Is the Catana 1300 the best budget pole on the market? That’s what Shimano reckoned when I first held one at the Tackle & Guns Trade Show. I remember picking it up and thinking: “Hmm, yes, that’s not a bad little pole.” Then, I asked how much it was. When I was told £299 my eyebrows lifted somewhat! Then, when it was added that it will probably go for £100 less than that in the shops I was staggered! This was a 13m pole with all the usual cosmetics and fine finish that I’ve come to expect on luxury Shimano models but at a bargain-busting £200!
Without any hesitation I booked a date and was determined to give the Catana a workout. I really wanted to see what an entry-level pole could do these days. I won’t say what my first-ever pole was, but it cost pretty much the same price, had put-in joints rather than the put-overs of today and weighed a ton at its maximum 11m length. I could already tell that the Catana was miles better in every single respect!
Taking the pole out of the bag, it was pleasing to see that it was nicely packaged with protective foam bungs to prevent sections damaging in transit. Even the separate mini extension comes with its own protective tube.
There are two top kits in total. Okay, I know three would be better, but we’re talking about a £200 pole and spares only cost £44.99 a pop. Both top kits are two sections long and only need six inches chopping back to accommodate a wide PTFE bush for hollow elastics. I chose to elasticate one with 11 Hollo for open water and another with stronger 13 Hollo for the margins, both with Pulla Bungs. The kits are Gen Z compatible and rated to No20 elastic and felt plenty strong enough, as did the rest of the pole after giving it the obligatory squeeze test!
As I put the sections together on the banks of Crater Pool at Makins Fishery I was really impressed with Shimano’s now-legendary Ultra Sound Sanding System. I really didn’t expect a cheaper pole to be given this super-smooth treatment. I also expected the reinforced joints to be much thicker, so I was pleasantly surprised to see them not catching on my hands as I shipped in and out. This is largely thanks to its XT40 carbon and biofibre construction. A handy mini extension is also a nice touch.
Because the water was still really cold, I decided to plumb up two swims at maximum length, one straight in front and one along my right-hand margin. Here I planned to drip in tiny amounts of pellets and corn. I also had a couple of pints of maggots left over from the weekend, so I decided to be mega-positive and fill it in at 11 metres to my left, just past the adjacent platform. Two large potfuls of maggots were duly deposited here, hopefully to simulate someone packing away, and this area was left for a couple of hours while I fished elsewhere.
After a couple of quick carp up the edge on corn they seemed to shy away for a good 40 minutes. Gradually, though, my pinches of pellets and corn pulled them back and I managed a nice, steady spell of little stockies averaging 12oz to 1lb. Sport was by no means hectic but I was getting bites and, more importantly, a good feel for the Catana. Right up to 11 metres I couldn’t fault it whatsoever. Even with the butt and mini extension added it was manageable. Yes, it wobbled a bit at this range and wasn’t going to perform like the company’s top-of-the-range Aspire, but I really couldn’t criticise its performance for the price tag.
As the clock ticked I couldn’t resist looking down the maggot-fed margin. Three big roach to 12oz wasn’t what I was expecting – especially on triple maggot! As nice as they were, I chose to fill it in with another great big potful of grubs. I dropped straight back on top, expecting to catch more roach, only to find myself attached to a perch nudging 1lb. Then it went quiet. Carp had finally moved in and I managed four quality fish to around 6lb before sadly having to call it a day.
I had a great session and it really brought back memories of when I was a youngster on the lookout for my first pole. Believe me when I say that this one is absolutely awesome for the money. It is without doubt Shimano’s best-ever budget pole. I might go as far as to say that it is the best budget pole I’ve ever fished with!
Shimano Catana 1300
Package: 13m pole including top-two kit, spare top two, mini extension, cloth bag, tubes, competition holdall.
Features: USSS finish, reinforced joints, XT40 carbon, Biofibre, Gen Z compatible, two-year guarantee
Spares: Top two £44.99