meta name="verify-v1" content="d7PFNk6IiaDiPnshLwmCM9E/oeJhyyogsTh9thA/Ap0=" /> Lumbland

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Feathered friend

Quite why I've got the urge to catch pike again I don't know. I was up and about at six, hastily eating toast and honey and forgoing my first brew of the day in my haste to get to The Land that Time Forgot again. For once the rain didn't descend as soon as I opened the car door in the car park. The air temperature had dropped about three degrees between leaving home and arriving at the lake though.

If I'm honest, had my maggots not been old and castery I would have put two roach rods in the quiver and one pike rod. As it was I had three different rods with me, all on trial. Well, the 2.5lb Torrix wasn't on its first outing, but I hadn't tried it with braid or for piking before. The other 'pike' rod was a 3.5lb Ballista which I've built up to use as a spod rod - my proper spod rod being a bit too much for the smallish spods I use when tenching. The third rod was one of the three 1.75lb Torrixes which I have managed to get whipped up and the thread sealed with its first coat (good enough to fish with). I settled on the metallic aquamarine thread for handle highlights in the end, and a cut down woven carbon reel seat and trimmed Duplon cones, plus lightweight Fuji SiC guides, for a personalised look.

It looks better if you click it...

A smelt and a headless mackerel were cast out a short distance from the bank. I'd picked a spot where the margin shelves steeply into deep water on the basis that the water will have cooled recently. It was a plan. When it was properly light I set my chair by the 'roach' rod and commenced casting the feeder to get some bait out. The rod handled the 30g feeder easily, much better than the Chimera Avon as a casting rod. It's a more powerful rod, obviously, but with a tip that is soft enough to cope with small hooks. I had a problem. The six pound line on the reel I was using (one of my Sporteras) was catching on the tag end of the backing it was tied to. It wasn't stopping me reaching where I wanted to fish but it was annoying.

The sky was overcast, the wind chillingly from the north. I couldn't get my brolly up where I was sitting as the bank was quite steep. My thermometer showed that the water was warmer than the air! I was tempted to move downwind to get some shelter in the next peg along. A much more civilised swim. I resisted.

After a couple of hours of nothing it commenced raining. I set the Aqua brolly up on a flat piece of ground above the rods and let the roach rod fish for itself - baitrunner engaged. I'd been throwing maggots to a friendly robin that had come to see me. It was in and out, mostly in, of my swim all day long. Often landing on my left hand rod setting the sensitive Blankbiter off.

Cheeky chappy

At half past ten a roach hung itself and I set up a paternoster rig on the heavier Torrix. A bit late but I should be guaranteed a pike on it. Fish must have found the maggots as a couple more bites were missed over the next hour or so before a small skimmer hooked itself. This was popped in the landing net in case I needed another bait when the roach was taken. A second skimmer joined it after lunch. Around this time the paternostered roach woke up and I heard a few single blips from the alarm. There must have been a pike spooking it, the alarm would sound in earnest soon. The next fish to the single red maggot was another roach of some ten ounces. Getting soft in my dotage I let that one go.

Too big for bait... today!

The catching line was annoying me when I cast. I swapped the feeder for a 1.5oz bomb and whacked it out. Then I pulled line from the spool until the knot was exposed. What to do? I had no tape in the tackle box to hold the tag ends down. I had one of my rare brainwaves. I took my scissors to a plastic gripseal bag I had in the box and cut a strip from it. This was placed over the knot and the line wound over it. Success! Back on with the feeder and to fishing.

By half past two I was getting ready to admit defeat on the pike front. At three I wound in the roach rod and tidied most of my gear away. The smelt rod was wound in and packed into the sling. Time was running out. I picked up the livebait rod and wound that in. Beaten. The final task was to release the two skimmers and roll the net up. I dropped the net cord below the water surface and teased the reluctant fish out. There was a noisy swirl and a puff of silt. No wonder the bream didn't want to leave the safety of the net. A small pike had nobbled one of them to taunt me.

Anyway I had turned out partly to try rods out. As with plans, I like to have my excuses prepared in advance! The 1.75lb Torrix proved okay for the job. Until something better materialises they will be my choice for feeder fishing for roach at distance. However, I am wondering how they will perform with a big tench on. There's plenty of poke lower down so the softer extreme tip compared to the Interceptor shouldn't be a problem. They are sweet rods to hold and cast with. The 3.5lb Ballista didn't get much of a work out, nor did the 2.5lb Torrix - although it cast the livebait nicely.

There'd been another piker on the lake who had had nothing, and two anglers fishing on the tip hadn't caught as many silvers between them as I'd managed. So I hadn't fared badly. I'm pretty sure that if I'd concentrated on the roach, fishing two rods and recasting more frequently, I would have had more. I don't know what I have to do to get a run off a pike from this place though. And I'm not sure I want to put the time in to find out. Or do I?

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


You might call it being a tackle tart, I call it aesthetics! Not being able to face another session of gales and leaves on the line, and with no blanks to build outstanding rod orders, I spent Sunday and Monday doing odd bits that needed finishing and making a start on my 1.75lb Torrixes. I had the handle spec decided on a while ago - DPS with carbon spacer, a stainless collar at the rear and cut down Duplon cones, the butt grip being slim tapered Duplon and the butt cap stainless steel. The rings are lightweight Fuji SiC. So far so good. The only thing to be decided on is the colour of the tipping I want to put around the handle for a slightly tarty look. On my 2.5lb Torrixes I used aquamarine, and very nice it looks too. Should I do the same again or go for something different? On the subject of the 2.5s I wasn't happy with having the Fuji butt cap straight on the blank It's functional but looks better on a thicker blank. So I slid some X-weave shrink wrap over the butt, redid the whipping and pushed the butt cap back on. I'm still not sure. The shrink might look better with a small stainless button. It won't be as practical though. No glue has been used on the butt cap so it'll be easy to swap. Both X-weave and plain shrink is available on custom builds either as butt grips or full handles for anyone who is interested.

X-weave shrink and Fuji butt cap

While I was at it I put the name of the rod above the grip, on the underside, as part of a new discreet lettering option I've come up with, which I also used on a new spod rod I built for myself a few weeks ago. I haven't been using massive spods or aiming for the horizon when tench fishing. When I'd used my marker rod, built on a 3lb Ballista Slim blank, for spodding I found it easier than with my heavier rod. I selected a 3.5lb standard Ballista for the job. As an experiment I whipped it with dark green thread and tipped the handle whippings with metallic lime green. I keep looking at the rod but can't make my mind up if I'm happy with it. The dark green whippings look nice. A change from black yet dark enough not to be garish - in some lights it's hard to tell they are green. Even so I couldn't bring myself to tie the Torrixes with that thread. The lime might be a little bright. At least on a spod rod it'll soon be covered in gunge!

With the handles fitted and the rings tied on the 1.75lb Torrixes I whipped keeper rings to the left hand side and tipped one in aquamarine, one in lime green and one in electric blue. I am now pondering. The lime is losing out so far. Having looked at the other metallic colours available I might give forest green and dark burgundy a try. There's no rush. I don't need the rods until March!

Multiple choice

As I type this the parcel that I have been waiting in for has just arrived. Time for a sandwich then out on my errands, which will probably keep me busy until it's too late to visit the river and battle with the elements. Tomorrow will be a day of waiting for couriers calling to collect parcels. So it looks like gloom and despondency on the fishing front this week as the sun breaks through the clouds.

PS - As I bit into the aforementioned sandwich a parcel full of unexpected rod blanks arrived. The fishing front is looking even more depressing.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back to work

I ordered some glue over a week ago, special glue, but despite the bill arriving the glue did not. No glue meant no handles could be fitted. That's why I fished a bit lot last week. Yesterday I phoned to see where the glue had go to and was told dismissively that it had been posted and there was nothing they could do about it. Thanks. Anyway, it turned up today (with last week's postmark). Marvellous.

This means I can now salvage the rod butt below and it's partner for their owner by fitting cork and a Fuji DPS reel seat. What possessed Daiwa's designers to use such horrible fittings on expensive carp rods? Why would they put them on any rods? The true horror of the shiny gold and black isn't conveyed by the photo.


The arrival of the glue means I can start work on some rods that have been sitting around waiting for cork handles. I have deliveries due most days this week too. Then there's the Tackle and Guns trade show on Sunday. How will I manage to squeeze any fishing in?


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A step too far, worn joints, and other things

Rather than head back where I'd fished on Sunday, like a sane person would, I headed upriver on Monday for a late session. It's not often that I fish on consecutive days. But the obsessive fire was burning. It was inevitable. As was the outcome.

The river looked to have dropped even more judging by the waterline on the stones and was running very clear. I wanted to try the hemp and pellet attack again. Two tins of hemp and an equal amount of my pellet mix were droppered in, then one boilie cast over it with another upstream. The barbel would soon be queuing up to get caught.

Bats were on the wing well before dark as they are at this time of year. I suppose the cooling nights mean that insect activity reduces as the night wears on, so the bats start feeding earlier. They must need feeding up in readiness for their winter rest. Every now and then one would hit one of the lines and set me leaping to the rod. That was about the limit of the action to be honest.

Although the sky was clear and starry, the evening star shining particularly brightly as it travelled westward, the night was mild at first. Later on a wind sprang up and the air turned cool. For some reason it didn't feel like anything was going to happen. A few chub bites came to the downstream rod in the last hour before I packed up at midnight.

A blank session was long overdue. Here's hoping the next one is as long coming. It did make me wonder if the change of tactics is a good idea. The baiting up doesn't seem to be improving things compared to the PVA bag only approach. I shouldn't have tried mending something that wasn't bust.

I had great plans for the rest of this week. Work would be done by Tuesday and the river would be my home for the next few days. Long overdue blanks arrived on Tuesday and put paid to that. Even post-teatime starts have been scuppered by customers wishing to collect their rods late on. So it's time for more rod building thoughts.

The worn joints of the title aren't my ageing knees and hips but those of my Chimera barbel rods, the tips of which have been snugging down almost to the limit the painted blanks allow for about twelve months. I'd noticed them work loose a time or two recently, so it was time to take remedial action. The solution is simple graphite spray. Most tackle shops catering for match anglers will stock one brand or other.

Look after those joints man

Tape up the part of the rod you don't want the spray to go on with masking tape, then apply an even coat to the male part of the joint. Leave to dry for a couple of hours or longer and away you go. Not only is the joint built up it is lubricated too. A much better cure than getting the hacksaw out and trimming the tip section back.

Recently I had a float rod in to have a new ring fitted to the middle section. This was a good example of the fragility of single leg rings - the missing ring had snapped, and another was bent almost flat to the rod. While float rod rings have very light frames I have seen the same happen with single leg rings on carp rods. Anyone who tells you they don't get bent must molly coddle their tackle.

While I had the rod in I gave it a look over and saw the cork handle still had the clear shrink tube on it. This is only there to keep the handle clean in transit and while on show in the tackle shop. The plastic film is supposed to be removed before the rod is used. I shouldn't have been surprised as I often see anglers fishing with shiny cork handles. If water gets under the tube it soaks into the cork which stays damp and eventually rots. In any case, the whole point of a cork handle is to have the warm feel of the cork. It seems ridiculous to cover it in cold, slippy plastic. The daftest example I have seen was a salmon angler 'stringing up' his new looking Hardy speycaster. Not only was the cork covered in shrink tube, but there was a piece of paper under the shrink. I bet if it had been a fiver he'd have stripped the plastic off pretty quickly!

Now a look at how things have changed over the last couple of decades. Another refurb job I have to do is on a NorthWestern glass-fibre pike rod. I think it's an SS6 - 11ft, 2.5lb. In it's day a highly desirable rod to own. I had the 3lb PK3, which I guess was rolled on the same mandrel. Putting the SS6 alongside a Harrison blank of similar length and test curve the difference is remarkable. The butt section of the carbon rod is about the same diameter as the tip of the glass rod! And the actions... The SS6 was considered a pokerish fast action rod. It feels terribly floppy now.

Spot the glass rod

It's odd how fashions come and go in fishing rods. The SS6 has nine rings plus the tip, which was pretty much standard. Today an eleven footer would probably have five or six if it was being built for piking, or eight if it was a barbel/specimen rod. Fashion again, probably to do with the perception that pike rods need fewer, larger, rings in order to cast greater distances than barbel rods do.

There is no one 'correct' way to ring a rod, but the aim is always to place the butt ring where line flows freely from the reel (be it fixed spool, multiplier or centrepin) and then follows the curve of the rod, compromise being made in the number of rings which give long casting, smooth line flow when trotting a float or whatever the rod is intended to do. In the case of a rod to be used with a multiplier the rings must be spaced to keep the line away from the blank, as it must on afloat rod to be used with light lines that might stick to the blank when wet. All these ringing patterns consider the rod as it is when fishing - in one piece.

So when Neville Fickling someone says the 'correct' way to ring a pike rod is so the rod folds neatly in two when broken down rigged up with the tip ring next to the butt cap (what I call Rover Ringing) he is demonstrably wrong. It's certainly convenient for the mobile angler, I like my rods made that way too, but it is not correct.

'Rover Ringing'

Here endeth the sermon.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dodgy Scousers

There's a feature about Steve Harrison's development of Harrison Advanced Rods at Sky News, and a video of him talking about the business while his staff do some work. It can't have been pension day or they'd have been down the Post Office mugging old ladies.

Mike, Steve, Dave, Andy and Kev - the missing link is, well, missing!

Oh the joys of humorous stereotyping!

In reality they're a great bunch who always greet my with a cheery smile. Last time I was there it was, "We thought you were dead. We've had a whip round for some flowers." Like I said, a great bunch...


Wednesday, September 09, 2009

More Torrix thoughts

A few weeks ago I built a 1lb 12oz Torrix for a customer. I didn't have time to give it my usual back garden workout, and I didn't want to damage the blank either. So I restricted myself to putting a reel on it and running some line through the rings once it was completed. With the line tied to the padlock on the garage door I gave the rod a bend. It felt rather nice. The rod had to be sent out so that was as far as I got. I did add another of the blanks to my next order though...

The blank arrived in the shipment I received on Monday. With most of the blanks almost built, and in the interests of increasing my product knowledge, I subjected the Torrix blank to my usual rough and ready tests and comparisons. None of my procedure is scientific, most of it relies on 'feel', but as it is always done in the same way I find out what I want to know. Engineers and sticklers for micrometer precision look away now!

After the usual poking the tip against the ceiling test, the first job was to put a reel seat on the rod. In this case I trapped an NPS between two rolls of masking tape. So what if it spun round the blank? I wasn't intending to fish with it. Then a set of rings was taped on, the tip ring being secured with hot melt glue. With a reel on the rod the line was threaded and tied to the garage door. Then I walked back a few yards and gave the rod a bend. Backwinding at first, then using the drag, I simulated playing a fish - sort of!

The 'rod' felt rather nice. I've built up five of the 12ft Torrix blanks now; 1lb 4oz, 1lb 12oz, 2lb, 2lb 8oz and 2lb 12oz. They are not similar in action. The 2 and 2.75 are more tippy than the others - the 2lb being too tippy for my liking in a rod of that tc, the 2.75lb feeling more 'medium' actioned and likely to make a good pike rod. The best of the bunch, for me, are the 2.5lb and this 1.75lb. There is a new 12ft 1lb 8oz Torrix that I have yet to see.

When I had 'played' the garage for a few minutes and decided that the blank might well make up into a nice close to medium range tench/bream rod it was time to compare it to a 1lb 12oz Interceptor which is my current choice for that role. This rod was already rigged up so the line was tied next to that from the Torrix. The two rods were compared one at a time, then one in each hand. As I had suspected the Torrix was a midge's softer in the tip than the Interceptor, but still bent nicely into the lower regions with an equal feeling of power - unlike it's 2lb tc counterpart that stiffens up quickly.

To confirm my suspicions the final test was carried out. The two rods were rested on the top of the wheelie bins, a brick placed on the butts to stop them tipping over, and a six ounce lead hung from each tip ring. This is rather crude way of measuring the tip deflection and getting an idea of a rod's action in the top third. The rod with the masking tape on the rings is the Torrix.

1lb 12oz Interceptor v Torrix

The overall deflection is the same (lower photo shows this best), but it's clear to see that the curve of the two rods is not the same (upper photo). The Torrix is slightly softer at the very tip. In theory this means it will be less good for casting method feeders than the Interceptor, but it's so small a difference I doubt it will be noticeable in practice.

Out of curiosity I then did the deflection comparison with the 1.25lb and the 1.75lb. As can be seen below the 1.25lb deflects more than the 1.75lb as you'd expect.

1lb 4oz Torrix v 1lb 12oz Torrix

However, when I carried out the garage door test with all three rods (Interceptor 1.75, Torrix 1.25 and 1.75) it was hard to tell any difference between any of them in terms of overall 'feel'. Both Torrixes felt like they were starting to lock up in the butt, the Interceptor didn't. There was definitely more cushioning in the butt of Interceptor. The heavier Torrix was the softest of the three in the extreme of its tip. All this was very subtle and putting them into a full curve next to each other the differences were imperceptible - particularly between the lighter Torrix and the Interceptor. Which all goes to show that you can't rely on stated test curves, or even deflection tests, to tell the whole story of rod action and power.

I really like my 1lb 12oz Interceptors. They 'feel' the nicest of the three rods to be honest. I know exactly what they are capable of, and love the well used look they have with the caked on mud, groundbait and maggot skins. Even though I don't need them, I have ideas for building up three 1lb 12oz Torrixes with some SiC guides I spotted in the Mudhole catalogue, and the metallic thread I used on my 2.5lb Torrixes looks really smart on the woven blank. If only I could decide on a handle that would compliment the blanks as it seems a shame to cover up the weave on the butt with cork. Then again Mudhole have some cork accessories that would add a touch of bling...

Oh well, back to the everyday grind. Another Chimera 3 needs its handle fitting.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Field testing

Looking at my newly built Torrixes got too much for me to bear. Two of them had reels fitted and were slung in the quiver. Despite the rain earlier in the day the river was still very low, lower than it had been two days earlier, but only the usual angler in his usual swim when I arrived. Unbelievable on a Saturday evening. I took my time tackling up the new rods and had two baits in the water by eight thirty. Although I built them for stillwater fishing I know some people rate them as barbel rods and I'd have a good chance to put a bend in them with a fish on the end.

I should really have rigged them up with braid for a fair comparison with my Chimeras, but my spare reels were loaded with mono and I'm lazy. They cast the three ounce leads well enough. The tips deflect more than the Chimeras do. I didn't chance a bigger lead. I suspect that the mono may have accounted for the slightly spongy feeling on the cast. The real test would be playing a fish or two.

There was a slight chill in the brisk westerly, a hint of autumn on its way, the sky clear. It was only half an hour in when the upstream rod started bouncing rapidly. This was caused by a cheeky little chub of two or three pounds. Not the most arduous test fro the new rod. The next bite, to the same rod, was far more positive. The baitrunner spinning slow and steady. The rod took on more of a curve. Again, it could have been the mono, but things felt springy. The fish wasn't big, in fact it was the third visit to my net for The Kinky One.

Hello again

Ten minutes after recasting the rod was away again. A slightly bigger fish that I slipped back fifteen yards downstream where the margin was slighlt deeper. Where I had set up the margin was so shallow that I had to paddle out to net fish with the pole at full stretch. The barbel hadn't powered off, it sat in the edge either resting or bemused.

I'm fairly sure that this fish was a recapture as it had some raw marks near it's tail. I've had a few fish in this size range bearing these marks, and I'm pretty sure they are the same few fish. Earlier in the season I had put these marks down to spawning injuries. I'd have expected them to have healed by now. So I'm not sure what the cause might be. The fish are feeding well enough and filling out though.

Mystery marks

Another ten minute break and the 'runner was turning again. Another pea-in-a-pod fish that I unhooked in the net and pushed out into deeper water. The next fish took half an hour to take the bait. I think this might have been because I had run out of tied up pellet bags. With more tied up I'd wound in and rebaited. The bite came quickly after that. I weighed this one at a shade over seven pounds to keep my guessing eye in. With the fish in the sling I carried it to the deeper spot.

I was a little surprised to see the second barbel of the night was still where I'd left it. Lying quietly fanning it's gills. This isn't unusual. Quite a few times I've slipped a fish into shallow water and it has stayed there for some time. They come to no harm, so long as they can maintain their balance and remain upright, and eventually waddle off. The fish I was releasing was a real live wire and thrashed its way out of the sling. As it regained its freedom it brushed against the other fish. This must have stimulated something in it's fishy brain and it swam off following it's boisterous shoalmate. It was quite a sight watching the the pair of them swimming over the shallows heading upstream and slowly fading from view.

As I was playing each fish I looked up at the curve the rod was taking on. More tippy than the Chimeras, and I feel a little lighter in test curve - despite what it says on the tin. I'll be doing some comparative deflection tests in due course. The rods are definitely lighter in weight than the Chimeras and I think will be perfect for their intended purpose of hurling method feeders towards the bream.

At five to eleven, under a starry, but mild and mistless, sky I wound in the downstream rod which had remained undisturbed by fish. There was something on the end in addition to the boilie. Whatever it was was small. I expected an eeel, but it turned out to be a barbel of a pound, maybe less! Over my shoulder a band of cloud was moving in. I thought I might need the brolly, but it soon blew over without depositing anything wet on me.

Small and greedy!

That was it for the night. I stopped on until twelve thirty when the flask ran dry. Bites having dried up I guessed there'd been a feeding spell and it was over.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, August 15, 2009

New reels required

The Torrix blanks are now completed rods. In the end I went with MNSG SiC rings (six plus tip, 30mm to 10mm, Rover Ringing pattern), NPS reel seat with stainless collars, keeper ring and just a rubber Fuji butt cap to finish the handle off - although this may change later as I'm not sure about it. I've kept the lettering to a minimum (DLST as shown, and 12/2.5 underneath at the rear of the reel seat), and added a discreet metallic tipping to the tyings on the handle.

Functional but smart

The rods look so good I simply can't put my cheap Aero Baitrunners on them. It's a pity the XTEAs have double handles and I do wish I hadn't been told about the Baitrunner D series...


Friday, August 07, 2009

Harrison Torrix blanks

There's been a lot of speculation about a three piece fifteen foot barbel rod from Harrison's. It's been announced on the web in a few guises by at least two rod builders. I've had enquiries about this blank myself.

Yes, there is a blank. One Torrix lay-up blank. One test curve. One tip. As of my latest visit to the factory earlier this week that's it. If you read anything to the contrary it might well be rubbish! From what I hear there is not much chance of any progress before October.

There is a new production blank available now though. A 12ft Torrix in 1.5lb with an eleven foot version to follow. I've not seen one yet so don't know how it compares to the 1.75lb - which I think is nicer than the 2lb. Less tippy.

At last I have got my hands on a 2.5lb Torrix blank (three of them to be accurate) and having taped some rings on it and run some line through them I think I have found my long range bream blank. If anything it's a 'light' 2.5lb. In a side by side comparison the overall power seemed pretty similar to my beloved Chimera 3s. The action a little more tippy. Not as stiff in the butt as the 2.5lb Balllistas I recently got rid off, and softer in the tip than the Chimera 3. It had that 'something' that immediately felt right - it may well become a Dave's Fave.

I'm pretty sure it's just what I've been looking for. The Ballista tip on the Chimera butt was close, and the Torrix is similar - and lighter too. I can imagine it being okay for barbel fishing, but there is something about the way those Chimera 3s bend, and bend, and bend that is perfect for the way I fish!

All I have to do now is decide on a build. At the moment I'm thinking Alconite guides and that's about as far as I've got. Or maybe SiCs? A 30mm butt ring seems likely, but how many more, and what size tip ring I can't decide. It'll probably be six plus tip - 30mm to 10mm. Cork handles, abbreviated Duplon, full or split Japanese shrink? So many options!

I chucked some pellets in the river on Wednesday night. Then reeled in some barbel. Not much more to it than that. A trained monkey could have done it.

Labels: ,

Friday, May 01, 2009

A deserved blank

When you watch a coot swimming out to your baited patch, diving down, popping back up with a tasty morsel in its beak, swimming back to its chick and repeating the process, all day, it should tell you something. Slow on the uptake it took me almost two days to work out that there were either no fish in the swim or the coots had devoured all the bait. That was last week and it was nice to be out in the sun, but that's not the same as catching fish.

Coot food

What was surprising was that the coot (or coots as I suppose the pair might have been taking turns) rarely picked up my baits. The fake casters were never touched, the fake corn occasionally and the boilies only after they had been recast. A bait was never picked up a second time. I also noted that when there was a hatch of flies in the evening the coot(s) stopped nicking my bait and made the most of the meat that had come available. Once the hatch was over they went back to the pellets and stuff. There'll be some well fed cootlets swimming about soon.

A coot snack

On the way home I collected my latest batch of blanks which have kept me occupied since my return. I'd be more occupied with them if I wasn't still waiting for a few rod fittings. Par for the course though for a European distributor to be out of stock...

A few rebuilds and refurbs have materialised this week. As usual they show varying levels of craftsmanship. The professionally built rods just need tidying up even though they are fourteen years old. They do have ridiculously long handles though. The 'home made' rods are a different matter. One of the reel seats on one pair is fitted off centre. I wouldn't actually know how to achieve that if I wanted to! Other than that they are a simple rewhip and varnish job that is almost complete. The third pair of rods are a full strip and rebuild.

One of the reel seats was loose. When pulled off it was apparent why. Whoever had built the rod failed to run epoxy round the outer edges of the rolls of masking tape under the seat. This allows water to get in and soften, and eventually rot, the masking tape. The reel seat then works loose.

Rotten tape

The blanks are Tri-Cast Arrowlites which are nice blanks, but like all woven carbon/Kevlar blanks frustrating to refurb. Strip the clear coat off and the Kevlar strands stick up. Being bullet proof they are impossible to shave off with a blade. Apply varnish over them and you have sticky-up bits. These can be trimmed away for a second coat. But it's all a right pain.

With no time to get away I snatched a couple of fly fishing sessions. One a blank on the ressy, one on the canal that resulted in a jack attacking a 'fly' three times before getting fed up. Pleasant evenings but, as with the tench/bream session, I'd have preferred to catch something. At least I put some effort and thought in so didn't feel like kicking myself.

With warblers arriving the cuckoos won't be far away. The trees are leafed up nicely, hawthorn buds starting to show (even elder buds) and the reeds are starting to turn from straw to green as their shoots reach up through the water.

New shoots

It all makes you want to get out and fish. Then another Bank Holiday approaches to spoil it all.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Bank Holiday Blues

I doubt any of you few, you happy few, you band of brothers... Enough already! I doubt if any of you care a toss about the trials and tribulations that have kept me from the water's edge for a week, but I shall inflict them upon you anyway.

Monday to Thursday was spent awaiting callers of one sort or another every day. Some came bearing gifts (gifts as in £s - I like those callers), some failed to show (those I don't like), and some needed a kick up the backside to turn up at all. The latter was a delivery of belated blanks (although not all the ones I was awaiting), which meant that Friday to today (Sunday) has been taken up turning the things into fishing rods so that I can not go fishing again on Tuesday when I shall again be waiting in for a caller (my couriers) to take them away.

Such is the life of a one man rod building outfit. Whole days wasted waiting for something that takes a few minutes to be over and done with - always seeming to happen at a time that makes nipping out for a few hours impossible. Impossible at this time of year when the evenings are still quite short, and there's nowhere local to fish into dark. Once the rivers open the problem disappears.

I know I could get up early and fish for a few hours before starting work, but I lack the discipline. I'd either carry on having 'one more cast', or I'd come home feeling tired and have 'one more brew' before settling down to work - in other words leaving work for another day... It's not that I'm lazy. Just that fishing is more fun than working!

Rod building entails a fair bit of waiting - for glues and varnishes to dry. Today I have used that time to stuff catalogues into envelopes. I put it off for as long as I can as it's so mind numbingly dull. This tedious process revealed that I didn't order quite enough catalogues to go round. So, anyone with a surname beginning with S to Z won't be getting one until I get some more printed.

With all that lot out of the way and (I hope) the last few rods of the weekend spinning merrily on the drier I thought I'd have a look at the web stats for this blog. To my surprise this last month there's been a fair bit of traffic coming from a carp fishing forum. I guess I'll have to stop saying nasty things about carp and carp anglers! In fact I've already been thinking of taking up carp fishing. My reasoning being that carp anglers are always being pestered by big bream. Seeing as I can't catch bream when I fish for them perhaps fishing for carp will lull them into a suicidal feeding frenzy? We shall see - if I ever find the time to try.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Butt ugly

I get some rare old rods to repair. Rare as in odd looking, rather than scarce, that is. The one pictured below has to be up there with the worst. I'm all for making things look different - but there are limits. What gets me is the 1950s nostalgia vibe to it. Grey plastic and rubbery vinyl. I just had to share!

Ugly butt


Tuesday, March 31, 2009


The clocks have gone forward and at last it's warm enough to work outside without a fleece and woolly hat. In other words it's definitely tench time. So what am I doing? Sitting here twiddling my thumbs waiting for blanks and fittings. No work to do and not fishing? Nope. Also waiting for customers calling, one every day this week. When the rivers are open this kind of enforced idlesness is no big deal as I can nip out late on and get a session in, but there are no stillwaters locally where I can fish into dark, not many I want to fish in daylight either to be truthful.

There's a real lack of decent stillwaters round here. There's the canal where I first started fishing when I was about eleven, but it's not what it was judging by a few sessions I had there about five years ago. There are some deep and cold reservoirs, a few small sandpits - one of which is a carp syndicate, one complex is a no-fishing nature reserve and another a 'leisure attraction' with caravans and jet-skis. There are also a couple of clay pits, one of which I vowed never to return to after a Labrador swam through all four of my lines many moons ago. Go elsewhere and there are gravel pits galore. Anglers in the Midlands (even Cheshire with it's meres and sandpits) and further south, not to mention East Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, don't realise how lucky they are.

If there was a decent water or three within half or three-quarters of an hour or so from here where I could get an evening session going into dark, or an overnighter, in every so often I'd be laughing.

A gravel pit hours from home

The tedium got so bad today that I was reduced to mowing the rolling grasslands of my immense estate. Sheer desperation. Oh, how I long for a long hot summer to scorch the grass (moss) of the lawn and kill it so it doesn't need mowing. Why can't these genetic engineers genetically engineer a grass that cuts itself? Or maybe tiny sheep that could be let loose upon the lawn to keep it in check? I've considered a small herd of guinea pigs.

Yesterday, after finishing the varnishing on the refurbed boat rods, I stripped down a four piece rod I'd built up as a pike fly rod (I must have been bored that week too) only to find it was a bit too stiff, stuck the sections on the lathe and ground them smooth then fitted a new handle to start turning it into a barbel stalking/creeping rod. Whether it will come to anything I don't know, but I could leave it in the car with a small reel loaded with 30lb braid and use it for a sneaky session here or there either for barbel or pike. I want to see what a certain thread colour will look like on a matt grey blank for another project too. Basically I just felt like tinkering! But until the rings I'm waiting for arrive I can't take that project any further.

I suppose I ought really be stuffing catalogues into envelopes. That, however, is a prospect even less appealing than mowing the rest of my grasslands.

Labels: ,

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Handling qualities

With my 'good' knee still giving me a bit of grief I've been staying away from the water this week, so I have time to get on with plenty of work. Pity I'm still waiting for blanks to turn up. However, that means the rebuilds and repairs get done quicker as I tend to put off work like that until I have plenty of time as you can never be sure what it will turn out like. One of this week's jobs has been fitting cork handles to a set of four Fox boat rods.

Over the last couple of years or so there seems to have been a swing back to cork for rod handles. Ironic that this should come about at the time supplies of decent quality cork for the job are going into decline.

These particular rods are being rebuilt because the owner didn't like the slim Duplon and the small reel seat. There are lots of well made blanks being produced in the far east, they say the best come from Korea but China is supposedly catching up fast. The finished rods, however, are often fitted out with less than brilliant rings and fittings, and 'gloopy' varnish. Not all, but a fair proportion. A shame the blanks aren't available as some are really very good indeed. Still, it provides me with a bit of work rebuilding them for anglers who know how they want their rods to be.

In the carp world the trend recently has been for ultra slim handles, to the extent that many are now built with just shrink tube for a butt grip. Back in the Dark Ages when we fished with fast taper fibreglass rods this wasn't a problem as the butt was more than an inch in diameter and gave you plenty to grab hold of. On a modern carbon rod the diameter is much less and, I find, feels 'wrong' in the hand when casting. I suppose these handles look pretty sat on rod pods. Which is what seems to matter most to a certain breed of angler these days.

The fashion appears to have crossed over to pike rods though, and these Duplon handles, while nice and hard, are (were!) very slim. The owner also found the length a tad too short. Nothing wrong with keeping rod handles short. But there are limits. As in most things connected with fishing tackle there has to be a compromise. The customer wanted the handles extending by an inch and a half - which actually worked out at just a quarter of an inch more than my standard boat rod handles.

When stripping rods down it's surprising what you find underneath the fittings and epoxy at times. No surprises with these four. As with many mass produced rods built in the far east the reel seats were fitted over cardboard tubes rather than the spaced rolls of masking tape that most custom builders use. Nothing wrong with the tube method provided it is done correctly. This means having sufficient glue to seal the tube to protect it from water ingress, and enough space allowed at each end for the glue to bond the reel seat to the blank. I guess it is a fast and simple way of doing the job.

When insufficient glue is used and water gets to the cardboard it will go soggy, rot, and the reel seat work loose. It's not only cheap rods that are built like this. I have repaired one quite expensive 'American' lure rod that had a handle come loose that had been fitted in this way.

As can be seen a careful spiral cut is made round the reel seat so it can be 'peeled' off the rod. The application of heat from a heat gun also comes into play. These reel seats proved to be made from a softer plastic/composite than I have come across before. Being so slim, the heat soon transfered to the underlying glue and I was able to slide the remains of the seat down off the blank without having to cut the whole seat. With thicker reel seats this is rarely the case - more so if masking tape rolls have been used and the accompanying extra glue bond between blank and reel seat.

The blanks cleaned up nicely where the whipping on the rings had been, which made the refitting of the rings much easier. Even the screen printing which the owner wanted removing came off easily with some thinners and elbow grease. Had that been under a layer of varnish it would have required some fiddling and fettling. The cork and reel seats went on easily, so everything went smoothly. Not always the case with jobs like this. Sometimes unexpected horrors are discovered that cause headaches.

All that remains now is to slap some varnish on the whippings and the rods will be like new again!

If my knee improves, the wind abates, and things generally warm up I might get to go fishing next week. I bet a big pile of rod blanks descends on me from on high to prevent that though...

Labels: ,

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Rods for sale

Ballista 12ft 2.5lb x 3 - £500 £420 (inc p&p) Now sold

Set of three built for myself and never used once.

Gloss brown blanks, Alconite rings (Rover Ringing, six plus tip - 30mm to 12mm) whipped in dark brown with silver tipping at handle, NPS reel seats with stainless steel collars, parallel butt grip with stainless steel collar and butt button. Butts and tips marked with identification dots.

Would have sold for £570 (if built now would be £600 following recent component price increases). Sensible offers considered but will not split.

Click pics to enlarge

Interceptor 1lb 10oz x 2 - £160 (inc p&p) [SOLD]

Non standard handles with KDPS-16 reel seats (stainless steel hoods), standard rings. Tips were built in 2006, butts in 2008. Butts and tips marked with identification dots. Tips have seen little use (on different butt sections), the two butts are all but unused.

Will not split.

Click pic to enlarge

Labels: , ,

Sunday, March 08, 2009

All work and no play

The penultimate week of the river season has been spent working. Trying to knock my catalogue into shape and building rods. I bought a pint of maggots yesterday (Saturday) when it was still mild but didn't get the chance to use them as I wanted to get a set of pike rods fettled. Today the wind is howling and when it's not been raining it's been hailing. Sod that for a game of soldiers! Come what may (and that's supposed to be some slightly warmer, if not drier, weather) I'll be out later in the week over the last few days. One day when conditions are favourable is worth a week when they are not. That's what I keep telling myself...

A soon as it's fit to go outside and take some photos I'll be putting some rods up for sale. The 'bream' rods I built last year never got used. So they'll be going. I also have a set of three 1lb 10oz Interceptors that are surplus to requirements and I could be tempted to part with a 1lb 4oz Torrix that I built for display and have used a couple of times.

Labels: ,

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Living the dream?

I don't know how I missed the return of Steve Harrison's blog. There's some interesting rod and tackle talk on there.

I noticed that I get a few mentions in despatches - have a read of the entry for December 10th for example. That might give me an excuse to nag Steve to produce a couple more specials for me the next time I visit the factory!

However, I would say that if anyone's living the dream it's Steve - I might have time to go fishing but I don't have a yacht, a motorbike, a Porsche, a.... Then again, I don't want them. I must be easily satisfied.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Hook pulls and received wisdom

I was wasting an hour in my local tackle shop earlier today when a rep from a well known tackle firm came in touting his wares for next year. He had a couple of barbel rods with him so I made a nuisance of mysel ( as you do) and managed to give the heaviest one a bend. Looking at the ticket on the rod it said it would cast six ounce leads on rivers like the Trent. "Tip's too soft," says I in typical diplomatic fashion. "That's to stop hook pulls," says he. "A soft butt prevents hook pulls," I replied without thinking. He gave me a look that said, "You don't know what you're talking about, mate". I changed the subject!

It's been going around for years that a rod with a soft tip prevents hook pulls. I've fallen for it myself in the past. But think about it. The only time you are going to suffer a hook pull is when there is no 'give' left in the rod or line. If things have arrived at that point the rod tip will be bent to its limit and have no reserve of cushioning. A soft tip can only prevent a hook pull if the rod isn't being used to it's full power. So maybe on a match rod, with light line, a soft tip will prevent hook pulls. But on a barbel rod? I think not.

A soft tipped barbel rod will struggle to cast a big feeder easily, and when playing a fish the tip will soon be bent past any usefulness as a cushion. If the rod has a stiff butt to compensate for the tip when casting that same butt will be too stiff to act as a shock absorber when the tip is fully bent playing a fish. The angler will then have to slacken the drag on his reel more than is necessary in order to prevent hook pulls.

Take the other road where the rod tip is stiffer and the action comes progressively down the blank into a softer butt section. Here the tip will not 'collapse' when casting or when playing fish. You'll be able to utilise more of the power of the rod more smoothly. The rod will act more like a spring for longer and probably never reach a lock up point unless you are snagged. So hook pulls will be much reduced.

I'm sure that this trend for soft tipped, stiff butted rods is why a lot of anglers seem unable to put a decent bend in their rods when playing fish - they are playing them entirely 'off the tip'. If your line is balanced to the rod you are using, and that rod bends progressively, you really can lean into fish without fear of hook pulls.

The only time a soft tip might be beneficial is when a fish is under the rod tip ready for netting. The angles involved mean that the butt cannot easily come into play if the fish makes a sudden dash. By the same token when a fish is being drawn to the net the tip will be well bent over, too. My solution at this stage is to knock the anti-reverse off. That last dash for freedom can then be made against a backwinding (but controlled) reel. The other option, which I also use, is to drop the rod tip to give the fish a little line. Playing fish is a dynamic operation - you shouldn't be relying on the equipment to do all the work for you.

It was carp rods which first utilised the soft tip/stiff butt combination and it was sold to anglers as providing great casting potential with fish playing ability. The truth of the matter is that it's a poor design for a casting rod (you need a rod that stiffens rapidly, but smoothly, from the tip), and equally poor for playing fish (you need a rod that stiffens slowly, but smoothly, from the tip). In neither case do you want a rod that bends easily then stiffens suddenly in the butt. At least that's my take on things.

One more thing. The barbel rod had unnecessarily large rings and a Duplon handle. I think it might be aimed at failed carp anglers...


Monday, November 10, 2008

Back to the grindstone

Rather belatedly here's a pic of the Eustace rods I was working on with their shiny new reel seats and silky smooth cork.



Something else I'm doing at the moment is assembling a fly rod kit for a customer. It's an expensive Sage blank which was supplied with (to my mind) some rather average fittings. I've swapped the stripper guides for a couple I think are smoother, the tip ring was a slack fit and the fighting butt and pre-shaped handle somewhat ugly. So it has become a bit more than a straightforward assembly job. The blank and the Struble reel seat (covered in tape for protection while I was lathing the cork) are nice though!

Work in progress

Next on the 'odd job' list is the strip and complete rebuild of three Armalites - including a fettling job on badly worn spigots. Joy...


Monday, October 20, 2008

A long day out

Sunday was the first day of the two day Tackle and Guns Show for the tackle trade. That meant heading back down at Stoneleigh where I'd been for the PAC Convention a few weeks ago. It's a good day out, partly to see what's new in the tackle world and make new contacts, but as much to meet up with old friends - and Neville Fickling.

As usual there wasn't a lot setting the fishing world alight. Lots of 'new' bait and firms bringing out their version of existing products. Fex do indeed have a multiplier coming out. It's a smallish low profile reel in both left hand wind and right. The fact that they are dropping a lot of their large pike lures and introducing a range of small and medium sized hard plastic baits, some small soft plastics and a range of nice feeling light lure rods suggests to me that the European market is where their real sights are set. They'll also be able to target the lure dabbler in the UK with this sort of stuff. I guess a mass market makes more sense to a big firm than selling specialised niche products like big jerkbaits. The rods were actually quite tempting for perch. Really soft tips with a bit of steel lower down. I didn't like the handles though.

I spent some time on the Hopkins and Holloway stand and discovered there is still no sign of the trigger grip reel seats I'm waiting for. They had some interesting new handle fittings to look at, and a 50mm guide for people who like training hamsters to jump through hoops.

The new products that most impressed me were possibly the smallest on show. New fake maggots and corn! The Enterprise maggots catch fish, but they are not a very convincing imitation. The ones that Anchor are launching under the Carp Logic brand are something else. On the stand they had a couple of tubs filled with them, sneakily dusted in maize flour, and apart from them not wriggling they almost had me fooled. The corn looks like any other fake corn, but both baits are very slow sinking. I managed to blag a pack of each, so the tench will be having a look at them next spring!

Good enough to eat

The Korum stand had a few new items that I hope to be playing with soon. Their big, heavy open-end feeders look the absolute dogs. Pity they only go up to five ounces... The smaller ones should be good for chubbing too. I might have to scrounge a selection along with a tripod and some other goodies.

After a couple of hours walking round in circles, and chatting to people I was in the car park a little earlier than I'd planned where I spotted one of the saddest personalised number plates I've seen for a while. I had to snap a piccy.

I wonder if the owner is a pr4t?

Time to hit the road and head up the A38 to the Trent and the stretch where I can park by the river. The first time I fished there the river was up about four feet on what I found this time. It looked totally different. There was one guy trotting a float down a nice big crease sheltered from the strong wind, and another fishing the tip further upstream on a straight. I had a chat with the second guy and he was moaning that it was hard work because it was too windy and there were a lot of leaves coming down. When I saw he was casting downstream to the middle of the river I wasn't surprised he was struggling to hold out for long.

I droppered some pellets into the same swim I fished last time as there was a crease and some shelter from any debris coming down the main flow. Before I had my second rod rigged up I'd had a chub rattle. The leaves didn't bother my rigs, but neither did any more fish.

A nice mix of pellet sizes and breakdown speeds

Out of the wind it was a really warm day. The air temperature was 14.5 and the river 11.7. Very promising. Nonetheless I only gave it a couple of hours then put my gear in the car to drive the length looking for a new spot.

The lazy way of roving!

Despite looking at a few swims I didn't really fancy any of them. I parked up and walked the downstream section. I kept telling myself I'd just look round the next bend and ended up a long way from the car. This wasn't good for my hip which started grumbling. There was something nagging me to go and have a try for one of my latest capture's big sisters. An hour and a half later I was loading myself up like a Sherpa for the walk to the swims I fancied. There was one car parked up, so I guessed the 'Rat Hole', a noted producer of big barbel, would be occupied. Sure enough it was. By a pike angler! I carried limping on to my second choice swim. At least I knew the piker would be gone when it went dark.

One bait went downstream and close in, the other across to a bush. The level was down about six inches on Thursday and some colour had dropped out, but I was still confident. Nothing had happend before dusk then as I was thinking it might be time for the head torch to go on my head I heard a whoosh-whooshing coming upriver. Before I could take evasive action the rod fishing across the river flew round and the baitrunner whirred madly. I managed to flick the line off the young swan with no harm done and recast.

An hour into dark and I still wasn't happy. Into the Rat Hole - which proved devoid of rats, thankfully. With one bait to the overhanging willow downstream and one on the upstream crease I settled in for the duration. Zip. Nada. Nowt. By ten the wind chill, although the wind was warm, was making me think of home. So I put the brolly up. That was more like it. An hour later and I was about to sit down after stretching my legs by walking round the brolly and the swim lit up with red flashing lights and a high pitched whine filled the air. Yes, I had put my bite alarms on as I thought I might nod off having been up and about from early doors.

I conected with an obviously not-too-big barbel which charged around the swim, including around my other line a couple of times. There was a right mess to sort out before I unhooked the fish. Such was the tangle that I managed to cut the wrong line to let me lift the net ashore. The fish (which was about ten pounds lighter than I was hoping for from the swim) was released, and fifteen minutes later I had two more baits in the water.

There was heavy cloud cover keeping the air temperature up but no sign of rain. I could happily have stopped until dawn if it hadn't been for a lack of food and drink. At midnight I turned into a pumpkin and packed up. The walk back to the car did me no favours and I was walking like a sheep with foot rot - limp for a few yards then stop, limp for a few yards then stop. You get the picture. Sheep have the advantage that they can save face by nibbling some grass each time they pause so it doesn't look like their in pain. Sheep are sensitive about these things... The thermometer in the car read a positively balmy 14.0.

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Blast from the past

I can remember the days when a Terry Eustace pike rod was to be aspired to. It took me a while to scrape the cash together get myself a Big Pike blank and build it up myself. The rod, built on one of the last of the dark brown blanks, soon became a favourite. When carbon came along, and I was still hard up, I sold all my glass pike rods; bar two - one of which I had broken and one which I had butchered. Parting with the Big Pike was the hardest of the lot.

Even today the Eustace Pike and Big Pike rods still have a following (the brown ones being preferred to the black ones), and I occasionally get them to refurbish or modify. It's no coincidence that the most popular pike rods in my range are the P-1 and the BB350 - 2.75lb and 3.5lb test curve respectively just like the Pike and Big Pike!

Those were the days

Usually the Eustaces are showing signs of wear and tear but the three butt sections I'm working on at the moment don't show much. I'm not one for preserving rods, but the Big Pike is not only in excellent nick, it's a very old model where the 'weave' in the glass is visible and is more a honey-brown colour. It's actually the first I have seen like this and, although I'm no tackle collector, I would have left the rod as it is. But the customer is always right. All three rods are so old they have sliding rings that never held reels securely so, as the owner of the rods wants to actually use them for fishing, I'm fitting screw reel seats to the rods and re-corking the handles.

After three quarters of an hour's work with a penknife the parallel glass butts were ready to be revitalised.


I suppose it's some consolation that my work can be undone and the handles returned to their original spec quite easily because of the parallel butt construction of the rods. Had the tapered blank continued right through the handle it would have meant removing the rings and destroying the original finish on the whippings and the blank. It would have been a lot less hassle though!

Much as I liked the Big Pike in its day, having run line through one and given it a bend more recently I have to say that nostalgia really isn't what it used to be... Glass rods are heavy and floppy in comparison to carbon. Maybe not as horrible as rods made from panda fodder, but pretty bloody awful nonetheless! Some people still like them.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Random stuff

I'd shown the picture below on the Pike and Predators forum as an illustration of how summer pike should be fighting fit when returned. I thought I'd post it here so I can find it if I need it again.

Pete Hesketh returns a summer pike - back in nineteen eighty-something!

The rings arrived from the USA enabling me to complete my 'bream rods' a couple of weeks ago. I haven't had a chance to use them, and now I have my barbel head on they aren't required until April. So I shall be taking them along to Piking 2008 as an example of my superb craftsmanship, and to see if anyone wants to buy them. If they don't sell there they'll be advertised on here and at I had a waggle of the 2.5lb Torrix yesterday, so when I get shut of the Ballistas there could be three of those getting built at Lumb Towers...

With trying to get rods finished for collection at Piking 2008, and to send out this week, I have been working hard since my last fishing trip. Even after 10 at night! Plans for this week's fishing have also managed to go awry (I'm sat here waiting for a parcel to turn up when I should be on the riverbank), and with the funeral of a friend to attend on Friday it could be weekend before I can wet a line again. Then again it might be tonight...

Labels: , , ,

Monday, August 11, 2008

The saga of the rings

It started back in June when I thought I'd build myself three rods for long range bream fishing. They still sit unfinished, awaiting one ring each. I have just phoned to ask if there is any sign of the missing rings. Only to be told that there isn't, and (as I expected) there is no telling when they might arrive.

An internet trip to the US of A was in order - and hang the shipping expense. The only problem is that I spied some fancy wooden reel seats while I was looking through the Mudhole site (which means building myself some new rods to put them on) - but at least I might get the bream rods finished this year!


Saturday, August 09, 2008

Thinning the herd

Having just about convinced myself that the Interceptor 2 is my favourite close to medium tench/bream rod I have decided to offload my set of three 2lb Torrixes as I have three SS12-204 two-and-a-quarters if I need to fish at longer range or with heavier line. So the Torrixes are surplus to requirements.

They are built on matt brown blanks, fitted with Alconite rings and have had just one spring's fishing in 2007. They appeared a few times in my blog during that period.

A 2lb Torrix last year

New the rods would have sold for £205 each. There is a set of three (each tip and butt being marked with identifying dots) which I'm parting with for £390.00 including p&p. Sorry, but they must go as a set.


Labels: ,

Friday, August 01, 2008

Work in progress

Every now and then I get asked to do a custom build that looks better than I thought it would. A case in point are two sets of three rods with cork handles, silver hooded reel seats and stainless steel winding checks. Three are Chimera Avons and three are P-1s. Here they are awaiting the varnish.

I'd be quite happy to use those myself - unlike some custom jobs I've done in my time!

The way things are going I'll not get my 'bream' rods finished in time to use them this year. Still no sign of those missing rings - despite prodding the suppliers last week...

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bad penny

Yes, I'm back. It's been a bad week, so I thought I'd vent my spleen on the blog! Apart from the car needing some work doing on it I had a nightmare journey to do a talk last night - the directions were spot on - except the road that should have taken me straight to the venue was closed and a diversion in operation - meaning I hadn't a clue where I was at the end of it! That followed a day when work hadn't gone well. One rod section fell off the dryer while I was out, requiring the blobbed varnish stripping off and redoing. All that and I'm getting fired up for some breaming and can't get my new rods finished.

I'm sure that many a customer has thought I was making excuses when I have told them there's a hold up with their rods as the UK distributors for Fuji are out of stock of one size of a particular rod ring. But it's always true. I ordered up three sets of Alconites for the new rods, and all bar one size turned up. I did what I could, but I'm still waiting on the missing rings. In the past I have phoned up the distributors to find out when delivery from Japan is expected and the answers have ranged from 'We don't know', to 'It could be three months'. Here I am with three rods, handles fitted, most rings whipped and nothing I can do about it.

So, when I have some varnish left over from paying jobs I've been sealing the whippings. As the photo below shows, coloured threads darken considerably when varnish is applied and soaked into them. That pinky/brown turns a lovely dark brown a little darker than the blank colour.

That's just the sealing coat on the right. A top coat will be applied to level everything out and make it look smart - eventually!

Labels: ,

Monday, June 23, 2008

Going underground

While I'm sat around waiting for blanks to turn up I'm occupying my time building up three blanks I've had lying around for a couple of years. I ordered them in error, but now I have a use for them myself. They are smooth ground, brown painted, 2.5lb Harrison Ballistas which I intend to use for a bit of eel fishing in a month or so (and possibly some long range bream fishing in the future). Out of boredom I decided to make them look a bit more tarty than the rods that I usually fish with, partly so that carp anglers will mistake me for one of their own, and partly for something to do.

They have slim, parallel Duplon butt grips with stainless winding checks to match those at the reel seat and will have stainless butt caps too. The rings are Fuji Alconites (30mm butt to 10mm tip) which have black frames with dark brown liners and the brown thread will darken up nicely when the varnish is applied to blend almost seamlessly with the colour of the blanks. Mmmmm. Nice!

These rods also provide me with a thin excuse to feed my reel habit. I think three 10,000 size Baitrunners will go nicely on them...

Labels: ,