Okuma Custom Black Match 13ft Medium rod review

Okuma’s latest waggler rod feels great in the hand and easy on the wallet


by Angling Times |

ALWAYS look forward to doing a live test – nothing beats getting your hands on a brand-new piece of gear and putting it through its paces.

So, when Okuma’s Custom Black Match rod arrived alongside a few other goodies, I’d volunteered for the job even before the delivery driver had managed to chuck the box out of the van.

Luckily, the precious rod was unfazed by the experience!

Now, you can test poles almost anywhere, while the choice of waters for feeder rods is bordering on endless. Waggler test venues need a little more thought, though. To really test this 13ft traditional style of rod we required a large, relatively shallow venue with a broad range of species to fish a tactic that we get to see far too little of these days.

With the box of treasures on board, Tony Grigorjevs from Improve Your Coarse Fishing and I set off for a testing day on Warren Lake at Meadowlands, a pool full of silvers and carp and, most importantly, with a consistent depth of 3ft to 5ft.

Out of the bag I was greeted by a well-furnished carbon blank with a comfortable cork handle and EVA grips. While rigging up I noticed the classy titanium oxide-lined steel guides and a polished butt cap.

Maggots would have been the obvious bait choice, but with so many small fish present and the possibility of a million bites and a netful of 3oz roach, I went instead for softened 4mm fishery pellets – a bait that any fish that swims will eat, but a little more selective than grubs.

After just five minutes of pinging in six or so pellets at a time 20m into the lake, I began to get bites with an expander pellet on the hook, shortly followed by a string of hand-sized carp and skimmers. Missed bites from small fish, though, were proving a bit of a problem, but a quick change to a 6mm cube of meat on the hook did the trick and the first proper carp of the day was soon trying to strip all the 3lb line from my Okuma Ceymar reel.

Fantastic and smooth as it was, I wish I’d opted for the slightly bigger 40FD version, as the 30FD felt a little too small for the rod. It didn’t lack power, however, and soon an angry mirror carp was in the net!

The action of the Black Match surprised me a little. It’s a mid-priced rod, and that restraint presents designers with a number of issues.

It needs that soft top end for cushioning fast strikes and protecting lighter hooklengths, but with enough ‘whip’ lower down to flick lighter floats the required distance. Achieving this without using the sort of quality carbon fibre that would have Formula One teams running to the bank manager is no easy feat, yet somehow Okuma had managed it.

After careful examination of the blank, with its subtle textured print over the raw carbon, I noted a slightly thicker than expected butt section. Presumably this is to stiffen the lower end and create that magnificent action. This did make the rod feel a little heavy lower down, but with the reel in place the balance was perfect.

I was more than happy with this trade-off, which gave me an action far better than anyone would have expected of a rod at this price point.

I found I was able to give each bite a fast, sweeping strike and, no matter what the weight of the fish, the resulting battle curve softened the blow and kept my hook in place.

I’d not enjoyed a day on the bank as much this for a while, because I never knew whether my strike would be met by the fast, scrappy fight of a pastie, the mellow plod of a skimmer or the pure power of a good-sized carp.

Roach, perch and even a tench got in on the action too, every one of which the Custom Black handled superbly. Not only that, but the rod looked every inch the part.

If you’re looking to sample a bit of pellet waggler action this summer without hurting the wallet too much, you won’t go far wrong with a Custom Match Black 13ft Medium teamed with a 40FD Ceymar reel. You should be able to pick up both for a total of under £130.

Price: Available at around £50 if you shop around, www.okumafishing.com

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