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Saturday, 18 July 2015

Fox Stalker Pod Plus Review

Before I start this review I'd like to point out that I am in no way associated with Fox International, there seems to be a lack of reviews about certain tackle items and I hope this will help you out if you are considering a new rod pod. I had been on the look out for a new pod for quite sometime before I stumbled upon the 'Fox Stalker Plus'. Some of the lakes that I fish just don't have suitable banks or swims for my carbon sticks, my Matrix patriot pod is a majestic bit of kit but can be a pain in certain situations. There are days when I just want something that is simply setup, and away you go.



My love for 'the rod pod' goes way back to the early 90's, I have fond memories of my 'Fox Compact', it was the first pod I owned. Then came the 'Fox Euro', they lasted me for years, and for their time, both were pretty much cutting edge bits of kit. The downfall to both their designs was the locking mechanism, everything was solid when straight takes occurred but if you were fishing tight to either the right or the left, then the front support would collapse in whichever direction the fish bolted. Both have now been retired to the loft after providing me with years of trusted service, collapsing or not. 

The Stalker Pod In Action
There came a point in time when it appeared that the humble pod fell out of fashion, along came carbon and stainless steel sticks, crossbars, stage stands etc. Rod support took on a new image, it all became very 'BLING'. For me, it's about getting the right tackle for the job, be it in or out of vogue, every tackle item I own serves its purpose, I was never one to purchase something because "it was the latest or trendiest buzz item".

So this brings me on to the 'Fox Stalker Plus Pod', so far I'm really impressed with what Fox have pulled out the bag with this one. It retails for around £84.99 but I'm sure that if you shop about you'll be able to pick it up cheaper, either way, you get a hell of a lot for the money. It comes in a handy little carry bag that has tidy velcro and elastic straps, these house all the vital parts. Once the carry case is opened you are presented with a very organised storage system, it reminds me of the footage I've seen when a sniper rifle is being constructed, but instead of targeting people we are targeting the carp.

Handy Carry Case

The Main Shaft

The Other Components

The first thing that struck me was how robust everything looked, especially taking in to account how light it all felt. Assembly is very straight forward and it all fits together in super quick time. It has a nice jet black finish - gone are the days of Fox using a layer of paint on their pods that seemed to start to flake off straight away. One of the main selling points for me is the fact that it contains a set of both two and three buzz bar setups. After extensive research, there aren't a great deal of pods on the market that give you these two options.

All Four Legs Are On Heavy Duty Threads

Once the legs are up they screw down nice and tight, you have an option to change the height and the angle of each leg separately. The first setting is very low profile and streamline, the second setting is far more traditional allowing the legs to spread out to a wider angle, this helps with the overall stability and I believe this leg positioning would really come in to play when you are using three rods. Again, the locking system design floors of the Fox pods from years gone by have well and truly been rectified. 

Main Shaft

Leg Setting One

Leg Setting Two

The buzz bars themselves slot into two 'heavy duty' locking joints that are positioned on the front and the back of the main shaft, this mimics a 'goal post' setup. Because of this design, there's no chance of the pod tipping, when everything is locked down in place it's rock solid. Because of the plastic locking mechanism, it takes away the worry of over tightening small diameter threads. Some might argue that the plastic parts of the pod are a weak point and slightly cheap looking, but, I'd rather have this than lots of fiddly screws that could possibly get 'cross threaded' or lost. The plastic itself is very hard wearing and I don't see it posing any real problems over the long term.

Heavy Duty Plastic Locking Mechanism

Once the buzz bars are screwed on to their legs you simply slot them into the locks and you're done. Once again the buzzers can be set at different heights depending on your angling situation. Which ever way you choose to set them up, the overall adjustments you can make on the pod as a whole gives you a huge amount of versatility. This was another one of the main selling points for me, I wanted something that could adapt, be it a super steep bank, rock etc, I wanted rod support that I knew was 'good to go' where ever I took it.

Goal-Post Style Buzz Bar Legs

Lock The Legs In

Low-Profile Complete Setup 2x Rods

All four legs have sharp pointed tips, for extra stability, you can push them tightly in to the ground by simply extending the legs to your desired lenght. Once I'd done this I gave the pod a good shake and there was no real movement, it all felt pretty spot on too me. I'd like to add that back rests don't come supplied so it's your choice what you want to use. I've gone for a slightly 'retro' look using some old Fox back rests that I've had for years, the alarms in the picture are my old Micron SX's, the swingers are from the new black label series. 

Looking at it whilst waiting for a bite makes me feel rather nostalgic, thinking back to my early days of carp fishing. Don't get me wrong, I love my carbon and stainless setups a lot but I really like the ease that the 'stalker' provides and, as mentioned before, on swims that are awkward for standard sticks, it really does the job brilliantly.

Maximum Height 3x Rods

The above image gives you an idea of how high up the pod can go, this is with the legs fully extended. It passed the 'wobble test' with flying colours, the middle shaft is also extended to its maximum limit. There are many angles and variations that you can mess about with. The image below shows another example which would be perfect if you want your rods tips low in windy conditions, the main shaft is as short as it can go.

Tips Down

Tips To The Skies

There really isn't a great deal more that I can say, it's a great bit of kit and a fair price, taking into account everything that you get. The only minor negative point I have is the fact that it will scratch, it's just the nature of the finish and being black, marks will show, but we are talking about rod support here, not a Ferrari. There aren't any other negative points, it's simple, light, versatile and destine to be a fine work horse. If you're a self-confessed 'tackle tart', this might not be the choice for you. But if you're the kind of angler that wants good, practical gear without the "BLING" price tag, then the 'Fox Stalker Pod' might just be the bit of kit you're looking for.

Rating : 10/10