If you’re just starting carp fishing, or looking for a set of rods and reels that you won’t have to spend years paying off, then you’ve never had it so good.
Improvements in technology and manufacturing have seen the quality of sub-£100 rods rocket beyond all expectations.
Daiwa’s extensive Black Widow range can certainly be classed as excellent value for money.
Covering everything from rods and reels to accessories, each item is well constructed and sensibly priced.
For this test I focused on the Black Widow G50 rod, having picked out the 12ft, 3.25lb test curve rod from the range of six.
There are also 2.75lb, 3lb (both £74.99) and 3.5lb (£79.99) versions available, as well as a 4.5lb rod for spod and marker work which retails at £84.99.
For those fishing on smaller waters, or in tight swims where casting is hampered by overhanging branches, there’s also a shorter 10ft, 3lb model.
My 12ft rod – or set of three, to be precise – were matched with Daiwa’s Black Widow 25A reels.
This is a combo I’ve had a few sessions with, catching several carp to mid-doubles during evening trips of just a couple of hours.
For the purposes of this shoot, I’d arranged to meet our cameraman Lloyd at my local lake in Somersham, Cambs.
Set in a 12-hectare nature reserve, the lake is a few acres in area and home to a real mix of species, including a good head of carp to more than 20lb.
On arrival I could see several fish mooching around in open water and close to large set of lily pads – the perfect target.
I flicked out one rod with a 12mm white wafter hookbait and a small PVA bag of pellets attached to the hook.
I was still sorting out the second rod when my bite alarm emitted a couple of bleeps. Seconds later I looked down just as the bobbin pulled up tight and the spool on the 25A reel started spinning.
Although I was fishing in open water I had to quickly pile on the pressure as the hooked carp was kiting directly towards a dense raft of lily pads and the sanctuary its tangled mass of roots and stems would offer my hoped-for prize.
When you enter 3lb-plus test curve territory there’s often the risk of rods being a bit pokey, and you have to sacrifice fish-playing subtlety for casting capabilities.
I was pleased to discover that this wasn’t the case with the Black Widow G50.
The rod loads across its whole length, which results in a good cushion for hookholds and enables the rod to absorb any sudden lunges under the rod-tip when you’re about to net a fish.
Thankfully, with the rod’s help, I managed to convince the fish that charging into the lily pads wasn’t the best idea and it was soon safely in the bottom of the landing net.
Over the next couple of hours, we landed four more carp to mid-doubles, and at no point did I feel like any of the fish was going to escape.
Every lunge was cushioned by the rod, and the 25A reel’s abbreviated drag range enabled me to quickly adjust the tension on the clutch as required during the fight.
These Black Widow reels fall into the compact category of carp reels, or ‘baby big-pit reels’ as they’re often referred to.
Don’t be fooled by their size – they can still hold 240m of 0.32mm/12lb line and retrieve 92cm of line with each turn of the handle.
The truth is that on most waters in this country, except for the largest of venues where fishing at extreme distances is called for, big-pit reels with huge spools aren’t really necessary.
The 25As will do the job perfectly. And they look great! The all black graphite body is not only strong and keeps weight to a minimum, but sat under the rod’s full Duplon handle they provide a set-up that would please even the most flamboyant of tackle tarts.