Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A step too far, worn joints, and other things

Rather than head back where I'd fished on Sunday, like a sane person would, I headed upriver on Monday for a late session. It's not often that I fish on consecutive days. But the obsessive fire was burning. It was inevitable. As was the outcome.

The river looked to have dropped even more judging by the waterline on the stones and was running very clear. I wanted to try the hemp and pellet attack again. Two tins of hemp and an equal amount of my pellet mix were droppered in, then one boilie cast over it with another upstream. The barbel would soon be queuing up to get caught.

Bats were on the wing well before dark as they are at this time of year. I suppose the cooling nights mean that insect activity reduces as the night wears on, so the bats start feeding earlier. They must need feeding up in readiness for their winter rest. Every now and then one would hit one of the lines and set me leaping to the rod. That was about the limit of the action to be honest.

Although the sky was clear and starry, the evening star shining particularly brightly as it travelled westward, the night was mild at first. Later on a wind sprang up and the air turned cool. For some reason it didn't feel like anything was going to happen. A few chub bites came to the downstream rod in the last hour before I packed up at midnight.

A blank session was long overdue. Here's hoping the next one is as long coming. It did make me wonder if the change of tactics is a good idea. The baiting up doesn't seem to be improving things compared to the PVA bag only approach. I shouldn't have tried mending something that wasn't bust.

I had great plans for the rest of this week. Work would be done by Tuesday and the river would be my home for the next few days. Long overdue blanks arrived on Tuesday and put paid to that. Even post-teatime starts have been scuppered by customers wishing to collect their rods late on. So it's time for more rod building thoughts.

The worn joints of the title aren't my ageing knees and hips but those of my Chimera barbel rods, the tips of which have been snugging down almost to the limit the painted blanks allow for about twelve months. I'd noticed them work loose a time or two recently, so it was time to take remedial action. The solution is simple graphite spray. Most tackle shops catering for match anglers will stock one brand or other.

Look after those joints man

Tape up the part of the rod you don't want the spray to go on with masking tape, then apply an even coat to the male part of the joint. Leave to dry for a couple of hours or longer and away you go. Not only is the joint built up it is lubricated too. A much better cure than getting the hacksaw out and trimming the tip section back.

Recently I had a float rod in to have a new ring fitted to the middle section. This was a good example of the fragility of single leg rings - the missing ring had snapped, and another was bent almost flat to the rod. While float rod rings have very light frames I have seen the same happen with single leg rings on carp rods. Anyone who tells you they don't get bent must molly coddle their tackle.

While I had the rod in I gave it a look over and saw the cork handle still had the clear shrink tube on it. This is only there to keep the handle clean in transit and while on show in the tackle shop. The plastic film is supposed to be removed before the rod is used. I shouldn't have been surprised as I often see anglers fishing with shiny cork handles. If water gets under the tube it soaks into the cork which stays damp and eventually rots. In any case, the whole point of a cork handle is to have the warm feel of the cork. It seems ridiculous to cover it in cold, slippy plastic. The daftest example I have seen was a salmon angler 'stringing up' his new looking Hardy speycaster. Not only was the cork covered in shrink tube, but there was a piece of paper under the shrink. I bet if it had been a fiver he'd have stripped the plastic off pretty quickly!

Now a look at how things have changed over the last couple of decades. Another refurb job I have to do is on a NorthWestern glass-fibre pike rod. I think it's an SS6 - 11ft, 2.5lb. In it's day a highly desirable rod to own. I had the 3lb PK3, which I guess was rolled on the same mandrel. Putting the SS6 alongside a Harrison blank of similar length and test curve the difference is remarkable. The butt section of the carbon rod is about the same diameter as the tip of the glass rod! And the actions... The SS6 was considered a pokerish fast action rod. It feels terribly floppy now.

Spot the glass rod

It's odd how fashions come and go in fishing rods. The SS6 has nine rings plus the tip, which was pretty much standard. Today an eleven footer would probably have five or six if it was being built for piking, or eight if it was a barbel/specimen rod. Fashion again, probably to do with the perception that pike rods need fewer, larger, rings in order to cast greater distances than barbel rods do.

There is no one 'correct' way to ring a rod, but the aim is always to place the butt ring where line flows freely from the reel (be it fixed spool, multiplier or centrepin) and then follows the curve of the rod, compromise being made in the number of rings which give long casting, smooth line flow when trotting a float or whatever the rod is intended to do. In the case of a rod to be used with a multiplier the rings must be spaced to keep the line away from the blank, as it must on afloat rod to be used with light lines that might stick to the blank when wet. All these ringing patterns consider the rod as it is when fishing - in one piece.

So when Neville Fickling someone says the 'correct' way to ring a pike rod is so the rod folds neatly in two when broken down rigged up with the tip ring next to the butt cap (what I call Rover Ringing) he is demonstrably wrong. It's certainly convenient for the mobile angler, I like my rods made that way too, but it is not correct.

'Rover Ringing'

Here endeth the sermon.