BUYER'S GUIDE: The best 2017 carp rods under £150

BUYER'S GUIDE: The best 2017 carp rods under £150

Buying the best carp rod you can find with a budget of £150 gives you a huge amount of choice these days.

Mass-production techniques and carbon-fibre technology have advanced to a stage where a £150 carp rod is – or at least, should be – a potent tool.

We’ve rounded up nine of the best carp rods in this price bracket, along with a guide to what to look for.

Buzz words

High modulus: A term you’ll hear a lot from rod companies, but it has a fairly loose definition.

Effectively it means the carbon is stiff, so although it will have a degree of elasticity for casting and playing fish it will also retain its shape and strength.  

1K/2K/3K carbon weave: The density of the carbon, noticeable in the ‘lattice’ effect seen on uncoated rods.

Carbon fibre is supplied in continuous sheets and the K figure denotes how many thousand carbon filaments they contain.

The more Ks, the heavier the material.

Most carp rods in this price bracket will feature 3k carbon weave, a good all-rounder balancing weight and strength. 2k and 1k are rarer and lighter.

Fuji guides/reel seat: Fuji is a Japanese brand known for its quality rod fittings. Fuji reel seats and guides (or eyes) are generally seen as a mark of quality, but the company produces various ranges from budget to high end.

40/50mm butt ring: A bit of a bone of contention in carp fishing. For years, most rods made do with having a guide (or eye, or ring!) nearest the reel of 40mm in diameter.

However, in the last decade or so, 50mm guides have become very fashionable.

50mm guides are generally very slightly heavier than 40mm ones, but the theory is that they allow the line (particularly stiffer varieties like fluorocarbon) to funnel through the rod rings with ease on long casts without ‘frap ups’ (tangles around the eye).

Some big casters swear by them, others say the benefits are minimal. Looks-wise, the choice is yours!

SiC guides: This refers to the lining of the rod’s guides. SiC is silicon carbide, which is strong, lightweight and incredibly smooth, so it offers very little resistance and won’t damage your line. 

For our full guide to buying any carp rod, take a look our jargon buster here

9 of the best sub-£150 carp rods

AVID CURVEX

Lengths: 10ft/12ft/13ft | Test curves: 2.75lb/3lb/3.25lb/3.5lb | Handle: shrink wrap | Pay around: £130

We like:

  • A joy to play fish on
  • Surprisingly powerful

We dislike:

  • Might be a bit niche for some

 

A real cat among the pigeons in this group, the Curvex is all about old-school feel on a modern design.

This is unashamedly a fishing rod, not a poker-stiff casting tool. It was born from the needs of European anglers who drop their rigs from boats, but in this country is perfect for putting the fun back into your angling.

That is not to dismiss the Curvex range as a gimmick – far from it. Truth is, it’s got plenty of power to tame hard-fighting fish without ‘locking up’, and you have to remember that only a very small percentage of British carpers are regularly fishing beyond 80yds.

These rods are more than capable of flinging leads to 100yds-plus, but primarily they’re an absolute hoot to play fish on.

DAIWA POWERMESH

Lengths: 9ft/12ft/13ft | Test curves: 2.25lb/2.75lb/3lb/3.5lb/4.5lb | Handle: shrink wrap | Pay around: £90

We like:

  • Rebirth of classic range
  • Clear evidence of Daiwa’s rod-building heritage
  • Good value

We dislike:

  • Part of a very crowded Daiwa rod range

The old Powermesh range was a huge seller in the 1990s, but if you want to see how far carp technology has come you should put one of the old ones next to this new range.

The slimness of the modern blank is what will strike you initially, as will how much lighter it is compared to the 90s favourite.

Cast both rods side by side and you’ll feel the much quicker reaction time of the 2017 version.

The new Powermesh isn’t just a winner when up against an old design, it more than holds its own in this price range.

Daiwa knows exactly how to build carp rods and, after a couple of fallow years, is at the top of its game right now.

The Powermesh range features quality top-quality fittings including Fuji DPS reel seats, lightweight ceramic rings and 50mm butt guides in most models, with the exception of the floater version.

The classic name has certainly been done justice.

ESP SNIPER 2

Lengths: 12ft | Test curves: 2.75lb/3lb/3.25lb | Handle: carbon | Pay around: £140

We like:

  • Lightweight
  • Great balance
  • Free pair of padded rod socks with each rod

We dislike:

  • Starting to look underpowered in current market
  • All-carbon handle divides opinion

This is the oldest rod in this line up, but ESP (the carp wing of Drennan) has a defiant ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it?’ ethos that we’re fully behind.

The Oxford-based firm is known for its high-end Terry Hearn rods, but these mid-priced offerings have absorbed plenty of great features.

Launched in 2012, the Sniper 2 was named best carp rod of that year by our colleagues at Angling Times.

These rods are set apart from most others on the market by the full-carbon butt. There’s no cork, Duplon or shrink wrap covering, just smooth carbon and a flared butt for casting grip.

We like the look this achieves, but it might not be to everyone’s taste.

The Sniper 2s are very well balanced and offer a great fish-playing action. The meatiest version in the range has a relatively low 3.25lb test curve, and although test curve isn’t everything, these are not out-and-out distance rods.

FOX TORQUE

Lengths: 10ft/12ft/13ft | Test curves: 2.75lb/3lb/3.5lb/4.5lb/5.5lb | Handle: Duplon, abbreviated | Pay around: £120

We like:

  • Feature-packed mid-range rod
  • Good tip recovery when casting

We dislike:

  • No Fuji guides

Filling a mid-market hole in Fox’s range, the Torques probably have the most universal appeal of all the Essex firm’s rods.

Boasting high-tech carbon and de-rigueur understated graphics, these look and feel like a rod that a decade ago would’ve cost double.

The tip reacts well during casting and the overall blank bends progressively when playing fish.

There are five fishing rods in the range comprising three abbreviated-handle models plus two full, skinny Duplon models.

In addition, there is a 4.5lb Marker Rod and a 5.5lb Spod Rod, both of which have abbreviated handles.

All of the rods in the Torque range feature 18mm Fuji reel seats with black fixing hoods, Fox’s own Slik guides and 50mm butt rings as standard. 

FREE SPIRIT CTX

Lengths: 12ft/12.5ft/13ft | Test curves: 2.5lb/2.75lb/3lb/3.25lb/3.5lb | Handle: cork, abbreviated | Pay around: From £115

We like:

  • All-round quality
  • Comprehensive range

We dislike:

  • The X wrap finish is an acquired taste!

In the money-no-object sector of carp rods, Free Spirit is one of the very best brands around, but don’t be fooled into thinking its cheaper CTX rods are an after-thought.

In the same way that Formula One technology eventually trickles down into consumer vehicles, so Free Spirit’s supreme carbon-fibre knowledge has been squeezed into these mid-range rods.

They are seriously impressive. When they first came into the office we found them hard to distinguish the CTXs from the company’s high-end offerings.

And out on the bank they perform brilliantly, staying straight and true in the cast and offering plenty of feedback in the fight.

Away from the fishing rods, the spod/marker rod in the range is without doubt one of the best in its price range.

GREYS PRODIGY APEX

Lengths: 10ft/12ft/13ft | Test curves: 2.75lb/3lb/3.25lb/3.5lb | Handle: shrink wrap | Pay around: £150

We like:

  • Good caster
  • Looks more expensive

We dislike:

  • Quite stiff

Another quality name with more experience in the fishing game than most other companies put together, Greys has long offered a comprehensive range of carp rods.

The Prodigy Apex is the latest mid-ranger, retaining the Toreon Nano composite material found in its much pricier rods like the Air Curve.

The material gives the Prodigy Apex stiffness without compromising the fish-playing action. That said, these are fairly stiff rods that suit the bigger caster.

The 3.25lb model is, in our opinion, the best all-rounder and the Greys knack for making great-looking carp rods is certainly evident across these blanks.

NASH PURSUIT

Lengths: 7ft/10ft (Europe only)/12ft/13ft | Test curves: 3lb/3.25lb/3.5lb | Handle: cork, shrink wrap, abbreviated | Pay around: from £120

We like:

  • Huge range
  • 7ft stalker is a lovely tool

We dislike:

  • Almost too much choice

Pursuit is a treasured brand name for Nash, so to bring it back for this range of rods show the high regard in which they hold them.

The range is huge, from a 7ft stalking rod, to a couple super-beefy SU (stepped up) models, via three different handle options, through to a maker and spod rod.

The tournament-style reverse-mounted rings are an interesting touch and super-minimalist, giving the rods a very light feel.

The casting power of the stronger models is excellent, but there’s subtlety and feel across the range.

SHIMANO TRIBAL TX-5

Lengths: 12ft/13ft | Test curves: 2.75lb/3lb/3.25lb/3.5lb | Handle: tape wrap | Pay around: £150

We like:

  • Great balance and feel
  • Unusual tape-wrapped handle feels great

We don’t like:

  • Faux-custom graphics

Pick up a TX-5 and the first thing you’ll notice is the tape-wrapped butt grip. It’s made by Winn, who also make golf-club grips, and we actually really like it.

There are a few rod makers offering this type of grip, but Shimano is the first to bring it to the mass market. It’s a trend that might just catch on.

If you’ve visited one of Shimano popular casting roadshows you’ll be aware of the TX-5’s casting power.

Sometimes it feels as though Shimano only gets credit for its reels, but these rods are among the very best on test here.

SONIK S6

Lengths: 12ft | Test curves: 3lb/3.25lb/3.5lb/5.5lb | Handle: Cork or shrink wrap | Pay around: £150

We like:

  • Lovely look and feel
  • Super-responsive tip
  • Big casting potential

We dislike:

  • Reel seat feels bulky next to such slim blank

Sonik is fairly new on the carp scene but has thrown its weight behind building a comprehensive range of rods.

The S6 is built using carbon from experienced Japanese composites firm Toray and features 50mm butt rings throughout the range.

In essence, the S6 is a thoroughly modern carp rod with blackout graphics, a very slim and lightweight blank and plenty of power.

The tip-recovery speed (which aids casting) is very impressive, and all three fishing rods in the range can hit big distances.  

Initially offered at a penny under £200, these rods now fall into this price range and represent fantastic value.

WYCHWOOD D301

Lengths: 12ft | Test curves: 2.75lb/3lb/3.25lb/3.5lb | Handle: Duplon | Pay around: £130

We like:

  • Great balance
  • Lifetime warranty

We dislike:

  • Not much!

Wychwood’s flagship looks and feels like it could belong in a price bracket above this one.

The D301 (there’s a C301, if you like cork handles) has a stylish 1K weave finish and the blank is built on high-end Japanese carbon.

The action on these rods is progressive, with plenty of casting power yet decent fish-cushioning properties.

Wychwood is leading the way with a lifetime replacement warranty across its product range, including on these rods, which demonstrates the company’s confidence in its tackle and is great for added peace of mind.