BUYER'S GUIDE: 5 of the best short carp stalking rods

BUYER'S GUIDE: 5 of the best short carp stalking rods

Stalking rods, margin rods – call them what you will, there is no doubt that shorter rods are very much in vogue, and not only with anglers targeting carp just a few feet from the bank, writes tackle editor Marc Coulson.

With companies like Nash and Free Spirit specialising in 9ft and 10ft rods for small-water carping, the versatility of short rods has not been lost on modern carpers.

This review looks at five of the best rods currently out there that match the brief. I took each rod out on a short session, and examined a range of features – such as balance in the hand for long periods, lunge-absorbing tips and powerful butt sections to help keep those angry carp away from marginal snags and overgrowth.

Of course, build quality and price will always be to the fore in any review, and rightly so, but what I did find when playing with this selection of rods is you definitely get more quality as the price rises, which is exactly how it should be.



Important when considering how much room you have for targeting the margins. This was a bigger factor than test curve in my tests, as most rods are rated either 2.75lb or 3lb.


Cork, Duplon, EVA and abbreviated handles are all available on full-length rods, but only certain companies offer such options on their more ‘specialist’ versions.

5 of the best


RRP: £164.99

The Nash Scope has a retractable butt section

The Nash Scope has a retractable butt section

This little cracker boasts a unique design, combining a telescopic butt section with a put-over tip.

The 9ft 3lb version I was sent is super-strong and would cast a lead a surprisingly long way, or tame

angry carp in the margins. It’s no wonder that Scope rods are so incredibly popular.


RRP: £79.99

Soft in the tip, the Sonik S3

Soft in the tip, the Sonik S3

A two-piece, 9ft margin rod, with silver-detailed whipping at each ring. The blank is beefy enough to cope with hit-and-hold work, but boasts the softest tip of those on test.

Also comes with a shrink handle and triple-legged guides throughout.


RRP: £59.99

ESP Stalker rod

A well-balanced, lightweight rod with a powerful lower section to keep you in control during hectic battles in tight swims.

A full EVA handle, DPS-18 reel seat and E-S-P line clip complete a great package at a fabulous price.


RRP: £109.99

The Free Spirit Creeper is a mighty fine rod

The Free Spirit Creeper is a mighty fine rod

There are too many options of this rod to list, but I chose to test the cork-handled nine-footer and loved it.

Has a powerful butt, while the tip absorbs the carp’s lunges with ease. As a stalking rod or small-water angling rod, this is outstanding.


RRP: £54.99

A great budget option

A great budget option

As well as catching carp beneath your feet, the Extricator is designed for general small-water fishing too.

It is light, well-balanced and, with a great-looking slim cork handle, this short rod is a great choice if you’re on a tighter budget.