TRUSTED tackle reviews appear every week in Angler’s Mail magazine. Here’s one exclusively online, a First Trial report by STEVE LOCKETT.

A TRIP to Goodiford Mill fisheries near Cullompton is always one to look forward to. The carp are fighting fit and tend to come in large amounts. With the pellet waggler being one of the best ways to get stuck into them, I thought this would be the perfect time to give the Middy 3G Micro Muscle a thorough test.

Sitting in peg 10 gave me an open water chuck of around 40 yards to the central rope. I knew I would only need to go 25 yards, about as far as I could comfortably catty 8mm pellets, to get a good response.

Slipping the two-piece rod from the smart black with red trim bag, I put on a reel and started to get my line through the rings. The butt section has two three-legged rings, with quite a large spacing between the reel and the butt ring. At 27 in. I did wonder if this would be too far and adversely affect line control. In use, it was never a problem, and probably helps line to peel off the spool when casting.

The tip section has eight single-legged rings, plus a matching tip ring. These appear to all be SIC guides, which are well known for being smoother running, causing less friction on the line. The whippings are all very neat, black with a silver tip, and include a strengthening whip on the ends of both sections.

Expect neat whippings and tidy guides throughout.

Underneath the rod butt is a secondary graphic, this showing the length of the rod, plus recommended lines and casting weights.

With a rating of up to 12 lb mainline, I should be well within the rod’s capabilities. I selected a 3SSG poly waggler and locked it on the 6 lb Ultima Power Plus line with the correct shotting. A hooklength of 0.18mm Silstar Matchteam and a size 14 Fox Series 2 Extra Strong completed the set-up.

Slipping an 8mm pellet into the hair-rigged bait band, I had my first cast. The rod was in no way sloppy; in fact the tip recovery was superb. So many soft rods designed for carp on the pellet waggler feel too soft to control casts properly, but the Micro Muscle was a proper fishing tool. This tip to middle action can be good for both casting and striking, but be a bit too powerful when fish are under your feet.

After three casts and a couple of strikes into thin air, I connected with my first carp. It was only a little one, at just under 3 lb, but allowed my first taste of what the rod could do. The tip bent smoothly and well in to the butt as I pumped the fish towards me. With the carp circling under my bank, I lifted the rod and the carp popped up neatly to be netted first time. I never felt I was putting too much pressure on the hook hold, but a bigger or more frisky fish may prove more testing.

Over the course of the next three hours, which included a spell of 20 minutes when the fish drifted off, I managed to land 32 carp to close on 8 lb. There were a couple of foul hookers which charged off and had me holding on grimly, there were also some fish which refused to come up and I really had to lean on them hard. The star of Middy’s carp waggler department was doing a grand job and I was really enjoying using it.

The blank is built using a process called X-Flex, which is claimed to give a better action and I feel it lived up to the claims. There is plenty of power down low for those who like to fish a bit heavier and bully fish in. For me, I use a bit more finesse, but didn’t feel the rod was over gunned. In fact, I feel the action is just about perfect and always had a bit in reserve instead of collapsing into a complete hoop.

There's plenty of power down below for when you need it.

A sculpted screw-down handle kept the reel secure and was very comfortable. A thicker section just behind where the reel stem sits gives support to your rod hand and stops any chance of tendonitis.

At 20 in. the handle was just long enough to give the float a punch if needed, but was easy to manoeuvre and hold using just elbow pressure when I was feeding. The all cork handle is a touch of class with just a hint of Duracork at the top of the reel seat. A nice detail is the little chequered collar with ribs to help you grip when screwing the reel seat down.

And so, to the criticism, which is a very minor niggle given how good everything else is about this rod. At this price, I would expect, and the rod deserves, a padded ready-rod sleeve. I know some anglers prefer to set up afresh every time, but I like to have my rod set up and given the perfect two-section break down, it would be a real bonus for one to be supplied.

The Micro Muscle will have to go into one of my rod bags, it is certainly worth a place there. I feel it is far and away the best rod for shallow carp fishing I have come across to date.

STOP PRESS! I hear that Middy have now just released an X-Flex 4G design which I’m keen to test. Look out my review in a forthcoming issue of Angler’s Mail magazine!

One of 32 carp taken on my first Micro Muscle session.

IN A NUTSHELL My previous favourite short pellet waggler rods are now relegated to spares. The Micro Muscle is a classy performer and a joy to use. If only it came with a padded ready-rod sleeve, it would be perfect.

PRICE. £69.99-99.99. VERDICT. 9.5/10.