The tcf team takes a close look at eight poles on the market that fall within an affordable budget.
tcf Buyer’s Guide
Pole fishing is not just for the dedicated match angler, it’s a discipline that can give any all-round coarse angler total control of bait presentation and feeding.
A pole enables you to feed and fish tight up against fish-holding features that would be inaccessible with a rod and line due to overhangs and snags, it also allows ultra-sensitive end tackle to be used to increase catch rate.
However, some general coarse anglers still shy away from using a pole, primarily due to the price, with some top-of-the range models costing in excess of £2,500.
These are great poles for sure, but these days you can get superb poles for much less than £1,000 and that’s what we’re looking at this month.
There are lots of facts and figures in this test but finding a pole to suit you is quite a personal thing. We really do advise that you decide on your budget, but go out of your way to try out your poles in a tackle shop with a pole alley or at one of the major tackle shows, before you buy.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A POLE
1 What’s the overall package like?
2 How much does it weigh?
3 How easily can you get spares and replacements?
4 How stiff is it?
5 Does you get a cupping kit?
6 Is there a special deal available?

The Test
We requested poles with an RRP under £800 late in 2006. We were sent poles with RRP’s varying from £250 to £799.99. We were sent two with an RRP over £800, and these were omitted.
The poles were measured prior to cutting back to fit the elastic. Using the power top two kits supplies, each was fitted with a Drennan bull-nose bush and the same length of Maver No12 latex, using Preston bungs. The length of the pole after cutting back was also noted.
The poles were taken to The Banks Fishery in Barby, Northants for an on-the-bank test. This was done on a hot, bright day and how much the carbon sections heated up was noted.
This was a stern test, as we needed to fish a short line in very shallow water over to the far-side shade at 12m to 13m to get bites. And the bank behind was very steep, meaning we had to throw the pole about a bit when shipping back.
Gareth fished with the Maver, Shimano, Colmic and Drennan poles, and didn’t look at the prices until after he’d fished with them. Steve fished with the Shakespeare, Daiwa, Fox and Garbolino. Each chose their favourite.
Although several of the poles come with extensions, and this is noted, the comparative test was done fishing at 13m only.
For the droop test the 13m butt section of each pole was laid on a high flat surface and the length of droop from the horizontal with the elasticated power top two section fitted was noted.
Note though, that the more we had to cut the pole back to fit the elastic (not a positive as you lose more length) the less the pole was going to droop.
We also weighed each of the poles and checked compatibility of the No4 section with the popular Garbolino extending cupping kit.

Shakespeare
Polestar 2050

RRP: £325
Offer price: No
Package: 16 metres overall; 14.5m pole with match top three; 1.5m extension; mini extension; four power top twos; pole holdall
Spares: Full selection of spares readily available
Weight at 13 metres: 1,049g
Nine-section length: 12m 78cm
Top two before cutting back: 3m 29.4cm
Top two after cutting back: 3m 1.8cm
Length with cut-back top two: 12m 48.8cm
Droop at 13 metres: 58.5cm
Elastic rating: No 20
Steve says:
Although this felt the heaviest of the four I used, it was still easy to control when fished to the far bank, but was a little short on stiffness and this showed in its recover when trying to reposition the rig after a missed bite. When playing carp to 2lb, the top kit had a soft action that seemed to control the fight of the fish some of the time rather that the No12 elastic. The pole’s finish made shipping, even over the steep bank behind me, an easy task. This was the fourth longest with the cut-back kit in.

DAIWA
Strong Beam Power

RRP: £799.99
Offer price: £499.99
Package: 16 metres overall; 13m pole with power match top three; two 1.5m extensions; two power, carp long top twos; tubes and pole holdall
Spares: Match and power kits; spare sections from 1 to 6
Weight at 13 metres: 950g
Nine-section length: 12m 93cm
Top two before cutting back: 3m 27cm
Top two after cutting back: 3m 14.8cm
Length with cut-back top two: 12m 66.6cm
Droop at 13 metres: 61cm
Elastic rating: Match tops, No 16; power tops, No 20
Steve says:
For me it was really close between this pole and the Fox Match Matrix. There’s a nice, balanced feel to the pole and its overall stiffness, especially with the power top two kit, which gave me complete control that only required a short lift to connect with a fish. The recovery was almost immediate. The finish made shipping a doddle. This was the third longest with the cut-back kit in. The Garbolino extendable potting kit only just fits the No4 and I wouldn’t advise using it.

DRENNAN
Power Carp

RRP: £299.99
Offer price: £249.99 at 13 metres
Package: 14.5 metres overall; 13m pole with ready-bushed, power top two; 1.5m extension; two bushed, power top twos; threaded cupping top two, three pole cups and two pole bungs; pole holdall
Spares: Top two kits; 1.5m extension; replacement sections; cupping kit
Weight at 13 metres: 982g
Eight-section length: 12m 82cm
Top two before cutting back: N/A
Top two after cutting back: 3m 10.4cm
Length with cut-back top two: 3m 10.4cm
Droop at 13 metres: 82cm
Elastic rating: No 20
Gareth says:
Although this topped the ‘droop test’ table by some distance, it didn’t feel overly sloppy on the bank. It comes ready-bushed with only 18cm lost from its full length, making it the longest pole we tested with the power top two fitted. It felt quite light and well balanced and I really liked the matt finish throughout, which was smooth through the hands and noticeably didn’t heat up in the hot sun as much as the other four I tested. Very good value for the money.

****Gareth’s Favourite****
SHIMANO
Technium XTA Competiion

RRP: £250
Offer price: £199.99
Package: 13 metres overall; 13m pole with match top three; two power top twos; short extension; pole holdall
Spares: Match and power kits; section kits to top 5; cupping kit
Weight at 13 metres: 956g
Nine-section length: 12m 45cm
Top two before cutting back: 2m 86.2cm
Top two after cutting back: 2m 76cm
Length with cut-back top two: 11m 90.6cm
Droop at 13 metres: 54.5cm
Elastic rating: No 20
Gareth says:
In the hands this was my favourite of the four I tested. It was stiff with a nice matt finish, which went smoothly through the hands, although the sections did heat up quickly in the hot sun. The top two is very stiff which gave me excellent control over carp to 4lb, with a quite-fast action on the strike and average recovery. A lot of pole was lost in the cutting back to fit the bush, making it the second shortest at under 12m. On the plus side it made the pole nice and stiff and easy to fish a short line rig with. I was surprised when I found out this pole was available for under £200 – I’d be more than happy fishing with it all day up to 13m.

MAVER
Ascension

RRP: £665
Offer price: £499
Package: 14.5 metres overall; 13m pole with match top three; 1.5m extension; three power top twos; super taper section; cupping kit with set of pole cups; DVD; pole holdall
Spares: Match and power kits; 16m extension; super taper section
Weight at 13 metres: 1,011g
Nine-section length: 12m 87.4cm
Top two before cutting back: 3m 25.8cm
Top two after cutting back: 3m 20.2cm
Length with cut-back top two: 12m 79cm
Droop at 13 metres: 57cm
Elastic rating: Match tops, No 10; power tops No 20
Gareth says:
With the 13m section in this was about half a section longer than the Shimano. It felt light in the hands and was well balanced, although was not as stiff as the Shimano, which at distance made short-line fishing a bit tricky. Otherwise it was easy to hold and feed with, and later tests showed it to be the second longest of the poles tested when cut-back, with only 21cm lost. The top four sections have a gloss finish while the rest of the pole is matt and goes nicely through the hands. The package is just fantastic and if you need a 16m pole selling for under £500 I would definitely look at this.

***** Steve’s Favourite *****
FOX MATCH
Matrix

RRP: £799
Offer price: £599.99
Package: 16 metres overall; 13m pole with match top three; two 1.5m extensions; two power top twos; super 4th/5th section; pole holdall
Spares: Match and power kits
Weight at 13 metres: 971g
Nine-section length: 12m 82.4cm
Top two before cutting back: 2m 93.6cm
Top two after cutting back: 2m 89.6cm
Length with cut-back top two: 12m 43.8cm
Droop at 13 metres: 54.5cm
Elastic rating: Match tops No 16; power tops, No 20
Steve says:
Of the four poles I tested this just nudged it over the Daiwa Strong Beam. It’s well balanced and was the easiest of the four to keep steady when catapulting bait across to the far side. At 13m the pole feels really stiff and very little effort was needed to connect with a fish on the strike. Recovery was also spot-on, so the bait was repositioned in next to no time after a missed bite and its smooth finish made shipping a piece of cake. This was the fifth longest with the cut-back kit in.

COLMIC
Horizon 1000

RRP: £399.99
Offer price: N/A
Package: 16 metres overall; 13m pole with match top three; two 1.5m extensions; four power top twos; dolly butt; padded pole holdall
Spares: Match and power kits; spare sections from 1 to 6
Weight at 13 metres: 1,065g
Nine-section length: 12m 43cm
Top two before cutting back: 3m 12.3cm
Top two after cutting back: 2m 54.5cm
Length with cut-back top two: 11m 82.4cm
Droop at 13 metres: 57cm
Elastic rating: Match tops, No 12; power tops, No 20
Gareth says:
This is a fast-taper pole meaning that the No4 is quite thick (and not compatible with the Garbolino Extenda Cupping kit) and also resulting in us having to cut back quite a long way to fit the PTFE bush. In fact it’s the shortest when cut back. On the plus side the pole is nice and stiff – it felt about the same as the Shimano in that respect but felt heavier in the hands. I didn’t like the high ridges between the sections – this can cut your hands when you ship back when fishing at distance. It’s a strong tool though and an out-and-out carp-bagging tool.

GARBOLINO
Premier Legion

RRP: £750
Offer price: £499.99
Package: 16 metres overall; 13m pole with match top three; two 1.5m extensions; three long, power top twos; pole holdall
Spares: Match top three; power top two; short power four; parallel extension
Weight at 13 metres: 943g
Nine-section length: 12m 86.6cm
Top two before cutting back: 2m 88.6cm
Top two after cutting back: 2m 57.8cm
Length with cut-back top two: 12m 35.3cm
Droop at 13 metres: 45cm
Elastic rating: Match tops, No 12; power tops, No 20
Steve says:
This slow-taper pole is the stiffest of the eight on test. However, when playing a fish the pole seemed to have a softer overall action than the others I used on the initial run. It’s a well-balanced piece of kit and that’s comfortable at 13m when fishing short lines and feeding. I didn’t find shipping as smooth as with the Daiwa and Fox poles, as it felt it was a bit sticky, but that may have something to do with the baking hot weather. This was the third longest with the cut back kit in and, as you would expect, the Garbolino extendable potting kit fitted perfectly.

Conclusions
Pole tests are never easy. Some poles need cutting back a lot more than others to fit the same-sized PTFE bush. This means you lose a lot of length, which is not ideal.
Take the Shimano and the Colmic. Both are under 12 metres with a power top two in when fishing with the 13m-section in. But on the other hands this stiffens the pole up more, which is good, especially when you are fishing a short line from connector to pole float, or in a wind. In both cases a more bouncy pole tip can make things difficult once you are fishing beyond about 10 metres.
It’s not quite as simple as that though. As you will see from the ‘droop test’ the Garbolino is easily the stiffest of the eight tested, and the Drennan the least stiff. This will normally relate back to the quality of carbon and be reflected in the cost, and in this case it is. What’s most important of all though is how the pole feels to you, in the hand, and this can be a very individual thing.
The Drennan did not feel like the sloppiest pole in our on-the-bank test (even though the droop test shows it is).
We liked the hollowed-foam caps on the male sections of the No2s in the Drennan pole, which incidentally comes ready bushed. These protect the elastic between the two sections when the top kit and No2 are folded over in storage and negate the need for Doobry’s, which we’ve never liked. We also liked the matt finish on the Drennan and the sections didn’t heat up as much as the others. It’s very good value at under £250.
Overall none of the poles were poor. The Colmic felt heaviest in the hand but was stiff and we have this down as a strong, out-and-out carp bagging pole. The Maver felt light even though it’s over 1,000g, suggesting good balance, and comes with a brilliant set of extras. If it’s a 16m pole you need for under £500, you need to take a close look at this one. The Shakespeare is another good value 16m option.
Gareth’s choice of the Shimano of the best of the four he tested comes with the caveat that this had to be cut-back a long way to fit the PTFE bush. But for £200 it’s an excellent fishing tool up to 13m.
Steve was torn between the Daiwa and the Fox, but just came down on the side of the Matrix.

Pole Fishing Jargon Buster
Male section: Upper (thinner) part of each section, which pushes into lower, female section above
Female section: Lower part of each section into which the male section is pushed
PTFE bush: Hollow fitting, which is placed over the top of the end section and through which the elastic travels smoothly and without damage
Butt sections: The larger diameter sections of pole, usually the 13m, 14m and 16m sections carrying the graphics
Doobry: ‘U’ shaped plastic fitting used to protect elastic in storage when it’s fitted through a power top two (we don’t like them!)
Recovery: A measure of how quickly the tip stops wobbling after a strike
Short line: Phrase used when you fish with not much line (less than a foot) between your elastic and pole float


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