Other parts of the NCA carp fishing tackle buying guide:
Part 1: Line
Part 2: Bite alarms
Part 3: Bait
Part 4: Barrows
Choosing the right bite alarm can be a tricky affair – I know, I’ve been there. Not only is there lots of technology to try and understand but the models on offer can be quite overwhelming and with the price of a quality alarm set, you need to get it right or it could be a costly mistake.
In a hurry? To see our recommendations at a glance, here’s a handy comparison chart along with a link to where you can buy each one. For more detail about the alarms and why they’ve made it into this roundup, keep reading…
|Delkim TXi Plus||Fox NTX-R||Ace i3||Steve Neville mk3|
|BUY HERE||BUY HERE||BUY HERE||BUY HERE|
|Roller/Vibration Sensor||Vibration||Roller||Vibration & roller||Roller|
|Selectable LED Colour?||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Receiver Range||200 metres||500 metres||500 metres||500 metres|
|Battery Type Alarms||1 x 9v||2 x AA||1 x 9v||1 x LRV08|
|Battery Type Receiver||1 x 9v||3 X AA||1 x 9v||1 x 9v|
Bite alarms are an absolute must in carp fishing, not only do they let you know when a fish has taken the bait but they also alert you to activity in the area in the form of line bites. Also, there’s nothing more special than hearing the sound of your buzzers going into overdrive as a fish rips off with your rig!
The focus of this roundup will be on the premium end of the scale, models that have stood the test of time. I truly believe this is the only way to go with bite alarms – ever heard the expression ‘buy cheap buy twice’? Well, I bought cheap and bought 3 times. I started with a budget set, then replaced that with a mid-range set and ended up replacing that with a premium set. It was a false economy, I should have just bought what I always knew I’d end up with right at the beginning. I recommend that you do the same.
So, what is the difference between a budget and a premium set of alarms? Well, in the main it’s the quality of the components and resulting reliability. You’re also buying into the technology. When you buy a set of alarms, you’re also paying for all the R&D that went into bringing the product to market. The production cost per unit is likely to be quite low but the proprietary features generally aren’t which is why good quality sets can be expensive.
Hopefully by the end of this post you’ll have all the information you need to make your decision. I’ve put a lot of work into finding and comparing different parts of each set being reviewed. So, without further ado, let’s get into the first bite alarm and the one I ended up investing in, the Delkim TXi Plus.
Delkim TXi Plus Review
This alarm is probably the most well known and talked about bite alarm on the market. Founded in the 1970’s by Del Romang and Kim Donaldson, the company is still very much a family affair who’s sole focus is around bite alarms. Their product range includes alarms, indicators, cases and snag bars. Technology used in their alarms includes the Delkim Radio system and a unique, Piezo vibration sensing system. The benefits of this over a roller based system is that the line doesn’t have to actually move for the unit to indicate activity.
Features of the TXi
2 x sensitivity ranges (high and low)
Anti theft alarm – should somebody turn the unit of in an attempt to steal it, a loud siren sound should alert you to it
Variable tone range allowing you plenty of choice (I personally have it on around number 4!)
Wide volume range – from number 1 to number 6, believe me these things go loud should you wish to set them that way
6 LED colour options – purple, red, white, blue, green, yellow – ensure you match the colour to your bobbins for maximum carpiness and bank-side respect
LED night mode – these look super cool when it’s pitch black outside
2 year guarantee
Whilst I was researching this alarm prior to me actually investing in a set, I came across a couple of negatives. A few people mentioned that you can get false bleeps when it’s raining and the alarms can actually be TOO sensitive. I have experienced some false bleeps when it’s pouring it down but it doesn’t happen all the time and it’s never bothered me in the slightest. I’ve also managed to avoid the alarms being too sensitive, there’s a high and low sensitivity setting along with a 1- 6 dial to turn up or down the sensitivity within the high or low setting you’re in. A quick tweak to those settings and no false bleeps regardless of the weather. I want my alarms to be sensitive though, I like to know when things are happening in the swim.
The units feel well made, the battery life is superb, the multi-tone sounds beautiful and they look the business. Syncing up with the RX Plus Pro receiver is really easy too.
Fox NTX-R Alarms
The NTX-R alarms are Fox’s top spec bite alarms. I’ve been on tutorials with a couple of the Fox consultants (Mark Pitchers and Tom Maker) and both used and rated these alarms. The main piece of technology used in this unit is the D-Tec Sensing System (DTSS) which do away with the need for reed switches, these parts are normally the first to break in other alarms.
A particularly cool feature for the tackle tarts amongst us is Colour Sync meaning that the LED on each unit can be set to whatever colour you wish. Got a new set of shiny bobbins? No problem, simply change the colour on the NTX-R and boom, they match! This might sound like a trivial thing but with the Delkims, once bought into a colour scheme you’re stuck with it so choose wisely. FYI I went for green Delks and yes, I also have green bobbins – it’s a must!
Other features include:
Drop back differential
Volume control with silent mode
Intelligent Sensitivity Control
Power out socket
Range test facility
Auto night light
1mm weather resistant seal
Unlike the Delkim alarm, the Fox NTX-R uses a roller wheel containing 4 magnets to detect line movement. Some people are sceptical about roller wheels in general because they can freeze in super cold conditions but in reality, this is rare.
The receiver used with this alarm is the Fox NTX Receiver and you can buy either 3 or 4 rod sets which come with the receiver and a hard case.
Less popular than the Delks or NTX-R’s but still top end bite alarms and those who use them rarely move away from them which speaks volumes about the quality of the units. A lot of thought has gone into these alarms. As well as all the things you’d expect like volume, tone and sensitivity adjustment, there are some unique features such as a light to indicator to signal a low battery and a mute button on the side which will give you 30 seconds to get your bobbins set without annoying everybody else on the lake – brilliant!
Like the NTX-R’s, you can select what colour you want the LED to be which is nice.
One of the major stand out feature of this alarm is that it has a vibration sensor as well as a roller wheel giving you the best of both worlds. Simply switch to the one you want to use and away you go – the vibration is better for snag fishing or fishing in really cold conditions to avoid any missed takes if the roller wheel freezes up.
Early models had a nylon locking collar which was prone to breaking but Ace fixed this and now use a stainless steel locking nut and stud.
The RX One is the receiver Ace have produced to pair up with this alarm.
Steve Neville mk3 Bite Alarms
These alarms are a bit of a carp fishing icon and almost have a cult following. That’s not to say that it’s simply nostalgia that sells these units because it’s not – they’re well built, reliable and have some good features but you’ll find less bells and whistles than on the alarms reviewed above.
Working on a roller wheel system and bite indication is highly sensitive because of the 4 magnets used in the wheel. The range is particularly impressive with a 500m maximum range (although you should never be this far from your rods!) The alarms have a built in receiver so can be used with the Steve Neville receiver and you also get an adjustable volume control, silent mode and a system to avoid false bleeps.
Which Bite Alarm?
So, having heard about some of the high-end alarms on the market, which one is for you? Well, I’d say that all the units featured in this roundup are in a similar price bracket and reliability should be a given. The Ace i3 has the most features but can be hard to get hold of. The Neville’s have less shiny features but look great. It depends what’s most important to you. As I mentioned earlier, I ended up buying the Delkim TXi plus’. Why? Because Delkim have a great reputation, they are a bite alarm specialist, look great, have plenty of features and have you ever heard a screaming, dual tone run of a Delk? It’s better than the most beautiful music you have ever heard. Have a listen…
See what I mean? Beautiful!
To help you make up your mind, I’ve put together the following comparison table.
Until next time, tight lines…[subscribe2]