TESTING THE NEW PRESTON INNOVATION BANJO XR FEEDERS
Preston Innovations are a brand that is associated with quality, diversity and innovation so when asked to review their latest in the commercial feeder arsenal I jumped at the chance and, what better place to field test them than at the famous Arena lake at the beautiful Cudmore Fisheries.
Straight from the shelf the ICS Banjo XR Feeders offer simple and effective versatility as part of the interchangeable ICS range, meaning 1 rod can be utilised as a Method or Hybrid rod, Bomb and natural Maggot or Cage Feeder rod. Furthermore, the ICS stem system gives the angler the choice of Free Running and Elasticated options…gone are the days of setting up 5 rods for a session.
The test proved both systems are perfectly suited to the situation and any ‘Super Charged Carp’ caught meant less stress on the hook hold at the net with the elasticated stems, the inline was great too offering a more controlled bite when fishing in open water and the fish are swimming away from me, I love the sound of the reel clutch ticking away.
The Banjo XR Feeders are available in 3 sizes (Small, Medium and Large) and each size is available in 3 weights (20g, 30g, 45g) which is perfect for most situations, especially on commercials, and moulds are also available in the 3 sizes for that perfect loading every time. Casting tight to the Island on Arena (approx 30m) to shallow water on a slow sloping shelf meant the 20g option would be perfect for both the distance and holding still on the bottom. I started with the medium feeder to get some micro pellets in the peg then a change to the small feeder and casting again after 90 seconds if the tip had not doubled round. The fish were coming to the small splash and sucking up all the offerings in 1 mouthful.
Due to the shape design and the alloy part of the feeders being placed both at the base and the bottom casting and controlling the Banjo XR’s is a dream. The Stem is long enough to allow the Feeder to cast perfectly straight and nicely hitting the clip enabling a controlled entry of the Feeder to the water helping to keep the bait contents intact. Both technique and a balanced setup also massively helps – see the Top Tips below.
The fins on the sides of the feeder also help with casting and getting the feeder on the bottom fully loaded. The holes play a really important part at this point and efficiently allow the water into the loaded bait and help to expand the contents to tantalize the feeding fish. I tested this with soaked micros, soaked 4mm pellets and groundbait…all performing to perfection.
Loading the Feeder – Fill the mould before placing in your hookbait, once placed in give it a good press with your thumb and then fill again over the top before placing the feeder on the mould. Give it a firm push into the mould before pressing the release a few times and you will be ready to cast. Once on the bottom the contents will expand out of the feeder without pushing your hookbait away from the pile. If you place your hookbait in 1st it will be away from the pile leaving the fish to miss it completely or hook itself on the outside of the mouth leaving a high chance of a lost fish.
Set up – in my field test I opted for a 10ft power feeder rod which is perfect for the casting distance and accuracy, a decent medium sized reel with 6lbs mainline. As the carp in Arena are all 4lbs plus I used an 0.19mm 4 inch hook length to a banded size 16 strong barbless hook. For smaller carp and F1’s if the venue allows I prefer a shorter hook length. Remember to make sure the tip in your rod can take the weight of the loaded feeder. If you start on a 20g feeder and a 1.5oz tip then change to a 45g the tip is likely to break and your casting will also be less accurate.
Casting the Feeder – When casting to a feature an clipped up bring your rod back to a 12’o’clock position as the feeder is in flight. Once you hit the clip the balanced setup and soft action rod will cushion and control the landing of the feeder on the water. This way the feeder will hit the surface base first keeping the bait on it intact and creating a nice ‘plop’ on entry rather than a fish disturbing spladoosh!
Once it’s landed – to quote a great man “don’t move the feeder”. Take your time to sink your line slowly before placing your rod securely in front and rear rests as bites can be savage. Don’t tension down to the feeder tight, I have a slight bend in the tip, just enough to notice it. This way the fish grubbing around the feeder will not feel the line when knocking it, too much tension can spook them away and also move the feeder meaning you would need to set the trap again.
Don’t Strike – The setup gives a bolt rig effect meaning the fish will hook itself, simply lift the rod and reel in. Your tip will be dancing around, wait for the tip to fully go round and stay before lifting into the fish, the other indications are fish knocking the line and the feeder whilst they compete for the feed. If fishing tight against a feature the fish may swim towards you, the tip will suddenly straighten and the line will go very slack, simply lift the rod and wind down to the fish.
The Banjo XR’s are a well made and thought out feeder, they give plenty of options, are simple to use effectively regardless of your angling level and offer good value or money.
Catching fish at Cudmore between 4lb and 15lb the feeders were flawless, consistent and reliable…everything for a match angler like myself needed to give complete confidence in the product and method that i’m fishing with.
Get yourself into HF Angling and give them a try.
The testing and review will also be available soon in a short video on my YouTube Channel.
See you on the bank soon!