It never ceases to amaze me how good the poles at the budget end of the market are becoming. Gone are the days of unwieldy 13m ‘bananas’ that are all but unusable beyond 10 or 11 metres. The brand-new Exage 1300 from Shimano is a 13m pole that can (and most definitely will) be used at its full length with consummate ease.
With an RRP of just £525, this pole will be a serious contender in its targeted price bracket. It looks the part and the silky-smooth sections are a joy to ship in and out thanks to Shimano’s almost legendary Ultra Sound Sanding System. You never need to worry about strength and durability with this company and I reckon the Exage is more than up to its No20 elastic rating.
Spares are normally something that let poles in this price bracket down, so I think it’s quite refreshing to see a decent number with this pole. In total, you get two match kits (including the one in the pole), two power kits and a cupping kit (minus cups). I believe that’s ample to get you started.
A great selling point for this pole is that it is built on the Gen-Z mandrel, the same as the Carp Cruncher and Technium poles. That means all the sections should interchange and it also means there are plenty of top-kit options, such as a UK Power EV Kit for £49.99, UK Match EV Kit for £59.99 and UK Match Allround Kit for £69.99.
The top five sections are also compatible with the top-of-the-range Gen-X series poles, which makes them ideal for anyone wanting to upgrade at a later date – or for anyone who owns a more expensive Shimano pole and likes to carry a useful spare model.
For my testing day I sat myself down on Ghost Pool at Woodland View and plumbed up two swims at the full 13 metres to alternate between. The feed was dead simple: 4mm pellets and a bit of corn with a 4mm or 6mm expander pellet on the hook.
The plan was to feed anything from eight to 20 pellets plus the odd grain of corn over one spot and then fish the other area while the fish settled. Then, once I’d caught a fish I would simply swap swims and repeat the process. It’s a very simple ploy that works particularly well on prolific open-water venues like this when you are trying to pick out better-quality fish. By letting the swim settle each time, you get bites quickly and you don’t seem to suffer with foul-hookers like you can if you drop a rig in immediately after feeding.
The pole was put under pressure from the very first put-in with a procession of carp to 6lb and F1s to over 2lb dragging out my 11h Hollo elastic. I also latched into a surprising amount of crucians up to 1lb that each put up a characteristically dogged, circular fight all the way to the net!
The more I fished with the Exage, the more I appreciated just how good a pole it is for the money. There is no noticeable sag, its reflexes are pretty good and it doesn’t bend in weird places as you play a fish, like some poles in this price bracket can. I fished with it pretty much all day at full length, including the short mini extension, without any discomfort whatsoever.
I’ve tried to think of something that I could fault on the Exage but I can’t. It’s a fabulous 13m pole, great value and with a good spares package. I really enjoyed fishing with it!
Shimano Exage 1300
Stated length: 13m with mini extension
Actual length: 12.97m with 60cm mini extension
Closed length: 1.86m
Match-kit length: 2.94m
Match-kit length with No1 removed: 2.42m
Power-kit length: 2.42m
Elastic rating: No20
Power kit elastic rating: No20
Other features: Gen-Z System, HPC 100 carbon, Biofibre, Ultra Sound Sanding System, Shimano Alignment System, Reinforced Joint System, two-year guarantee
Package: 13m pole including match kit, spare match kit, two spare power kits, cupping kit, tubes, holdall
Spares: Power kit £49.99; Match EV top three £59.99; Match EV top four £99.99; Match EV top five £139.99; UK Match All-round top three £69.99; UK Match All-round top four £119.99; UK Match All-round top five £179.99