This Angler's Mail match fishing blog comes from Drennan International's Jon Arthur (pictured below).
WHEN I first started fishing, poles were quite commonly referred to as ‘roach poles’. Pole crooks and external elastics were a little bit before my time, but a pole was seen as an out-and-out small-fish tool, used to catch roach, perch, skimmers and gudgeon.
That is where the match and pleasure scene was back then. Commercial fisheries were still very much in their infancy.
When it came to a pole’s properties, strength was nowhere near the top of the list. Materials were not as advanced as they are today and lightness was what everyone was after. Nowadays, a pole’s weight is probably secondary to strength.
It was a very long time before the word Power or Carp was stuck on the side of a pole; and early power poles were not pretty. Even a good one was ‘just’ about manageable at 11 metres and you’d probably have to chop it back a metre to fit your No8 Zim solid elastic, which was the strongest grade available back then. People used horrible external PTFE bushes and still ran their elastics through flimsy No1s, which bent alarmingly under pressure. There was no such thing as a puller bung or puller kit and the only way to play a big fish was by hoisting an alarming amount of pole up in the air.
Fast forward to today and everything has moved on so much. Commercial fisheries are big business and people want that instant fix of a big carp pulling on the other end. It’ no marketing secret that if you want to sell something, pop the word Carp or Power on the side and it will probably sell more.
But today’s power/carp poles are more than that. If I was getting into fishing or starting to take it a bit more seriously then a ‘carp pole’ is what I would recommend… whatever the fishing you do. In short, that means a carp pole can be used for roach, perch, bream, gudgeon, bleak, minnows; don’t let that name put you off.
Similarly, I have just edited a story on someone who has caught a near 4lb perch and a 6lb chub using Drennan Barbel hooks. Don’t forget that these are loose descriptive terms. The hooks may have been designed for one key species but it doesn’t stop them being just as effective for others.
I am very fortunate to own two poles; a Drennan Acolyte and an Acolyte Carp. Before that I had a Garbolino M1 and a C1 Power. I have always been a fan of owning two poles on the same mandrel; one a top-of-the-range model that really comes into its own at 16 metres, the other a general workhorse tool that I can really throw around. It just makes much more sense to me, so long as you can justify the expense.
It does get confusing, though, as I have had many 100lb weights of hard-fighting carp on my flagship Acolyte and plenty of silver fish weights with my Acolyte Carp!
As a former editor of Pole Fishing magazine, I often got asked “Is it more of a canal pole?” whenever someone wanted my opinion. I actually find that term quite misleading as, if I was just fishing canals, I would always recommend a carp-style pole hands down.
Why? Well, firstly, canals don’t just contain roach and perch these days. Chub and carp are very common and they live in a much wilder environment than your average snag-free commercial.
Secondly, there are all sorts of hazards on a canal to consider. There are brick walls and hedges to ship through or over and, of course, an increasing number of joggers, walkers and cyclists to watch out for.
Why unnecessarily put a £1,500 to £3,000 pole through all that potential abuse when a pole costing half the price will do? Think about it; you wouldn’t go cross country with a Ferrari if you had a Range Rover!
I suppose the lesson is not to take what it says on the side of a product so literally. They are usually marketing terms to attract the widest possible audience. You can definitely use a Carp pole for roach and skimmers. You can definitely use a Barbel hook for perch, tench and chub. You can even wear ‘match’ clothing if you’re a specimen angler and vice versa!
Don’t let product names get in the way of you and your fish. Fish can’t read labels!
Jon Arthur, Drennan International