HAVING marvelled at the achievements of our Olympians over the past few weeks it dawned on me that we have plenty of equally talented world-beating stars in angling.
If ours ever became an Olympic discipline, especially if the course was spread over float, feeder and commercial tactics, we would add significantly to the UK gold medal haul.
However, if you plan on taking Paris apart in 2024, hold your horses. You can’t just swagger into a shop and buy a bicycle that will hurtle you round a velodrome fast enough to compete with the rest of the world. Nor can you grab a bow and arrow anywhere near capable of winning gold.
Fishing’s different – you can buy exactly the same tackle as used by world-beaters Alan Scotthorne, Will Raison and Steve Ringer... everything from the poshest pole to the tiniest of shot dispensers.
The Daiwa Tournament 12Q SLR Feeder is a case in point. Launched a few years ago, it’s widely accepted as the best of its type ever produced, and should there ever be an Olympic feeder event this would be top choice.
And can you believe this? Daiwa has actually improved on the original SLR (Super Long Range) Feeder blank.
The new five-model SLR series boasts a host of tweaks and technical improvements with a combination of the new X45X Full Shield and HVF Nanoplus carbons. But what do those names and numbers mean?
Well, X45X Full Shield is the next generation of Bias Carbon Technology that’s responsible for the rod’s amazing action. The higher carbon density of HVF (High Volume Fibre) Nanoplus offers greater torque resistance and higher casting energy conversion. This translates as a more energy-efficient design with an exceptional amount of post-cast recovery, making the blanks perfect for super-long, accurate chucks time after time.
Alpha technology eliminates potential flat spots with hardly any added weight. The end result is a blank crisper than an iceberg lettuce, with a fluent, almost fluid action you need to experience for yourself.
But that’s not the end of the magic, as the ‘feel’ of the rods has been enhanced with ultra-light SeaGuide TDG rings. These not only lighten the downforce during the cast, but also sharpen up the rod recovery speed, and reduce blank oscillation when it’s under severe stress.
On the cosmetic front, the cork and Duplon handle is set off by a sleek and secure Fuji VSS reel seat, while the original cork Armlock provides added handling stability. There’s also a laser-etched Tournament logo on the butt to set everything off nicely. Even the quivertips have been improved (thankfully) from the originals. The guide positions have been carefully adjusted and there is now an additional guide applied nearer to the tip. Two new versions are also available, at 2.5oz and 4oz.
Think of it like this – you can’t have the Hamilton F1 Mercedes, and unless you actually own Virgin or Amazon, you’re not leaving the planet for half-an-hour on your lunch break.
But you can own a beguiling fishing rod that has had the equivalent amount of time, design and build spec put into it.
With prices ranging from £490 to £565, that sort of quality doesn’t come cheap, and if you’re thinking that no-one pays that sort of money for a few metres of carbon, take a walk around any feeder match and you’ll see plenty of them. It just goes to show that anglers will spend their hard-earned cash on kit that’s right for the job.
I won’t beat about the bush with the live test details, because if you’re in the market for a rod of this ilk, you’ll already know quite a lot about its pedigree and capabilities.
To me, the rod that stood out from the five in the latest range is the 12ft three-piece model. Is it really that good, can it really be that much better? Well, what I can tell you straight off the bat is that it’s one heck of rod.
As I assembled it on the banks of Ferry Meadows on a stunning summer’s morning it simply oozed class.
I dared to use it with a 10lb shockleader and 6lb mainline, and a reasonably long chuck of around 70 yards failed to ruffle its feathers. It fairly sizzled out a 30g Hybrid-style feeder. I put the rod down into the rest and just stared at the majesty of it.
The tip pulled round and it was game on. Ferry has a fair amount of marginal weed this year, so the rod would need to hold firm when the fish came close. It didn’t react in quite the same way as I’d expected – the blank’s top section seems to act as a sort of dampener as you play the fish out. It isn’t overly pokey or a tad soft, it’s just got its own action, quite remarkable really. Look the casting image and you’ll see that it compresses from quite a long way down the butt section when you load it up properly and boy, can it propel a feeder far and fast!
The only complaint I have is that Daiwa’s Ryan Hayden, who I’m sure you’ll agree took some stunning photos for me on test day, took away the rods in his van. So it was nothing more than a day’s romance for me. It was, though, love at first cast.
Price: £540, www.daiwasports.co.uk