Category: Reviews

Gardner Critical MASS Putty: Review

There are a lot of tungsten putties on the market, but they are all not the same. The Gardner Critical Mass Putty is really a premium product, and not just some repackaged product that is sold by many. It is sticky and holds well to hook links and swivels. It is ideal for counterbalancing pop-ups with or without being molded over a shot or for sinking hook links. One of the best features about it is how reusable it is – it can be reused many times on different rigs which is a great savings overtime! During my testing I have used it in temperatures ranging from nearly 100°F to as low as 5°F – and its usable all the way through…but at 5 you’ll need to warm it a bit with you hands (while in pockets of course!). Check it out at Big Carp Tackle.

Gardner Critical Mass Putty works well in many applications, including as a counter balance for Ronnie Rigs.
This putty is nicely conformable into any shape needed for rigs.
Unlike many putties on the market, the Critical Mass Putty is not a repacked product sold by many companies.

Avid Lok Down Buzz Pod

Avid 2 rod Buzz Pod makes for a quick setup in urban surroundings, no need for zip tied bank sticks or setting up a pod

I’ve been using the Avid Lok Down Buzz Pod for over a year now, I’ve found that I’ve used it more and more due to its convenience. What would be the scenarios you would use it? I personally use it in place of a pod, when you get into the warmer months and the ground is too hard for a bank stick to push in, and when you are fishing concrete or other places you simply can’t push in a bank stick.

Quick setup for evening sessions

The big selling point of it for me is it is so simple to setup, you purchase the buzz pod and then just screw on 3 bank sticks that you have at home, job done. I carry the buzz pod in my backpack with alarms and hangers attached to it, grab the 3 bank sticks out of my rod bag and you are up and ready in a minute or so. It saves the hassle of carrying and setting up a pod.

The pod comes in 4 different options: 2 rod bars in 6 and 8 inches and 3 rod in 10 and 12 inches. It is also a lot sturdier than your average tripod and gives you the flexibility of attaching any sized bank sticks you have to raise or lower the rod tips. A really useful item that always has a time and a place for me. Check it out over on the store at Big Carp Tackle.

Featured items

Avid Lok Down Buzz Pod

Nash Siren R3

Daiwa GS LTD 4000

Nash Scope Rods Abbreviated handle

Ridgemonkey Modular Bucket XL and 15 Liter Collapsible Bucket

A 39.12oz Dale Hollow mirror getting a dousing from the 15ltr RM collapsible bucket

Everyone has those few items that you ‘can’t leave home without’ when setting off fishing. A few of those items for me are the Ridgemonkey Modular XL bucket and a couple of the Ridgemonkey collapsible buckets. Where to start, there are so many positives for me with these items as I’ve now had them over 3 years on every single outing.

RM 30ltr Modular XL and Collapsible buckets

The modular XL bucket is a 30-liter bucket with two trays that fit inside it. I love this bucket as it’s basically an all in one bait station. The two trays can be used however you want, I’ve even seen some folks mix up stick mix In the trays and keep that in there. Personally, for me I have a dedicated hook bait tray where I keep a variety of as you will have guessed, hookbaits. The other tray I keep my odds and ends, baiting needle, bait stops, scissors, forceps, knife, plastic imitation corn, hook file amongst a variety of other things.

Bucket and compartments

The bucket itself I typically use to mix up some packbait too which being so big allows you to make a large amount. This bucket also comes with 3 different attachments you can add to it, the Cozee Bucket Seat which allows you to convert bucket in to a seat to sit on, Advanced Boilie Crusher which allows you to crush up a load of boilies in to the bucket and last by no means least the Ridgemonkey CoZee Toilet Seat which allows you to turn your bucket in to a toilet should you get the urge! However, I would recommend putting a bag inside it! There is also a slightly smaller standard bucket which is 17 liters.

Packbait with Munch Baits Sweet stim

The collapsible buckets (I always take two) break down nicely and fit in to the XL bucket, why do I take two? Simple, I keep one next to the modular bucket to wash my hands after using packbait, and the second is next to my mat to keep water on the fish for when we get those shots on the bank. They offer a couple of different sizes of these too in 10 liter and 15 liters. Ridgemonkey have also come out with a transparent one of these buckets now in which you can drop a rig in it to see how the rig mechanic’s look too, forever the innovators!

These items are a little beat up now but still going strong! None of these items break the bank either and are available over at Big Carp Tackle!


Ridgemonkey Modular Bucket XL

Ridgemonkey Perspective Collapsible Bucket 15 liter

Munch Baits Sweet Stim Range

Munch Baits Pink Fruit Range


Ridgemonkey Cozee Bucket Seat

Ridgemonkey CoZee Toilet Seat

Ridgemonkey Advanced Boilie Crusher Full Kit (Bucket and Crusher)


Compact Setup

Short session setup

Most of you like me don’t always have 24 hours + you can dedicate to a session. If I’m honest most of my time on the bank varies between 2-8 hours at a time. Life, family, work commitments etc mean that I frequently don’t plan sessions out but rather go when a few hours present themselves. 4 years ago I decided to invest in a setup that I could grab together quickly that was compact, light and enabled me to stay mobile. In this review I’m going to talk through and show you a few items that have enabled me to maximize my short sessions without having to carry too much.

Nash Scope 9ft 3lb

First off we’ll start with the rods, the last few years my retractable rods of choice have been the Nash scope 9ft 3lb. There are now a lot of other brands that have stepped in to the retractable rod market so there are a lot more options at different price points. These other rods can also be found at Big Carp Tackle such as the popular Sonik Xtractors. My reels of choice to pair with are the Daiwa GS 4000’s which I wrote a review on a few months ago.

To carry the rods I use a Nash scope two rod skin, you need to be careful here when selecting a rod bag as they’re not all universal as the reel seat sits at different points on the rod handle depending on the brand. This bag also allows you to carry a weigh sling and a net within it. The net itself will have to be a two-piece handle no longer than 6 feet and it’ll sit nicely in the side attachment, I personally for the last few years have used the Sonik SKS two-piece 42inch. Nash also offer a two-piece net that fits nicely too. Again, preference and budget play a factor. I am also able to fit a Forge tackle weigh sling in this section. There is also a zip area which can house a couple of bank sticks with alarms on them to be ready at any time.


Short session complete setup

To carry my other equipment, I use a Nash scope backpack, this is a neat little backpack that allows me to carry my scale, all end tackle and anything else I feel I would need for short sessions. The backpack itself also has elastic on both sides for bank sticks so that you can fish directly from your bag!

For my end tackle itself I use a few items, the Korda tackle safe, the korda mini rig safe both fit in the Korda compac 140 and in turn nicely into the backpack. Typically to maximize my time I pre tie a few rigs ready to be used at any time, stored safely in the backpack. It also allows me to carry some components should I feel the need to tie up a rig for the situation presented.

For fish care I use the Sonik beanie mat, the reason I chose this was because it has a clip that I can just clip around my backpack to free up the use of my hands, there are a few others out there similar, this was just personal preference.


Korda Mini rig safe, tackle Safe and Compac 140

For bait and small items, I use the Ridgemonkey Modular XL bucket, within the bucket I also carry the Ridgemonkey collapsible bucket for water. The RM modular bucket is a nifty bit of kit, it also comes with two trays that fit within it where I carry some hook baits, baiting needle, scissors, forceps, bait stops.

A lot of these items are interchangeable to fit your own budget and need, over the years I’ve changed out a few items but what I have listed above have all stayed with me now for some time. I hope you found this review useful if you’re in the market for a small setup, feel free to shoot any questions should you have any!

Nash Scope 9ft 3lb

Nash scope 9ft double rod skin

Ridgemonkey Modular XL

Sonik 6ft 2 piece 42inch net

Forge Tackle weigh sling

Korda compac 140

Korda mini rig safe

Korda tackle safe

Daiwa GS 4000

Scope Recon Rucksack

Sonik Beanie mat


Rod Hutchinson Big Kipper II Sleep System


Rod Hutchinson Big Kipper II Sleep System

Rod Hutchinson Big Kipper II Sleep System,  Big Kipper II Systems combine all the advantages of the Extreme 5 II Sleeping Bag with the Big Kipper II Bed chair to create the ultimate sleeping combination. Featuring improved double hinge mechanism for easy folding, the Big Kippers boast totally flat design, incredibly comfortable mattresses and ergonomic back support fastened to one of the best, most adaptable sleeping bags in the business to deliver year round performance While you sleep soundly in the knowledge that its a Rod Hutchinson product.


Key Features

  • 8 Leg design provides maximum stability
  • Support for both head and foot frames
  • Precision machined aluminium brackets
  • Lay flat design for maximum comfort
  • High density 50mm foam filled mattress
  • Full length perimeter zip
  • Durable hardwearing 600D polyester
  • Smooth durable green powder coated frame
  • Elasticated head/foot frames
  • Central panel features 8mm cord for in creased-lumber support
  • Fully adjustable legs with swivel feet
  • Detachable webbing strap keeps bedchair closed for transit
  • Breathable/waterproof polyester outer shell
  • Hollow fibre expanded filling to provide maximum heat retention
  • Quick release crash zips with Eazi-Grip
  • Stirrup zip pullers for instant exit
  • Dual construction zip in/out inner for genuine year round use
  • Peachskin lined outer bag
  • Reversible fleece/Peachskin lined inner bag
  • Anti-snag zip baffles prevent heat loss
  • Hardwearing 420D Oxford Nylon base
  • Supplied with 600D carryall
  • Big Kipper II System 11.2kg

To check out more items in the range from Rod Hutchinson over at Big Carp Tackle follow the link below.

Daiwa Emblem 45 SCW QD-OT

Over the winter I was in the market for 3 new reels to pair up with my long-distance rods for the new year, over the last few years I’ve started to favor Daiwa for my reels, just personal preference. For this year I settled on the Daiwa Emblem 45 SCW QD-OT.

Daiwa Emblem 45 SCW QD-OT

The OT edition add a little extra flare as they come with the gold spools, wooden handle knob and one touch folding handle. I’ve now been using them for a few months and have thoroughly enjoyed the pairing for big waters landing fish up to 37lb+.

The Quick drag as standard is somewhere between ¼ to ½ a turn from free spool to locked so it can take a little getting used to from the onset, but they’re a pleasure to play fish on. They come Supplied with a shallow C and spare deep LD spool; (300m – 0.35mm and 530m – 0.35mm). The C spool allows filling of three spools from 1000m.

This year I also wanted to try a new mainline, I’ve personally only ever used mono so braid wasn’t going to be an option. Now I’m not big on fluorescent colored mainlines but on some of these bigger waters there’s always boat traffic so was hoping it could play a small part in being more visual for these folks. I settled on Daiwa’s Tournament monofil flouro orange in 15lb. At .35mm diameter it’s definitely not rope, which helps when trying to cast further but also has the thickness to be confident in sending larger leads, PVA and packballs to the horizon without worrying about a crack off. As most people a big worry is abrasion resistance, in my experience in using this line so far in a few snaggy areas it’s come good, I’ve landed fish which had clearly gotten in to some debris which caused the line to fray a bit, but that happens, it’s how well it stacks up when in this situation and getting the fish to shore. So far it’s been great on this front, just remember to strip the line off before recasting.


To buy and try the items seen in this review you can head over to Big Carp Tackle via the links below.



A Quick Look At The 12ft Rod Bag From Forge Tackle

To the majority of anglers our rods and reels are amongst the most valuable assets in our collection of gear. Thats why it’s smart to invest in some form of storage to protect our beloved rods. The Forge Tackle 12ft Rod Bag offers ample protection and storage that will surely fit the needs of todays carp anglers. Lets take a look.

Right on par with the rest of the luggage available from Forge, this rod bag is made to withstand any amount of abuse we could possibly throw at it. Manufactured from high quality 600D rip stop polyester fabric, equipped with solid metallic clips, heavy duty 10mm zippers, and a reinforced coated bottom, the 12ft rod bag from Forge is as durable as they come.

On the outside of the bag you’ll find two velcro straps on each side providing storage for landing nets, spot/marker rods, or whatever you can fit on there.

Inside you’ll find a generously padded interior with a middle divider to keep your rods safe and separated, the divider is also padded. I really like the divider as it keeps you’re rods from banging against each other and getting tangled together in transit. This particular rod bag is designed to hold three 12ft rods.

The padded shoulder strap is also a nice feature.

All in all this is undeniably one of the best quality rod bags you’ll find in this price range. You’ll have no issue transporting all three rods and a lot more with this bag. If protecting you’re rods is something you take seriously, the 12ft Rod Bag from Forge Tackle is something to strongly consider. There is also a 10ft variant of this bag.

The items seen here are available now over as  Big Carp Tackle via the links below.

Click here to see more products offered from Forge Tackle.

Daiwa GS LTD 4000

Sometimes limited equipment and staying mobile can result in more action!

If you’re like me, and you use retractable setups for short sessions, small venues and you’re in the market for a new reel, look no further than the Daiwa GS 4000 Ltd which can been found over at Big Carp Tackle. I’ve been using this reel myself now on my 9ft scope setup for over a year, I love the reel so much I just purchased a 3rd for my dedicated float fishing setup paired with a 10ft cork handled scope. The reel is small and lightweight weighing in at just 14.1oz so it doesn’t feel heavy when you need to keep the rod and reel in hand as you stalk your next target.

A summer afternoon with my daughter catching a few fish!

               While it is similar to the SS2600, it is packed with more features such as better balance, a sturdier line clip, improved drag and a folding wooden handle. I personally have landed fish to mid-20’s on them with no issues and have been impressed with how they handle larger fish for being so small.

Out on the park lake with my daughter, also featured in this picture the Avid two rod Buzz Pod.

               As standard the drag from fighting fish to free spool is about 7 turns, for me that was too much so I invested in a quick drag kit which comes with 3 carbon washers and one bush to replace the spring, the installation I did at home and was quick and easy. So, if you’re like me in that you wanted less turns to fighting fish, I recommended looking into that. Something I’d be happy to provide further information on if you reach out to me.

Below are some further specifications.

– Twistbuster

– Air Rotor

– Digigear

– ATD Drag

– Distance control line clip

– Infinite Anti Reverse

– One Touch Folding Handle

– Wooden Handle


Ratio: 4.9:1

Wgt: 14.1oz

Bb: 4

Line capacity: 240m-12lb

Also featured in this review

Solar – A1 (3 rod) pod – In Review

Today we are going to be taking a look at the A1 3 rod pod and a few of the items that Solar Tackle offer in the A1 range. For many years Solar Tackle has been producing the industry standard for rod pods, with the Globetrotter and the hugely versatile Worldwide within their stainless-steel range. However, in this review we are focusing on the A1; Solar’s first foray in strengthened aluminum bank ware. It’s not stainless, but it also ain’t plastic!

The 3-rod pod is currently available in two options at Big Carp Tackle, the 9-inch leg version and the 6-inch leg version. Where the A1 range lacks some of the versatility of the P1 range in terms of its adjustability, it makes up by being lightweight, compact and it won’t hit you as much in the pocket (stainless steel isn’t cheap!).

The pod is supplied in two small cases, one houses the two goal post uprights, buzz bars which are included (most solar pods do not offer this which is great!) and four 9 inch or 6 inch legs, while the second case houses the 28”- 50”  adjustable length main bar. One thing to note is that there is a difference of about 1 inch between the two buzz bars, which allows you to ‘fan out’ the rods. These bars are not adjustable as seen in the P1 range.

Now I’ve only used this pod a few times and it has a lovely sleek matte black finish and it’s quick and easy to setup. One feature I truly love is the Posi-lock system for attaching the alarms. This means you will no longer struggle lining up the alarms or have to purchase quick release adapters as you can tighten up to and align the alarms with ease. All you have to do is tighten your alarm or butt rest about 75% of the way so it’s lined up, then you just tighten it up through the Posi-lock on the buzz bar.

The A1 range also offers a two-rod setup and additional bank sticks at different lengths, 9”-30” in the store, the beauty being they’re all interchangeable allowing you to chop and change to your need. Two rod venue? No problem!  Just drop in the two rod bars. High railings in that inner-city river swim you love? No problem, Solar got you covered, attach the 30” legs!

  So, if you’re looking for that Solar build quality, with the look of the P1, but are uncomfortable with the cost that comes with it, look no further than the

Solar A1—you’ll not regret it!

To buy and try this pod for yourself and look at all the other items avalble, head over to Big Carp Tackle.