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)