Regular readers of my tackle reviews will know that I am a big fan of Browning products.
Introducfing short rods for use on commercial fisheries was one of the German tackle company’s many firsts – I could also mention pre-cut and tactically designed pole top kits, longer pole butt sections for better linear balance, and true stated lengths. Not to mention Browning’s flagship Sphere rods, way ahead of their time – the Distance Feeder models are quite exceptional.
But what of the more affordable gear? The latest CK (Carp King) rod range spans 13 models covering everything from a 10ft F1 Micro Waggler through to a Method Feeder rod, and prices start from a very reasonable £54.99.
All models in this new CK range share Browning’s most advanced technical carbon advances, but each fulfils a specific need. For instance, the Method Feeder rod is furnished with low-profile, ultra-low-friction SiC guides for enhanced casting performance, while the F1 rods are 20 per cent softer-actioned than the standard rods, and ideal for use with lighter lines and hooklengths.
One thing they all have in common, though, is that they look fantastic – super-slim blanks are decked out in a classy gloss black livery, and every time I have taken them to the bank other anglers have commented on their stunning appearance.
I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at Browning’s CK range late last year at a trade show held at the firm’s Bremen HQ in Germany. Light and lively in the hand, with seamless parabolic curves, they made a great initial impression on me.
I asked if I could be sent samples as soon as they became available and, sure enough, they turned up at the Angling Times offices a week or so ago.
Now, live-testing commercial fishery rods in January can be a bit hit-and-miss. The fish ball up in certain pegs, and even when you do find them it isn’t easy.
Undaunted, though, I wended my way to Decoy Lakes with the entire CK range in the back of the motor. I figured that even if the fishing was a bit iffy I could still get an idea of how Browning has developed each model with its own distinctive footprint.
So, with the choice of any model in the range, I assembled the CK Method Feeder, CK Carp Feeder, CK Bomb and CK Wand. I’d be using small cage and Method feeders and a straight bomb.
Think of it as a ‘Goldilocks and porridge’ thing – but rather than ‘too hot, too cold’ it would be more of a ‘too stiff, too soft’ test that ended up ‘just right’.
Surprisingly, the best rod in my opinion for Decoy’s Elm Strip Lake was the CK Bomb rod.
This 10-footer has enough backbone to cast a 30g feeder without it bouncing around prior to the cast, and this is coupled with a sublime softish parabolic, almost through, action when a fish is on.
However, there’s a fair helping of steel to call into play for the odd really big fish, which is just as well, given the eclectic population of Decoy’s strip lakes.
It can also be used to punch a feeder out to 40 yards, should you feel the need. I had the rod threaded up with a 5lb mainline (you could push this to 8lb if you really needed to, or drop it to 3lb for close-quarters work). You would be safe using hooklengths as light as 0.12mm and as heavy as you wanted.
If I were to buy one for myself for my winter commercial matches I would also invest in a Browning carbon quivertip, as the rod takes on a much sharper aspect with one of these at the business end.
Verdict: Although billed as a bomb rod, this Browning CK beauty is no old-school wand, capable only of winkling out silver fish from flooded rivers or canals.
Instead it’s a modern commercial fishery tool with a fair casting backbone and non-locking playing action that can be used for nearly all standard commercial feeder and lead work.
The ultra-slim blank delivers plenty of transmission, and for a bomb rod it has a slightly steely feel tempered by a reassuringly forgiving quality.