Zziplex rods are a bit special: ‘precision tools engineered and formed by the hands of a genius’ might well sum up the weight of opinion among expert shore anglers and casters the world over. Various incarnations of the famous Zziplex Sea Raider uptide rod aside, there have been very few serious sojourns into the area of Zziplex boat rods. But that looks set to change with the long awaited introduction of the first Islander boat rod designed in close association with Mike Taylor of UK Hooks.
Based on long experience, Mike Taylor rates Terry Carroll’s Zziplex blanks above all others, trusting then to the custom-build talents of Chris Dance to create finished items that anglers are proud to own and fish with. This reliable combination of expert craftsmanship stands well proven, and Mike’s tackle business, UK Hooks can evidence staggering Zziplex rod sales to back that up.
At 7ft 6ins, the 30-35lb version is the landmark first rod in what will be the Islander boat rod series. Every inch a rod produced for and in the UK, the one-piece design avoids any interrupted curvature, ‘stepping’ and eventual wear associated with rod joints. An intricate blend of top quality carbon and hi-tech glass material underpins a fantastically responsive fast action blank and provides an ‘intelligent’ fishing tip in the top 18 inches. The tip area is a masterpiece dually intended to clearly betray the slightest fish interest, and still vitally support substantial lead weights without suffocating bite amplification should fishing conditions force the need to ramp up the lead loading.
Islander rods are available either custom built to the purchaser’s explicit specifications, or to the superb UK HOOKS standard build which just cannot be faulted. The standard build (pictured) is equipped with 10 Fuji chrome oval SiC guides (four double-leg CWDBSG and six single-leg CD-BSG), and a CNST tip ring. Guides are affixed with immaculate black-tipped-silver whippings, while the double-leg rings are also under-whipped in silver. The one-piece design provides a well proportioned handle, with a generous machined black Duplon fore-grip above a heavy-duty genuine Fuji reel seat. Duplon is also used behind the reel, while a Fuji gimble completes the handle.
He Ain’t Heavy
I was immediately struck by just how light the Islander 30-35lb rod is… it’s a joyous 360 grams fully built, and no arm-aching burden at all when held for long periods. Slim and well balanced, even without a reel attached, it’s surprising just how powerful the rod feels when flexed. Mike’s build concept was to create a unique down tiding rod for cod, bass, ray and conger; the Islander services both the mainstream tactic and species very well indeed.
Every manufacturer has their own idea of what various denoted line classes and power bands physically reflect, and as such it would be folly to try and pin the Zziplex Islander down to a one-size-fits-all generic profile. Without question however, there’s bags of available power in the rod, and subduing likes of powerful blonde rays would not be an issue as far as I am concerned.
The cruel British weather did for me on several pre-arranged winter test trips. So, with the report deadline drawing near I reluctantly had to farm the Islander rod out to well known Isle of Wight boat angler, Dale Edmunds, who gave it a right good thumping aboard his Warrior 165 in Sandown Bay. Dale’s target was winter cod, and his initial impression on receipt of the Islander was that it had all the attributes of a gutsy 30lb class rod and then some.
Here’s what else Dale Edmunds had to say…
“The sensitive tip was by no means ‘sloppy’ and served to take any edge off the underlying power at the angler’s instant disposal. I couldn’t fault the quality of the build or the top end fittings used. I would compare the fishing action to that of the Abu Suveran or Shimano Antares, but must emphasise just how light the Islander is. I tested the Islander on a small tide but felt there was ample grunt to handle strong tides and up to 1 1/2lb of lead if need be. Unfortunately the session produced few decent fish but from the initial knockings and through the fight, the Islander responded and handled superbly with cod short of double figures.”
Beautiful with Braid
What we have here is a multi-functional boat rod that will do many things. It is beautiful to use with braided lines and regular drift or anchor fishing with 6oz – 1lb leads for all manner of species; rough ground fishing; and pirking with jigs up to 500g are all within very comfortable working parameters. The rod doesn’t surrender all its positive attributes when conditions dictate 20oz of lead, and it will live with 1 1/2lb if need be. In the case of big fish, the Islander will embrace large tope, smoothhound, blonde rays and even angry wreck eels. This rod will do the Norway and Iceland thing very well too, although this might well be food for future thought with perhaps a more compact three-piece version.
A beautiful blend of power and panache, the Islander boat rod from UK Hooks is phenomenal and destined for classic status. And for the record, Mike Taylor is hard at work on two lighter versions of the Islander that he assures me will, for starters, take bream, pollack and plaice fishing to a whole new level of enjoyment.
The Zziplex experience, especially when combined with quality fittings and a superior build, doesn’t come cheap – the Islander boat rod featured here carries a price of £320. Yes, it is serious money, but quality and top performance costs more. Consider also that there is a mountain of hugely inferior Far Eastern tat on the market with unworthy RRPs creeping to within £100 of the impressive Islander. If you would like to know more about this model, or forthcoming Zziplex boat rods then call Mike Taylor on 0044 (0)1983 868687 or visit www.uk-hooks.com