Saturday, May 26, 2018


It didn't take long for the hawthorn to catch up with where it ought be. One week on and the bushes were a froth of white blossom. The sun was continuing to heat the world up, and apparently put the pike down as I fruitlessly chucked a fresh selection of lures around for a short evening session.

For some reason, quite possibly the state of frustration I seem to get in when the weather is hot, once something goes wrong in that sort of weather I get ratty, which makes more stuff go wrong, making me even more narky. That was why I'd gone fishing in the first place. To chill out!

After that session a load of rod bits I'd been waiting for for ages all turned up at once, meaning it's been work all the way since then. I have relieved the boredom with a few 'project' builds. One is a rebuild of a rod I built a long time ago, another is a pair of E-glass downrigger rods. Those are paying jobs. The third is an ultralight rod I've just finished off which is a bit of a cock up. I'd been asked if I could build an ultralight rod and said I had no source for a suitable blank. A couple of days later I remembered I did have a source and ordered a two piece, seven foot two, ultralight blank. When it arrived I'd forgotten who had been looking for on. I guess it's too late for me to change my ways and get organised!

As I had to order some fittings from the USA for the downrigger rods I added some fancy bits to the order to make up the ultralight. When they arrived I started playing around with them on the blank in the downtimes waiting for glues and varnishes to dry on other rods. It's turned out quite nicely.

Split grips seem to be in vogue on lure rods these days. I have no idea why. I don't think they are very practical. As for the humpbacked reel seat. It feels better than it looks, but my sweaty hands would soon have the soft-touch finish rotting and peeling off!

Had I taken a bit more time considering the build the foregrip would have been changed. It doesn't convince me as it stands.

Thread colour was a tough decision. The blank has a sort of metallic hint to the olive. I went with olive thread tipped with three turns of a sandy shade. How to finish the folding hook keeper was a test. The other week I'f fitted one to a barbel rod for a customer who wanted it a few inches above the rod's handle. I did that and the lettering went between keeper and cork. It looked quite nice. So I scaled the concept down for the ultralight, and did some tricky small lettering.

Ring selection was another conundrum. A couple of years back I built some light spinning rods for a customer with high stand off single foot Fujis. They were on my radar but the frames are a bit heavy for such a light and fine blank. While browsing the US supplier's website I found some similar rings from PacBay in their Minima range.

I've fitted Minimas to a handful of rods for customers, and have a set on trial on my FXH prototype rod. I don't like them. The frames are light but a little agricultural compared to Fujis, and with heavy braid they can be a bit noisy. But for a light rod, to be used with light lines for lightweight fish they will be no worse than the hard chrome rings we used to use in the Dark Ages.

Because the reels used on UL rods have tiny spools there's no need for over-large butt rings, and standing off so much the ring centre is more in line with the spool than it would be in a lower set ring. Whether I'll give this rod a run out remains to be seen!

Talking of the Dark Ages. Here are four canal tench I caught back in 1981. First up is a rare 'bag shot'. I usually returned each tench after weighing.

The second picture is of what remained my PB for some ten years before it was beaten by a fish over twice the weight. It's still my PB float caught tench!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Same old story

These days I find fishing is more therapy than hobby. I seem to go fishing when I need to ease the tension. Yesterday my stress levels had been raised by some infuriating photo-scanning software which not only ran as slowly as usual (which I can live with) it also manage to store the scans in a different folder than it had last time I used it, and promptly lost them all when it decided to crash. Instead of smashing the scanner into tiny pieces with a lump hammer I grabbed a lure rod from the rack, found the box of lures I used last spring, and set off into a warm and sunny evening.

Although late, the hawthorn blossom is not as far behind as the blackthorn was. By the meteorological calendar it's almost summer, but according to the blossom it's mid-spring.

I started out casting a small black Darter given to me by Carl who is producing Loz Harrop Lures. It worked well, but the pike didn't like it any more than I did. I've never got on with tight action, subsurface, baits. Topwaters which walk like that are great, but deeper I prefer a lazier action. A wider glide, or a dive/rise. Pauses are easier to control.

Time to revert to type and chuck a squirrely Burt around. In the third swim it took one cast along the edge to entice a small pike into action. It either missed the lure or failed to get hooked. It was nothing to get upset about when it's second attempt failed on the follow-up cast either.

Two more swims were thrashed before I made another lure change. This time to a sleeper lure which would be in my top ten. The only in-line spinner that I have ever rated for big pike. Not that I've had any really big ones on it, only teenagers, but I know it has caught some lumps for other people. It's easy to cast, easy to fish, and it has its days.

In the seventh swim of the evening the sleeper elicited the same response Burt had done earlier. Two missed chances (whether mine or the fish's I'm not sure) from a similarly sized pike. Time to get the Jackpot out. Perhaps conditions weren't right, but surface action was non-existent. Back to Burty Boy.

I spent some time working the Burt around a promontory while a pair of Canada geese kept a wary eye on me from across the bay as four small balls of fluff with clockwork legs pecked the grass around them. Time was getting on and the air cooling. Back to the usual two swims near the car for the last fifteen minutes.

It only took three casts for the Burt to get hit just short of the rod top. As the pike, maybe a little shorter than the lure, thrashed around I decided against swinging it to hand for the unhooking and to let it shake itself free on a semi-slack line. The plan worked.

In the final swim of my two hour session the drop in temperature was noticeable by the water coming off the braid feeling decidedly chilly on my right hand. Definitely time for home.