Avons.

Note And Photo From :- Kelowna Trout Angler.

Avons.

The old name of Avon has been used across the spectrum, ie a boy’s name, cars, tyres, cosmetics and UK counties.  For me the name Avon is associated with rivers, fishing rods and floats.

 This is not to be a history or open discussion of rods only a few ramblings. I say this because the web is littered with heated debate about one thing or another and this is not the place – only gentle musings of what was, is and perhaps may be.

There have been some notable Avon rods in the past and they start with split cane.

There was the Wallis Wizard, a rod made famous by F.W.K. Wallis. I believe he was the Mayor of Nottingham at one time.  His name has been synonymous with the rod, a particular style of casting, the Hampshire Avon and one time record holder for the barbel. A fish caught from the Royalty fishery at Christchurch, Hampshire, England.

Any discussion of cane rods will usually bring in the Wallis rod and the debate may become heated. There is a spectrum of opinion from the devotees who almost feel that they have discovered the ‘Holy Grail’ of coarse fishing rods. There wil be those who use a glass fibre equivalent of the rod and then there is the efficient, computer designed carbon rod.

Where you sit at the table will be determined by your sensibilities. The old cane avon is a beautiful piece of cane to behold and to use. It feels right as you sit in the reeds on a mild summer evening waiting for the float to disappear. I don’t believe it to be as efficient as some would have you believe. There you go – controversy already.

I have had the pleasure of using the Wallis Wizard rods from both Hardy’s and Allcocks and those used by some noteable anglers, but for me the magic ends when I put the rod down. It is not the thing I seek. Many years ago I enjoyed many fishing trips with an angler that used to fish with Wallis on the Hampshire Avon.

The late Claude Taylor wanted his Wallis rod renovated and I was honoured with the task. He always said he would try the rod again and use his old Hardy Wallis reel. There is a picture of Claude in an excellent book by Peter Wheat, and he gets a mention in John Bailey’s book. Claude, however, was a good technical angler for all species and he gave me many insights into the minds of barbel anglers of the period, in particular, his days with Wallis and tea on the banks of the Avon.

 However, Claude wanted me to use the newer Hardy glass Avon which he regarded as a much better rod for all types of fishing. Often we would sit under some old trees and float fish together for carp using the Hardy Avon and goose quill floats. At that time Claude’s sight was good, but as it failed I modified his floats with big sight bobs so we could still fish.

I digress, such is the tide of memory. Claude taught me the Wallis Cast using the centre-pin reel on the Avon rod and to this day I still use the centre-pin and Avon rod ( albeit in carbon ).

The Wallis Avon was a good rod to use at the time, but in many ways the efficiency improved with the Richard Walker Avon rods. Again they were split cane. The Avon rods were the softer rods of the MK IV stable which gave us a set of serious specimen rods covering carp down to tench, roach and chub etc. The Avon styles heralded the birth of the generation of specimen angling. You can argue whether you agree or disagree, but this is not a forum, only a light hearted mention. The historical perspective can be sort elsewhere, although I welcome anyone who has knowledge that may be put on the site with any pictures that they might like to share. As with all cane rods there were different companies producing the rods, or you could buy the blanks and make up the rod to your style. There was also that breed of skilled artisans who would follow the writings and make their own rods in their sheds. I tried many of these home made rods and the attempts were always a joy to behold.

I think the coming of glass rods spelled the end of an era, although cane is not totally dead, only in the mass market. Maybe that’s a pity. Glass Avon rods were produced at 10′ and 11′ lengths and endorsed by many celebrities. I still have a fondness for both my cane and glass Avons. Mainly because I recall days spent in good company on silent pools or meandering streams in search of fish. Each rod has an associated fish which lingers in the mind.

Fibre glass went through the solid and hollow phase with varying degrees of success, but there was the talk of lighter materials having been developed. Carbon, boron, kevlar etc., were all names in the air.

Carbon fibre finally came and we moved into an emotive age of rod manufacture and use. It seems the old skills had gone and been replaced with the "easily" made carbon rods. This was to deny the great skill and knowledge of the scientists and mathematicians who develop such rods and the engineers who design the actual machines for testing and mass production. There were and are, some excellent rods made with many of these companies engaged in space or tube technologies, even car racing.

As you can see there is great scope for emotive debate on the merits of all these rods. Not here. We only seek to peek through the door. There are sites where the debate rages and you can air your view point. Me, I’ll go fishing and be by the waters edge, sometimes using a rod from each of the stables, and I will be transported back to some English water where I sought a particular fish and the emotion of that time, place and moment will be enough.

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A Lake In West Sussex

Note And Photo From :- Kelowna Trout Angler.

A Lake In West Sussex.

Whilst in England in April, I was invited to fish a small, day-ticket water in West Sussex. It was a pleasent experience to drive through the lanes of my youth and I was surprised at the lack of traffic. Perhaps it was to early or maybe the threat of a shower had made everyone stay indoors.

I had to stop off at a tackle shop in Pulborough as I didn’t have any floats. Somewhat strange considering the amount of tackle purchased over the years. However it was a simple matter to choose a few bodied wagglers and a small tube to protect the purchase. I even bought some maggots, haven’t done that for years. It was to be a relaxing day with an old friend ( not age wise in case he reads this ). We had planned to fish elsewhere, but the day had taken another direction and for two committed game anglers this was to be different.

There was a breeze which had an uncomfortable side in that the air was damp, but it made a change from 3 months  of temperatures down to -30C so there were no complaints. It is always strange to arrive at a new lake or complex and not know where to start. Worse for me as I’m not used to pay as you go fisheries. In British Columbia & Alberta there are probably over 100,000 lakes of over 10 ha and they are all free. Never mind, a fishing trip is always to be enjoyed.

We chose the pool to fish and settled down. T fished in the next swim to me, pitched at the corner of the lake. I’m sure we made the choice through some deep angling knowledge gained from years of experience, but older bones suggest we may have opted for comfort. T lit his customary cigarette and I tackled up the old John Wilson rod.( that dates me ).

Using a 4lb line and one of the new wagglers, the depth was checked. It was like going back years and memories flooded back of early mornings, tackle assembly, grounbait smells and all those essentials that are hard for the non angler to understand. When all was ready I put on the bait, maggot to start with, and cast out to await the action. For some time nothing grabbed the bait so I changed to corn. A few grains were put out for feed, but still no interest. I  must be losing my touch was an obvious remark from T. You must be getting soft with all that fishing on your door step. Two fingers seemed an appropriate gesture.  T came back with the suggestion that I might have more luck if I embraced the past and changed the JW rod for an old cane Kennet Perfection from B James of Ealing. From his bag he pulled an old rod sock which contained just such a rod.

Now, all cane users will understand that this was a definite improvement and the fish would now come dashing to my bait Couldn’t fail. Not quite that easy. I had to get used to slower action and the weight of the rod, but T needed humouring and he was catching fish. In fact the result was strangely positive. The float sailed gracefully out and settled purposefully onto the water, the bait was corn and a few grains were thrown in as encouragement. Disbelief, the float shot under and I had my first fish a Crucian carp. Haven’t seen one of those for years. Throughout the day I continued to catch fish, crucians, bream, roach and even a carp of about 4lb. It seemed like magic, especially when I tried to use my old JW rod and the fish just shunned the bait.

The Kennet Perfection

Kennet Perfection

And here’s the little crucian carp.

Crucian Carp

By lunch time I had amassed a good tally of fish. They were all released as I don’t own a keep net. I travel as light as possible.

Whilst we chatted over tea and sandwiches an angler on the other side of the lake suffered a slight loss. Actually it was possibly expensive. The chap had been fishing with two rods, one leger rod, but the other was a pole. Now all went well for a while, but he hooked a fish on the leger gear and when he went to net the fish he had a bite on the pole tackle. Unfortuneately the pole was sitting loose on the top of his tackle box and balanced on what looked like a large paint roller. We heard the slithering noise as the fish towed a few quids worth of gear into the lake. I expect the fish took it down to show other members of the shoal saying " look what I found lads "

I’m always amazed when this happens and often wonder why we bother to fish with more than one rod. Many old and talented UK anglers have raised such concerns down the years. Some have suggested that we fish better if all concentration and effort are bestowed on one set of gear.  Over the years I tend to lean toward this reasoning.

Well, we fished on into the early afternoon, but the weather became damper and the day started to lose some of it’s urgency so we decided enough was enough, time to head off. As we drove  away we reflected upon the day and compared the experience with days spent on other waters.

I do miss the English countryside and the rivers and lakes of my youth. Anglers understand that there is a distinctive smell and character which greets you as you pass through a gate to get to your fishery and there is an expectation which often fails to be fulfilled but never wains.  Perhaps it dies at the end of the day, but it will resurrect itself tommorrow for the next trip somewhere.

I hope to have a few more trips with T and others in the UK and perhaps I can show them the sturgeon and our fishing over here.

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