The Stealth Bomber – The Snowbee Spectre Review

Introduction:
I remember the first time I had a cast with a Snowbee rod. It was around 2012 or 13 at Moorbrook Lodge outside Castlerock in the North West. One of my good friends had been waxing lyrical about his new Snowbee Diamond rod which he had just paired up with a beautiful reel which happened to be the Snowbee Geo. It appeared that he had an impressive looking team in his hand. I was particularly taken by that reel, but never let him know that until now!

That same day, I had brought along my trusty old Scierra Avalanche, a battle-hardened rod which I had purchased almost 10 years previous and one which was overdue a small outing. I vividly remember some fish rising, just out of casting reach and having to really work the rod to get the line out to them and yet still falling short! My friend casually walks over and reaches them with a few short casts and hooks into a fish.
Curious, I asked him for a cast and with a few short casts, the line was out into the fish and I could have went further. It imprinted in my head that, I’d either like to either own or fish with one and little did I know that almost 5-6 years later I would get that same chance.

It came off the back of a jokey remark that I had made on a Snowbee social media channel which soon led to me conversing about the Spectre rod. I needed something versatile, something that could battle the windy climes of Lough Fadden (and its athletic trout!), yet something that would feel at ease on my local river for the dollaghan (a Lough Neagh run brown trout, native only to Lough Neagh rivers). I settled on the 10ft #6wt 4 piece Snowbee Spectre Fly Rod.

Pre Conceived Opinions
Based on my past experience, I was expecting something relatively light, that is hard working yet accurate in the field. I had read that this size and weight was marketed towards a Loch Style fishing rod and thus designed to be more powerful. I think it’s a human trait to crave power and I was now expecting it.

I had also read that with different technological inputs, the blanks were engineered to deliver a middle-tip action rod that “loads and un-loads more precisely and smoothly, to provide that ‘light in the hand’, balanced feel.”

The rod definitely makes a very good introduction when you take into account the raft of unique features. While doing my homework, the thing that struck me the most was the very open and transparent reasoning that Snowbee have given for incorporating them into the final product design on their website.

I like this open train of thought process as it makes it feel like genuine thought has went into the product rather than a bland, “This is what we came up with because WE liked it.” A customer focused train of thought.

The key thing I was excited to see was how Snowbee’s approach to weight reduction compared which seems to be the big thing in the battle to win the great rod race within the angling market.

The Rod Tube – Orange is the new black
The rod makes a solid introduction even though it is just a basic rod tube. A cylindrical cordura tube finished off with an orange and black blend. A very striking contrast where colour is concerned, but not so outlandish that it loses its class. The small leather Snowbee patches keep it on track and still give you the country sports/game feel. The tube contains a rod sock, allowing individual space for each rod section before it is safely placed within the tube with a sponge lid to protect the rod sections, should there be an exceptional level of movement during a journey.

So What do Snowbee say?
As stated previously, Snowbee themselves justfy their design process throughout. A quick scout of their site http://www.snowbee.co.uk/fly-fishing/general-fly-rods/#spectre_fly_rods  enables me to pick out the key details.
The rod blank design is described as having incorporated ‘multi-modulus‘ carbon technology. This is basically a variation of different carbon fibre grades rolled  throughout the blank to allow more control over the rod action. Snowbee acknowledge that this allows them ‘to precisely design and control the stiffness and flex in various sections, as well as the recovery speed of the tip.’

The fact so much attention has gone into the finer details of the rod action, rather than the rod appearance, definitely excited me. Snowbee also justify the matt black finish to allow the beauty of the carbon fibre pattern to prevail and to eliminate both rod flash and continue the theme of weight reduction, creating that rod which they wanted to load and unload precisely and smoothly, providing a light in the hand, balanced feel.

They use ‘no paint coats or opaque epoxy, just natural finish blanks, clear varnish and transparent thread coatings‘ as well as the inclusion of stainless steel, lined guides with a clear intention throughout their statement to both ‘channel fly line more smoothly through the ring‘ and to ‘maximise line speed’.

Snowbee make the very bold and honest declaration of their intentions throughout and this open and transparent approach to the design process is very refreshing. I particular enjoyed the following bold statement, ‘Compare a Spectre rod next to the other brands and you’ll notice we have nothing to hide!’

It shows a brand, willing to fight to obtain a portion of the market share.

The Rod
At first glance the rod is sleek, discreet and finished with a matt black rather than gloss. At second glance it has that stealth bomber feel with its monotone black colouration and matt finish. The lower rod has a glossy finish just above the butt which is probably not necessary but I can understand the reasoning, which I will cover at the end of this section.

Going with the stealth theme, the matt finish is ideal for those who fish with a stealthy approach. Depending on your beliefs, some anglers believe that a glossier finish can spook some fish who can see the light flashing off the blank with each cast. One of those urban legends that really have no right or wrong answer, but everyone will have an opinion!

The rod itself came as a 4 piece 10ft #6 wt and and kept it very simple all over.

The handle/reel seat
The Spectre had a very sleek reel seat. One of very few I’ve seen that have dropped the shine and shimmer of a metallic finish and stuck with the subtle carbon finish throughout. It’s definitely one of the most stylish that I have seen to date.
The seat itself has been opened up and laid bare with stylish bars, providing an open window to the glossy blank section underneath. A unique and stylish approach to reducing the overall rod weight. A similar tactic was employed by Wychwood with their Truefly SLA Mk2 reel with their laid bare approach and was very effective in reducing the weight of the product.

Given the discreet, stealthy approach to the design, I found the diamante crystal on the reel locking ring slightly ironic. The purpose? To help line up your reel with the hollow insert to lock it into place. Saves on unnecessary fiddling when attaching your reel! That’s to say it serves its purpose well and something that I haven’t noticed on many other rods, if any at all. A welcomed addition to the aforementioned, is the supporting double locking nuts give you the confidence that once your reel is in….IT IS NOT MOVING! It might be a trivial feature but i’ve had experiences where reels have taken a wobble or come loose at the wrong time!

Further to the detail above, the smaller lighter versions have a half wells handle while the bigger, heavier versions have a full wells handle. Like the Super Stik 2, there are darker composite cork bands in areas of high wear and tear and this adds durability and longevity to the rod handle. Some of my older rods really suffered the test of time in these areas so it’s great to see companies have picked up on this.

Snowbee Stock Photo

Rod Guides and Alignment
Like the majority of new rods nowadays, the Spectre also comes with alignment dots allowing your to determine if the blank is attached correctly.  The rod features oversized  stainles steel stripper rings  which are lined with zirconium to withstand wear and tear and reduce friction. This allows fast distribution of line when combined with the snake eyes and the hayfork tip ring. Again, these are very neatly whipped and as previously stated, Snowbee are very proud of that when they say they have nothing to hide. The key thing is that everything sticks with the theme and remains black.

 

Casting
Snowbee state that the rod is a middle-tip action rod. The rod is stiffer than I expected and felt a bit faster than the description but that did allow me to generate some great accurate loops and throw out a serious amount of line when it mattered. There was no wobble and the rod recovered quickly. It did feel like I was fishing with a 7 weight at times but I don’t necessarily see that as a negative.

Out of most of the rods that I have fished with this year, this one definitely won on distance and I think that was down to a combination of both the action and the unique guide system that Snowbee have implemented into the rod which increases line speed.  I was largley impressed with it’s ability to rapidly shoot a line into the choppy  Irish coastal winds, an unforgiving Lough Fadden gale and the confined spaces of the Six Mile Water. The rod simply did not give a toss about the weather.

If you want distance, the Spectre will give you it…plus a little more (and maybe a little more than that again).

Playing:
The Spectre took the same approach as it did with the wind. It refused to take any crap. Disappointingly it did not bend as much, but that owes to personal preference because it most certainly tired fish out a lot quicker.  I landed some rather large dollaghan on the Six Mile Water and the rod certainly held it’s own with their acrobatics. For the casual observer, the fish may have appeared to be lot smaller due to the rod’s refusal to give any  ground in the bend.

In the right environment, the Spectre excelled on the larger lakes and loughs where it becomes more of a numbers game and fishery owners encourage a quick play and a quick release. Fish were subdued a lot quicker, allowing a fast release.

Opinion:
I genuinely believe Snowbee have their niche in the market. A sleek and stylish rod where less is more. I enjoyed the stealth bomber appearance, I liked the name. I liked the attitude. A stealth bomber is probably the most accurate description. It discreetly offers power and precision and absolutely gives nothing away to no man nor beast.
Definitely a rod that would suit the avid competition fisherman, the boat fisherman,  the big fish fisherman, someone who utilises distance casting.

It felt criminal for me to use it on the river, as it did not show the true capabilities of the rod. I felt I had to take it further and it definitely appeared more at home on the larger lakes and on the coastline. It needed the ability to be thrown into battle, where the weather was tough and distance was a necessity. In fairness, Snowbee already make that clear on their website in that the 10′ #6 is aimed at more general loch style fishing for brown trout and rainbows.

So do you need this rod? It certainly offers something different than most rods for a suitable price.  I felt it quite suited to the aforementioned angling scenarios before i could get the best out of it. It’s a real warrior when you’re up against the elements and we all know how unpredictable fishing can be at times! I have lots of rods that have similar/identical characteristics but the Spectre offers a distance plan of attack. The other rods tend to be looked upon as good all rounders.

Cast your mind back to my first impression of a Snowbee rod almost 6 years ago. It gave me distance, it gave me presentation and i had hoped that wouldn’t change. It hadn’t and for me that shows a brand playing to their strengths and finding their niche. That gives me the feeling that any Snowbee rod will give me distance.

To conclude, if I was looking for a rod that could handle extreme weather or offer accurate distance presentation within lakes, large rivers or coast, then this is where I would be looking, given the fair price. There are smaller versions of the Spectre, should you be wanting to fish small rivers and lakes.

 

Key Points

Positives:
– Distance every single time.
– Not heavily influenced by the weather
– Stylish – in particular the reel seat!
– Light
– Improved accuracy
-25 year guarantee

Negatives:
– Slightly stiffer than normal

Note: Owing to an accumulation of bad shoulder injuries prior to my rugby retirement in 2014, i found I was more fatigued after using it. I really wanted to clarify this comment as i know a few anglers in my company, had noticed , despite me praising the rod earlier in the day and laboured the point. I’d like to point out that in testing i made the effort to test the rod to it’s limits which often means pushing myself too! Sometimes faster rods will have that effect on me and sometimes they don’t. It’s the luck of the draw.

 

 

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