We may only be a few months in, but already 2023 is shaping up to be yet another ‘Year of the Feeder Rod’. Numerous tackle companies, new and established alike, are either launching new models or expanding their existing ranges.
So, whether you’re looking for a standard commercial or natural fishery feeder rod, or a horizon-buster for tackling big open waters for bream and skimmers – with carp muscling in on the action too – there will be something to suit.
It’s with an eye to the distance feeder market, but with a leaning towards both natural and commercial venues, that Shakespeare has pitched into the fray with its latest Superteam SFX Plus range.
The five models span a broad spectrum of tactical possibilities with lengths of 11ft, 11ft 6ins, 12ft and 13ft, and casting weights from 50g right up to a whopping 180g.
Handily, Shakespeare has also graded the rods’ casting and fish-playing actions from light/medium to medium, heavy and extra-heavy, roughly in keeping with their length.
The 11ft 6ins Superteam SFX Plus on test this week is built from quality carbon, with a top suggested casting weight of 60g matched to a light/medium action. It comes nicely furnished with mono/braid-friendly oversized guides for use with shockleaders. These guides are also spaced accordingly to maximise casting distance.
The blank has an aesthetically pleasing carbon weave and a flat handle that sits nicely along the forearm, preventing any unwanted movement when the rod is under stress. To that you can add three glass quivertips with white painted ends, with test curve ratings of 1oz, 1.5oz and 2oz.
The Superteam SFX rods were developed over two years, during which time they were tested on a wide range of venues across Europe. They have three sections, the top carrier section being soft enough to deal with bream and skimmers – not just commercial carp, as is so often the case nowadays with the majority of progressively actioned feeder rods.
Shakespeare suggests the 11ft 6ins, 60g (2oz) SFX Plus is ideal for use with mono lines ranging from 4lb-8lb breaking strain, or braid from 0.8mm-0.12mm in diameter.
With all that information under my belt, where better to run the rule over this Shakey creation than Lincolnshire’s Bain Valley Spitfire Lake? It’s home to a good head of carp and bream that respond to feeder tactics at some range, although casts of around 60-70 yards will reach the fish in most areas.
Not a word of a lie, my first few casts with this rod did fall a little short of what I’d have wanted. But I persevered, and once I’d got used to the softer casting action I was consistently slamming the line against the reel clip using either a 30g Hybrid feeder or a 1oz straight lead and bread set-up.
The weather was typical of a Lincolnshire winter, with a nasty easterly wind matched to an air temperature that’d send a polar bear in search of a hot beefy mug of Bovril.
I’d asked Shakespeare to send me the 11ft 6ins rod, as this is a length that I feel is underplayed in the feeder arena. It would be a handy buy for anyone looking for something with a cushioned action that is still capable of casting a decent distance without a lot of effort. It will handle anything with fins, and is even up for a spot of commercial carp crunching.
Now, I would adhere to Shakespeare’s 60g maximum casting weight recommendation – the blank wouldn’t want much more weight than that bouncing around on it – but let’s face it, on most stillwaters a couple of ounces of lead will be quite enough for what we want to achieve.
After an indifferent start, which was down to me and not the rod, by the end of the day I could vouch for its mid-range capabilities with a small to medium feeder attached.
With the odd fish topping out towards the middle of the lake I was winding the rod up a bit, but with a 10lb shockleader in place, and 6lb mono mainline, 70 yards was easily achievable.
I’m happy to report that the oversized guides, designed with shockleaders in mind, are faultless – no line tangles or mash-ups to be seen here, so move along, Sir!
Do you need to switch between feeders? Not a problem, and with its nicely cushioned carrier section backed up by some mid-blank muscle it would also make a banging small-river chub rod.
I did set out to attempt a mixed bag with a couple of big bream, maybe a proper dog roach or two, and even a late carp.
Shame that the fish hadn’t read the script. Only Spitfire Lake’s Carp Command, who obviously hadn’t seen much bait for a while, quickly muscled their way in for a winter’s day nosh-up.
+ The SFX rod has many tactical possibilities
+ Well designed and nicely furnished with quality fittings at an affordable price for a quality rod
**-**Including one carbon quivertip would have been beneficial
-This is a ‘halfway up the stairs’ model rather than a full-on casting rod, which may deter some
**-**A rod bag that could hold a reel would have been nice
Price: £107, www.shakespeare-fishing.co.uk