FREE SPIRIT | ‘S’- LITE RANGE

RRP: from £134.99 to £259.99 FREESPIRITFISHING.COM

Free Spirit rods have justifiably gained a great reputation over the years, so it was with a certain amount of excitement that I got the first look at this brand-new range of rods in June.

After much searching and lots of testing, Free Spirit finally found a product to live up to their high standards, which is a material called C626. It has the performance and properties to build thin, strong blanks with super-sharp recovery. The guys at Free Spirit say the action achieved is so similar to the Hi-‘S’ range that it could even be called a ‘Baby Hi-S’, a comment I wholeheartedly agree with.

These rods can cast huge distances, and in use, the power of the blank can be felt, as can the recovery speed, all aided by the thin blank and light tip. The casting versions of the ‘S’-Lite range uses the ‘ive’ name for both the 12ft and 13ft rods, and this is because the performance falls close to that of the Hi-’S’ives, but at a significantly reduced price.

As ever with rods from this stable, the finish and looks are impeccable, complemented by the weave and perdurable finish. The 40T low-resin ultra-slim blank is set off by the addition of a new Fuji reel seat – TVSM17 – which really looks awesome with open sides, and it feels superb when you grip it. A carbon sleeve of the same material as the blank is fitted to help transmission through the seat to the hand, so reading the drop is easy. The rings have black frames to match the blank, and all fittings are stainless steel for durability.

On the full cork version, there is a Clone seat with isotope slot from C626 carbon, which looks great in conjunction with the A-grade cork. There is a wide range of different models available, from 10ft right through to 13ft, in various test curves and finishes. All ‘S’-Lites can be custom-built, so a further range of options is also available.

I briefly took out a pair of the 12ft 3.25lb ‘S’-Lites with the new reel seat, finished with an abbreviated handle, for an overnight session. When I arrived at the lake, I the fish were using a shallow bar running from a large set of reeds to a snaggy area. Unfortunately for me, this needed a near-100yd cast, and I realised that the reels I’d grabbed were loaded with 18lb line. Oh dear.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was hitting the clip with ease at 24 wraps, into a fairly stiff breeze. Over the next 24hrs, I managed four fish to 27lb, and thought the rod performed superbly, with power to cast, and a very pleasing playing action. I had my doubts about the reel seat, but came to love the look and, more importantly, the feel, which is epic. I’ll be using these rods over the coming months, so I’ll be able to give you a long-term view of their performance, but the first impression is that they are excellent.

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Jemima Musson