NEW - Snowbee Diamond rod range
by Terry Lawton
One great benefit of testing a rod during the relevant season is that you can actually fish with it and find out how it handles on the river bank and what it is like to play fish with. Out of season the tester is limited to casting either on grass or a river but does not have the opportunity to catch fish in running water, unless there are some grayling to be found.
Snowbee's new Diamond rod range offers a lot of rod for not that much money. All rods in the range are made in three pieces and come in a green Cordura-covered tube plus rod bag. I still don't understand why manufacturers do not use divided tubes which does away with the need for a rod bag. The range includes rods from 7 foot to 10 foot, for line weights of #3-4 up to #7-8; all rods have a double line rating. The blanks are finished in a pleasant olive green and the matching whippings are trimmed with a discrete gold wrap. There is a very smart brushed aluminium, cutaway, up-locking reel seat with burl wood insert which is dyed to complement the colour of the blank. The 9 foot #4-5 rod that I tested has two lined stripping rings, generously sized hard chrome, high lift snake rings and an oversize hayfork tip ring. According to the catalogue it weighs 98g or 3.5oz. All this comes for a very modest £99. You get a lot of rod for your money. The Diamond range starts at £89 and tops-out at £119 for the 10 foot #7-8 rod.
Having fished most of the season so far with either a 7 foot #3/4 rod or an 8 foot 6 inch #4, this rod seemed very powerful in comparison. I started fishing the rod with a #5 weight forward line and later in the day changed to a #4 weight forward. When fishing with the heavier line one thing that I liked was the ease and speed with which I could change from casting to a fish 15 to 18 foot away to another one twice the distance away. The ability to be able to cast quickly meant that I was also able to fish some less productive water which I would normally pass-by as not being worth wasting time on. While the rod handles a #5 line with aplomb (the fact that it is fitted with twin stripping rings suggests to me that it is more of a #5-weight than a #4-weight), I felt happier fishing small dries and at closer range with a #4-weight line. Although it is a powerful rod it is not so powerful that small wild trout have no chance of acquitting themselves well.
Would I buy this rod? I can think of no rational or practical reason for not buying one, unless you want to spent a lot more money. The second time I fished this rod, admittedly only for a couple of hours as the river became unfishable due to a sudden rise in level and the water turning chocolate colour, I used a #4 line and apart from a little lack of finesse at short range, I grew to like the rod a lot. Although I have got a #3/4 rod, I am still not sure that I understand fully the concept of dual line rating rods. Is this rod a slightly heavy #4 or a slightly light #5? If this was a four-piece**, it would be a really good travel rod suitable for fishing a range of different sizes of river. As a three-piece it is too long to fit into a standard travel bag as these are usually sized to take four-piece rods. This is no problem if travelling by car but less helpful when flying. ** (new models are now 4 piece).
One small criticism is that the very nice reel seat will only take reels with a fairly thin foot. I have got a little Ryobi reel which I could only just use, whereas the Snowbee XS 560 reel fitted without any problems, as did a Hardy Lightweight. I used the Snowbee reel with the #5 line.
When looking at the overall finish of the rod supplied, I think that it is very good for the money. Yes, the coating on some of the whippings is a little thick, but this is a sensibly-priced rod. It is unreasonable to expect the same standard of finish as one would expect on a £500 rod. This is a versatile rod that is well worth serious consideration.
Snowbee Diamond 9 foot #4-5 RRP - £99.
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