RodsThom AirsRods, ESP, Terry Hearn

LONG-TERM: ESP Mk3 Terry Hearn rods

RodsThom AirsRods, ESP, Terry Hearn
LONG-TERM: ESP Mk3 Terry Hearn rods

RRP: from £249.99 | www.esp-carpgear.com

Replacing a classic is a tricky proposition, but with the third incarnation of these best-selling rods, ESP seems to have pulled it off

Do they live up to the reputation of the originals? Yes. Unquestionably. The looks are retro-modern and the performance is sublime. The 12ft 9ins length might take a bit of getting used to for some anglers, but those extra inches offer noticeable benefits when it comes to ‘mending’ casts mid-flight and controlling fish from the off.

A classic updated

A classic updated

We’ve thoroughly tested a set of the 3.5lb Distance models, landing fish up to 42lb with them and using them to fling baited rigs over 140yds. The rods are designed for long-range angling but, unlike so many specialist tools of this type, they are an absolute pleasure to play fish on.

50mm butt rings add to the big-carp look

50mm butt rings add to the big-carp look

Sure, the carbon won’t hoop over to the butt for a cushioned fight, but they are far, far less ‘tippy’ than many distance rods. Large fish can be tamed with a smooth and progressive power delivery that soaks up lunges so cleanly. A bit like a V12 saloon car, the grunt is there if absolutely necessary, but the experience is all about unstressed, sweeping comfort.

Sublime line clips as standard

Sublime line clips as standard

These rods aren’t cheap but with premium products come premium details. On a Rolex, it’s the perpetual glide of the second hand, and on these rods it’s the built-in line clip. Clipping line into it (and hearing it ‘pop’ out on a take) is a tactile treat. We are not kidding – every time you set your bobbins and use the clip you are reminded that this is a rod built without compromise.