Article - General

Tackle Jumble

By Michael, added on 13/10/2009

Every coarsefisher owns more floats than could be used in a lifetime ; nay, even unto the seventh generation. That, so, must be regarded as normality. But do we all accumulate other tackle for which we have no immediate use ? For someone to whom fly-fishing is not the most important of angling occupations, I seem to have far too many fly boxes. For someone to whom spinning is only an occasional diversion, I seem to have a largish number of spinners. For one who prefers to use a centrepin whenever practical, I seem to own an uncommon number of fixed-spool reels. I do not collect tackle but, by hokey, I do accumulate it.

On my workbench at present there is a broken bank stick found by the waterside from which a brass bit can be retrieved to make a more attractive rod rest of cane, even though I do not need another one. There is the bait box netted from amongst the reeds, requiring only a dab of Araldite on the cracked lid to prevent another contentious maggot escape which reveals that bait has again been stored (just overnight) in the kitchen fridge. These, however, are merely the least of the spoils of war : the real downfall of the tackle hoarder is the carboot sale.

A typical box of tackle-jumble over which one throws an experienced eye might immediately be seen to contain several items of Scandawegian metalwork and pluggage which if bought at retail prices would cost much fine gold and which if subsequently left on the river bottom would cause gnashing of remaining teeth, much grief and even tears. Presented with a bargain buy of such, and with the certain knowledge that the box also contains any number of mystery bonus items, it is all too easy to find that for €4 one has bought the joy of carelessly chucking a costly Toby into a narrow channel between two weed beds and has simultaneously acquired the custodianship of forty one-inch Devons, a little divided box of parts for unknown reels and an array of things which are suspected of concerning post-1970 carping of which one knows nothing. There are the broken rods which are well worth buying to salvage lined rings and other fittings but, once stripped, seem even then too good an object to throw away. A kindly act like the saving of a forlorn Mitchell 300 from further neglect and careless handling means that one also becomes the owner of some angler’s extensive experiments with home made swing tips and a quantity of Wye leads which if flattened would cover the roof of a small church.

This is not a complaint exactly. One certainly does very well from carboot purchases : I mention such triumphs as the two-tier Efgeeco tackle box that went into use the same day; the Lesney crust-press which replaced one lent to a friend years ago and which never returned ; the waistcoat pocket Hardy’s fly box with its maker’s name on a charming little oval nickel plate ; a set of ‘All England’ bread punches with wooden handles and brass cutters which though no more efficient than the very compact set on the back end of one of my disgorgers (and forty times the weight) are much more attractive.

The immediately, or even foreseeably, useful items are had at incalculably low cost and the stuff tagged ‘useful sometime’ or ‘perhaps so-and-so would like that’ is a sort of passive wealth. There remain, though, the muddle of Mepps which require fingernail breaking work to replace rusted treble hooks, the sand-eels with perished red rubber gas-tubing, the just about fishable reels by known makers that, although acquired for cents, are not worth the expensive attention of the professional restorer.

I think occasionally of H.T.Sheringham’s piking companion whose gear always appeared to be in perfect order rather than the tangle of wire, trebles, bungs and snaps with which we are all too familiar. When asked how this was achieved he admitted to annually making a brown-paper parcel of the whole chaotic mess and taking a short sea voyage. At the furthest point from land he consigned the lot to the deep. Nowadays he would probably take it a carboot sale. And I would probably buy it.

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