Jon on the Browning Xitan Power Z7.5
With an icy lid still thwarting most commercial fisheries, a change of scenery was definitely in order for this month’s pole testing. The one place I’ve been itching to visit is the Oxley Moor stretch of the Staffs & Worcs Canal near Wolverhampton. Here you will find two of the best canal pegs in the country, smack bang opposite a busy boatyard with a sewage outflow pumping in warm water. That’s why this canal remains ice-free and also why it’s absolutely full of quality fish. Peering over the bridge where the flow comes in, it is rare to not see big fish like bream, chub and carp swimming about and I was hoping to latch into some of these to test my Browning Xitan Z7.5.
I must admit that I have been impressed with Browning poles ever since the Xitan series was first launched. They are simply solid products with a decent finish, sensible spares prices and good top-kit configurations. The graphics on all the poles are quite fetching without being too in your face and, all in all, the Xitan family really does look and feel the part.
Rigging up, I was impressed with the top kits, which are actually called Power Match Kits. Rather than separate power and match kits, these are a hybrid top-three kit that you can set up normally for light elastics or simply remove the No1 section and bush the No2 to give you a top two for stronger elastics. I also think the No2 section is possibly long enough to elasticate on its own, without the No1 section, for light work, so I decided to pop a No5 elastic through one of these for one rig. For my second rig I opted for a stronger No8 through a full kit with the No1 removed. This would hopefully give me a fighting chance with any of the big perch and chub that could muscle in at any time (a nearby pleasure angler caught a specimen 4lb perch while we were fishing!).
My opening gambit was going to be casters fed down the middle towards the flow and also against the boat opposite. This would allow me to fish up to 14.5 metres and hopefully give me the best chance of catching the quality roach, perch and bream that were our main targets.
Incidentally, for anyone after designated puller kits, Browning has now released Light Tension Puller top kits. These, as the name suggests, are lighter versions of the original Tension Pullers and a great promotion by Browning means that you can actually swap any of your Power Match Kits for Tension Pullers when you purchase a new Xitan pole. The beauty of these kits is that they have two holes in the side, so you can have the puller facility – which allows you to control big fish on light elastic. Plus, you can still fit a standard pole winder bung, so you can store spare elastic and tension it exactly how you want.
Back to the session, and with a dense bush and awkward side road behind me, shipping precariously over and through the undergrowth was a good test of the pole’s strength in itself! The two mini extensions were extremely useful in this respect too because they allow you to get exactly the right distance without having too much pole sticking out behind you. These fit from the 11.5m section and up. As far as the finish goes, the Diamond Surface was excellent for shipping and the pole remained stiff without any notable bounce as I laid the rig in each time.
I was a lot slower off the blocks than Tom, who had already bagged a string of decent perch before I finally connected with a 10oz redfin. Three more to 12oz followed before I hooked into something altogether heavier. As my elastic streamed out, the unseen fish kept jagging its head and put up a healthy scrap. I couldn’t believe it when a 4lb bream could be seen a couple of feet down in the clear water. Obviously the warm water and constant flow keeps these fish fighting fit because it gave an exceptional account of itself. Eventually I got the bronze beauty in the net and with Tom already panning lots of quality roach and perch it was well and truly game on!
We had so much fun putting the poles through their paces that it was only the rapidly dropping light and temperature that forced us to stop. We both had impressive nets to pose with but several slab-sided bream on double caster swung the verdict my way! Although I didn’t latch into any zoo creatures, we had still given our poles a thorough workout and my conservative 25lb-plus bag was not to be sniffed at. More importantly, the Xitan Z7.5 was excellent in every respect and great value for money!
Tom on the Browning Xitan Power Z7.5
This pole ticks all the right boxes for me. A great choice of spares, quality Power Match Kits and it looks good on the bank too! A choice of 14.5m and 16m packages also allows you to tailor it to the venues that you fish. If I were in the market for a pole in this price bracket it would definitely be on my must-see list!
Browning Xitan Power Z7.5
Stated length: 16.4m with mini extension
Actual length: 16.47m with 90cm mini extension
Closed length: 1.75m
Top-two length: 1.81m
Top-three length: 3.2m
Top-four length: 4.62m
Top-five length: 6.01m
Top-three length with No1 removed: 2.59m
No2 section tip diameter: 2.8mm
Elastic rating: No8 with No1 section; No16 or 12/20 hollow with No1 removed
13m butt diameter: 48mm
14.5m butt diameter: 50mm
16m butt diameter: 50mm
Weight at 12.41m: 958g
Weight at 14.03m: 1,259g
Weight at 15.67m: 1,563g
Weight at 16.47m: 1,810g
Other features: Nano-carbon, Diamond Surface, Precision Points, joint-alignment indicators, compatible with other Xitan poles
SSP: 14.5m Standard £1,299; 16m Pro £1,599
Package: Standard pack: 14.5m pole, five extra Power Match Kits, two mini extensions, cupping kit, pole holdall and tubes. Pro pack: 16m pole, seven extra Power Match Kits, two mini extensions, short No4 section, cupping kit, pole holdall and tubes
Spares: Power Match Kit £80.50; Tension Puller Kit £90.50; Light Tension Puller Kit £80.50; Power Kit £80.50; Short Power Kit £43.50; top-four kit £211.50; short No4 £52.50; 1.75m extension £399