As I tackled up at the fantastic Acorn Lakes complex near Bristol, I was looking forward to giving the Middy Shock Core Fusion XP35 a decent workout. I am sure that many of you already know and appreciate how good the top-of-the-range Middy XK55 is. That pole is easily the best that Middy has ever produced and has placed the brand squarely in the eye of the serious pole buyer. Being the next model down from its flagship brother, the XP35 warranted a good inspection too. With an RRP of £999 it is considerably less expensive – less than half the price, in fact – yet it retains most of the cutting-edge features.
This isn’t too much of a surprise because it is built on the very same X-series mandrel, albeit with slightly less expensive carbon cloths. The top kits are the same and will interchange between the two (and the cheaper XT15 and XM10 models). It also boasts the same Fusion process on the joints and a super-smooth S Slide finish. The HKD process is also worth a mention. This basically means that the sections are much more resilient to extremes in temperature, so it stays stiff when it’s baking hot and isn’t too brittle when it’s freezing cold. All poles will lose a bit of rigidity over time but this process is also supposed to prolong the pole’s life. Only time will tell with this, however!
I rigged up two of my XP35 kits, the Match kit that comes inside the pole and one of the tougher Karp 2 kits. By removing the No1 section of the Match Kit it is exactly the same length as a Karp 2 and that all helps to make your fishing so much more efficient.
With strong winds forecast I decided to sit in the windward corner, where I had lots of cover in the form of marginal reeds. This offered me several swims of the same depth within the full 14.5m radius of the pole. Fishing at full length, I thought I’d start off by dobbing a bit of bread and corn at half depth against the reed stems to see if any carp were sulking off the bottom. With no bites after 40 minutes I started to drip in corn over one swim and maggots over another.
Again, I never had so much as a tremble on the float. Oh dear! A quick look on a new swim down the middle finally resulted in a 4lb common and a 1lb skimmer quickly followed that. I pricked a fish next cast and that was the end of that! With no more bites and quite a strong undertow, I concluded that the cold wind was actually pushing the fish out of my peg, making it far less attractive than I had hoped. Rather than sit there like a garden gnome, I decided to make a move. I only shifted a few swims to my right but it placed me in a much wider area of the lake. Because it was frozen over just a day earlier, I figured that the fish might have balled up in this wider area in the cold-water conditions.
It was virtually the same depth as before so I plumbed up an 11m swim and another at 14.5 metres. First cast, I shipped out to the shorter swim, potted in eight maggots and lowered double maggot straight over the top. Thirty seconds later I was playing a carp. Bingo!
It always amazes me how the fish can shoal up so tightly at this time of year. By switching between maggots at 11 metres and corn at 14.5, I managed to keep chunky carp and skimmers coming for the next couple of hours. It wasn’t easy in the gusting side wind but the pole coped well with everything thrown at it. There were definitely a few hairy moments as gusts approaching gale force almost spun me off my box but the pole dealt with it all.
As I held on, I never felt scared of crushing or breaking a section. The XP35 strikes me as a really solid workhorse that’s perfect for carping and venues like this. That’s not to say that it’s an unwieldy beast, however. Far from it; I could fish quite comfortably at 14.5 metres whenever the wind subsided. A 16m extension is also available, although I would expect the performance to sag a little with it added. At the 14.5 metres that I fished, I reckon Middy has picked the perfect length for optimum usability. I found it surprisingly responsive at this range, too, and I’m sure it would cope admirably with finesse fishing for silvers.
To be really picky, I would have liked to see protective tubes included to protect your investment because it’s something that I think all poles should come with as standard. Apart from this, the package is sound, if not spectacular, with three extra Karp kits and a Cupp kit. You also get four complete elastication kits, which includes elastic, bungs and bushes. This is a really nice touch that’s designed to get you up and running immediately – it also saves you quite a bit of money once you add all of these little items up!
I enjoyed my session with the XP35 and I reckon we’ll see a lot of them on the bank over the next 12 months. It really is a nice pole to fish with, handles well right up to 14.5 metres and hits a price point that many anglers will be prepared to pay. Top marks Middy!
MIDDY SHOCK CORE FUSION
XP35 COMPETITION PRO
|Stated length: 14.5m
Actual length: 14.4m
Closed length: 1.8m
Match-kit top-3 length: 3.17m
Match-kit length with No1 removed: 2.48m
Karp 2-kit length: 2.48m
Match kit elastic rating: No16
Karp kit elastic rating: No22
Other features: Built on X Series mandrel, MTDI Angle Technology, Fusion joints, S Slide Finish, VC-X baking process, CS3 bonding process
Package: 14.5m pole, including Match kit, plus three additional Karp 2 kits, Cupp kit, carry case and four elastication kits, DVD
Spares: Karp 2 kit £39.99; Match 3 kit £49.99; Pro 3 kit £95; Short No4 £59.99; 16m extension £119.99