We really don't need most of it...obviously, from time to time, we all buy tackle that we know in our heart will never get used. That's part of the fun. I've probably got about 100 floats (at least 20 of them are porcupine quills that I have an unreasonable attachment to). I use no more than a dozen most years. Luckily it doesn't seem to stop me catching fish. I admit to being a "float tart", but am not a "tackle tart". So I have a relatively small standing collection of tackle (except floats).

I have rotated through quite a selection of stuff though. I'm a curious fellow and like to see things for myself. Here's some of the stuff I've seen for myself, among other things. Some of the other things are those I've collected along the way and have never quite thrown away, although that day is drawing nearer.

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I have several rods more than I really need, in a variety of materials, built-cane, glass-fibre, carbon-fibre and 'Hexagraph'. I've given them their own sections, just because I wanted to. Yes, I know a 'Hexagraph' isn't actually a material, it's a composite of a carbon-fibre outer skin with a foam inner, designed to give the rod the 'feel' of good cane but the strength and weight of carbon-fibre. It's not 'pretend cane', it's rather better than that.

• Cane Rods . I like cane more-or-less although not with starry-eyed romanticism. I've owned a few cane rods and handled even more and can say, that for the most part, there were more bad ones than good. I do think that 'good' rods have what some call 'the feel' and this is a kind of steely flex that one can only really experience, I can’t fully describe it myself. A good example would be the Allcocks Superb below. I've held mine and the Woodsmans side-by-side and mine is a wand with a core of steel and his is less a wand and more a stick (although it does good service). It may be I've been amazingly lucky with the LRH No. 2 and the Octofloat and dreadfully unlucky with the MKIV. I would however argue that a material that varies so much by its very nature is the very definition of a 'poor material'.

It's certainly the case that a good cane rod has a 'feel' all of its own, some think it has soul, I prefer to think of it as a solid structure, that by its nature does not deform significantly when flexed and therefore has a restoring force that is a linear function of the deflection. You can call that a 'soul' if you like.

There's more rubbish and mystification surrounding cane rods than you see at a UFO convention. If I had thousand pounds for everyone who given me some variation of 'Woo-ooo, but is that the real MKIV taper...' along with 'the waving of the hands', I'd have done my MSc for nothing. Bamboo is grass and even subject to the whims of the maker and the process itself, a silk purse cannot be made out of a sow's ear, even a very fine sow's ear. It is what it is.

I've personally never believed the 'MKIV' was used to capture a 44lb record carp and there is enough mystification RDLI.e. a masking or covering up central aspects of historical truth through the promulgation of narratives sympathetic to the structural position of a social class or group are camouflaged so that these social structures and the state which assists in their reproduction, are seen as legitimate.
Like I said 'woo-ooo' *waves hands in mysterious way*
 around the subject to give me grounds for thinking that, never mind the limitations of the rod itself and the availability of a much stouter rod (the MKIII). This is heretical talk for some. That in itself is interesting, but I'll write about that another time...

  1. LRH No.3. Sold to the bloke at the back I picked this on the way back from a bad day in 2004. It was £60 and is a serious rod, with a 3lb t/c (estimated). It had been re-built with agate all through, which looked nice if not the original idea. Also, on using it for a bit of piking, I realised the set of the rod was at 45° to the ring alignment which gave it an odd feel. I decided to take off the agates, too heavy, too cracked. I put on some hardy game guides, which are light, a jade butt ring and an agate tip. Bottle green and maroon, reinforced whipping. There was also some plastic insulation tape on the corks, to jam the Hardy 'Screw=Lock' reel fittings. This had compressed the cork underneath and left sticky glue residue. I cleaned it off with white spirit and steamed out the dents, which worked better than I'd hoped.
    It then looked good but more importantly feels the biz. now and I planned to use it for the snaggy-margin carping with 14lb line. [first time out I hooked a 10-12lb fish and had to hold firm to stop a tree branch incident. The hook came away, what are the odds?].
    I loved the long slender handle, the 'screw-locks' which allowed the reel-placement to make full use of the 9'6" and it was the first bit of cane I'd ever bought, it spent too long rack'd, and...so sold to Haydn, I prefer to sell to a user-angler at a good rate, rather than a dealer at the 'market' rate. I hope it catches fishes for him.
  2. Chapmans 500. Sold to the bloke at the backA 1960's vintage (according to Chapmans themselves based on the label). Bought is ealry 2008 from Fleabay for £60, advertised with a loose ferrule, which turned out to be the male on the top section, which I slid off then araldited on. I replaced the rings with Fuji's and changed the pattern of rings to that for the 550 (adding an extra one). Gun barrel straight and I had an 11lb carp and several tench first time out and it performed beautifully. Having said the 550 with wire guided made me smile, so I re-ringed with wire stand-offs and a clear agate stand-off butt ring for an old Scottie section and an agate tip. It's nicer now. The 'Jammy Bender' which I liked a lot, was through lack of use, passed to a very good home and was someone's first cane rod, they could scarcly have done better. I occasionally miss it, it was a very good rod.
  3. Chapmans 550. Sold to the bloke at the back I'd yearned for cane for a bit so ordered a blank in December 2007 ("550 Blank, not impregnated, medium flame colour and bronze ferrules fitted. Handle, with reel fittings/rings"), inluenced by the convenience of three-piece. It took me four outings on a new water to Christen it, but eventually I had a brace of 10lb commons and a couple of 5lb ghosties. Now I see why some prefer it for playing fishing. Having said all that I never really took to it. I bumped off a lot of tench, it seemed very stiff and the ferrules were a bu88er to get apart. After a bit on the rack, I took of the Fuji rings and stuck on cradle wire guides and an agate butt ring and a white agate tulip tip (Hardy) and whipped it in maroon with some green overlay on the ferrules. It look fab. after a rebuild and even fished OK but in the end another rod which was on the rack so long I sold it on to what appeared to be a reasonable home.
    In March 2009 Chapmans made me a tip section (54" Custom made tip section for Chapman 550 at 1-1/4 lbs t/c) to make me a 'combo' type of rod. It was a beautiful thing but the first time I took it out, the tip dragged on the roof of the car and the top 5" snapped off clean, like it was a candy-cane. I returned it to them but never followed up for one reason or another.
  4. Chapman 700. Maybe. Sold to the bloke at the back In early 2009 I acquired what appeared to be a reconditioned Dennis Pye, 4lb t/c (!) nuts, but I rather like it. [It turned out it had the wrong tapers so not a Dennis Pye, but I still like it.] This went to the same good home as the Chapman 500, which is good to know.
  5. B James MK IV Sold to the bloke at the back In April 2009 I acquired a B James MK IV, late 50's vintage. The reel bands were missing, replaced with two brass ones I had to cut off to avoid damaging the cork. The butt thimble was "uhu'd" on, and it came away without damage when I put in a very long 3/8" bsf thread. The butt button was badly perished. The second ring on the bottom section was not original and corroded, whipped on with D grade thread, and the varnish over the top made the colour run out of, three intermediate whippings down. The top section had a set against the rings and a bit of a dog leg near the tip.
    A closer look showed the rings on the top section had been removed, the rod turned around and re-whipped by a blind spider. So I removed all of them, cleaned back the varnish to the cane and re-whipped in bottle green (not Garnet I know, but I plan to use it for a bit, see how it 'sets' and then rebuild properly if it's OK.) This included gluing on the tip ring, which hadn't been. Slightest of knocks on the ferrule nothing candle-wax won't make fishable. A Project.
    I cleaned the butt thimble (inside) and got hold of the right reel bands and a button for the end (silly expensive for originals). I let in the cane at the butt very slightly (I can here the sharp intakes of breath around the world) to prevent the thread on the button or a spear (I have a few, I use them) pushing off the thimble at a later date. The cork was restored with five minutes of a plastic pan scourer and washing up liquid, more or less pristine, no cork removed. It's managed a couple of double figure carp, although the 16lb'er made it bend alarmingly. Sold it on rr    ...to a well known 'rod-restorer', who insulted me by doing some fast adding up and taking away to try and confuse me, in respect of a rod-ring I had repaired (poorly) by the same.
    (1) I can add up and take away really fast and
    (2) even if they'd made an extra fiver ('no'), I never used said restorer again for anything. Ever.
    To be honest, I found it to be a horrible rod, too soft, no spine, not at all the legendary rod it's feted to be. I'm told by one who knows better than me that the cane quality is everything, but for me, this rod was not worth what I spent on it.
  6. LRH No.2. Sold to the bloke at the backI bought this in 2010 as it was know to be a 'useful' carp rod. It had clear agates all the way up and a wire butt-ring which was odd, but still. One of the clear rings was cracked so I passed it onto a rod-restorer (mentioned above) to had a 'proper job' done. I had to chase it endlessly to get it back and in the end, well, I could do better and it was just like one of the other rings was now cracked. All a bit off-putting.
    I changed the cracked one in annoyance, then put the rod on the wall. Two years later I got it down, put 'Bells' on the top section, but on the opposite face - the rod had a 'set' and 'agates' are heavy (and possibly not really required). I then used it to catch five carp to 9lb, two very feisty pike in the 4-5lb range and a gaggle of 'pasties'. It's rather nice, easy but powerful. The reel seat needs to be 5" nearer the butt as well. Fish over 6lb only I'd say. Strike hard...best with a 'pin and fish close in.
    I kind of miss it. I'd like another, a good one, with a fully slding reel-bands, so I can put the reel where it needs to be to make best use of the length plus I'd put titanium rings on it. I think it would be great then.
    Sold to Haydn, I prefer to sell to a user-angler at a good rate.
  7. 9'8" 'Mystery Rod'. A rod which I built from an old nameless salmon spinner, which took a 9lb, two 10lb carp and a 4lb tench on its firt try-out. It has a high agate stand-off butt-rint, Bell guides and a red agate tip ring. The new corks have a sliding reel seat and a brass butt-cap (that came off the history teacher's fishing rod I think) with a 3/8" thread, into which is screwed an outlandish rubber button. It's stout, a steeper taper than (say) the LRH No.2 and will do very well for silly piking. Anyway, used much or not I like it. Still hanging on the wall waiting for something.
  8. The Brook Rod. 'The Gudgeonator'. A little built-cane brook rod, made in 2014 from a 9 foot #4 aftm cane rod I found at a boot sale.
  9. Allcock’s 'Superb'. This cost me £20 in a 2013 boot-sale, I had no idea what it was, but I liked it. I replaced the ferrule which was shot and took off the "sea rod" rings, which some say are 'authentic' although I prefer to say 'rubbish'. I fitted Pacbay Minima’s and a Hardlon Stripping guide for the butt ring. This reduced the weight of the top section by 1oz. The female ferrule isn't 100% straight but it wasn't before...the cane under it was rounded off-centre. I left it as was. I've had carp to 12lb on 6lb line with it and it's very steely. It has, as they say, 'the feel'.
    It does however have a 31" handle, too long and too fat. So it's getting 8" removed and being sanded down to ¾". I'll let you know. The Woodsman' has one, with original rings (yuck) and mine is much the stronger rod. Odd. That's cane for you.
  10. Sealy Octofloat, 11ft. Sold to the bloke at the backEbay surprise at £10 and the only work I did was to change the thicker than 'D' grade thread on the top section eye whippings for 'A' in the same garnet. I'm sure it took 1oz off the weight. First time out I landed a 13lb carp on 4lb line. Surprising rod.
    After over two years 'on the rack', I sold this rod on for a decent profit, although to be fair, I'd re-whipped it. Another rod that would be better with titanium rings.

• Hexagraph Rods . I came across these rods and my first thought was 'Aha, the ideal construction of good built-cane married to the strength and stiffness of carbon-fibre'. My second thought was "How fecking much!!!!??" They're not cheap, being mostly hand-made, even today and if I'm frank, I dislike the cane-colour paint. It adds weight and I'd rather have a dark green colour. However, saying that, in an otherwise well designed rod, it's a fabulous way to make a rod.

  1. Hexagraph Avon, 11ft 1½lb t/c. 2009. Very powerful, I've no doubt as powerful as most 2lb t/c hollow section rods. I've not used it that much due to the floater obsession, but what I caught on it stayed caught. I built it with chrome cradle guides and agates as it looked nice that way. I know lined rings are 'better', but still. I think it's got the best of carbon and cane, solid section, new materials, but the intensive manufacturing process makes it over priced for most.
    In 2016 I very carefully removed the cane-coloured paint and re-made it with titanium Pacbay rings and put on an 16mm reel seat and sanded down the handle. It's lighter, all together a finer rod in the hand.
    But:the 16mm reel seat is too thin and the cork, although matching, is too slender even for my small hands. As I've located an agent for Pacbay in the UK who stocks the black titanium rings, later this year I will, although it irks me to re-do black-thread-on-black-rod whipping, re-make the handle and re-whip it. I may put an 18mm real-seat on’t or I may use a pair of my amazing sliding reel bands. The only sort that is actually any good.
  2. Hexagraph carp rods, 2lb t/c and 2 x 1¾lb t/c 'old style' Sold to the bloke at the back via fleabay. All sold on (broke even). Nice rods, a bit feeble in the middle, Took me 25 minutes to land a 22lb carp one cold March, in open water and with 10lb line. And that was the '2lb' rod...
  3. Hexagraph carp 12' 2lb t/cfrom Bruce and Walker. First built in 2010, using the salmon corks and with lined fuji rings. 'Capax Infiniti' CI    I.e. 'Holding the Infinite'. This amuses me.  I hopefully wrote in Indian ink on the improbably thick butt section. Didn't like it, despite landing a 26lb common in a 6' wide swim (strong and flexible rod). Replaced the Fuji's with 'Pacbay Minima' in late 2012 and wonderful agate tip (thanks RedFin) and butt rings. Still not 100% happy, so in 2014, stripped the fore-grip corks off, cut the real seat off, replaced with o/d 2mm less new seat, put on a cork three inch fore-grip and sanded the remaining corks down to the level of the new real seat. hid the scratched paint with a natty black whipping in 11lb Milward Black Spider. Easier to hold, reel seat also the right way around now (screw facing upwards). Like it more now, but if buying it again would go for 11 foot, same t/c sans paint. I may yet strip this one one more time.
  4. Great Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment     To the posts of the build.... Hexagraph 14' 10-12aftm Salmon rod. I had a handle made for the top two sections and called it a 'Light Carp' 'ish', the 'GHSRE'. My second favourite rod as of 2013, seems to be able to land high doubles on 6lb line without trouble. It's also landed a 23lb fish, although on 12lb line.
  5. Light Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment. I got a Hexagraph 14' 9-11aftm Salmon and cut the bottom section down to make a handle made for the top two sections. It's meant for perching where there are too many carp. On 6lb line it desn't seem possible to break the line, even with lively carp up to 19lb to date. Good odd rod.
  6. Hexagraph Salmon Stalking Rod Experiment. Having got hold of a 15' 10-12aftm (green) Hexagraph Salmon rod, I've set about making a 10' two-piece 'stalking rod' out of the top two sections and I'll make a landing net handle out of the bottom section.

So, here's the thing. Of all the rods I've owned and used there are very few that fit in the hand like a large Talisker the LoDThe 'Laird of Dunbar', although in respect of the provision of a large Talisker, I'm not fussy. has paid for. I have hopes for some others, but so far these are the true extensions of one's arm:

  1. Harrisons' Avon, 11' four-piece 1lb 10oz t/c
  2. Bruce and Walker S/U MKIV 'G' 10'
  3. John Wilson Specialist Avon 11'
  4. Chapmans 500
  5. Light Hexagraph Salmon Rod Experiment
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For two years after I bought the Harrisons' Avon, I used it for absolutely everything. I'll explain...

I'm not all that fond of fishing a long way from myself. No reason, I just prefer to be near the action. By and large the waters I fish are small enough to get close to the fish (as long as one is stealthy) and a through action rod is fine for this. I prefer to fish this way. What I want out of a rod is power, shock absorption and flexibility. By the latter I mean able to handle a range of line breaking strengths, as I tend to fish for whatever is going and don't often focus on one species - although I tend to fish for larger fish and exclude small stuff with large baits. So for example the Avon will work quite nicely with line strengths of 6-10lb b/s. As I tend not to have the "dedication" of the "serious" angler, I make double sure that if I do hook something exceptional, I land it. This means avoiding break-offs and a through-action rod is good for this.

Even when piking I tend to stick with through action and especially if you use a modern braid for a main line (for piking), the lack of stretch in the line more than compensates for the through action of the rod, at all but the furthest ranges.

I like the convenience of a four-piece rod.

I did own a roach pole (5M) with standard and heavy "top threes" plus a short whip, which is handy for taking the children fishing. Nah, Sold to the bloke at the back sold it.

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Fishing Tackle   Harrison's Four Piece Avon Review (Orginally penned for 'Pure Piscator').

Why would you buy a four-piece rod? Historically, they've had a bad press, but having travelled extensively and missed some great fishing opportunities, the need for a compact rod with the ability to cover various sorts of fishing had become crystallised in my mind. A two-piece rod is fine, but tends to be used as a footrest by smaller passengers in the back of the car and as a javelin by baggage handlers.

After some interwebbing, I came across Harrison and after some email communications decided I'd try the four-piece Avon. I ordered my blank in January via a distributor and after a delay it turned up. I built it in a frenzy using double legged ceramic rings and more or less followed the instructions and advice on Harrisons' website about spacing and placing. I've nothing against buying rods built and Harrison rods are nicely built. I just like to do it myself for the fun of it. I finally got to the water in May 2005. Phew. Improbably, I had an 11lb carp not 15 minutes in and finished the day with seven tench and another 6lb common. Good omens...so onto the rod itself;

At 10oz it's light in the hand, 11' long when assembled and 3'3" packed, which fits crossways on the Driving Technology's parcel shelf. When in use it has nothing about it that signals the four-piece construction. The joints are well made, a good fit and are overlapping joints which I am more comfortable with (as opposed to spigot-ferrules). It has a true Avon action through to the butt and I've felt that bend under strain. It's light enough to fish for small stuff, but has the power to stop a decent carp in its tracks. I've had to do this a few times on 12-15lb carp at about 15' (curse those overhanging tree branches).

I've used it on the Frome trotting for grayling and dace, mullet fishing in Ireland, some light piking, plus carp and tench fishing in weedy and snaggy waters and have no complaints. It has flexibility, but there is loads of power in reserve. I suspect I've not tapped that to its fullest extent yet.

I typically use it with 6lb/8lb line, depending on the water and fish, but go as light as 4lb, for trotting on the Frome and as high as 10lb for double figure carp in weedy water. 8lb seems around the optimum line strength for the rod. I would be chary of using it on purpose for really big carp (20lb+) especially in snaggy water; it might be a bit light for that. For everything between tiddler-snatching and really big carp/pike, it does an excellent job. I wish I'd had it a year earlier for a trip to a warm place with a chance of Barracuda, or as the bother put it, "A chance of watching one strip off 200 yards of line in 30 seconds and then smash you up...", but you know what I mean.

This is all unrelentingly positive, but I have a couple of niggles. The first one, is that I ordered in January, got a blank in March with a cork handle, when I'd ordered Duplon, so back it went, four weeks to turn that around. Slow and wrong, although the dealer was very helpful in the circumstances. The second niggle, is that the screw down reel seat doesn't look the best quality. Having said that it works fine.

If you wanted to spend all your time on grayling or smaller fish, then a lighter t/c Avon of around a 1lb might be more suited, but for me, with a limited budget (and limited time to fish), the rod performs perfectly for 90% of my fishing and is easy to pack and carry.

Verdict: To sum up, if it broke I'd buy another tomorrow.

VB Hook traceSingle 'VB' Hook trace...(and back to the top of the page) VB Hook traceSingle 'VB' Hook trace VB Hook traceSingle 'VB' Hook trace


I started out with an Intrepid Challenger, which served me for many years - as mentioned above [2009- I got a good one on Fleabay for the heck of it]. The second reel I owned was a centre pin, given as a present during a period when for some reason we were keen on them. Bruv and I used them first at the Dyke and in coloured water during the early part of the year we both caught pike on worms. I still have the reel, will a fair bit of the excess weight drilled out, but it has been far exceeded by today's centre pin reels, works of art that rotate for minutes at a time. One day I'll be a good enough angler to justify having one.

I next owned an Abu Cardinal 40, one of the original stern drag (when it was new) reels that came out around 1978 or thereabouts. I have 4 spools and carried 3lb, 6lb, 8lb, 10lb line for all occasions. It served me faithfully until about 2004 when the gears just got so worn the reel stopped rotating freely. I moved onto a Shimano Sedona 4000 GTE in 2005. Used to dowdy tackle by preference, I painted over the chrome parts with matt green enamel...

In the interim I picked up cheaply a Cardinal Bronco and a Diawa AG1650CT, both with one spool and they were my pike fishing reels loaded with 12lb mono. In 2005 I bought a Shimano 3000, with extra spools to allow me line combinations to suit the majority of my fishing, without carrying more than 2 reels Generally speaking I use 4lb/6lb/8lb/10lb/12lb/16lb(braid).

I literally picked up a Ceratec ML2C - a small fixed spool, nice rear drag and ceramic lime roller. This was in a patch of long grass on a swim at Jubilee Lake in Thatcham and despite me placing a card on the notice board, no-one ever called for it. I use it for the rare occasions that require really light tackle.

The only real reason for the new reel is that both the 2 aforementioned have the one spool, with no chance of another both being discontinued. I suspect I will keep them somewhere.

I have an old (Shakespeare I think) Centrepin, which I first used in 1980 and have started to use again lately. It's worn, but works, but I have acquired a Series 2 Arnold Kingpin, which is amazing. Most fishing now is with this work of art and again liking it I bought a second. I used the 'pin almost without a break for 12 months 2007-2008. A revelation to one who'd never really fished with a pin before.

In 2008 I got converted by Nempster to a Cardinal 44x, which is a wonderful reel. It had all the nostalgia of using my Cardinal 40 but was just better. I enjoyed it so much I bought another and consequently have about 8 spools. I liked them so much I spent a few months acquiring couple of Cardinal 66's for Leviathan fishing. They're old but do what I want without frippery.

A year later I found a pair of '66s on fleabay with metal bale arms and indulged in those and then in 2012 I discovered Cardinal 66x's, with their cream and brown colour scheme and faster retrieve. The line lay is not quite as good as 66's, so I load sppols with a '66. I've also changed the drag washers in the '66x's for carbon fibre ones, which has helped and re-profiled the lip of the spools which added 20% to casting range. Seldom without them now.

Fishing Tackle  KingPin Series 2 Review. (Orginally penned for 'Pure Piscator')

Deciding that I wanted to try fishing with a centre-pin, in part due to Waterlog et al, I dug out an old K. Dowling 'pin, given to me when I was a callow 18-year old. I quickly got used to the unfree-running nature and banked several carp up to 11lb, next to lily beds, which as 'BB' reminds us, spells doom if carp can get amongst them. I rather enjoyed being able to retrieve line when exerting pressure. So that's OK then. I then practised 'Wallis' casts in the back garden for a bit. Seemed straightforward enough in theory.

I researched, in-depth, the contemporary centre-pin market. Well OK, for a couple of hours, but that's 'Google' for you. I wanted a quality item but wasn't prepared to part with the inflated price of some newer 'pins, due in part to the name of the endorsee, especially in this age of CNC tools. It didn't matter whether it was an older or contemporary model. Function was the thing, as I was still a neophyte 'pin angler. By chance, I found a reference to 'Arnold KingPins' being manufactured in Poole. As it happens, that's local and I'd also rather buy British. With a call and a visit I found out that I could have a Series 2 Kingpin in a variety of colours, except green which is apparently a bu88er to get right and easily spoiled. Pity. Once I had one in my hand, I was lost.

I was invited to pay on collection when the reel was ready, which I did. The first time out I got memorably stuffed by a big carp ("Good OmensOne word; 'ping'") but used it almost exclusively for the next 12 months, for everything from margin carping, tench fishing, trotting the Frome for grayling and the Stour for chub, with lines from 3lb-10lb b/s. A decent 'trot', as it were. Arf, arf.

So, first things first. What does it look like? It looks like quality. The anodising is top rate and overall appearance pleasing. Two colours are shown here, black and platinum (mea culpa, I bought another; I tend to fish when I can and wanted to have two line strengths to hand). It's possible the reels were not cleaned before the photos.

Series One - Regal 450 Platinum Series One - Regal 450 Platinum Series One - Regal 450 Black Series One - Regal 450 Black

Do they spin? By golly, yes. When new, the first reel would spin freely for over a minute but now it has 'bedded in', it actually spins for over two minutes. Which is nuts. Even limited experience leads to benchmark that "any 'pin that spins freely for a minute is fine for fishing". The reel itself is made in two main parts. The spool and the back-plate. The spool bolts to the back-plate with a nice brass nut, which is just knurled enough to hurt when your really cold fingers slip on it.

The spool contains the sealed bearing unit, so it's not a 'traditional centre-pin', so some purists are no doubt offended, but if using nylon line, it is hard to reject ball bearings as a modern solution. I understand metal has been in use for several thousand years though, so we should be OK there. The drum of the spool is continuous, so no fold marks however long or tightly the line has been on the reel.

The back of the spool is closed so no detritus can get into the sealed works, but the gap between spool and back-plate is so small that any bit of grit will cause nasty noises. Always dismantle the reel on a clean surface is my advice, and unhooking mats are not in this category.

The drum is wide, 7/8", with a depth that accommodates 200 yards of 12lb line on it, and a bit more besides if you feel the need. Hook a margin carp and need 200 yards of line? You wish! The ratchet lever is in a handy place, I can reach it with a fore-finger (and I have small hands), the ratchet is positive and not too loud. I quietened mine with a mix of moly and silicon grease, but I'm a slave to silence. Since I wrote this in 2009, the flimsy back-plates were removed from the spools and that quietened the reels considerably, as these were acting as a kind of sound-board.

Series One - Regal 450 Series One - Regal 450

Both parts are very solidly made (useful for the aforementioned margin carp) and it's heavier than some reels. Despite the resulting inertia, the extremely free running nature compensates to the point where even a 2BB float in a light Stour flow pulls line off at a steady rate. Casting 'off the reel' needs some care at first, as you need to brake the drum almost from the off to avoid overruns. Otherwise, it's good for "giving it some Wallis".

The knurled finish on the drum edge provides very satisfying feedback for the thumb when trotting, as well as a sight 'zizzing' noise, the note of which varies with the speed of the drum. I've got very used to that, even if one's thumb can get warm when you hook a screamer, although funnily enough that's easier to bear. It's nice also for 'batting the rim' if you like to retrieve this way. The handles are also nicely made, are easy to remove if you prefer and the round holes in the spool are very handy for the 'one finger retrieve' (I sense a 'Samantha the Scorer' anecdote coming on, what with 'batting the rim' and the 'one finger retrieve').

Series One - Regal 450 Black Series One - Regal 450 Black Series One - Regal 450 Platinum Series One - Regal 450 Platinum

I find the reel body a little close to the rod when mounted, which can make it awkward to hold, as I like to get my index finger ahead of the reel mount for a secure grip. For most fishing this is not a problem, but I find a three fingered grip aching at the end of a days' trotting and also if into a large carp (steady Samantha). I'd personally like a larger diameter drum, for a faster retrieve and a lighter reel would be nicer for the river but I see that the range has recently expanded to cover these things plus user serviceable bearings.

In summary, I find it a joy to use in almost any situation. Try one, you might be amazed. They perform perfectly for me and I have to say it's good to buy British. I was edging towards my third Kingpin when I wrote this and have since indulged in a Royalty 478 which I thought to be even better...but it never felt right in the hand and in the end I sold it on for what I paid for it. I did the same with a 378 (although I made a profit on that one). Nice, but I had little use for it.

I've since come to see them as rather over-priced, sorry to say. They are beautifully made of course, but they are CNC machined, high tolerances excepting and as of 2014, the market is showing more and more very nicely made reels that are a quarter of the price but are simply nowhere near a quarter of the quality, many with user changeable bearings and little significant difference in quality or performance.

For some there is a cachet that sits alongside 'reassuringly expensive' but for my money, there are several equally good and usable reels for £100 or so, and to pay £400 or even £700 for what is after all, a piece of CNC machining, is rather more 'Emperor's New Clothes' than 'value for money'. I was lucky to get mine for the price I paid!

A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box...(and back to the top of the page) A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box A bunch of hooks I found in my pike-boxA bunch of hooks found in my pike box

Fishing Tackle   Fox Stalker Unhooking Mat Review.

Why review an unhooking mat? It depends what you want from it I suppose - my old one, an unbranded piece of foam with a nylon backing sheet, disintegrated from the molecular-bond breaking effects of UV light, so I needed another. I say 'needed' as so many waters have the use of an unhooking mat written into their rules. A lot of the places I fish have thick water-meadow grass, which is better, but I digress.

So to the mat. It's a sensible colour. It has no flashy bits. It performs perfectly well in its primary role, which is to say it is well padded and big enough for a 30lb carp (I imagine, like I'd know first hand. Hah!). Well hurrah, a bin liner with a blanket in does that. It doubles as a weighing sling. Handy if you catch anything worth weighing. I'm not basing my choice on that criterion alone for very good reasons...or lack of them if you know what I mean.

Secondly and more importantly it really is completely waterproof. This is an essential requirement, as for many of my trips the unhooking mat is my seat. A wet posterior can take the gloss of any day, but a dry unhooking matt under a large brolly keeps you out of the weather and in the summer you just skip taking the brolly. It's long enough to allow me to almost lie down.

Thirdly - it's exactly the right size and shape to use as a holdall and to be fair it is designed that way. I like to put the rods, landing net and any other bits and pieces into the mat and carry them. The old one was good for that. My new mat had to be good for that and I have to say it's almost perfect in that regard. You can get all the normal accoutrements in it and then Velcro up the side to keep things put and then bung in your bait box (or whatever). If I was being hypercritical I'd say the handles are not quite large enough to hook them over one shoulder and that even with my short armed 6ft frame, the mat only just clears the deck when being carried by the handles. Trifles, really.

Lastly, when you've done with it, it rolls up into a small self secured bundle to hide in the back of the car - and also it seems to absorb little or no slime, so it does wipe clean as advertised, which keeps the car fresher as well...

I'm pleased with it - it does what it says on the tin, the price is reasonable and I'd recommend the Fox Stalker Unhooking Mat it even if you don't go stalking...

P.S. It literally had fallen apart by mid-2014, I don't know if that counts as a long useful life or not.

split shotSplit...(and back to the top of the page) split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot split shotSplit... split shot...shot

Shot weight conversion

This drives me mad, so in case it drives you mad here is a rough conversion from traditional shot sizes to weights in grams.

  Shot   Grams   | Shot   Grams  
  SSG = 1.6g   | 2 × BB = 0.8g  
 SA=1.2g |3 × BB=1.2g 
 AAA=0.8g |4 × BB=1.6g 
 AB=0.6g  |5 × BB=2.0g 
 BB=0.4g  |2 × SSG=3.2g 
 No.1=0.3g  |1 × No.4, 1 × No.6=0.3g 
 No.4=0.2g  |1 × BB, 1 × No.6=0.5g 
 No.6=0.1g  |1 × AAA, 1 × No. 4=1.0g 
 No.8=0.068g  |2 × BB, 1 × No. 4=1.0g 
 No.9=0.051g  |3 × BB, 1 × No. 1=1.5g 
 No.10=0.03g  |¼oz=7g 
 No.11=0.02g  |½oz=14g 
 No.12=0.012g  |¾oz=21g 
 No.13=0.005g  |1oz=28g 
I like porcupine quill floats...I like porcupine quill floats...(and back to the top of the page) I like porcupine quill floats...I really like porcupine quill floats... I like porcupine quill floats...I really like porcupine quill floats... I like porcupine quill floats...I really like porcupine quill floats...

'Gut' thicknesses

This drives me mad as well, so...

  Gut   Inches   mm Equivalent line Hook/Fly
  0 X = 0.011" / 0.27mm (Stren Original 8lb) 2, 1/0
  1 X = 0.010"       4,6,8
  2 X = 0.009" / 0.22mm (Stren Original 6lb) 6, 8, 10
  3 X = 0.008" / 0.20mm (Stren Original 4lb) 10, 12, 14
  4 X = 0.007"       12, 14, 16
  5 X = 0.006"       14, 16, 18
  6 X = 0.005" / 0.15mm (Stren Original 2lb) 16, 18, 20, 22
  7 X = 0.004"       18, 20, 22, 24
  8 X = 0.003"       22, 24, 26, 28
Perch'perca fluviatilis'...(and back to the top of the page) PerchStripey Perch'Sarge' PerchA 'swagger' of perch Perch'Sarge' PerchA 'swagger' of perch PerchA 'swagger' of perch Perch'perca fluviatilis' PerchStripey Perch'Sarge'

The Spoon

...said the Bug-angler (aged 9 and 23/24ths) at La Morinais in August 2008 while we were trying for a tench or carp, as I windmilled in some loose bait, "You know Dad, you could flick bait in with a spoon and it would be much easier." Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings...

You can flick a dozen grains of corn about 40 yards with a spoon, the wooden sort they have on ferries are good, but the plastic baby spoons are much better. You can get a bit of kibble 50 yards. An ear of giant maize will go 60 yards. Live and learn. I carry a couple of spoons now...

And you don't get hemp and corn stuck in your ears as it bounces back off the twatapault handles either...

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Useless Stuff

This is a list of the stuff I either bought and discovered to be pointless or never bought for the same reason.

  • Tungsten Putty: Heard of plasticine anyone?
  • Lead core Line: Well, ostensibly useful but in practise, bits of plasticine will do the job.
  • Camo split shot: If you really think this matters, use a permanent marker to colour them or put a knat's spit of Humbrol olive green in a tin lid. Roll the shot around for a bit. Let dry. Repeat with another colour. There. I did buy some once when my concentration slipped, then after a moment of common sense, closed them all up and drilled them out with a 0.8mm drill. This allows me to thread a few shot under a float with float stops to get a self cocker without pinching the line.
  • Dibbers: Two words. Cocktail stick. Cork balls. OK that's four. Varnish. OK, five then. You get the idea.
  • Plastic Bait: Try real bait. 1/100th of the price.
  • Peacock quill. Bl**dy useless stuff, whatever anyone say's, it's pants for making floats. Just about OK cut up into bits and coloured with a permanent market pen.
  • Nearly every float: Honestly, we all only need about three. Well six then. Ok, ten at a stretch. The rest are decoration and I should know I've got dozens...
  • Float quick-change widgets, that is all the 'special ones' which aren't "two float stops and a tiny link-swivel".
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    Really useful Stuff

    This is a list of the stuff which is way more useful than you might think.

    1. Latex Float Stops; What a great invention. I don't need to tie floats on with braid or pinch shot onto mono at all. Four of these and a micro swivel and you can free-line, ledger or float fish as the mood takes you without a change to the end bits otherwise. They'll also sink the line and keep braid leaders on the bottom. Buy them on fleabay in 500 lots, not £1.20 for 10 with a famous anglers name on them.
      After a shipment of ‘dayglow’ orange/yellow stops 'not as described’, to quote the seller "I don't have time to go around updating all my pictures", I stopped buying from that twat and now buy 2.5mm silicone cord cut up into 5-6mm sections and threaded (by needle) onto some 8lb braid loops. Sounds tedious, but it take me about 15 minutes to make an entire season’s worth (although I'm a dab hand at re-using them again and again…).
    2. Tesco's Mixer biscuits; big bag for nothing much. Fill a 'Vitalite' box, pour over boiling water (carefully) and flavour of your choice. Shake for 5 minutes. Drain and stick in fridge. I've got some that have been defrosted 4 times.
    3. Cheap 1 litre thermos flasks. Put in 1 pint of dry hemp (20p). Cover with boiling water, add a teaspoon of salt and two of Demerara sugar. Shake. Top up with more water. Leave overnight. Drain, freeze. Use the water for hempy floaters (above). Beats the pants out of stinking out the kitchen with saucepans of boiling hemp.
    4. Cocktail sticks: Float stems and tips for 50p for 50.
    5. Permanent Markers; Black, green and brown for instant camouflage for line, shot etc. Orange for instant floats tips.
    6. Rig rings: Very handy for joining two bits of dissimilar line, as nearly all the knots for this are rubbish, especially those for flouro to nylon. Use a cork ball and a rig ring, a lot less trouble.
    7. Bamboo toothpicks 80p for 200 the Chinese Supermarket, 200 cane float tips
    8. Bait Buckets; I got myself a 5 liter one and it's very handy indeed, both for carrying and storage. That's a long winded way of saying that it goes in and out of the freezer without any fuss or mess.
    9. Plasticine; A lump or two in earth tones are very handy for changing tack with minimal tackle changes.
    10. A good pocket knife; Seems obvious, but a good pocket knife which can be kept really sharp (I mean 'razor') will do away with the need for clippers, cutters, scissors and a load of other clutter. Tie it to a piece of string to avoid the whole "knife-in-the-water" thing. If you can't get old fashioned carbon steel, the best stainless I've found is Sandvik Steel 12C27, hardened to 57 - 59 HRC. Most other s/steel knives are rubbish and don't hold any kind of edge, making them worse than useless. Do remember there are laws about knife blade length and the carrying of, so take the trouble to check and keep legal.
      P.S. An 'Opinel No. 7' is better by far.
    11. Super Glue; How useful is this stuff? For float making it's near instant and once painted over, permanent. In fact it's handy for dozens of little jobs. Although...don't to use it on tip rings. If it sets with the ring not correctly aligned you're stuffed. I don't use it on knots (a good knot doesn't need it), I've never seen a fish try for a glued on floater either.
    12. Solder Wire (lead free); so very handy. You can make any float into an instant self or semi-cocker, 4 cm = 1 'BB' (at least the 24awg) and 1cm lengths slipped inside thin silicone tubing strung on the line is handy for fishing on the deck for carp when you need to avoid line bites, or if river fishing using hemp (say). A permanent resident of my tackle box.
    13. A small double sided whetstone; Mine is about 4" x 1" x ½" with a different grade on each side. It keeps the above 'Opinel No. 7' in shaving order and is perfect for hook sharpening as well. Cheaper than bespoke 'hook sharpening stones'.
    Not so very common carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page) Not so very common carpa very subtil fish Not so very common carpWatch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders. Not so very common carpif you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience Not so very common carpI am content to wait. I am well used to it.
    05:05pm on 2020-01-22 JAA