International boat angler Steve Souter shares his thoughts on two specialist telescopic competition boat rods, Dinamite TNT from Italian tackle company Artico.
I have rigorously used long telescopic boat rods of mainly Italian and Spanish origin for aspects of my boat fishing for certainly the last dozen years, and the frightening fact is that I have broken, burst and otherwise catastrophically destroyed just about every single one I have ever owned. It would be fair to say then that I entered into this review of two smart new Italian telescopic boat rods with some small reluctance.
Telescopic boat rods that extend to 4 or even 5 metres are convenient, but they are also traditionally regarded as compromise packages in terms of blank action and strength. This simply because the more sections there are, the more visible steps are created in the natural rod curvature, and the more interrupted the finished action. Visualise a curving flight of stairs, and that jagged image is not so unlike the typical telescopic rod under load.
Blank integrity is often overlooked, with the actual blank considered little more than a means of accommodation and support for a choice of sensitive fishing tips. Indeed, it could be argued that this flawed blueprint is exactly why many of the more low-tech boat telescopics are suspect when it comes to inherent blank strength. With these woes supressed I took the Aritco rods afloat, intent on being hard on them from the outset.
Artico are based in Italy and have a 35-year trading history. They are a major player in the European tackle trade, with an excellent reputation for new technologies, craftsmanship and reliability. The company’s after-sales back-up service is widely praised, and some of the best competition boat anglers across Europe use their telescopic rods
Strong & Extreme
In my possession from Irish distributor Shamrock Tackle were the green-and-white coloured Artico Dinamite TNT ‘Extreme’ which extends to 3.6 metres or 11.8 feet in old money, and the 4 metre or 13.1 foot Dinamite ‘Strong’ identified by its red-and-white colours. Both are comprised of a handle section sporting a quality screw reel fitting, with a further five extending sections, and come with two differently sensitive push-in tips. Both feature Fuji guides throughout, and have a threaded metal butt cap that unscrews, allowing a spare tip to be housed out of harms way within the base of the handle section. There is actually a choice of three rods in the Artico Dinamite range, the other being the lightest ‘Medium’ version.
Initial wiggles and flexes revealed both rods to be a world away from my unenthusiastic advance expectations. The handle sections were not typically pliable, and the multi-part blanks were anything but wafer-walled suspects. Butt sections are slim but rightly gruntingly stiff, while both rods display very generous blank wall thicknesses in plain sight at each section junction. Integrity is further reinforced with an obvious extra carbon wrap at the top of each sliding section. Indeed, everything about these blanks screamed considered design, strength and power.
Tips for these kinds of rods are wrongly widely referred to as quiver tips. Rex Hunt used to describe such tips as ‘nibble’ tips, which is a more apt description of their function for sea fishing purposes. The Artico push-in tips are of nylon construction. They are a hand-built blend of lower and mid area guts, and curt finesse approaching the tip guide. These are certainly not flimsy flaccid tips of the sort that can be looped into hopeless knots.>/p>
What really caught my eye was that each of the 5mm-base tips I examined was properly rung on the natural spine, and such knowing attention to detail is rare indeed. The majority of ready-built tips of this ilk are rung randomly without due care, with the result that most inefficiently torque all over the place. The Artico tips are turned and built to the highest standards and are among the best I have handled. I understand that separate and replacement Artico tips will be available in the UK soon, and if this is the case then it’s fantastic news all-round, as they can easily be tweaked to fit other similar rods.
Dinamite TNT 2 Strong
With red and silver overlay decals and a 21mm handle diameter, the Dinamite Strong comes in 4 metre and 5 metre versions, and was the lighter of the two test rods. The guide configuration is two lower double-legs and four single leg guides, while it is rated to cast 100- 200g or roughly 3 ½ – 7 ounces.
I had the 4-metre version, which is 1.2 metres when stowed un-extended, and features a rubber locking grommet to trap and lock down the first section above the handle. Depending on the tip selected the Strong extends to 3.4m, or 3.5m with the first section locked down. Reel seat placement is low on the handle and centres at 37cm, which I like for working in tight spaces and difficult boat positions.
I have used the rod from several different ports, taking in shallow waters and depths of more than 100ft. Bite display is fantastic on both tips, and you can instantly spot fish interest when using braid or a full fluorocarbon mainline such as Tubertini Ski-Blue. The rod zings up to 6ozs of lead away with the easiest of under-arm swings and it will live with casting slightly more with care. In the downtide sense, the Artico Strong will live with up to 10ozs but is ill at ease hanging more than 12ozs.
The Strong will collectively do everything a 6lb, 12lb and even 20lb boat rod will do, while also covering general casting situations, lighter uptiding and long rig work. I put the rod to work for wrasse, pollack and whiting in the main, but it’s also a superb tool for light breaming and likes of notching garfish.
Dinamite TNT 3 Extreme
A 23mm diameter handle section carries green and silver decals, while the Extreme features a sturdy set of double-leg guides throughout. It’s rated to cast up to 100-500g, that’s 3 ½oz – to just over 1lb in weight!
The stowed length is 1.5m without the tip fitted. It measures 3.20m with the tip in place and the first section locked down, or 3.60m at full extension. The reel seat centres at 47cm and is positioned slightly higher than on the Strong, but it is still comfortable to cast and fish with even when shoulder-to-shoulder with other anglers and there isn’t much room. The Artico Extreme rod is also available in a shorter 2.8m version.
I first used the powerful 3.6 metre rod at excruciating depths of up to more than 300ft in Loch Etive where no more than 10ozs of lead is needed in the negligible tide, then in the teeth of a wild force 9 gale in the Firth of Forth… real extremes! In both instances the Extreme was not troubled and maintained excellent bite transmission even in a pitching boat and at silly depth.
Spurdogs, decent thornbacks, gurnard, pouts, whiting and codling put various degrees of fluent bend in the blank. And quite unlike the usual ugly ‘stepped’ aspects so common among cheaper telescopic rods, the Extreme displays an impressive smooth curvature deserving of top marks.
Aside from general boat fishing, the Extreme doubles as a superb and super-sensitive uptide rod. It will comfortably cast 10ozs of lead, however it should be noted that a strong mainline and careful under-arm casting only is recommended because even the smallest of leader knots snag on the tiny guides of the push-in tips. The heaviest tip easily handles 1lb of lead and more when downtiding. Despite what it says on the tin bigger leads yet feel uncomfortable and play havoc with the straight alignment of telescopic sections.
Artico Dinamite rods are superbly designed, beautifully crafted and hit performance highs that I’ve never before experienced with any telescopics. These exceptional rods are an inspired marriage of power and finesse, and are as close to indestructible in telescopic form as I have come across. I would suggest that to describe the Dinamites as ‘competition’ boat rods is to unfairly pigeonhole them because any regular boat angler looking to squeeze maximum sporting enjoyment from general fishing and bread-and-butter species will benefit from owning one of these top-drawer rods. The recommended prices below are not set in stone, but they do serve to demonstrate that the best sort of gear does not come cheap.
Overview of Tested Products
- Strong (4m) RRP: £399
- Extreme (3.6m) RRP: £295
- Sections: Six plus two tips
- Rubber section-lock grommet
- Graphite reel fitting
- Fuji guides
- Supplied with two glass push-in tips
- Tip base diameter: 5mm
- Handle storage for spare tip
- TLT – Traversal Layer Technology
- 2-year warranty
In the UK: Bluezone Fishing