Tuesday, March 21, 2017

New challenge?

I still can't be arsed to go fishing. Mostly because I've been concentrating on a photographic project. However, a syndicate ticket has come through and with work returning to manageable levels I've had time to build myself some new, as in prototype MkII, rods to use there. Just got to get them rigged up, make a new landing net to go with them, and wait for the weather to warm up.


Also soon to be new on the scene is a magazine aimed at serious specialist anglers. Catch Cult will be a high production value, limited edition magazine with a difference. The promo vid might give a hint as to what can be expected. More info as it becomes available.



Sunday, February 26, 2017

In need of a challenge

Almost the end of February and I've only managed one depressing pike session way back on the third. Time I put something on this blog! It being my fourth blank on the bounce I decided to retire from fishing until the eels wake up. I think I've hit that wall which usually pops up around the third year fishing a water. For whatever reason it begins to get predictable, and boring looking at the same scenery every trip. There's a chance I might catch a twenty, but the odds are it'll be a fish that's been caught before, and possibly one I've already caught at a lower weight.


When I look back at the waters I've fished for various species over the years the pattern has been fairly consistent. The sequence goes like this. First year all is new and challenging trying to suss out swims, methods, fish movements. Second year put into action the lessons learned and catch consistently. Third year repeat the second year but start finding it all a bit predictable. Fourth year get bored going through the motions.

As I've got a 'new' water lined up for eels, and possibly tench, this year I'm more focused on that than my piking. I want those two species to start moving, more so the eels, to provide me with the challenge I need to get myself fishing again..


Mind you, work has only just begun to return to 'normal' levels, which has curtailed my opportunities to wet a line. The free time I have had midweek has often come at less than optimal times for fishing given that I'd rather fish early or late. It's OK for photography though, so I've been snatching an hour or two here and there to pursue a project which has become a bit of an obsession.

Most of the rod building has been run of the mill stuff, or horrible rebuilds. But one alternative handle which I thought might look a bit rubbish turned out rather nicely. Cork with a soft touch reel seat and black anodised aluminium butt cap with rubber button. I don't recommend the soft touch reel seats from a practical point of view, the coating can scrape off and I've known it turn sticky. But it looks nice to start with.


Saturday, January 28, 2017

Colours and measures

Given my innate dislike of work when I have a lot of it to get done my motivation to go fishing tends to desert me for some reason. That's my current excuse for staying away from the water for most of this month. When I have had a spare couple of hours I've been spending them taking photographs for one of my projects.

In among the drudge work of standard builds there have been one or two custom jobs to keep me interested. I like playing around with colour combinations so when I was asked to whip up a set of rods using an olive thread and told to use my imagination for a choice of tipping colour to go above the handle I did just that. I wanted a contrast, but a subtle one. I think it worked out OK.


Football is something I don't understand, so it was a mystery to me why anyone would want a rod whipped up in a football team's colours. That they were green and white could have been a problem if I hadn't got myself a spool of white thread sometime last year on a whim. I'm sure I had a plan for it, but that can't have worked out! It is an option for colouring the tip on a barbel rod, but paint is easier. Putting marks on a marker rod is another use I've tried it for. Which it does well enough. Although I was sceptical of the green and white colour scheme it looks a lot better than I thought it might.

I've long been a sucker for stationery supplies. A weird fascination to have, but not an unusual one. There's something satisfying about pens and notebooks. Tapes fall into a similar category. I buy these sort of things and then try to find a use for them. After purchasing some black gaffer tape to wrap around a garish camera strap I discovered the stuff comes in a range of colours, including cammo and dayglo ones. I couldn't resist the temptation.

The cammo tape went on a bait bucket that didn't really need it, but it looks nice. Initially I had no use for the bright tapes. However, after using the white I had also bought to make labels for my boxes of stock and various other things I started using it to mark the sections of blanks when I'm building rods.

I'd used masking tape for this for years, writing details on it with marker pens. But despite it's removeability masking tape can leave a sticky residue which needs cleaning up. Gaffer tape, the proper stuff rather than duct tape, is pretty much residue free. And it tears easily. By using different colours on different sets of blanks I can quickly determine which sections are which. It looks kinda pretty too. I'm finding other labelling uses for dayglo tapes too. You can have hours of browsing fun at gaffertape.com if you are a tapeaholic!


Every so often I have a customer who wants a rod building to match one or more they already have. In an ideal world I would build the new rod along side the existing one to make sure everything lines up the same. That's not always possible so I ask for measurements. The problem is that everyone seems to measure the placement of fittings in different ways. None of which ever coincides with my system!

The way I do things is to work from fixed points. On two-piece rods these are the tip and the butt. That way any slight variation in section length in the manufacturing process is eliminated. The joints of the old and new rods might not match up, but so long as the overall lengths are the same all the fittings will align.

Reel seat placement is measured from the butt cap to the back of the reel seat (A), as is butt ring position (B). If there are two rings on the butt section the second one can also be measured from the butt cap. The  rings on the top section are measured from the tip ring (C). All quite straightforward. Three piece rods are a bit more trouble. What I do is put the middle section on the butt treat it as a single section. Similarly with four piece rods I put the two top sections together and treat them as one. The key is to use the fixed points.


Friday, January 13, 2017

Blatant self-promotion

It must have been the weather that tempted me back to the lake last week. That and some free time. Despite the conditions, which were mild before a forecast freeze, I failed yet again. Not even a missed take on the retrieve in any of the three swims I tried. Including the banker swim. I did see a low double caught by the other angler, so I guess I was just putting my baits in the wrong places., As usual. The promised frost began to arrive as I was packing up. Just a light coating of the sparkly stuff on the rod sling and unhooking mat.


I keep persevering with the 12000OC Baitrunner loaded with mono on one rod. I really don't know why! Side by side with a 6000OC it does look considerably larger. If I was fishing larger stillwaters I think the 12000 might be my pike reel of choice.


The following day I was out with my camera until late afternoon and decided to drive by the lake on my way home to see if anyone was fishing. The car park was deserted despite it being a dry and sunny day. When I saw the lake I realised why. It had gone solid over night. I'd missed nowt.

Over the Christmas/New Year holiday Neville Fickling interviewed me for Pike and Predators.I quite enjoyed answering his questions, which were not the usual sort that get asked in fishing interviews. I rambled on about a few 'off topic' subjects. The interview is in the February issue which is out now. My silly side was pleased to get one of my poultry show photographs printed in the mag!

Neville wrote a nice 'predatorial' about the history of the PAC as it enters its 40th anniversary year. It's quite remarkable to look back at how pike fishing has changed in that time. Not so much the methods, which have evolved little, but the attitudes towards pike and the access to fishing where previously pike were treated as vermin. And pretty much all down to the efforts of those who got the Pike Society rolling in the first place and those who continued the work with the PAC phoenix which rose from its ashes. Things are much better now than they were in the 'good old days', but there are still threats to pike stocks which need countering, and I fear there always will be. Which is why any angler pike angler who isn't a PAC member ought to give it strong consideration.