New gear

Shake­speare Agility2 EXP rods from £69.99

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

Rob­bie Win­ram re­views the lat­est gear in­clud­ing a Shake­speare travel rod and Orvis waders

SHAKE­SPEARE are renown for pro­duc­ing good fly rods at af­ford­able prices and the Agility2 EXP is no ex­cep­tion. This com­pact seven-piece rod is the travel ver­sion of the Agility2 and there are five rods in the range from an 8ft 6in 5wt at £69.99 to a 10ft 7wt at £84.99. I had the 10ft 7wt and 9ft 6wt rods on test and on first ap­pear­ance, over­all fin­ish and fit­tings looked of good qual­ity, the up­lock­ing rings are nice and free run­ning, and while the cork han­dles aren’t of the high­est qual­ity they are cer­tainly com­fort­able enough. In­ter­est­ingly, the han­dle sec­tion of the 10ft 7wt can be cus­tomised to suit your fish­ing/cast­ing styles – choose from a sim­ple al­loy screw-in butt cap, or un­screw this to at­tach a 1.5-inch cork/ EVA fight­ing butt, or a four-inch cork/EVA han­dle ex­ten­sion which turns it into a dou­ble-handed rod. This makes it very ver­sa­tile, be­ing the ideal reser­voir bank and boat rod with the al­loy cap or fight­ing butt at­tached, and then with the ex­ten­sion han­dle fit­ted it can be used for sea trout and salmon fish­ing on the river. Set up with a 7wt floater it was rel­a­tively easy to load the rod, aeri­alise line and put a clean line out on the wa­ter. It quickly be­came ap­par­ent that the ac­tion is mid­dle to tip but erring more to­wards tip. With a rel­a­tively short cast­ing stroke I could de­liver lines at short and medium range with re­ally nice turnover and the tip had a sur­pris­ingly fast re­cov­ery which al­lowed for good line con­trol and ac­cu­racy. When de­liv­er­ing lines at longer range and dou­ble haul­ing the blank does bend a good deal deeper, but as long as I slowed the cast­ing stroke to match the rod I still had re­ally good con­trol and all the line shoots were re­ally smooth. The rod can cope with over­head, sin­gle and dou­ble haul casts and also has enough flex to gen­er­ate roll, switch and sin­gle spey casts. This means it will go from still­wa­ter to river work seam­lessly, not bad for a rod of this price. When a fish is hooked its play­ing ac­tion is also quite deep with the whole rod arc­ing into the equa­tion and giv­ing a great sense of feel. When it comes to still­wa­ter work in par­tic­u­lar, a rod should be able to han­dle a range of sink­ing den­sity lines from midge-tips through to fast in­ter­me­di­ates and the EXP was more than ca­pa­ble. Its 7wt rat­ing is spot on, al­though those an­glers want­ing a lit­tle more weight in the cast will find a dual 7/8wt will work for them, and with medium to ex­tra fast sink­ing lines those an­glers with good cast­ing skills will find a 6/7wt is per­fect. Onto the 9ft 6wt, which doesn’t come with the han­dle ex­ten­sions. It has a sim­i­lar cast­ing ac­tion to its big brother, al­though it is even ‘tip­pier’, and per­fect for smaller still­wa­ters when you want to use light line tac­tics while also hav­ing the strength and power to sub­due those large dou­bles on the clear stalk­ing wa­ters. The 6wt rat­ing is per­fect, al­though it will also take a 5wt so you can go even lighter for top of the wa­ter sport.

VER­DICT:

Af­ford­able and com­pact rods, ideal for stick­ing in a ruck­sack or in the boot of the car. They are user-friendly, smooth cast­ing and did all that I asked of them, cov­er­ing all cast­ing styles from over­head to con­tin­u­ous mo­tion. There are no align­ment mark­ers which is a shame when you want a quick set up on a multi-piece rod.

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