1. Two years in the making...
Although big carp brand, ESP, has only just launched their first ever reel, the Onyx, they’ve been perfecting it for years. Two years to be precise. On the surface this slick-looking, matt black reel might not look radically different, but there’s plenty of new tech and fresh thinking inside its lightweight frame.
2. It’s all about the spool…
A good spool will aid you in every area of reel/line management. Better line lay means longer, more accurate casts. And great clutch results in less ‘snatching’ which equals less hook pulls. Line longevity and performance is also improved when backing isn’t required as it prevents ‘bedding in’, so it’s for good reason why ESP spent so much time, effort and money in getting it right. The two supplied, bespoke machined alloy spools require no backing – so three reels can be filled from a 1,000m bulk spool.
3. Clever drag system
The Onyx is the first reel to provide two different drag adjusters: FD (which stands for ‘Fine Drag’) and is for micro adjustment and RL (‘Rapid Lockdown’) which takes the spool from free running to locked down in around half a turn.
4. Great line lay
Combining these ultra shallow spools, machined long-life gearing and a fast retrieve ratio (approximately 1m per rotation of the reel handle) with a slow oscillation further improves line lay so they really do cast like a dream.
5. Classic looks
Sure, the Onyx has one of the most complete spool/clutch combos we’ve ever tested. But the other real allure is its looks. The quick fold handle isn’t just great for rapid deployment and pack down, but for those who like to use super snug bars. And ESP clearly knows the route to all carp anglers’ hearts: muted classic black cosmetics and wooden handle – incredible indeed.
6. Quality control
Every single reel which docks in ESP’s warehouse is meticulously checked by their own expert staff right here in the UK – something CARPology.net saw for its own eyes during our tour of their offices in Oxford earlier this month. “GIMME”: £139.00; esp-carpgear.com
If Terry Hearn has taught us anything (well, apart from he catches millions of forty-pound carp), it’s that Syncro Loaded XT is the main line to use if you’re not a fan of fluorocarbon ones. Developed to be the perfect all-round carp line, it combines limpness, memory and abrasion, along with superb casting and enough stretch to provide you with a safety buffer to prevent breakages. Available in 10, 12, 15 and 18lb. “GIMME”: 1,000m, £19.99