Four-piece travel-type rods are nothing new – there are plenty of specialist brands – but match rods that can be broken down and carried around like they are a bag of golf clubs are something completely different.
Shakespeare has put a lot of time into the development of its Agility EXP (stands for Expedition) match rods – the range consists of a 13ft match rod, an 11ft pellet-waggler rod, an 11ft feeder rod and a 13ft feeder rod – so that the action and strength would not be compromised when compared to the usual two-piece models.
Each of the rods features a slim, carbon blank with an ergonomically designed reel seat and rubber butt cap. Each also comes fitted with zirconium oxide guides for smooth casting. Out of the bag the rods feel lightweight and well balanced; however, how do they perform on the bank?
11ft Pellet Waggler First impressions are important, and as soon as you put the four sections together you get the feeling that this rod is every bit as good as a two-piece model. There’s plenty in the top to cast floats to 8g with and its progressive action has the muscle to play big fish when required, which I put to the test playing and landing fish to double figures.
13ft Match Travel-type float rods are rare in today’s market, so it’s nice to see a multi-piece rod that will cope with both river and stillwater tactics. Again it’s lightweight and when put under pressure from angry commercial carp it didn’t fail to impress. 11ft Feeder This rod comes supplied with three carbon tips of differing sensitivity, which in essence made the rod a five-piece tool. I fished with the lighter of the three tips loaded, which punched out a small pellet feeder effortlessly. It’s rated for reel lines up to 8lb, and there’s loads of backup in the bottom sections to allow you to play fish with confidence. 12ft Feeder Like its shorter brother, this 12ft model comes with three carbon tips – so again it’s a five-piece – which makes it ideal for all types of feeder tactics. Although I didn’t fish with this rod, I did take it out and punched out a 2oz lead – it’s rated to cast 3oz – to see how it performed casting a heavy load. In a word… effortlessly.
These rods are an interesting concept, and certainly no gimmick, and are likely to appeal to the traveling angler, especially in an angling family where car space is at a premium. And transportation has been made even easier with the addition of the hardcase-type holdall that’s been designed to take four made-up rods. They perform as well as traditional two or three-piece rods and, for the money, are well worth a punt.