A couple of months ago I endured a very frustrating tench and bream fishing session on a large Berkshire gravel pit. The weather was perfect, I had plenty of bait, and the fish were clearly feeding well judging by the countless rolls and splashes taking place in front of me.
As hard as I tried, however, I simply couldn’t reach the killing zone, which was a gravel bar at 70yds. The problem was that my trusty old tench rods, which had served me well for many seasons, just didn’t have the backbone to cast fully loaded groundbait feeders the required distance.
As a result, I sat there fruitlessly fishing a short-range mark as my fishing partner plundered the feeding shoal, netting plump tench and bream for fun. I clearly remember looking at his rods, which were the new Shimano Purist Brench model, with very green eyes, before glancing back at my tired sticks in disgust.
It’ll come as no surprise, therefore, to read that when a pair of the rods arrived in the office for review, I wasted no time in heading straight for a local 10-acre pit which I knew held a big head of bream to double figures, as well as decent numbers of tench.
Designed with input from the UK’s leading specialist anglers, including the youngest-ever Drennan Cup winner Darran Goulder, the Brench are part of a 10-strong range of what Shimano terms ‘species and situation specific’ rods.
They are aimed at specimen anglers targeting the large, deep and weedy lakes and gravel pits where (as I had painfully discovered earlier in the summer!) the use of softer, less powerful so-called specimen rods can leave your options severely limited.
Built on a 12ft 6ins classy-looking olive blank with a non-glare satin finish, the Brench rods have a test curve of 1.75lb with a fast tip action ¬ vital statistics which should provide plenty of power for launching big feeders medium to long ranges. They certainly looked the part, so the only thing that remained was to rig them up with a Method feeder and 10lb line and find out if their performance matched their appearance.
The target zone was a small smooth gravelly area in between two large weed beds at around 60yds ¬ a daunting enough task ¬ but as soon as I dropped the Method ball over my shoulder and into the casting position, I was filled with confidence. No groaning and creaking blank, as I had experienced earlier in the yearŠ.far from it.
With a firm overhead punch, the loaded feeder, which must have weighed 3oz, sailed towards the desired mark. A repeat performance with the other rod was achieved with the minimum of fuss, and I was soon sat back behind the rods, admiring my new-found casting ability. Of course, the plaudits belonged firmly to the Brench rods, which had performed the task they were designed for with the minimum of fuss.
Over the next hour I had three takes from the spot, each resulting in a bream of about 6lb. With each one, the Brench rod’s extra length and fast tip action readily picked up the line between me and the hooked fish, while also having enough give to cushion the bream’s lunges at close quarters.
Three casts, three bites, three fish - and not a swear word in sight! The Brench had done the job.
Product: Shimano Purist Brench rod
Length: 12ft 6ins
Test curve: 1.75lb
Features: Dura-Cork slanted detail handle, screw-lock reel seat, carbon line clip, single leg Hardlite guides, rod sleeve and rod bands
Even though the test was brief, I was mightily impressed with the rod’s performance. For situations where casting distance and accuracy are paramount on large windswept pits, they are a perfect tool, and the build quality and attention to detail ¬ with screw-lock reel seat, carbon line clip, cork handle, quality single leg guides and the fact that it breaks down into two equal length sections for ease of transportation ¬ merely add further touches of finesse to an already impressive package.