Long Float Rods – Head to head reviews

Extra long rods allow you to fish deep river swims, pick up line at distance for a clean strike and also have uses for big fish on commercials. Gareth Purnell of Total-Fishing.com takes a look at some of the best on the market…

What To Look For
1) What length to you actually need?
2) What’s the tip action like?
3) Is it in balance with a reel on?
4) Are there different length options?
5) What sort of reel seat?
6) How many sections?
7) Is there a recommended line rating?
8) Is it more suited to rivers or commercials?
9) Has it got a spliced tip?

The Test
With Steve Martin crocked following a hernia op, it’s left to Gareth to test the long rods on his own. He’s well qualified mind, having fished more deep river swims than he cares to remember and having used Bolognese rods up to eight metres in length at world championships. The test takes place on a particularly deep peg Gareth’s familiar with on the River Nene near Oundle. Gareth’s set up a 5g Woody’s top and bottom float (pictured) and is fishing with the same rig on each rod for at least 20 minutes at a time, taking particular note of what he feels the rod’s action is suited to and whether the rod is in balance and can be fished for long periods without making your arm drop off!


NORMARK
NEO FLOAT ROD

RRP: £225
Pieces: Three
Extension: No
Length: 16ft
Guides: Fuji Guides
Reel seat: Screw-fit
Handle: Full cork
Contact: www.thenumberone.com

Verdict: Most of the action in this rod is in the tip section. First 11 guides are strong, double-legged versions and overall this rod gives me the impression it will take plenty of stick, although it is a bit top heavy for my liking. In my view, it isn’t a rod to hold for long periods and thus, most suited to commercial fishery work.

HARDY
MARKSMAN SPECIALIST FLOAT ROD

RRP: £309
Pieces: Four
Extension: No
Length: 15ft
Guides: Fuji SiC Guides
Reel seat: Screw-fit
Handle: Full cork
Contact: www.hardyfishing.com

Verdict: A four-piece rod with very soft tip section and almost all of the action in that section. The 13ft Specialist has its action much more through the blank. There is a nice feel to the rod and rings are close enough to the butt to help with casting a centrepin. It comes in zip-up hard case.

MIDDY
ANIMAL TAMER WAGGLER ROD

RRP: £119.99
Pieces: Three plus extensions
Extension: Two
Length: 14ft/16ft/18ft
Guides: F. Factor SC Guides
Reel seat: Screw-fit
Handle: Full cork
Contact: www.middytackle.com

Verdict: For such a long rod it was surprising that it didn’t kill my right arm fishing with it at 16 feet, suggesting good balance. It has a soft tip with power kicking in quite quickly afterwards, but I’d still be happy to use relatively light hooklengths with it. A rod that could dovetail between river and commercial work, the stated line rating of 2lb to 8lb hooklengths seems spot on.

TRI-CAST
JOHN ALLERTON PREMIER MATCH ROD
RRP: £329
Pieces: Four plus extension
Extension: One
Length: 18ft/20ft
Guides: RDX lined Guides
Reel seat: Fuji screw-fit
Handle: Full cork
Contact: www.tri-castfishing.co.uk

Verdict: It initially felt quite heavy, but I found myself using it easily enough. It is thicker in the butt than most. The spliced tip allows for the use of light hooklengths and there’s still a smooth progression between the tip and the middle section. The reel seat screws up rather than down. It is ergonomic, very comfortable and has single leg guides throughout.

SHIMANO
SPEEDMSTER MULTI-MATCH DYNA BALANCE ROD

RRP: £99.99
Pieces: Three plus extension
Extension: 2ft
Length: 15ft/17ft
Guides: Fuji Alconite rings
Reel seat: Fuji slide-fit
Handle: Carbon
Contact: www.shimano.com

Verdict: It is light in the hand and in use and has a nice progressive action from the tip to middle section. The Continental-style reel seat might not appeal to all but I’ve used them loads of times and they are perfectly acceptable and functional. I enjoyed using this rod, which is really well balanced. Comes in a zip-up hard case.


PRESTON INNOVATIONS
SENTIENT FLOAT ROD

RRP: £289
Pieces: Three
Extension: No
Length: 17ft
Guides: Quality lined guides
Reel seat: Screw fit
Handle: Full cork
Contact: www.prestoninnovations.com

Verdict: Another well-balanced rod considering its length of 17 feet. I had no problem fishing with it for long periods. It has a nice progression between the tip and middle section with a soft tip that allows you to fish light hooklengths if need be. There are loads of guides, which is a real bonus in wet weather when the line can stick to the blank if there aren’t enough.

TOTAL FISHING GEAR
THE GRUNT CARP MATCH ROD

RRP: £159.99
Pieces: Three
Extension: No
Length: 15ft
Guides: Fuji Guides
Reel seat: Screw-fit
Handle: 25/50/25 EVA/cork/EVA
Contact: www.totalfishinggear.co.uk

Verdict: The most powerful long rod I tested, but there’s still a decent progression of the action through the top two sections. It feels heavy in the hand but plenty of casting and fish-playing power. This is a tool I’d use for middle to long-range float fishing on commercial waters – for instance if I was fishing the pellet or splasher waggler at range for carp with 5lb plus reel line.


DRENNAN
FLOATMASTER ROD

RRP: £149
Pieces: Three plus extension
Extension: One
Length: 13ft/15ft
Guides: Quality lines guides
Reel seat: Fuji screw-fit
Handle: Full cork
Contact: 01865 748989

Verdict: As with most of the 15ft rods there was no problem holding this for long periods. I liked the cross weave on lower sections of the blank on this rod that has a classic progressive action – I’d use hooklengths down to 0.08mm. It is unusual in that the two length options of butt section come right out of the handle above the reel seat. You have to unscrew and remove the top of the reel seat and slide it onto the butt section you want to use.

FOX
ENVOY STICK ROD

RRP: £130
Pieces: Three
Extension: No
Length: 15ft
Guides: Fox ‘SLIKS’ rings
Reel seat: Fox DS16 ‘soft-touch’ screw fit
Handle: Full cork
Contact: www.foxint.com

Verdict: This has a beautiful soft tip section with perfect progression into the middle section. It has a nice short butt for ease of manoeuvrability – easy to fish for long periods. This rod has clearly been well designed by someone who knows that you have to fish light for the silver fish sometimes – I loved it.

MAVER
REACTORLITE FLOAT ROD

RRP: £199
Pieces: Four plus extension
Extension: Separate longer butt section
Length: 15ft/18ft
Guides: SiC lined Guides
Reel seat: Screw fit
Handle: Full cork
Contact: www.maver.co.uk

Verdict: I’m a fan of some of the Reactorlites and at 15 feet this has the classic progressive action with plenty of softness in the tip to prevent hook pulls, yet you can feel the blank soaking up the lunges of bigger fish. At 18 feet it’s much more powerful. Overall this is a good all-rounder that could be used on both rivers and commercials, in my opinion, using hooklengths from 2lb upwards.

GARBOLINO
SUPER G LONG FLOAT ROD

RRP: £149.99
Pieces: Three
Extension: No
Length: 15ft
Guides: SiC lined rings
Reel seat: Fuji screw-fit
Handle: Full cork
Contact: www.garbolino.fr

Verdict: This has a fast-ish taper blank with soft tip and plenty of power through the body to handle big floats and quality fish. Line rating says it’s suited to 2lb to 4lb main lines and 12oz to 3lb hooklengths, although I’d be happy enough fishing a little bit heavier than that with it. It is lightweight in the hand with two double and 13 single legged guides, plus the tip ring.

Conclusion
Regular readers will know that I’m not shy at letting readers know which products I prefer in comparative tests, but this one is especially hard.
That’s because it’s a case of horses for courses with long rods. River anglers need a rod that helps them cope with deep swims, mend line and pick up line to hit fast bites, yet is sympathetic enough to allow you to fish very light if you need to.
Commercial fishery anglers are unlikely to need the latter, although some softness will help prevent hook pulls from bigger fish.
I know that some anglers use long rods when there are especially big carp about on commercials, so that they can reach along marginal swims and give them line off the reel during the fight.
Personally, I’m not convinced about that. You can land carp to 15lb plus on pole tackle as long as it’s all in balance. I suppose, though, that as the carp continue to get bigger, the goalposts could move again.
As for me, my main use for long rods on commercials is when I have to pick up plenty of line to connect with bites at medium to long range, especially when fishing a pellet or splasher waggler. Having said that, I’ve not come across a situation on any commercial when I’ve needed a rod longer that 15 feet.
So all I can do is point you in the direction of which rods I think are most suited to which technique.
In my opinion, the out-and-out river anglers should first decide what length of rod they need, their budget and then look at the Tri-Cast and Fox Envoy rods.
The only rod I tested which I would personally describe as an out-and-out big fish or bagging tool is The Grunt, although the other rod that I feel leans more towards carp than river work is the Normark.
The rest can handle both, but they aren’t the same. The Middy, Garbolino and Hardy have a soft tip with the power then kicking in quickly. The rest – the Drennan, Preston, the Maver and the Shimano have more of a progressive action.
The rods I liked using most were the Fox and the Shimano, two of the least expensive, but note that I like a long rod that gives me the option of fishing a stick float for long periods and using light hooklengths if I need to.

Notes:

The clue is in the name – the lovely Fox rod is especially suited to stick-float work.

The butt sections come right out of the handle above the reel seat on the Drennan.

I got on fine with the Continental-style reel seat on the lightweight Shimano.

The spliced tip on the Tri-Cast makes it great for fast line pick-up and fine hooklengths.

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