IAN GOLDS rods are finally here. Planet Sea Fishing tasked renowned caster and international beach angler Iain Graham with casting the stink out of them. His findings are delivered here in words, pictures and video.
An Ian Golds‘ venture into the shore rod market has been a long time coming, but after months of interested speculation the prospect is now a reality. The eagerly awaited range is comprised of Premier Match, International Match, Extractor, Super Match Xtra and Enticer rods, with fixed spool and multiplier versions of each providing a total of 10 sticks to choose from. Each rod comes in a tough, tidy, fully padded Ian Golds rod bag. These are nothing like those cheap and nasty, horrible throwaway cloth things that come as standard elsewhere, and would certainly attract interest as a stand-alone item. If the bags were any indicator of the rods then the day could prove very interesting.
I had the full rod range for testing and would put them through their paces over a day on a rather windy beach. All rods were assembled at the start of the session and cut an impressive sight in the rod rests. Each, with the exception of the Enticer, sports a slim-line 22mm butt diameter. The Enticer is the baby of the range and has an 18mm butt. Blank decoration is minimal – which I like – and sleek appearances are enhanced with a gloss black finish and smart silver decals.
Multiplier and fixed spool versions
Multiplier versions are all fitted with Fuji CMNAG guides and Breakaway coasters on top of Black X-Flock shrink tube. Fixed spool versions sport Fuji CLCAG Low Riders and Fuji snap-lock reel seats. The build quality is excellent and I was pleased to note that the guides were not suffocating in dolloped epoxy which only serves to murder underlying rod actions. None of the rods are supplied with a reducer.
A couple of things struck me straight away. First was the how well the push-in joints ‘made’ every time. There was not one stiff or rough joint to be found, which is unusual across this number of rods. Normally you’ll get one or two that are sticky and have to be carefully worked together…but not here. Top marks for external quality control then.
A second quick observation was just how light the Ian Golds rods are in the hands. Take the Super Match Xtra for example, which is the longest and therefore heaviest rod. The length and amount carbon present here belay the actual weight when held, and you could easily hold this for long periods without your arms feeling like they are dropping off.
The Premier Match rod is 13ft 4ins (4.6 metres) long and a good length for general open beach fishing. It is intended as a match rod and it has a very fine fishing tip as you might expect.
I am a multiplier user by preference and selected the Multiplier version as my introduction to the Ian Golds rod range. The Premier Match is rated to cast up to 7ozs of lead but this needs to be put into perspective. While it may just about cope with 7ozs at the extreme end of the scale, if pushed to such, then casting must be kept very simple and gentle – in other words, overhead casting only. If you regularly confront tidal, wind-ravaged or weed situations where this amount of lead is a requirement, you should turn your attention to one of the meatier rods in the range.
A 6oz lead was attached via 15lb line/80lb leader and an ABU 6500 Mag held firmly in place with the Breakaway coasters. I set the reel ‘low’, around 9 inches from the butt cap for casting. A quick bounce or two on the tip, which is deliberately soft for reasons that I’ll come to, suggested that perhaps 5ozs would better fit the rod. I went straight for the throat regardless, winding up the 6oz sinker and letting fly.
A powerful cast with full body rotation saw the rod tamely bowing under the stain, confirming my initial thinking on optimum lead loading. Again I will stress the Premier Match will punt 6ozs, and easily, as long as simple casting is employed.
With 5ozs the rod was much better in all regards. The compliant tip still didn’t love a full bore pendulum assault but it handled this extreme without real issue. Notching back to a simple fishing cast, pitching the lead out to 90 degrees on a modest drop and punching the lead away, gave good distances and the rod felt much more comfortable on 5oz. Similarly, a simple overhead thump worked well with a rod that is at home working a fishing zone anywhere between 10 and 150 yards out.
For me, 4ozs was the magic lead loading for the Premier Match. From a casting viewpoint, it absolutely came alive on 4oz. It took and exaggerated pendulum cast in its stride and felt fabulous with fishing casts employing a simplified swing, or even no-frills over-the-head efforts.
A good blend of lower/mid blank power meets a supplicant top third and fishing tip. The tip is a little thicker than a match at tip ring and does provide superb bite amplification. Drawing the lead across the sand contours during the retrieve sent it into epileptic overdrive, giving the impression of an electrically charged tip that would register a fish-fart from 10 yards away. Matchmen who love bagging multiples of small fish will adore this rod.
There is enough ‘cushion’ in the top third of the rod to cast long-snooded flapping traces and not destroy carefully presented baits in the process. Soft baits and small head-hooked worms will not be sprayed all over the shore, so long as casting is kept sensible. Anyone who loved the tip action of the discontinued Daiwa AWB129 might just want to take a long look at this rod.
The product blurb that I’d intentionally neglected to read until after casting billed the rod as perfect with leads between 3 and 5ozs, but with a 7oz capability. This is pretty much spot on in my opinion.
Again measuring 13ft 4ins (4.6 metres), the International Match rod is effectively a step up from the meeker Premier Match. I spent considerable time with both the multiplier and fixed spool versions of the rod, carrying out a series of casts with 5oz and 6oz leads.
This rod was not flustered either by a full pendulum cast or the most basic of overhead casts. Excellent fishing distances were achieved regardless of casting style, and an aerialised ground cast worked the rod particularly well. The tip is steelier than Premier Match b
ut still sensitive for bite spotting, particularly at longer range. There is noticeably more grunt in the lower part of the rod but this is no poker, and you certainly don’t have to be Conan the Barbarian to bend the thing!
The IM rod will handle stronger runs of tide without any problem. Pronounced wave action doesn’t kill the tip when sat in the rod rest, and the tip was not prone to fluttering over all over the place in the strong wind that I battled on and off all day.
In every new range of rods there is a stand-out. For me the International Match is that rod here. The IM is a proper fishing rod suited to anglers of all levels. It will cover long, short and middle distance work easily with no mad effort required. Mixed/broken sea-beds hold no fears, but this is not a rod that would be at home in an all-out rock and kelp situation. Everything from whiting, dogfish and pout, through to cod, hounds and rays are well within the IM’s comfort zone.
Both 5oz and 6oz load the rod well, but it will toss 8ozs without pulling the blank out of kilter if basic casting is observed.
At 14ft 10in (4.45 metres) the Super Match Xtra is the longest of the Ian Golds set. I approached the SMX differently to the other rods, specifically selecting the fixed spool version and opting to use a drop of between 6 and 8ft with first some overhead casts, then just a gentle swing to set the lead up.
The Fuji snap-lock fitting soundly held various different sizes of fixed spool reels that I had at my disposal. Some anglers worry unnecessarily over the security this type of fitting, but even the big Daiwa coffee-grinder that I settled on was held rock solid. The SMX felt superbly balanced with the big pit reel, and I’ll emphasise again how light the rod feels.
My first cast was an easy overhead punt with 5ozs that saw the lead zing away cleanly…and a damn good distance too. I put a bit more shoulders and height into the next few chucks, and could not complain at the distances achieved. The gentlest of inward swings either under the rod or off at 90 degrees to the rod tip load the long rod instantly, and the distances available to any caster who struggles with more exaggerated casting styles are superb. Performance with the 6oz lead mirrored that of 5ozs, and I would not hesitate to step up to 7ozs on the SMX if the situation demanded it.
Here’s a rod that lends itself to easy casting and most beach fishing situations. Joe average will cast baited rigs very respectable distances with little effort, and absolutely no need for any highly developed casting techniques or styles. I can think of few mainstream fishing situations that the SMX would not lap up. It you take very light, ultra short range work for flounders and eels, and severest of rough ground out of the equation, the SMX covers everything in between with ease.
Now we come to the 14ft (4.26 metres) Extractor. This is stiffest rod in the Ian Golds range and intended for heavier ground fishing. Again we are not talking about a lifeless lump of wood here, as detectable pliability in the butt serves, in part, to reinforce.
I went through the same lead and casting routine as for the International Match, focusing mainly on the multiplier version of the Extractor. Overall action is sterner, though not extremely. The tip is a little stiffer and there’s more clout available lower down. But despite my best efforts, I couldn’t squeeze any more distance from the rod than I could from the International Match. That might have been more down to my particular ‘field’ casting style, but the Extractor is not as stiff as a majority of other rods currently acknowledged as specifically servicing the rough ground discipline.
Now there is rough ground and there is rough ground. On the one hand there’s the gruelling rock and kelps of north east England, the Scottish East coast and large parts of south west England, and then there is the odd broken lump or boulder rough stuff of elsewhere. I would argue that while the Extractor will eat up the latter, there are better rods for keeping an angry cod’s nose up out of vicious ground while cranking it maniacally towards a rocky platform.
I think to slap a ‘rough ground only’ label on this rod is not doing it any justice. For my money the Extractor does not ideally sit in the ‘rock hell’ pigeonhole. A beach and broken ground rod that will cope with rough ground would be a more apt product description.
To summarise I would describe the Ian Golds Extractor as a versatile rod with an excellent distance capability and a lively fishing tip. Perfect for stronger tides, deeper waters, distance fishing and areas like the Bristol Channel where bigger fish regularly feature. Wind and weedy conditions will not undo the Extractor and an undersize flounder will still be betrayed on the tip.
Measuring 11ft (3.35 metres) and with a 2 – 4oz lead rating, the Enticer is the bambino of the range. It is important to stress that this isn’t your everyday ‘bass’ rod, as I found myself thinking it might be prior to actually handling it. I used a medium sized fixed spool reel and both braid and mono lines in this instance. By its very look and feather-light feel this is a gentle rod. Sitting at the opposite end of the spectrum to the meaty Extractor, the Enticer is a short range, bit-bashing tool with a few other strings to its bow.
Overhead is the only way to cast this rod and anyone who wants to swing the lead about aimlessly is frankly an idiot. I considered the stated lead bracket and started with a 4oz sinker which felt too heavy for the blank immediately. Nevertheless, I pulled the rod forward and released the lead. The rod sloppily folded into the 4ozs and was felt to scoop the lead away rather than fire it cleanly.
The Enticer responded to lighter leads much more positively. 3ozs was much better, and 2ozs was right on the money. 2ozs could be fired a very long way, and 2-3ozs is the optimum lead loading as far as I am concerned. With an eye on how I like to winkle out flounders, I had a few casts with leads between ¼ oz and 1oz, and the Enticer was very much at home on these too.
For want of a better expression, this is a ‘plopping’ rod, but one that will put a baby lead a surprisingly long way. The tip is very soft and bends well down into the middle of the rod without much encouragement. Having said that, this is exactly what I would want a light scratching rod to do. The rod comes alive with 15 – 20lb braid and a light lead, and will ably cover a multitude of short range fishin
g situations. Estuary or light beach work for flounders, eels and bass, spinning and plugging, float fishing and even working down the side of piers for modest coalies, pollack and mini species are all well within its capabilities.
Personally, I have a preference for longer rods and would have warmed to the Enticer much more if it had been 12 or 13 feet in length. Maybe this is something to be considered for the future?
Prices and availability
For a limited time only Ian Golds rods are available at the special offer launch prices shown below.
Enticer – RRP £139.95
Premier Match – RRP £209.95
International Match – RRP £239.95
Super-Match Xtra – RRP £254.95
Extractor – RRP £254.95