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!


Friday 18 July 2014

The challenge - my approach

As with any given situation, four individuals will have four differing (often very slightly) solutions to the one problem. Therefore, what I am about to write is only my personal opinion and is not representative of Benno, Luke and/or Tom. If some details appear a little hazy, that is deliberate, as I have no intention of giving away any "tweeks" that might help idle souls cash in on our hard graft.
Right from the very start of this project, locating the barbel of The "Kentish" Stour, has been a major headache. There is one, very well known and heavily pressured, swim where Benno and I have both taken a "double" each. Away from this hot-spot, fish location is extremely difficult and has more to do with watercraft and experience than actually seeing these elusive creatures. In the middle reaches, where we concentrated our efforts last season, this river is an intimate venue full of character and challenges. As I made mention, yesterday, the floods of the previous winter have changed that section of the river beyond recognition and, so, we are starting out again in another area.
September 1985 - this River Thames 9lbs 2oz barbel remained my (joint) PB for 28 years!
Taken on maggots, fished on a size 14 Drennan Specialist hook in conjunction
with a feeder - how tactics have changed!
There is masses of information generated, each year, in the angling press and on the Internet, about the "best way" to approach barbel fishing. Of course, there is no one method that will provide the all the answers in every given situation, but every snippet is worthy of reading/hearing as it might well provide an answer further down the line. To this end, I read as much as I can - jotting down odd bits that I feel might be worthy of a try, and this is true of all my angling be it for pike, perch, tench or bream.
The essentials - as I see it
The above image shows the kit that I am using in 2014 - I won't leave home without it.

No. 1 - An LED head torch - the pursuit of these fish is very much a nocturnal pastime and, as such, a head torch is required
No. 2 - An example of my rig - in line flat pear lead,  18" Kryston hooklink with two blobs of tungsten putty to a Korda "Wide Gape" with a hair-rigged 16mm Halibut pellet (tied knotless knot)
No. 3 - Bait dropper - complete with my own mods. Fred Crouch first demonstrated the vital role that this item of tackle plays. I've never forgotten it.
No. 4 - Hooks; of whatever pattern and size suits the occasion
No. 5 - Super Glue - only an idiot would go fishing without it?
No. 6 - Kryston "Silkworm" hooklink material. It was good enough for carp and catfish in the 1980's; it remains a quality product to this day, all of my R.Stour barbel have been taken on it.
No. 7 - A simple baiting needle for threading pellets.
No. 8 - A selection of flat pear, in line, leads from 2 - 4 oz in 1/2 oz divisions
No. 9 - Flying back lead - just to keep that extra 24" of main line pinned to the river bed
No. 10 - Insect repellent - probably the most important item in my bag?
No. 11 - Rubber beads for protecting my knots
No. 12 - Snap Lites
No. 13 - Halibut pellets; 16 mm on left and 22mm "donkey chokers" on the right
No 14 - Quick link swivels and sleeves
No 15 - Nail clippers; my teeth ain't as good as they once were!

Enterprise Tackle adaptor, as endorsed by Frank Warwick

Probably the best £30 I've invested.
I got three Optonic alarms which have never missed a beat in four seasons - why spend more?
My bite indication is via the visual movement of the rod tip. To this end I use an Enterprise Tackle adaptor which allows me to fit a "snap lite" to the rod which glows in the dark. However, due to the fact that I'm very easily distracted, as a back-up I also use an Optonic bite alarm to give an audible signal should I get a bite.

My rather tired-looking Match Ariel - what a joy to own and use.
I purchased this reel from Fred Crouch, for £25, way back in the early 1980's
It has seen some action, and abuse, since then and is still a fantastic piece of kit.

One of my three Matt Hayes "Limited edition" centre-pins.
Already I have taken two 13lbs+  barbel and pike to 18lbs 9oz using these reels.
They are a bit like a Ronseal advert - they do exactly what it says in the advertising blurb!
Will they survive as long as my Match Ariel? Who knows?

To ensure that my captures are as enjoyable, as they are hard earned, it is my choice to use centre-pin reels. The modern bait-runners do a fantastic job but, in my opinion, cannot compare to the experience of playing a decent fish on a reel which "comes alive" when a fish is hooked. I still own, and very much treasure, an Allcock's Match Ariel (Fred Crouch copy) which is a delight to use, however, I have also purchased three Matt Haye's "Limited Edition" Centre-pins (No.s 54,55 & 56) which have already provided me with some fantastic fun. Not quite the build quality of the original, yet plenty good enough for the treatment I dish out and robust enough to stay the course.
Sorry if you were expecting to read about swim choice and baiting strategies - maybe another day; after I have discovered that my tactics are delivering the results I seek. Tight lines!

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