Alex Bones checks out the all-new range from MAP that’s got designs on ripping the pole market to pieces!
In the corner of a dimly lit office sat Mike Robinson, brand manager of MAP and the man charged with the task of keeping innovation in motion for the Redditch-based tackle giant.
Success seemed to follow success with its previous TKS 225 to 825 Competition and Professional models, but he sat head in hands wondering how an already impressive range could be bettered.
But from the mysterious depths of a creative mind sprang a well of innovation, leading to what we believe will be a booming success. If you’ve ever handled the existing models, and you liked what you saw, then the new TKS 101 to 801 versions for 2012/2013 will have you, quite simply, head over heels!
My first experience of these models, that supersede the existing range, came at a recent trade show hosted by the company. While this doesn’t offer the chance to try each pole in ‘actual fishing circumstances’ it is the usual fashion in which we’re often introduced to new products at this time of year, as companies scramble to grab our attentions with their latest and greatest.
Sat on a seatbox I waited for Mike to supply me with the first of the new range – for him this was important as it signalled the acceptance or rejection from people fortunate enough to handle just about every piece of tackle available!
As he watched intently for a reaction with each pole he handed to me, my wry smiles and comments – something along the lines of “flip me these are flippin’ good” – saw him respond with a modest expression that told us he already knew he’d cracked something a bit special.
New mandrel designs exclusive to MAP have allowed him to alter the taper of the joints to give better rigidity and performance when compared like-for-like to the previous TKS range.
There’s no denying that I was eager to get my mitts around the flagship 801 model, pushing an RRP of £2,800, but starting at the 101 model – the cheapest of the range, retailing for £499.99 – I could already see the way was paved for an impressive display. “This one will sell for £349.99,” I exaggerated. Incredible value!
Waggling and testing the poles as much as I possibly could do in the circumstances there was no denying that these models have all the elements to be a booming success. For me, though, it was the 501, retailing for £1,300 (£899 SSP), that set the bar in its price range.
The higher the number, the more expensive the poles, and I became blasé about how good they really are! The 701 was superb, but the 801 almost defied gravity and bent upwards! That’s another exaggeration, but you get my point.
Now, while these are good – bloody good, in fact – it’s the spares package that sells it for me. As significant advances in carbon pole technology have waned over recent years, manufacturers have looked for other ways to secure consumer attentions and MAP has cracked it with its Top Kit Solution (TKS) system.
In brief (!) this comprises PTFE bushes fitted inside each top kit (3.5mm internal bushes in the match kits and 4.2mm in the power kits), identical-length power and match kits (all 2.7 metres long), reinforcement bands in areas particularly prone to stress – including a reinforced area to fit a puller bush, smooth-ship finish, big-bore kits, reinforced joints, joint-alignment system, ultra-rigid cupping kit with adaptor and cups, reinforced 0.5m extension, 12-month guarantee, holdall with internal tubes, true length (each pole is exactly the stated length with the kits already cut back) and you can choose the spares package to suit your needs!
Incidentally, the spares package for each model alters – for example, the 16m 801 is supplied with three spare pre-bushed match kits, six spare pre-bushed power kits, two short No4 joints, a cupping kit and mini extension plus the other items mentioned above!
This is right up there with the very best packages available and, remember, the poles are all brilliant in their respective price brackets as well! A 16m extension is available separately for the 301 and 401 for £109.99 and £120 respectively and there are three grades of competition match and power kits available for £39.99, £49.99 and £79.99 a pop.
Slick graphics and a brilliant product oozing features – what more could you want? MAP continues to impress.