It’s the time of year when I have to think about braving the shed, stashing the summer gear and getting the winter gear ready. This isn’t quite as bad a job as it once was. In the spring I dragged literally everything out, dodged the giant spiders and removed the dead rats; I even chucked a load of old tat away. The result is a shed which although still crammed is much easier to deal with. I dragged out the bag and chair I reviewed last time for a photo, better late than never. (I realised I’d forgotten to mention the pocket on top of the bag that holds scales and sling.) With a bit of shuffling I also brought all the rods I currently use to the surface, is sixteen a bit extreme?There are four Carp rods, one Tench rod, one feeder and one float that I use through the warmer months. Then there are two sets of Pike rods, four twelve footers for bank fishing and four more that are ten feet for the boat. I also have a couple of lure rods left that I haven’t managed to break yet. Off the top of my head there are another seven or eight that I never use and a few more bits of busted ones. As long as I have room I’ll hang on to my old or retired rods and reels. I may be daft but there are memories wrapped up in them, not just the fish, people and places too. Somewhere I have a classic North Western SS6, eleven feet of ‘fast taper’ glass fibre that hasn’t been used in years.
I’m not bothered about particular brands so my rods are from all over the place. I have several built on Tricast blanks dating back to the late 80’s which I used for virtually all my fishing for almost two decades but mostly use for carp these days. My lucky rod is a 2.5tc rod made by Century which I bought second hand in the 90’s. I have a few VFM rods from Middy that are cheap and cheerful but do exactly what I want them too; one Carp rod (which is actually branded as 30plus), along with two ‘Works’ rods I use for float & feeder fishing. I have one Daiwa Barbel rod bought mostly for Tench that I haven’t used enough to have an opinion on. I recently snapped up a pair of Greys Pike rods that I haven’t even used yet. Isaac has a Fox Pike rod which is very nice, in fact one of my few unbroken lure rods is also from Fox. My boat rods are a mixture; Normark, Fox, and one particularly nice one from Dave Lumb.
I still have a couple of Mitchell 300a reels hidden away somewhere as well as an Intrepid ‘Black Prince’ that is still in its box, I’ve never used it so it doesn’t really count. I have a pair of the original Shimano baitrunners from about 1987ish, line lay wasn’t great but they made good reels if you didn’t need to whack baits right out. At the time the free spool facility was revolutionary and I’ve preferred bait runner type reels ever since. I used these reels for over twenty year before the anti-reverse went on both within a few weeks. By this time spares were unavailable but I managed to bodge one of them with a bit of trace wire. Unfortunately it’s no longer silent but it still gets used from time to time. Sometime in the 90’s I bought a pair of ‘Aero’s’ (without baitrunner) and one of these is still in working order too. Nowadays I have a couple of ‘ST’ baitrunners on my boat rods, these are the cheapest baitrunners but so far two years without a hitch. I also have a ‘DL’ which is a bit more expensive but has a stiffer baitrunner than the ST. When I’m Piking I like my spool as free as possible, so the DL is only used on Carp rods now. I have a feeling the newer Shimanos’ won’t last as long as the old ones.
About ten years ago I needed reels and was short on cash so bought a couple of Okuma Interceptors. I figured they would do the job until I could afford better reels, I’m still using them today. I also bought a larger Interceptor primarily for boat fishing. It cost me about £35, I’ve had it about eight years and it is still the best reel I own. Earlier this year I took a punt on a Nash FR8 which was £35, (the same as the Okuma,) I haven’t been at all impressed with this. I have a Fox Stratos which I’ve used for a few years in the boat but now sits on a carp rod because it just felt too small. This has now been replaced by a Fox EOS which looks and feels a good bit of kit for the price. A winter of abuse in the boat is a good test for any reel. I have about fourteen reels still in regular use (all bar 4 have free spool) but I never seem to have enough reels.My first free-spool reel and my most recent.