Tuesday, September 19, 2023

I'm still building rods

Summer, such as it was, has certainly slipped away now with out me getting much fishing done. I don't like rain so that stopped me fishing for some time - instead I went to agricultural shows and got drowned! When the sun came back it was too bloody hot for me.

I might not be fishing as much as I used to, but the rumour I got wind of that I have retired from rod building is well wide of the mark. If anything I'm more enthused about it than I have been for a while. A good job too because my retirement plan is to keep working! Having new rod making products to mess about with always gets me thinking of ways to incorporate them into functional, but aesthetically pleasing, rods.

Way back I took delivery of a new blank. New as in one I've not seen before. It's a two piece American Tackle lure blank. Fast action with a fine tip and rated to cast 130g. I got a handle fitted straight away but the AT rings I wanted to use on it were out of stock. After much chasing an alternative set arrived last week and when they were whipped on and the varnish dried I was eager to give have a chuck with it. That's what I did yesterday. Only for a fishless hour, but I dodged the rain and got an idea what the rod will do.

My take on the 8ft 6in Bushido rod is that it needs 2oz to load it for smooth casting. It will work with less, but it isn't optimal. While it fished a Burt well enough I'd rather use something slightly shorter with a stiffer tip for that. I'll be using it mostly for spinnerbaits and inlines, plus soft swimbaits and suchlike. I reckon it would also be useful for fishing bigger jigs.

After missing the PAC Convention for various reasons for four years I've got a stall booked for this coming Saturday's event at Newark Showground. I'll have the Bushido on show, plus my P-6 and another rod I've built up with a reel seat that I've just had a sample of. It's a very comfortable reel seat to hold and looks quite distinctive. That rod will be going in the PAC's raffle.

Getting out among the autumnal dragonflies and bright red haws got me itching to have a go for some pike. I don't want to start too early though, and there are still sheep to be photographed! Another month and the time could be right.

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Two steps back

Overconfidence is a terrible thing. There was I thinking I'd got this eel fishing lark sussed and was eager to have another go, this time to succeed big time. The eels brought me back to reality.

Conditions had changed. There was a nice breeze coming from the west putting a ripple on the water. Cloud cover was partially obscuring the watery sun. I needed a sweatshirt to keep the wind chill off me and selected a slightly sheltered swim. Not for the shelter but because it gave me a number of options for positioning the baits.

The semi-fixed leger rig has been swapped back to a running one and a wire trace had replaced the hard mono hooklink. I'd dug some deadbaits and squid out of the freezer, both to give me a bit of variety and to eke out the worm supply. You get through a lot fishing three or four on a hook on three rods when pesky eels are pinching or mauling them.

Currently I'm suffering the results of chilblains on my right hand last winter. It seems to have damaged the fingernails on two fingers and the damage has now grown out to the tips causing the nails to delaminate like a badly wrapped rod blank. The flaky nail edges catch on things and break. So I'm taping the fingers up with plasters. Which makes picking up small things like crimps and hooks a real problem. Baiting up the hook points also love to snag in the plasters causing even more cursing!

All three baits were out 8 o'clock, the first take being a strange one at a few minutes after nine to the legered worms. Although the baitrunner was slack the tip kept pulling round. of course there was nothing there when I struck, and the worms were intact. Odd. It didn't happen again. Almost an hour later the craziness and frustration began with three takes, one after the other, to the three rods in succession. Almost simultaneous takes happen quite frequently, despite the baits being spread over quite an area. It feels like the eels are conspiring to drive me mad from not knowing which rod to strike.

It was gone half nine when I eventually swung an eel ashore. Another sub-pounder to the off bottom worms. This was not to be the first of many. Takes and runs came in bursts as the light left the sky fell and continued well into darkness. It was only at five past eleven that I connected with another eel, this time to the legered ball of squid.

I didn't need to retackle or make any fresh traces so didn't have the chance to try my swim lighting set up, but it was fine for baiting up. Although I only used it once as my headtorch was doing me OK for that after putting fresh batteries in.
The action didn't slow after midnight. Encouraged to stick around I stopped until quarter past one. The takes were still coming. I was still failing to connect with them. With no eels landed worth weighing I've not bothered photographing any either. So here's a pic of my latest eel rods. They're 10ft 2.75lb Ballista Stalkers which have a tippier action than my P-4s making them better for casting leads and small baits. The only time I've had a decent bend in them so far has been 'playing' a ball of weed. There feels to be enough in the butt section to cope with decent fish.

I went for a low profile look with all black fittings from American Tackle and a different look to the abbreviated Duplon. Thread is my favourite shad of grey and all (minimalist) lettering is on the underside of the rods. They balance well with the near perfect 6000OC Baitrnners.

There's rain forecast. I might dust the barbel rods off and give the eels a break for a couple of weeks. Or I might restock the worm tub and keep the roll going...

Monday, June 26, 2023

3 x 10ft 3lb Torrix for sale

My annual 'what rods shall I build myself' spree went into overdrive this year and in addition to my tench rods I built myself another set of eel rods, which means last year's models are up for sale

As the post title says they are three 10ft 3lb Torrix. Build is minimal. American Tackle  1k woven reel seats, AT butt caps, Fuji Alconite rings, hook keepers on left side  dark grey thread. All lettering underneath except 'DLST' on top between the whippings for the hook keepers.

New build price would be £340 each or £1050 including carriage. Selling these three, hardly used, £700 including carriage.

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Hard Nylon eel traces

Making hooklinks on the bank, in the dark by the light of a headtorch, isn't the easiest thing to do! So much so that I've packed an LED light to put on my camera tripod for my next session. It'll only be needed if I run out of the spares I'll be making at home!

Years ago I bought a spool of Mason Hard Type Nylon to make leaders when I was fly-fishing for pike. Leaders, not tippets, the flies were attached to wire which was attached to the leader. It's strange stuff. Very tough, very stiff, and very 'coily'. It's also difficult to get hold of in the UK. Mine came from Veal's, and while they still have it listed on their website it is currently out of stock and has been for some time. There must be an alternative but buying unseen could lead to a lot of money going down teh plug hole. Is the stuff carp anglers use for Ronni Rigs the same? 

Other than the nylon everything else is simple. One hook, two double barrel crimps, a rig sleeve.

Not all of the tools shown below are essential. In fact the crimping pliers are the only ones you cant do the job without. I use the lighter to put a blob on the tag end of the nylon before pulling it snug into the crimp at the hook. It isn't a big deal to leave it sticking out without a blob. Crimped correctly the line won't slip. The tag end can be left longer at the loop end as that will be sleeved over.

The nail clippers are what I use for trimming all nylon lines. they're especially good on tougher and thicker monos I find. The knot testers are used to test the connections, and have the added benefit that when doing that the curve in the nylon is pulled out.
Just a close up of the jaws of the pliers. 

The crimp should be placed 'crossways' in the groove of the pliers, so it squashes the two barrels together flattening each barrel. Ideally the crimp should stick out of the jaws at the loop end to give an angled transition for the nylon. I suspect this is more critical when using heavier gear to big game fish than it is with this sort of tackle. The crimps I'm using are very small and fiddly enough to align correctly in the pliers without having to get a bit to stick out - the crimp length being the same as the width of the jaws. There's no chance in the dark! To give an idea of size these are one inch squares on the cutting mat.

I'm using quick change swivels on the end of my mainline hence using a loop on my hooklinks, but a swivel can be attached just as easily. Crimping is ideal for people who have to have all their hooklinks exactly the same length. Much easier than trying to do that with knots - although having a loop at one end works.

These are only used with worms or other non-fishy baits. Anything that I think has a greater chance of being picked up by a pike is fished on wire.

Friday, June 23, 2023


The tight finish in the opening Ashes test match left me needing to chill. I rigged up two of my latest eel rods, sorted the gear, put the worms I'd bought last week into a bucket and set off. There was no rush, I wasn't expecting any action until half nine on a still, hot, and sunny day. After a short look around I took the easy option and started setting up in the peg nearest the car park.

My approach hadn't changed from last year. the running paternoster was dropped close in to my right, the running leger cast out close to the pads. What had change were the hooklinks. Both were much shorter than in earlier years. I've been reducing the length of my eel hooklinks for some time, but now they are only about four to five inches long. It's quite tricky tying such short hooklinks in any material, but the Hard Nylon I'm favouring is a bugger to knot at any length. It can be done. More on that later.

By 8.30 I was all set up and settled in listening the the birdsong and watching the sun sink low enough to stop dazzling me. Bang on cue, an hour later, I had a take on the legered worm and soon swung my first eel of the year in. Only about a pound, probably less, it was still a start.

The second eel took the off-bottom worms at ten past ten. One eel each to the new rods on their first outing. So much for the new tackle jinx! From then on indications came regularly. Some the annoying twitches that resulted in pinched worms, some proper runs that spun the reel spool. Most were coming to the leger rig.

It was half past eleven before I landed another one, half an hour more until the third, and ten past midnight when the smallest of the evening came in. All to the bottom fished worms. I packed up twenty minutes later to the sound of a distant owl hooting.

One of the eels had mangled my hooklink forcing me to tie up a replacement. This didn't go well in the dark. First of all I had run out of the size 6 hooks I'd been using. Go larger or go smaller? I went smaller for an eight. The first knot was messy. So was the second. Eventually I got a rig tied up. Then I had a light-bulb moment. I'd used the hard mono to make lead links by crimping it. Why hadn't I thought of crimping it to use as hooklinks? D'oh!

Wednesday morning saw me sat at my desk crimping up hooklinks. I couldn't find my cup-to-cup crimping tool so used the one I'd bought for crimping wire traces with single barrel crimps. It's not supposed to work on double barrel crimps but I couldn't pull the mono out. With a few hooklinks made up I rigged up my third new rod and swapped all my hooklinks to the crimped ones with size 8 hook.

Another empty car park saw me take a longer walk to look at swims. One looked really inviting but cramped for three rods. It could wait for another night. In the end I chose one where I could cover a lot of water with the baits spread out. As I was setting up a very loud bird sang briefly in a hawthorn behind the swim. Not a song I recognised but I guessed it to be a warbler. Once more it was the paternoster in the right hand margin, the two legers out to pad edges. 

Another thought I had during my first session was that a semi-fixed leger might be worth a try. Nothing ventured, nothing gained I had one in operation on the longest cast. After a later start I was fishing by 8.45 only having to wait half an hour until the spool spun on the off-bottom margin rod. I failed to connect. 

 A couple more times I was startled by the loud birdsong. Eventually I caught a glimpse of a little brown job flitting away. I made a note in my diary about the call, a visual interpretation of it that only I could understand,, and resolved to search Youtube to find it.

It was shortly before ten when the indications started to come frequently and a sub-pound eel fell for to the paternoster rod. Twitched, runs, and everything in between. eventually the takes dried up and I packed away the rods at midnight. the semi-fixed rig hadn't been a success. Winding it in for recasts the three dendrobenas had disappeared every time. Stick with it or not?

Thursday morning I was on Youtube searching for 'warbler sons UK'. I found one video that claimed to haev the songs of every British warbler and clicked 'play'. I decided not to watch it but just listen. A few song in there it was! I replayed it. Yes, that was the song. I searched for other videos and other sites for the bird's song just to be sure. No doubt about it. I'd heard and seen my first Cetti's warbler! Not too uncommon a bird these days, in the right places. It was still a new one for me.

In the afternoon I did my 'big shop', calling in at the tackle shop near the supermarket to see if they had a pair of pukka crimping pliers before ordering a pair off the interwebby. They did. And they were cheaper! With the freezer filled for another month, and my bank account depleted by more than I expected (that's food inflation for you) I set about making up another batch of hooklinks. Tea eaten, the miserable Archers saga listened to (if only Helen could have a freak chess-making accident to put an end to it), I was eager to try my rigs out.

A couple of vehicles in the car park this time but nobody in sight in the area I fancied. I still had a look around before climbing down into another peg which offered a range of opportunities. This time the running paternoster was cast to my left, to a gap in the pads. The running leger went straight out to a pad edge, and the semi-fixed rig was cast the farthest to a gap between to lots of pads. I must have been keen because it was only eight o'clock! As I was setting the rods up I heard the Cetti's Warbler again. Not having been on this spring I'm left wondering if it has been around for long.

An early start didn't bring early action. Well, not too early. ten past nine saw a proper run to the running leger. Fishing three small worms I always wonder if it is an eel that has taken the bait when I strike at these runs. Anything is liable to pick up worms and there have been quite a few carp mooching about.

Ten minutes later the only sign of action to the semi-fixed rod was very small twitches of the rod top. Even with my Delkim on maximum sensitivity there was no sound and the bobbin moved not a millimeter. I picked the rod up and... There was an eel on the end, neatly hooked in the bottom lip! I stuck with the rig as the only way to judge its efficacy is to give it a long enough trial. I know other eel anglers are making it work.

After ten the action picked up apace. I landed five more, yet again all a few ounces either side of a pound at a guess, bar the final one which was most definitely a bootlace. Around eleven I had three takes at once and missed all of them. All the takes cam to legered worms, and one on the semi-fixed rig was a proper 'screamer'. I was sure there'd be a carp on the end when I lifted the rod!

All told an interesting few sessions. Eleven eels is a good start in terms of numbers. Not so good on teh specimen hunting scale though. The short stiff hooklinks are working a treat. The small hooks haven't proved detrimental. Quite the opposite. Semi-fixed rigs do work. Not much action to the off-bottom bait, which is unusual. Eels do have the ability to make you think. The rods have all been christened, but are yet to be tested with something worthy of landing net, let alone a photo session.

The next step? Get some different baits. Fishing three rods with worms is boring!

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!