£199.99 (but shop around)
I’ve long been a fan of Avid’s DSK distance-casting carp rods, so I jumped at the chance to live test a pair of the company’s 3.25lb test curve MSX 12-footers.
These rods are just that bit more middle of the road, a little less specialised in their performance and handling than their DSK stablemates, and therefore more versatile and angler-friendly.
That does not mean that they lack power or backbone. Some all-purpose rods would have a job chucking a 3oz lead and solid PVA bag the length of a snooker table, but these two-piece carp catchers go the full distance and then some.
They just do it in a politer, less aggressive manner than the DSKs, and you don’t need a master’s degree in mechanics to make the blank fully compress before it belts out a cast that would not look out of place on a windswept winter cod beach.
As for the finish of the MSX rods, the lads at Avid have pushed out the boat, with nothing short of full custom hand-built assembly and finish. The build starts with a modern 50mm butt guide, followed up the chequered carbon matt-finished blank by a perfectly spaced row of quality lined ceramic rings.
These are held in position by high-gloss black silk whippings, and end in an Anti-Frap tip ring that helps to prevent casting tangles when using heavy or fluorocarbon reel lines. The full Duplon handle carries a retro-style metal hooded screw-down reel seat, tastefully fronted by silver ringed Duplon thumb grips. At the other end of the handle, the etched black MSX insignia contrasts with a discreet white tag name and test curve marking. Understated these rods may be, but buy a pair and you’ll hang on to them more tightly than Gollum does his ‘Precious’.
It’s not all about eye candy, though. Rods in this price bracket also need be able to fulfil their functions as top-end fishing tools, and these do it it with room to spare. Billed by the manufacturers as all-rounders, equally at home with solid PVA bags as with straight leads and big Method feeders, they will handle 4oz-plus weights with no suspicion of feeling overloaded.
The tapered blank of an MSX has a super-fast tip recovery speed, and enough steel in its soul to load a casting weight high up on its top section, enabling the blank to power through a hefty cast with no hint of bounce.
A beautifully progressive action kicks in when the rod is put under pressure, even when battling big fish at close range, and there’s enough grunt left in its locker to cope with locking down and powering up to haul a feisty carp away from potential snags.