(As reviewed by Pole Fishing Magazine)
Jon Arthur's verdict on MAP's latest mid-range offering – the TKS 501!Hat's off to the guys at MAP because I know how hard they've been working on the new TKS range. There's a real passion and enthusiasm about the products they are bringing out at the moment and it's refreshing to see. I have witnessed first-hand how they operate and I know they aren't simply picking things out of a trade catalogue and slapping their logos on them. Far from it, they look at everything from the ground up before redesigning and tweaking every last detail. This is immediately apparent with the TKS family.
A quick look at the packages on offer and I can see that half the battle has already been won. They've obviously looked at what the competition has put on the table before showing their own hand. Cosmetically, the range really does look fantastic, too. They are easily MAP's best-looking poles to date, with their subtle honeycomb graphics and all the key details and features nicely emphasised. I really hoped that all this hard exterior wasn't veiling a softer underbelly in the performance stakes. There was only one way to find out, so I armed myself with a TKS 501 and paid my local Packington Somers fishery a visit.
I chose a peg on Molands because it's a great mixed lake with plenty of width and everything from carp to roach, plus lots of skimmers, crucians and tench to keep you guessing. Unpacking the ample holdall, you immediately see what you're getting for your £899. Everything is nicely tubed. The pole packs into three – 13 metres plus the two butts – and I'm really surprised how slim the butt sections are. Normally at this price I'd expect to see a wider-diameter butt to compensate for any loss of rigidity but this was not the case. What's more, there is virtually no flex or give in any of the sections. The walls are all really solid with no ovaling under your elbow on the strike. I would have no doubts using the pole for carp crunching and hit-and-hold situations.
Along with the match kit in the pole, the 501 is supplied with two more Match Kits and two Power Kits plus a mini-extension and cupping kit. There's no need to glue or chop anything because the top kits are all pre-bushed, while the cupping kit is pre-threaded and ready to go with a choice of two screw-on cups. As I hoped, everything is exactly the same length and I wish all manufacturers would start to realise what a bonus this is. Being pre-bushed also gets you fishing quicker and cuts out the tedious job of choosing the right PTFE bushes and nervously cutting them all back yourself. Both the Power and Match kits are 2.7 metres and just two sections long. I am so glad they have done away with those scrawny little No1s that most of us chuck away. Each also has a reinforced wrap towards the base of the No2 where they could be converted into side-puller kits if needed.
I got to fish with the pole for a full five hours and couldn't believe how good it was. I started off with two 13m swims, potting in tiny nuggets of groundbait and dead maggots, and was soon into a run of handsome F1s, tench to 2lb, 1lb-plus skimmers and even the odd big crucian carp. After two hours I popped two more sections on and started a new swim over potted-in casters. Another muscular tench and a good run of big F1s immediately followed. Even though this isn't a top-of-the-range pole I had no problems whatsoever holding it at 16 metres. I wouldn't say that it was featherlight at this length but it was still comfortable to hold all day and really nicely balanced.
There was no discernible sag and the recovery on the strike was good thanks to the extra-stiff Match Kit I had elasticated. If I had to be really picky, perhaps one more top kit wouldn't have gone amiss, but I doubt MAP could possibly cram any more into the package and still give you a great-performing pole for less than £900. It is easily on a par with anything else in that price bracket. In fact, it is possibly the best pole I've ever handled for less than £900!
I ended up having one of the nicest day's fishing I can remember, with a proper mixed net from 10oz roach to 2lb tench. More importantly, I was left extremely impressed with the TKS 501. Great looks, great package and a great pole to fish with. I'm not sure how the boys at MAP have done it but I'm so glad they have!
OUR PRICE: £899 And In Stock Ready To Order
Package: 16m pole plus two spare pre-bushed Match Kits, two spare pre-bushed Power Kits, Ultra Rigid Cupping Kit and cups, mini-extension, tubes, deluxe pole holdall