There's a saying that you only ever get what you pay for, and 99 per cent of the time this is true, especially when we’re talking fishing equipment.
But every now and again something crops up that goes against that old adage by offering true value for money, matched by a performance to write home about.
The focus of my enthusiasm this week is Shimano’s excellent and affordable Alivio DX carp rods which, at a penny under £50, are an unashamed steal.
You would imagine for that small amount of cash you’d be getting a budget composite material with a casting and fish-playing action more wobbly than jelly on a plate – but not a bit of it.
What you actually get for your bullseye is a very hard-wearing Shimano XT30 Geo Fibre carbon rod, tastefully dressed with high-gloss black whippings over the demure non-flash gunmetal grey blank. Double-legged Shimano Hardlite lined guides are fitted throughout, starting with a 40mm butt ring, and the Alivio DX has the dependable Shimano DPS screw-down reel seat that will take just about any size of Baitrunner or big pit reel.
Add to that subtle but stylish white graphics and you are looking at a rod that wouldn’t look out of place at carp venues of the utmost cultishness!
The 12ft, 2.75lb test curve model on live test duty will not be to everyone’s liking, as 3lb-plus tc carp rods are still very much in vogue this season. It should be noted, though, that the full Alivio range includes 12ft models with 3lb and 3.5lb test curves, as well as a 5.5lb tc Spod rod. These – shock horror! – will set you back all of another tenner.
The Alivio DX is pitched by Shimano as a short to medium-range rod, and that’s a reasonable enough description of the 2.75lb tc rod. It will handle close-range and margin work, and during the live test it comfortably chucked leads of up to 3oz 50-60 yards. But go beyond that, or use heavier leads, and you are going to struggle – this blank is a bit soft for chucking to the horizon.
But what you lose in casting clout is more than made up for by this rod’s softly cushioned progressive fish-playing action.
Under pressure it simply bends, so that anything weighing much more than 5lb will put a decent curve in the rod. It really should have ‘fun to use’ stamped on it somewhere, so enjoyable is catching fish on it. And at small runs waters such as the brilliant Fields End Fishery near March, in Cambs, where the live was conducted it was fully at home.
Use it with Method feeders, PVA sticks, solid and mesh bags, or straight leads and even floater tactics at a push. As long as you don’t overload this bargain rod it will be just fine.