Friday, May 26, 2023

More on rings and fittings

I'm expanding the ring options for my rod builds. Not everyone likes the look of the grey frames Fuji now have and, as with reel seats, prefer the look of black framed rings. Kigan are available with a black frame but cost more than the BCLSVOG Fujis, Seymos are available but are more bulky and a pain in the bum to fettle before whipping in place, American Tackle (AT) Vortex rings are nicer to work with but the centres are not recommended for use with braid. Enter AT Salvo rings.

Similar in design to the old BSVOG Fuji rings I used to fit they stand off a little more than the BCLSVOGs. There's no cost increase and they come in a wider range of sizes than the Kigans.

BCLSVOG on the left, Salvo on the right.

For a modest increase in price there is a more modern looking ring available from AT, in the currently fashionable 'anti-frap' style. Delta rings maybe stand off a fraction more but have the advantage that as they decrease in size they stand off proportionally less. Although I doubt it makes any practical difference I have always found the step down to the tip ring when using V framed rings like BSVOGs to look a bit odd. The Deltas make a much neater look and are not over bulky in the larger sizes. The matching tip is also anti-frap style.

30mm Delta
10mm Delta to 10mm Delta tip

10mm Delta tip

These AT rings strike me as being the next best thing to Fuji when it comes to fit and finish requiring little in the way of tweaking to work with. The same can't be said for Seymos and Kigans. there is nothing wrong with the functional quality of either of those brands. The ring centres won't damage your line (unlike some nasty ones I've replaced on mass produced rods), and Kigans have a slight weight saving due to their lighter (more easily bent) frames. I just prefer not to have to waste my time grinding ring feet smooth or bending frames to line them up to lie correctly on the rod blank.
AT produce a number of other rings in the anti-frap style which carp anglers are drooling over. I can't see them appealing to pike or eel anglers though. They're a bit more expensive. A distance set of the top of the range rings would add over £200 per rod!

Also available from AT are gunsmoke winding checks and butt caps. Same additional cost as the stainless alternatives.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Always wear sunscreen

Fred says "Always wear sunscreen." It was needed on Friday, possibly the hottest day of the year so far. T-shirt and shades weather. Possibly not ideal conditions for fishing. Nice to be out in the warmth though after the not too cold, but miserable, winter, followed by a spring that didn't want get going.

I had the choice of swims, so went for the one I'd have liked to fish last time out. I don't think it was a wise selection. The only rel feature to be found was the marginal reeds. They look like reedmace, definitely not Phragmites. Whatever they are fish seem to like them.

I really don't like fishing off platforms, and when they are well above the water level I like it even less. I made do.

Conditions had change. The wind had turned through 180 degrees from last time putting barely a ripple of the surface. There wasn't much scum floating around, nor a large hatch of flies. Some did appear late on.

Action was slow coming. I started out by baiting up as far out as I could catapult maggots and 4mm pellets, fishing the same two rigs that I'd left on the rods over the bait. Corn and pellets kept getting trickled into the margins to my left.

Action was slow coming.The fake corn was wound in and dropped in the edge. The baitrunner slackened right off and the rod laid on the platform. I was shocked when the rod swung round. Surprised when I picked the rod up to find nothing there. Probably because the slack baitrunner and running lead didn't offer enough resistance to set the hook. While putting the rod on the pod made the line's angle very steep it would offer a better chance of a successful hookup.

Sure enough it did. I'd just started listening to The Archers (not that I know why I bother these days, it's gone to the dogs) while watching an angler opposite dealing with a tench on a pole when the alarm sounded. This time the fish fell off. The line had been laid between reed stems and the fish had also managed to get into the reeds. It didn't feel big. No surprise there.

Repositioning the bait closer so the line didn't have to go through or round any reeds I started feeding over the rig with the corn and pellets. Third time lucky. By the way the fish was fighting I thought it might be another male tench. It was. Maybe a little heavier than the other two I've had (I couldn't be bothered getting the sling wet) it still wasn't not big enough to test the rods out. Most of the scrap took place between the rod tip and the platform. I say scrap, more like the fish swimming around on a tight line until I could see where it was in the soup and put the net under it.

I used my smallest pair of forceps to unhook the fish so it might look bigger when laid next to them for a snap... 
That was my lot. Plenty of small stuff topping as the light went. One or two better, but far from huge, fish rolling noisily too. I don't mind sitting waiting hours for a bite if it results in fish the sort of size I'm after, which doesn't have to be large by national standards, but when the fish are small by any standards I'd much rather be catching lots of them. I seem to have got fishing head back on though. Which is something positive. One more try with a slightly different approach then I'll go elsewhere, or fish for something else. Or both!

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Rod news

First off I have a pair of one-off rods for sale at a bargain price! RODS SOLD! They are 12ft/2.25lb multi-carp blanks trimmed to 11ft. Suitable for close range carp or flood water barbel, maybe zander or canal pike.

Cork handles, American Tackle black DPS reel seats and AT rubber butt caps, seven Seymo Hardlon guides plus tip with black frames, hook keeper, black thread. Nominal test curve is 2lb 6oz, action through but beefy.

I've had these blanks sitting around for a long time after the need for them for myself went away, so in a quiet spell built them up to see what the AT reelseats are like on actual rods. If ordered new these would be £280 each or thereabouts. Selling as a pair for just £390 plus carriage.

American Tackle fittings are starting to become popular in the carp rod world, partly because they offer good quality black reel seats, and also (I think) because of their steel lined rings/guides. I can't see the value of the weight reduction these rings offer on distance carp rods that weigh a ton, but I guess they look nice! However, they are not recommended for use with braid, so of less use to pike anglers I reckon.

Some of the other AT products look more practical for pikers and I hope to be investigating them over the summer. I wouldn't say the finish on AT fittings is quite as good as that on Fujis, but it runs a close second. far better than other brands I've worked with. As a rod fitting nerd it is annoying that the AT 18mm DPS reel seats are ever so slightly wider than the Fuji equivalent. It's less than a millimeter, but I noticed it straight away! They come in black, matt black, carbon weave and the never recommended soft-touch finish. Soft coated reelseats look and feel lovely. Until the finish starts to go tacky and peel off. Maybe it's just something in my sweat that does it, but I ruin the rubbery grips on cameras and lenses in no time too!

I had a customer who had a craving for retro-fitting rubber RBC butt caps to his rods. The only problem was his silly Fox quiver had handle pockets that were too narrow. I had also had the same problem with an otherwise well designed Fox quiver. very annoying to have a good piece of kit that you can't use. Anyway, after a few failed dry runs I came up with some shaped Duplon that, combined with a Delrin button, makes a slim enough 'blob' to finish the handles off.

Being satisfied with the handles I put on my new tench rods I had another play around to adapt it to heavier rods. This time putting the shrink tube over the Duplons.Only a dry fit and a quick snap. I'm leaving this for a while before deciding if I like it. It's an option for anyone else though.

More rods in stock on my website.

Monday, May 08, 2023

New rods - No jinx!

So much for pike fishing. After a reasonable start everything went rapidly down hill. If I didn't blank completely, as in get no action at all, I got dropped takes (I never get dropped takes) and the one better fish I connected with fell off almost at the net. It was unbearable so I gave up. The constant rain through March didn't encourage me either. April is always a bit hit and miss for any fishing in my experience so I thought I'd wait until spring arrived  in fine style before getting the rods out again.

In mid-April I was starting to get some enthusiasm back and decide that I needed a pair of tench rods, having sold my last set and not wanting to use my Interceptors now I've become a born-again fan of ten footers. 10ft 1.75lb Stalkers seemed like the best choice. Traditional through action, slim and light. At this time of year pike rod orders have quietened down and I often get the urge to try some non-standard builds for my personal use. So what to do to the Stalkers?

Go minimal. Not having tried the American Tackle Vortex guides/rings/eyes, call them what you will, a set of light rods seemed a good chance to give them a whirl. While I was at it I messed about with ring spacings and came up with a new Rover pattern of seven plus tip to suit the through action. Wanting an equally minimalist looking handle I went through a lot of dry runs eventually settling for a 16mm reel seat with shrink tube and Duplon 'bits'. A Delrin butt cap finishing the handle off. Built up with dark grey thread holding the rings in place they looked pretty smart. 



There was just one thing nagging me. They felt a bit undergunned. Tying leads to the end of line run through the rings and waggling it about making short casts in the back garden 1.75oz seemed a bit much. 1.5oz was more like it. Only one way to find out if this was a false perception. Go fishing!

It took a while for the weather and my spare time to coincide, and when it did I almost didn't bother, but yesterday was perfect. One of the warmest and sunniest afternoons for an age, with only a light wind blowing. Not only would I give the new rods a whirl, I'd go fish a new venue that I've walked round a few times. Unfortunately it's a platform job, which meant the pod had to be dragged out. With some maggots bought earlier in the week along with a bag of halibut pellets and a tin of long past its sell-by date sweetcorn I had plenty of feed for a short session.The rigs were simple enough. One rod had a helicopter feeder set-up, two fake casters being the hook baits. The second rod had a running leger armed with two grains of fake corn. Guaranteed tench catchers!

The swim I had hoped to fish was occupied so I had to have a look round. The one I chose had emergent reeds to either side and a layer of scum the prevailing wind had blown surrounding the platform. It was only a week or two since I last walked round the pit but it had turned to pea soup in that time. I wasn't over-happy about that.

A quick handful of casts with the lead rig to get an idea of depths near the reeds and I was ready to get set up. Feeder to my left, leger to my right. catapult out freebies over the top. Set the bobbins. Sit back and wait.

The sun reflecting off the gentle ripple was in my eyes. It was time to get the sunglasses out. I had nearly left them out of the rucksack when paring down its contents but reasoned they didn't weigh much. I was glad to have them with me.

There was quite a bit of fishy activity. Certainly fish could be seen swirling and an odd bigger splash  heard. The bubbles coming up in front of and to the sides of the swim might have been tench too. Then I started getting knocks and rattles on the feeder rod. It wasn't long before the rattling rod top didn't stop and I lifted into a fish which turned out to be a hand sized rudd. Until it broke surface I hadn't a clue what it was as visibility was nil. One rod christened. Back out with the rig and more freebies

The next take was a series of pulls followed by slack line. As soon as I felt the fish on the end of the line I knew it was a tench. Jagging about and constantly changing direction. It plainly wasn't very big, even on the light rods it was no concern, but the little bugger wouldn't go in the net. Mainly because of it's erratic swimming around, and also because I couldn't see where it was!

I can't remember catching a tench under four pounds since 1982 when I last caught tench from the local canal. Maybe I've got spoiled over the years, but a two pound tench, no matter how pretty it looks, doesn't do much for me these days. Still, I'd caught my target species, and things could only get better.

Another fish fell for the casters. A third species, if a roach/bream hybrid counts as a species. Possibly scraping half a pound it had to be netted - along with a load of the floating scum and twigs. The scum was a mix of algae, small twigs, willow fluff and other tree debris typical of this time of year.

All this action happened in the first hour of my session. As the sun stopped dazzling me I could see there was a tremendous hatch on, the shuck also adding to the floating scum. Whatever the fish population is in the place they won't be short of food.

I was planning on stopping until nine thirty but the activity to the rods had dried up when the surface ripple began to die away and I was starting to wonder if it was going to be worth it. Recasting was getting tricky as the scum was starting to reach past where my lines entered the water. And even getting close to where I was positioning the feeder. I sat it out, occasionally catapulting out a few more offerings over both rigs.

At ten to nine the corn rod was away. Again I could tell it was obviously a tench when I picked the rod up. Again it did the silly swimming in circles under the rod tip thing. It didn't feel much bigger, but it was pulling harder, if that makes sense, and I suspected it of being a male. I wasn't wrong. Just for the hell of it I weighed the little blighter. Two and a half pounds of chunky, cheeky tench.

I clung on until the bitter end for no more reward. Both rods christened, if not well tested, had beaten the new tackle jinx for once. I tried a few longer casts with them at packing up time and I have to say that an empty 30gm feeder was bending the rod into the butt on the cast. Until I hook something with some weight behind it I'm reserving judgement on the Stalkers. Doing my usual back garden line tied to a hook on the garage wall tests they do feel like there's a bit in the butt. If another session on the new pit doesn't give them a proper work out, even a four pounder would do, I might take them to a carp puddle! They're a popular barbel rod though, so maybe it's just me?

Sunday, February 12, 2023

Beating the jinx

When I was put on the waiting list to have my gall bladder removed in late 2021 I was told it would be a simple keyhole surgery and I'd be back home after no more than 24 hours, and back in action after a couple of weeks or so. The date finally came round in October last year. As the pike fishing where I've been going for the last few years never seems to get going until November I reckoned I'd not be missing much of it. I'd even got a new set of P-3s built up ready after liking the length of the P-4s I used last season but finding them a bit undergunned for the odd time I wanted to punch a half mackerel to the middle of the pit. For playing pike they'd been great but I prefer having rods that will cast anywhere I want but might be a bit overgunned for playing fish than the other way round.

I was surprisingly un-nervous when I went in for the operation. The anesthetist was a Hungarian who, when I mentioned building rods for a living, told how he found the way the death of Benson the carp was hilarious. We both had a laugh about it, as did the nurses sticking cannulas in my veins. When he got to talking about eating pikes I thought it best to keep my gob shut. He'd be keeping me pain free and oblivious to the procedure and it's best not to annoy someone doing that!

The first thing I aksed a nurse when I came round was 'When can I go home'. The answer was not reassuring. 'The surgeon will be round to see you soon.' Then I noticed what looked like aquarium airline coming out of my side to a plastic bag with blood in it. That couldn't be right for a simple procedure. Sure enough when the doctor appeared he told me things hadn't gone to plan and they'd had to open me up. I'd be stopping in for about a week. The next revelation explained why I was finding it uncomfortable and painful to adjust myself in bed. I had a dressing on my belly that was over a foot long!

To cut to the chase there were 30 'staples' holding the wound together. I'd not be able to drive for a fortnight and recovery would take longer than I'd anticipated. After the fortnight was up I was more mobile and drove to a sheep sale. I thought I was 90% back to fitness but after a couple of hours I was feeling a bit knackered. It wasn't until late January that I actually felt up to hoisting a rucksack and rod sling onto my shoulders and tramping round the pit.

When I did just that I headed for the furthest swim on a day that felt promising. The swim felt right too and I did what I rarely do and sat it out in the one place until after dark. I never had a sniff. With three brand new rods I suppose a resounding blank was inevitable. How many blanks would I need to endure before the curse was lifted?

 A fortnight later I was back, this time I had the place to myself and seeing a nice breeze rippling the surface thought it worthwhile setting one rod up to drift a bait.

The first drift almost went to plan until the float started heading to the right where one of my static baits was. It then took me five or six tries to get a second drift to go anywhere at all! eventually, by casting it well out, the float was on its way at a steady pace and heading in the perfect direction. This lead me to stop longer than I'd planned in the swim. I had intended to move twice but when it got to almost four it was definitely time for a move which would be the only one of the day.

The second swim was facing into the wind, which made it feel colder than the nine degrees the car's thermometer had read. as the sun set the wind dropped which actually made it feel warmer even though the temperature was down to four degrees by the time I set off home.

For the last hour of daylight, with sunset coming after five I was going to stop until at least six in order to avoid the rush hour traffic, I cracked three starlights and pushed them into the tops of the foam egg floats I made last year. I actually cracked four starlights but I dropped on in the grass. I found it after dark! The floats work a treat, but the commercially made starlight holders are not a tight fit. I've lost a couple of starlights when casting. The DIY holder I cobbled together is much mor 'grippy' so the floats will be getting modified.

At 5.20 the far right hand float wasn't where it should have been. When I wound down, however, there was no pike attached. A dropped take. I don't get dropped takes! The lamprey head was hardly marked, but they are pretty tough so that wasn't unexpected. Twenty minutes later the far left hand float started heading away from the bank. I was on it like a shot and this time there was definitely something more than a sardine on the hooks. A lily pad and stem. Another dropped take. I never get two dropped takes!! The sardine was lightly toothmarked. It was still castable because not only had I found a good hook hold in the backbone I'd also tied it on with red bait elastic. Still it was pikey activity. I determined to stick it until half six, then head to the chippy.

By now it was dark enough to see the starlights glowing. It's a lovely sight. It's even better when you see one of them wobbling from side to side, which is what the middle one did with just ten minutes to go to home time. A quick strike connected with what was obviously a pike. A small one, but a pike. A pike that decided to grow a bit and put a bend in the P-3. Not a hooping bend, but definitely a bend. In the net it looked like a high single. I got the forceps and weighing kit ready while the pike rested in teh mesh of the net in the margin. The forceps weren't required as the pike had unhooked itself. The scales said I'd under-guesstimated slightly. Being lean, and somewhat tatty, it could weigh more in good nick.

I guess those two dropped takes were enough to clear the hex on the new rods. I put the successful rod away, then slowly packed the rest of my gear and the other two rods. My mojo might not be back to full power, but I'm looking forward to a few more sessions this month and next when I can fit the time in with work commitments. Don't hold your breath for updates as my blogging mojo is weak!

Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Different day, same result

I got the eel urge again yesterday. A warm day with a sprightly southerly blowing it was over 20 degrees when I arrived at the water. With the lake deserted my swim choice was unlimited. Fancying a change I plumped for one I haven't eel fished very often, the reeds to my left keeping the breeze off me and with a few features to fish to.

The usual rigs and baits were in place by eight fifteen. Two fishing the margins where eels are supposed to be caught, one in open water where I have more success on this venue. No instant action this time. It wasn't until just before the stated time for sunset in my tide table that the first worm snatcher made off with a free meal from the leger rig in no-man's-land. Twenty minutes later the same thing happened to the off-bottom worms in the margin.

It wasn't a case of cast out and an eel homing in straight away. It took half an hour before the suspended bait was nabbed again. This time I connected. With another bootlace. One that did a Houdini in reverse and tangled itself up so badly it became almost rigid. That didn't make it any easier to unhook though. I still had to chop things up and re-tackle after returning the pest.

The air temperature stayed up as the sun set, the wind swung to the west a little before swinging back and maybe easing off. A flock of starlings swirled briefly over what used to be one of their roosting sites. A large conifer which has been chopped down. They must like the location because they dropped behind the tree line in roughly the same place as the tree had stood. There must be another roostable tree or hedge there for them.

The large mallard flock wasn't in evidence, small groups of them were sitting in a couple of swims, heads tucked under wings, beady eyes alert, as I had a look round before choosing my swim. A great crested grebe and it's near grown offspring were cruising a lily bed.  Other than that bird life was quiet. 

While re-tackling the rod that was out of action, I had to tie up a hooklink as I 'd come unprepared in that respect, another worm snatcher attacked the leger rig. Ten minutes later the same rod was in action. For once an actual run that took line and showed no sign of stopping! Result a slightly larger bootlace than the first one, but lip hooked and easily released. It must have hooked itself.

Haws and blackberries were ripening in my swim making me think of autumn. August is a strange month in the turning of the seasons. One the one hand it can be hot and sunny, a time for summer holidays, yet on the other fruits and berries are starting to appear as the leaves begin to darken and grasses turn straw-coloured.

That bootlace was my lot. The bites and twitches, which hadn't been frequent, became more sporadic until they stopped altogether. By eleven I'd given up hope, but as it was still warm I hung on for another half an hour before calling it a wrap. Time for a change of venue or species I think.