Sunday, November 20, 2016

The pattern continues

It's carried on being a case of all work and no play. With not as much work getting done as I'd like thanks to the continuing non-arrival of blanks and fittings. The law of sod dictates that the stuff I need most pressingly is the stuff which fails to arrive. You'd imagine that item A ordered before item B would arrive first. Not in the world of fishing tackle. Thankfully the weather has turned unsettled so slaving away at the work I can get on with hasn't been too frustrating. but when Tuesday turned mild, dry and sunny I headed out with the pike rods.

This time I ditched one of my set ups that I was playing around with and replaced it in the quiver with the tried and trusted float leger rig on a P-5. After clearing out the bait drawers in my freezer I discovered that I wasn't as well stocked with fresh baits as I'd thought. I still had enough to allow for a variety to be used, lamprey, herring and bluey as it turned out. I'll have to top up soon though.

Conditions seemed pretty reasonable despite the sunshine, but the first swim I tried failed to produce in the hour I fished it, moving baits around too. The second swim gave me access to a few decent spots and the baits were duly scattered around them. As there was scope for recasting to different areas I decided to stick it until dark in the swim.

With less than an hour to go a recently recast bait, the lamprey head, was picked up and a very twitchy take ensued. This was to the 11ft 3lb Torrix. Not the most powerful rod in the world. Even so it failed to take on a bend of any description when I connected with the bait nibbler. The reason was obvious when a pike of about one pound came to the surface. With just one point of the end treble right at the tip of its snout I managed to shake the fish off in the edge! I hoped that was the start of something of a feeding spell. I should have known better. When the micro-pike are out and about it usually means the big ones are lying low. There ended the session.

Rod fittings that I use on a regular basis are the ones that are scarce, which means that anything I don't use many of turn up without any problem. Among them recently have been an Alps reel seat. I understand that they look nice, but for someone such as me who likes to use practical fishing rods they are like stepping back 30 years.



Fuji's composite reel seats were hailed as a great leap forward when they were introduced, among other reasons for being lighter than metal seats, and also for being warmer to the touch in cold weather. Win win, as the saying goes.

I'll give the Alps seats one thing. It's fun spinning the locking nuts up and down the threads. Kind of like playing with an executive toy!

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Plodding slowly along

Since the clocks went back getting value for money on a day ticket water means getting there before lunch if you're a cheapskate like me. Certainly before noon to get a decent session in. That's why, on the one day I've had any free afternoon time,  I went piking.

The plan was as cunning as usual. fish where I'd had the dropped runs last time out. With just three hours or so available I opted to break my golden rule of moving every hour, and stick it out in one spot.

Despite the failures of last time I stuck with the same rods and reels, and fishing off the baitrunner. It was one of those afternoons when the usually prolific bird life on the water was notable for it's absence. Just a couple of moorhens spotted hugging the reeds and three noisy water rails heard. No ducks, not a coot to be seen. The kingfisher was about but noisily agitated flying from high perch to high perch without resting anywhere for long. I wasn't confident of any pike action.

It was about four when the starlings appeared. Maybe because I was in their roost this time, or maybe not, they circled and swirled in slightly greater numbers than previously before sliding down into the reeds like the sand pouring in an hourglass.

 The light was fading fast and it was also growing decidedly chilly. The morning before I woke to teh first frost of winter and temperatures were set to stay low.

Baits had been repositioned an hour before knocking-off time. When that came I got up off my chair and immediately heard the sounder bleep a couple or three times. Something had picked up the bait on the rod I'm trying out. When I got to it there was no line being taken, but it felt slack. I wound down and there was certainly something there. A four pound test curve isn't my first choice for fishing at close to medium range, but it had to be done. The rod took on a slight bend in the tip section!

It wasnt a big fish, not even making nine pounds when I weighed the skinny thing, but after swimming over the net of its own accord, it swam back out again before I could lift the frame. It didn't get a second chance though. That was my lot and with my nose dripping from the cold I walked back to the car.

When I can''t get out fishing, despite itching to, I get GAS like a lot of other anglers. Shopping isn't a sensible therapy for cabin fever, but it's unavoidable in the internet age when 'researching' products is so simple. Even with all the information out there I still couldn't manage to find any reliable comparisons of the size of the three largest OC Baitrunners. Asking on The Pikers Pit I came to the conclusion that the 6000OC and 8000OC are pretty much the same reel apart from the 8000 having a deeper spool. Give or take a few millimetres on the spool diameter. Wanting (rather than needing, in all likelihood) a bigger baitrunner than the 6000OC which isn't the XT-A LC medium I took a chance on ordering just one 12000OC. I'd read some comments that made it sound massive and heavy.

The reel arrived at my friendly tackle dealer on Friday. With Saturday poultry day I wouldn't get a chance to use it, but I did get it spooled up with 20lb mono. Then I went to put it on the prototype rod. When I threw the rod together I put a locking collar on the reel seat. It seemed like it might be a nice feature to have on a rod that I intend to use for catfish next year. The lock nut certainly makes the reel secure. However, it also made it impossible to back the rear hood off far enough to get the foot of the 12000OC in! I had to screw the nut over the rear Duplon. A good job I'd fitted a very slim one.

Eventually the reel was in place, the line threaded trhough the rings and the rig tied on. Out in teh garden and hook the end treble in my rod testing loop in the side door of the garage. All seems to balance nicely and the clutch is just as good as I expected. One thing I do like is that the anti-reverse lever is bigger and more prominent than on the XTA. Although I use the drag more than I used to these days, and for catfish I'll not be backwinding (been there and rapped my knuckles) I do like to knock the anti-reverse off when netting fish. On the XTAs that's been a fiddle to do.

I'd been a little concerned that the 12000OC might have a stupidly large handle knob. Luckily it didn't. The grip is the same style as on the 6000 and the XTA - just considerably larger. Perfect.

The spool diameter is very similar to that of the medium XTA. donning my anorak and getting the callipers out I measured the back of those two spools at 67mm each, the 12000 is the same at the front while the XTA is narrower at 63mm. Where they differ is in the length, the 12000 being just 24.5mm with the XTA being 32.5mm. Given the much nicer line lay on the XTA combined with the spool length that should be the better casting reel. In practice I doubt it will affect me. Not when casting livebaits at any rate.

L to R - 6000OC, 12000OC, XTA LC medium

I haven't compared the weights of the reels because the 12000OC doesn't' feel unduly heavy. Not when it's going to be sitting on a rod rest most of the time. What it does feel is more robust than the XTA, in the same way the 6000OC feels more robust than my Aero Baitrunners. The OCs are proper predator reels while the XTA and Aeros are OK for carping - you know, for not catching much and being mollycoddled!

R to L - 6000OC, 12000OC, XTA LC medium
The above is not a review, more a comparison and first thoughts. As my 6000OCs have been a great acquisition I'm fairly confident that the 12000OC (and it's two pals I have on order) will prove equally reliable.

Having said all this I will admit to liking the XTAs. Just as I like the 11ft 3lb Torrixes they've been on all summer. They make a great combination. Having given up chasing carp I'm not sure what to do with them now. The rods are good for eeling (although I like using ten footers for short session) but I'd rather have smaller reels on them for that. One might become a marker reel and the other two sold on. I do know that it had been a toss up between OCs and XTAs earlier in the year and the XTAs won because I knew how big they were. Wish I'd gone for the 12000s now. D'oh!