Old Man River poses an eternal question. . .

I am first and foremost an angler – my pastime, for I do not consider it for a moment to be a sport; by its very definition – ‘to angle is to fish with rod and line, or using a hook and line.’

Piscatorial preferences,and why we have ours, each personal to the individual.

I am talking about rods, reels and all the other paraphernalia.

What would you consider traditional?

I like to use traditional equipment, split cane, steamed ash or oak nets, whittled rod rests etc, but also I am I think a bit of a pragmatist, and have no problem using the latest carbon rods or baitrunner reels, or whatever when the circumstances dictate.

Let us think back to the last time you/we ventured to the bankside, was it a rainy day, was the river in flood, did you rest upon a comfortable folding seat, or an unhooking mat use a brolly, get wet, or wear good quality modern waterproofs etc?

It is my belief that any one of us “ traditionalists” when taking a closer look at our “ tackles “ will probably find that there is just that bit more of the modern than we may care to admit.

Or do we care at all?

For instance, that nicely whipped and varnished split cane Mk 1V that you take such good care of (well, I try to ) is it original from the day it was made, fifty or sixty years ago, more likely than not it is now whipped with rayon thread, and varnished with scientifically advanced yacht varnish that is more suited to beating off the sustained and battering effects caused by salt water.

Moving on – your reel of choice, that is much more likely to be vintage, but then again is it? I use a Match Ariel wide drum, well a look alike anyway, it has the appearance of a vintage reel, but the engineering I will wager is no more than probably ten years old at most. It does the job admirably and looks the part.

Rod and reel covered – next on the list is my landing net, you may know I make net frames and poles, so I will not go deeply, suffice to say the frames are made from ash, I get a tick for that, but the spreaders are modern construction quality alloy, machined and hand formed to fit the net, the poles are bamboo, another tick, the brass fittings are remodelled from other sources so could in fact be vintage, another box ticked, but the varnish and whippings are certainly modern, and in my opinion rightly so; made to weather the rigours we put them through – the net itself, well, we do have to comply with rules and regulations, after all the wellbeing of our catches should be a principle we live by, so yes the mesh will be knotless and could well be of a modern style, either way its a good bet it will not be more than a few years old at best.

Bases covered we move on to other items; Artery  forceps, monofilament lines or braid, chemically sharpened hooks, the smaller items of end gear, plastic, rubber, stainless steel – all I would guess are not vintage at all.

Your rod rests – I make my own and use traditionally sourced forked branches or hand made rest tops, made from Mahogany, the main body of the rests are made from bamboo, again stained and varnished with modern products.The metal fittings, well, they are mostly remodelled brass  or copper water pipe fittings . Look vintage but in no way are they.

Then, next is comfort, do you have a modern folding seat? Maybe with state of the art extending legs, and much padding in needful places, I do, and make no apology for it, for if I am not comfortable I do not enjoy my time by the water, similarly I wear modern Gortex clothing that keeps heat in and water out, I do however draw the line at ‘Camo,’ some things just do not have a place in my armoury.

Unhooking Mat, very little needs to be said there really.

Now what do you carry your bits and bobs to the waterside in, indeed what containers do you use to house all the swivels etc etc. I try to stay traditional, but make the boxes to fit the bits boxes in myself.

I recently took a page from Pallenpools book and constructed a tackle roll, it is very handy when roaming the  bank , holds everything I need, a bit traditional inasmuch to say tackle wallets go back at least a hundred years or more.

Split shot and other essentials held secure in a bamboo shot tube. I would bet nothing in there is more than a few years old.

I could go on to talk about Luggage, some of us use traditional baskets, creels, or a vintage canvas ex army gas mask case or similar, I have not yet really found anything that is truly vintage that suits my needs they are either leaky, or too small for my bits and bobs, so I will use a modern shoulder bag until that wonderful day when I actually spot something that will fit the bill, rods, net poles etc. are comfortably ensconced in a truly vintage holdall, sourced from the internet via a lucky search.

And that about covers it, except for…

Do you use a mobile phone, are you reading this via a laptop computer or ipad?  

We cannot stop progress, but we can at least acknowledge that it exists, whilst at the same time enjoying our pastime using items that if not of the past, at least evoke a sense of times when things were quieter and there was  less noise and more green.

Writing & Images – OMR Winter 2021