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!


Thursday 26 February 2015

When quality came as standard

When, in pre-decimal times, I paid £1-2s/ 6d (£1.12 1/2p) for my first ABU Cardinal 44X fixed spool reel - there was no thought of the quality of engineering that I was purchasing, just the satisfaction of having a reel to take the place of my "old fashioned" Mitchell 300's. Brightly coloured, with a futuristic design and the unique rear-drag system, they were revolutionary in their concept. What they also were was a flagship for Swedish industry and it's tradition of solid and reliable build quality - Volvo and Saab already well established in the motor industry.

Every ABU reel, of the period, made this proud statement
There was a moulded inscription on the reel seat of every ABU reel which proudly told that the item had been built in Sweden - alongside an individual item code. When carp angling started to assert itself within the UK, ABU reacted quickly - replacing the cream/green or cream/brown colour schemes of the 44 & 66's with the sleek black and gold livery of the next generation Cardinals - the legendary 55's. Same rear drag system, just so much more in tune with the cult status and fashion statements that carp anglers were starting to make.

Three of the very best - left to right - ABU Cardinal 44X, ABU Cardinal 55 and ABU Cardinal 66X
Manufactured in Sweden during the 70's/80's they remain perfectly functional in 2015.
It was in the mid-80's that Shimano came into the equation; their early models being a direct competitor to the ABU Cardinal range in as much as they were also of the rear drag design. That they (Shimano) went on to develop the "bait-runner" system is part of angling folklore and, as such, taken reel technology to the next level.
A Shimano Custom EX 3000 - one of the very early models imported into the UK (1983?)
Marketed as a direct competitor to the ABU Cardinal 55 range - even copied the colour scheme!
The Shimano reels were, and still are, a quality product, but are they manufactured with a built-in shelf life?

The beginning of the end?
Japanese marketing and manufacturing processes were the signal for build quality to fall away
in order to pursue sustained business growth and profitability.
The later ABU Cardinal 55's were manufactured in Japan and were to set the trend.
However, it is this Japanese build quality, and marketing genius, which has seen the decline in engineering standards. Why build reels which will last a lifetime when, with systematic design change, you can create demand for the new, and improved, models? The reel has been reduced to a disposable commodity - designed to survive for a few seasons, at best, before market forces and peer group pressure dictate that they must be replaced. Modern manufacturing standards are required to be adequate, not exceptional!
That original ABU 44X cost me the equivalent of approximately one days' wages; so in today's money well in excess of £100!Some of the reels being marketed today will cost three times this amount, yet are not built to last a decade - something has gone horribly wrong somewhere along the way. That I am now back using Mitchell 300's speaks volumes about my contempt for modern angling and the market driven forces which thrive within this new culture.

Action on the RMC - me with an ABU Cardinal 55 on a Tri-cast 13' 2.25 lbs t/c rod. - also from the 1980's!
Kevin, down at Sandwich Coarse Fishery quoted the phrase "Dragoncarp - falls apart!". Probably very true, but at a price which reflects the expectation. Some of the big players are equally guilty of this tag, but survive by celebrity endorsement and regular big fish features in the angling press. Tackle marketing is on a par with politicians and estate agents - professional liars, rotten to the core, preying on the gullible to fund their own agendas. Some of the stuff that I see on Youtube is beyond comprehension - carp anglers must be the dumbest life form in the UK to fall for some of this stuff - guaranteed that the carp won't! I'll end this here!

My Match Aerial centre-pin and a decent chub.
This reel was designed in the 19th Century - although my one is a Fred Crouch copy (1984)
Could a modern company expect to survive if their products were so timeless?
Let's not forget that I work for a Japanese company and have a good understanding of how this whole thing works. Sustainable growth is not based upon supplying products which will last a lifetime. Modern living has adapted to expect change, it demands innovation and the pace of that advancement is what drives successful modern industries. I don't drive a Model T Ford or ride a Penny-farthing bicycle, no more than I cook on a wood burning stove or own a tin bath. The advancement of civilisation has meant an advancement in sustainable technology. Me and my insistence to cling to certain icons from my past is, just one guy's eccentricity, not a downer on progress and the correctness of humanities desire to push the boundaries of our collective knowledge. Having a whinge about modern angling and anglers is par for the course - it's what I do because I've earned that right. I'm not in possession of any great knowledge, something which might set me apart from mere mortals - nope! I'm just a grumpy old git who has trouble keeping up with modern advances and attitudes. I might not win many friends with my opinions, but at least I'm harmless; my thoughts are only available to visitors to this blog and not part of an open forum! If you don't like it - don't read it.

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