French giant Sensas has added several superb feeder rods to its comprehensive range.
The Black Arrow comes in three categories – 300, 500 and 800 – and within each there are different length rods to cover everything from light leger work through to blasting a feeder 80-plus yards.
The 800 series are top-end rods, starting at £179.99 for the slender 11ft model and rising to £249.99 for the 14ft Super Heavy model. Four others are midway between.
I first got to have a play with the rods at the Sensas HQ just before Christmas, when UK boss Mark Downes was positively bursting with enthusiasm about his new arrivals. Forget what had gone before, he told me, these were the best rods Sensas had produced and, more importantly, they are designed specifically for the UK market. They looked good and felt lovely in the hand, but as ever, there’s only one way to give them a proper going over – hook something that pulls back!
With the pick of the 800 series to go at I went for the 11ft model. This is your typical tip rod that’ll do everything from river bream fishing to a spot of mixed fishing on lakes, and arrives with three tips of various grades.
I headed to Kingfisher Lake on the Townsend complex in the heart of the Fens, home to lots of big skimmers plus F1s, crucians, tench and, of course, plenty of carp. There’s a sunken island to cast to at around 40 yards, a good enough chuck to test the rod’s action and accuracy when teamed with a little flatbed Method feeder.
First cast was on the money, and made so easy by the cracking through action of the Nanoflex blank. It’s smooth, and lacks the overly-aggressive power of some rods that can see a cast fall short due to the lack of forgiveness down the rod. Bite number one to three dead red maggots was not long in coming, and a 1lb skimmer was duly wound in – they don’t fight much on a size 16 hook and 4lb hooklink.
To get a good idea of how the rod acts when a fish is on I really leant into the next one, a bigger skimmer of around 2lb.
The rod is superby soft down to the mid-section, and you can really put a bend in it without any danger of a hook-pull. Already I was thinking that this was the sort of bream rod I could have done with 20 years ago when fishing the Fen drains and River Welland.
Skimmers are all well and good but they don’t exactly fight. A change was needed to get a bigger fish, so on went a banded 6mm pellet and after a few minutes, a 3lb F1 obliged.
This was more like it! On the strike the rod locked up quickly to set the hook but then relaxed as the battle began. Once again, leaning into the fish sent the Black Arrow into a perfectly-crafted bend but still had plenty more to give when the fish took off.
Once under the rod-tip, which is where a lot of fish are lost as they bounce around, the rod cushioned every lunge handsomely, and the F1 was netted. A dozen more followed, plus a few more skimmers, and none posed a problem. Nor did I suffer a hook pull or a crack-off on the strike. That was remarkable, as I can be cack-handed at times.
The true test would be when a proper carp turned up and, sure enough, one did. I can’t fib and say the fight wasn’t without a few nervy moments but nothing to send the old ticker into overdrive.
I would say that the Black Arrow is not a rod for dealing with carp alone, as it is too soft, but then that’s not what it was built to do. After all, you wouldn’t fish the pole with a match kit for big fish, would you?
Our Verdict: From the moment I hooked that first fish I liked the rod. It’s soft, forgiving, casts like a dream and you can get anything out that you hook. I wouldn’t fish for carp with it, though, but on a mixed fishery or a trip out for bream and roach on a slow-flowing river it’s a belter. With other options in the range, Sensas Black Arrow rods are all you’ll need if you take your feeder fishing seriously.