Who am I?

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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!


Wednesday 7 January 2015

Thinking (carp) anglers or sheep?

It was a very long time ago when, in conversation with a game fisherman, I was made aware that "a poor man can't afford to use cheap tackle". The concept seemed a little weird, until explained. His reasoning based upon the the theory that any individual, of ordinary means, is very unlikely to spend lengthy periods at the top beats on any of the premier rivers of the UK. So, in consequence, chances of a good fish (read Salmon) were few and far between - it therefore, followed, that tackle failure has no place when chances are at such a premium. Thus, a poor man needs to buy the best quality tackle, that they can afford, being the conclusion; there being so many other human factors involved, in a successful encounter, without having to worry about tackle failure getting involved in the equation.
Taken literally, all serious anglers have to start with ensuring the rod and reel are of top quality - rod rests and bite alarms play no part in this, neither do bivvies, un-hooking mats or designer clothing. No, the rod and reel need to be the very best that you can afford. On an equal footing has to be the requirement for a reputable and reliable line; so no place for the cheap "mile of line!" for a few quid. Terminal tackle has to be the very best that can be acquired - hooks have to be a quality product (there are many top quality manufacturers out there), hook link material is equally varied, but dominated by a couple of superb brands who's reputations are based upon quality and reliability. A lead is a lead; but a swivel can play a major part, so no room for compromise. When analysed, in this manner, it is easy to see where that game angler was coming from!
A fairly typical "Common" carp from a local day ticket venue.
Fantastic fun, on the right gear - but do these fish justify the massive expense involved in
some visitors investment?
Modern-day carp anglers (as seen at commercial/day ticket fisheries) seem to view the whole concept from the opposite stance - a poor man can't afford to be seen in a cheap bivvy, with cheap alarms, etc..  who cares what's in the water - I've got all the gear on show and that is important? Victims of the, brand driven, fashion statements by the major manufacturers - Nash, Korda, Fox, etc...There might well be a direct correlation between the requirement to feed a family (the poor game angler) and the un-important whim to catch a fish (the modern-day pleasure carp fisherman)?
The meteoric rise in the dominance of carp, therefore carp fishing, as the main target species for freshwater anglers, is directly responsible for this attitude - exactly why Dragoncarp, as a brand and discount tackle outlet, came into existence and is now seen, by the mainstream carp angling fraternity, to be the symbol of the devil because it dares to challenge the dominance of the major players in this marketing fiasco!(It's not Dragonpike or Dragonroach, etc..; purely because these species are unable to attract the same level of, un-thinking, hysteria) Cheap bivvies, un-hooking mats, bite alarms, bedchairs, well, if you name it they sell it - absolutely none of this gear will aid an angler in their angling successes. In an industrial parlance - they are "A nice to have, not a must have!"
I'll come clean, right from the very start, I love Dragoncarp but will also be the first to admit that they do sell some horrendously crap tackle - stuff that even a child would find difficulty in deriving any pleasure in its' use. However, there are a lot of mediocre items that, for any pleasure angler, are perfectly capable of doing a job. I've got rod-rests, landing net (mesh only for my pike angling & frame only for barbel), a bivvy, a brolly, rod holdall, bed chair, sleeping bag and a seat - all at a fraction of the price that the top brands are demanding! None of these items has made me a better, or worse, angler - the fish have no concept of brand labelling and the corresponding snob value that it is capable of inducing.
My CK "Bunka" bivvy - Loch Awe May 2014
70 mph winds, sleet, snow, hail and torrential rain - it remained intact and 100% waterproof!
Pretty good for a £35 bivvy?
I think that it is very important for me to make clear, I am no longer a session angler, thus the requirement for my gear to be able to function reliably for extended periods is a not a concern. My bite alarms need to be able to get wet, but they aren't required to be bomb-proof - if the weather gets that bad I'm off home! Similarly, my bivvy gets used once a year - Scotland for a week - and has come through far more testing conditions than experienced at the average carp fishery with flying colours. It might well be found wanting in 2015? If that's the case, I'll chuck it away and get another one - at £35 it is hardly a major investment. My question " is a £500 bivvy 14 times better than mine?" because that's how many of my CK Bunka's I could purchase for the same money!
This is all hypothetical - each angler having differing expectations of their gear, so my thoughts are purely from a personal perspective. Fortunately, in my current position, I am not a poor man (although I'm by no means wealthy) and can afford to indulge my hobbies, should I choose. Therefore, my opening gambit is a bit misleading, in as much as, although I'm committed to my enjoyment of angling and consider myself to be serious in the pursuit of my quarry,  my tackle is not the best I can afford, but it is of a very good quality - and has, more importantly, stood the test of time! Modern equipment is designed as a consumable commodity, not a piece of engineering craftsmanship. Each and every year new models appear on scene - be they rods, reels, bivvies, rod-pods, bite alarms, throwing sticks and/or bivvy tables (you'd better believe it!) amongst countless other accessories which are deemed a "must have" by any serious carp angler. Some of these guys change their reels more frequently than they change their socks!
An ABU Cardinal 66X reel - built in Sweden during the 1970's
Still a great piece of tackle, engineered to an incredibly high standard - hence
the reason it is still perfectly usable in 2015.
The rod is a Duncan Kay carp rod - built, using a Bruce and Walker high modular carbon
blank, by Leslie's of Luton some time around 1984.
Such is the craftmanship and materials used, all three of these rods remain
my favoured choice for the majority of my pike and carp angling.
Their test curve is 1 lb 10 oz - plenty heavy enough for the local venues I frequent.
I'm not quite sure how this post has made it to here? I certainly hadn't intended to have a "pop" at carp anglers - you pay your money and make your choice! I actually think that there is more to it than that - I'm frustrated that I missed the boat - I was out of the loop when all this, carp-based, lunacy first started to dominate the UK angling scene. Oh yes, I'd been there at the very beginning, but had chucked it in -  birding and a move to Kent, ensuring that there was an 18 year gap in my angling journey. Neither of these influences being negative experiences; I discovered many other aspects about the wonders of our natural world and, after a failed marriage, found Bev - clouds and silver linings? I say frustrated, I think it would be better if I'd used saddened?
A double figure bream. A species which required many long hours of frustration
before finally getting the pieces of the puzzle to make sense.
Today, such fish are sneered upon, relegated to nuisance status by guys using tackle on
which I have landed sharks!
As I grew up, my angling awareness was dominated by the writings of Dick Walker, Bernard Venables, Fred J Taylor, Fred Buller, Jack Hilton and Peter Stone, et al. Anglers who placed great importance on water-craft and the developed skills of tackle control and use.I don't recall any of them endorsing a product which they wouldn't have used themselves, thus very unlike today's advertising! Pay someone enough money and they will say anything? So it is the, instant, off the shelf-type, angler who has been targeted by this approach. Spend your money and off you go - so very quickly developing into disillusionment and another "complete carp set-up" ad in the for sale section of the angling press or the local paper. There is no requirement to have learned any type of water-craft or skills, no need for a period of apprenticeship as you progress through the species. No, it's carp, carp and more carp - big tench and bream classed as nuisance fish by guys using 3.5 lb t/c rods on small pools which you could cast a swimfeeder across. Why are they using 3.5 lb t/c rods - because they are the only ones, as recommended  by the bloke in the tackle shop, they own, due all the top carp anglers who are endorsing them whilst sunning themselves at Gigantica in France, or somewhere similar.
Carp are a magnificent fish, big carp are every bit as impressive as any other species. The mystique which surrounded these creatures, as I grew up, has long been removed. Clinical technicians replacing the angling countrymen of my youth. Modern tackle and technology is ruthlessly efficient, in competent hands, and has resulted in a never-ending demand for carp fisheries. I haven't even mentioned bait - an industry in its' own right. Some astounding products, available at a price, to all who wish to use them.
DIY tackle and stuff.
Home-made back biter alarms, slider floats, assorted monkeys, a rig bin made from an old cd holder
and drop off indicators. Nothing remotely similar available at most tackle outlets due to
pike anglers being very rare in these modern times - thus there is no commercial benefit to
manufacturing/stocking such items.
Anyone who seeks the thrill of carp angling, within the UK, has never had it so good! Barbel apart, I don't think that any other freshwater species can generate enough interest to keep tackle dealers in business. If I require specialist pike tackle the only place to look is on the internet - or I have to make it myself? Now there's a concept which is completely lost on modern carp anglers. How many would dare to be seen with home-made items of tackle? How many would be prepared to use monkey-climbers on needles, open bale arms, line clips and non-baitrunner reels? To this modern breed, I might as well be talking Swahili!
I didn't want this to be seen as a dig at the modern angling scene (although it undoubtedly is) - just a viewpoint of an individual whose angling journey was far more complex than a Youtube induced carp fever.
Since my return, I have had chance to chat with many anglers - mostly intrigued by the strange old tackle that I'm using. The vast majority are decent people who wish for nothing more than to enjoy their hobby in the best way they know how - and I'm all for that.

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