It’s perhaps a sign you’re getting older that you hold a little nostalgia for the way things were. You remember the rods and reels you once treasured, as awful as a lot of them were. But do you ever still fish with yesterday’s gear?
As charming as it is to use retro rods, they can’t really compete with modern carbon. However, as an occasional challenge, there’s an unexpected buzz about using vintage kit.
These days, the 1980s carbon rods of my childhood can also be considered as antiques and curiosities. One item in particular, a Gold Crest Match Special, came with a story. Given to me by Vince Skinner, it was the favourite rod of his much-missed friend Simon Paine. Back in the day it was used from local gravel pits to the River Lea, to catch bags of roach and Simon’s favourite fish of all, the ruby-eyed tench.
I had to chuckle that even four decades on the rod still had plastic shrink-wrap on the handle. Why do so many anglers leave this on? The handle was getting a touch of mould at the top and it took minor surgery to get the ancient plastic off.
It was an eerie sensation to tackle up Simon’s old rod on a Devon pond, some 200 miles and several years from its last outing. As classy and quaint as the rod’s label is, the main thing that strikes you about early carbon is the thickness. My carp rods are thinner by a mile!
The Gold Crest also reminds me a little of the first “proper” float rod I ever bought, around 1989 – an unwieldy Shakespeare 13-footer. The rings were like scaffolding, and it actually used to sing in the wind when you played a carp.
Of course, if you do fancy using an older rod, there’s no shame in pairing it up with newer tackle.
Today’s reels are so much less tangle-prone, for starters, while finer lines and cuter rigs are huge advantages we have over past generations.
To complete the vintage theme and further confuse the locals on this occasion, my mate Lee Armishaw also decided to go old school, digging out an old Hardy Matchmaker and centrepin reel.
Fishing close to the bank, we were quickly getting bites on maggots. I had some lovely hand-sized roach that battled well on the old rod, while Lee had the mother of all gudgeon and even a small tench.
The Gold Crest performed well, it must be said. The blank was old and soft, but it came to life beautifully.
Would I fish with it every week? Probably not. But a bit like going for a drive in an old sports car, you feel every bump on the road and there’s a lot of fun to be had with retro tackle.