September 2007 –
Fishing for new tackle
The cancellation of this year’s Country Landowner
and Business Association Game Fair due to a waterlogged
site at Harewood House in Yorkshire was a big blow to exhibiting
Now some dealers have been offering discounts to make up
for lost trade. Could you, like me, be in for some new tackle?
To make it easier imagine all your gear has disappeared
in a particularly thorough burglary: how would you start
Let’s begin with rods. What about budget? It’s
arguable that if your only salmon fishing trip is one week
a year you might opt for something cheaper than those at
the top of the range.
For years I have fished with a 15 ft Daiwa Whisker that
has seen good service and caught a lot of fish. On a mid-price
budget - about £350 - I would narrow my choice between
the new Daiwa Scott MacKenzie Signature and the Guideline
LPXE. If just starting out the Shakespeare Oracle rods are
excellent value for money at less than £100.
But if you’re looking for something with a bit more
class – in the higher price bracket of £600
to £750 - for salmon I would choose between the Sage
TCR, the Sage Z-Axis, the Loop Opti, the Loomis Roaring
River Stinger GLX and the new Hardy Swift. They’re
all very fine rods but my vote by a narrow margin goes with
If your fishing is mostly grilse – the smaller salmon
– you may want the American-style option of a single-handed
rod with a seven or eight weight line. I would probably
go for something nine or 10 feet in length in the Z-Axis
On the chalk streams I like to scale down to something
around seven or eight feet or even shorter, depending on
the stream. Another option is to buy second hand. My favourite
trout rod is a 7ft 6ins cane Jennings-Moran bought for £180
at one of Neil Freeman’s auctions in Chiswick.
I love the feel of a cane rod and recently acquired a new
one, hand crafted by Darlington-based Ian D Martin. It’s
a beautifully fashioned rod. If you want something made
from modern materials, Sage rods take some beating although
I picked up two excellent US-made Diamondback Aeroflex rods
for a bargain price at last year’s Game Fair. Cane
rods can cost anything from £300 to £1,000,
even more if you choose to have your rod custom built by
a specialist manufacturer.
Functionally the reel is less important. Most reels on
the market will do the job just fine in fresh water. You
can get a good salmon reel for between £150 and £500.
But if you’re heading for the salt it’s best
to get something anodised with a disc drag. The thing about
reels is that they’re lovely machines in their own
right and the best made ones can hold their value. Some
Hardy reels in fact have grown in value if they have been
Responding to the taste for retro-style reels, Hardy is
marketing the Bougle´ MarkVI reels. It’s a good
idea. We should never forget the zing from the reel check
when line is paying out to a strong running fish. Priceless.
Closer to the business end there’s the line to consider.
For trout and salmon I think the Snowbee XS lines take a
lot of beating without breaking the bank although for fishing
a heavy sinking tip the Guideline Power Taper Shooting Head
is an excellent system.
Just as important as the casting line, of course, is your
leader and tippet material. For salmon fishing I mostly
use Seaguar fluorocarbon leaders unless I want the line
to float when I will still opt for Maxima nylon line. For
trout tippets, Riverge works well. There is a good range
available in the £35-£60 bracket.
And the rest
As for the rest of your kit, it’s wise to have a
good pair of waders. I prefer the breathable boot-stocking
type, with the option of thermal layers underneath, to neoprene
waders or the all-in-ones that I used to wear. Everyone
tells me the choice must be between Simms and Patagonia
but have you seen the prices for Simms’ G4 Gore-Tex
Why pay £589, the price quoted by some of the leading
UK dealers, when you can get the same pair in the US for
£350 plus import tax at current exchange rates? Indeed
you might think that a few pairs of $99 breathable waders
from L L Bean’s online store is better value, particularly
if you buy a tube of Aquasure adhesive to seal the holes
from wear and tear.
But I would not compromise on boots. If you’re fishing
rocky ledges a felt sole with studs is probably best. I
use a Simms rubber-soled boot with studs, only because the
shop had no felt soles in stock at the time.
One piece of equipment I have found difficult to find is
a good light raincoat that folds up small enough to fit
into your vest pocket. I have a black Jack Wolfskin Gore-Tex
PacLite walking coat that I can get at quickly when it rains.
My Musto vest has enough pockets for most things I need.
I’ve resisted buying the various ruck-sack style packs
but I suppose they come in to their own if you have to hike
some way. I like the simplicity of necklaces but have opted
instead for zingers on my vest for the various bits and
bobs such as snippers, forceps and fly-drying material.
For safety’s sake I usually use a wading stick. The
Simms collapsible wader is handy for packing in a case.
I have a life jacket but rarely use it, preferring a belt
round my waste. Life-jackets make sense, obviously, but
I wonder sometimes whether they may encourage a false sense
of security, tempting me to wade further than I should.
Another important safety accessory are glasses. I use Cocoon
sunglasses that can be worn over ordinary glasses.
Lastly there’s the hat. It’s a personal choice
but I would advise wearing something wide brimmed if the
wind allows it. Otherwise a peaked cap is fine or something
fleecy in cold weather. Shop around carefully and you might
have some change for a few flies. They can prove quite useful
Various tackle suppliers have loaned rods on test during
the year and stock most of the items mentioned in the column.
Sportfish of Reading (www.sportfish.co.uk,
John Norris of Penrith (www.johnnorris.co.uk,
Graingers of South Kensington (www.grangersfishing.com,
0207 584 9666)
For other tackle mentioned here try:
L L Bean (www.llbean.com)
Ian D Martin’s website can be found at
Email: [email protected]
For details of Neil Freeman’s angling auctions go