Wth daylight hours reduced in winter, many anglers, myself included, much prefer to fish short sessions rather than spend days on end sat in a bivvy and carting mountains of tackle around.
It’s much more enjoyable to grab a rod, a net, a small rucksack and a couple of loaves of bread and wander the banks of your local river searching out a chub or two. The Greys Toreon Tactical Quivertip is the perfect tool for this. It's as versatile as a Swiss Army knife.
There are four lengths available in the range – 10ft 6in, 11ft 10in, 12ft 6in and 13ft – to cater for the needs of every stillwater and river coarse angler. They're just as much at home dishing it out on running water as they are bagging up at your local commercial or lobbing out a feeder on a large natural venue.
For this live test I’d chosen the 11ft 10in version, as at this length it’s a great
all-rounder. It’s just about short enough to creep into tight overgrown river swims, although if this is what you're primarily going to be using a rod for then the 10ft 6in model would be recommended.
This is also long enough to chuck a feeder to islands and open swims on commercials. Unlike most feeder rods, which come with two or three push-in tips, the Toreon Tactical Quivertip comes with five, ranging from 0.75oz to 3oz.
The rod also features a detachable butt grip which not only makes it more compact for storage, but also gives you two handle length options. There are nine lightweight gunsmoke SiC line guides on the rod and six equivalent guides on the five quivertips.
To test the rod I headed off to the tiny River Ise in Northamptonshire. This is a tributary of the River Nene and requires a stealthy approach at the best of times to avoid spooking the resident chub.
The fact that the water was fairly low and clear meant I’d have to be extra stealthy. Tactics were kept simple. My reel was loaded with 5lb mainline on to which I threaded a running link leger stopped by a buffer bead over a small swivel.
A piece of breadflake was pinched around a size 10 hook and cast into a deep pool between two shallow stretches of river. I'd baited the mouth of the pool and a couple of other spots along the far-bank reeds with a couple of small balls of mashed bread.
The first few spots didn’t produce a single knock, but a cast towards an overhanging tree saw the tip tremble before it pulled around in a classic chub bite.The fish was quickly steered away from the branches and, after a couple of jagged lunges, a small chub, was drawn over the landing net.
The next two casts produced a couple more chub of a similar size.
At almost £140 there are certainly plenty of cheaper rods on the market. But when you look at what you get for your money I think this rod is worth every penny. If you do a spot of river fishing, as well as the odd session on a commercial carp water, and enjoy feeder fishing for bream, it will cover the lot. And the range of five tips supplied with it really do make it suitable to a wide range of duties.
James Furness, Editor, Improve Your Coarse Fishing
Length: 11ft 10in
Tips: 0.75oz, 1oz, 1.5oz, 2oz, 3oz
Handle: Full cork
Reel seat: Screw lock
Guide type: SiC
Hook keeper: Yes
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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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)
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.
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.
Slim carbon blank
Enlarged Zirconium guides
Ergonomically-designed reel seat
Rubber butt cap
Satin matt finish
Maximum mainline rating - 12lb
Recommended maximum casting weight - 5oz
Mono and braid-friendly guides
Shakespeare Agility Continental Feeder rod. This range of continental feeder rods bearing the famous Shakespeare mark is aimed squarely at fans of big, open-water venue fishing.
Designed and constructed to cope with the heaviest of feeders, the fastest of flows and the longest of casts, the rods come in 12ft, 13ft and 14ft lengths and are well-suited to the pursuit of big bream from expansive, deep venues. So why would these rods be of any interest at all to the UK match angler, I hear you ask?
Well I’ll tell you. It was brought to my attention that the 14ft Agility Continental in particular has furtively become one of the most sought-after long-chuck big feeder rods on the market. And not just for targeting stillwater bream either; it’s also rumoured to be very much ‘at home’ on big rivers such as the Severn and Trent. A quick call to Shakespeare revealed my source’s information to be well-founded; the company are currently completely out of stock of the 14ft model, due to an apparent surge in interest. However, the Alnwick-based firm did have the other two lengths in stock, and could get one sent out for live testing purpose immediately.
Although I would have liked to get my mitts on the 14ft model, I wasn’t overly disappointed at it not being available, as I wouldn’t be casting huge distances into really deep water, or using ultra-long hooklengths. A 14ft feeder rod is a highly-specialised tool, and on the rare occasion I have used them - which has been mainly in Holland - they have always felt a little bit alien, so I was more than happy with the 13ft model which I was sure would prove just as good as the slightly longer version.
Two days later the rod dropped on to my desk, and I couldn’t wait to get a look at it. A quick in-office inspection revealed a pleasing matt satin-finished three-piece high-modulus carbon blank. It has been designed with an ‘old-school’ fast-tapering casting action, with more than enough poke through its middle and butt sections to make distance casting a doddle.
Plus, it’s also got a high weight loading point, which kicks in around halfway down the carrier section, meaning it shouldn’t feel wobbly or unbalanced when a heavy feeder is attached to it. Other key features included three carbon push-in quivertips and a superb set of enlarged-diameter Zirconium Oxide guides, ideal for use with all braided and mono mainlines, and certainly wide enough to allow the safe snag-free passage of shockleader knots.
With the river closed season now upon us, I was slightly limited with regards to venue choice, especially as the bream stocks in most of the large acreage open-water venues such as Ferry Meadows are still only just waking up from their winter slumber. However, I knew that the Northants day-ticket lake Rysons was normally good for a few early spring slabs, and as it’s a fair chuck out to the middle of the lake where the fish normally reside, it would prove a fair casting test for the rod.
My set-up involved using a 10lb fluorocarbon shockleader, tied to a 0.10mm braided mainline, with a 40g distance cage feeder at the business end of things. The first task was to lay the table, so I made a dozen quick casts to the lake centre using a big cage feeder loaded with pellets, groundbait and dead red maggots. The blank hardly flexed during the loosefeeding process, with the mainline hitting the clip easily on every cast and the shockleader fairly sizzling through the rod’s enlarged guides. The blank’s casting action is best described as clean and crisp, but if I were to be hyper-critical I’d say it’s maybe a little on the heavy side. However, with minimal recoil, I knew it would be no bother at all to achieve extreme casting ranges.
An hour later the rod’s tip trembled, followed by the unmistakable steady pull-round as a big slab picked up the treble maggot hookbait. Two minutes and two big head shakes later we parted company when the hook pulled out. Unfortunately, this scenario unfolded three more times before a change to a larger hook and a longer hooklength remedied the problem. Quite simply, the blank’s power can be a little overwhelming when used with smaller hooks, but when coupled with wide gape hooks from a size 14 and upwards, the problem pales into the background.
To summarise, the rod has superb distance-casting credentials and is available at a snip of the price of most distance feeder models. As well as being an awesome tool for tackling large stillwaters at home and abroad, it would make an excellent rod for targeting all fish species on our larger domestic rivers.
This 13ft Agility Continental has power with a capital P to burn. Originally designed for the European feeder angler, the rod is ideal for big open-water UK venues, and is also sure to find favour with many river anglers, especially where hefty feeders up to 5oz and strong lines up to 12lb are needed. Price wise, for a long-range heavy feeder rod, it’s the best by some margin of those currently available on the market.
Pleasure and big-fish brand Korum has launched a range of three-piece feeder rods that are sure to be a huge hit. The eight-strong collection features models ranging from 11ft to 13ft, and covers all short, medium or long-casting ranges. The rods are perfect for all types of feeder fishing on both rivers and stillwaters and have maximum casting weights running from 45g to 180g.
11ft Feeder 45g
Ideal for lakes where feeders need to be cast accurately at short or medium distances. A versatile rod with a line rating of 4lb-8lb, it is supplied with three 2.65mm colour-coded quivertips: orange (light), yellow (medium) and red (heavy).
12ft Feeder 45g
Described by Korum as a ‘fantastic all-rounder’ with plenty of backbone, it has
a 4lb-8lb line rating, and comes with three 2.65mm colour-coded quivertips (light, medium and heavy).
12ft Feeder 60g
A rod with more power for casting larger feeders and making longer casts. It has
a 6lb-8lb line rating and comes with three 2.65mm colour-coded quivertips (light, medium and heavy).
12ft Feeder 90g
This rod is for large feeders and long casts, but it retains enough tip sensitivity for silverfish work. Ideal for medium-paced rivers, it has a 6lb-10lb line rating and comes with a trio of 3.3mm colour-coded light, medium and heavy quivertips.
12ft Feeder 120g
The most powerful 12ft model in the series. A good option for fast water, but with a sensitive tip action that allows plenty of options. It has a line rating of 6lb-8lb and comes with three 3.2mm colour-coded quivertips.
13ft Feeder 120g
As with the two other 13ft models in the range, this rod has a slightly more powerful tip for improved casting distance and accuracy. It has a line rating of 6lb-10lb, and comes with three 3.2mm colour-coded quivertips.
13ft Feeder 150g
More power and a faster casting action make this rod ideal for when long casts and heavy feeders are the order of the day. Great for large, open stillwaters and fast-paced rivers. Carries a line rating of 6lb- 10lb and comes with three 3.2mm colour-coded (light, medium and heavy) quivertips.
13ft Feeder 180g
With a casting weight of 180g, this powerful rod will comfortably launch feeders beyond 100m. Boasting large-diameter guides, it can also be safely used with shockleaders. It has a line rating of 6lb-10lb, and comes with three 3.2mm colour-coded (light, medium and heavy) quivertips.
Greys has an impressive track record for iconic fishing rods – names such as Prodigy, Platinum and Air Curve are all instantly recognisable to big-fish anglers who demand the best.
So when news broke of a new rod range aimed at the serious coarse angler I just had to get my hands on a couple. The full Toreon Tactical family features four quivertip rods at 10ft 6ins, 11ft 10ins, 12ft 6ins and 13ft.All come with five graded carbon push-in quivertips. There are also five float rods in lengths of 10ft 6ins, 11ft 6ins, 12ft 8ins, 13ft and 15ft. Combine these with the quivertip rods and you have a rod arsenal able to tackle every imaginable venue, from tiny ponds to raging rivers.
Built from high modulus, lightweight Toreon nano-carbon, all rods are amazingly strong and responsive, and furnished throughout with quality lightweight gunsmoke SiC guides. Detachable cork butt grips allow for compact storage and variable handle lengths. These will be a blessing on the longer rods, giving more casting clout to those who like to whack it out a bit. The two rods on test, an 11ft 10ins quiver and an 11ft 6ins float model, should between them cover most ‘middle of the road’ situations and deal with everything from big commercial carp to shy-biting silvers. This in itself is quite unusual in an era when most modern coarse rods are built to do a specific job.
I would suggest, though, that if (after reading this review) you are interested in owning a Greys Toreon Tactical rod, you take a closer look at the full range before making your choice with so many rod lengths and recommended line strengths there will be something perfect for every fishery you may visit during the course of a season. Bearing that in mind, I took the test rods to a mixed fishery, the superbly well attended and blissfully peaceful day-ticket Wold Farm in Northamptonshire (www.woldfarmfisheries.co.uk). When the float dips or the tip goes round on Wood Lake you can never be too sure what’s having a nibble on the other end – it’s a kind of aquatic Bingo.
Starting on a 3AAA insert peacock waggler with a lightish 0.11mm hooklength and size 18 hook baited with double maggot, the 11ft 6ins two-sectioned rod soon put a few roach and half-decent skimmers into the netThe blank is crisp and responsive, with the backbone to cast big floats (including pellet wagglers up to 15g) without a hitch. Unfortunately, I didn’t catch anything hefty enough to test its anti-locking action, but for silvers alone it’s just about light enough to put a bend in the tip. The 11ft 10ins Toreon Tactical quiver rod was tested rather better as a run of pastie-sized carp took a liking to my bread disc hookbaits. The feisty little fellows showed plenty of spirit, but the blank’s flat spot-free action shrugged off their struggles and they were soon peering through the mesh of my keepnet.
It’s more than capable of handling medium-sized Method feeders, but although Greys rates its maximum casting weight at 185g (6oz-plus) that’s a tad optimistic in my opinion. I particularly liked the five blaze-coloured carbon quivertips which add to the rod’s versatility and help prove its worth as an all-rounder.
If you’re a journeyman coarse angler looking for a ‘one rod does it all’ bank side companion, then one – or perhaps two – from the new Toreon Tactical range are more than likely to be sliding into your rod holdall soon. Quality and performance are virtually guaranteed from Greys, one of the UK’s longest-surviving tackle companies with a fine history of producing hard-wearing, long-lasting and thoroughly satisfying fishing rods.
£99.99 - £129.99
These tiny wands are called Ticklers – did Ken Dodd invent them so his Diddy Men could go fishing?
Well, oddly enough, no. These pint-sized single-sectioned Carp and F1 models are the latest additions to Browning’s popular Commercial King range. There’s nothing new about short or indeed single-sectioned rods, and few would argue against their having a place in the modern commercial match angler’s rod holdall. That is just where you can tuck your Tickler after a match, and very easily at that.
Simply remove the quivertip, place the hook into its retainer and reel up any slack line. Then it’s just a matter of folding the reel handle flat before sliding the rod into its slim, protective tube. There are no bands, sleeves or broken tips to worry about – the rod can be taken down and put up again quite literally in seconds.
For live test purposes I carried both versions to my peg at Monkhall Fisheries in Shropshire, ready made-up inside a standard rod bag containing five tubes plus a few mini pole extensions (and if you’re wondering about the blue colour of the water, it’s from a fish-safe dye used to keep weed growth to a minimum). Just to have them so close to hand and ready to use without the need to transport yet another rod holdall to the peg further endeared these rods of restricted growth to me. Yes, obviously they have their limitations, but for ease of transportation and convenience they tick my box.
The pair consists of a surprisingly substantial Carp Tickler model with a 50g (1.7oz) maximum casting weight, suitable for reel lines up to 8lb, and the lighter F1 rod with a casting weight of 35g (1.5oz) for reel lines up to 6lb breaking strain. The Carp Tickler has enough clout in its progressive fish-playing action to cope with specimens of 10lb-plus, while its lighter F1 counterpart shares the action while remaining just about light enough to handle small hooks and fragile hooklengths without risking hook-pulls or breakages.
During the live test, I fished for carp in deep water with the Carp Tickler set up with a 0.75oz straight lead and hair-rigged bread discs. I rigged the F1 rod with a 20g Drennan Carp feeder, size 18 hook and double maggot for fishing in shallower water up against an island.
During the session the wind got up from nowhere and, within seconds, wickedly cold snow flurries were driving across the lake. It really was ‘batten down the hatches’ stuff, but my fishing didn’t suffer at all, as the shortness of the rods had allowed me to tuck the rod-tips right into the bank. I hit every bite, and even when I had the brolly up I could still see the quivertips. As a bonus, I found I could net fish without having to negotiate the canopy of my brolly.
Well, I must admit to being completely sold on these new Browning Ticklers. I really liked the concept – packing away and setting up rods has never been easier or more lacking in fuss and drama. Being able to stick them inside my pole holdall was another big plus point. I found the Carp Tickler a little on the heavy side, and although I wouldn’t hesitate to use it for summer Method feeder margin work I would probably furnish myself with a pair of the F1 Ticklers for winter commercial fishing, preferring their softer cushioning action.
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
There was a time when a ‘short’ rod was classed as 11ft maximum.
Nowadays a host of models in the 8ft, 9ft and 10ft class are available, including the Super Light 9ft Feeder from Preston Innovations. This is billed as a close-range tool for small feeders and bombs, and casts up to 30m.
It’s the baby of the Competition Pro range of feeder rods, which stretches right up to a heavy 13ft version. The Competition Pro is a definitely a series of all-round rods rather than out-and-out commercial tools, and although I could have taken it to a reservoir or a big lake and targeted small fish, it wouldn’t have been too much of a test. Instead it was thrown in at the deep end at Decoy Lakes’ ever-reliable Six Islands pool, which holds lots of carp in the 4lb-10lb bracket.
First, a note on the length. I absolutely love using a 9ft rod. Don’t get me wrong, it’s limited in terms of casting distance but for anything up to 35m or so it makes feeder fishing so effortless, especially with the hookbait tucked inside the frame of a Method or pellet version. A traditional open-end feeder with a long tail isn’t as aerodynamic, so a longer rod is needed to cast it properly.
With a 9ft rod, fish pop up under your feet for netting, as they do on a short F1-type top kit on a pole.
I clipped my line up for a short 16m chuck to the middle of the bowl at the car park end of the lake, where there is a sunken island. Believe it or not it’s quite difficult to discipline yourself to apply such a short cast – or it would be with a longer rod.
My 30g inline Preston Method couldn’t have been in the water much longer than 30 seconds when the 1oz tip I’d fitted pulled firmly round. A 5lb mirror carp was the culprit, and it was beaten in double-quick time. I quickly realised how much backbone and power this rod has, right through its faultless action. With several hooked carp I could feel the line grating through some submerged roots or vegetation on the bar, and I really had to give the fish some stick, standing up sometimes, to get them over it without breaking the hooklength.
Then I took the clip off and gave it a few good casts up the long sides of the lakes. This was surprisingly easy, helped by the large rod rings towards the base of the blank. I reckon you could punch a Method feeder 45m or 50m if you really went for it.
My final trick was at much, much closer range. I’d been throwing a few handfuls of pellets in the margins and a gentle underarm lob sent the feeder down there.
The rod was almost wrenched from my hands as I caught barbel and several more carp, including a double-figure common, which all made off towards a snaggy corner with an aerator. Despite a few hairy moments the Super Light Feeder took everything thrown at it, and smaller, softer rods like this mean fewer hook pulls too.
Italian brand Colmic has been around the UK match scene for many years, with products such as Colmic Jolly pole floats..
Its nickelled Nuclear 501 pattern is the forerunner to many commercial carp hook designs, and it’s fair to say that Colmic poles – and rods, for that matter – have proved very popular.
It’s always going to be tricky for a European company to gain a really strong foothold, though – think Trabucco and Tubertini.
However, at this year’s Big One show Colmic revealed several very impressive new poles, seatboxes and rods for commercial fisheries.
One of the outstanding new rod concepts at the show was Colmic’s three-rod 9ft 25g, 10ft 35g and 11ft 45g Scrape Feeder Xtreme Next Adventure series. All three of the two-piece blanks have a typical fast parabolic action, marrying a forgiving tip section to a mid-section with plenty of backbone, allowing fish to be played quickly to the net without the risk of hook-pulls or snapped lines.
Colmic has built its three Adventure rods with a taper unique to each in respect of casting distance and feeder weight. The shorter the rod, the faster the taper – the longer the rod, the stronger its lever, which translates into casting power and ability to bring fish quickly to the net. All three models are said to be ideal for use with cage, pellet, Method and block-end feeders, as well as straight lead tactics.
The model on live test duty, the mid-range 10ft 35g rod, should be well suited to most short to mid-distance feeder work on a normal commercial fishery.
The proving ground for the theory was Decoy’s fish-packed Lou’s lake, a horseshoe-shaped water that responds particularly well to far-bank feeder tactics. Accurate casts of around 35m are needed to get the best from it.
Starting the session using a lightweight 15g flatbed Method feeder, the sporty Italian blank cast straight as a die time after time, and despite early reservations about its short and rather delicate looking quivertip carrier section, the silver-etched black blank really did produce an impressively fast parabolic action. Carp from 2lb-5lb were beaten in double-quick time.
The rod comes with three push-in fibreglass quivertips of 1/2oz, 1oz and 1.5oz, and the featherweight blank features two double-leg lined guides on its butt section, with another five single-leg lined guides perfectly placed along its carrier section to emphasise the fast taper action.
Suited to mainlines up to 8lb and hooklengths down to around 0.12mm, it’s lots of fun to use, mainly because it’s nigh impossible to lock up.
As an all-round commercial feeder rod it not only looks different from the norm, but it performs in a refreshingly different way from your average bog-standard commercial feeder rod… grazie Colmic!
Don’t let its name or dual colour scheme put you off – Colmic’s Scrape Xtreme Next Adventure 35g Feeder rod is quite something! Perfect for short to medium casting ranges, the blank lands substantially big fish in double-quick time, even on light gear.
If you visit a commercial fishery where the fish’s mouths are a bit messy and prone to hook-pulls, you should definitely have a look at this rod soon.
This super rod from Preston Innovations is designed for medium to long-range feeder fishing.
The two-piece carbon blank has power aplenty to launch a fully loaded Method feeder upwards of 60m.
But it’s not all brawn – the blank still has enough softness to absorb powerful lunges from big fish, doing away with hook-pulls at the net.
The rod comes with two fast-taper quivertips that give instant bite registration, and super-positive line pick-up speed even at extreme distances.
Two tops: Waggler and Feeder
Features: F-Lined Guides, hook retainer, two spare quivertips, Synaptic carbon design, ergonomic reel seat.
Casting weights: 2g to 25g Wagglers; 10g to 45g Feeders.
This Middy Baggin’ Machine Synaptic float and feeder Duo is ideal for anglers on a budget who want a single rod to cover a multitude of different methods.
It has two separate top sections and comes with two push-in quivertips to make up a 10ft feeder rod that’s perfect for parrot cage commercial fishery pegs. With the feeder top, the rod is capable of fishing Method feeders up to 45g as well as cage and blockend feeders and straight leads. It has a soft progressive fish playing action, but with loads of power down the blank, and will handle reel lines up to 10lb with hooklinks up to 6lb. There’s also plenty of power to land double-figure carp, and the rod feels nicely balanced and responsive.
During a live test at the impressively stocked Lou’s Lake at Cambridgeshire’s Decoy Lakes, the rods mettle was well tested with plenty of F1s, as well as the odd larger carp. It cast a fully loaded Method feeder with impressive accuracy up to 30m with ease. The Synaptic blank is made from carbon and glass, which produces a very lightweight, fun-to-use tool, with an almost anti-locking action. Hook pulls are kept to the absolute minimum.
With the waggler top fitted, the rod is still 10ft in length, and will cast floats between 2g and 25g, making it ideal for up-in-the-water pellet waggler tactics. It can handle reellines up to 8lb and hooklinks up to 5lb.
The waggler section has a little more stiffness through its mid-section than the feeder top, but it still retains plenty of cushioning forgiveness, and is more than capable of absorbing last-minute lunges from even the largest of fish at the net, without risking hook pulls.
The Middy Synaptic Duo would make the perfect tool for the summer pleasure angler. Designed for use mainly on commercial carp fisheries, the rod is easy to transport and equally at home fishing a Method feeder or a pellet waggler.
Tackle giant Drennan has recently added two new models to its top-end Acolyte Feeder series. The latest 10ft and 12ft Plus rods are said to be the most powerful within the family, which includes 10ft, 11ft and 12ft Ultras with lighter actions, as well as an existing 11ft Plus rod.
The 12ft Plus model I tested is constructed using the same super-slim, two-section high modulus carbon blank featured on all Acolyte Feeders. But on this rod its mid to top section areas have been substantially beefed-up, to provide the blank with a higher weight loading point.
This not only aids its casting potential, enabling feeders and leads to be propelled greater distances, it also allows heavier weights up to 60g (2oz) to be used.
Drennan claims casts up to 60m are easily achievable, with even greater distances possible if you have good technique and, having live-tested the model on a large open water venue, I wouldn’t argue.
Other notable features are its stand-off SiC lined guides that help to keep the line well away from the blank, enabling the reel line to move quickly and smoothly through its guides, again to help distance. To that you can add a high-quality original Fuji screw down reel seat, full length 23ins-plus cork handle, and three push-in carbon quivertips, which have been selected to blend in with the rod’s parabolic fish-playing action.
So when, where and how would you use this rod? It’s certainly well suited for large expanses of open water – including rivers – and for all species of big fish.
The blank’s extra backbone provides plenty of casting clout which makes it ideal for all types of feeder and straight-lead tactics, just as I experienced at Lincolnshire’s big-fish mecca Bain Valley at Tattershall Thorpe.
The fishery’s windswept and open Halifax Lake holds some very big carp, which are noted for their fighting qualities. During the warmer months when the water is coloured, these can be caught on a pole in the margins, but once the colour starts to fade away, so do the fish. And like so many big waters in clear conditions, fish tend to shoal up towards the middle of the lake, a good 70m from the bank, more than a decent cast for any type of feeder rod, let alone one with such a slim profile as the Acolyte Plus.
Bread is the key bait, as it is on so many carp lakes in the cold. But Bain Valley is deep, so the punched disks need popping-up some three feet off the bottom to find the fish.
The longer hooklength adds yet another degree of difficulty to the cast. However, a decent sized bomb soon sorted this problem out. I did feel, though, that using an ounce-and-a-half of lead at around 65m-plus, the blank was on the upper limit of its capacities. To be fair, it was a very long chuck, and the Acolyte’s tip recovery post-cast, and its responsiveness, were never found to be wanting.
The rod’s push-in quivertips are faultlessly matched to its carrier section, with the 2.5oz, 3oz, and 4oz carbon quivers ideally suited for Method feeders and all hair-rig tactics.
Once a fish is hooked the blank’s action is surprisingly robust, and enables you to pull very hard without it ever feeling as though it might fold when under pressure – perfect for all big fish, not just carp.
The 12ft length enables a quick contact to be made with fish hooked at distance, and nothing that I caught while live testing, ever felt like it could dominate proceedings, which again for such a light and slim rod is very impressive.
I wouldn’t use it with small hooks and light lines, as I feel it had a little too much stiffness toward the end of the carrier section for gossamer gear, but as it wasn’t designed for that anyway, it’s hardly a criticism. I am, though, surprised that Drennan hadn’t moved the butt guide further down the blank, even if it meant losing a guide further up (think carp rod) as this may have added even more casting prowess.
Another sure-fire winner from Drennan. The Acolyte Plus feeder would be every bit at home on Boddington Reservoir as on the banks of the Severn or Trent. Thanks to its same-length design, and top ‘n’ tail retaining bands it is easily transported ready made-up, and is sure to be popular with long-range feeder fishing fans.
Preston innovations Competition Pro 12ft Medium Feeder
RRP: £109.99 (but shop around)
PXR Pro 4000 reel
RRP: £104.99 (but shop around)
Not quite as cheap as chips, but more versatile than a Swiss army penknife, is this tasty pair from the Preston stable.
The three-piece 12ft Competition Pro feeder is as much at home dishing it out on rivers as it is battering them down at your local commercial carp venue. The all-carbon blank is nicely put together, and features an old-school full-length 25in cork handle with screw-down reel seat and EVA thumb grip.
Its seamless, flat spot-free progressive action is ideal when targeting big bream, carp, barbel, tench and, of course, chub. The lightweight blank has just about enough softness at its tip to make reel lines of 4lb-8lb with hooklengths down to 0.12mm diameter feasible and, like all good feeder rods, this one has a very high loading point.
This means that when a feeder is attached, the rod only bends from its tip, enabling its backbone to kick in and propel the feeder forward, rather than just lobbing it up and out, as happens when the weight loading area is too far towards the mid-section.
Other features on this Preston rod, which the manufacturers suggest will cast feeders up to 60 metres, are eight low-profile large diameter lined guides. The six equivalent guides on the two spare quivertips also have enlarged diameters, so if you’re off to Ireland, where heavy shockleaders are often used to cushion long casts and protect against zebra mussels, you shouldn’t suffer the annoyance of having the knots catching in the eyes.
The perfect foil for this rod would be its matching Preston branded reel, the award-winning 4000-sized PXR Pro. This model is ideal for winching in heavy feeders and is packed with features including a lightweight aluminium body, quick-release push button spool (plus one spare), precision front drag system, robust stainless steel hollow bail-arm and hard chrome-plated line roller.
Most importantly it runs smoothly and tirelessly on six stainless steel bearings and generates a 4.9:1 gear ratio.
Live testing tackle in winter can be tricky. With the bigger rivers out of sorts, but fed up with bagging commercial carp, where else could I take the Preston pair to prove their mettle? The light-bulb moment eventually came and we were off to Northamptonshire’s River Ise. A stealthy approach using a small cage feeder packed with liquidised bread, and flake on the hook, would hopefully prove successful. The set-up was simple. The reel was loaded with 5lb mainline straight through to a running feeder, stopped with No.8 shot 12in from a size 10 hook. First cast saw the tip tremble, and then it trembled again before pulling round in a classic chub bite. A spirited fight saw a fair sized fish lunging for the nearside reeds, but the 12ft Competition Pro Feeder had a bit too much backbone for any of that old malarkey, and quickly thwarted my quarry’s escape plans.
Through pouring rain, covered in mud, bread and fish slime, both the Preston items performed faultlessly and they get a huge thumbs-up from me.
If there were such a thing as a ‘one-rod does it all’ feeder model, Preston’s Competition Pro Medium Feeder would comfortable pass the test. Every bit as much at home on a commercial carp fishery as it would be bream-bashing on an Irish lough or fishing a big river for barbel, it’s a great all-rounder. As for Preston’s PXR Pro reel, you don’t have to spend long using one to see why the angling public voted it the best reel in its class last year.
Length: 3m (9ft 10ins)
Max recommended casting weight: 50g
Spare quivertips: 0.5oz, 0.75oz, 1oz, 1.5oz.
Those who regularly read my tackle review pages will be aware that I have been raving about Browning's top-of-the-range Sphere Feeder rods since first clapping eyes on them a year ago.
I adored them at first sight, and was bowled over by their lively, springy and steely feel and seamless non-locking parabolic curves. Live-testing them has proved to be nothing short of stupendous. They have casting power to burn, with recoil-less rigidity matched with a high weight loading area that will propel a feeder or lead a very long distance, even in the hands of a 'standard' distance casting angler like myself.
But - and here's the best bit - somehow the technical boffins at Browning have been able to produce blanks which blend all of that sizzle-factor with an almost imperceptible finesse which only comes into play when you hook a fish. Clever eh?
Faults are hard to find, other than the weight of their price tags, but they are right up there among the best.
Plaudits aside, there was one model left in the Sphere range that I had been waiting patiently to live-test, until the leaves started falling from the trees.
In the comfort of Browning's showroom, this rod felt ideal as a cold-water commercial-fishery tool, ideal for targeting F1s using light lines and small hooks, as well as being able to cope with the odd bigger fish. So as I tackled up on Decoy's unit-packed Beastie Lake, I was hoping for a live test encounter which would live up to my ambitious expectations.
I wasn't disappointed. The first thing you notice is that the blank has a long butt section at 5ft 2ins and a short a (3ft 4ins) carrier section, although when one of its four 23ins glass quivertips are fitted the two sections become equal length, making it easy to carry around as a ready-made.
Browning rates the rod as optimised at around 30m casting distance, which for me was under-gunning its true potential somewhat. My chosen peg was opposite an island end with a paddle type aerator as an added feature. My guess would have been it was around at least a 50m chuck, well above the rod¹s rating, and made even more difficult by the somewhat less than streamlined shape of the 20g pellet feeder I had tied on.
Not a problem! I even had to feather the line a little to avoid an overcast, and once clipped the rod hit the distance every time without fail. All very impressive, but not as impressive as what went on over the course of the next few hours. It¹s called Beastie Lake for a very good reason. Barbel, carp and F1s all grow fat healthy in this fabulous lake, and the Sphere handled them all with consummate ease, even when I had a dabble down the margin.
The resident barbel know every root-end and snag, but the rod pulled them away quickly and cleanly without a creak of complaint. I purposely over-loaded the stress-factor by pulling directly from above in an attempt to make the blank rotate, which in turn makes the guides twist out of alignment but they stayed die-straight throughout the ordeal.
I went through the card with this rod - maggot feeders with small hooks and 0.10mm hooklengths, pellet feeders with heavier lines and hair-rigs, straight lead and pellets - it was faultless. It would happily cope with main lines or braids from 4lb to 8lb and will cast up to 30g weights easily enough. Plus, you can use it with light lines and small hooks as its soft action is very forgiving, so hook pulls are kept to a minimum.
The four push-in glass quivertips are rated 0.5oz, 0.75oz, 1oz and 1.5oz which helps to provide it with sensitivity and durability.
Although it carries a bomb rod tag, the Browning Sphere model shouldn¹t be thought of as an old-school whispish wand designed for winkling out silvers from flooded rivers or canals. It¹s a very modern model with the casting backbone and parabolic fish playing action required for nearly all standard commercial fishery feeder and lead work.
The pencil slim blank has a superb transmission and steely feel, perfectly matched with the forgiving softness that is a hallmark of the Sphere range. If you¹re into the commercial fishery scene then you owe it to yourself to have a closer look.
Daiwa has used its tried and trusted Tournament blanks to create this new nine-model Airity series. The extra performance of the latest X45 carbon material is said to offer improved torque and power conversion.
The Airity hybrid 10ft/11ft is every bit as much at home casting a pellet waggler as it is a Method feeder, and will be of great interest to commercial matchman. Look out for an exclusive live test here soon.
Casting weight: Up to 20g
Line rating: 2lb-6lb
Casting weight: Up to 25g
Line rating: 2lb-6lb
Casting weight: Up to 30g
Line rating: 2lb-8lb
Who remembers (and probably laments the passing of) Carbotec Fast Play Feeder rods? They were so good that they retain their old face value, or even more for the right model.
This new Trilogy Commercial Feeder shares more than a few of its traits. The two-piece blank is probably a bit lighter and slimmer, and doesn’t have quite the same degree of casting clout, but it still has an extraordinary amount of fish-playing elasticity. There’s not a sign of flat spotting, nor does the rod form anything other than a perfect hoop when put under strain. The more you pressure it, the better it gets.
The casting action has a fair bit of hidden backbone spliced into it, and the 11ft model on test threw a 40g flatbed Method feeder more than 40m with little more than a swish.
The rod comes complete with light, medium and heavy push-in carbon quivertips that do nothing to mar its seamless flat-free fighting curve – very commendable of Tri-Cast.
But why on Earth they didn’t add an inch of blaze-coloured paint to the end of each quiver defeats me. Irritating, but that small detail wouldn’t stop me buying one.
I can’t wait to try the shorter 10ft version of this Tri-Cast rod.
I have a feeling it just might be the ultimate snake lake, small pond F1 and big-fish lead rod.
Meanwhile the 11ft model on test casts straight and well, is light in the hand, and has what seems to be a limitless supply of progressive fish-playing clout – it’s pretty special.
Looking for something other than an out-and-out casting tool at the right price?
This 12ft two-piece twin-top Maver rod could be right up your street.
The 1.5lb test curve blank offers a progressive action and, when fitted with its quivertip carrier section, tightens up towards the mid-section area, providing plenty of punch where you need it most.
With the Avon top in situ the rod becomes much softer, although the backbone of the pokey butt section is still there. It’s more than useful when used with big top and bottom floats, and copes admirably with touch-legering and freelining tactics.
The graphite hooded reel seat is rock-solid, just what you need when retrieving heavy feeders and leads.
Other notable features include quality double-leg SiC lined guides throughout, two unrated carbon quivertips, and a keeper ring.
This quality piece of kit with a modest price tag is nicely suited to all-round feeder/straight lead tactics on larger rivers such the Severn and Trent.
Its Avon-style top section is just about soft enough for floatfishing, too.