I was having a conversation with my colleague Joe Carass not so long back about how and why poles get broken. Now, I’m sure that he won’t mind me saying that he has broken his fair share of poles, regardless of which manufacturer he gets them from! Despite being one of the best all-rounders in the country, he is, by his own admission, very heavy-handed, and a lover of a ‘firm’ strike!
Interestingly, though, Joe breaks very few poles when carp fishing, as he is more prone to lifting into bites. When roach fishing or targeting big bonus fish with baits such as lobworms, however, he starts to encounter a lot more problems, as a big strike is required!
During the August Bank Holiday festival at Evesham, I managed to hook a 5lb barbel on the long pole and, with the margins of the river being littered with reeds and lilies, I had no choice other than to point the pole skywards and play the fish with 13 metres of pole in the air! Although I managed to land the fish, I could feel that the amount of strain on the sections was massive. If you think about it, situations like this force you to play big, powerful fish in a way that you would never dream of playing a carp!
Following on from my chat with Joe, I was keen to do something different for this month’s Live Test, and when editor Jon Arthur suggested a visit to one of his childhood haunts – the River Leam – I was really excited about it, and decided that a long-pole, chopped-worm-and-caster route would be my only gambit.
My weapon for the day was Garbolino’s latest G-Max 600, a 14.5m model designed for ‘match carp’ fishing. Being built on the same mandrel as the flagship G-Max 1000, I probably shouldn’t have been surprised when I set the pole up at its full length and found that it was one the best in terms of lightness, stiffness and balance that I have ever felt in the price bracket.
The finish was also something special, and would not feel out of place on a pole commanding twice the price tag. I think that this is an area that can let a lot of cheaper poles down, but it makes a big difference when fishing at length.
Delving into the stylish blue holdall that the pole is supplied in, I found a choice of three Power Lite Kits (to go with the Match Lite Kit in the pole) plus an adjustable Potting Kit. I personally think that the two-piece Power Lite Kits are a cracking innovation, as they seem to weigh the same as your average match kit but are exceptionally strong. One of these was duly elasticated with No15 Hollo elastic, and I was ready to roll!
After careful plumbing up I managed to find a nice flat area down the middle of the river at 13 metres and a couple of metres downstream. I kicked off the session by baitdroppering a generous helping of chopped worms and casters in on this line, before kicking off with a small piece of lobworm over the top. The river wasn’t really pulling too hard at all, so after 20 minutes without a bite I decided to start Toss-Potting small amounts of feed slightly upstream of where I was fishing. This seemed to work well, and I was soon catching a stream of small perch, with the odd better sample to 10oz also making an appearance.
To give the pole a proper workout, I really wanted to hook a bigger fish like a tench or eel, however, and on the hour mark my prayers were answered as I hooked into something far more substantial. Given the number of roots, branches and weeds running up the side of the river, I knew that I would have to really pile some pressure on the fish to get it to the surface. This is easier said than done, though, when the fish is 10 yards downstream and still going!
I heaved the pole upwards in a bid to bring the fish off the bottom and, after an epic tussle, I had a 3lb eel writhing in my landing net. Job done!
Although playing big fish such as this obviously puts a lot of pressure on sections, it is more common for them to break on the strike, as the sudden inertia from hitting into a fish extenuates any flaws or faults in a section. Worm fishing for bonus fish is a style where I am particularly fond of a Zorro-like strike, as you need to drive the hook home into the boney mouths of eels and perch. After fishing on for another couple of hours when plenty more hard strikes were administered, I am happy to report that the pole continued to perform admirably, and I was left extremely impressed.
I would go as far as to say that the G-Max 600 is possibly the best pole that I have tested in its price range, and if you are in the market for a pole for less than £1,000 this is a must-see model. As an added bonus, for a limited time only, the pole is supplied with a free power kit on top of the standard package, making it truly exceptional value for money!
Garbolino G-Max 600
Stated length: 14.5m
Actual length: 14.53m
Closed length: 1.87m
Top-kit length: 2.84m
Elastic rating: Match Lite Kit No12; Power Lite Kit No20
Other features: Slip N Slide Finish, Super Fit joints, G-Max compatible
Package: 14.5m pole, three Power Lite Kits, Potting Kit, holdall
Spares: Match Lite Kit £84.99; Power Lite Kit £59.99; Puller Slot Kit £89.99; standard No4 £74.99; short No4 £69.99; 1.8m extension £199.99