With three interchangeable tips, a rash of rings and a raft of fishing applications, the Fox Conqueror Multi Match is a surf rod that doesn’t conform to tired standards. Steve Souter takes to the beach and puts this clever 16ft beanstalk of a rod to the test.
Most shore rods are easy to categorise and conveniently stream into bass rods, rough ground rods, long range match rods etc without much pause. Others, like the Conqueror Multi Match from the FOX Sea range don’t follow routines. The Conqueror is a 16ft/5 metre, three-piece rod with three colour-coded push-in tips with a general 2 – 5 oz casting rating. Rod sections are equal in length, with the top section length assumed to be with a tip in situ. Supplied in a tough waterproof fabric partitioned rod bag, the Conqueror doesn’t come with a reducer.
Genuine Fuji guides are fitted throughout… and there is no shortage of them. 8 double-legs and 3 single legs at the top dress the blank, while a further 5 single legs and tip guide are common to each of the interchangeable tips. For those whose arithmetic is a bit suspect, that’s almost twice as many as a standard shore multiplier rod, and a grand total of 17 rings!
Rigid reel mount
The handle area of butt section is covered with a metre of shrunk rubber material which affords excellent grip to wet or bait smeared hands. A FOX slide-lok adjustable screw reel fitting is supplied and this was of particular interest as I have spent years grumbling about the limitations and down right ineffectiveness of these types of devices. The real seat consists of two threaded plastic hoods that attach to a central tubular body at either end. Secure positioning on the rod handle is achieved by tightening the hoods down on the reel foot, which clamps down on strategically cut slotted voids in the fitting; thus forcing a degree of compression and gripping to the blank. Sounds all very good but to date I had not come across any such fitting that delivers what it promises.
The problem doesn’t lie with standard small 7HT or 6500 multipliers reels, which hold securely enough, it’s larger reels that make a mockery of similar reel fittings because they torque in use, causing the fitting to shift. The first thing I did was grab a big fixed spool reel and screw it into place. I then proceeded to apply considerable force to the reel handle in an attempt to prove that the FOX reel fitting would be prone to the same failings as those that had gone before… the thing didn’t budge. I couldn’t believe it, and set about maniacally wrenching the reel this way and that, but it remained solid. Determined, I swapped the fixed spool for a chunky Daiwa Saltist 30H and despite wrestling like a man possessed, couldn’t get that to shift either. There is also an alternative trigger-grip hood supplied for multiplier users.
Tip test curves
Rough textures hand-grasps sit above the two intermediate male section spigots to facilitate easier pulling apart. All female joint sections are reinforced with thread whippings. Hi-vis fluoro paint identifies the three push-in carbon tips. Two spare tips are housed inside the butt, and held securely in a foam retainer glued into the butt cap.
The lightest, most sensitive tip is coloured green towards the tip guide, with the middle tip in yellow, and the heaviest/stiffest coloured orange. Each tip also carries a rating in grams that equates to test curvature in comparative carp fishing terms. More or less, 250g = ½ test curve, 500g = 1lb test curve and 750g = 1 ½lb test curve. Crucially a Gemini Genie Clip will pass through the tip guides without snagging but the alternative, larger Breakaway Fastlink will not.
Fit for fixed spool
This isn’t the kind of rod to cope with big seas, rough ground or weedy conditions. The Conqueror aptly services short range and middle distance work over clean beach venues not swept by strong tides. A stiff butt and surprisingly stern middle section gives way to a more supplicant top section housing the push-in tip. Although the numerous rings are desirable to channel clean line flow along 16ft of blank, something that confounds me is the Conqueror is rung for multiplier. Why? Rods for dedicated fixed spool application do not come more obvious than this and the ring configuration is a mystery.
Although ‘low reel’ is an option, this is uncomfortable given the rod length and lack of a reducer. The Conqueror’s application and aspect define it as ‘high reel’ fixed spool rod. But whatever the user’s preference there is a real temptation to remove that first guide which serves to hinder particularly fixed spool line travel. The Conqueror can easily be married to the largest fixed spools but I chose the Daiwa Tournament ISO 5000QD fixed spool reel with 20lb braid and tapered carp leader for test purposes. I started with a 4oz lead on the lightest (green) tip.
Overhead casting only
A simple, slow overhead punt and high release saw the lead travel well out to sea. 4oz slightly over-gunned the green tip, and switching down to first 3oz, then 2oz felt much more comfortable and defined the lightest tip’s optimum power band. As might be expected there is considerable ‘reverb’ transmitted down the blank as the cast is released, and tip recovery is as slow as a week in jail. The rod is a wobbly lump of a thing that clip-down, distance obsessed anglers/casters will hate… but this not a rod for them. The most effective cast was to keep the arms high, nudge the lead gently away in a straight line to the tip before turning into the cast. Various casts delivered near identical distances. Attempts to preload the tip by drawing the lead under the rod, or off at right angles to the tip, surrendered all lead control and reduced distances were suffered.
The intermediate (yellow) tip blended best with the blank under a 3 – 4oz lead loading, while 4oz was the plumb lead for use with the heavy (orange) tip. It should be noted that the orange tip will handle gentle casting with 5ozs, but if conditions or venues demand yet heavier leads then it is time to change rods.
Within these tip/lead bands there was no noticeable difference in the casting distances achieved, which underlines the fact that this is a fishing tool rather than some turbo-charged casting machine. On a plain lead and a simple cast 120 – 130 metres is within anyone’s reach. And indeed 30 – 100 metres is the optimum fishing range for the Conqueror Multi match in my opinion.
Launching long rigs
The Conqueror’s quiet beauty lies in its ability to ‘swish’ a very light, long-bodied rig with nightmarishly long snoods out to sea without any tangle or bait-splatter problems. I repeatedly cast a 4m, 0.35mm bodied rig with long 0.25mm snoods 80 – 90 metres without any snood tangles, wind knots or bait explosion. There are not many other rods that can pull this off without time consuming hiccup or even catastrophic incident.
Casting such long rigs requires a different approach. The best way is to lay the rig out straight of the sand or shingle, step forward to put taught tension in the line, and cast. Draw sideways on the rod as the lead hits the water to ensure that the snoods hold a way from the rig body, before allowing the rig to sink and setting the rod in the rest.
The Conqueror is unconventional, perhaps ungainly, yet wonderfully responsive and tailored to the thinking match angler. A ‘swisher’ rather than a blaster, the FOX Conqueror is a standout tool for delicate fishing with either a braid or low diameter mono mainline. Light line rigs, scratching boom rigs, and any multi-hook rig that doesn’t require bait clips works well in conjunction with this rod. It overcomes the everyday frustrations of long rigs and easily delivers key fishing distances and unmolested bait presentation.
The ring configuration isn’t ideal but it’s not the end of the world, while the adjustable reel fitting works a treat even in locking down a large reel. Bite detection is phenomenal on the lightest tip, and the large guides on the trio of tips help avert breakages associated with clips snagging alternative small tip guides. There is a question over whether three different tips are necessary. My preference would be to have a pair of identical light tips to cover unforeseen breakage and just the heaviest tip. At this point we are unsure if replacement/spare tips can be purchased separately.
FOX Conqueror Multi Match retails at £169.99 and is available through FOX dealers.