I’ve only been fishing some of the UK’s biggest rivers, the Trent, Severn and Wye for about 10 years, and one of the challenges on these venues is to have the confidence to fish the fast flows with heavy feeders.
I grew up fishing the likes of the Hampshire Avon and Dorset Stour, so casting a 3oz-plus feeder was virtually unheard of. In recent years I have tried a number of barbel rods, but there was always the nagging feeling in the back of my mind that the rod was going to give way on the cast.
The technology behind today’s modern rods has all but dispelled those fears, and they are stronger and more forgiving than ever. The new Drennan Martin Bowler Big River Barbel rod is one such rod. It’s a 12ft, 2.25lb test-curve beast, which, after the first few casts with a big feeder on board, gave me the confidence to push the boundaries that little bit further. I was soon casting a loaded 4oz feeder to the middle of the River Trent, and on one trip even further!
The rod is a two-piece model with a full-cork handle, has a large butt ring for smooth, long-distance casting, and a whitened tip for visual bite indication. The tip is also fitted with a Drennan isotope, which is great for those who like to fish into darkness – normally one of the best times of the day to bag a big ’un.
It’s been a difficult year on the rivers, due to the lack of rainfall, and as I write there is a hosepipe ban pending as the ‘drought’ continues. I decided that the River Trent was my best option to put the rod through its paces, but on the first occasion, the river was low and clear, with bright conditions. To cut a long story short, I managed a 5lb bream, which demonstrated the rod’s forgiving nature but didn’t push it to the limits. The next trip did see me latch into a proper barbel, which for a while allowed me to put the rod under real pressure. However, I didn’t bank on it heading for the rocks. The battle lasted five minutes before we parted company – the line came back shredded!
On the third trip I fished into dark and was rewarded with a 7lb 15oz bream. Not the barbel I was looking for, but the fish put up a spirited fight, which allowed me to play and land a river specimen. Martin Bowler is the man behind the rod, and his love of floodwater fishing has ensured that it’s a tool that will handle the extreme pressures of fishing, playing and landing fish that those conditions bring. Bring on the new season!