Product Review: Venom PE 2-4 Cody Hochen

I was lucky enough to be asked by Fish and Boat to select and test a Venom rod, made by ‘Wilson Fishing’, a few months ago. From what I have seen and heard, I originally thought Venom rods were mostly catered to popping and jigging.

Was I wrong! After a little research, I discovered they have a huge supply of rods, catering to every fisherman’s needs. Yes, while they have plenty of high quality popping and jigging rods, they also stock a huge selection of baitcasters and spin rods for all purposes and applications. This was evident at the 2016 AFTA, with their arsenal of 50+ different styles of rods on full show. Before testing, I had heard only positive reports on Venoms. Their unbelievable strength and pulling power was always the talking point, so I was pretty excited to get an opportunity to test a rod with such a reputation.

It was a tough choice selecting a rod from their collection. I decided to choose one that was versatile and suitable to the techniques I use in South-east Queensland, and also for the occasional North Queensland visit. After some discussions with Stephen Booth from ‘Wilson Fishing’, I opted for the Venom 6’3” Crankbait PE2-4. After looking at the specifics of this rod, it seemed it would be perfect for vibing for threadfin salmon and jigging plastics for jew at my local fishing haunts. Hence its name, it would also be perfect for casting crankbaits tight into the snags for barra and jacks.

I arrived at the Wilson Warehouse, amazed at the size of the joint, which is home to other famous brands such as Zerek, Mustad, Live Fibre and of course Wilson. There I met Stephen and the team, including Clint, the head rod builder. Stephen and Clint showed me around the factory where each Venom rod is meticulously put together. Each blank is made in New Zealand to the specifications of the Venom team with a great deal of consideration and research placed into each design. The Crankbait series alone has 7 spinn and baitcast rod sizes. These vary from the light but strong PE1-2 up to the stump-pulling PE3-6. Having them manufactured in New Zealand might give them an advantage when it comes to keeping the secret to the Venom build guarded. Regular visits by the manager to the Venom factory in New Zealand allow plentiful discussions and attention to detail to build the perfect blank.

It was amazing to see the craftsmanship and scrutiny that goes into each Venom rod. Every single blank that arrives at the Wilson Fishing factory is checked thoroughly by the team. From there each blank is sorted into each design by a team of 4–5 as they carefully bind each rod with state-of-the-art Fuji K-frame silicone guides, and fit the latest ergonomic Fuji reel seats. While at the factory I had the privilege of watching these experts at their craft. It was amazing to see the artistry and pride that goes into the binding and epoxying every last rod.

As it sat in my hand, the rod was light and very well balanced. From some preliminary testing in the factory the rod seemed to have a relatively light and sensitive tip, although also some serious grunt when put under load. As soon as I felt it, I knew it would be perfect to target the threadfin salmon in the Brisbane River. The tip was sensitive enough to feel the bream-like bite of a threadfin salmon, and the grunt to turn their head away from nearby structure.

It wasn’t until I attached my Daiwa Tatula Type R that I could really test out the rod (on the fence anyway). It was the perfect combination and fitted the medium-sized, low profile baitcaster impeccably. As an added bonus the black and red colours of the reel matched the bindings of the rod beautifully. Despite some weird glances from the neighbours, I soon had the rod loaded up to the fence with a locked drag. It seemed to handle the test of the fence very well. After a hundred or so casts in the backyard I was impressed and ready to test it on something that pulls a bit harder.

I couldn’t think of a better way to test out the rod than with five days at the Arnhemland Barra and Nature Lodge. What a test it was. The rod performed flawlessly during a range of tests: from casting medium and large hardbodies at structure to rolling plastics through snags and along rock bars. The light tip section allowed leaping barra and threadfin to be played out, while not pulling hooks. When I needed some grunt to extract a big jack or black jew from their structure it was available in spades.

After I put it through its paces and was satisfied, I was generous enough to let my brother use it for a few hours. This was the final and ultimate test. For those who know my brother, they understand how particular he is with everything, especially his fishing gear. He meticulously researches every aspect for at least 18 months before he makes a purchase. Annoying? Yes, but almost every time he makes a pretty wise choice. It couldn’t be in better hands though as he had a barra boat-side in about half a dozen casts. He was most impressed. After a few more casts the Venom doubled over as the fish made a long run for a rocky ledge. After a bit of thumb pressure the fish turned under the pressure of the Venom. A few runs later there was another close call on the ledge, when up popped over 1-metre (approx. 15kg) of black jew. The rod was now well and truly tested. Over the five days the Venom Crankbait had claimed well over 100 fish, with the highlight being four, one-metre black jew.

I also wanted to test the rod by vibing the deeper water of the Brisbane River for threadfin salmon and jewfish. Although the threadies haven’t yet played the game for me this winter, I have caught a couple of jewfish on it and it has been very effective for the deeper vibing techniques that I use.

Since I have been using my Venom, I fished with a friend who uses the 15 – 40lb Venom X to throw stickbaits at longtail tuna and other pelagics out from Mooloolaba. At only 7”, I couldn’t believe how far this rod could cast. It was matching my longer 7’6” stickbait rod for distance, which is necessary for targeting finicky tuna. On one of our recent missions, he hooked a monster fish, which had us calling for a rather large longtail or yellowfin tuna. We chased the beast for kilometres up and down the coastline. Again, the Venom performed flawlessly and was put under constant pressure. Unfortunately, the single hooks of the stickbait popped out 10 metres under the boat, therefore with the only view of the beast being on my sounder. Anyway, that’s fishing, but I am now saving for the exact rod to add to my arsenal. It would also be right at home throwing softplastics for coral trout and fingermark in northern Queensland as well as floatlining for snapper in SEQ.

I am very pleased with the Venom Crankbait PE 2-4. It performed exceptionally well under extreme pressure in the tropical north and it seems to be at home in SEQ . The Venom Crankbait series is priced at the higher end of the market, around $450. The work, finish, strength and versatility of the rod, place it at the higher end of the market, however it is more than worth its price tag.