Regular readers will know that I am a huge fan of the Browning Black Viper 2 range of rods. I used them for a good 18 months for my distance fishing situations and have some wonderful memories from using them.
So when Browning wanted to send me the Black Viper 3 models, I was understandably excited as well as a little apprehensive to see what they had to offer.
The two rods to land at my door were the 12ft and 14ft models. I was very interested in the 12-footer as I never got round to using that model from the previous range. This length is very popular for bream anglers but also makes it a comfortable tool to use when fishing commercial fisheries where a bit of distance work is needed.
Firstly, let’s look at the graphics and overall finish of the rod. The handle looks very nice and the graphics have a classy look to them. The previous rods put a few people off with their ‘out there in your face’ image. These have toned that down while keeping that Viper image synonymous with the family.
The quivertips are… bright! You won’t have any trouble spotting them, that’s for sure. Browning rods always have lots of colour on them, as this is what is popular across Europe. I would have to take a marker pen to them, though!
Cosmetics aside, the blanks are fantastic. The power they deliver on the cast is superb and yet they still retain a decent fish-playing action. The 12-footer is absolutely perfect for Barston and Boddington when casting a Method feeder up to 70 metres.
The blanks feel much crisper and recover faster than the previous models. The rods also benefit from excellent Fuji guides and quality reel seats to give the overall build a great foundation.
The Black Viper 3 rods perform, that’s for sure. I know only too well how good the last rods were for casting; I have used the 14-footer to whack a Method out past the 100m mark at Furzton before. These new versions have even better casting performance as the blanks are so much crisper and recover after the energy release so much better. They snap back straight after the cast allowing for maximum distance to be achieved.
All of the rods in the range feature a three-piece build, which I actually prefer. I have no end of problems with storing two-piece rods so being three-piece works for me, although it may not be what you are looking for.
Performance-wise these are a definite improvement. They cast further and have improved quivertips and fish-playing actions, making them far more than just casting brutes. I just wish they hadn’t given the blanks the matt finish!
Verdict: An impressive upgrade on the popular Black Viper rods.