The latest feeder rods bearing Browning’s Black Viper name are aimed more towards those who fish big open-water Continental venues than at your average UK commercial angler.
But did you really think I’d bother testing a rod of no use to anyone here in Blighty? Negative!
Within the range are three Black Vipers that I’m sure will appeal to the ever-increasing band of anglers who target bream, skimmers and even the odd carp on wide expanses of water such as Peterborough’s Ferry Meadows or Barston Lake in the West Midlands.
The trio in question are the 12ft 80g, 13ft 100g and 13ft 140g versions. In three sections, they are made from quality high modulus carbon fibre, and their good old-fashioned, slightly stepped-up action makes them deceptively powerful and accurate casting tools. This is especially true of the 13ft 140g rod being live tested (the 140g spec refers to the maximum weight it will comfortably cast).
All three rods perform equally well on still and slow-moving waters, and despite their fast action the carrier section is soft enough to enable the use of small hooks and lightish hooklengths without fear of fish losses.
This is a key factor when choosing a decent bream rod. You don’t need it to send cold shivers down your spine every time a proper bin-lid nods its head en route to the landing net, and in this respect the Black Viper is decidedly non-venomous!
In my book, Browning has been ahead of the game for the last couple of seasons in the design and construction of distance casting rods for bream. And regular readers of my tackle reviews will know of my fondness for the German firm’s outstanding (if rather expensive) top-of-the-range Sphere models. These are arguably the very best distance bream rods on the market.
Not that any of the Black Viper Mk 2 rods are the poor man’s Sphere – anything but, and with prices from £199.95 to £239.95 they will cause a sharp intake of breath as you hand over your hard-earned.
On, then, to the live test, and although the big-bream venue Ferry Meadows is basically at the back door of the Angling Times office it’s a tad out of form at present. Instead, a trip to Rysons Lake in Northamptonshire was hastily arranged.
This lake has two floating islands at around 65 yards and the fish drift between these. More often than not it’s a case of laying down a decent carpet of bait and waiting for the bream, which run to around 8lb, to turn up.
This tactic provided me with ample opportunity to test the rod’s casting accuracy and weight loading capacity. My large feeder packed full of groundbait, pellets, worms and dead reds weighs the best part of 4oz (113g), more than a decent test for a rod rated to a 140g maximum.
I got the feeling that the Black Viper was right on the line at 4oz, but that said, it went the distance. And once the feeding cycle was complete, it fairly sizzled out a loaded 35g feeder against the reel’s line clip.
Bites are detected via one of three supplied carbon push-in quivertips. The gaudily painted blaze and white tip ends may not be to everyone’s taste, but they show up well enough.
The real beauty of this Black Viper, though, lies in its ability to cast a long way and deliver a big soft-mouthed bream or skimmer safely back to you.
To that end it’s one sassy snake.
Our Verdict: Another absolute belter of a bream rod from Browning. Ideal for all stillwaters, I rather fancy that its casting prowess and cleverly cushioned softness will also endear it to those who line the banks of Norfolk’s River Yare every summer.
Sturdy low-profile Fuji K-guides, a full cork handle, and enlarged quivertip eyes (to allow for the smooth passage of shockleaders) combine to make the Black Viper Mk 2 another class act from the Browning stable.
Check out the video below for a closer look!