The pursuit of tench is the ultimate angling idyll. Imagine an early morning walk to the lake through dew-heavy meadows painted with golden shafts of sunlight.
Your every step is softly placed, lest the grass underfoot snaps with thunderous disapproval.
The dawn chorus quietens for a moment, then strikes up again – if the birds don’t know you’re here, no-one does.
The lake’s lily beds, bedecked with white and red flowers, are in stark contrast to the peat-stained water. Their stems twitch and bob, revealing tell-tale signs of fish movement below...
Romantic as such images may be, the fact is that modern-day tench fishing (especially for specimen-sized fish) is more than likely to be on a large open-water gravel pit. Such a place was where lifelong tench angler Peter Drennan developed so many of the tackle items and accessories that we all take for granted today.
Yes, the enigma of tench fishing has been the mother of tackle invention and innovation for many years.
All this brings me nicely to these two new MkII Specialist Tench and Bream rods from the thoroughbred Drennan stable. The original models were built for the discerning big-fish angler way back in 2009. These new 12ft, two-piece versions come with 1.75lb and 2lb test curves, and are easy to carry ready made-up.
They boast high modulus carbon build, quality SiC guides, original Fuji DPS reel seats (which can be used with all but the very largest reels) and a stylish anti-flash matt green paint finish.
But other than sharing furnishings and fittings, these two rods are as different as Chavs from chaffinches, as I soon found when live testing them on a free-to-fish public gravel pit in the middle of a Peterborough housing estate.
On a wild, windy and cold May afternoon, the Method feeder was my only option. I had originally harboured notions of using the lighter of the two rods with a big sliding float, just as I fished Gloucestershire’s tench-prolific South Cerney pits back in the day.
However, the hoolie blowing straight down the lake put paid to that trip down memory lane.
So, with the rods set on alarms, it was time to start. My set-ups involved 2oz and 3oz E-S-P flatbed feeders, both with fake corn hookbaits. The lighter 1¾lb model coped well enough with 2oz of casting weight, but that’s pretty much the limit of its chucking abilities, in my opinion.
It’s quite soft-actioned for its test curve, and the guide spacings lend themselves better to lighter feeder and float set-ups than to hurling feeders to the horizon.
It does, though, have a delightful lightness, tactile quality and response, making it ideal for specimen tench or bream, and perfect for the old-school tench angler looking for a super reliable all-round rod.
The 2lb Specialist Distance Tench and Bream model is an altogether more savage beast. Designed for long-range casting, it copes easily with 3oz of lead, and has enough stiffness in its butt section and a high enough weight loading point to blast out a feeder a very long way.
Furnished with larger and fewer SiC guides, this is a very modern tench rod for tackling the largest gravel pits. Both models have similar progressive fish-playing actions although, as you might expect, the Distance rod doesn’t have the same softness or tactile feel. However, having said that the rod is certainly going to provide an altogether much better fish-catching experience for the avid specimen tench and bream angler than they would get from using a distance-casting carp rod.
Angling Times says:
Drennan has clearly thought long and hard about both these rods. The fact that they are basically dressed the same as the originals says much about the popularity of the concept. However, these are specialist rods aimed at the modern specimen angler.
Take your pick between an old school progressive action, with lots of feel and an all-round remit, or a superbly well-built distance casting rod capable of hitting long ranges using heavy leads, and therefore ideal for large expanses of open or weedy water – especially when targeting really big tench.