Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Rod evaluation

The sun shone and I got motivated to have a few chucks with the heavier of the two 8ft 6in two-piece American Tackle Bushido rods. I took the usual box of lures plus a regular Bull Dawg and a Mag Dawg. The regular was clipped on and I made my first cast with the heavy rod. It flew out smooth and easy. A rod length out a greedy little jack grabbed the Dawg! I'd not bothered taking a camera as I was only going to stop in one swim to get a feel of the rod and compare it with the lighter one, so I used my phone. 

A few more chucks and the rod could obviously handle more. It is rated as 150g after all. Sure enough it had no trouble casting the Mag Dawg (211g on the scales at home). Other lures tried on the rod were a Manta, a Giant Jackpot, a Squirrelly Burt (obvs...), and a fibreglass Dolphin. Not only did it cast them well the tip was stiff enough to work them.

The lighter rod (rated as 130g) was up to casting the regular Dawg, but the tip is too soft for working jerkbaits in my estimation. A rod beest used for lures that are fished on a straight retrieve, and smaller twitchbaits and soft plastics on jig heads. If I'd had a rod like this 20 years ago I'm sure I'd have spent more time fishing creatures, slugs, reapers and so forth.

The two rods I've been using were experimental builds. The handles an inch longer than I fit to my Axioms etc., and this made a bit f a difference when casting the heavier baits so has made the final spec. The lighter rod has a cork handle, but I tried an abbreviated Duplon handle on the heavier rod. I'm not a fan of Duplon on lure rods but it felt OK in the hand.

Where I slipped up was not working out a Rover Ringing pattern for the rods. D'oh! I left that until I built one of the lighter rods for a customer. Handle will be cork in my usual style but with a short foregrip and a gunsmoke collar. Rings (pattern to be decided) will be 20mm butt down to an 8mm tip. Thread colour dark grey with a pale grey tip to the hook keeper.

Prices to be confirmed once I've settle on ring pattern.

Thursday, January 04, 2024

New Year, new rods

The winter break saw me  working as usual. In among the standard builds were some odd jobs. First up a Sledge-Hammer 60H that I was asked to build as a sea boat rod. Neither I nor the customer are sure if it will work, but at least the handle, including gimbal type butt cap, are right!

Another odd job was rebuilding a pair of old, as in over 25 years, Harrison Baby Ballistas that had been chopped down to 10ft 6in. One needed a complete rebuild, one needed the tip replacing, and a third new one was to be built to match. Full Duplon handles with short flare foregrips. Now looking as good as new.
Last up in the 'something different' category is a rod which I'll be adding to my list shortly. I had one on show at the PAC Convention and it met with approval. The blank is an American Tackle two piece, fast taper, 'Bushido'. There are two models, the one shown here is the lighter.

The blanks are woven for the most part, with the weave ending part way up the tip section as per a Harrison Chimera, joints are overfits. 8ft 6in long, rated to cast 130g, I've found this model to be best with lures that are cranked straight back. The tip is much softer than my Axioms and Sledge-Hammers, and indeed softer than the heavier Bushido. As soon as I can get motivated I'll be taking the heavier rod out for a play. It should be good for big swimbaits, and even for working jerkbaits as the tip is stiffer. This one is the same length but rated to 150g.

Tuesday, September 19, 2023

I'm still building rods

Summer, such as it was, has certainly slipped away now with out me getting much fishing done. I don't like rain so that stopped me fishing for some time - instead I went to agricultural shows and got drowned! When the sun came back it was too bloody hot for me.

I might not be fishing as much as I used to, but the rumour I got wind of that I have retired from rod building is well wide of the mark. If anything I'm more enthused about it than I have been for a while. A good job too because my retirement plan is to keep working! Having new rod making products to mess about with always gets me thinking of ways to incorporate them into functional, but aesthetically pleasing, rods.

Way back I took delivery of a new blank. New as in one I've not seen before. It's a two piece American Tackle lure blank. Fast action with a fine tip and rated to cast 130g. I got a handle fitted straight away but the AT rings I wanted to use on it were out of stock. After much chasing an alternative set arrived last week and when they were whipped on and the varnish dried I was eager to give have a chuck with it. That's what I did yesterday. Only for a fishless hour, but I dodged the rain and got an idea what the rod will do.

My take on the 8ft 6in Bushido rod is that it needs 2oz to load it for smooth casting. It will work with less, but it isn't optimal. While it fished a Burt well enough I'd rather use something slightly shorter with a stiffer tip for that. I'll be using it mostly for spinnerbaits and inlines, plus soft swimbaits and suchlike. I reckon it would also be useful for fishing bigger jigs.

After missing the PAC Convention for various reasons for four years I've got a stall booked for this coming Saturday's event at Newark Showground. I'll have the Bushido on show, plus my P-6 and another rod I've built up with a reel seat that I've just had a sample of. It's a very comfortable reel seat to hold and looks quite distinctive. That rod will be going in the PAC's raffle.

Getting out among the autumnal dragonflies and bright red haws got me itching to have a go for some pike. I don't want to start too early though, and there are still sheep to be photographed! Another month and the time could be right.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Two steps back

Overconfidence is a terrible thing. There was I thinking I'd got this eel fishing lark sussed and was eager to have another go, this time to succeed big time. The eels brought me back to reality.

Conditions had changed. There was a nice breeze coming from the west putting a ripple on the water. Cloud cover was partially obscuring the watery sun. I needed a sweatshirt to keep the wind chill off me and selected a slightly sheltered swim. Not for the shelter but because it gave me a number of options for positioning the baits.

The semi-fixed leger rig has been swapped back to a running one and a wire trace had replaced the hard mono hooklink. I'd dug some deadbaits and squid out of the freezer, both to give me a bit of variety and to eke out the worm supply. You get through a lot fishing three or four on a hook on three rods when pesky eels are pinching or mauling them.

Currently I'm suffering the results of chilblains on my right hand last winter. It seems to have damaged the fingernails on two fingers and the damage has now grown out to the tips causing the nails to delaminate like a badly wrapped rod blank. The flaky nail edges catch on things and break. So I'm taping the fingers up with plasters. Which makes picking up small things like crimps and hooks a real problem. Baiting up the hook points also love to snag in the plasters causing even more cursing!

All three baits were out 8 o'clock, the first take being a strange one at a few minutes after nine to the legered worms. Although the baitrunner was slack the tip kept pulling round. of course there was nothing there when I struck, and the worms were intact. Odd. It didn't happen again. Almost an hour later the craziness and frustration began with three takes, one after the other, to the three rods in succession. Almost simultaneous takes happen quite frequently, despite the baits being spread over quite an area. It feels like the eels are conspiring to drive me mad from not knowing which rod to strike.

It was gone half nine when I eventually swung an eel ashore. Another sub-pounder to the off bottom worms. This was not to be the first of many. Takes and runs came in bursts as the light left the sky fell and continued well into darkness. It was only at five past eleven that I connected with another eel, this time to the legered ball of squid.

I didn't need to retackle or make any fresh traces so didn't have the chance to try my swim lighting set up, but it was fine for baiting up. Although I only used it once as my headtorch was doing me OK for that after putting fresh batteries in.
The action didn't slow after midnight. Encouraged to stick around I stopped until quarter past one. The takes were still coming. I was still failing to connect with them. With no eels landed worth weighing I've not bothered photographing any either. So here's a pic of my latest eel rods. They're 10ft 2.75lb Ballista Stalkers which have a tippier action than my P-4s making them better for casting leads and small baits. The only time I've had a decent bend in them so far has been 'playing' a ball of weed. There feels to be enough in the butt section to cope with decent fish.

I went for a low profile look with all black fittings from American Tackle and a different look to the abbreviated Duplon. Thread is my favourite shad of grey and all (minimalist) lettering is on the underside of the rods. They balance well with the near perfect 6000OC Baitrnners.

There's rain forecast. I might dust the barbel rods off and give the eels a break for a couple of weeks. Or I might restock the worm tub and keep the roll going...

Monday, June 26, 2023

3 x 10ft 3lb Torrix for sale

My annual 'what rods shall I build myself' spree went into overdrive this year and in addition to my tench rods I built myself another set of eel rods, which means last year's models are up for sale

As the post title says they are three 10ft 3lb Torrix. Build is minimal. American Tackle  1k woven reel seats, AT butt caps, Fuji Alconite rings, hook keepers on left side  dark grey thread. All lettering underneath except 'DLST' on top between the whippings for the hook keepers.

New build price would be £340 each or £1050 including carriage. Selling these three, hardly used, £700 including carriage.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Hard Nylon eel traces

Making hooklinks on the bank, in the dark by the light of a headtorch, isn't the easiest thing to do! So much so that I've packed an LED light to put on my camera tripod for my next session. It'll only be needed if I run out of the spares I'll be making at home!

Years ago I bought a spool of Mason Hard Type Nylon to make leaders when I was fly-fishing for pike. Leaders, not tippets, the flies were attached to wire which was attached to the leader. It's strange stuff. Very tough, very stiff, and very 'coily'. It's also difficult to get hold of in the UK. Mine came from Veal's, and while they still have it listed on their website it is currently out of stock and has been for some time. There must be an alternative but buying unseen could lead to a lot of money going down teh plug hole. Is the stuff carp anglers use for Ronni Rigs the same? 

Other than the nylon everything else is simple. One hook, two double barrel crimps, a rig sleeve.

Not all of the tools shown below are essential. In fact the crimping pliers are the only ones you cant do the job without. I use the lighter to put a blob on the tag end of the nylon before pulling it snug into the crimp at the hook. It isn't a big deal to leave it sticking out without a blob. Crimped correctly the line won't slip. The tag end can be left longer at the loop end as that will be sleeved over.

The nail clippers are what I use for trimming all nylon lines. they're especially good on tougher and thicker monos I find. The knot testers are used to test the connections, and have the added benefit that when doing that the curve in the nylon is pulled out.
Just a close up of the jaws of the pliers. 

The crimp should be placed 'crossways' in the groove of the pliers, so it squashes the two barrels together flattening each barrel. Ideally the crimp should stick out of the jaws at the loop end to give an angled transition for the nylon. I suspect this is more critical when using heavier gear to big game fish than it is with this sort of tackle. The crimps I'm using are very small and fiddly enough to align correctly in the pliers without having to get a bit to stick out - the crimp length being the same as the width of the jaws. There's no chance in the dark! To give an idea of size these are one inch squares on the cutting mat.

I'm using quick change swivels on the end of my mainline hence using a loop on my hooklinks, but a swivel can be attached just as easily. Crimping is ideal for people who have to have all their hooklinks exactly the same length. Much easier than trying to do that with knots - although having a loop at one end works.

These are only used with worms or other non-fishy baits. Anything that I think has a greater chance of being picked up by a pike is fished on wire.