Fishing Tackle

We really do not need most of it... although obviously, from time to time, we all buy tackle that we know in our heart will never get used. This is part of the fun. I have 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 this restriction does not seem to stop me catching fish. I admit to being a 'float tart', but am not really a 'tackle tart'. So I have a relatively small standing collection of tackle (except floats).

Nevertheless, I have rotated through quite a selection of tackle; I am a curious fellow and like to see and try things for myself. I have a utilitarian approach to tackle (even floats), so if something does not 'work' for me, then I could not care less about the value, how iconic or how popular the item is. The reverse also applies. Here are some of the things I have tried for myself; most of these are post 2005, with a few bits and bobs collected before then which were never quite thrown away, although this day is always drawing nearer.

Immediately below are links to said articles of tackle and some musings on the same; some of these have their own pages.

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Fishing Tackle   Rods, Poles, but no Perch.

Some oddments that barely deserve the time of day. I would have coded up an engine to work out when and how often they were used but: it would be forcing the site to do something it was not designed to do, it was quicker to use my variable scrub tool to count the use cases and most importantly, I really really could not be hedgehogged.

The 16ft Shakespeare Roachpole: the original pole, fibre-glass, telescopic, broken, fettledEven as a 'flick-tip' it was pretty handy., then used relentlessly (although recorded only eight times) for many years, from about March 1977 until c.1993. At this time I bought a better quality pole of the same length and type and used the Shakespeare's butt section (and its counterweight), with a spigot made from its second section, to make an extended butt for the 'new' pole. This was used as described hereThis worked amazingly well..

The Hybrid 18ft Roachpole: made as described above, this was some 18ft in extremis and retained its thinner better quality tip, lasting from July 1993Just 'better'... until 1998, when the first commission was part spent on a 10m carbon pole with two 'top threes'. It is noted some half-a-dozen times, but as with the previous pole, this is a wild undercount based on fragmentary memories. The facility to remove the butt-section (no longer part of the telescopic assembly) was useful. I caught a lot of fish on both these poles, until c.1998 when the Hybrid was completely usurped by...

The 10M Carbon-Fibre Pole: which was purchased with part of a very decent commission cheque c.1998. This was actually designed to have elastic threaded inside it and even better, two 'top three' tips, which could take different strength elastics. Wow. It was wonderful at first and I pressed my old pike-fishing 'pod' into service to hold the various sections not being used while fishing. However, it had limitations I disliked and seemed in some ways to now be more complicated than fishing with a rod and reel, which was the exact reverse of why I bought a pole in the first place. Also, once you stop and think it through, with a 10M pole fully extended, it is almost impossible to really put any serious force on the fish [the parallelogram of forces cuts both ways] although, snags excepting, it is very hard to get broken up, unless one hits the pole on a tree...

Anyhoo, I have recorded eight uses here, which might even be close to correct, with the last on February 2006They say that length does not matter.... I trod on one midsection, which I repaired, perfectly, but even so, I had stopped using it regularly well before 2005, so after it had leaned around the place for a good few years I sold it for half what was paid for it, but 'eh'. I have never once thought to myself "I wish I'd kept that pole."

The 12 ft 2½lb t/c 'Pike' Rod: was a completly soggy floppy piece of tat, but it was very cheap. I would have been better off using the Old Carp RodStill a very good rod. and the Winfield Specimen FisherFar better than one might suppose. and cutting this rod into 12" pieces to get it into the bin, which is what, c.2007, I did with it. It was last used in March 2006Just rubbish., and first used in the early 1990's but it is only noted twice in these records, possibly because I am trying repress those memories. Regretted, not lamented.

The 3M Telescopic Whip: Another 1990s impulse buy and while it seemed handy it was barely used and was last used to fish a tiny beck in Cumbria in March 2006Useful. Ultimately not required.... Long gone, 'recycled' let us say.

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Fishing Tackle  Shot Size / Weight Conversion Table

This drives me mad, so in case it drives you mad here is a rough conversion from traditional split-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 
'BB'it's lead free, honest...(and back to the top of the page) 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p 'BB'it's lead free, honest 'AAA'it's lead free, so a bit cr*p

Fishing Tackle  'Gut' Thicknesses vs. Monofilament.

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
just a hook...just a hook...(and back to the top of the page) ...and a loaf of bread...and a loaf of bread just a hook...just a hook... ...and a loaf of bread...and a loaf of bread just a hook...just a hook... ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook... just a hook......and a loaf of bread ...and a loaf of breadjust a hook...

Fishing Tackle  Useless Stuff.

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

  1. Tungsten Putty: Heard of plasticine anyone?
  2. Lead Core Line: Well, ostensibly useful but in practise, bits of plasticine will do the job.
  3. 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.
  4. Dibbers: Two words. Cocktail stick. Cork balls. OK that's four. Varnish. OK, five then. You get the idea.
  5. Plastic Bait: Try real bait. 1/100th of the price.
  6. Peacock Quill. Bl**dy useless stuff, whatever anyone says, it's pants for making floats. Just about OK cut up into bits and coloured with a permanent market pen.
  7. 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...
  8. Float Quick-Change Widgets: i.e. all the 'special ones' which aren't 'two float stops and a tiny link-swivel'    There you go. 'Rigs'. Pfft *waves hand dismissively*..
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Fishing Tackle  Useful Stuff.

This is a list of the stuff which is way more useful than one 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 decided I don't have time to sort out those goods which arrive 'not as bought', so no longer buy from that twat. I now use 2.5mm silicone cord cut up into 5-6mm sections and threaded (by needle) onto some 8lb fused-braid (Berkeley Fireline) loops. Sounds tedious, but it takes about 15 minutes to make an entire season's worth. I am a dab hand at re-using them again and again though. When you tackle down, make sure enough mono. is left with the float stops on, so that when you next tackle up, you can tie the 'old' line around the reel line, using a single overhand knot, and slide the stops on. To put the stops back on the braid-loop, tie the mono around the end of the loop and slide the stops back home. With a single overhand knot, the mono will pull off the braid afterwards.
  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 five minutes. Drain and stick in fridge. I've got some that have been defrosted 4 times.
  3. Cheap One Litre Thermos Flask: Put in one pint of dry hempseed (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. Red for float tips and for colouring hooks red, which will actually catch fish. Handy for so many on-the-fly adaptations.
  6. Bamboo Toothpicks 80p for 200 the Chinese Supermarket, 200 cane float tips
  7. Bait Buckets; I got myself a five-litre 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.
  8. Plasticine; A lump or two in earth tones are very handy for changing method with minimal tackle changes.
  9. A Good Pocket Knife: seems obvious, but a good pocket knife which can be kept really sharp (viz. '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. 6' or 'No.7' is my knife of choice as it has a carbon-steel blade, a blade-lock and can be touched up in a trice with my hook-sharpening stone. I take the time to grind the 'No. 7' blade down to the inoffensive length of a 'No. 5', which also makes it a little stouter at the tip.
  10. Waterproof Super Glue: How useful is this stuff? For float making it is nearly instant and once painted over, permanent. In fact it is handy for dozens of little jobs. Although...do not use it on tip-rings. If it sets with the ring not correctly aligned you are well stuffed. I do not use it on knots (a good knot does not need it). I have yet to see a fish try for a mixer glued to the hook.
  11. Solder Wire (lead free): So very handy. You can make any float into an instant self or semi-cocker. For 24 awg lead-free solder, 4 cm = 1 'BB'. 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). You can colour the wire using permenant marker pens. Short lengths wound around a needle make good alternatives to split-shot if fishing with hemp. A permanent resident of my tackle box.
  12. A Small Double-Sided Whetstone: Mine is about 4" × 1" × 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, although for small hooks this is easier if they are clamped in a pair of 'Spenser Wells'. Cheaper than bespoke 'hook sharpening stones'.
Carp? What addiction?I am content to wait. I am well used to it...(and back to the top of the page) Carp? What addiction?...a very subtil fish Carp? What addiction?Watch for magpies on your path. Throw salt over your left shoulder. Walk around ladders. Carp? What addiction?if you will Fish for a Carp, you must put on a very large measure of patience Carp? What addiction?I am content to wait. I am well used to it.

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 do not know if 7 years counts as a long useful life or not.

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Fishing Tackle  The Spoon.

At L'etang de La Morinais, we were trying for a tench or carp, and I windmilled in some loose feed. "You know Dad," said the BugAngler (aged 9 & 23/24ths), "you could flick bait in with a spoon and it would be much easier." Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings and all that.

One of the fine roach One of the fine tench

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 big bit of kibble 50 yards. An ear of giant maize will go 60 yards. Live and learn. I carry a couple of spoons now. Plus, you don't get hemp and corn stuck in your ears when it bounces off the catapault handles.

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Fishing Tackle  The Lazy Pole

I constantly have to balance my innate desire to take as little tackle as possible with the overwhelming urge to be able to fish in many different ways if the mood takes me. A long time ago, inspired by using my Old Carp RodBought in 1983 or so when carbon was a new thing and bolt rigs were a stupid idea as a flick tip, and also this article on rigging a poleOne of those simple, but really good ideas, I made a couple of rigs that combined these two ideas.

The basic idea is to take your elastic, tie a loop a little over two feet long in one end (use a double overhand knot and ensure it's snug). Then tie half of this loop into a second loop of about 12" with the same double overhand and snug it down. The goal is to end up with 6" of four strands of elastic and 12" of two strands - this ensures that even if the single strand elastic 'bottoms out', the double-strand will give and in the very unlikely event of the double-strand bottoming out...etc. It's a progressive shock absorber. Put the loops of the four strands through the butt-ring from the spigot end and over the butt and pull it back to the ring. Thread the elastic through the top section, assemble the rod and pull the elastic a little taught, as you would for a pole. You could mark this point and take the rod apart if you prefer. Saves all that pinging elastic and swearing.

Thread onto the elastic a 10mm shock bead and then a 12mm 'bullet' shock bead, then eschewing the unnecessary special pole elastic connector...combi-knotYep, it's that knot again. a piece of thick braid onto the elastic. I use the 18lb+ cheap fly-line backing I bought for something or the braid sheath from some 45lb lead-core, the lead being long removed and properly disposed of. About 5 turns up and back with a doubled piece of braid will do it and take a little time to pull the braid tight and pull the elastic through the turns. You're aiming for snug, not strangulation. Then, optionally, tie an overhand knot in the tag end of the elastic and snug it down against the braid-turns. Ensure it's pulled tight, and then cut the elastic off about 4-5mm from the knot. Then slide the bullet shock bead down over the knot and put the 10mm bead behind it. Cut off the tag ends off the braid at 4-5mm and use the loop in the braid for attaching the mono.

In the below picture, the top (purple) is no.14 elastic and the loop is tied with the 45lb braid; the lower elastic (blue) is no.10 and the loop tied with 18lb fly-backing. Typically no. 8-10 elastic is run through the top three sections of a pole and used with 3-5lb line for fish up to 5-6lb. No. 12-14 elastics are generally used with 5-7lb lines for fish up to 8lb. I plan to use the former with 4lb main line and the latter with 6lb main line.

The beady end of the two lazy pole rigs.

The idea is that the shock beads ensure a break-off doesn't smash the tip ring...which would be annoying.

These seem a little incongruous, but they take almost no space in the bag, I've always got 6lb line and a spool of 4lb is not much to carry. For the Old Carp RodBought in 1983 or so when carbon was a new thing and bolt rigs were a stupid idea, which is more 2lb t/c than not, this works well - it's a decent all-round rod, but stiff for tiddler snatching. For those long still dog-days, when snitching is sanity, they're useful things to have in the travelling-light bag.

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Fishing Tackle  Test Curve (lb) vs. Casting Weight(g).

I was going to write something about test curves and their usefulness (even these days) but then I thought, "Nah". If they are your thing, here is a conversion table for 'casting weights' to 'test curves'. Essentially the method is to take the optimal casting weight for a rod to be 1 ounce per pound of test curve and then convert it to grams. Then make the casting weight the optimum ±15% or so.

There are 454.4 g to the 1lb. So an ounce is therefore 28.4g. For light modern, nominally carbon-fibre rods, the casting weight is taken to be about ±15% of the optimum. So for a 1lb t/c rod the casting weight range in grams is:

1 × 28.4g = 28.4g

28.4g ±15% => 25.6g - 31.2g

  Test Curve (lb) Nominal Casting Weight(g) Casting Weight Range (g) Nominal Line b/s (lb) Line b/s Range (lb)
  ¾lb 21.3g 18g - 25g 3.8lb 2.6lb - 4.9lb
  1lb 28.4g 24g - 33g 5.0lb 3.5lb - 6.5lb
  1¼lb 35.5g 30g - 41g 6.3lb 4.4lb - 8.1lb
  1½lb 42.6g 36g - 49g 7.5lb 5.3lb - 9.8lb
  1¾lb 49.7g 42g - 57g 8.8lb 6.1lb - 11.4lb
  2lb 56.8g 48g - 65g 10.0lb 7.0lb - 13.0lb
  2¼lb 63.9g 54g - 73g 11.3lb 7.9lb - 14.6lb
  2½lb 71.0g 60g - 82g 12.5lb 8.8lb - 16.3lb

Casting weights are rounded to whole numbers of grams and all line b/s values rounded to one decimal place. The above also assumes the R. Walker's original formula for optimum casting weight of 1oz per 1lb of test curve is sound. I do not know on what this formula is based or what the actual mechanics look like. Short of building a casting machine and varying the rod speed, release point and casting-weight until the optimum weight has been truly established, this is what we have .

The optimum line breaking strain (b/s) related to test-curve (t/c), again from Walker, is; 5 × (t/c)lb. To this, a practical margin of ±30% is added.

Speculating, for cane rods with an 'all through' action, if this is sound, for middle action and tip-action rods of the same length my view is that one might do worse that to tighten this up ±20% and perhaps ±15% respectively.

The above also assumes that current rod manufacturers are assigning 'casting weights' using any kind of empirical methodology, something I remain to be convinced of.

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There you go. Some stuff on tackle.

JAA