Browning’s Xitan Z12 was a watershed moment for the company, in my opinion. Of course Browning has an illustrious history when it comes to making incredible poles, but the Z12 was a game-changer for the modern era.
The pole made the whole trade stand up and take notice. Single-length top kits that came pre-bushed and single length despite the diameter of bush. True length and a proper 16m pole straight out of the bag (it was even supplied in a 17.8m package!), and it was a proper all-round pole too. The Z12 could do anything and was the pole that shook up the industry and made other brands up their game.
The Xitan Z14 was the next pole in the family and while it did improve on the Z12, it didn’t quite grab me in the same way the Z12 did. That’s not to say it wasn’t a great pole, but I kind of expected more from it given the leap forward the Z12 had made. Maybe it was too much to ask?
So when we got a sneak peek of a brand new Xitan Z16L pole over in Germany, it certainly got us excited.
But hey, Browning produces the stunning Sphere Zero-G, where does a Xitan Z16L fit in, I hear you ask? And to be honest that was my initial question for the Browning design team. The answer? “The Sphere Zero-G is the best pole we can produce at the moment and is our true flagship pole. However, we have an extremely popular Xitan range of poles that are incredibly important to us. And that range needs a pole that will raise the bar and we believe the Z16L is that pole.”
Xitan poles are known for their strength, durability and usability and are perfect for anglers in the UK… anglers who want to be tapping pellets from a pole pot at 16 metres next to an island on a Saturday and then fishing a large 3g pole float on a river on a Sunday. UK anglers are the most demanding and that is where the Xitan poles come to the fore. They will do what you need them to do without flinching.
Let’s look at the foundations of the Z16L. Firstly it continues the family tradition of long section design. The butt sections are a whopping two metres in length and is one of the key reasons why these poles are so stiff and responsive.
The Xitan poles are renowned for their durability and the Z16 has continued this and is incredibly tough and durable. Browning calls this the “perfect all-round competition pole, but the ultimate pole for competition carp fishing!” It’s quite a claim but it gives you an idea of where Browning sees this pole being used. In short, if you are a commercial angler, then this is up there with the very best poles around in terms of performance.
Of course valuable lessons have been learnt from the development of the Sphere and previous Xitan poles. A key development is the SLK Multi-Kits. These are a two-piece top kit that are an F1-style kit with a short section to push the top kit to the same length as a full-length top kit. This means that fans of short kits can now use them without the lost length that comes with using a short kit. It sounds great doesn’t it?
The kits on the sphere are Multi-Kits and are the best top kits on the market in my opinion, so I was expecting these to follow. While this short section is a great idea, the ones that are supplied with the Z16L are parallel and it’s fair to say they look a little odd. Seeing a short parallel section in the pole just looks a bit weird, and while it’s a nice section to have if you need every last millimetre of your pole to reach an island, if you didn’t, I would leave them in the holdall.
The Duo Bush system is a nice touch. The kits are supplied pre-bushed as you would expect from Browning, and are supplied with a large 4.5mm bush for heavy elastics while they also come with a narrower 3.9mm bush that neatly fits inside the larger bush, perfect for lighter elastics.
But how does it perform? The Z16L is a great pole. It’s everything you would want from a pole to do your fishing. It is far better than the Xitan Z14 for me, and has strength and durability. It is stiff too and even at the full 16 metres it has everything in its favour.
The more I think about it, Browning now has two of the best poles you could wish for in its stable. The Sphere is arguably the best pole around and the Z16 is not far behind. If you want the finest pole money can buy and money is no object then go for the Sphere. But if you want a pole that will handle EVERY situation, then you have to consider the Xitan Z16L.
Oh, one final point, take no notice of the No14 elastic rating as that is doing this pole a huge disservice in the strength department!
Verdict – The latest flagship pole in the Xitan range, the Z16L is at the pinnacle of poles that can do everything with ease.
Browning Xitan Z16L 16m Pole
2 Square Pole Protectors (extends pole to 16.7m)
4 SLK Duo-bush Pulla Topkits
3 new SLK Duo-bush Multi-Kits (plus additional inside pole)
2 Power C Sections (Standard No4)
1 Short C Section
1 new Multi Cupping Kit
8-tube Xitan Multipocket Holdall