Live test: Sonik Spe­cial­ist Bar­bel rods

IYCF tackle ed­i­tor, Mark Sawyer, en­joys a hotly an­tic­i­pated ses­sion with two in­cred­i­bly well-priced bar­bel rods. But would they be ca­pa­ble of tam­ing the Trent?

Improve Your Coarse Fishing (UK) - - Front Page -

SONIK SPE­CIAL­IST BAR­BEL RODS 1.75lb & 2lb RRP: £49.99

IHAD been look­ing for­ward to this live test since the start of the new river sea­son. Not only would I get the chance to run the rule over two of the best bar­gain priced off-the-peg bar­bel rods from Sonik, but I had a swim booked which was al­legedly stiff with big bar­bel at the fa­mous Gun­thorpe weir on the Trent above Not­ting­ham. With the car all packed up and ready to go the night be­fore, an early start saw me wind­ing my way to­wards the river across the Lin­colnshire flat­lands. In­side the car, a heady aroma of hal­ibut pel­lets, freshly cooked hemp and a raft of other su­per-smelly hook­baits and pastes added fuel to that burn­ing sense of an­tic­i­pa­tion and prom­ise that all true an­glers pe­ri­od­i­cally suf­fer from. Oh yes, I was off to the Promised Land of plen­ti­ful bites… As a fur­ther treat, I had ar­ranged to meet up with the an­gling pho­tog­ra­phy leg­end that is Mick Rouse, who is en­joy­ing well-earned re­tire­ment af­ter decades of great ser­vice as staff pho­tog­ra­pher for Im­prove Your Coarse Fish­ing and An­gling Times. The fish­ing on Gun­thorpe Lock Is­land is lim­ited, as there are only three swims, but it is avail­able through a syn­di­cate. As you might ex­pect, it does have a bit of a wait­ing list, but it cer­tainly is avail­able. Park­ing the car right next to the river, it was only a hop and skip across the lock and on to the bar­bel equiv­a­lent of Fan­tasy Is­land. No back­break­ing slog of a walk, or hav­ing to ne­go­ti­ate rick­ety stiles, and tackle-threat­en­ing barbed wire fences. Ba­si­cally, my day was get­ting bet­ter by the mo­ment. Even the sun came out by way of a cheery greet­ing. Now, be­fore I even clapped eyes on it, the re­lent­less pound­ing noise com­ing from the huge weir was over­whelm­ing. The air was heavy with that un­mis­tak­able aroma of river wa­ter. Two steps later and there it was be­fore me – a crash­ing crescendo of white foamy liq­uid. Surg­ing and gush­ing, huge boils and creases were caused by un­seen rocks and boul­ders, with flat runs of wa­ter where deeper gul­lies lay.

My word, noth­ing other than raw un­bri­dled power came as a proper an­gling cul­ture shock, I can tell you, to one more used to laz­ing about on the grassy banks of the se­date River Thames around Ox­ford! Ter­ri­fy­ing to my senses it may have been, but the river looked per­fect. My only unan­swered ques­tion was, would this day of an­gling per­fec­tion end with a new Trent record bar­bel, or per­haps a once-in-a-life­time net of whiskers? Hur­riedly set­ting up with my rod rest point­ing sky­wards, land­ing net hand­ily placed, and bait mixed and ar­ranged in proper or­der, I was all ready to go. Oh dear. Two hours of try­ing ev­ery­thing from meat and pel­lets to boilies and a mul­ti­tude of mod­ern bar­bel baits failed to raise any­thing more than a slow trem­ble from the tips of the Sonik Spe­cial­ist Bar­bel rods. Some­what per­turbed that my prob­a­ble best live test of the year was now head­ing down­stream faster than the foam­ing tor­rent in front of me, I rang the is­land’s prop­erty owner Ian for some fishy in­for­ma­tion. “Cast three foot from the weir’s sill, in line with the blue posts that you can see on the far bank,” he in­structed. “What, into the white wa­ter?” came my re­ply. “Yes Mark!” Turn­ing to Mick, I told him what Ian had said. “Surely that’s a recipe for lost kit?” I asked, ex­press­ing my con­cern. “Well, you’ve caught nowt so far,” came Mick’s re­ply. Fair enough, I thought to my­self. There­fore, as in­structed, I deftly landed my straight lead and meat rig with its ac­com­pa­ny­ing PVA mesh bag of cubed meat feed into the foam­ing mael­strom. I turned away from the rod, looked at Mick, and be­fore I even had chance to ut­ter the words ‘waste of time’ Mick hollered: “ROD!” Now it may be a strange start­ing point for any live test, but when it comes to catch­ing and hold­ing on to a rod han­dle in mid-air, few if any, have the stick­ing power of Sonik’s Spe­cial­ist Bar­bel! Not so much a bite, more of an event, if you get my drift. With the 1.75lb test curve Sonik now in full fish-play­ing mode, I quickly ap­pre­ci­ated the

“The fight be­came a proper test of wills, not to men­tion tackle in­tegrity”

blank’s par­a­bolic ac­tion that quickly pow­ers up from the mid-sec­tion area of the blank, to pro­vide enough clout to be able to wind down on a fish. This en­ables you to get it up and away from the bot­tom, and then keep it high enough in the wa­ter to pre­vent it get­ting its head back down into the rocks. All very im­pres­sive, but as the foam-cov­ered net re­vealed a rea­son­able fish I was sure the rods would be put to a far sterner test be­fore the day was out. Swap­ping to the 2lb Spe­cial­ist Bar­bel model, the rod did feel that lit­tle bit more re­silient in the hand and would quite pos­si­bly be bet­ter suited to the type of fast-wa­ter, tough-as-it-gets type of fish­ing I was now ex­pos­ing it to. Any­way, it didn’t take long to find out, as an­other whiskered chal­lenger slammed the rod tips over with star­tling ag­gres­sion. Tight­en­ing down on the reel’s clutch, the fight be­came a proper test of wills, not to men­tion tackle in­tegrity. With the fish bor­ing down hard to­ward the rocks, I piled on the power. The rod bucked and jolted as it at­tempted to find refuge in the tor­rent. Giv­ing any line at this mo­ment would only have ended with a lost fish, so the rod had to do all the work for me. What more can I say? As the net slid un­der a near-dou­ble-fig­ure bar­bel it couldn’t have per­formed bet­ter. Not only that, this whole splen­did sce­nario was played out time and time again, as my bar­bel­bash­ing ses­sion ex­ceeded all ex­pec­ta­tions. Once-in-life­time, red-let­ter day, call it what you will. All I know is that I drove home as happy as Larry. It couldn’t have been any bet­ter. My only tiny is­sue was how on earth would I tell Sonik boss Ian McCor­mack that he wouldn’t be get­ting his rods back. They are mine for keeps.

The Vader X FS reels are the per­fect part­ner for the Sonik Spe­cial­ist Bar­bel rods

The two test curves cover any likely bar­bel fish­ing sce­nario

Mark’s ver­dictRECK­ONED by many to be among the best off-the-peg bar­bel rods, the Sonik Spe­cial­ist Bar­bel is a rod for all sea­sons. The lighter of the two would be at home for most all-round tac­tics, while the 2lb test model is suited to fast wa­ter and heavy kit tac­tics.

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