We were sent the new Expride rods in early March of this year, long before for their official release with instructions from Shimano that we were to keep a tight lid on them until after the AFTA trade show in August.
They were sent to use in conjunction with a video we made about Shimano’s new range of Bantam lures with another video to be released in August about Expride. (You can see both videos via our Facebook page or YouTube channel).
From the minute I unwrapped them from the layers of foam sheeting in the box I knew they were something special. Aesthetically they look amazing. Jet black with premium cork grips ergonomically placed around a CI4+ reel seat and finished with Shimano’s Carbon Monocoque butt. The High Power X blank perfectly reveals the spiral carbon wrapping as light reflects over the surface of the blank, it’s something quite special. Finished with perfectly bound Fuji SiC guides I don’t think there are many if any other rods that look this good from top to bottom.
We were sent three rods of the available 12 models for review- two spin rods: the 266L (6ft6in/3-6lb), and the 2610ML (6ft10in 4-8lb) and one baitcast 170MH (7ft 10-20lb). From the first cast we made we could instantly feel these were amazing rods.
They’re extremely light and comfortable in the hand and while they present a feeling of finesse, they also feel incredibly solid. It’s a rare combination you don’t find in many rods. This combination of light finesse sensitivity and durability can be attributed to three core attributes of these rods- the High Power X blank with carbon wrapping from just above the reel seat all the way to the tip of the rod, the CI4+ reel seat which is light and surrounded by ultra-sensitive cork and the monocoque butt which is perfectly shaped and executed on these models. The butt isn’t too long or short, just perfect. These rods are some of the most comfortable and agronomical I have ever used.
The High Power X blanks are fast and stiff providing outstanding casting accuracy and distance when using even ultra-light lures, yet they exhibit amazing power when they load up. The blank curve is fast yet gradual, never did we feel as though we were at risk of pulling hooks and we always felt we had power in reserve.
Countless bream, flathead and perch have now been landed on both the light spin models using hardbodies, topwater presentations and plastics and each time I use these rods I gain a greater appreciation of them. In Expride Shimano have managed to find the perfect balance of power and castability of light presentations, it’s a rare and often sought-after attribute of any rod. This highly sought-after balance of power, castability and sensitivity has been perfectly executed in the three models we had for review.
The baitcast outfit was no different. You’ll note in the video we produced I spent two days casting the Bantam BT Force (a 190mm/50g wakebait) and not only did the rod cast it distance with ease and accuracy, but I also never felt fatigued or longing for a longer handle butt for more leverage. It offers effortless power casting this weight range and during the fight against an 80cm flathead in shallow water I had complete control and excess power.
We had assumed all through the testing period these rods would retail at around the $650 price point, so we were honestly shocked to recently learn they would range from $419 to $449. They present every bit as well as any $700 rod.
At this stage of 2022 we haven’t reviewed all the new models from various companies being released, but we don’t know of any rod range that is comparable at this price point. We also believe there aren’t many in even far higher price points that compare. The three rods sent for review have now become part of my fleet replacing rods I’ve always held in high regard. I’ll also be buying more from this range. They’re outstanding.