Bob Church admitted to being ‘shocked and ‘overwhelmed’ after a collection of his prized tackle sold for thousands at auction.
Angling Times joined the legendary angler and his wife Jeanette during the recent Sporting and Country Pursuits sale at JP Humbert Auctioneers in Northants, which saw more than 50 lots of Bob’s gear go under the hammer.
Auctioneer Jonathan Humbert had a tough task keeping up with the number of bids as vintage rods, reels and collections of hand-tied flies turned heads in the busy saleroom full of collectors looking for their own slice of angling history.
But it was the volume of online bids from as far away as Australia and Switzerland that surprised and excited both Bob (MBE) and theon-site auctioneers.
The most popular lots included a gold-plated Mitchell reel made specially for Bob, an Avington
Mk II 9ft fly rod, and a three-tier fly box containing around 1,000 flies – which together made £1,160.
Speaking exclusively to Angling Times on the day, Bob explained his emotions during a memorable afternoon in the auction room.
“Funnily enough this is the first auction I’ve ever been to, so it was very exciting to watch and hear what was going on,” Bob said.
“Although there weren’t that many in the room, those on the internet were constantly trying to outbid each other and Jonathan did a fantastic job keeping up with them.
“This made the bidding very exciting, and I was overwhelmed to see the amount of interest in my tackle – which played a huge part in my angling career.
“It’s tackle that I would never use again so I’m just happy it’s going to help other people with their own fishing.”
Auctioneer Jonathan Humbert wasn’t surprised at the amount of interest in Bob’s tackle, which made a total of £3,140.20, and believes it’s his reputation as one of the world’s most influential anglers that led to such frantic bidding.
Mr Humbert said: “Bob obviously has a huge presence in the angling community. This was highlighted when we started to receive bids from people in Canada, Sweden and Tasmania.
“All his items are unrepeatable rarities that are a must-have for any fly-fishing follower.
“My personal favourite was the three-tier fly box which is simply fishing gold and was the party-piece of the sale. They’re flies that Bob used all over the world throughout the last 60 years so it’s no wonder they sold for as much as they did.”
The fly box held more than 1,000 flies – some of which caught championship-winning fish – and was purchased by a local Northamptonshire man for £880.
Speaking anonymously, he said: “I bought the fly box for my son – who has not long taken up fly fishing but spends many hours at Pitsford.
“I’m sure these new, exquisite imitations will give him an edge during his next visit, and he’ll never have to buy a fly again!”
Bob has suffered from Parkinson’s disease for the last 19 years and is donating part of the money raised to the Parkinson’s UK Charity, which has been helping to combat the illness for 50 years.
Bob concluded: “I want to put something back into the charity that has been fighting the disease I’ve been living with for nearly 20 years.
“My wife Jeanette has aided and put up with me throughout that whole time, too, so I would like to buy her something for her garden – she truly deserves it.”