I need no convincing as to how good previous poles in the popular GXR range are. For the last 12 months I have been using last year’s release – the top-of-the-range 3001 – and I must say that I have been left extremely impressed.
This year has seen two new additions that sit under the 3001, in the shape of the GXR 1600 and 2600. These replace the older GXR 1001 and 2001 models – which have proven popular over the last couple of years – with improvements made to strength and stiffness and the kit packages revised.
When I first got the 2600 out at full length I struggled to tell the difference in quality between it and the 3001, which is testament to how much Preston has improved it. Like all the poles in the range, it features the popular Sun Core Finish. This makes it extremely easy to ship in and out and keeps the sections cool in sunny conditions – something that I was most definitely not blessed with on the day of my test!
Being part of an already established family of poles also has its advantages. Any existing GXR pole owner will be pleased to know that all the sections will interchange. Likewise, match top kits, power kits and puller kits from GXR or more expensive GiS poles can be used.
With snow on the ground and many of our commercial fisheries frozen, choosing a venue to give the pole a workout where I could get a few bites wasn’t easy. So, when Jon Arthur told me that he was planning to visit the Trent & Mersey Canal in Middlewich for a feature, and with recent match results showing that the venue had been fishing extremely well, I thought I would tag along.
I have never fished this canal before but there was no shortage of ‘local experts’ on the towpath when we arrived! They all willingly imparted information as to where the fish have been caught and how to fish it, with breadpunch seeming to be the most popular bait. This suited me and I settled into a swim near to Jon’s feature.
I decided to fish three lines; the first towards the bridge to my left at the pole’s full length of 16 metres, the second to the right at the bottom of the far shelf at 13 metres, and the third on a short-pole line at five metres.
My plan was to start fishing short and, depending on progress, move on to my longer swims later in the day. I kick-started my short-pole swim with a tennis ball of bread and was delighted to receive an instant response. Five good roach on the first five put-ins made me think that I might be on for a bumper day. Sadly, things went downhill pretty quickly after this and after 40 minutes I still hadn’t had another bite. Time to try a different swim!
Moving on to the 13m line saw me catch a few more and remain extremely impressed with the pole. To be fair, most poles with an RRP of around £1,000 are pretty good at this length, but the GXR 2600 is certainly up there with the best.
The really nice thing about this model is the wall strength. The sections all feel really solid and there is hardly any give anywhere along the pole’s length. Although it doesn’t always follow that solid sections are necessarily strong, it does provide the angler with plenty of confidence and I can certainly vouch for the strength and resilience of my GXR.
A few more roach followed at this longer length but again it seemed that once a few hooked fish had flashed through the swim the rest of the shoal dissipated. This gave me the chance to push right out to 16 metres to try the pole at its longest length. To be honest, I fully expected it to suffer a bit because the increased weight of the big sections can be the Achilles heel for many mid-range poles.
While, as expected, the pole lost some rigidity, it was still extremely usable and I would certainly class it as among the best in its price range. It is also worth mentioning that it is supplied with a mini extension, giving you some adaptability if a specific length is required and the bank behind you is tight. By the end of the session I had caught a very tidy 6lb net of quality roach. Although the fishing had been difficult in the cold conditions, I was more than pleased to have winkled out a few fish on what was undoubtedly a tough day.
I was also extremely impressed with the pole. I am always wary when a manufacturer brings out a rehashed version of an older model. At times it seems that you are simply getting the old product rebadged, but this is definitely not the case here. The pole is much improved and I’m sure that the revised kit package will be more appealing to today’s angler. Well done Preston!
|Stated length: 16m with mini extension
Actual length: 16.44m with 85cm extension
Closed length: 1.78m
Match-kit length: 2.84m
Power-kit length: 2.6m
Match kit elastic rating: No12
Power kit elastic rating: No18
Other features: Sun Core Finish, Nanolith construction, Magic Steps
Package: 16m pole including match kit, two spare match kits, two power kits, two Pulla Kits, cupping kit, cups, holdall
Spares: Match Top 3 £55; Match Top 4 £115; Power Kit £55; Pulla Kit £49.99; half extension £74.99