Length: 3m (9ft 10ins)
Max recommended casting weight: 50g
Spare quivertips: 0.5oz, 0.75oz, 1oz, 1.5oz.
Those who regularly read my tackle review pages will be aware that I have been raving about Browning's top-of-the-range Sphere Feeder rods since first clapping eyes on them a year ago.
I adored them at first sight, and was bowled over by their lively, springy and steely feel and seamless non-locking parabolic curves. Live-testing them has proved to be nothing short of stupendous. They have casting power to burn, with recoil-less rigidity matched with a high weight loading area that will propel a feeder or lead a very long distance, even in the hands of a 'standard' distance casting angler like myself.
But - and here's the best bit - somehow the technical boffins at Browning have been able to produce blanks which blend all of that sizzle-factor with an almost imperceptible finesse which only comes into play when you hook a fish. Clever eh?
Faults are hard to find, other than the weight of their price tags, but they are right up there among the best.
Plaudits aside, there was one model left in the Sphere range that I had been waiting patiently to live-test, until the leaves started falling from the trees.
In the comfort of Browning's showroom, this rod felt ideal as a cold-water commercial-fishery tool, ideal for targeting F1s using light lines and small hooks, as well as being able to cope with the odd bigger fish. So as I tackled up on Decoy's unit-packed Beastie Lake, I was hoping for a live test encounter which would live up to my ambitious expectations.
I wasn't disappointed. The first thing you notice is that the blank has a long butt section at 5ft 2ins and a short a (3ft 4ins) carrier section, although when one of its four 23ins glass quivertips are fitted the two sections become equal length, making it easy to carry around as a ready-made.
Browning rates the rod as optimised at around 30m casting distance, which for me was under-gunning its true potential somewhat. My chosen peg was opposite an island end with a paddle type aerator as an added feature. My guess would have been it was around at least a 50m chuck, well above the rod¹s rating, and made even more difficult by the somewhat less than streamlined shape of the 20g pellet feeder I had tied on.
Not a problem! I even had to feather the line a little to avoid an overcast, and once clipped the rod hit the distance every time without fail. All very impressive, but not as impressive as what went on over the course of the next few hours. It¹s called Beastie Lake for a very good reason. Barbel, carp and F1s all grow fat healthy in this fabulous lake, and the Sphere handled them all with consummate ease, even when I had a dabble down the margin.
The resident barbel know every root-end and snag, but the rod pulled them away quickly and cleanly without a creak of complaint. I purposely over-loaded the stress-factor by pulling directly from above in an attempt to make the blank rotate, which in turn makes the guides twist out of alignment but they stayed die-straight throughout the ordeal.
I went through the card with this rod - maggot feeders with small hooks and 0.10mm hooklengths, pellet feeders with heavier lines and hair-rigs, straight lead and pellets - it was faultless. It would happily cope with main lines or braids from 4lb to 8lb and will cast up to 30g weights easily enough. Plus, you can use it with light lines and small hooks as its soft action is very forgiving, so hook pulls are kept to a minimum.
The four push-in glass quivertips are rated 0.5oz, 0.75oz, 1oz and 1.5oz which helps to provide it with sensitivity and durability.
Although it carries a bomb rod tag, the Browning Sphere model shouldn¹t be thought of as an old-school whispish wand designed for winkling out silvers from flooded rivers or canals. It¹s a very modern model with the casting backbone and parabolic fish playing action required for nearly all standard commercial fishery feeder and lead work.
The pencil slim blank has a superb transmission and steely feel, perfectly matched with the forgiving softness that is a hallmark of the Sphere range. If you¹re into the commercial fishery scene then you owe it to yourself to have a closer look.