Shakespeare’s Sigma Offers Unbeatable Value

Hoping to get into pellet waggler fishing this summer? You’ll be hard pushed to find a rod offering better value for money than the 10ft 6ins Shakespeare Sigma Supra Pellet Waggler.

As it’s priced at just £44.99, you might well expect the Sigma to be heavy and of poor quality – however, my experience of Shakespeare’s rods tells me that nothing could be further from the truth.

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Having owned a Mach 2XT Barbel rod for 10 years, I can vouch for the strength and robustness of the company’s rods, and I expected the same of the Supra Sigma Pellet Waggler rod.

Featuring a sturdy screw-down reel seat, a strong carbon blank and titanium oxide guides throughout, the rod is tailor-made for taming hard fighting commercial fishery carp.

A mixed cork and EVA handle, along with simple graphics, give the rod a rugged, no-nonsense look, and unlike a book, I expected to be able to judge the Sigma by its cover.

I headed to Cambridgeshire’s Decoy Lakes to test my theory, and sat on Lou’s Lake, where carp were basking in the summer sun.

The rod balanced perfectly with a 3000-sized reel, and is light enough to hold all day – essential when fishing the waggler.

After feeding the swim for a few minutes and casting regularly, the float buried and the Sigma was yanked into its fighting curve.

The rod’s action is best described as ‘slow to through’, with a soft tip that steadily tapers down to a beefy butt section.

A feeling you sometimes get with budget rods is that they will shatter at any moment when they’re tested to their limit, but not so with the Sigma.

Throughout the day I never felt under-gunned, as I have done in the past when using softer pellet waggler rods that bend right through to the butt. Pulling fish away from snags on the far margin was no problem at all. 

The rod also casts well, and despite it having a 10g-30g casting weight I could chuck a 7g waggler with ease.

Its 10ft 6ins length makes for pinpoint accuracy, which is a particularly attractive feature, because one of the most popular tactics at the moment is ‘mugging’, where you cast a single bait at a cruising fish. On the day I tested the rod this ploy was particularly important, as the carp weren’t really interested in feeding shallow – and so dropping a bait right on their noses was the best way to fool them. 

Shakespeare is a company that has built its reputation on offering professional quality at an affordable price, and the Sigma Supra carries on that tradition.

Verdict: For catching ‘proper’ carp you’ll struggle to find a rod that offers better value for money. This makes the Sigma Supra Pellet Waggler the perfect tool for someone new to pellet waggler fishing, or as a spare for the more experienced angler.

What I would say is that if your local venue contains a large head of F1s or carassio, fish notorious for coming off under the rod-tip, you may experience problems with hook pulls due to the stiff butt section of this rod. However, with regular commons and mirrors you’ll be fine.

Don’t let the 10g-30g casting weight put you off, as this rod will comfortably cast much lighter wagglers.

If you shop around it’s also possible to pick up this rod at prices well below its RRP.

Price: £44.99 



Daiwa Black Widow Barbel Rod 12ft 1.75lb & Black Widow Specialist Rod 12ft 1.5lb Review

Looking every inch like expensive custom-built rods, the two 12ft Daiwa Black Widow Barbel and Specialist models are built using full-carbon two-piece blanks that are garnished with an understated matt non-glare finish. 

They are furnished with a well-spaced set of durable stainless steel framed guides that have hard-wearing, braid-proof aluminium oxide linings.  Both rods also have hollow tubular top sections that are ideal for fishing situations which require the use of heavier leads, feeders, and stronger than normal terminal tackle. 

However, before you run away with the idea that this pair of affordable specialist rods are both little more than ringed broom handles, they are both supplied with permanently fixed 2oz test curve glass quiver top sections ideal for targeting shy-biting fish or when tackling still or slow, meandering water where a more sensitive set-up will be beneficial. 

Which rather bizarrely is a million miles away from where the pair actually underwent their endurance of a live test. Heavy rain and high water levels just after the start of the new river season had meant that the fish had been pushed out of the normal areas I would expect to bag barbel and catch reports from the opening week were pretty sparse. After a few phone calls I discovered a few fish were being caught from the tidal Trent. If anywhere’s going to test a barbel rod to its limits it’s here, I thought to myself. If it can survive this test it will handle anything else.

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The Tidal Trent is a serious water. It’s wildly fast flowing in spots, very deep in places, boils and bubbles like a witch’s cauldron, and is generally completely unforgiving of angling errors.   

Its rock and boulder banks and bed are a nightmare, and just to make things doubly difficult for the angler, it flows both ways depending on the tide of the day. Oh yes, it’s quite tasty too but most definitely more Vindaloo than Korma!

The fish that swim the inhospitable depths of the Tidal Trent are nothing less than lean, mean, super fit fighting machines. Think of them as permanently living on a fast-paced treadmill! And that’s what makes the tidal reaches so popular with a multitude of match and specimen anglers. It’s wild water fishing at its raw best. 

So where and how does this Daiwa pairing fit into the equation? Well although both rods are close to the cusp on both casting weights and casting distances on a river such as this, the lighter Specialist model is well worth a look, even if you’re a match angler targeting fast-water bream, skimmers and hybrids. 

It has a bit more backbone for casting heavier feeders than a normal match style quivertip feeder, but with just enough cushioning softness to allow for lighter lines, from say 0.14mm and more, and smaller hooks from size 16 hooks upwards. 

The Barbel model was pushed to its absolute limit on this live test, as the session kicked off with a hefty 70g feeder cast to mid-river and went up from there, as the ebb tide pulled hard. Fish-playing wise, the blank’s progressive action is a little too much for a powerhouse river such as this, and I did lose a couple of big fish I couldn’t keep out of the boulders. Maybe it was it was just bad angling on my part. But let’s face it, none of us ever blame ourselves! And the occasional loss is always going to be expected when fishing such an extreme venue. 

By the end of the test, however, the number of fish the rod put on the bank vastly outnumbered those that had escaped. If rods could talk, this one would have said ‘thank flip that’s over with!’ 

www.daiwasports.co.uk

Mark’s verdict

For my money the Black Widow Specialist model would make a good stillwater tench and bream tool and would also double-up as a very handy winter chub rod for any water. The Barbel model is an ideal all-rounder for any river, maybe better suited to the more sedate Thames and Avon flows, where its 2oz fixed quivertip section would come into play. Pacier rivers such as the Wye, Severn and Trent could be tackled with its tubular carbon top section.  

The tidal Trent really is at the upper limit at what the rod can handle. But the venue is a different animal to most waterways and normally requires tackling with what can be hugely expensive bespoke rods. The fact that this high value for money Black Widow rod tamed plenty of fish from this river speaks volumes about how good it is.

Korum Neoteric FS 1.75lb 12ft rod

The pursuit of specimen fish other than carp can be a heady affair. Picture an early-morning walk to the lake through dew-laden meadows painted with golden shafts of sunlight. 

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Your every step is softly placed, lest the grass underfoot snaps with thunderous disapproval. The dawn chorus quietens for a moment, then strikes up again – if the birds don’t know you’re here, no-one will. 

Lily beds, bedecked with white and red flowers, are in stark contrast to the lake’s peat-stained water. Their stems twitch and bob, revealing tell-tale signs of fish movement below.

A deft cast places the float in the perfect position, and with a few grains of corn scattered around it tiny streams of bubbles emanate from the depths. To a time-served angler these are a sure sign of an impending bite. 

Then, as if possessed, the float lifts fractionally before sliding away, and you’re in.

Romantic and dewy-eyed as such images may be, the plain truth is that most modern-day specialist angling is conducted on large open gravel pits.

All of which brings me nicely to the latest Neoteric FS rods from Korum. The original Neoterics appeared back in 2011, in fact I still use the superb 12ft twin top models for most of my barbel fishing. The new 12ft, 1.75lb Neoteric FS rods on test, though, are among four models with lengths from 11ft 6ins up to 12ft, test curves from 1.25lb to 2.25lb, and casting weights ranging from 15g to 120g.

The Neoteric carbon blanks are two-piece, and their fittings revolve around managing a comprehensive array of modern specimen tactics for a variety of species. Light, slimline carbon blanks with a powerfully progressive action are teamed with stabilised tips for accurate casting of feeders and leads. 

On the bank the rods have the look of expensive custom-built models. Their non-reflective matt grey gunmetal finish contrasts attractively with the high-gloss 3k carbon weave area just above the handle, while the full cork handle and well-spaced, fully lined Seaguide rings add class and sophistication to what are very sensibly priced rods.

In keeping with my opening words, I choose to live-test the rods at a well-established old gravel pit with picture postcard reed and lily pad margins.

I’d be targeting the deep water’s tench and bream with corn, worm and maggot hookbaits over PVA mesh bags of micro pellets. Using 2oz leads and small bags I can happily report that the 12ft, 1.75lb rods on test can cast this sort of set-up with consummate ease, and could easily handle at least an ounce more casting weight. 

The blanks are seriously powerful on the cast, while their progressive fish-playing actions are meaty and uncompromising, perfect for big fish in weedy waters, or where casting distance is of paramount importance. 

I would, though, suggest that unless you are after longer casting distances or the use of heavier leads or feeders, the lighter 11ft 6ins, 1.25lb rods would better suit smaller venues where shorter casts are the order of the day.

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Verdict

Korum has thought long and hard about its latest Neoteric FS rods. They are designed for the specialist angler regardless of fish species or type of venue. Their heavy, progressive playing actions, especially the 1.75lb and 2.2lb test curve versions, make them ideal for weedy or snag-strewn waters.

Price: £84.99-£99.99

Daiwa Black Widow Range

Daiwa’s extensive Black Widow kit is a high value for money big-fish range that covers everything from rods and reels to luggage and accessories. Whether you’re new to carp fishing or just want to kit yourself without spending an absolute fortune then this could be exactly what you’re after. This month we take a look at some of the main items that the range has to offer...

1) G50 12ft rods
A range of rods from  2.75lb to 4.5lb test curve offering power and distance with good fish-playing properties. Features include lightweight blanks, slim full shrink grip handles, 50mm butt guides and a DPS reel seat. The 4.5lb model is ideal for spod and marker work

RRP: £74.99 - £84.99

2) 25a reels

Compact big-pit style reels with ‘carpy’ all black looks. Features include an abbreviated drag range, line-friendly clip and a graphite body for weight saving and toughness.

RRP: £79.99 

3) G50 10ft rod

This shorter rod is ideal for use on small waters or in tight swims where overhanging trees making casting 12ft rods tricky. RRP: £64.99 

4) 6 leg bed
Designed around a steel frame and weighing 9.5kg, this well-padded bed has a cushioned pillow for extra comfort. The leg lock system ensures stability and it packs down to a compact size.

RRP: £99.99 

5) Carp chair

A compact and lightweight chair with a cushioned seat and backrest. All of the legs are extendable and have swivel mudfeet. The chair  packs down nice and small so is easy to transport.

RRP: £49.99

6) 3 rod pod

A versatile pod  which enables you to easily change the height, length and angle with the leg adjustment system. In-built spirit levels ensure a stable set-up. Supplied in a case for easy transport.
RRP: £89.99 

7) 40L carryall

A spacious holdall with a zipped main compartment, two front pockets and two side pockets. There’s a strengthened material on the base of the carryall and pockets for longevity.

RRP: £36.99 

8) Unhooking mat

A PU covered flat foam mat. Folds up for ease of transport. 

RRP: £16.99

9) weigh sling

Made from fish-friendly mesh with strong webbing weigh straps.

RRP: £11.99 

10) Rig wallet

Two foam boards and hook locater bar enable you to keep your pretied rigs organised and in top condition. Supplied with 10 pins.

RRP: £13.99

MIDDY ARCO-TECH CARP FEEDER Review

Middy International has the happy knack of producing great rods at a great price – in fact its original silver-coloured 4GS range still ranks among the best in its price bracket. 

So when Middy boss David Middleton called to tell me he had the new Arco-Tech rods to show me, I was keen to see how the successor to the 4GS would measure up.

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Within the Arco-Tech series there are two feeder models – the K-275 9ft/10ft and the K-306 10ft/11ft. Both are super-slim, but not so slim that you feel you need to treat them with kid gloves! A super-tough Kevlar wrap strengthens the blanks throughout. Both rods are multi-length, thanks to a short foot-long extension without eyes. Should you need to extend the rod to its longer length, simply slip in the extension in mid-session. A nice touch, you’ll agree... 

There’s plenty of poke in the butt section, while the tip section is much softer, striking a pleasing balance between power and forgiveness. The action is soft to parabolic, so F1s or skimmers will still put a lovely flat spot-free bend into it, while the chances of losing fish when using light lines and small hooks are remote.  

The final key feature is the unique ‘Trigger Tips’. These are super-sensitive carbon tips whose unique action emphasises the most tremulous of bites. The light tip, in particular, is very impressive in this respect and well lives up to its Trigger name. 

Middy is really proud of these rods, quite rightly so, as they are packed with features, and raise the rod building and development bar even higher.

The live test at the pretty day-ticket Stretton Farm fishery just off the A1 north of Peterborough proved to be a sodden affair, with unrelenting rain all day long. The only bright spot was the 10ft/11ft Arco-Tech Carp Feeder rod on test performance – crisp as fresh lettuce, and with just the right blend of power and poise to make it ideal for most commercial tactics. The rod is no Olympic distance performer, but will easily handle a pub-chuck of 35-40 yards with considerable accuracy. 

My best advice to anyone looking to own one of these slender beauties is to make sure you keep the line between rod-tip and feeder tight at all times to prevent it from looping back over the end guide. Make sure (with a quick tug prior to casting) that it isn’t caught up, as the Trigger Tip ends are very fine and wouldn’t survive the impact of a miscast.

Verdict: The Arco-Tech is an ideal rod for commercial anglers, and has some excellent new features. KTS Smooth Flow guides sit at a special angle to prevent wrap-ups during the cast and make the whole process very smooth. Being able to add a 1ft butt extension is very handy, especially as you don’t need to break down your tackle. The light and medium Trigger Tips are ideal for spotting tiny bites when the fish are in a fickle mood. 

The rod is rated to 10lb mainlines and 8lb hooklengths, with a recommended maximum casting weight of 50g, so don’t think that it won’t handle bigger fish.

Personally, though, I would use the rod with 6lb mainlines, hooklengths up to a 0.19mm, and feeders up to 30g.

Price: £99.99 (but shop around)

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Daiwa Crosscast Rod & Reel Review

Looking to get into big-carp fishing on a budget but don’t know what rods and reels to buy?

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Simple! Read this review, then watch the video on Daiwa’s Crosscast 10ft, 12ft and 13ft rods with test curves from 2.75lb to 3.5lb. Built around Daiwa’s proven 1K woven carbon blanks, these beauties will help you to add yards to your cast. 

A responsive, progressive action ensures that you’ll stay in control of the hardest-fighting fish.

Team one of these with the new super carpy Crosscast carp reel packed with top-end tech including a superb QD front drag system, HIP line-friendly clip and super smooth Diggigear retrieve and you’re off to a flying start!

CROSSCAST 5000C QD REEL

Daiwa’s latest Crosscast Carp 5000C QD is, in my opinion, a big pit game changer of a reel. 

Packed with more technical wizardry than a Euro jet fighter, not only does it hit the heights in performance terms, but its classic all-black finish and sharp body lines are up there with the very best in the style stakes. 

The Crosscast slow oscillation system produces a line-lay that even to the trained eye looks as precise as you would expect to find on the most expensive reels. And as the reel is endowed with Daiwa Digigear it has a ramped-up, silky-smooth winding transmission that pulls in 106cm of line per handle crank. 

The front-of-spool QD (quick drag) system works a treat, with nothing more than a few clicks on the spool knob needed to pile on or reduce the pressure when playing a big fish. QD also makes easy work of setting the reel spool up perfectly under any conditions for your next run. 

The amount of line (300m of 0.35mm) you can get on to the
long-cast spool will appeal particularly to those who like to place their baits at range using a bait boat. 

During the live test I played a big fish while standing waist-deep in water, then purposely dropped the reel into the wet stuff for several minutes while I unhooked the fish. 

Did a dunking affect the reel and how it performed in any way? Well... quick shake dry and it was working just as well as when I took it from its box. How on earth does Daiwa produce this reel for under £80?

Price: £79.99

CROSSCAST CARP 12ft, 3lb test curve

Thanks to a dependable carbon weave material and a decent array of furnishings, Daiwa’s Crosscast carp rods are as easy on the eye as they are on the pocket. 

For a modest amount of moolah you get ceramic LS-lined guides (including a 50mm butt guide and anti-frap tip ring), full flared shrink-grip handle and an original Fuji reel seat. 

The 12ft, 3lb test curve model on live test duty is a ‘Steady Eddie’ of a performer that can turn its hand to just about any method. It will handle solid  PVA bags and straight lead set-ups, and is just about soft enough on the top of its tip section for zig tactics using hooks as small as size 12.  

Very well suited to smaller or middle-sized venues, it will chuck up to 65 yards with ease, and will achieve 100 yards-plus in the hands of an accomplished caster. 

However, the Crosscast is definitely not a horizon-buster, but more of an all-round tool for the newbie carper looking for a dependable and good-looking carp rod on a realistic budget.

Price: £89.99

Middy Reactacore XZ Ultra-Control Mini Commercial feeder rod

Middy produces some impressive commercial fishery rods these days, and there’s something to suit everyone’s budget.

The latest Reactacore XZ feeder rods include the fast-taper three-piece XZ Ultra-Control 12ft 6ins all-round distance model. This test, though, is all about Middy’s two-piece 10ft 6ins Reactacore XZ Mini Commercial rod, built using the latest Quad-layering carbon technology. This involves four sheets of high-modulus carbon layered together at different angles, and results in a strong, rigid rod with a highly reactive parabolic fish-playing action. 

The carbon undergoes a VC-X extreme pressure vacuum curing process that forces out any tiny air bubbles for a uniformly excellent action. The rod also benefits from Maximus weave wrap joints which prolong the life of the joints but increase the linear strength even further. All very impressive stuff! 

The feather-light blank is exceptionally slim, and boasts classy SCX smooth cast guides, a small hook retainer, modern S-Line style reel seat, and two carbon quivertips. Middy rates the rod to a maximum 10lb mainline and 8lb hooklength, with casting weights between 10g and 56g. And let’s not forget the natty Middy MX-Series rod bag it arrives in.

These top-drawer rods are not cheap. The new 10ft 6ins Reactocore XZ Mini Commercial Feeder will likely set you back around £209, but the ‘wow factor’ alone justifies the price.

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To confirm that quality I headed to Decoy Lakes. Its many lakes respond to all manner of tactics and the fish range from great big lumps through to turbo-charged barbel, F1s of all sizes, and a raft of silvers – all of which are of a decent size and will respond to most open-water tactics.

Putting this XZ rod together, you can’t help but be impressed by its pencil-slim profile. Its sections are pretty much of equal length when the carrier section’s quivertip is in place, so it can be easily transported ready made-up.

I was not, though, wholly convinced by its suggested 56g (2oz) maximum casting weight. For me the top end of the carrier section has slightly too much play in it. It would be fine with up to 40g (more than enough for your average commercial when using a rod less than 11ft long).

There’s no denying its impressive post-cast recovery rate, but this rod is clearly not of the ‘give it a whack’ breed! An over-enthusiastic miscast could prove very costly!

That aside, the performance of Middy’s flagship feeder-flinger offers a wondrous amount of torque and feel, and an all-round performance up there with the best commercial feeder rods. 

The stunning gloss black blank has a phenomenal line pick-up speed, casts straight and true and is super lightweight in the hand. The parabolic action is responsive to any size of fish. Quite simply it’s immaculate. Does it have the ‘wow factor’? Most definitely! 

Verdict: A genuine high-performance feeder rod, this top-end model will comfortably handle feeders and straight leads of 40g-plus with ease. Equally suited to light maggot feeder and flatbed Method tactics with wafter hookbaits, or indeed fishing a straight lead with bread discs.  

Price: £209.99 

Maver MV-R 9ft Mini Feeder review

The new MV-R Commercial Mini Feeder rods from Maver are the perfect tools for anglers fishing venues where short-range casting for carp and F1s is required.

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The 8ft and 9ft models are part of the MV-R range that consists of nine rods. There are four float fishing models and three feeder rods on top of the two Mini Feeder rods. All the rods feature ultra-slim high modulus carbon blanks with a jet-black gloss finish.

Boasting a seamless, progressive fish-playing action and top-grade ceramic guides, cork and EVA handles and screw-down reel seats, their good looks are matched by their superb performance.

For this test I decided to give the 9ft Mini Feeder model an outing. This rod has a wickedly fast progressive action that will easily cast a feeder or straight lead of up to 30g to 35 yards without too much effort. 

If you think you will need to cast further than this then the 10ft version is what you want. For real long distances take a look at the MV-R 11ft and 12ft rods.

The first thing I noticed about the nine-footer was that it felt a tad tippy, but it’s just the job for F1s and smaller carp, minimising the likelihood of hook-pulls or snap-offs at close range. The blank is well suited to reel lines from 3lb-8lb, and hooklengths of 0.13mm and upwards.

The pencil-thin carbon blank breaks down into two 48ins sections with one of the three supplied quivertips – 0.5oz, 0.75oz and 1oz – fitted. This two-piece design means you can have it ready-to-go with a reel attached in your holdall, saving you the time normally reserved for setting up when you arrive at the venue.

For this test I headed to Willows Lake on the Decoy complex at Whittlesey, just outside of Peterborough.

The plan was to fish a small maggot feeder, which I was confident would produce bites from F1s. This tactic requires minimal feed and accurate casting, which is exactly what this rod delivers.

I found the wand very much to my liking. It cast, as expected, straight as a die, and on a small platform it was nice and easy to get into position. 

Tippy it may be, but that suited me fine as I landed several fish up to about 3lb. Had anything bigger come along I would have been confident of landing it because I have handled enough short feeder rods to know that this one had more than enough steel in its backbone to handle it. 

A weak-willed wobble wand it certainly isn’t, so well done Maver.  

Verdict:

The 9ft rod is free of flat spots, with an impressive fish-playing pedigree to suit commercial waters. It would also make a handy summer margin Method tool. 

It’s not cheap for such a short rod, but you get what you pay for. For me, a big plus point is the equal-length sections, making it a doddle to transport already made up in a carryall.

Price: £120

Contact: www.mavermatch.co.uk

korum launches new float and quiver rods

These three splendid new rods from Korum blend strength and sensitivity in a range styled for traditional appeal, yet engineered for a contemporary performance. 

Finesse and power come through in equal measure, transmitting more feel through the blanks and making the playing of fish a joy – just what you want in true all-round rods. 

The equal-length slimline carbon blanks are furnished with full cork handles with Duplon reel grips, lightweight lined guides throughout, and slim 16mm reel seats, ideal for smaller 2500 and 3000 sized reels. 

Both the feeder rods come with three tips, and the suggested line strength rating for all models is 4lb-10lb.

10ft AND 11ft AMBITION ALL-ROUND QUIVER  

Perfect for any angling situation, from stalking small-river chub to bagging up on commercials, these quivertip rods can be used confidently with any type of feeder or straight lead tactic. Both have a parabolic, almost through, action that delivers power where and when it’s needed, 

but with enough sensitivity to allow the use of lighter lines and smaller hooks when conditions demand them.  

11ft AMBITION ALL-ROUND FLOAT 

A two-section rod that breaks down into equal lengths, the Ambition Float rod will propel wagglers from as light as 3AAA up to 15g-plus. The slender blank boasts plenty of stopping power towards its mid to butt area, while still retaining a cushioned, fairly responsive tip speed. Fitted with superior lightweight guides, the full cork and Duplon handle offers superior grip, while its parabolic action puts a wealth of approaches right at your fingertips. 

Offering a very high performance at an affordable price, the build quality, furnishings and finish of these Ambition rods truly belies their modest price tags. Great all-rounders, and well suited to multi-tasking.

Price: £49.49 (all models)

Abu Garcia Victis 30g lure rod review

A lure rod designed for bank and boat fishing needs to tick all the boxes in terms of stiffness and sensitivity and we think we’ve found the ideal tool in the Abu Garcia Victis 30g option. 

On first inspection this 6ft 6ins rod looks fairly pokey, with a fast action, but put it through its paces and a gentle giant is revealed, with a fish-playing action more in keeping with a rod three times its asking price. 

Angling Times staffmen Ian Jones, Chris Haydon, Freddie Sandford and Sam Curtis regularly get out and fish a local waterway in their lunch hour for pike, zander and perch – the perfect opportunity to review the 30g Abu Garcia Victis rod. 

How did they rate it? Here’s what the lads had to say...

News reporter - Chris Haydon

“This Abu Garcia rod is perfect for targeting pike and zander on larger jig heads of 10g-plus. 

“Its stiffness makes it useful for punchy casts, and when it’s loaded correctly great distances can be achieved. While it’s probably not the best rod on
the market for perching with micro-lures, it doubles up as a good tool for vertical jigging.  

“During testing I caught a cracking perch of 2lb on a 5g jig head, along with a small pike.

“Both bites were easily detected through the rod, which landed the fish with ease.”

News reporter  - Freddie Sandford

“Despite its 30g rating, the 6ft 6ins Victis can still be used for fishing with smaller jig heads and spinners.

“On a recent session we arrived at a local water to find pike smashing fry tight into the margins, and the short rod enabled pinpoint casting into small gaps in the reeds.

“The rod was tested with pike to around 5lb, and there was still enough give in the rod’s somewhat stiff action to cushion the lunges and sudden runs of these fish.

“Although the rod wasn’t designed for this sort of fishing, my results highlight its versatility.”

Web producer  - Sam Curtis

“Abu Garcia’s Victis rod is a convenient size for any angler who wants to travel light – and given our limited time on the bank it was the perfect accompaniment to our lunchtime session. 

“The Victis was a real joy to cast – with a 30g rating it could chuck 5g-10g lures with ease. A stiff yet responsive tip made playing pike a pleasure.

“For me the rod was probably a bit too heavy for the fish we were targeting on the day, and I would probably prefer one of Abu’s lighter-rated models.”

News editor Ian Jones

“As we only have an hour over lunch to fish we need to get to the bank fast, and at just 6ft 6ins long the Victis slides into the back of the car with ease. 

“I was surprised at its sensitivity, considering its 30g rating. There are lots of perch in the water we fish and you do hook a few on lures meant for pike or zander – but none of the satisfaction and enjoyment of the fight was lost with these smaller fish. 

“I was particularly impressed with its fast action, which is vital when fishing for zander in deep water. You need to keep in touch with your lure at all times, and this rod let me do just that. 

“We fished from the bank on the day but I’d love to test this rod properly on a deep reservoir which is where I think it’ll show its true potential. 

“The dual-screw reel seat is a unique feature that I’m yet to find on any other rod.”

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Daiwa Tournament pro feeder review

In match fishing you can test yourself against the very best, using the same equipment as the stars.

Not so in other sports. Try popping down to your local Mercedes dealer and asking if you can have an F1 car like the one Lewis Hamilton drives. Or see if you can get on the Etihad pitch just because you’re wearing new Adidas footy boots! 

Spiky accusations of having ‘all the gear and no idea’ are often levelled at match anglers, but there’s lots to be said for using tackle chosen by world-class anglers. If it’s good enough for them, it’ll be good enough for you!

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So when Daiwa launched its Tournament Pro Feeder 10ft and Tournament Pro 9ft-10ft Feeder rods late last year I was itching to get my hands on at least one of the pair. But before revealing my thoughts on the new Tournament Pro Feeder 10ft that landed on my desk, allow me to dispel any false news that you may have heard about Daiwa’s latest Tournament Pro Match and Feeder rod range. 

The only changes are improvements to their spec – the handles are sexier than ever, with a new cutaway design and ‘Tournament’ embossed EVA foregrip. That, plus an improved matt black Tournament reel seat and new guides, is the sum total of the changes. Bias V-Joints, HVF Nanoplus materials and Megatop quivers remain exactly the same.  

Anyway, on a wickedly cold late January day came my chance to have a closer look at the new Tournament Pro Feeder 10ft. The weather, need I say, was brass monkeys, but Westwood Lakes near Boston are always good for a few bites. I chose Swallow, a narrow snake lake packed with F1s, carp and skimmers, and the ideal venue for a rod like this.

Rob, manager of the on-site tackle and bait shop, advised me to fish peg 4, where you only need to cast a small maggot feeder two foot from the far bank to have them lining up – or so Rob said!

Three hours later, as Angling Times staff photographer Lloyd sat in the car with the heater full on for fear of his long lens freezing and dropping off, the rod tip finally moved. 

A fractional twitch of the super-sensitive 0.75oz Megatop quiver was enough to strike at, and the first fish of the day came grudgingly to the net. 

The rod, like all Daiwa Tournament Pros, has a blank built in Scotland, delivering flex and action without compromising accuracy or casting power. The pain barrier is in the wallet. The full asking price of £415 works out at around £41.50 per foot… and well worth it. 

The blank’s outstanding forgiveness is a wonder to behold, yet it can shift up several more gears if necessary and pile on the pressure without recoiling, twisting or locking up. 

As a bonus, this year’s Tournament Feeder rods come with three (as opposed to two) virtually unbreakable Daiwa Megatop carbon quivertips. 

On the 10ft rod these are perfectly graded to suit the blank at 0.75oz, 1oz and 1.5oz.

This world-class all-round feeder rod has no equals in its 10ft class. It’s better suited for use on small commercials and natural venues than to long chucks on open water, as it doesn’t have the length to pick up line fast enough, or cast to the horizon. But other than that, the only negative I can find is its price.  

Price: £415  

Browning CK Bomb rod review

Regular readers of my tackle reviews will know that I am a big fan of Browning products. 

Introducfing short rods for use on commercial fisheries was one of the German tackle company’s many firsts – I could also mention pre-cut and tactically designed pole top kits, longer pole butt sections for better linear balance, and true stated lengths. Not to mention Browning’s flagship Sphere rods, way ahead of their time – the Distance Feeder models are quite exceptional.

But what of the more affordable gear? The latest CK (Carp King) rod range spans 13 models covering everything from a 10ft F1 Micro Waggler through to a Method Feeder rod, and prices start from a very reasonable £54.99.   

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All models in this new CK range share Browning’s most advanced technical carbon advances, but each fulfils a specific need. For instance, the Method Feeder rod is furnished with low-profile, ultra-low-friction SiC guides for enhanced casting performance, while the F1 rods are 20 per cent softer-actioned than the standard rods, and ideal for use with lighter lines and hooklengths. 

One thing they all have in common, though, is that they look fantastic – super-slim blanks are decked out in a classy gloss black livery, and every time I have taken them to the bank other anglers have commented on their stunning appearance.  

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at Browning’s CK range late last year at a trade show held at the firm’s Bremen HQ in Germany. Light and lively in the hand, with seamless parabolic curves, they made a great initial impression on me.

I asked if I could be sent samples as soon as they became available and, sure enough, they turned up at the Angling Times offices a week or so ago. 

Now, live-testing commercial fishery rods in January can be a bit hit-and-miss. The fish ball up in certain pegs, and even when you do find them it isn’t easy. 

Undaunted, though, I wended my way to Decoy Lakes with the entire CK range in the back of the motor. I figured that even if the fishing was a bit iffy I could still get an idea of how Browning has developed each model with its own distinctive footprint. 

So, with the choice of any model in the range, I assembled the CK Method Feeder, CK Carp Feeder, CK Bomb and CK Wand. I’d be using small cage and Method feeders and a straight bomb. 

Think of it as a ‘Goldilocks and porridge’ thing – but rather than ‘too hot, too cold’ it would be more of a ‘too stiff, too soft’ test that ended up ‘just right’. 

Surprisingly, the best rod in my opinion for Decoy’s Elm Strip Lake was the CK Bomb rod. 

This 10-footer has enough backbone to cast a 30g feeder without it bouncing around prior to the cast, and this is coupled with a sublime softish parabolic, almost through, action when a fish is on. 

However, there’s a fair helping of steel to call into play for the odd really big fish, which is just as well, given the eclectic population of Decoy’s strip lakes. 

It can also be used to punch a feeder out to 40 yards, should you feel the need. I had the rod threaded up with a 5lb mainline (you could push this to 8lb if you really needed to, or drop it to 3lb for close-quarters work). You would be safe using hooklengths as light as 0.12mm and as heavy as you wanted. 

If I were to buy one for myself for my winter commercial matches I would also invest in a Browning carbon quivertip, as the rod takes on a much sharper aspect with one of these at the business end.                 

Verdict: Although billed as a bomb rod, this Browning CK beauty is no old-school wand, capable only of winkling out silver fish from flooded rivers or canals. 

Instead it’s a modern commercial fishery tool with a fair casting backbone and non-locking playing action that can be used for nearly all standard commercial feeder and lead work. 

The ultra-slim blank delivers plenty of transmission, and for a bomb rod it has a slightly steely feel tempered by a reassuringly forgiving quality.

Price: £81.99

Korum Snapper Cult Deadbait rods review

Get hands with this rod at this year’s The Big One Show

It’s fair to say that when it comes to fishing for pike I’m about as out of place as a wire trace in a winder box full of silver fish rigs.

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As a match angler, after donkey’s years of trying to avoid the toothy roach-snatching critters, it’s my considered opinion that all you need do to catch a pike is fire out some maggots and wait for one to turn up and ruin your swim. 

The sound of bronzes sprinkling over the water seems to work in a very similar way to summoning the Kraken. Hey presto! Esox appears and proceeds to chow down on anything and everything you might happen to be catching.

And there you go – pike fishing sorted! Thousands of matchmen will tell you that my version of things is not far from the truth.

Luckily, though, I do know someone who knows all about ‘proper’ pike fishing – the UK’s most successful specimen angler and double Drennan Cup winner Dia Gribble. He’s slipped the net cord under many of the biggest fish (pike included) in the country.  

A hastily arranged meeting saw me pulling up alongside one of Dai’s favourite big-fish haunts, the picture postcard Copmere Lake near Eccleshall, Staffs. Focus of the day would be the latest 12ft two-piece 3.25lb Korum Snapper Cult Deadbait rods. These will cast deadbaits to the horizon, yet have an action sufficiently forgiving to avoid hook-pulls on a short line. 

They look the part, too, boasting a full cork handle with a secure screw-down carbon inlayed reel seat. The blanks have ceramic-lined, braid-friendly guides throughout, and Korum has gone for anti-frap tip and butt rings, a wise move indeed.

So after a quick tutorial from Dai on drop-off indicators, leads, rigs, and the correct way to mount a smelt deadbait (yes, they do smell of cucumber), I was in business.

If, like me, you have little idea about pike fishing but fancy giving it a go, the Snapper range of deadbait kit is pretty much foolproof to set up. Anyway, with Dai’s experience, it wasn’t long before the drop-off signalled the first run of the day, which turned out to be a spirited scraper double. 

The rod, which is quite stiff, does indeed have just about enough softness at the tip to make playing a fish an enjoyable experience but, as Dai was quick to point out, there are times when you’ll need to cast a big deadbait a long way, and that’s when you’ll appreciate the poke of this 12ft Snapper Cult Deadbait rod. 

Our Verdict: The Cult Deadbait rod has been developed with plenty of input from Dai Gribble and Snapper’s leading predator angler, Ed Matthews. As a newbie piker I must admit that I found the rod quite stiff, hardly surprising as I am more used to softer blanks. 

But as Dai said, you might find yourself having to cast half a mackerel, along with a lead, a very long way, which this rod does to perfection. Let’s be honest, with treble hooks it’s unlikely that you are going to pull out of the bait in mid-air.  

What I like is the rod’s all-round presentation – understated decals, pleasing whippings, butt cap, run clip, braid-friendly and anti-frap guides, and carbon inlay reel seat. All that gives it the look of an expensive custom-built rod.

Price: £64.99

fox rage prism pike rod review

If you’re after a simple yet effective lure set-up for big pike this Christmas, Fox Rage certainly has the tools for the job. 

Get your hands on all the latest rods, poles, reels and accessories at this year’s Big One Show

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Catching double-figure fish requires a rod with plenty of grunt – not only to handle the powerful runs of each specimen hooked but also to cope with the regular casting of baits of 30g or more. 

So you’ll be happy to learn that Rage’s latest Prism Pike Spin outfit ticks both these boxes with ease. 

At 7ft 10ins long and rated to chuck lures in the 30g-100g range,  it’s compact enough to fold down and fit into the boot of a car – but when it comes to the fishing you won’t be let down during the fight or while frequently casting your lure. And speaking of lures, the Fox Rage’s Loaded Natural Classics 2 patterns are the perfect accompaniment to this rod. 

These paddle-tailed beauties have a superb swimming action combined with a realistic finish – and considering they come in weights of 15g and 20g, they’re a fine fit for the Prism Pike Spin. 

When I was tasked with testing the two components together I couldn’t wait to see the outcome.

Lure tackle of this calibre is generally suited to gravel pit or reservoir fishing, but a lot of big pike inhabit our river systems – including the Soar in Leicestershire, home to twenties. 

On the stretch I fished there are canal boats moored on the far bank and beds of water cabbages along the near bank – with a 9ft-deep track down the middle. 

I clipped on the 14cm Loaded Natural Classic in perch colour and flicked it as tight to the far-bank boats as I could – allowing the lure to sink to the bottom of the shelf and retrieving quickly before it reached the cabbages. 

In two hours I roved up and down the bank employing this tactic, and a number of pike between 5lb and 8lb made their way into my net. 

The rod, although not tested by a true monster, was strong with a hint of softness, so none of the satisfaction of the fight was lost – a unique element considering it’s primarily intended for fish that go into double figures and above. 

When a pike did try to make an escape to some near-bank lilies, the Prism Pike Spin had more than enough guts to turn its head with no creaking of the blank whatsoever. It also cast the lures effortlessly throughout the day without showing signs of struggle.

In my opinion, the lures under review should be included in any serious pike angler’s armoury too. 

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They come in three different sizes and four realistic colours, but it’s the fact that they’re fully loaded and ready to fish straight from the packet that will see them shoot off the shelves. The already fitted harness system includes two razor-sharp Armapoint trebles connected to a strong wire trace and screw-in jig head. 

When a pike grabbed hold of the lure there was no way it was getting off – every bite resulted in a firm hookhold.

The swimming action is also phenomenal. The big paddle-tail kicked out lots of vibration and the sleek body enabled the lure to wobble enticingly on a quick retrieve, something that the pike simply could not resist.

Although no huge fish were caught on the day I left with no doubt in my mind that this combination of Fox Rage products could hook and handle pike of record-breaking proportions.

Our Verdict: A perfect tackle combination for all predator anglers wanting to catch monster pike. The Prism Pike Spin is a proper big-fish cruncher and the lifelike lures are the ideal match. I just wished I could have hooked a proper pike to really put the rod through its paces!

Price: Fox Rage Prism Pike Spin rod £94.99

Angling Direct's Advanta discovery rods review

When a good mate of mine suggested that as tackle editor of Angling Times I should take a long hard look at Angling Direct’s Advanta Discovery rods I admit to having been slightly sceptical. 

Get your hands on all the latest rods, poles, reels and accessories at this year’s Big One Show

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My previous experience of own-brand rods over the years had left a lot to be desired, to be honest. However, for friendship’s sake I rang Angling Direct’s commercial manager Stewart Downing, and arranged to pick up the Discovery RVS rod range.

Stewart, no mean angler himself, said he’d had plenty of input into the rods’ design and build, which somewhat allayed my fears about any lack of quality.

Turning them over in my hands I was more than pleasantly surprised by the rods’ looks. The lightweight, gunsmoke grey two-section blanks are clearly made from quality carbon cloths. Fittings include natty carbon-effect 18mm DPS reel seats with gunmetal grey hoods, and old-school full cork handles without a trace of Duplon or EVA to be seen. 

Understated decals add to the classy look, and the rods are ringed with decent-sized ceramic-lined guides throughout. I was very impressed, especially given their low prices.

The one that really caught my eye was the Discovery RVS Twin Tip Power S/U Barbel rod. 

Unusually, this bertie-beater comes with two identical-looking top sections emblazoned with luminous white tips, but with test curves of 2.25lb and 2.75lb, giving the user loads of tactical options.

I live reasonably close to the Trent, the UK’s best barbel river by a country mile, so it made perfect sense to go there with the Discovery Twin Tip. I knew just the swim!

Gunthorpe Island is fishable on a syndicate ticket, but I’m allowed on there every now and again. ‘Forceful’ does not come close to describing the heaving cauldron of white water that greets you at Gunthorpe Weir. The deafening torrent ripping over the sill fills the stoutest heart with trepidation but it’s a stunning assault on the senses, with clouds of spray and that unmistakable aroma of river. 

Every now and again the wind whips cotton balls of white foam from the water’s surface, and these rise into the air and vaporise as though they’d never existed. Magical stuff! 

I rigged the Advanta with 15lb reel line, 12lb hooklength and a super-strong hook, and should really have gone even heavier. 

This is not a distance-casting rod – its progressively through action is geared more towards helping you land big, aggressive fish than chucking 100 yards. But for hitting 70 yards with hefty kit and lines, the rod quite probably performs better than some costing three times as much.

By Gunthorpe’s standards it was a slow day. I’d mistaken one bite for weed on the line and lost the fish (my fault), so next time the tip pulled round I was all over the rod like a cheap suit. 

Piling on the pressure, I was impressed by the amount of grunt the rod’s mid-section put out. Being a twin tip, it’s versatile, too. The 2.25lb top is ideal for all normal work, while the meatier 2.75lb top is perfect for fast, deep rivers, even those swollen by floodwater.

You could, in fact, have a matching pair of these for the price of one expensive barbel rod that in my humble opinion would not do the job any better.

Our verdict:

Pound for pound, the Discovery Twin Tip Power with its 2.25lb and 2.75lb test curve top sections is arguably one of the best barbel rods on the market. You’d be hard-pushed to find a rod of its type to match it for the asking price.

It will tackle powerful rivers such as the Trent, Severn or Wye with its lighter top section in place, while for heavy leads and the meatiest of terminal kit the 2.75lb top comes into play. For playing big barbel, this eye-opening own-brand rod is up there with the very best.   


www.anglingdirect.co.uk     

Price: £64.99  

Fox Rage Warrior 2 rod review

Catching predators on big reservoirs can be a daunting task, especially if you don’t have the right gear for the job – but with Fox Rage’s latest Warrior2 rods you’re in safe hands from the off.

Get your hands on all the latest rods, poles, reels and accessories at this year’s Big One Show

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Anyone who fishes big waters like Rutland or Grafham will know that a fast-actioned rod is needed to stay in touch with your lure, especially in depths down to 90ft or more. 

So when I was tasked with testing Rage’s newly-released Warrior2 Vertical 185 and Spin 240 rods, I was eager to get down to Rutland Water to see if they were up to the mark.

Having vertically-jigged Rutland for zander with the wrong rod in the past, I was a tad apprehensive when I made my first drop with the Vertical 185, but was swiftly reassured when my 25g jighead and lure hit the reservoir floor in 65ft of water with very little bend evident in the rod-tip.

At just 6ft (185cm) long, it was stiff enough for great bite indication but not so stiff that it took the sting out of the fight. 

My lure remained in direct contact with the bottom at all times, which is essential if you want to spot bites when fishing from a drifting boat.

The Vertical 185 is labelled to handle weights of 14g to 28g, so when drifting over deeper water I thought I’d test a 30g jighead – and I’m pleased to say this heavier weight had little effect on the playing action of the rod.

When the zander finally revealed themselves on the fish finder at mid-depth it was time to switch to the Spin 240 and really cover some water.

This rod is a big-fish cruncher, rated to cast weights from 10g-30g, so I was happy to see that my 35g jighead wasn’t a step too far – the braided mainline slipped through the sleek guides effortlessly with no creaks of protest from the blank. 

For me, the real quality of the rod revealed itself while retrieving the lure – I could feel every twist of its paddled tail vibrating down the blank. As with the Vertical 185 there was an element of stiffness in this rod, but as soon as you hooked a zander it was forgiving, and could cope with the most powerful lunges without sacrificing the thrills of the fight.

The verdict: These are perfect rods for deep-water reservoir fishing that give unfailingly excellent bite indication and playing quality. The sleek grey high-modulus carbon blanks and cork handles add a touch of class, and considering you don’t need to break the bank to buy them you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck. The Spin 240 is as much at home on any river, canal or lake as it is on a reservoir.

Price: Fox Rage Warrior2
   Vertical 185  £39.99

Fox Rage Warrior2 Spin 240
    £44.99

Preston Innovation's Tyson Rods

Preston Innovations is all set to launch more new tackle items than ever before in 2019, Angling Times can reveal. 

The Telford-based firm, along with sister brands Avid, Korum and SonuBaits, will unveil tens of dozens of exciting new lines for next year in a couple of weeks’ time at its annual international trade show. 

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However, in this exclusive preview Angling Times offers you a sneaky peek at just a few of match brand Preston’s ‘must have’ new gear offerings for next season. 

Included in a cornucopia of new kit are three new XS Response poles, delectable new Superfeeder and Tyson rods, and two outstanding reel ranges –Extremity and Inertia.

TYSON MODELS

Preston’s Tyson branding tells you these rods are up for a fight, and built to take on all-comers! 

A wide range of lengths and styles covers all scenarios, but common to all is a progressive action, dependable furnishings and a classy finish – all, needless to say, at knockout prices!

9FT CARP FEEDER 

Designed for casts of up to 25m, the 9ft Carp Feeder can be used with confidence to target match-sized carp and F1s. You’ll be glad of it on small snake lakes when fishing to the far bank in windy conditions. 

Price: £49.99

10FT CARP FEEDER

Perfect for slightly longer casts of around 30m, the 10ft Carp Feeder is a great all-rounder for commercial carp up to double figures. The soft action blends into the butt section, which powers up progressively. 

Price: £54.99

11FT CARP FEEDER

The 11ft Carp Feeder is powerful enough to beast carp well into double figures, but is a beauty for playing smaller F1s and skimmers too. It’s suitable for casting Method feeders out to around 50m. 

Price: £59.99

12FT METHOD FEEDER

Roll out the big guns – this is a distance-casting rod that will propel Method Feeders beyond the 60m mark and take on any carp. Perfect for large open-water lakes, with its soft tip action it will handle smaller F1s and skimmers too. 

Price: £64.99

11FT PELLET WAGGLER

Suited to pellet waggler fishing with floats of up to 10g, its slightly through action will ensure that carp and F1s are easily tamed, while its responsiveness helps to hit bites at range. It can also be teamed with smaller standard wagglers for closer-range work. 

Price: £54.99

13FT WAGGLER

A great all-round rod for mixed species, this one is also capable of handling bigger carp. 

Ideal for use with standard wagglers at long range, its tip speed and responsiveness will help to hit shy bites. It is also an excellent river rod for use with wagglers and stick floats. 

Price: £69.99

Fishing Rod Review: Tri-Cast Excellence 8ft Power Wand

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. 

That, to my mind, makes it the ideal rod for edge fishing or chucking on your pole line – exactly what Tri-Cast built the Excellence for!

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.

Price: £179.99

Tri-cast excellence feeder rod review

The Tri-Cast excellence is of the many impressive commercial fishery rods to hit the market, everything from refined snake lake and pond models through to powerful creations that will graze the horizon. Within Tri Casts range there is something to suit everyone’s depth of pocket.

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At the topmost pinnacle of Tri-Cast’s latest feeder rod releases is the new Excellence range developed in conjunction with match ace Andy Bennett.

These top-drawer rods, as you might expect, are not cheap. The new 11ft Excellence on live test duty will likely set you back around £209, but you definitely get what you pay for.

So what exactly will you have in your hand in return for your herd of eight little Cockney ponies?

Well, on the face of it you’ll be getting a great looking ultra-slim, ultra-light rod with lightning-fast reflexes and superb high-end furnishings. 

Tri-Cast’s design flair and technological genius come together in a blank with both beauty and brains. In a nutshell, the rod enjoys a high resin-to-cloth ratio, which contributes to its non-locking action 

In addition, Tri-Cast has used its not inconsiderable aerospace knowledge to realign the way the carbon fibres are wrapped together. This all adds to the rod’s lightness, rigidity and post-cast recovery speed. 

Other luxury touches include three push-in carbon quivertips with coloured whipping bands – yellow (fine) 1oz, green (medium) 1.5oz, and red (stiff) 2oz. 

Low-profile single and double-legged ceramic-lined guides, and a dependable Tri-Cast reel seat and full cork handle, complete this impressive package.  

Tri-Cast claims the rod will cast bombs and feeders of around 50g using mainlines up to 8lb, which is standard manufacturers’ marketing speak for a commercial feeder rod of this ilk. 

In my humble opinion, though, top-end or flagship rods should always have the ‘wow factor’. Yes, you’re shelling out for classy furnishings, fittings and carbon technology, but without that noticeable ‘edge’ all that alchemy counts for nowt.

And so, to discover the aforementioned edge, on to the live test. A favourite water of mine is the peaceful day-ticket Stretton Lakes complex, just off the A1 north of Peterborough. 

The fish here are all of a decent size, and respond to open-water tactics, which makes them ideal helpmates for testing feeder rods.

As you put this Tri-Cast Excellence Feeder rod together you can’t help but be impressed by its pencil-slim profile. Its sections are pretty much of equal length when the carrier section’s quivertip is in place, so it can be moved around ready made-up.

I was not, though, wholly convinced by its suggested 50g maximum casting weight and, for me, the top end of the carrier section has a little too much play. There’s no denying its impressive recovery rate, but this rod is clearly not of the ‘give it a whack’ breed. An over-enthusiastic miscast could prove very costly in more ways than one!

But there the criticism ends. The performance of Tri-Cast’s aristocratic feeder-chucker will have you purring with satisfaction. It has a wondrous amount of torque and feel, and a handling performance up there with the very best. 

The immaculate gunmetal grey blank has a phenomenal pick-up speed, and its responsiveness to any size of hooked fish is as smooth as peaches and cream. 

Verdict: A GENUINE high-performance rod for the commercial fishery connoisseur, this top-end Tri-Cast Feeder will handle most weights of flatbed feeders and straight leads to 30g-plus. It’s as much at home using a maggot feeder with light lines and small hooks for F1s as it would be targeting far bigger fish with bread discs in winter. 

Price: £209.99 (but shop around)

TRI-CAST excellence waggler 10ft Review

Latest to join the Tri-Cast gallery of excellence are new waggler and feeder rods. 

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The latest Excellence Commercial series (see what I did there?) has been masterminded by the seemingly unstoppable match juggernaut that is Andy Bennett. 

He had the boffins at Tri-Cast burning the midnight oil in pursuit of rods with perfect casting and fish-playing actions – and the results were, well… excellent!

The blanks feature the best possible carbon cloths and ultra-light resins. After all, Tri-Cast also produces parts for the aerospace industry, so the company’s extensive knowledge of all things carbon has been called into play to tweak the angles of the fibres, and how they are wrapped in multiple directions. This gives different actions in various areas of the blank.   

Tri-Cast also spent time playing with the placement of guides and whippings to get the very best performance from its new family. 

The 10ft (on live-test duty) 11ft, 12ft and 13ft waggler rods, Tri-Cast tells us, have a totally new through parabolic action that bends from the butt right through to the tip. As a result, anglers can feel every movement the fish makes and stay in full control. 

The rods behave like a soft cushion when a big fish is acting up, by absorbing its lunges and soaking up the pressure while still piling on the power.

The tip section, I’d been told, reacts as swiftly as a striking mamba, setting the hook firmly without risk of snapped hooklength tragedies.

All that sounds almost too good to be true, but then, these are no ordinary rods. As ever, the acid test was to get one out on the bank and see if the reality measured up to the manufacturers’ claims.

One of the busiest complexes in my area is the fish-packed Portland Fishing Lakes. This mature, very nicely kept day-ticket fishery in rural Nottinghamshire is renowned for its peace and quiet, comfortable easily accessible pegs and superb clubhouse. 

Here, I made a beeline for Long Island Lake. At just over 20m wide it’s beyond the reach of a far-bank pole attack, but responds well to a small waggler and hard pellets. Its stockie-sized carp lap these up.  

Terminal tackle was simple – a 5lb reel line attached to a straight 3AAA peacock waggler, 0.17mm hooklength, and a size 18 hook with a banded 6mm pellet.

The short 25m cast tight to the far bank, often a tricky distance for a waggler approach, proved ideal for the 10ft Excellence which, I later discovered, could push out heavy-ish kit towards 35m without many problems. 

I was also pleased to find that the Excellence was adept at casting my lightweight 3AAA float, especially given its hollow tip.

The rod cast straight enough most of the time, maybe wandering slightly to the right (or slicing, as a golfer might say), but nothing to get too peeved about. 

And, just as Tri-Cast had predicted, the rod showed lightning-fast line pick-up which, for a two-piece blank with a through action, is quite something. 

The real joy of fishing with this new Excellence, though, kicks in when a fish is hooked. Be it a small F1 or a proper zoo-creature, this rod will handle both – and everything between – to the manner born. 

I reckon this ‘one size fits all’ attribute has a lot to do with
Mr Bennett, who is widely believed to be the best F1 angler on the planet and would be looking for a rod with subtle tippy softness, yet enough steely backbone to cope with larger fish.

As is often the case when lots of stockie-sized fish are present, I overfed the peg with pellets, which resulted in a number of foul-hookers. 

Most of these pulled out before the net, but the exaggerated fight of fish hooked this way gave the rod a chance to shine. 

Handy for a waggler rod, the 10ft Excellence will handle most weights of floats, within sensible limits of course. The only limitation I can see is in its casting distance – anything much past around 30m and I’d plump for the 11ft or 12ft model instead.  

What's not to like? The Tri-Cast Excellence 10ft commercial waggler is one of the best rods you can buy, funds permitting. Light in the hand, it’s easy to manoeuvre, super-fast on the strike, and has an extraordinary capacity to cope with fish of all sizes. 

My only very minor nit-pick is the dull-as-ditchwater graphics. C’mon, Tri-Cast – this is a state of the art, cutting edge bit of kit, so why not dress it up to fully look the part?

Price: £189.99