Who am I?

An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!


Sunday 30 December 2012

Superseded yet unsurpassed

Benno and I endured yet another blank (if you ignore the smallest pike I've ever seen caught on rod and line - which took a liking to one of Ben's lures) which wasn't particularly surprising. The weather conditions, by which the pike of The Royal Military Canal are governed, well their feeding patterns, remain very unsettled and changeable. As a result we have been unable to establish any set feeding periods or favoured areas - so more effort required!
My day, however, was enriched by the meeting of a complete stranger. A young guy, Christian, was walking with his son and dog and took time out to enquire how we were getting on. It turned out that he was a local carp angler with a good knowledge of the Royal Military and a love of old tackle. Seeing that all of my gear is from the 1970/80's, he was able to tell that I had an appreciation for the finer aspects of angling etiquette. No - that's complete bull-shit; he could see that I wasn't some Johnny-cum-lately tackle tart!
Home - made "back-biter" alarm (95 decibels)
below an ABU Cardinal 66x reel
My choice of gear today was three Duncan Kay 1lbs 10oz T/C (test curve) 11ft 6ins carbon fibre rods, made by Ian Crawley of Leslie's of Luton, two ABU Cardinal 66x reels, an ABU Cardinal 155 reel with home-made "back-biter" alarms and pike monkeys as bite indication. Christian and I immediately finding much to talk about, based on the tackle that he could see. My landing net pole is a classic Alan Brown of Hitchin model, dating back to 1984 - still as solid as the day it was purchased.

I have absolutely no issues with those guys who are equipped with all the latest, hi-tech, angling gear. Good luck to them because they will have parted with substantial sums of cash to own that stuff - I hope that they are able justify their outlay by putting more fish on the bank.

Being from a very different background to these modern anglers, my priorities are about how my bait is presented underwater; the business end of my gear and what the fish actually gets a chance to see. All the fancy, land based, tackle in the world is useless if you can't get a bite because your hook-rigs/bait presentation are ineffective. (Note to self - there's something in this for you to think about!) I have spent a lot of time thinking about my bait selection, ref The Royal Military Canal pike - maybe it's time to spend more time on how, and where, I place it?

A Shimano 3000 EX Custom - one of the first Shimano reels in the UK
A Shimano "Carbomatic" 4000
and pike monkey set-up
Back to the old tackle! I am very fortunate to still own, and use, many of the items that were "cutting edge" when they first came onto the angling scene over 25 years ago. I have one of the original Shimano reels, first imported around 1982, which is still a sweet as the day I bought it. A Match Aeriel (Fred Crouch copy - I went round to his Enfield home to purchase it for £25) is a much treasured possession and has been responsible for many big fish since my return to the sport. Pre-dating all of this stuff are two wooden centre-pins which came into my possession via my cousin, Bob George. They date back to around 1920 (?) and are wonderful things to own. The bigger one has a ratchet system and a metal back plate, the smaller one has no such refinements and has been given a new lease of life by the fitting of two ball-bearing races and a new central pin. Tackle collectors and purists might recoil at the thought; to me I've given a reel a new lease of life away from the collectors cabinet.

Thankfully, I am able to see the worth of many of the modern day advances in angling technology. Line quality is now superb, fine diameter, high breaking strain with fantastic knot strength ensures confidence which is something that wasn't always true. Hook technology has advanced way beyond anything we could have believed, with fine wire and sharpness not compromising the strength of the hook.

On its' way to the net - a 12lbs pike on modern terminal tackle and a 30 year old rod & reel

Terminal tackle - the bit that the fish sees - is, always was, the most critical part of any angling situation. These modern advances have meant that I'm still able to use my vintage tackle, safe in the knowledge that the new gear I'm using won't let me down. I can afford to back wind a couple of turns or lean into a fish that little bit harder, knowing that my enjoyment of using my favoured rods and reels is not to the detriment of the fish or fish safety. Getting these fish back into the water in a healthy condition has to be priority to any angler concerned with the sport. So my day hasn't been without merit, the chance meeting with Christian demonstrating many things about human nature and the "nice to be nice" karma that most of us have lost sight of. I'm not fishing again until next weekend, so will have plenty of time to think about where I go next with my pike fishing on The Royal Military Canal - I do, however, have a back up plan that involves perch!

1920's wooden centre-pin, a 12ft "Tring Tench" rod and a hard fighting East Kent pike - perfection!

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