Second generation of Anyfish Anywhere rods will be hard to resist for competent casters, says Paul Fenech
As I stood staring at my rod rack, admiring my beach rods secured in position against the wall, and realising they had remained idle for over a year due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, I still felt a real sense of satisfaction.
I don’t possess a huge collection of shore rods, but those I do own have certainly served me well over many years. Everything I need is right there at my fingertips and there is absolutely no need to replenish the stock by adding more.
As I gazed on the line of carbon blanks, I lifted out one of my Anyfish Anywhere blanks – an original Tournament Match Pro. Next to it is the GB FS Pro model, which I lifted out too. Assembling the pair, I give each one a wobble, as you do. After five minutes I slot them carefully back into the safety of the rack, happy that my armoury is complete. There’s categorically no need for anymore, right?
You may think not, but after receiving a phone call from my mate, the Anyfish Anywhere boss Julian Shambrook, I found myself having a rethink.
After the pleasantries, I say that with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek because generally, Julian kicks off any conversations we have by spending the following few minutes, or so, mocking my North East accent. To be fair to him, he is rather good at it. He then falls silent and there’s a pause before he reveals he has some good news.
I knew immediately where this was heading, while simultaneously wondering if I had more vacancies on my rod rack. In short, he informed me there were to be two new additions to his Red range of Anyfish Anywhere blanks. These are the second generation of Tournament Match Pro and GB FS Pro two-piece rods. Thanks Julian, now I definitely need to secure two more spaces to the rack. Just when I reckoned I had everything I required in rod weaponry, two suddenly come along and change that perception. I was rather excited. I mean who wouldn’t be? Like I said, it was bound to happen.
Soon the two rods were heading their way from Devon to me. They arrived the following day and, as with any rod delivery, I was apprehensive as I opened the tubes. The potential hazards to rods in transit always sends a shiver down my spine. On this occasion, there were no broken rings or cracked tip sections. I was itching to get on the beach and have a few casts, so jumped in the car and headed out immediately.
The first change I noticed was the Fuji Alconite BMNAG guides are gone and have now been replaced with BCMNAG versions. Both rods come supplied with a carbon reducer. I’m not keen on reducers and rarely use them, but now I had an option to extend the length of each blank if I wished. Each rod is equipped with a Fuji sliding reel seat too, which is ideal for strapping my reel into my favoured and more importantly, exact position.
First up was the Tournament Match Pro MK2. This rod is designed to be used with a multiplier reel and at 13ft 11in, it’s not the lightest shore rod I’ve ever held. However, whether you decide to strap your reel high or low on the butt section, the balance is superb. The rating is stated at 150-200g, so with this in mind (and my back not what it used to be) I opted to clip on a 175g lead weight.
Going straight in with a full-blooded pendulum swing, it’s noticeable that this rod is lightning quick. As far as I’m concerned, and I say this with an air of caution to you, there is absolutely no room for mistiming a hard and powerful cast. Get your timings wrong and the rod will definitely not forgive you. I you’re an angler who isn’t super-efficient in casting, I’d almost certainly recommend against buying this blank; it’s not for you. However, if you’re on the ball and a serious shore angler looking to upgrade, you will simply fall in love with it.
The power in the butt section is without doubt generated through sheer speed. As you move into the power stroke, the middle of the blank immediately takes control, and this is the critical moment during the cast with the Tournament Match Pro MK2; the point of no return if you prefer. The tip speed is immense and when the timing all comes together perfectly the rod’s performance is totally exquisite.
It’s not a poker by any stretch of the imagination nor designed to be used in rough ground. It is, though, a powerful outfit. Although it shines supremely when performing powerful pendulum casts, it adores off-the-ground styles too. Put as much as you like into it; in fact, put everything you’ve got into – it will take it all and some. I can’t stress enough, though, that the rod’s speed and reaction certainly will take your breath away.
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The GB FS Pro MK2 is a different beast. At 14ft and designed to be used with a fixed-spool reel, you need to be aware that it is not a Continental rod. Lovers of fixed-spool reels loaded with braid really will get the best out of this rod.
For one reason or another, the past few years have seen many shore anglers attaching fixed-spool reels to shore rods that are designed to be used with a multiplier. Whether it’s a fashion thing, I’m not totally sure but I’ve witnessed so many anglers going into a powerful cast and suffering wring-wrap and cracking off. The coils of braid leaving the spool at high speed are so large, that the first guide simply can’t accommodate them, resulting in the braid – or mono – wrapping around it. Even worse if the mainline somehow luckily makes it through, it could (or should I say will) eventually wrap around the tip. If you’ve never witnessed a tip breaking because of this, it’s certainly an expensive catastrophe you never want to happen. Do yourself a huge favour and use a rod designed to be used with a fixed-spool reel.
This is where the GB FS Pro MK2 shows off its dominance in style but, oh my word, it has to be one of the most powerful rods I’ve ever had the pleasure of casting; it’s absolutely brutal. Do not make the same schoolboy error I did and forget your casting glove or fingerstall. Be warned, you will definitely need it.
I simply couldn’t bend it without my glove, but the distance I was hitting was noticeably long. I think the benefit of this rod for me personally would be the fact of coping with decent fish in extremely harsh territory. In fact, it’s definitely coming with me on my next Norway visit or a trip to the Highlands in search of common skate in the deep-water lochs; it’s absolutely perfect for that. Anglers fishing from high cliffs will relish this rod too.
Like the Match Pro MK2, it has the same rating, and timing is again vitally important and crucial to keep up with the fast tip speed. Take a look at the video online of the UK’s number one tournament caster Owan Moyle hitting it with full force. It’s frightening to see exactly what this rod is capable of doing.
I know that anglers using fixed-spool reels loaded with braid or mono, and fishing from high cliffs or extremely rough shore marks where distance is needed, along with plenty of grunt to bring a fish back, will adore it. This rod is certainly right up their street.
However, I can’t stress highly enough, if you are by any means a mediocre caster or just entering into the sport, this rod is not for you. Avoid it and choose another shore rod, or better still, give Julian a call and he can explain exactly what AFAW blank will suit you. He’s been in this game a long time and knows what he’s talking about.
Both rods are now sitting alongside my other shore rods in the rack (yes, I made the space) and I can’t wait to get out targeting the marks and species for which I know these rods are designed.