Jon On The Shimano Aspire Ultra
It seems to have taken an age for the top-of-the-range Aspire Ultra to finally hit the shops but, as they say, all good things come to those that wait! With the likes of Alan Scotthorne and Steve Ringer behind the design, this pole really has been eagerly anticipated. Now I’ve fished with it I can honestly say that the wait has been more than worthwhile!
As soon as you take the pole out of the padded holdall you can see the quality and attention to detail that’s gone into it. Every section has extra reinforcements and wraps and the finish throughout is superb. I really like the honeycomb-effect Aero-Joints because every section locks into place well without pushing in too far. There’s even a protective ring on the 16m section to prevent chipping.
Something that shouldn’t be overlooked is the fact that this is a ‘true’ 16m pole (it actually measures 16.05 metres) and, unlike so many other poles, the No1 needs little or no cutting back for light elastics. Without cutting back, the tip’s internal diameter is a very generous 2.5mm, which is already enough for light elastics. Chop just a few centimetres off and you’ll deal with thicker elastics with ease. Removing the No1 completely makes them spot-on for the thickest grades, right up to No20.
The complete Gen X concept is excellent because it lets you choose top threes, fours and fives in different price brackets from the top Match Pro, and stronger Match Plus to the cheaper Match Allround and Match EV kits – perfect for kitting yourself out on a budget. The range also includes parallel extensions, half extensions and a top-quality designated cupping kit, which pretty much covers everything. The pole is supplied with eight extra Gen X Match Pro top threes plus a couple of EV No4 sections.
For our test session at the fantastic Cob House Fisheries I set up two kits – one with No10 and the other with No12 elastic. I found a blue Preston internal bush slots snugly inside the No2 section, so with a pull bung in the No3 I was soon elasticated and ready to go.
With a whole £1 at stake I decided to swap between two swims at 11 and 14 metres to get the most out of the peg. I had a feeling that Tom would go with a soft-pellet approach so I made my mind up to be more positive with hard 4mm and 6mm pellets for feed. This was coupled with a banded 6mm hooker on a 0.12mm hooklength and size 20 PR 36 hook. It turned out to be a good move because not only did I catch more fish but they were noticeably bigger on average too, with less missed bites. My 50lb bag was enough to pip his 35lb effort so another £1 was begrudgingly hurled my way!
After taking our catch shots and tipping the fish back, the fishing was too good to stop there so we both carried on for a couple of hours (it’s a hard life!). The disturbance had definitely slowed things up and that gave me the perfect opportunity to chase the fish out to 16 metres. Shipping in and out at this length posed no problems whatsoever and there was very little bounce, even with a small pot on the end. Its strength, as with almost every Shimano pole I’ve handled, is without question and it is easily up to bagging work.
The one thing that does surprise me is the understated cosmetics. The coloured graphics are limited to the 16m butt section only but if I owned an Aspire Ultra I’d want people to know what I’m fishing with at 13 and 14 metres too! That said, performance should come before aesthetics and this pole really does handle magnificently at every length.
I have to say that this is without doubt the best pole I’ve tested so far this year and a very serious contender in the flagship pole market.
Tom On The Aspire Ultra
After our mini-match I managed to catch fish with the Aspire Ultra at 14 and 16 metres and it’s among the best poles I’ve ever held. I’m a fan of subtle graphics and to my eye the pole looks every inch as good as it feels. Its slim profile and smooth finish means it flies through the hands with ease, while the reinforced joints mean that fish can be heaved away from snags with confidence.
Shimano Aspire Ultra
Stated length: 16m
Actual length: 16.05m
Top-two length: 1.72m
Top-three length: 2.89m
Top-four length: 4.37m
Top-five length: 5.96m
Top-three length with No1 removed: 2.37m
Elastic rating: No20
Match No2 section internal tip diameter: 3mm
13m butt diameter: 45mm
14.5m butt diameter: 49mm
16m butt diameter: 51mm
Weight at 12.6m: 750g
Weight at 14.32m: 990g
Weight at 16.05m: 1,283g
Other features: Ultra Sound Sanding, Aero-Joint, High Pressure Carbon, Biofibre, Reinforced Joint System, Shimano Alignment System, Gen X compatible
Package: 16m pole, eight Match Pro kits, two EV No4s,
EV cupping kit
Spares: Pro Kit 3 £99.99; Pro Kit 4 £199.99; Pro Kit 5 £329.99; Plus Kit 3 £79.99; Plus Kit 4 £149.99; Plus Kit 5 £229.99; Allround Kit 3 £N/A; Allround Kit 4 £N/A; Allround Kit 5 £N/A; EV Kit £54.99; EV Kit 4 £89.99; EV Kit 5 £139.99; Pro Cupping Kit £49.99; EV No4 £39.99; EV extension £159.99; EV half extensions £59.99