For that, however, you’ll be on the receiving end of an impressively comprehensive pole package. On unwrapping the Z9-2 I was surprised to find no less than NINE of Browning’s new Xitan SLK double-bushed top kits nestled nicely inside the padded holdall, as well as a further top kit inside the pole. These kits simply make life as easy as possible. No need to take a hacksaw to them either – instead, the clever double-bush system gives you the option of fitting light hollow elastics or solids through a narrower bore internal bush, or, should you wish to fit a heavier hollow elastic, simply remove the narrow bush leaving you with a larger diameter bush suitable for housing heavier elastics. Most importantly, this ensures all of your kits remain the same length! Further to this, each Xitan SLK top kit is pre-fitted with two side puller options. The first, and arguably the one 90 per cent of owners will choose to use, is an angled slot that allows your elastic to run perfectly central into the kit without the need for installing a roller bush or any other additional device.
The second is a more traditional standard bush fitted into the side of the kit, giving you a few options in how you choose to elasticate. Also included is a cupping kit, already threaded up ready for use, and three spare C/3 sections (No4s), two of which are standard length with a short four also part of the package! Three of Browning’s unique Square Pole Protector sections made to fit each of the final extensions complete the extensive package. On The Bank A thorough testing was in order and where better to go and test the class of the Z9-2 than one of the most upper-class venues in the country, Barston Lakes? Having chosen my peg on the road bank of the main lake I could simply drop my gear out at my peg and crack straight on with the test… that was other than the small task of threading some elastic in the pole! As I mentioned earlier, though, the new SLK kits make this task extraordinarily simple. I expected to catch some skimmers today so a No6 Slip elastic was my choice and the smaller of the two internal bushes was perfect. The pole is rated to a No14 elastic as standard but ‘extra-strength’ No4 sections increase the rating to a number 20. I also decided to use the angled side puller slot, and I must say I cannot see why anybody would use anything else. With a bead attached the slot kicks the elastic out at just the right angle, and when stripping elastic from the pole it doesn’t rub or catch on any sharp edges… perfect! Anyway, on with the test. I kicked off the day by cupping in two small balls of fishmeal groundbait with a helping of worms and casters at 14.5 metres – up to the 14.5m section plus the square butt section, which makes it a true 14.5 metres plus a little bit more.
This is the first time I had used the square sections, but despite being dubious I have to admit they are really comfortable under my bony elbow and forearm! Unfortunately there was little wind today, but I suspect they’d be brilliant in a strong crosswind. It didn’t take long before I started catching a few fish and the stiff and responsive nature of the pole meant hitting bites was made simple. I made sure I responded to each positive indication with a proper strike, mainly to test the pole under a bit of pressure but also when using light elastic and a relatively large float it helps to set the hook properly. Needless to say, the Z9-2 performed admirably. Looking closely at the pole while in use revealed some fine details that might be overlooked on first glance. Carbon reinforced male and female joints improve strength and prevent wear, while a reinforced section just below each male joint gives users an area to grip when removing sections, to prevent breakage in the most commonly crushed area of a section.
After a good run of skimmers including a couple approaching the 2lb mark I was able to see what the Z9-2 is made of at its full 16m length. Here at Barston, it is often the case that you can catch just past your feed area and that was no different today. It is usually at this length where poles that fall into the mid-range price category start to fall down, so when I was able to feel how well the pole continued to fish even with its final extension attached it was clear to see how and why Browning is demanding the price it is for it. Rigid, responsive, very well balanced and strength in abundance – what more could you ask for?
• 1 16m Xitan Z9-2 Advance pole • 1 Xitan square pole protector – 11m • 1 Xitan square pole protector – 13m • 1 Xitan square pole protector – 14.5m/16m • 9 Xitan SLK 3.9mm/4.5mm Duo kits • 1 SLK cupping kit • 2 full-length Power C/3 sections • 1 short C/3 section • 1 Xitan multi-pocket holdall
• Stated length: 16m • Actual length: 15.37m (16.26 incl. Extension) • Top-kit length: 2.61m • Top-four length: 4.03m • Top-five length: 5.55m • Puller kits fitted: Yes • Cupping kit included: Yes • Holdall supplied: Yes • Butt section length: 1.85m • Butt diameter: 48mm