This lagoon looks a good place to start…..
Having represented Ireland in both the World Freshwater Championships and the World Saltwater Boat Championships, and an avid shore angler, I now spend most of my days targeting Irish Specimen fish, holding over two hundred specimens spanning twenty eight different species including the current Irish Record Roach. As a tackle consultant, Pure Fishing tackle covers all my needs in specimen hunting, whether salt or fresh water, where I enjoy testing out new tackle or putting the old gear through it’s paces. In my spare time, I write for Ireland’s leading angling magazine, "Irish Angler". Tight Lines…
Mach 2 XT, 12ft two piece
I fancied the look of the Shakespeare XT Specimen rod the last time I picked it up at the Pure fishing trade show down in Dublin. It’s 2lb test curve lends itself well as a very versatile rod that looks like it may be able to cover a wide range of angling needs, especially to an angler such as myself who regularly jumps across the angling disciplines and species.
It is described as a powerful blank that takes over from the barbel version when heavier lines and larger leads/feeders are required. As far as I am aware, we still do not have barbel in Ireland, but we do have a multitude of other species this rod could be bent into!
Lifting the rod, I’m thinking night fishing for specimen tench with a method feeder, light carp work, trotting a sandeel down tide for large seatrout, feeder fishing for powerful roach-bream hybrids etc etc, the list is endless. Like I say, this looks and feels like it could be a useful and versatile all-rounder.
The one species I havent mentioned, and it was foremost in my thoughts as I held the XT Specimen, was Grey Mullet. My local water has the possibilities of producing not only the Irish record grey mullet but also the British record, and I know this first hand because I have seen large double figure fish on many occasions, although hooking them is another thing!
My match rod is perfect for the smaller fish up to 5lbs, and great fun when able to fight them in open water. However, some of the small pods of larger specimens are extremely crafty and easily make use of mooring bouys, pier stanchions and tufts of bladder-wrack to free themselves of an anglers hook.
The only way to feel how the XT will perform is to give it a go, and I decided that it had to be tested on the dogged, hard battle of a specimen Mullet. Typically, I float fish bread flake for regular results, and I find that carp controllers are an excellent way to cast and present a fragile bait such as bread. Immediately and obviously I realised that I could use a larger float-controller if needs be. This is handy if an on-shore breeze is hampering casting, and on this particular occasion, conditions were far from flat calm.
The breeze made fish stalking almost impossible, with mullet spotting me first and cruising off into the relative safety of deeper water. Fortunately, at times such as these, I have a couple of hot-spots where fish are almost always feeding. I couldn’t see any movement initially, but a few free samples of bread catapulted up-wind of the mark soon tempted a small shoal to feed.
Once a mullet breaks the cardinal sin, and actually picks up a free sample, its a sure bet you will have a chance of a hook-up. By casting up-wind and allowing the float controller to drift naturally, the bread flake slowly drops into the feeding area with almost no disturbance whatsoever. This is the exciting part, and on the first drift, I missed an excellent take, striking into thin air it seemed. I have watched mullet feed at close range many times, the speed in which they can eject a bait if they dont fancy it is equalled only by roach and carp!
Second drift was just as frustrating, with another missed fish. Nothing for it, but to keep the conveyor belt of bread samples filtering down wind, with my hook-bait amongst them. Third time was indeed lucky, with the take so fast that the rod-tip bent round before I had the chance to lift into the fish.
My immediate reaction, as you would expect, was that the XT was able to bully the mullet a great deal beyond that which the match rod was capable of. As long as the top section had enough flexibility to cushion the powerful lunges, my 6lb flourocarbon should stay intact and the hook-hold remain firm, fingers crossed.
This was a reasonable fish, which, after a feisty show of resistance, soon came to the landing net, halving the time it normally took on the match rod, and successfully steering it around and away from the hazardous areas of bladder-wrack.
A nice first fish….
Straight to the scales, this fish pipped the specimen barrier at 5.3lbs or 5lbs 5oz in old money. Another specimen for the diary and a thumbs up for the performance of the XT. It is indeed a deceptively powerful blank with, as I proved to myself on this occasion, enough flexibility to allow delicate baits to be presented and also to cushion the power of a large fish on light line. Retailing at just over fifty quid, and bringing with it so much versatility, the XT has got to be a winner.
30T carbon blank construction
Screw lock reel seat
Cork/ hyperlon handle
Supplied in a PVC protective tube.