Because these were pretty much unproven I decided to buy the bottom-end pole, the 604. It came with six top kits and a cupping kit. The shop was doing a promotion, so I could buy another four top kits for £100. So I would end up with a 16m pole and 12 top kits. After using it for a year I realised that it was a great 13m pole but at longer lengths it was awful. I then purchased a 774, which I used for several years, and more recently an 874.
If anyone ever asked, I would always recommend buying a Sensas pole because, in my opinion, they are extremely good value for money and spare sections, like the No5s and 6s don’t cost the earth. That was until last year, when I managed to break my 13m section three days before the first round of the Drennan Knockout Cup at Heronbrook. I couldn’t get hold of a replacement and was scratching my head about how to deal with it.
By chance, one of my Facebook friends was selling a Black Daiwa Airity for a very reasonable price. A couple of messages later and a trip to my mate’s house to pick the pole up I was up and running. All I did was inspect the sections for damage and re-elasticated the top kits. My honest intentions were to use it for the first Drennan match and then sell it on and look for a new pole.
I decided to visit Heronbrook the day before the first round because I’d not seen the venue for years and from what I could gather it had changed a fair bit. I set up on a peg as far away from the car park and café as I could because I wanted to sit and have a waggle with the pole and figure out how to catch the fish.
The first thing I noticed was how stiff it looked at a full 16 metres. To be honest, I was amazed at how much difference there was between my Airity and my old Sensas pole. However, just holding a pole is no measure of how good it is. Catching a few fish and holding it for the duration of a match or pleasure session is though. I put some rigs on and set about plumbing up. I had a mud line across with several fishy-looking gaps in a reed bed.
When plumbing up, I noticed that I could put my rig exactly where I wanted it. Even with the wind blowing at me and slightly to the right, the pole remained straight and didn’t get blown out of position. I set a track line up at nine metres to my right where I had around five feet of water and a margin line to my right at about five metres. I fed my 9m line with a big pot of pellets and corn so that I could leave it for a while to settle before hopefully catching a few fish over the top of it.
I fed my mud line via a pole-mounted pot. Unfortunately I had no lid so I had to be careful when shipping out because I didn’t want bait all over my peg. I put a 4mm expander on my hook and a few pellets into my pot and shipped out. The pole shipped out very smoothly and I didn’t lose any of my loose feed on the way across. I very carefully tipped my pot over exactly where I wanted it and lowered my hook bait in. No more than 30 seconds later my float slid under and with a little lift I was into my first fish. It swam back down the far shelf into the track, so a quick ship back and the pole was on the roller. I stopped at nine metres because the fish kited off to the right. It didn’t seem to want to stop and I thought it was foul hooked. I was using a light 0.12mm hooklength so I thought I’d have to follow the fish a bit to try and slow it down. By applying a bit of side strain and keeping my pole tip low to the water, I soon turned the fish so it was heading back my way. I noticed how reassuringly stiff the pole is and how it never felt like it was undergunned for what I was doing. I quickly shipped back to my top kit, broke down and started to strip elastic out of my puller kit. The fish seemed to want to stay deep so I left it to waddle around knowing that it was tiring. It eventually popped up for long enough for me to see it… it looked massive. I changed my tactics slightly and started to be a bit gentler. Several minutes passed before it properly surfaced and I had it in my landing net, although its tail was hanging out. It was well into double figures and proved a very good test for my new pole. During the course of the day I caught fish from everywhere I dropped a hook bait and proved that this pole, as I suspected, is a great piece of kit.
The next day, on the first round, I drew Peg 10 on Meadow. Jamie Hughes told me that I’d drawn a nice peg with a few fish in it and that I stood a chance of qualifying for the next round. I walked to my peg to be greeted by a massive gap in some reeds with stems just breaking the surface and a decent-looking margin. I set the same three rigs up and plumbed up to find about the same depths. However, the day was very hot, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it looked like the fish were getting ready to start spawning.
Given the snaggy nature of the peg I decided to use my 0.12mm hooklengths because I thought the fish would either come out or snag me up. If they snagged me up I had a slightly weak link that I could use when I had to pull for a break. I also decided to fish chopped worm and casters because I find they prefer worms when they are getting ready to spawn.
I fed my track line with half a pot of pellets, worms and corn and my margin line with a big pot of loose groundbait. I put a worm head on my hook and filled my pole-mounted pot with casters. I plugged the top with some very damp, sloppy groundbait. I shipped across, tipped my pot over and lowered my hook bait into the cloud that had formed.
Two minutes later fish number one was in the net, an F1 of around 1lb. I had to steer it away from the snags on the far bank and at no point did I feel out of control. By applying pressure when I needed to I had the fish in the net in no time.
During the course of the day I tried my track and margin lines but I seemed to catch fish faster from across near the snag. I did lose several fish and had the odd quiet spell but managed to catch steadily for the duration of the day.
As the scales came down the bank nobody had managed anything over 50lb. I tipped my two nets of fish on the scales and I’d managed 70lb-ish and I thought I had a real chance of qualifying for the next round. Nobody weighed in more, which left the last peg in my section, occupied by Warren Martin. He weighed in 120-odd-lb, which put him in a frame place – third I think.
Not only had I won my section by default I’d qualified for the next round. To say I was made up is an understatement.
While I can’t say the pole won me my section I can say that it is a pretty good piece of kit. It’s light, stiff, smooth and reassuringly strong and will handle anything that I choose to do with it, from margin carping to delicate roach fishing. Suffice it to say, I decided to keep the pole.
I’ve had it for nearly a year and I have purchased several spare sections from my local tackle shop. They had to order one for me, which arrived within a couple of days, so I don’t think there will be any problems in getting hold of spares for the foreseeable future.
If I’d bought this pole brand new it would have cost me upwards of £3,000; is it worth that amount of money? I think it is. It’s the best pole I’ve ever owned for shipping quickly with and it gets even better when it’s wet. Daiwa produces a number of generic top kits that don’t have any effect on the balance and feel, so buying new kits isn’t as expensive as it could be. Plus, when I come to sell the pole I know I won’t lose too much money on it. This means I can invest in a new Daiwa pole when I’m ready.
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