I've never been so determined to see a project to a successful conclusion than I am with the "split cane thirty" challenge. In spite of the hurdles, that I've introduced, there is every chance 2018 will see me make significant progress towards achieving my eventual goal. My desire to catch a "wild" fish overrides all other thoughts. I have to do it this way for it to have any worthy meaning. I'd already set out the basic rules when I received that 60th birthday gift, way back in December 2015. The passing of my father, in August 2016, just intensified my resolve to keep the promise.
I have very serious reservations about the state of modern carp angling and the skewed bias that the pursuit of a single species has placed upon freshwater fishing within the UK. But it's my problem and shouldn't prevent modern anglers enjoying their very uni-dimensional approach to a wonderfully diverse hobby. That said, I have nothing but respect for those guys who set their stall to target specific carp. If it were not for their pioneering spirit, an awful lot of my modern terminal tackle wouldn't exist. The ease by which social media allows exchange of information, and/or ideas, has produced a huge "carp angling" resource to be explored and exploited by anyone who wishes to look. So, although I'll use vintage/ancient(?) rods and reels, the terminal tackle and rig mechanics will be the best I know how to use, thanks to the internet.
When I first came up with the idea, for this crazy adventure, I was adamant that I wouldn't cast a boily with a split cane rod. Two seasons down the road and I've changed my mind. If I'm happy to use the latest "fandango" rigs then, surely, these modern baits should also be part of the armoury? It hasn't seen an abandonment of particles and their, hugely effective, use; but rather an acceptance that modern bait technology has resulted in some outstanding products which will do nothing other than assist my cause. To ignore such developments is pointless - "cutting your nose to spite your face" mentality! The project is all about enjoyment of the capture, not adherence to some long lost traditional aspect of a bygone era.
When I look at much of the Youtube stuff, in search of that odd snippet which might unlock the code, all I am seeing is carp anglers fishing for photos. The arm's length, push towards the lense, as the captor seeks to distort dimensions beyond reality. Magnificent images, just they don't work for me. In the 1980's, any angler pulling such strokes would be met with a very sceptic response - "how big?" - you're a liar! I rarely watch these anglers enjoying the experience of a prolonged fight and the main issue is with the modern rods they use. Anything which is designed to propel weights of 4 oz, plus, to the horizon (150m and beyond) is primarily a casting tool. To then expect it to cushion the, close range, lunges of a hard fighting fish is asking for a compromise which cannot be achieved. Yes, of course I've seen the huge fish that have been a real test for this type of kit. Crete Lakes, Gigantica, Les Teillats and Rainbow, etc, hold fish stocks which demand this heavy weight tackle; but not in the UK where our "bread and butter" commercial/club water fish rarely top mid-30's. No wonder there are so many carp with badly deformed mouths, when a 3 1/2 lb t/c rod is the entry-level essential for any modern angler; wherever they're carp fishing. We can debate, until the cows come home, the merits of barbed versus barbless hooks, yet it is over-gunned anglers at the bottom of this particular issue. When they say they had a hook pull - that's exactly what they did - ripped a hook out of the mouth of a carp because their rods were too powerful and the angler unable to react quickly enough. The disfigured carp a direct consequence of this, all to regular, situation and the powerful marketing techniques used by the big noises within the industry. "Learn to harness the power" being a comment from Kevin Nash when speaking about "Scope" 3 1/2 lbs t/c gimmicks - just another marketing fad, not an advance in angling technology.
In my opinion, thus the only one that counts on this blog - before you get all upset, anglers need to choose their rods to suit the situation, in a very similar manner to a golfer picking a club for a particular shot. It seems to me that modern carp anglers only have one club in their bag - and it's a bloody driver! I've just started to re-read Kevin Maddocks "Carp Fever" 1984, fully revised, 4th edition in the hope that I might stumble across some gem that I'd previously overlooked. Approach wise, it fails dimally - today's carp catchers are light years ahead of where this book left off. However, there is a magnificent insight into "old school" carp angling with a section headed Memorable Captures - and this includes a fantastic offering by Duncan Kay complete with his iconic "high twenty" photo.
As far as I am aware, there are only three (Leslies of Luton) Duncan Kay carp rods in existence in 2018 - I own them all! I'll happily change my claim if another angler is still enjoying the thrills of using such an item of historical importance. Duncan was, to me, a beacon of individualism in a sea of, non-thinking, conformity. An influence on my journey only topped by my parents and Dick Walker, he was a real cool dude. So about those rods, of which I am so proud. In the mid-80's they were proper snag - busters, all 1 lb 10 oz t/c of these magnificent fishing rods. How could this be so? Well, the snags we fished were under our feet, not on the other side of the pond. Reels locked tight, alarms at full volume and monkeys (on needles) with a minimal drop. This was cutting edge back then. Many things have changed in the intervening period, the effectiveness of a soft, through action, carp rod, is not one of them. Close range fishing, with very soft rods, remains at the core of my split cane challenge. When I do, finally, hook that fish; I want to enjoy every moment of the battle, every twist and turn - not feel the distant thumping via a rod with a similar action to a telegraph pole.
I suppose what I find most frustrating is the fact that modern carp anglers have never been able to experience the journey that I (and many of my friends) have experienced. There is no way that an angler (person/individual) can miss something they've never known?