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Browning Xitan Z12 Evolution Pole

Everyone loves it when an underdog comes good! Browning has produced good poles for years but never seemed to reach the cult ‘must-have’ status of manufacturers like Daiwa, Maver, Garbolino and Preston. However, Alex Bones says the Z12 could change all that…

Now and then certain products really excite me. Many we get for review I could take or leave – in fact they never make the printed pages – but this, however, is something very special indeed!

Wind the clock back a couple of years and Browning admitted it was struggling to break into the pole market. Then came the Z12’s predecessor – the Z9. This wedged the door open and muscled Browning a small space in the incredibly finicky pole market. The window created by the ‘9’ laid foundations to enable the Z12 to be a serious contender in the flagship pole arena.

This pole won’t just keep Browning’s door of opportunity wedged open, though, it has the potential to “blow the bloody doors off!” to paraphrase Michael Caine’s famous line from the 1969 Italian Job! Michael Caine I am not, but reviewing poles I can do – after all, there are few the MF team haven’t fished with. Here’s what I think…

One question I’m always asked is what makes a good angler so good? How are the boys at the top of the game fending off the chasing pack week after week? It’s because being successful means paying attention to all the little things that, collectively, make a big difference, and it’s the same with this pole! It’s like an angler at the top of the game with all the little details considered and, more importantly, perfectly delivered.
The pole itself is fantastic, as are many that carry an RRP upwards of £2,500, but it’s the extensity of the package that wins me over and the fact you get a full 16m quota (16.08 metres fully assembled, in fact). But there’s more, much more!

All of the top kits are 2.6 metres in length and come ready bushed (you can choose standard kits with 3mm, 3.9mm, 4.5mm or 5.5mm tip diameters and puller kits featuring 4.5mm or 5.5mm tip diameters). The Z12 is available in 16m and 17.8m packages, you can completely customise your spares package to suit your style of fishing, choose from standard top kits or puller kits, there are carefully thought-out reinforcement points to prevent crushing when unshipping and striking under forearm pressure, the male and female parts of each section are overwrapped to increase strength and reduce wear… the list goes on!

Delving into the slick black and red holdall the pole comes supplied with I come across three separate Pole Protector sections. These are double-ended reinforced striker-type sections that fit from the No5 onwards, pre-fitted with skid bungs. They’re each one metre in length and allow you to fish up to 18.6 metres if you purchase the pole at the 17.8m length. I know it looks as though my mathematics is off here, but you lose 20 centimetres of the male part inside the female joint.

Fully assembled the pole really does look the part – slick and oozing quality, which is right up my street. I don’t know about you, but I’m easily put off by garish graphics . The section-alignment arrows mean you can achieve optimum rigidity and performance. And, interestingly, there are also Precision Point graphics to offer reference points when you’re fishing multiple lines instead of marking a section with Tipp-Ex or tape. They say there’s nothing new in pole manufacturing, and while improvements in carbon may be the only real way to make giant leaps forward, Browning certainly has done all in its power to make this model stand out.

The section length has been carefully considered to, again, provide optimum rigidity at all lengths and the finish is probably the best I have felt on a pole – it glides through the hands and is very easy to ship in and out at speed. Each pole also features a unique serial number, too!

I took this pole out for a spin at a venue I’ve fished for years – Packington Somers Fishery, on the outskirts of Solihull. I fished a couple of swims at 14.5 metres on the test session and managed a nice net of crucian carp and skimmers. Feeling I needed to use the pole more to be able to make my comments valid I used it for the following Saturday open match too. It was nothing short of a pleasure to use, and I can say there isn’t a single thing I don’t like about this pole.

Spending this sort of money is a calculated, carefully thought-out decision for many, so it’s to be taken seriously. When you consider there are other well-established flagship poles you could buy instead, I don’t say this lightly – you need to have a proper look at the Xitan Z12 Evolution before you make your mind up! Put it this way – I don’t know what else you could ask for in a pole.

Standard Z12 Pole Package (16m)
SRP: £2,499
Package: 13m pole including Pole Protector II and Hardcase, 14.5m extension, 16m extension, Pole Protector I and III, Evolution Power C section, Xitan Short D section (replaces C on Evo poles), cupping kit, plus eight top kits (of your choice)

Professional Z12 Pole Package (17.5m)
SRP: £2,999
Package: 13m pole including Pole Protector II and Hardcase, 14.5m extension, 16m extension, 17.5m extension, Pole Protector I and III, 2 x Evolution Power C sections, 2 x Xitan Short D sections (replaces C on Evo poles), cupping kit, plus 10 top kits (of your choice)

Sections Plus Top-Kit Options
Evolution Power C sections £52.50
Xitan Short D £55.95
3.0mm tip Ultramatch SLK standard top kit £85.50
3.9mm tip match SLK standard top kit £85.50
4.5mm tip Carp SLK standard top kit £85.50
5.5mmm tip Carp SLK standard top kit £85.50
4.5mm tip Carp SLK Puller top kit £95.50
5.5mm tip Carp XL SLK Puller top kit £95.50
Z12 Evolution Pro Extension £394.95


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