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.