As you may all remember about six months ago I won a ShimanoAntares Specialist Rod and I would like to thank Shimano for theprize and FISHINGmagic, especially Graham, for sending it to me.’Cheers Graham!’

When I received it about three weeks later I went to my local pondcontrolled by Aycliffe Angling Club. It was a red hot day and it wasone of the hottest days of the year! I found it difficult to catchwith it being so hot. However, as the sun started to peel back behindthe hill I noticed a bit of activity on the 2oz put-in quiver tip.After about 10 minutes the tip swung round and I hit into a 16lb 4ozmirror carp, my biggest to date. It was the first fish that I had onmy rod and I was delighted.

Now down to the technical side of the rod!

Two tops are supplied with this top drawer rod from Shimano, aplain ‘Avon’ type and one that will accept a range of four push-inquivertips – 1.5oz, 2oz, 2.5oz fibreglass and a 3oz carbon.

Shimano XT100/200 Graphite technology has been used in themanufacture of this 12ft, 1lb 6oz test curve rod with its progressiveaction blank. The rod is capable of casting weights up to 3oz. Ringsare the top quality Fuji SIC, suitable for both braid and nylon, andthe butt is half cork, half duplon with a quality Fuji reel seat.

The Antares is a deluxe, stepped up version, of the TechniumSpecialist, suitable for lines in the 4lb to 6lb or even 8lb class,making it ideal for general barbel and specialist fishing for mostspecies.

The finish is classy and the through-action smooth yet firm. Ifyou’re looking for a rod that has ‘feel’, and isn’t just a carbontube with rings, then this superb top of the range rod will be theone for you.

Unlike many rods this rod is a superb design. If you are playing alarge fish and it decides to have a last bid for freedom the actionis perfect as it will give just enough pressure to keep you incontrol of the fish. The feel of the rod is absolutely amazing as youcan feel every action and force in the rod.

I fished with the rod for approximately six months and thendecided to really ‘test’ it. One of my best days was at a place inThirsk called ‘Woodland Lakes’, also known as Carlton Minute. It’sowned by Robin Fletcher and I had a bag of approximately 115lbs withmy largest carp being about 5lbs and barbel of about 3lbs as well astench up to 2 1/2lb. The rod handled perfectly.

“With rods like this we are close to carbon rods having that’life’ that only split cane rods had.” Graham Marsden said in hisreview of the Antares.

This rod is also used by Current World Champion Alan Scotthorne,and I can see why!

Such quality, however, comes at a premium, and in this case thecost is £ 239.99.

Michael and his PB carp caught on the Antares

Supplied in a leather-type, zip-topped tube which is bothhardwearing and durable.

Overall the rod has scored very highly with me as shown in therating below:

****** Brilliant
***** Very Good
**** Good
*** Average
** Below Average
* Poor

Value *****
Features *****
Quality ******
Handling ******