Drennan Martin Bowler Big River Barbel 12ft 2.25lbs TC

Thu 26 March 15


Long Term Field Test Part One

In our pursuit of the ideal specialist rod suitable for big river barbel hunting with big leads and feeder, whilst also having enough finesse to tame big bream and tench on mature lakes and gravel pits. After visiting many specialist forums and website, one rod in particular stood out fro the crowd, the Drennan Martin Bowler Big River Barbel 12ft 2.25lbs TC rod. So after getting out our begging bowl, the UKSA team contacted Oxfordshire based Drennan, and politely asked if we could run a series of field tests, to see how well the rod would perform targeting big fish of all species, on all types of venues. Read on as we take our first look and take these impressive rods up to the tidal river Trent to see how well it performs in its natural environment.

Vital Statistics

The Martin Bowler Big River Barbel Rod has been designed to offer enough power to tame hard fighting barbel in extreme flood water conditions, launch huge feeder and leads across rivers such as the Trent or Severn, whilst having enough grunt to handle big fish in snaggy swims and add to this, the rods powerful blank is still forgiving enough to avoid hook pulls whilst piling on the pressure to net the fish. The high-modulus carbon blank has a dark platinum finish with a chequered weave which will favour the angler who likes his gear to look as good as it performs

26 inch long full cork handle

The long 26in cork handle is superbly finished and this extra long handle enables you to chuck big weights to far bank features when required.The butt section also features a very secure, screw-down reel seat, that will comfortably house all free running and mini big pit reels currently on the market 9 we’ve tried them all to make sure).The cork handle is finished off with an engraved butt cap for all of you who like your logo’s on display.

Screw Down reel seat

The blank has been fitted with seven exceptionally strong, three legged, SiC line guides. on the butt section you have just one 25mm internal-diameter line guide, through to a 9mm tip ring. The larger diameter guides allowing used enable your to use stop knots unhindered, whilst also allowing line debris etc to pass freely, greatly reducing any chance of the guides clogging up.

Big diameter SIC guides throughout

The top six inches (15cm) of the tip sec­tion has been painted with a reflective white paint. this enables you to see the tip against all natural and man made backdrops, including very dull, low light backdrops. The Martin Bowler Big River Barbel Rod is also fitted as standard with a single Drennan Isotope, which comes in very handy from dusk till dawn, making bite indication when you’re not using an alarm very simple.

Painted white tip with isotope fitted.

All Rods in the Martin Bowler range come supplied as standard with a fully padded green rod sleeve. Each rod sleeve features a durable, two way, durable zip for easy access to the internal compartment. You also get two narrow Velcro rods straps and a large Velcro lead strap, so you can leave your rod set up at all time, with no risk of damage to the blank or the guides whilst in transit. To finish the rod sleeves off, it has been embroidered with “Martin Bowler Big River Barbel 12ft 2.25lbs TC” in gold stitching.

Padded and embroidered rod sleeves

The River Trent Field Test

On the last day of the river season, which for those of you who don’t know is March the 14th. We took two of the Martin Bowler Big River Barbel 12ft 2.25lbs TC rods up to the tidal Trent below Collingham weir, to put them through their paces. Upon arrival the river was well up at low tide and tanking through full of debris and it was freezing cold (not ideal conditions at all).

We set up the rods with mini big pit reel, loaded with 15lbs braid and before baiting a rig, we cast out our 6oz gripper leads to see if they would hold bottom only to find them trotting down stream and under our feet into the wall of anti erosion boulders that lined the bank we were fishing. so after some experimentation, we ended up having to go right up to a 10oz lead to ensure our baited rigs would hold bottom in the exact position required.

10oz barbel rig

Although some may say that 10oz is a bit OTT, it was what was required, to enable us to present a bait in a depths of 15 feet, that was absolutely ripping through. we were able to cast this weight 30 yards with no issues at all and even when we switched over to a 10oz feeder (10oz unloaded), this powerful rod cast this big weight with total control and precision every cast.

The rod tip in action

Once the rod was settled into position, every piece of debris that hit the braided line showed on the rod tip as a gentle tap over, letting us know when a re-cast was required. Even when reeling in a big feeder that was choked with weed and debris, this incredibly powerful rod brought the terminal gear back in tact every time, even when retrieving weed and debris over a kilo in weight.

First Field Test final Thoughts

After chucking around some seriously heavy feeder and leads on a very high tidal Trent for 12 hours, the UKSA team have found the Martin Bowler Big River Barbel 12ft 2.25lbs TC rods from Drennan perfectly suited to these extreme angling situations. even when trying to be brave and cast 50 yards to slack, far bank water, the rod upped it’s game and delivered the lead to the spot required without any issues.

Unfortunately, the huge number of resident double figure barbel who reside in the Trent were far from being in the mood to feed but we still believe this is one of the best big river barbel rods we have used in a very long time. For £169.99 full RRP, you get one hell of a rod for your money, that is more than capable of handling the worst river fishing situations you are likely to encounter and still have the control to launch 10oz leads at range when required.

Foot Note – Over the next six months, the UKSA team will be putting these excellent rods through their paces whilst targeting big bream, tench and once the river season is back in stride, we’ll be taking them back up to the Trent to hopefully tame on of the many big barbel to be found on this powerful river, so until then, watch this space!


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