THE past 12 months will go down as the year of the long-range feeder rod – most tackle companies either launched new models or added to their existing ranges.
The ever-growing popularity of ‘distance’ feeder fishing has led to the development of ever more powerful rods that will chuck feeders and leads to the horizon. On big open-water venues such as Ferry Meadows, Meadowlands, Barston or Boddington Reservoir, these are what you’ll need to get out among the vast shoals of bream or carp.
The main problem with buying a decent rod for the job is that it’s likely to smash a great big hole in your wallet.
I won’t bore you with the technicalities, except to say they’re built with high-density of carbon for added strength – and, basically, more carbon equates to more cash layout.
But what if it wasn’t this way? What if there was a distance-casting rod with a Poundstretcher price tag? Would it actually work?
Well, allow me to be the bearer of post-Christmas glad tidings. Yes, such a miracle does exist, and it costs well under a ton. Impossible? Well, read on and find out just what you can get for £74.99.
WATCH THE VIDEO REVIEW HERE: Angling Times YouTube
Shimano’s Aero X rods are as good as (and sometimes even better than) any of their top-end competitors. The company’s Aero X7 marque offers everything you’d expect from flagship rods, while Shimano rods in the mid-priced Aero X5 series are very nicely done and sensibly priced.
However, the introductory and super-affordable Aero X1 range is little short of a bargain basement revelation.
Especially impressive is the 13ft three-piece Distance Feeder, a rod which is capable of handling a maximum casting weight of 90g.
I asked Shimano if its development team would send me one for live testing and a video shoot because, me being a creature of habit, I normally have a pre-Christmas visit to Boddington with a new rod of my choice.
Now, to be totally honest, much as I have raved about the quality and performance of Shimano’s entry-level rods, I did wonder if the company might have overstretched itself with this sub-£100 Distance Feeder.
After all, you aren’t going to get away with using cheaper materials on a rod of this ilk – there are just too many stresses imposed on the blank when it compresses and releases during the cast. I was concerned that I’d either smash the top end of the carrier section when I tried to wind it up a bit, or that it would bounce around like a big boned kid on a trampoline, hurling the feeder little further than I could chuck one by hand. I’d find out soon enough whether or not my fears were justified...
As I pulled into Boddington’s smaller car park it was still pitch dark. I was pleased that no-one else had arrived, because as the first glimmer of morning light started to appear it gave me the chance to have a wander down the path and take a look at the state of the reservoir.
Now, I’d heard that the water level was down a bit, but I wasn’t prepared for what greeted me… it was all-but drained! Okay, maybe a slight exaggeration, but I’ve fished here for more years than I care to remember. I did the first-ever feature on the place just after the carp – weighing all of a pound apiece – had been stocked. I’d fished the water when it was run by Banbury and District, and back then you could only access it from the dam wall end. With no steps down to the water you fished from the rocks.
Fish a match, and a couple of skimmers and the odd rogue tench would see you in the frame. Anyway, back to the present, and as it turned out the water level wasn’t going to be my only shock of the day.
Setting up the 13ft Aero X1 Distance Feeder with a decent-sized reel, 8lb mainline and a 12lb shockleader, it was obvious as I threaded the line through its enlarged low-profile ceramic-lined guides that lots of thought had gone into the design. A full-length 24ins cork and EVA handle would provide the leverage for both arms to up my casting speed, and the butt guide was well placed at 28ins from the front of the reel to allow for fast, unfussy line travel. The three-piece, all carbon blank was clearly made of pretty stern stuff, and any thoughts of it breaking or wobbling out of control were soon dispelled.
I won’t wax lyrical about the rod’s performance. In truth, it’s a pretty basic bit of kit, a little heavy in the hand, and functional rather than enjoyable. It’s definitely best suited to bigger fish. But if it’s distance you want, you’ve come to the right place. It will cast 100 yards without breaking sweat.
Its fish-playing action isn’t exactly delicate, but it gets the job done. Fact is, if you want a pair of dependable rods for a venue like Boddington, you can get them for less than half the price of a standard 13ft far-reaching feeder flinger, and that’s downright impressive!