COUPLE of months ago I got to try out one of Daiwa’s new 14.5m Matchwinner MW3 All Round Competition poles, and very nice it was too.
It was super-easy to fish with, nicely balanced, and shipped more slickly than the proverbial ‘greased whippet’. In my book it more than justified its price tag, considering it came with enough top kit spares to keep you happily switching between kits when the need arose.
Its only slight drawback was that it was only 14.5m long, rather than the full 16m that some anglers demand.
So I was doubly intrigued to see how much better (if at all) the top-end 16m Matchwinner MW5 would be. Yes, it comes with one more Interlastic top kit than its shorter stablemate, but at the full RRP you can look to part with £800 more of your hard-earned cash.
To come clean with you, I must admit to already having fished with the Matchwinner MW5 for a couple of hours, while making a short video about the virtues of the new Daiwa pole range. That time I took it to a popular commercial and caught plenty of big F1s with it at its full 16m, fishing corn in the shallows up against an island. So I already had more than a good idea that teamed with an 8-10 elastic it would be more than a match for those boisterous hybrids and could easily be used with a much heavier elastic up to around a size 18/20 if needed.
Daiwa gives the pole a 10/20 rating, and that seems about right to me. This time around, though, I fitted it up with a much lighter elastic to see how it performed when a bit more guile and finesse were called for.
Hastily planned arrangements saw me driving across county borders to one of my old stamping grounds – Fern Farm, a picture-postcard venue just outside the village of Milcombe, in the beautiful Cherwell district of Oxfordshire.
Going back home (and I’m sure this happens to all anglers of a certain age) brought a rush of fishing memories of matches that seemed to mean so much at the time, but were pushed to the back of my mind as life grew busier and ever-more pressing.
My word, it seemed like yesterday. Banbury and District AA were my first Div 1 National Team. I’d come up through the ranks as a Nortonian Junior in my Chipping Norton home town and had now made the step-up into the big time, or at least so I thought!
Being in a National team at a tender age seemed a huge achievement back then, and the Banbury squad was packed with all my local angling heroes – although, sadly, very few of them are left today.
I owe them all, every single one of them! They offered me their time, took me fishing when I couldn’t drive, gave me tackle and sound fishing advice, and really taught me how things should be. Thank you all, guys, but especially Pete, Derek, Ivor and Dick… enough said.
Moving on, I’d arrived at Fern Farm, it had stopped raining, the sun had come out, and the Shire was looking resplendent in its early summer dress, all cherry blossom and green. I was home and boy, did that feel good!
On the other hand I thought that the fishing might prove a bit tricky, as the wind tried to wrench the car door off its hinges the moment I stepped out to greet Thom, my photographer for the day.
Now, learned man though he is, Thom has less idea about tricky pole fishing conditions than Genghis Khan did about being nice to people.
Setting up on the widest part of the day-ticket pleasure lake, I rigged up for skimmers with a No4-6 elastic and a heavy enough rig to hold fast on the bottom in the worsening conditions. Now, I gave up on bump bars a few years ago as I thought they were costing me a few missed bites, but now I wished I still had one in the holdall. The wind caught the pole broadside on, spinning me round on my box and playing havoc with my presentation.
I soldiered on regardless, and with the clever use of a heavier bait – corn – I could hold the rig still enough to start catching the odd skimmer, as intended.
But even little skimmers know that a bright yellow grain of sweetcorn whizzing by at a rate of knots isn’t quite normal on a stillwater, so bites were few and far between.
The pole, though, was doing a sterling job, staying rigid and usable. With the sensibly light elastic run through one of its Interlastic side puller kits it has a quicksilver tip reaction speed with barely any post-strike wobble. Easy to ship, quick and clean in its movements, stiff and responsive, it’s a proper long pole this one.
Being able to fish properly at a full 16m for the duration of a match without it becoming hard graft is what you’ll get in return for your buck. The MW5 is a proper match pole for proper match anglers.
Price: £1,899.99, www.daiwasports.co.uk