I’ve been hearing quite a bit about Enigma Fishing for the last few years. They’ve worked extensively with Elite Series pro Aaron Martens to design their rods and several of my fishing buddies had great things to say about them. Until recently, it was one of the only rod companies I was totally unfamiliar with.
I finally had an opportunity to test the new Enigma Fishing Phenom Black after ICAST and it has been a great rod, especially when you consider the $99 price point. If you’re looking for a rod at this price point, there’s a few things you should know about this series.
Versatility that doesn’t break the bank
I’ve been testing the 7-foot, medium-heavy Phenom Black. Although I chose a fairly generic length and action, it’s much more versatile than I imagined. In my opinion, the slower tip makes that possible.
When compared to many of my other medium-heavy rods, the Phenom Black has a slower tip which makes it effective for both bottom contact presentations and reaction lures. Fast tips are great for more powerful hooksets but will often pull treble hooks away from bass too quickly when you’re fishing a crankbait or a jerkbait.
The slower tip of the Phenom Black isn’t too slow that it inhibits solid hook penetration, but it’s slow enough to allow the rod to load when you’re fishing a lure with treble hooks.
So what does all the jargon mean? Essentially, this rod is totally suitable for 3/8-ounce and lighter jigs, Texas rigs, squarebills, topwater plugs, spinnerbaits … almost anything you can think of. I think the budget-minded angler will appreciate having one $99 rod that can do so many different things.
Balance is a big deal when you’re choosing a new bass fishing rod. Not only can an unbalanced rod cause premature fatigue, but something about it just won’t feel right. I’ve found this rod to be well balanced for a myriad of techniques.
It’s not as light as some higher-end rods on the market, but it’s certainly not to the point that it will hurt your fishing. Its balance, however, makes up for the extra weight.
The Phenom Black isn’t tip-heavy and it’s not butt-heavy. Instead, the majority of the weight seems to rest in the handle and reel seat area. This added a lot of comfort to my testing process. It’s easy to skip a jig under a dock, but it’s equally as natural-feeling to chunk a squarebill along a long stretch of riprap.
The Phenom Black features 30-ton Japanese Toray graphite blanks that offer an impressive blend of sensitivity and power. I made a point to test this rod with a bunch of different lures and the results were great.
When you’re dragging a jig or Texas rig, you can feel changes in bottom composition without any issues. Even the softer bites I had while testing were made fairly obvious due to the sensitive blank and the blank-thru reel seat. When it comes time to set the hook, the softer tip transfers nicely to a powerful blank and allows for powerful hooksets.
Squarebill fishing was also successful with the Phenom Black. I could feel every wobble of the lure while being able to clearly distinguish between collisions with cover and a bass bite. I also threw several different spinnerbaits with this rod and even when using willow blades I could feel the subtle vibration of the lure.
The hook keeper doesn’t get in the way
This is a pet peeve for me, so I thought it deserved its own section. I don’t like hook keepers anywhere above the foregrip of a rod. I’ve lost fish, broken my line and broken plenty of hook keepers when my line has become inadvertently tangled in a poorly placed keeper.
In my opinion, Enigma Fishing got it right on this rod. It’s located below the foregrip on the butt-section of the rod. No matter how you fish, it seems to stay out of the way at all times. Also important, it doesn’t impede your grip when you’re fishing. You don’t know it’s there until you need it, which is how it should be.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first test drive with an Enigma Fishing rod. The Phenom Black is a solid rod and its performance more than justifies its reasonable $99 price point. If you’re looking to add to your collection and this price point fits your budget, I’d recommend getting your hands on one. I think you’ll agree with my assessment.