Sneezewort asks the question ‘Can you spare a rod or two, or even three’?

For over half a century, I’ve been seduced by cane, glass – solid and hollow – back to cane and at one stage even rods made from the same elements as pencils and diamonds! Witchcraft indeed.

I have too many rods.

There I said it. And I’m willing to wager if you’re reading this, you probably are similarly afflicted. As anglers we are drawn to acquiring tackle as surely as the moth is drawn to the proverbial…well, fishing hat! But just how many do we ever use – I mean really use? I can safely say not that many.

So why am I telling you this?

Well, in line with other areas of my life over the last two years, I’m scaling down. Scaling down my armoury.

Less is more!  

How nice would it be to, if to not quite grab a universal fishing pole from the corner when the fancy took, then at least pick something from a much lighter quiver.

Over half a century, I’ve been seduced by cane, glass – solid and hollow – back to cane and at one stage even rods made from the same elements as pencils and diamonds! Witchcraft indeed.

But as I run my eye over their prospective redundancies – those rods which I really haven’t threaded up in over a decade – how do I decide? How can I live a simpler (fishing) life?

Perhaps I need to take the reader back a step. The ideal rod for me has always been between 8 – 10 feet, a soft, compound taper, and bend in the same way Mr Crabtree’s would when playing a Leviathan.

Finally, it MUST have a natural handle.

At a push, a screw reel fitting is permissible but preferably a full cork, sliding aluminium band beauty.

Soulless black EVA / Duplon just won’t cut it.

How can you gaze at the history of catches reflected in that spongy non-slip surface between bites?

No. You see, nowhere!

Cork shows the worn-smooth, sweating-in-anticipation hand holding of hundreds of memorable trips; the slime of Bream and Eels, bankside mud, fading pink groundbait stains.

Four memorable rods I will never part with. None are Cane in fact. Three are solid glass and one a peculiar Czech made Tokoz aluminium rod with a folding mid-section and a furled screw connector always making it the strong ‘’go-to’’ for Pike in my youth.

The wire rings are now so taped together (make that sellotaped on), and such is the tarnished fatigued metal, I doubt it would ever stand the strain of lobbing another dead bait.

It stays.

It stays because the old man, my late father, taped those rings on and once struck at his disappearing Gazette bung so hard, the treble hooked sprat cleared his head by a good ten feet into the Oak behind him and 9-year-old me laughed so hard I could hardly breathe.

The first rod I was ever given – 7 ½ feet of solid green fibre glass, with a blonde wooden reverse tapered handle. So reminiscent of a fly rod, yet so heavy in the hand to false cast, it caught me my first perch, ruffe, dace and chub-lets on the river Mole.

A passer-by commented a few years ago as he watched me slowly retrieve a Mepps spinner with it on a local Mill Pond, that he’d not seen another one since his own as a boy. Nameless, it was probably a post war boys rod, yet meant the world to both of us.

The old man had a similar rod, but with a cork handle and a screw down fitting. He always said it was a nice light rod, ideal for leaving rigged up and chucking in the back of the car in the event of a downpour. The handle bears the holes of the many hooks nicked in to travel home with, often with half a worm on it if we were in a hurry.

They both stay.

And finally, the rod with which I’ve come to use more than any other, especially wandering on streams and smaller rivers.

A bright yellow solid glass 9- footer – two sections and a detachable cork handle. Given to him by ‘someone at work’ and passed to me the same day, it saw me graduate to catching my first ever Tench that evening, casting the porcupine quill float it came assembled with.

The tench, the first I’d ever seen in the flesh, and still the tiniest I’ve ever caught at barely a few ounces, revealed its lair through tell-tale vibrations of a singular lily pad leaf no bigger than a saucer just few feet from the bank. The water was silted up, shallow, pongy estate lake frequented by kids with time on their hands and mischief on their minds.

As I wound up and swung in the tiny chestnut brown, teddy-bear eyed creature, the shout went up along the bank “He’s got a Tench!” Beaming, I proudly showed it off to the gathered crowd of stone-throwers making admiring noises.

That rod would later ‘tap-tap’ to sizeable stream-dwelling Chub on freelined flake under bridges. It would spring and bounce to defiant, gill flaring Perch pushing a magical 1lb!

And one final day of the season, a gloriously bright and sunny mid-March day, it bent so hard and the tiny reel screeched so loudly, I believe it made connection with a true, unseen Crabtree leviathan.

I have too many reels….

Writing & Images Sneezewort February 2022