tcf On Test: The team, plus friends, head to Boddington Reservoir to put seven predator rods through their paces.

tcf Buyer’s Guide

What To Look For In A Deadbait Rod

1 Is the rod strong enough in the middle to cast large deadbaits?
2 Is it soft enough in the tip not to cast the baits off?
3 Does the rod have a big enough butt ring for long casting?
4 What test curve does it have?
5 What sort of action does it have?
6 Will float stops or a stop knot to pass through the tip ring?
7 Does it have the backbone to strike hooks home at distance?

The Test
With so many pike rods to choose from these days the tcf team enlisted some help from a few friends; Chub and Grey’s Academy members Tony Makepeace and Jason Green and budding piker Marc Coulson, to put its selection to the test on a wind-swept Boddington Reservoir. The group spent the day fishing a selection of Dynamite Baits new pike range to put the rods through the mill. Before getting down to some serious fishing, the lads loaded each of the rods with a large deadbait and spent some time seeing how they performed on the cast. Conditions were far from ideal for casting and fishing and the guys only tempted one missed run from the session, so the fish playing properties were untested. Different pike techniques do call for different actions, and what we’re really looking for is an all-rounder that will see you through most of them.

FOX
XTREME PIKE DEADBAIT ROD
RRP: £64.98
Pieces: Two
Length: 11ft 6in
Test curve: 2.75lb
Guides: Fox SLIK rings
Reel seat: Fox Graphite DS18
Handle: Full cork with EVA butt cap
Contact: www.foxint.com

tcf verdict: Plenty of power through the middle for casting, but soft enough in the tip so that the bait stays on. A good all rounder for all but long-range fishing.


 

SHIMANO
BEAST MASTER SPECIMEN ROD

RRP: £99.99
Pieces: Two
Length: 13ft
Test curve: 3lb
Guides: Hardlite rings
Reel seat: Graphite DPS pipe screw-fit
Handle: Full Cork
Contact: www.shimano.com

tcf verdict: A beast of a rod which will cast miles and easily set your hooks at range, but is too stiff if you’re casting out soft deadbaits.


KORUM
NEOTERIC SPECIMEN ROD

RRP: £84.99
Pieces: Two
Length: 13ft
Test curve: 3lb
Guides: Three-leg silicone lined rings
Reel seat: Screw-fit
Handle: Full Cork
Contact: www.korum.co.uk

tcf verdict: The softest of the rods tested with a through-ish action and not one for distance work, but good fun for range work. It would make a good zander rod.


 

Steve’s Favourite
MASTERLINE
JOHN WILSON PIKE SYSTEM ROD

RRP: £99.95
Pieces: Four pieces giving you three-rod options
Length: 12ft
Test curve: 2.75lb
Guides: Quality, lined rings
Reel seat: Screw-fit
Handle: Abbreviated Duplon
Contact: www.thenumberone.co.uk

tcf verdict: At 12 feet it handled the deadbait casting really well with give in the tip and power at the lower end. With two more rod options, this is brilliant value for money.


 

Gareth’s Favourite
SHAKESPEARE
OSPREY PIKE ROD

RRP: £34
Pieces: Three
Length: 12ft
Test curve: 3lb
Guides: Quality, lined rings
Reel seat: Screw-fit
Handle: Abbreviated EVA
Contact: www.shakespeare-fishing.co.uk

tcf verdict: The only three-piece, but the ideal action with a soft tip and powerful middle. This is a great all-rounder at an eye-catching price, which we really liked.


 

TRI CAST
DYNAMICS PIKE ROD

RRP: £129.99
Pieces: Two
Length: 12ft
Test curve: 3lb
Guides: Quality, lined rings
Reel seat: Screw-fit
Handle: Abbreviated Duplon
Contact: www.tri-cast.co.uk

tcf verdict: Another rod we really liked; this has loads of casting power and is an ideal tool for large-pit predator work.


WSB TACKLE
ATTURA CARBON SPECIMEN ROD

RRP: £39.99
Pieces: Two
Length: 11ft
Test curve: 3.5lb
Guides: Quality, lined rings
Reel seat: Screw-fit
Handle: Abbreviated cork
Contact: www.wsbtackle.com

tcf verdict: It has a soft enough top section to allow you to fish braid should you wish, although this isn’t a rod for long-range work.


DRAGON PIKE
PIKE ATTACK DEADBAIT POWER CASTER ROD

RRP: £14.99
Pieces: Two
Length: 12ft
Test curve: 3lb
Guides: Quality, lined rings
Reel seat: Screw-fit
Handle: Abbreviated Duplon
Contact: www.dragoncarpdirect.com

tcf verdict: It is soft in the tip but surprised our team with how well it cast. There may be possible issues setting hooks at range, but it’s unbelievable value for money.


PROLOGIC
SAVAGE GEAR MP PREDATOR ROD

RRP: £79.99
Pieces: Two
Length: 12ft
Test curve: 31/4lb
Guides: SiC rings
Reel seat: Fuji, screw-fit
Handle: Full EVA
Contact: www.svendsen-sports.co.uk

tcf verdict: This is a rod with loads of stopping power, but has enough softness in the tip to enable you to cast a good-sized dead bait without fear of it flying off.


 

Conclusions
We were specifically looking at the benefits of each rod with regard to fishing deadbaits, and none of our selection had a test curve less that 23/4lb.
Before we started to use any of the rods in our selection, the butt rings were inspected to see if they were large enough to allow uncoiling line to pass through unhindered on the cast. We were using big-spooled reels so, a little like with carp rods, they need to deal with large coils leaving the reel spool at speed and all the rods passed with flying colours.
At the other end of the rod we had a good look at the tip to see if it was big enough for a large stop knot or float stops to easily pass through on the cast when fishing a sliding float set-up. Again, there were no issues with any of our predator selections.
When it came to casting baits there was a remarkable difference in how some of the rods performed, considering most had a test curve rating of 3lb and a 12ft length.
There were two shorter models in our test, the 11ft 6in Fox Xtreme and the 11ft WSB Tackle Attura. Both these rods handled the bait casting with little problem, but it was felt by the group that they might be a little short when it came to setting the hooks when fishing any real distance. They would, however, make ideal tools for fishing rivers, canals or drains, fishing big lures and wobbling baits.
Of the 12ft rods that impressed the most was the Tri-Cast Dynamics. Even in the strong side wind we could launch baits with little effort and it felt like it had the backbone to strike home the trebles at distance. If you mainly fish venues where long casting is needed, go for this one.
Of the others; both the Masterline John Wilson and the Shakespeare Osprey rods impressed. The latter was the only three-piece of the rods on test and had a smooth casting action and punched a mackerel half out without too much effort from the angler and, importantly, had give in the tip to soak up the cast without the risk of the bait coming off, but plenty of strength in the middle for setting hooks and playing quality fish.
The John Wilson was on a par and was the only rod to see real predator action. During the fight the upper section cushioned the stress on the line as the fish fought back, but unfortunately the rod couldn’t be put through its final paces, as the pike surfaced, rolled and waved goodbye! That’s semi barbless trebles for you!
The Prologic Savage Gear MP Predator is for us the all rounder of the group. Yes, it’s got a softish tip that will allow you to cast a good-sized dead bait out without ripping the hooks out, but it’s got plenty in reserve to stop a really big fish in its tracks.
To be fair, the Korum Neoteric is marketed as a specimen rod and it has quite a smooth, progressive through action. It’s not specifically marketed as a predator tool and, although it handled the bait casting well, we feel it could possibly be a little soft to strike home the hooks at distance. That said; it would certainly be at home on drains, canals and rivers where distance was not an issue, and when zander, which have a tendency to come off, were the quarry.
It’s not always the case that cheap means lack of quality, and it’s true when it comes to the Dragon Pike Attack rod. We found this had a good casting action that enabled baits to be punched out a fair way and, although the top section was quite soft, it felt like it still had the ‘poke’ to hammer home the hooks at range. It’s not the prettiest looking rod on show, but for the money it’s an ideal starter rod.
The final rod in our selection, the Shimano Beast Master, was also the longest at 13ft. It felt heavier than the others and a lot stiffer. This is a real big-venue tool for the predator angler who wants to fish big waters at range for monster fish, as it’s able to punch baits out at an enormous range, but they need to be tough-skinned baits like mackerel. It also has plenty of muscle and with its extra length the angler will have no problem in setting the hooks and taming fish in deep water.

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