Shakespeare SKP Solitude 12ft Power Float Rod review

Big barbel, chub, tench or carp, the Solitude Power Float will tame ’em all


by Angling Times |

SOUPED-UP or stronger than average float rods are becoming increasingly popular among match and pleasure anglers.

On any busy day-ticket water where the fish are fed a rich diet of high-protein grub – pellets, pastes and boilies – the easily subdued stockies and pasties will have morphed into turbo-charged leviathans, hot-wired to break your spirit and, quite possibly, your rod too.

Most commercials and many rivers now hold seriously big fish that would make Desperate Dan look like a wilting flower, and any rod that shows the slightest signs of weakness is cruising for a bruising.

Simply hanging on to a big fish with your reel singing is one thing, but turning it towards you before guiding it into the landing net is quite another!

There can’t be many match anglers reading this who haven’t pondered the matter as they stare at a pig-tailed line and ask themselves: “What just happened there, then?”

Stillwater venues Boddington, Clattercote, Barford and Larford are all popular big carp day-ticket venues that respond to float, pellet and maggot tactics every bit as keenly as to a well-presented feeder, especially when it’s warm and sunny.

These mega-fish aren’t your normal run-of-the-mill specimens that occupy the bottom few rings of your keepnet in matches, so it’s nice to know that your rod has enough power to keep you in touch with big fish and can dish out the discipline accordingly.

But in case you’re wondering, it’s not only commercial carp fisheries that should extended a warm bankside welcome to power float rods.

Nearly all our big barbel rivers – notably the Trent, Wye and Severn – will respond to traditional tactics, and there are few better or more enjoyable ways to present a bottom trundled bait then running it beneath a top and bottom float.

All of which brings us nicely to this week’s live test subject, Shakespeare’s two-piece 12ft SKP Solitude Power Float rod. Now, it would be true to say that these pages have played host to quite a few of Shakey’s Solitude models since their launch this year. Although their retro styling and colour scheme are likely to be bit Marmite for some, there’s no denying that all rods in the Solitude clan tested thus far have builds and specifications that are crowd-pleasers.

As we’re well into the closed season, taking the Solitude Power Float rod to the Trent for barbel was out of the question. But I did have a plan that would see the rod put under severe duress. Maybe not my best idea, given that I’ve suffered three rod-shattering moments at Oxfordshire’s Clattercote Reservoir, not to mention countless broken pole sections.

The venue plays host to some of the shrewdest and hardest-fighting carp I know of. They’ve seen it all before, so once you hook one, it seems to know that the best thing it can do is conserve energy – right up until the moment it catches sight of the walkway boards!

Then all hell breaks loose. And with fish well into double figures out there it’s a real headache getting one out!

Losing a fish is bad enough, but that’s only half the problem. Once one has got its head underneath the boards, your rod is likely to be doubled back on itself and, unless the line snaps, things are only going to end in one way – a shower of carbon shards as your rod shatters.

Your only option is to play fish really hard from the start and try to get them up on top or within view before you even think about netting them.

And just to add to the drama of it all, if you miss once with the landing net you’ll rarely get another go.

Okay, it’s not so bad if you’re using a decent carp rod, or a butcher’s favourite feeder rod with a backbone stiffer than a polar bear’s eyebrow, but for a float rod it’s a tackle graveyard where only the strong survive.

Undeterred, I was prepared to give it go, and set up with a fairly hefty pellet waggler float. My 8lb reel line with a 0.19mm hooklength was finished with a size 14 hook set at 4ft depth, and a 11mm banded pellet as bait.

I couldn’t help but be impressed with the rod’s casting abilities. It could handle a small spoddy-copter rig, or Baggin’ Waggler set-up, and would certainly cope with a big splasher type of float too.

Shakespeare claims the blank has a progressive action, but while I wouldn’t argue with that, the whole blank has a lot of steely, bullish resistance. That backbone proved invaluable as my float vanished out of sight and I piled on the pressure.

I knew the drill – wind down hard, give nothing, set the reel’s clutch to ‘no prisoners’ and get the fish under control quickly, ready for netting early doors.

Adopting the classic playing tactic of holding the rod parallel to the water and then, once the fish is close, holding the rod high so it absorbs the pressure is ‘seat of the pants’ stuff.

You’ll need complete faith in your rod and kit to use it this way, and I’m happy to report that the Solitude Power Float didn’t disappoint and lived to fight another day.

Price: £82.99, www.shakespeare-fishing.co.uk

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