Let’s face it, when it comes to buying a new pole – and this applies no matter how much or how little of your hard earned your about to splash out – you’ll want to get as much enjoyment from using it as you possibly can!
For me it goes without saying that even if you are buying a budget end pole for ‘let’s say’ less than a thousand quid, then it’s still likely to be the most expensive item of tackle you’ll ever own.
So, with that in mind, what should you be looking for in terms of price and performance if you are looking to treat yourself to a new model?
First up, you’ll need to consider its length, especially If most of your fishing is done at 13m, as there’s absolutely no-point in shelling out on a plush 16m model with vampire butt extensions that never see the light of day.
Also, there is a significant saving to be made if you focus your wallet’s attentions on purchasing a 13m model.
As to performance, modern 13m poles these days are one heck of a lot better all-rounders than they ever used to be! There was a time when they were only designed as heavyweight power poles, whopper stoppers and skull draggers, with all the finesse and balance of a rhino on a skateboard.
Those days are long gone, though. Now we have super lightweight 13m poles that are every bit as good on natural venues using light elastics for silvers, as they are loaded up with hefty hollows for commercial carp.
Happily, it’s now a fact of pole evolution that nearly all the popular tackle manufacturers have realised that 13m poles really are where it’s at. Many of angling’s most popular match venues, such as Whitacres, have matches and festivals that limit pole lengths to 13m.
For my two penn’orth, these same-length pole events are clearly the way forward, and I can foresee the day in the not too distant future when some, if not all, of our major match events adopt this levelling-up principle – it definitely leads to a fairer match.
All of which brings me in a roundabout kind of way on to the subject of this Live Test – Middy’s Reactacore XT15-3 13m pole. It meets all the above criteria with some aplomb.
This third-generation pole, fully section-compatible with other and previous Reactacore models, is every bit as much at home targeting silvers on lakes, rivers and canals as it is nailing commercial carp and F1s, even though it’s billed as a Competition Carp model.
It comes with a spares package that offers a couple of Carp top-2 kits with a 22 maxim elastic rating and a single maximum 16 elastic match kit that can be found inside the pole.
Middy hasn’t scrimped on detail, with a build spec that mirrors virtually all the top features such as S-Slide finish on all sections, DNS butt sections, embellished numbering system, reinforced Maximus joints that don’t stick annoyingly together every time it rains, Spine Aligner system and depth markers on all its top kits – oh yes, you get plenty of bang for your bucks.
I’ll be totally honest with you – it displeases me no end that it doesn’t come with pre-fitted side puller bushes and PTFEs. But there is a reinforced area that can be drilled-out for fitting side pullers, and the pole has this same reinforced fitting area on its fourth section – very handy should you be fishing deep water. I fitted the tip-end with a size 4 PTFE ( 3.5mm) bush without having to cut it back at all, and this bush size will accommodate all but the largest diameter hollow elastics.
So, where to go and live-test a pole that’s hailed by its manufacturer as a competent all-rounder that is more than capable of a producing a reliable multi-venue performance?
Pole fishing in winter tends to be very much like Goldilocks’ porridge scenario – something’s never quite right about it, although occasional venues, such as Peterborough’s Decoy Lakes, are ‘just right’ for most of the time anyway!
Oh, incidentally, there is a video on Angling Times’ YouTube channel with me using Middy’s XT15-3 pole to empty
a water close to my home with...wait for it... gudgeon, I kid you not! Make sure you check it out!
Anyway back to Decoy, and it was downright dreary as I pulled up in the car park at the fishery’s Six Islands pond.
It was one of those days that never really gets going, as though it couldn’t really be bothered to do much of anything – neither light nor dark, not wet but damp, it was eerily still. The wind that normally blows with so much gusto at Decoy obviously couldn’t really be bothered either and had taken a day off to go and annoy some other anglers somewhere else.
I put the seatbox down on peg 3 and stared into the stark, clear water. This is something else that doesn’t often happen at Decoy, as it’s normally dirtier than a tramp’s trousers.
I was after a bit of a mixed bag to prove the pole’s versatility, so I had kitted up the Karp 22 top-2 kits with reasonably light elastic – Middy’s Hi Viz 8-10 bright yellow hollow, which is pretty much my default elastic for mixed fisheries in cold water. It’s strong enough to cope with the odd bigger fish, while retaining enough cushioned softness for F1s and silvers.
The plan of attack was to feed two pellet lines – one just shy of an island margin, but in the deeper water, and the other out into open water at 13m.
It wasn’t long before a few skimmers showed up. They did little to test the pole’s mettle, but with a short lash between pole-tip and pole float it proved the pole’s tip speed and rigidity.
Shipping out an open-topped pot full of 4mm expander pellets without spillage doesn’t work with flimsy, bouncy poles, so it’s a big tick on the rigidity and stiffness front.
It wasn’t long until the F1s muscled in the action but, in typical F1 style, the merest tweak of a bite that was barely visible, even using a dotted down float, was followed by a rampant charge of fin-powered speed, that was quickly reined back in by a well-balanced elastic set-up.
These fish did, though, give me an insight into the pole’s action, which was just as promised – a good all-round character, and ‘just right’ if you like!
What this test needed now, though, was something much bigger that would put a put a decent bend into the pole. So a switch to the island-fed line proved a master stroke, as the float hadn’t even settled before the bright yellow elastic streamed-out from the tip.
The XT15 Reactacore took on its full fighting curve, which was quite powerful but not in any clumsy or unwieldy.
It was also easy to ship in and out, and light enough to be manoeuvred with ease.
Another big plus was that the section joints all came apart without issue throughout the session. But best of all is that this pole can be found for around £500 if you shop around.
Price: £599, BUY MIDDY XT-15 HERE
Bankside test verdict
+ Super all-round pole with enough power to handle commercial carp
+ Good stiffness even when used at its longest lengths
+ Special S-Slide finish makes it really easy to ship in and out
+ An ideal pole for the keen club angler, available at a great price
- Pre fitted side puller slots would have been a bonus
- 13m length may be length restrictive for some
- Not the most generous of Middy spares packages
LOOKING FOR ALTERNATIVES IN THIS PRICE RANGE? CHECK OUT OUR POLES BUYERS GUIDE.