Garbolino’s latest G-Max Match M3 looks the part, but how does it perform? Jon Arthur takes it for a spin to find out.
In my position, I have no sponsorship ties and can therefore pick and choose exactly what I want to fish with. It’s a very privileged position, despite me getting several kind letters and e-mails each year asking me why a company hasn’t sponsored me yet! For the past few years I’ve been more than happy to use a Garbolino pole. I currently own a G-Max 1000 and had a Super G10 before that. That means I’m extremely familiar with how they perform and it’s also why I was so keen to see what all the fuss was about with this latest offering.
There is little doubt that poles from almost every company are the best that they’ve ever been. It is little wonder, therefore, that we can all get increasingly sceptical about new models when they are released. We all want to know what makes them even better and the sceptics among us (myself too at times) sometimes wonder if a pole hasn’t just had a different paint job slapped on it!
Before even taking it onto the bank my first job when the all-new G-Max M3 came into the office was to make a phone call to the man behind its design – England international and Garbolino UK boss Darren Cox.
“We are not a company that changes our poles lightly,” he told me. “We won’t change a pole every year for the sake of it – only when we have a genuine reason – and that’s why we have released new models such as the M3. The way many anglers now fish has changed and we’ve reacted to this and improved our poles as a result.
“The main change that has really taken off over the past couple of seasons is the popularity of slapping. This method basically involves repeatedly swinging your pole around to slap the water several times in quick succession with your pole rig. It mimics the sound of loose feed hitting the water and can often bring violent bites as carp and F1s come straight to the noise.
“With so much slapping now being done, it’s given us the impetus to look at the amount of strain it puts on a pole. It’s a rigorous way of fishing, so we have looked at ways of strengthening our poles even further. The knock-on effect of these modifications has actually improved the overall balance and feel throughout the range!”
I know where Darren is coming from because I’ve seen many anglers break their pole as a result of repeated slapping. It is easily one of the most rigorous types of abuse you can give a pole – along with pulling fish from snags and cupping in lots of big balls of heavy soil. It follows that if you can improve a pole for slapping, its overall performance should also improve.
Looking closer at the M3, it is definitely a case of refining an already successful design. The top five or six sections have therefore had little or no need for change from previous models; all the focus has been on the ‘back end’. These are the all-important sections that receive the most wear – or delaminating to use the correct term – caused by slapping.
Darren explained to me: “We’ve improved our poles by fractionally opening up the diameter of the butt sections. This has allowed us to increase the reinforcements both inside and outside the sections without adding weight. Section strength has increased as a result to make them ‘slap-friendly’ and as a consequence there is a much nicer overall feel, particularly at longer distances.”
I didn’t think slapping would actually come into play when I took the M3 to the Match Lake at Larford. That’s because I also didn’t think I’d be able to fish hard 4mm pellets with a hair-rigged pellet over the top in mid-January. How wrong I was. With only Tom Scholey and me on the lake on a glorious day more akin to spring, it soon turned into fish soup for us both!
To give the M3 a decent workout I concentrated on fishing 14.5 and 16 metres. Initially, I began feeding very negatively and was pleased to see next to no wobble to accidentally bounce my hard pellets out of a pole-mounted pot. By just dripping in three to six pellets every put-in I seemed to avoid the nuisance skimmers and kept quality F1s up to 4lb coming steadily.
I soon started to realise that the fish were coming to the little plop of pellets and began experimenting with not feeding a thing. Instead, I just quickly slapped my bulk rig on the water three times and lowered my rig straight down afterwards. Wallop, every throw was a coconut!
It was almost too easy fooling the fish this way but nevertheless good to see how quickly the pole recovered after every slap. There is hardly any wobble with the M3 and I think the two-piece Power Lite kits I used really helped in this respect, too. Even when playing fish, these kits remain nice and stiff, letting the elastic do all the work and reducing the amount of friction.
Now I had the fish queuing up with no feed I thought I’d try the complete opposite and pick up my catapult. It was far from conventional winter tactics but Larford can be a special venue at times!
Once again, the fish responded well and even someone stood in the water taking photos didn’t seem to put them off – if only every session could be this good!
It’s fair to say that I was impressed. In terms of performance and balance at 16 metres, the M3 wasn’t far off my own top-of-the-range pole, either. I love the smooth finish on all of the sections and any increase in butt diameter is hardly noticeable.
The overall package is sound and it’s great to see a Power Puller Slot Kit included in the package, along with a spare 4.4m Lite kit, two 2.9m Lite kits and two 2.9m Power kits.
What Garbolino has done with the M3 isn’t revolutionary, it’s evolutionary, and I think you’ll be impressed if you ever get the chance to fish with one.
Garbolino G-Max Match M3
Stated length: 16m
Actual length: 16.1m
Closed length: 1.87m
Match Lite kit length: 2.85m
PowerLite kit length: 2.85m
Other features: Slip N Slide finish, slap-friendly design, made in France
Package: 1316m pole including Match Lite kit, spare 4.4m Match Lite kit, two spare 2.9m Match Lite kits, two spare Power Lite kits, short No4, extendable cupping kit, cups, tubes, holdall
Spares: Lite kit £84.99; Match Lite kit £84.99; Match Lite Puller kit £89.99; Power Lite Puller kit £89.99; short 4 power £69.99; 1.8m extension £199.99