Revolutionary is an overworked word in advertising. However every now and then something comes on the angling market that is something really special. The Brotel is such a product.
I spend most of my winters fishing for big perch, a species that feeds, contrary to the old books, markedly better in poor light. I’m therefore frequently choosing to fish in the wind and the rain.
Like many anglers I can’t stand fishing under a brollie, which I find offers limited protection from the elements and is also highly unstable in gusty winds. As a result I used to fish in the open, getting both myself and my tackle soaking wet and often half freezing to death as well. Now I happily use a Brotel and stay both dry and warm.
The Brotel is a cross between a brollie and a bivvy, with the advantages of both. Unlike a bivvy it takes just seconds to put up; unlike a brollie it offers complete protection from anything but a facing wind, and moreover without any annoying draughts. It's also very light in weight with this model tipping the scales at just 4.75lbs. • less than a 50" brollie. Despite this it’s much roomier than a brollie thanks to the lack of a centre pole, yet it can be used in spaces too small for a bivvy. What’s more it stands up to high winds much better than a brollie.
In fact fishing into the teeth of a gale last winter my Brotel performed brilliantly. The angler down the bank was under a brolly and was forced to move. He blanked, whilst I was able to stay where the fish were and so caught.
The secret is the clever design as it opens like a fan, which is first locked into position and then pegged down. Although there are 6 pegging points, 3 pegs are usually sufficient, and you can even vary these to somewhat change the shape of the Brotel. Pegs aren’t included, nor is a guy rope which I find is vital as it keeps the Brotel under tension from the back (and thus completely stable) and also increases the headroom.
Construction is with 2 aluminium main poles and fibre glass ribs. The cover is made of nylon, which means that whilst it’s very lightweight, it will need reproofing with a 5 minute spray once a year. The only small criticism is that the height adjustment of the main pole is via a plastic fitting. This doesn’t grip tightly enough and on hard ground means the spike slips. The only way round this is to spend time putting the spike in separately, which negates some of the advantage of otherwise speedy erection.
Typical of the thoughtful design is a bag to keep your car dry, plus two zipped panels in the rear for poles or landing nets to be pushed through. These, and more importantly storm sides, are missing from the basic Brotel, which as it costs just £10 less makes the De-Luxe model even better value for money. The RRP is £54.99 but it can often be found for under £50 including pegs and the all-important guy rope.
I can just about get a small bed chair under my Deluxe Brotel but for session fishing there’s also the Bedchair Brotel at £119.99 which is much bigger and made from heavier material. Relum are sending me one of these which will be reviewed here when I’ve field tested it.
To sum up, unless you’re totally skint, don’t buy a brollie ever again • the brilliant Brotel makes them all completely out of date!
7th September, 2000