Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Shimano Vengeance Slim Boat Rod 6-12lb: review

After losing both rod and reel over the side, it is time for a new rod.  There isn't a huge choice out there for sea kayak fishermen.  Most of the UK market is concerned with boat angling, which implies you're fishing 4 feet or more out of the water, hence the standard length of eight and half feet.  Rather oddly, the Japanese and French boat rods are often much shorter, between 7-8ft, which makes them a good length for a kayak.  Unfortunately, many of these are very expensive, in order of several hundred pounds and for kayak fishing that just spells madness, as it's (ahem!) always possible you might lose it over the side in a moment's carelessness or through no fault of your own.
Slim?  American slim you mean?!
Sea kayak fishermen ideally want cheap rods that can stand a good deal of rough treatment.  As we all know, there's no worse environment for tackle than on a sea kayak.  If the salt doesn't get them, then the sand and grit will!  The second requirement is length.  You can't use a long rod (i.e. 9ft or more) comfortably on a kayak, as you are so close to the water it can make trying to land a fish nigh on impossible except by grabbing the line and hauling it in by hand.  The maximum length you want is just enough to get the tip of the rod past the nose of your kayak, for those cases like when you're trying to free up a snag on a quick drift, when you quickly need to move the line over to the other side.  For my new kayak (Stealth 575), this unfortunately means I'll have to fish with something around the 8ft mark. Far longer than I would generally recommend.
The handle is far too long on this rod.  Think about it, for a 6-12lb rod, do you really need the extra length to stick in your belt so that you can winch fish up?  No, the handle need be no longer than your down to your elbow.  As you can see, the blank is anything but slim, particularly at the tip.
My final requirement was that the rod should be less that £70.  Even that is pushing it a bit. After all, we're talking about a stout stick to haul cod, pollack and mackerel out of the North Sea, not some state of the art carbon wand to flick feathers at an overfed trout in a chalkstream! Given all of these, there isn't much out there. Again, many rods are broken at the handle, rather than mid-length.  This is supposedly for reasons of action.  Please see my argument about winching cod up.  Most of us are just not that bothered.

So what did I end up with? Shimano Vengeance Slim Boat Rod 6-12lb from Gerry's (great service, BTW).  For £44 you get a bog standard parabolic action boat rod.  Surprisingly for a UK rod (well OK, a Japanese rod!), the rating is actually pretty close to what it says.  Most UK boat rods are way too stiff and strong.  Would I recommend this rod for sea kayak fishermen?  Yes.  It's not great, it's cheap and cheerful. You pays your money, you gets what you asked for, see?

Pros:
  • Rated 6-12lb, and it actually is 6-12lb!
  • Duplon / EVA foam type handle
  • Cheap
Cons:
  • Handle is way too long.  I had to cut 4" off mine to make it usable in the kayak.
  • Slim?  This rod blank is not much slimmer than any other boat rod.
  • Two piece?  Not really, one very long piece, one short piece.  Makes storing and fitting it into the boot of your car difficult.  In fact it won't go in my boot.
  • Soft parabolic action.  Why do manufacturers think this is what boat anglers want?  How does a soft through action help when you're trying to jig a cod lure 100ft down?  It doesn't.  Give us tip action rods, please!
You might think there are more cons than pros for this rod.  But as I say, it's about the best out there for the price.  There isn't much to choose from in all honesty, so until a rod manufacturer sits down with some experienced sea kayak anglers and asks them what they want, I guess we'll still be in this situation for the next few years.  Things will change I hope, but kayak fishing is still relatively young as a sport.  It's time will come!

 Tight lines to all those fishing.

UPDATE!

Well after just several trips over a few months, the tip eye broke its lining.  Unbeknown to me, I lost three full rigs and about a hundred yards of expensive braid due to the broken tip eye lining having a sharp edge and cutting through the line.  Very unhappy, as you can imagine.  And I wasn't that happy with the rod to begin with!  Not impressed with the quality, but I guess you get what you won't pay for and it ending up costing me half the price of the rod in lost tackle.  I look over the rings shows that many of them have also started to rust.

Given the poor quality components, I'm changing my recommendation on this rod to "Don't buy".   It's just not tough enough for kayak fishing.

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