Today’s fishing tackle box is full to the brim with bright, garish things that wriggle, sparkle, spin and bob.
Electronic bite alarms inform us of the lightest nibble, and the technology of the space race keeps us warm and dry on the bank and in the bivvy. But what of times past – gentler days when fishing tackle was truly inspired by nature.
Here we take a look at fishing equipment, vintage style.
The best cane rods are still made from Tonkin cane, hand planed, whipped with silk thread and varnished to perfection. To buy a new one will cost at least a few hundred pounds and easily a lot more than that.
Cane rods take a bit of looking after too. Stored badly they can warp, and varnish may crack if a rod is exposed to too much heat. But the bottom line is, nothing casts quite like a cane fly rod. And well maintained, you’ll only ever need to buy the one.
Good value when you look at it like that.
A traditional landing net is made from ash, bamboo and knotless mesh. As with many items of traditional fishing equipment, the production process is long, labour intensive and produces a stunning end product.
Take straight grained ash, drill it, steam it and bend it around a former. Now wait up to six weeks before immersing the wood in a preservative for a further week. In the meantime, you can be busy straightening and heat treating the bamboo handle and hand dying the net. When the thing is complete, it will retail for upwards of £400.
A rich man’s luxury for sure, but a beautiful object nonetheless.
Keep fish fresh and cool the old fashioned way. A willow creel should be lined with moss then dipped in the river to wet it.
When you catch a fish, simply pop it in the top and let evaporation do the rest. No need for ice or cool blocks – nature works best. There are still a few basket makers constructing creels for anglers, but why not make one yourself?
A basket weaving course at your local adult education college and you’ll be away.
Quill, reed, balsa and cork are the building blocks, nature provides. Handmade floats are an art in themselves and every bit as beautiful as exquisite hand tied flies.
What better camouflage can there be for a float than that provided by the use of entirely natural materials? In our throw away society we can sometimes forget to cherish our belongings, but if you own a handmade float and you’ll still be looking after it long after its plastic equivalents have bitten the dust.
Centre pin reel
Few things beat the simplicity of a centre pin reel. And yet fishing with one requires time to master the art of the drag free drift.
This is fishing stripped to its bare essentials. You’ll experience your fair share of tangles when your reel over spins but the payoff in terms of developing that all important feel will make you a much better fisherman in the long run.
The oldies aren’t always the best, but fishing a vintage fly pattern is something of a homage to times past, and a nod to some angling greats. It can be fun to have a crack at fishing the old way using natural materials.