HEAD-TO-HEAD REVIEW: Two carp brollies under £150

HEAD-TO-HEAD REVIEW: Two carp brollies under £150

Two of the best carp brolly shelters under £150 are pitted against each other as tackle editor Marc Coulson reviews the ESP Lo Pro and the Prologic Cruzade System...

Given the choice, I prefer to use a brolly for most of my fishing, at least in the warmer months.

The convenience of not having to carry a bulky bivvy, setup time measured in seconds and the fact that I only take the kit that I need all mean that a brolly is ideal.

This is also true when I’m out on the bank working – over the course of this summer and autumn I was able to test these two brollies on Carp Wars shoots, magazine features and when out producing product review videos, as well as a few nights under each with the rods out.

Here’s how they stacked up…

PROLOGIC CRUZADE SYSTEM

RRP: £149.99 | www.prologicfishing.com

Verdict: Traditional design, exceptionally well made

PROLOGIC CRUZADE SYSTEM BROLLY REVIEW

This full system includes an infill panel which creates a more all-round shelter with loads of extra coverage in really poor conditions.

However, the first thing I did was remove it as, for me, you might as well take a bivvy if you’re going to use an infill on a brolly.

Though if this floats your boat then the infill on the Cruzade fits perfectly and undoubtedly offers lots of extra coverage.

Stripped-back is how I prefer a brolly and, so, this is how I used the Cruzade. Most companies' brollies, especially in this price range, use a standard nylon but this one is the same double-layered material used on many of Prologic’s bivvies.

I’m amazed I don’t see more Prologic shelters on the bank as their stuff is extremely well made and often innovative. Maybe it’s one of those brand-snobbery things, but lots of anglers are missing out by not at least considering Prologic’s stuff.

This material stood up brilliantly in some testing conditions, including on one round of Carp Wars at Essex’s Fryerning when we were hit by the mother of all thunderstorms and torrential rain.

Despite Thor seemingly throwing his worst at us, the Cruzade stood firm and showed no signs of leaking either on the material itself or the seams.

I was impressed and relieved in equal measure when waking the next morning safe and dry, despite being a little concerned through the night.

The Cruzade utilizes a space-saving internal boss, which most do these days, and on a traditional-style brolly it makes a huge difference. You can comfortably sit on a bedchair and not have to hunch over for hour after back -breaking hour.

The 55ins design offers ample coverage and would also be suited to day sessions with a mate, both of you fitting comfortably underneath with chairs and all your kit.

Unlike some brollies costing a lot more money, all four storm poles are included, as are a heavy-duty groundsheet and pegs.

Packing away is easy, as you’d expect, and importantly, any excess water shakes off easily. Roll it up, pop it back into the amply sized bag and you’re away.

For a traditionally shaped brolly, with a space saver inside and good-quality material, a penny under 150 quid, which all the shops I checked were selling the Cruzade for, is exceptional value for a full brolly system which many may not consider purely because it doesn’t have a bigger brand’s badge on it.

If that’s you then you might just be missing out.

ESP LO PRO

RRP: £149.99 | www.esp-carpgear.co.uk

Verdict: A little bit different but still one for the proper brolly angler

ESP LO PRO REVIEW.JPG

I’d first seen Kev Hewitt use the Lo Pro when out on a feature shoot at Bluebell Lakes and the shape, at first, looked a little awkward. However, when he invited me to sit inside it, the extended ‘wings’ were a revelation.

Initially it goes up in the same way as any other brolly, but the two front spines are elasticated with a small extension on each that pop into place easily to create the unique shape.

When packing away, these easily disconnect and clip back inside the main body out of harm’s way.

The additional coverage, with six of the eight ribs reaching the ground, and resulting shape of the brolly were to prove welcome some weeks later when I first used a Lo Pro myself.

Fishing an overnighter at my syndicate I was woken by that gentle pitter patter of rain on the brolly, which became steadier before a cloudburst of biblical proportions had me scrambling to ensure my kit was under cover.

I jumped out, pegged the two wings out as wide as I could and was back inside like a shot.

Moving these two pegs allowed me to splay the brolly out wide and extremely low, something akin to my old Fox Evo brolly over a decade ago.

Back underneath the Lo Pro I lay in total comfort while what seemed like a tropical storm passed overhead, at no stage threatening to take me with it.

The space-saver boss obviously proved a godsend in this situation as a normal boss wouldn’t have made dropping the Lo Pro possible, at least not without a face full of metal and fiberglass spines!

The two extended spines also serve to make the Lo Pro free standing, so no storm poles are required, cutting down on weight and bulk when packed away, which I really appreciate.

My only concern with the Lo Pro was how it would fare when fishing a swim which slopes away from me, which I was soon to face on a trip to Linear’s Hardwick Lake.

Fishing the end of the spit I found that the front of the brolly was a good 4-5ins lower than the back, making it extremely low at the front. It was a slight issue getting in and out, and was probably the only time I was pleased not to be a little taller, but it wasn’t any real hardship.

It did, however, create an exceptionally well-covered internal space, with room for all my kit and then some. I quite enjoyed being cocooned under it, if I’m honest.

There is a groundsheet available for the Lo Pro, but one does not come with the brolly itself. If I’m honest, most anglers who want this style of shelter probably will not use a groundsheet anyway.

With the just the brolly in the bag, and with that lack of storm poles, the Lo Pro is the lightest shelter I’ve used, which ticks a huge box for brolly anglers, myself included.