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Pole Wars

Jon Arthur looks at the recent bitchiness and rumourmongering in the pole fishing world!

I have just watched an episode of South Park that made me chuckle. It was all about the hype of the American-style shopping phenomenon, Black Friday, done in the style of the cult fantasy series, Game Of Thrones! One big facet of the story revolved around the ‘Games Console Wars’ and whether people would side with Sony and its latest Playstation or Microsoft and it’s latest Xbox.

In some ways that is very similar to the current state of today’s pole market. There are some die-hard fans out there, each thinking their pole brand is so much better than everyone else’s. Like most things with blokes and a sad ‘pub mentality’, there’s a lot of handbags and bitchiness when it comes to stuff like this. A bit of winding up is fine, but some of the rumour-spreading is a step too far in my opinion. Sadder still is that I KNOW that some of this is spread by rival tackle companies and reps who should know better!

As a journalist it is my job to keep an open mind, but my ears will naturally prick up if I hear a bit of juicy gossip. Some people who talk to me must think I’m daft, however, as they try and sow the seeds of a rumour in my head in the hope that a gossiping journo like me will help germinate it! I just smile, nod my head and ignore them. Do they really think I’m stupid? It definitely happens in tackle shops, too. In between the teas and coffees, how many tackle reps do you think go into a shop and say things like, “Ooh, I’ve heard some bad things about the latest [insert name] pole.” Please, if you can only sell something by putting a rival product down, I think you need a new vocation!

We are naturally all a little paranoid about breaking our precious poles. After all, it’s the single most expensive bit of fishing tackle you’ll probably ever own. It’s easy to prey on that fear. Let’s face it, poles from EVERY manufacturer do break from time to time. I have seen EVERY make of pole break. It could be a manufacturing fault, human error, an accident or anything. I’ve seen poles blown off rollers and smash into pieces and then people gossiping the next day that such and such’s pole broke for no reason. I also see anglers who throw their poles around, don’t use end caps, tubes or any form of protection and then wonder why their sections keep going. It’s almost always third hand info too; I call it the My Mate’s Mate Syndrome!

A Mate Of A Mate

As usual, I came back from the Christmas holidays to a mountain of fishing-advice-related e-mails, one of which really made me chuckle. Here’s an edited part of it:

“I, like you, have just purchased an Acolyte. I have only used it twice and think it is a brilliant piece of kit, but I have heard rumours of sections breaking. Today a friend asked me why I bought it saying he would never use it and he heard your Acolyte, and I quote, ‘was like a Christmas tree with tape hanging off it everywhere because you have broke that many sections!’”

Where do you even begin to start with a pile of lies like that? Firstly, I must point out that I chose to use an Acolyte pole way before I was asked to work for Drennan. In five months of solid use I have had several 100lb-plus weights and a near-10lb barbel with it. In all that time I have broken just two sections and both were very much my own fault. A No3 section blew into Porth Reservoir which I promptly trod on as I tried to ‘find it’ with my waders. The same day I leant on a No1 section and snapped six inches off the end. I promise you that is ALL I have honestly broken so far. It really should be in more pieces after some of the abuse it’s been subjected to but it’s still doing the business. I’m happy with it and would have one whether I worked for Drennan or not.

A bit of further correspondence with the person who e-mailed me got to the root of the problem. It turns out that his mates were all self-confessed fans of another company who look down their noses at anyone else using any other brand of pole. That’s pretty much what I expected to be the case… but I would still love to know who this ‘mate of a mate’ is!

Daiwa, MAP, Browning, Drennan, Garbolino and so on all make brilliant top-of-the-range poles. I don’t believe in categorically stating any one pole is better than another. Just like the Xbox, Playstation and Wii, they all have their pros and cons! They also all have their backers and knockers. Some just like to scream and shout louder than others…

However, while there is little or no innovation with some poles lately, others really are out there trying to develop something better. A lot of companies bring out a flagship pole and tell me they’ve put it against a certain pole they deem as better and it’s outclassed it. We’ve done that very same thing in the Match Fishing and Pole Fishing offices. Length is the usual niggle for me as several companies fall short of the 16 metres they claim, unless you whack on an extra mini extension… and don’t get me started on redundant No1 sections!

These people obviously do pay attention to what we say, however, as one company recently caused a stir after it cancelled its adverts after my work colleague Alex Bones reckoned, in his opinion, that a certain pole was the best. On the flipside, another rival company went out of its way to praise Alex for kicking other companies and itself up the backside! The gossip since that advert-pulling episode is another perfect example of rumourmongering. I cannot believe the amount of people that have tried to tell me who the company was and got it completely wrong.

And The Award For Stupidest Company Is...

Then again, both our magazines recently had our annual tackle awards and, once again, two companies in particular seemed to be trying to rig the votes. Thankfully, this time I made a stricter disclaimer that would help us weed out the bogus entries easier. These people must think we’re stupid, as scores of votes were posted in as photocopies, some individually franked but from the same place, with the same handwriting but with different names on them! Some were blatantly only filling in the categories relating to their company, too. Even more obvious and puzzling was that others came from abroad where the sender obviously hasn’t got the best grasp of the English language. You have to laugh when the category is Angler Of The Year or Best Venue and the answer they’ve written down is the name of their flagship pole… on every entry!

Thankfully, our marketing department sniffed out most of the rats and these entries were unceremoniously shredded. If only it was that easy to filter the rubbish we all hear in tackle shops, forums and on the bank.

Anyway, I will leave you with this bombshell: My pole IS better than your pole cos my mate’s mate says your pole keeps breaking, so ner!

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