During last close season, I decided to look for another barbel rod, specifically a quivertip version that I could use during the low clear summer months, and for the smaller rivers such as the Teme. After seeking advice from a number of people in the trade, I looked at the Free spirit range. I had no experience of this manufacturer, but certainly heard lots of good things about them from fellow anglers. Being an optimistic sort, I prefer the heavier test curve rods for my barbel fishing, but the main detail I required was that the rod had to have a through action as opposed to the more progressive actioned Insight I was using. I knew the Barbel Tamer range would fit the bill as soon as I clapped eyes on them. There were at that time three Tamer models, 11' and 12' 1&1/2lb, and the 12' Stepped Up version, being 1&3/4lb tc. I opted for the SU rod, and found it to match my requirements. The rod is built on a very slim fully ground blank, which is a dark grey carbon. The handle is full cork with slight flares at the top and bottom, again very slim and the reel seat is a Fuji DPS 16, screw up variety. The guides are Fuji Hardloys, with the butt ring being a three leg and the remainder being two legged.
These rods are twin tip rods, having a quiver tip and avon style top both of which fit to the butt as overfit joints.. The quiver tip is rated in ounces and of the push in variety. The tip accompanying the SU version is 3oz carbon, and separate tips either white or black can be bought ranging from 1.5, & 2 oz glass, to 2.5, 3, 3.5, & 4 oz carbon. The avon top is a real brute in my opinion, and is fitted with a screw end tip ring, which allows quivers, swing tips, and spring tips to be used. I personally hate these style tips, and have never used a screw in tip.
My rod was purchased from The Tackle Box, who provide a bespoke service if required. I therefore had the screw tip ring replaced with a 'normal' tip ring for a couple of quid. We come to the action now, which is described as being semi-progressive. I find the Tamer has a wonderful action when coupled with the quiver tip top section. There is a certain amount of give in the top section, which blends into the butt. The butt itself is just below stiff, and the whole rod at full compression gives an almost through action, with the rod bending gracefully all the way to the lower two thirds of the butt, which retains some rigidity to allow barbel to be played with some force. This was the main selling point for me, and I have really enjoyed playing barbel on this rod. The finer details on the rod are understated, with a small Free Spirit logo just above the handle, along with the test curve and rod length. This takes up no more than two inches of space and is the mark of quality, where gaudy logos and colours aren't needed to sell the rod. All the whippings are black to match the blank, with the exception of two turns of green above the logo to finish the blank off. When I took delivery of my Tamer, it was difficult to find the words to express what a lovely rod this is. Free Spirit, with the input of some of barbel anglings 'names', have really done the business with this range.
1. The action of the tamer is almost perfect for barbel fishing, with a good blend of power and finesse.
2. The fittings are quality Fuji ones and the finish is faultless.
3. I like the white quiver tip, and having broken the top 3 inches off one whilst putting the rod in the car, know it is inexpensive to replace them, at around a tenner for each tip. The tips are longer than my shimano feeder rod tips by about 3-4 inches or so.
4. The blank is so slim, it is deceptive to look at, and hard to believe you can land barbel on it!
5. The cork handle, and reel seat, are slim and secure, and I find my Shimano Twinpower 4000 XTR balances the rod just right. I have tried one but don't think it suits a larger reel such as the ubiquitous 5000 series baitrunner.
1. The avon top is I feel too heavy for anything other than floodwater use.
2. I dislike the threaded end tip on the avon top. Why manufacturers insist on putting these on barbel rods is beyond me. Particularly when the rod is supplied with a full quiver tip top as well, as there is no need for it then!
3. The majority of guides are of the two leg variety, often described incorrectly as single legged rings. These have no place on a barbel rod, seeing as they break and bend so easily, especially when your average barbel angler keeps his rods in a quiver or banded, and not within the protection of a proper holdall. Not to mention the scares I have had when roving through the bank side vegetation, as they catch and bend on almost every twig, bramble bush etc.
My 2003 seasons best of 9lb 7ozs, taken on my Free Spirit barbel Tamer.
I have found the Tamer to be a wonderful barbel rod. Mine saw a lot of use throughout the hot and low clear conditions, during the long summer last year, and the majority of my barbel have been caught on this rod. It is not a big river rod though, and I do not use it in spate or snag conditions, preferring a more progressive actioned rod for that style of fishing. I wouldn�t say it�s an out and out big fish rod either. I think the action is great for catching fish into double figures, but for the larger fish over say 13lb perhaps the more powerful Barbel seeker by the same company would be a better option, or a Harrison Chimera blank. That said, the Tamer fills a niche in my rod armoury brilliantly, and with the exception of the dislikes, was just the sort of barbel rod I was looking for. For the first time barbel angler, the Tamer is almost perfect, especially when you consider the low price of a rod of such high quality. Well done Free spirit!!
The Tamer range sells from Â£99.99 to Â£104.99. Most tackle shops will do all the range for under Â£100. There are also the original specialist rods, and now the Barbel Seeker, and Big River range available from all Free spirit dealers.
BFW rating 8/10. This would be higher if it wasn't for the two legged guides, and screw in tip ring.