS reel seats, stainless steel guides with lightweight LS ceramic rings, and hard-wearing aluminium butt caps. All these work together to give the rods a pleasing custom-built aesthetic look.
£107.99 to £125.99
10ft, 3lb test curve £139.99
All others in the range £149.99
Big-carp brand Avid continues to come up with very innovative products, and these four new Curvex rods are bang on the mark, offering the modern carp angler something completely different from the norm.
Teaming an almost ‘old school’ through action with modern materials, these rods – coming in three lengths and four test curves – offer an intense fish-playing experience that allows the angler to feel every shake of the head.
The non-locking action doesn’t sit that well with casting to the horizon – but when you hook a big fish you can battle it with total confidence.
Even so, these two-piece rods have more than enough grunt for all but the largest of open waters.
It’s simply a matter of matching their 10ft, 12ft and 13ft lengths and 2.75lb, 3lb 3.25lb and 3.5lb test curves to your needs.
You can use them with smaller hooks, lighter hooklengths and thinner diameter reel lines without having to worry about hook pulls or painful partings of the way when your quarry makes a last-minute bolt for freedom.
There’s no doubt that finesse pays when the water cools and clears, and for that reason alone the Avid Curvex will appeal to anyone waking up to frost on their bivvy and grass crunching underfoot.
The ‘bend, and then bend some more’ action will also prove useful when big fish need to be played through weedbeds, or reeled in with washing lines of loose weed in tow.
Despite its best efforts you’ll be able to keep a big fish moving in the right direction without fear of breakage.
Other key features include original Fuji reel seats with Japanese shrink-wrapped handles, lightweight SiC guides throughout, anti-frap tip guides to prevent crack-offs, and 50mm enlarged butt guides on the 12ft and 13ft models.
All in all, these rods have the X Factor! It’s ‘four yesses’ from us!
Test curves: Available in 2.75lb, 3lb and 3.5lb test curves. A 4.5lb Spod/Marker dual concept rod is also available
Handles: Full EVA Duplon handles on KNX carp rods, abbreviated shrink grips on KNX Spod/Marker rod
Guides: Exclusive Flexor guides for reduced blank distortion and greater power transmission, 50mm butt rings on 3lb, 3.5lb and 4.5lb Spod/Marker models
12ft 2.75lb £76.99
12ft 3lb £87.99
12ft 3.5lb £98.99
Spod and Marker 12ft 4.5lb £87.99
When carp rods look this good you’d expect two things of them – great performance and a hefty price tag. In the case of the KNX models, Nash has well and truly delivered one of these.
First let’s deal with the all-important looks. The completely non-reflective matt black blanks with matching gloss black decals may at first glance seem a tad dull, but they certainly give the rod an expensive classy look, guaranteed to draw admiring glances wherever you set them up.
When it comes to tasteful fittings and fancy furnishings, these KNX’s are of designer boutique standard. Their modern EVA and Duplon handles offer an easy, comfortable grip for casting and playing fish, and are finished with a laser-etched butt cap, complete with isotope slot.
A sultry black soft-touch rubber reel seat raises comfort to a whole new level – thanks to its clever skeletal design your thumb and forefinger can come into contact with the blank, giving improved ‘feel’ transmission from fish on the end.
Moving up the blank, you’ll find a line clip, then a 50mm butt guide on the 3lb and 3.5lb rods, followed by five more ideally-placed Flexor guides that reduce stress distortion during casting and give a seamless performance when playing a fish. Spigot alignment markings ensure the rod is always set up with the guides lined up straight. So this rod really does seems to be a class act, but what about its performance and price?
Price-wise it’s got to be a steal at £98.99 for the 3.5lb version on live test duty, £87.99 for the 3lb rod, and just £76.99 for the 2.75lb baby of the bunch.
With limited time available, the live test was geared towards what the 12ft, 3.5lb test curve blank is capable of.
I can happily report that it was more than capable of casting 3oz leads teamed with solid PVA bags and mesh sticks. Admittedly it isn’t an out-and-out casting tool, so if you’re thinking ‘unbridled power’ you may be slightly disappointed. The carbon composite blank doesn’t generate uite enough energy from its butt section, and loads the casting weight a little bit further down the tip than a horizon-buster of a rod.
That said, and for the money, Nash KNX rods are perfect for small to medium-sized carp waters where casts of up to 75 yards using solid PVA bag and mesh sticks are needed.
The progressive action makes it far less prone to hook-pulls than the ‘broom handle’ 3.5lb rods of yesteryear, which had no fish-playing action and scant feel. The KNX will handle fish from low doubles upwards, and make it a joy to catch them.
Completing the KNX collection is a Spod/Marker rod with a powerful 4.5lb test curve – so you can have a matching set if you feel like pushing the boat out.
Nash KNX carp rods offer the highest spec available in their modest price bracket. With on-trend looks and custom-built qualities, these multi-talented tools are ideal for venues – and carp – of all sizes.
If you’re just getting serious about your carping, and are looking for a set of good rods that won’t break the bank, I would take a long serious look at these.
Since their introduction a little over nine months ago, Avid’s Traction Carp rods have become the benchmark by which all sub-£100 models are judged.
Built from Reactive carbon fibre wrapped in a matt-finished 3K weave, each 12ft blank offers a unique take on the traditional parabolic action beloved of carpers. A slow build-up of power cushions the runs and lunges of hard-fighting fish, offering greater control when it really matters.
It’s just the sort of action needed for a modern day big-carp rod that multi-tasks.
The original Traction models carried test curves of 3lb, 3.25lb and 3.5lb, covering everything from solid PVA bag and stick work to middle to long-range Method feeder and straight lead work.
I more than proved the point when live testing a pair of the 3lb models last November at a cold and rather uninviting-looking Boddington Reservoir where a whack of 90-plus yards with a 3oz pellet-laden Method feeder was needed to reach its denizens.
You might think that most of the general heavy-duty casting work would be taken care of by the 3lb, 3.25lb and 3.5lb models. Avid’s development team could indeed have been forgiven for lying back on their super-comfy Benchmark bedchairs and feeling a bit smug.
But not a bit of it – enter the new 2.25lb and 2.75lb test curve blanks. Both rods boast the same Reactive carbon and 3K weave as the originals, but they have a slightly softer parabolic action suiting them to smaller waters, more modest casting distances and surface and zig rig tactics.
To test these attributes, what was needed was a medium-sized lake with a healthy stock of big, snippy fish that could be tempted on a wide range of tactics.
Northamptonshire’s day-ticket Willowbrook Lake, jam-packed with handsome fish to almost 30lb, fits the bill. It’s a superb daylight venue, especially if you’re after wetting the unhooking mat without waiting all day for a run.
First up was the new Traction 2.75lb rod, rigged with a 1.5oz inline Avid lead and solid PVA bag full of micro pellets.
The blank took little persuasion to launch its payload to the centre of the lake, close to a man-made floating island. It could easily have been burdened with a heavier lead and tasked with a far longer cast.
The slightly softer 2.25lb model was kitted out with a zig rig and 2oz lead, cast close to one of the numerous lily beds. It handled the weight easily enough, but it’s definitely not a rod with lots of clout. For all zig, surface and margin work, though, it’s ideal.
I didn’t have to wait long for the alarm to sound, as what felt like a decent fish ploughed straight through two weedbeds before I even had a chance to pick up the rod and tighten down the clutch.
Summer carp in shallow water can be tricky enough to cope with on their own, without having half a hundredweight of weed festooned along the line like so much washing. With the 2.75lb blank, it seemed all would be lost.
But deep in the belly of the blank was a core of steely strength with enough pulling power to drag the beast from its lair. The fish, having gone underneath the weed and out the other side, was still snarky about being hooked, but eventually both carp and weed came safely over the net cord.
What more can you say, other than that these rods are fabulous? I also managed two on zig rigs on the lighter model, and would happily add both to my holdall.
Two more sure-fire winners from the Avid stable. The addition of lighter 2.25lb and 2.75lb test curve rods further enhances the comprehensive Traction Carp range. Ideal for smaller waters, but still more than capable of handling very big fish, the heavier rod is perfect for small bags, Method feeders and zigs.
Its lighter compatriot would make an awesome shallow water zig, surface and margin tool.
The new Mission DF (Danny Fairbrass signature) models perform well above their price tag. With fittings and furnishings implemented to Danny’s specifications, they feature slime shrink tube handles, 50mm butt guides and a low-glare finish, and are available in 2.75lb, 3lb and 3.5lb test curves.
As the water starts to lose its colour, carp seek the solace of deeper water or hidden features.
This is when you need a rod that will hit the horizon, and E-S-P’s latest Terry Hearn Distance rod does just that.
The 3.5lb test curve, two-piece 12ft 6ins carbon blank boasts top-end single legged SiC guides throughout – including a 50mm butt guide – a full-length slim EVA handle and a Fuji DPS reel seat with flared collar. In the right hands it will cast accurately over 100 metres
TF Gear’s latest 10ft Banshee carp rod is said to be able to catch carp from just about any type of venue.
In test curves of 2.75lb, 3lb and 3.5lb, the blanks are built from quality carbon fibre and furnished with premium grade silicone-lined guides and screw-down custom DPS 18 reel fittings.
The fish-playing action is progressive, and these rods look as if they are built to take a lot of stick.
- Perdurable blank finish
- 40T carbon weave
- Free Spirit machine-cut aluminium reel seat ion-plated with a blue-grey finish and with a milled isotope slot available as a build option - please enquire
- S-Lite 3-leg rings
- Fuji DPS reel fitting
- Full EVA handle
- Ring sizes (mm): 30 to 8
- Custom build options
- S-Lite tip ring designed to minimise the chance of tangles (and crack-offs) on the cast.
- The Fuji DPS 18 reel seat is light, ergonomic and totally secure – reel seats don’t get much better than this.
- The test rod came with a full EVA handle, but there are cork and shrink tube options available as well.
Disappointing summer fishing weather is as British an institution as mother-in-law jokes – and has about as much grounding in fact.
More typically, the sun will put his hat on – and that’s when big carp show an interest in floating baits.
Surface fishing can be thrilling yet frustrating as every single bait (except the one with your hook in it) slips silently under the surface, seemingly drawn inexorably downwards by an unseen magnet.
Tricky and nerve-tingling, fishing with floating baits is stalking at its most primeval level – man pitting his wits against crafty fish that have seen it all before. It can drive you half mad. “Why won’t they take my bait?” you ask a passing moorhen as you strike far too late at yet another half-chance.
But when it all goes right, as it did when I live-tested the two-piece 11ft Free Spirit Surface Creeper ‘E’ on Mitre Pool at Bishops Bowl fishery in Warwickshire, all the earlier frustrations are quickly forgotten.
This specialist floater tool has a soft, sensitive tip suited to small controllers and light nylon hooklengths. It is also more than handy for margin stalking and freelining.
The classy chequered 40 tonne Perdurable (non-scratch) all-carbon blank is typical of the aspirational Free Spirit brand. With understated white graphics on the butt section, a Fuji DPS 18 reel seat and braid-friendly S-Lite guides throughout (starting with a 30mm butt guide), the rod on test had a full EVA handle, although full cork or full shrink tube options are available for a small additional charge.
In action, the Surface Creeper ‘E’ takes the biscuit – as indeed do the carp it snares. No, it doesn’t have the casting clout to belt out a weighty controller 100 yards, but it wasn’t built to do so. However, it will cast smaller floats up to 20g well over 50 yards with ease, making it an ideal choice for medium-sized lakes and pits. Its tippy action will flick out a freelined mixer a fair old way, as long as you’re using light reel line.
The live test went well, and the rod’s L plates were off in no time at all.
Feeding some freebies, then hiding away behind some reeds, gave the carp confidence, and soon one made the error of slurping down a mixer with a hook attached. Quick as you like the Surface Creeper took on its full fighting curve, best described as all-through but with steel running through the mid-section. This gives the soft-tipped blank enough poke to deal with hefty lumps without it feeling overgunned.
Soon a scale-perfectmid-double mirror was laid on the unhooking mat… don’t you just love it when a plan comes together!
What a month for live testing fishing rods it’s been! First came Browning’s awesome new 12ft Sphere Feeder, the ultimate bream rod. Then it was the 11ft Free Spirit, perfect for surface fishing with its soft, forgiving tip that allows it to be used for freelining mixers or controller work. It’s ideal for all but the very largest open-water venues.
Full range from £139.99 to £159.99, currently retailing from £64.99 to £79.99
Shimano’s latest offer is one to turn your head. These 12ft, 2.75lb test curve Tribal Velocity rods, which used to retail at up to £149.99, are now just £69.99, or £199.99 for a set of three.
For that you get ultra-slim blanks and Japanese shrink-wrap handles, double-leg guides and anti-wrap tip guides. There’s also a built-in line clip and a ‘rod pod stopper’ to secure the rods on your rests.
A compact Shimano reel seat completes the package.
Those of you who already know their Tempests from their Titans and their Delkims from their Microns should also be familiar with the company Free Spirit and its Hi S Carp rods.
These have been star products for many years – hardly surprising considering that Free Spirit boss Simeon Bond, as well as being a top carper in his own right, boasts more than 25 years of rod-building experience.
Just a few months ago his brand launched its, let’s say, slightly more affordable CTX range of rods, and these have gone on to become arguably the fastest-selling specimen rods around, finding favour with the budget-conscious big-carp angler.
The CTX series covers a dozen models in all, catering for just about every scenario, from small runs waters (as used for the live test) through to extreme-range casting venues, where the special S.U. models are called for.
With test curves starting at 2.5lb and progressing up to 3.5lb, with 12ft and 13ft models as well as matching Spod and Marker rods, there really is something for everyone.
Without going too deeply into the technical blurb, it’s safe to say that each rod is built to exacting specifications, using a complex manufacturing process that integrates two different tonnages of carbon cloth before an X-Wrap goes on for additional strength.
The process results in an extremely strong, ultra-light and slim blank, much as you would expect from a firm whose products are so much in demand.
The new CTX rods’ cosmetics and furnishings are impressive by anyone’s standards. Understated graphics are tastefully positioned on the non-scratchgunmetal Perdurable-finished blanks. Fitted as standard are original Fuji DPS reel seats incorporating stainless steel collars and 40mm and 50mm ‘S’-Lite butt guides. These lend a great modern yet classic chic to the range.
Looks are all very well, but these days carp rods needs to to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. With a huge upsurge in day-ticket runs waters, all carp rods these days are likely to catch lots of fish, and those with little or no fish-playing or casting clout ge found out double-quick!
Now, it just so happens that close to the Angling Times offices is a cracking little runs water called East Delph, just outside the Fenland town of Whittlesey. On this type of smaller fishery I focus on fishing fun and enjoyment, so I always choose a light test curve rod – in this instance it happened to be the 12ft, 2.75lb Free Spirit CTX. This type of rod should serve a multitude of uses, having just enough backbone to cast 2oz leads with small solid PVA bags and being ideal for all chods, margin work and middle-distance casting.
It should also have a very tactile and softly progressive fish-playing action, to make the playing of a big carp an unforgettable experience. This CTX 2.75lb rod did the lot at a canter. Okay, I know it’s more in vogue these days to use 3lb or even 3.25lb test curve carp rods, but believe me, this one not only has the build credentials to match its top-end Free Spirit Hi S stable-mates, but it offers a performance to rival that of most other rods in its class.
Fishery details: www.eastdelphlakes.com
Carp deity Terry Hearn would rather barbecue and eat his thermal socks than put his name to a rod that didn’t measure up in every department.
So you can be assured that specialist big carp brand E-S-P is on to a winner with this signature Terry Hearn Classic, built to Terry’s own exacting specifications.
Terry, who over many years has logged an almost supernatural string of big-fish captures, including a British record, can lay claim to being the most famous carp angler of all time, but it doesn’t naturally follow that he would make an exceptional rod designer.
That said, I have been privileged enough to be in his company on a few occasions, and he has always struck me as the real deal. He exudes an air of calmness, doing things in a cool and calculated way, and is certainly not a man who would use an item of tackle that was less than perfect.
Last summer I had the pleasure of witnessing Terry playing and landing a very big kipper. He did it with what I thought at the time to be a really nicely-actioned rod that showed a great ‘feel’ for the fish – rod and angler were at one. At the time I couldn’t muster the cheek to go and take a closer gander at that rod of his, although I was very intrigued, as it did look a little longer than a normal carp rod.
Now that E-S-P has released its 12ft 9ins Terry Hearn Classic, my guess would be that what I saw a saw in action was an early prototype.
So, what could a mere mortal like myself expect to gain from using this magical masterpiece? To find out, it was off to a local runs water. Capturing another Mary (Terry’s legendary but sadly deceased Wraysbury forty) wasn’t on the cards, but perhaps the odd Sharon or Tracey or two would put in an appearance.
Tactics and testing on the day ranged from using solid PVA bags and mesh sticks, through to distance casting with running lead and chod rigs. The Classic proved very capable of handling leads and bag weights of 4oz-plus with consummate ease. And at 12ft 9ins, those extra nine inches really do make a difference in terms of adding a few yards to the cast.
As you might expect from E-S-P, nothing is left to chance with the build of this rod. The high modulus carbon blank is reinforced with a tough woven overwrap for added strength, and it boasts a fine array of quality furnishings.
Noteworthy are the single-leg ceramic-lined SiC guides, specially chosen to reduce overall weight and improve the rod’s action and balance. They are perfectly positioned along the blank, tapering from a 40mm butt guide to a 12mm tip ring.
The very slim EVA handle, just 0.75ins in diameter and 26ins long, has a flared collar above the original Fuji DPS reel seat. A machined stainless steel butt cap and moulded E-S-P line clip complete the rod’s classy accoutrements.
Over several hours of testing I managed to slide a few fish over the net cord, topped off by a game upper double which put up an impressive scrap and perfectly revealed the rod’s forward, almost tippy progressive action.
Oodles of extra poke waits to come through its lower middle to butt sections, should you need to dish out some real punishmentor cast to the max. But this is not at the expense of feel… this is a very tactile fish-catching tool and, just like the legend who has put his name to it, quite exceptional.
10ft Carp Feeder £31.99, 11ft Carp Feeder £34.99
The two Carp Feeder Rods boast all the same features as the shorter 9ft Bomb version, but with the added length and power needed for longer casts.
The 10ft version is still an ideal length for many feature-filled commercials but offers a little more versatility, while the 11ft rod will handle larger feeders if required. Both versions (with tip fitted) come in equal length sections so they can be stored ready made-up for instant action.
This pencil-thin, featherweight bomb rod has a delightful action and still manages to pack a punch! It’s perfect for casting small Method and pellet feeders to islands, and taming the large carp that hang around them.
A two-piece rod with three quivertips, it is able to handle mainlines up to 6lb.
Look out of the window right now and fishing on balmy summer evenings seems a million miles away – but when the days start to stretch out faster than light pole elastic,
These super-affordable BPX Slim carp rods from Chapmans Angling are sure to be in high demand.
The 12ft rods, in test curves of 2.75lb, 3lb and 3.5lb, feature flared handle grips, quality reel seats and 40mm or 50mm butt guides, depending on the model you choose. Their classy understated matt black finish really makes them look the part.
These rods punch well above their weight in the casting and fish-playing stakes, and for the novice or junior carper they really are going for a song – ‘Chirpy Chirpy Cheap Cheap’ perhaps? The RRP ranges from £89.99 to £109.99, but I am reliably told that they can be picked up for as little as £30 apiece…. what a bargain!
Nash’s shorter Scope and Dwarf rods have proved massively popular in the last couple of years, but not everyone is ready to abandon their 12-footers.
Enter the Retract rods, which remain 12ft long but have a collapsible butt section, like the Dwarf and Scope range, so they can pack down to just 155cm (61ins). There is a full range of test curves and a 4.5lb spod/marker rod too.
RRP from £249.99
The boffins at Sonik are proud of this flagship creation, and they have every right to be.
Made from NanoAlloy, these rods are incredibly slim yet massively powerful. The recoil on the tip is also lightning-fast to boost casting capability.
With titanium guides and some striking blue cosmetics, these rods deliver the perfect blend of looks and performance.