Not so long ago a three-piece 13ft float rod would be standard issue for all match and pleasure anglers, and I’ll tell you why.
The industrial cities of Sheffield, Leeds, Rotherham and Birmingham gave rise to legions of angling aficionados (pardon the pun), many of whom worked in the nationalised coal and steel industries.
These had massive working men’s associations with affiliated angling clubs. Every weekend would see coach loads of fishermen arriving on the banks of the Witham, Welland, Trent, Severn and Thames, where float fishing with 13ft rods ruled the roost.
Those were the days, when fishing was basically the only recreation for many a working class bloke.
Tackle was functional first and foremost. Wicker creels, rods in canvas bags, Intrepid reels, Au Lion D’Or hooks, a handful of handmade floats – oh, and an Efgeeco baitbox containing a pint of ‘gentles’ in sawdust – was about par for the course.
The best float rods of the day were built mainly on fibreglass Golden Jubilee blanks, and appeared under the WB Clarke All-England, Milbro Enterprise and Billy Lane Match brands. The first carbon rods weren’t far away, though, although when Fothergill and Harvey launched them in 1975 they cost a king’s ransom at £133. Bearing in mind that back then a Mars bar cost sixpence (2.5p) and you get an idea just how expensive this rod was.
Thankfully, modern 13ft float rods are vastly cheaper in relative terms, as well as being better built, better balanced, lighter in the hand and an altogether superior product.
Enter Maver’s 13ft three-piece Reality, which can be found for as little as £49.99. It’s also available in 12ft and 14ft versions, and all three decent enough lightweight blanks with their medium-fast action will cast wagglers up to 25g.
Key features include a full cork handle with EVA lock-down foregrip, quality lined guides, folding keeper ring, and a classy jet-black glossy coating.
It’s not the crispest float rod I have ever come across, and it may lack a bit of finesse. But it can cope with whatever comes its way, as I discovered on the live test at Stretton Lakes’ day-ticket Silvers Pool, just off the A1 north of Peterborough.
I was hoping for roach with hopefully the odd better skimmer thrown in. Feeding groundbait laced with a few micro pellets and casters, my basic set-up saw a 3AAA straight peacock waggler attached to 3lb reel line, 0.12mm hooklength, and a size 18 hook with a double maggot as bait, fished overdepth.
Small roach and rudd gave me a bite a chuck, but these skerrets hardly tested the rod’s prowess. Bites then dried up, and I wondered if this was a prelude to the skimmers clocking in.
I didn’t have to wait long to find out. The float’s blaze top vanished and my strike was met with far more resistance than any skimmer could muster. The rod took on its full fighting curve in an action best described as on the stern side of progressive – pretty much what you need from a float rod if you’re likely to encounter bigger fish.
Eventually my balanced tackle got the better of a decent-sized carp, and what a handsome fish it was – bristling with indignation, it had clearly never been caught before.
The Reality Match had done its job, absorbing the carp’s every lunge without cause for concern. Yes, of course this rod was made to tackle silvers on rivers and stillwaters, but when it’s called to battle stations you’ll be glad to have it your side.
Our verdict: What's not to like about this rod? It’s very well priced, easy to use, feels reassuringly sturdy, and is ideal for all float work, trotting or static. As proved during the live test it also has a touch of steel about it, which means it will handle big fish with little hassle.