I had been neglecting the rivers for a while in pursuit of big weights of big fish from carp venues, so when editor Joe Carass mentioned the words “river”, “float” and “rod” in the same sentence my fire wasn’t instantly reignited, but someone had definitely bought a box of matches. Joe didn’t give me the rod until we were on the bank, nor did he tell me the RRP, so I had no idea what to expect. As it turned out, the Garbolino Altima Match 13 feet Medium Fishing Rod he handed me is a very nice looking rod, in three sections, 13 feet long. In effect, your traditional river float rod.
The finish was one I always approve of, almost a raw, unvarnished carbon with a slightly ‘rough’ spiral rib feel to it. I’m not a huge fan of ‘over finished’ rods – probably stems from the days when I used to build my own – as I always believe (but have not an ounce of scientific evidence to prove it) that too much varnish will weigh heavy on a rod and ‘un crisp’ its action.
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Well, that certainly wasn’t the case here. The fixtures and fittings were similarly impressive, with a classy mixed EVA and cork handle, secure screw reel fitting, excellent line guides and some nice cosmetic touches on the butt section. The Warwickshire Avon at Stratford Lido was the appointed testing ground and the two main methods for running-line float fishing here are the waggler and the stick. I picked a peg that gave me the opportunity to try both … if I could remember how to do it! The river looked as fine as I remembered her, in good summer trim after some refreshing overnight rain, but due to time constraints, we had picked an easy-access spot near to the tourist Mecca of Stratford-upon-Avon (although Jake still managed to almost get lost while following his satnav).
I decided to start on the waggler as I felt the increasing boat traffic of day visitors and holidaymakers might make fishing it problematic later on, and early doors I could still run a float down the swim from the middle to the far bank.
The Altima fishing rod was beautifully balanced with a 3000-sized reel, although it would probably feel as good if not better with one slightly smaller. I just don’t use one, that’s all. It easily cast a light 2½AAA waggler across the river, where a procession of small chublets, dace and bleak were eager to strip the maggot off the hook.
It was all coming back to me now. The Altima, with me at the helm, managed to hit a good percentage of the bites, but there was nothing on offer to really put a bend in it.
When a passing water taxi driver called over that the peg I was on was a better stick peg than waggler peg I didn’t need telling twice (always ready to take the advice of the locals).
Whipping the waggler off I quickly set up a 4No4 stick and plumbed the depth on the inside line. In the old days, we believed you had to have stick-float rods and waggler rods, and neither would do for the other. But then they used to believe the earth was flat, and it carries about the same amount of truth.
This rod does both jobs well. Very well, in fact. I’d been dripping a few maggots in, and dripping myself in the bright sunshine of an unseasonably hot August day that was only getting hotter. First, run down the float shot under. Another small dace. Still, promising. A few grains of hemp went in further down the swim, followed by half-a-dozen or so maggots in front of me. Next run down the float buried and the rod tip bent round. Not massive, but a better perch.
They were queuing up, as were Jake and Joe to have a go with the rod. Although labeled Medium, the Altima fishing rod has a lovely light action without being overly tippy – what would have once been termed “sweet”; fast enough to hit bites from lightning-fast bleak and small dace, forgiving on something slightly larger. Using 0.16mm main line to 0.11mm hook length to size 20 B611 seemed about the right combination, and the rod felt alive in the hand when the perch put up a struggle. At the end of the day, no big fish but an interesting test, and I’m definitely looking forward to getting out on the river again with the Altima after some of the proper chub that await on a peg I know, a few miles upstream.
As I packed up I asked Joe what the price of the fishing rod was. When he replied $238, I was neither surprised nor disappointed. It was about what I expected. It’s a quality rod in a range of six-length/ power variations to suit all float fishing applications Garbolino claims it as: “The best float rod range we have ever produced” – and stands up very well to some more expensive competition.
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