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?