Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Out with the old

It's showing my age but I can remember when Fuji rings (or guides if you prefer) came on the scene in the 1970s and made hard chrome rings obsolete for specimen rods. I can't recall when it was that Hopkins and Holloway introduced their Supaglide rings, but I do remember using them on my rods in the 1980s. My first carbon pike rods, built on the Graham Phillips Express blanks (same as the Hutchy Horizon) were built up using the GHI/E pattern. Tri-Cast fitted them to their cult range of specimen rods at the time, too. When I started building rods for a living Harrison's were using the rings and I fitted them to my early DLST rods.

By that time people were getting into 40mm butt rings which meant the Supaglides were out of the question; the largest they were available in was the equivalent of a Fuji 30 (for some reason Seymo sizes were all one down from Fuji and everyone else so that was a 25).

The selling points for the Supaglides were their double-leg frame which was touted as being lighter and more flexible than the Fuji braced or three leg frames, and the way the ceramic liner was shaped so that it was flanged and less likely to pop out - the liners are glued to the frame around the non-flanged side. In practice the smaller sized rings had quite flimsy frames making them a little prone to bending, and the largest size frame was over-robust. I still have one old rod which I use for wobbling deadbaits on rare occasions which is fitted with Supaglides.

The original braced stand-off Fujis were discontinued some time back and now I hear the GHI/E is to follow suit. I found this out when asked to match a rod to a pair of P-1s that must have been built a long time ago which had the Supaglides fitted. There are still some GHI/Es available, but when they're gone Hopkins and Holloway will be making no more.

Over the years many old rod building favourites have bitten the dust. It was a sad day when The Celebrated Talbot thread was no more. Made in the UK by Worthington there was a limited range of colours compared to overseas manufactured threads. I always liked Talbot thread. It is easy to work with, and when varnish is applied it darkens with an even, solid colour. A lot of coloured threads of other brands become slightly translucent when varnished. Some darken unevenly. When a local tackle shop closed down I bought up they're stock of Talbot. The range of useful colours was limited (I can't remember ever whipping a rod in red!) and I am now almost out of most of them. I still have quite a bit of a bulk spool of the 'wine' left, but the 'ruby' is almost all gone now, as is the brown.

Once the world wide industry standard, Gudebrod is another brand of thread which has disappeared. Not only did Gudebrod make thread they were renowned for Dacron lines too. With Gudebrod threads no longer available, and again my stocks dwindling, it is becoming more and more difficult to match thread colours when doing repairs.

While I preferred working with Talbot, Gudebrod was also very good to handle. What is readily available in the UK at the moment isn't a patch on either in my opinion. The end result looks fine but the threads are not as user friendly.

I apologise if this is all a bit 'anoraky' and of interest only to other rod geeks! I have been fishing this week, for a few hours. Alas my run of failure continued. Right on cue as dusk approached one of the floats fell over and waddled away. Then stopped. The lead had been dragged into weed and the pike had dropped the bait....

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

New Year Blues

When I'm not in the mood for fishing these days I don't go. Whether the resounding four swim full day blank on the second day of the year deterred me, or the never ending rain (on days when I had spare time), is hard to say. At least I saw a pike on that session. I'd stuck a lure rod in the quiver and one lure. A weighted Squirrely Burt is as safe a bet as any in my book when it comes to picking a banker lure, so that was what I packed. Indeed a small jack showed up as a late and lazy follower. Nothing touched the deadbaits despite the conditions looking and feeling great.

It wasn't until mid-morning today that the urge to fish washed over me again. Must have been the sun breaking through on a day with little wind. This time the Burt was ignored. I'd given it a try in a couple of swims before breaking out the deadbait rods in another. Two cups of tea after settling in I needed to empty the bladder. No sooner had I zipped up than the sounder in my pocket began to burble.

With the sensitivity turned up on the Delkims every run sounds like the fish is rocket powered. When I got to the rod the spool was turning quite slowly. Pick the rod up, tighten down. Wind the bait in. I never felt the fish. Tiny teeth marks suggested it was a little nipper. The bait was dropped back in the same marginal spot and the other bait given a twitch.

Half an hour later and the margin float fell flat before moving slowly and steadily to the left, turning out then stopping. I'd crept to the rod as the float was less than a rod length from the tip eye. The float dithered and I wound down again. This time I felt something before winding the bait back in yet again. There was a slice mark in the lamprey, but I reckon that was caused by me pulling the bait through the jack's teeth. the weight I felt was minimal.

I'd hardly sat down when the float fell flat once more. This time the pike had dropped the bait. Time for a move. Followed an hour later by a final move. Rain had been predicted for six o'clock by the interwebs. I was hopeful of getting away before it arrived with dark falling an hour before that. The interwebs got it wrong. The rain arrived fifteen minutes before packing up time. Thankfully it was no'but drizzle. enough to soak the landing net and brolly so they needed taking out of the quiver on my return home.

Given my dismal failure of late it seems a bit daft to describe the rig I've been using for my roving. But it's not the rig's fault I've been missing takes it's mine. I first mentioned the set up a couple of winters back but don't think I illustrated it. The following photos should be pretty self-explanatory.

This first pic shows it rigged to float leger a deadbait with a semi fixed lead, which is how I use it most of the time. You can use braid stops or tie stop knots. The choice is yours.

The stop below the float is to prevent the float tangling with the lead on the cast. It also stops the float and beads sliding off the line when changing traces - I hate attaching traces to the line with snap links as I find they always tangle.

My floats are simple sticks of one inch balsa dowel, shaped, painted and varnished. I find 'dumpier' floats easier to see than slim pencils and reckon they hold up better in a flow or a chop. As the floats are fished overdepth they rarely get pulled under when a pike takes the bait, so resistance isn't an issue. The fish will be towing an ounce and a half of lead around anyway! The swivel in the base is fitted on a split pin pushed into the balsa and epoxied in place.

Lead and float are clipped on using the Korum links which can be removed from the line. This enables the rig to be used as either a semi-fixed leger by removing the float, or a running leger (as in the pic below) by removing the float and repositioning the clip the lead is attached to.

If you think the lead might snag up then insert a silicone tube sleeved weak link between it and the clip, or maybe a paperclip.

To create a float paternoster rig remove the lead and clip, then tie a weak paternoster link between the top treble and the lead.

Want to float fish an untethered bait? Take the float leger and clip on a lighter bomb. I've even made a mini-drifter to use with the rig. More of which if I manage to get a take on it. It does drift though!

Fancy wobbling a deadbait? Take the lead and float off.

For drains, canals, and small stillwaters this set up has been pretty good to me so far. If the interwebs are right I might get to give it another go on Thursday. Should I be in the mood.