The team at Pole Fishing magazine have made our thoughts on the pole market quite clear over the past few months, and our belief is that the differences in performance between the top of the range flagship models and models much further down the ‘food chain’ is closing, with some much cheaper offerings giving users fantastic value for money.
In fact, the pole I have at my disposal today, the Drennan Red Range Target Carp 1450 couldn’t reflect that any better, and to say I was impressed (albeit rather surprised) on a recent trip out with this pole would be a gargantuan understatement! Shift Of Expectations Of course the fact that in this role I am able to get my hands on a range of the newest poles set to hit the market presents a certain problem. One week I could be holding the most apparently super-duper expensive flagship pole on the market and the next I could have something that is far less expensive. That, however, does not necessarily mean that one is ‘better’ than the other. Yes, in performance the expensive one may well be but that certainly doesn’t make it ‘better’ for Joe Bloggs who only has £500 to spend on his next pole, or less in a lot of cases!
I therefore have to go into pole tests with an open mind, asking: “What do I expect from this pole?” In the flagship department my critique may well be more severe; that is because it SHOULD be better. The Drennan Red Range Target Carp 1450 has a recommended retail price at a smidge under £400. The first thing I look at is what do you get for your money? Well, a 14.5m pole (in actual fact it measures up at 14.7 metres) including no less than six pre-slotted Carp Kits. That is a lot of pole for the money, the sort of package you would expect for double the price. You will also find an elastication kit including six of Drennan’s Roller Cones, that help you to take advantage of the smooth Side Pull System, and 12 PTFE Bushes, meaning the top kits are ready to elasticate straight from the bag, or if you want to get some heavy gear down your kits then the 4.2mm internal diameter bushes are there to be fitted after some slight cutting back… even after you do that your pole will still measure more than the stated 14.5 metres. You will also find two cupping kit adaptors and a large cup as well as two Drennan Skid Bungs, eight side pull beads and a set of EVA Nose Cones… let me remind you… under 400 quid! On The Bank I have brought the Red Range Target Carp down to the delightful Docklow Pools in Herefordshire. More specifically the Match Lake awaits my presence, with Peg 24 my home for the morning. Although the pole’s name would suggest it is a pole for targeting carp, it is actually presented as an all-round pole equally suitable for carp and/or silvers.
So rather than sit it out for a big lump down the edge on a freezing cold day that doesn’t look particularly inviting for catching carp at all, I have decided to go with a catch-all maggot approach, fishing at long distance. This should give me a good feel of the pole at a distance that historically lets poles in this price bracket down, and I will hopefully catch a bit of everything during the session. I take care of elastication on the bank, threading some 6 to 8 rated green Drennan Carp Bungee elastic down one of the top kits, making good use of the goody bag of elastication bits included with the pole, and before long I am under way. If I’m honest, I did expect the pole to be really poorly balanced even at shorter lengths, but as I ship out, adding section after section, I start to think otherwise. At 11 metres you would be hard pressed to tell the difference between this and any other pole you’re likely to get your hands on.
At 13 metres it is still very well balanced and feels super-strong, although where differences can be highlighted are the pole’s responsiveness in comparison to some more expensive models… you’d be silly to expect otherwise. Despite this, it doesn’t take long before I am completely used to the pole’s characteristics and I am soon shipping a roach in every single drop in. I have started the session feeding via a small Cad Pot but after 20 minutes of catching roach with no sign of any bonus fish I start feeding a bit more regularly via a catapult. This seems to draw a few bigger fish into the swim in the form of some nice ide, as well as a couple of skimmers upwards of 1lb, which all fall to a single maggot hook bait. On paper the Target Carp isn’t the lightest pole to be brought to market, but in the hand it feels far from heavy; even with the 14.5m section installed (taking it to 14.7 metres) it feels comfortable and I’d be happy to sit at this distance for the duration of a session without any problems. In fact, the longer the day goes on the more I really start to appreciate how good this pole is for the money it asks. Pie ‘O’ Clock We always get looked after when visiting Docklow Pools and today is no different, with a nice pie delivered to my peg shortly after midday. Rather than leave my peg unfed while I delve into my own meal I decide to pot a big pot of maggots into my swim, just to see what is waiting for me when I drop back in.
To my surprise my next five ‘drop ins’ result in another big skimmer, three F1s and a chunky ide that must be approaching 1lb! Who said you need to cut back on your feed in the winter?! Despite the fish at Docklow failing to recognise that it is now winter and therefore putting up some energetic battles, the Red Range Target Carp copes admirably with everything that has been asked of it, throwing my preconceived expectations of what a pole in this price range can offer straight out of the window! The Verdict The Drennan Red Range Target Carp 1450 far exceeds what could have historically been expected of a sub-£400 pole. It isn’t the most rigid pole ever (something always needs to be compromised) yet offers complete usability at full length; it is super-strong and comes equipped with a fantastic package. A big thumbs up.
• 14.5m pole including Carp Kit • 5 spare Carp Kits (six in total) • 6 roller cones • Extractor rod • 2 skid bungs • EVA nose cones • 12 PTFE bushes • 8 side pull beads • Polemaster pole pot • 2 cupping kit adaptors • Protective tubes RRP: £399.99
• Top-kit length: 2.31m • Top-four length: 3.73m • Top-five length: 5.12m • Stated length: 14.5m • Actual length: 14.7m • Puller kits fitted? Yes • Cupping kit supplied? Yes • Holdall supplied? No • Butt section length: 1.64m • Butt diameter: 47mm
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