Ever since pellet waggler tactics evolved to help anglers catch more and bigger carp from commercial waters, Shakespeare has had a top-selling rod for the job out there on the market.
Shakey’s award-winning Mach 3 XT Micro Pellet Waggler, for example, was a cutting-edge tool of its time, to be found in the holdalls of pleasure fishermen and matchmen of every skill set.
The tactic has stayed much the same over time, requiring a repetitive ‘feed, cast, feed’ sequence. Any changes revolve mainly around the type of venue we are now targeting, rather than anything more fundamental with the tackle itself.
Larger open-water venues such as Boddington, Larford, Barston and Meadowlands require longer, stiffer-actioned rods that will cast heavy floats and pack enough punch to play and subdue big fish.
Smaller commercial venues, such as snake lakes and 20-peg pint-sized pools pools, tend to be tackled with shorter 9ft, 10ft and 11ft rods, many of which are two-piece graphite blanks with a non-locking progressive action.
Even so, these can feel that bit heavier in the hand, and are not quite as quick at their tip-ends as all-carbon rods when it comes to lifting line from the water.
All this brings me nicely to this week’s live test rod, Shakespeare’s second generation Agility 2 Pellet Waggler 11ft, which is as close to an all-round pellet waggler rod as you’d wish to find.
At a push it will mix it up with heavier floats and big fish, while at the other end of the scale it can be used with small hooks and light floats for winter F1 fishing.
The live test at Decoy’s Beastie Lake proved the rod’s all-round mettle. I started in an open-water peg using 6lb mainline, a 0.17mm hooklength, size 16 hook and a 6mm banded pellet, all suspended beneath a hefty 10g pellet waggler to combat a nasty side wind.
Trying to keep the float still long enough to attract a bite proved nigh on impossible, and from experience I know that carp (no matter how daft) will not chase down a hookbait being dragged sideways across a swim!
So, despite my best efforts, all I had to show for an hour’s fishing was a couple of F1s, whose appetite obviously outweighed their intelligence. However, despite that niggling easterly, the rod cast the float straight and true and fairly whipped line from the surface on the strike.
A move to a quiet corner with a small island opposite proved just the ticket, and a much lighter 3AAA float proved no problem to cast for the Agility 2 Pellet Waggler 11ft. The rod’s reduced length handle is easy to manoeuvre around the body when feeding with one hand – an essential attribute – and the blank is impressively light and comfy.
Casting range I would put at 40m tops with a 15g float, that being as heavy as I’d want to chuck around with this rod, although Shakespeare does give it a 30g maximum casting weight.
Line pick-up speed is quite exceptional, thanks to its all-carbon build and fast taper design.
Seaguide double and single-legged stand-off lined guides, a quality cork and EVA handle, secure screw-down reel seat and a keeper ring add to the joy of fishing with this rod.
Its progressive, not to say slightly tippy, action gives it plenty of grunt, and helps make it an absolute pleasure to use.
Our verdict: It never fails to amaze me how Shakespeare has this happy knack of pulling something a little bit special out of the bag every year. The new Agility 2 Pellet Waggler 11ft looks, feels and performs every bit as well as rods costing three times its asking price. Slim and very light to hold for long periods, it makes easy work of feeding with a catapult. A viper-fast strike speed will help you connect with equally rapid F1 bites, even a respectable casting distance away.