Winning by more than a whisker! Joe Carass looks at the brand-new Daiwa Whisker XLS pole and, while he’s at it, takes a trip down memory lane!
I have fond memories of the Whisker Pole family. I remember growing up as part of my local angling club and the more ‘swish’ anglers in the club owned the Whisker High Performance. It sat neatly below the famous Spectron in the pecking order, but for many it offered similar performance for £500 less.
The Whisker was the pole I wanted. It had lovely simple black and gold graphics and compared to the poles I was using at that time had performance that I could only dream of. In short, it was the pole to own. (in fact, if one came up on eBay for the right price now, I think I would have to have it!)
Enough nostalgia, fast forward to 2016 and I arrived at work one day to a package that I just knew was from Daiwa (which always gets me excited). When I opened the box and saw the word Whisker, I got even more excited. Time for the new Whisker XLS to take centre stage.
The Whisker has always been a popular sight on the bank in its many incarnations. Along with its cheaper sibling, the Connoisseur G50, it is at a price that is realistic for many anglers. The £1,000 to £2,000 market is awash with great poles, but what would make me buy the XLS over the competition?
Firstly, it uses the aforementioned XLS format that was designed for the flagship Air XLS. The butt sections have been lengthened by 10 centimetres, which offers two main advantages.
The first is length. Daiwa poles have always required a dolly butt to help achieve that all important 16m target, particularly now that just about everyone does away with the No1 section. Increasing the length of the butt (along with the new match kits… more of that later) ensures that it is 16 metres straight from the bag with no dolly butt required.
The second key benefit is the increase in stiffness. The pole will never be at the same level as the Air (how can it be, it’s thousands of pounds cheaper!) but for a pole in this price range it’s stunning. I don’t know how, but Daiwa consistently make poles that just feel incredible in the hand and it has done it again - the balance is just perfect. I am not going to say this is the stiffest pole I have ever held compared to some of the flagship poles, but in terms of balance, it could well be my favourite pole that I have held - and that is saying something!
At this point I’m totally sold on the Whisker XLS, before I even look at the rest of the features. But we must move on.
The Diamond Satin finish is lovely, the butt sections in particular are just super-easy to ship out. Compared to the original Whisker that I loved so much, which had the infamous Daiwa squeak, it is worlds apart - just effortless to use.
The match kits have been altered slightly to help stick to that 16m usable length. The No1 section will fit a decent-sized internal bush straight from the wrapper and while I wouldn’t want to fish black Hydro through this size tip, it is adequate for the light solid elastics.
That brings me nicely onto the kit packages. There are four options available to you, including a pole-only 16m package with no top kits, ideal if you are already a Daiwa user and looking to upgrade, and a 13m package that features three spare top fives, ideal for anglers who fish to CIPS rules.
But I guess the two packages of more interest to UK anglers will be the More Power and More Match options.
Each has a bias towards a certain type of kit and reflects the type of angling that you prefer. Into hauling out big weights of carp? Then the more power is the package to have. More of an all-rounder? Then get involved in the More Match. Both are comprehensive packages.
It really is hard to find fault with the Whisker XLS, and if I’m honest… I want one!