Saturday, 26 October 2013

Don't Be A Tight Arse!

I don't mean to sound like a big head, but I am not often wrong. Well that's not strictly true; I am often wrong but nobody knows it. What I mean is that I rarely say something unless it is proven to be so, but I often think things that I then seek to confirm or disprove before I announce whatever it is I have to say - ergo, I am not often seen to be wrong.............even though my opening statement and it's immediate correction above seem to instantly contradict this statement, but hey, there we go. It's a pride thing and the fact that I am not a fan of conjecture, especially when it is offered as fact. I know what I mean anyway.

I have now though to admit that some information I have long proffered as said fact, turns out to be no more than spurious opinion at best and actually should be more accurately described as a load of tosh.

I have always made a point of stating that a 10ft 7wt rod that costs £50, in the right hands, can be just as effective as one that costs £500 in those same hands. In certain situations this is undoubtedly true and it is certainly true that a good angler can catch fish with a £50 rod, whereas an indifferent one might struggle with a very expensive model costing ten times as much - that would be user error in the latter case and adaptability/sound technique in the former. The trouble is though that I have never qualified the original statement and I truly believed that I could fish a cheap 10ft 7wt rod in every situation where one is needed and get by. It would never be ideal, but just good enough to warrant not spending out on a better model (plus I have a habit of walking into fences at night and breaking the things into several bits!) and I have always caught plenty of fish with cheapies so that was that - the statement became a fact!!

I have expensive, what I would call specialist rods. I have a 10' 4wt a 9' 5wt and a 7' 3wt that cost hundreds of pounds. I have a nice salmon rod that cost a small fortune (and several really good ones that didn't because I got them second-hand, but that were very expensive when new) but I have never owned a really nice 10' 7 or 8wt, even though I use a rod of this configuration more than any other. It is a summer salmon rod, a catcher of reservoir trout and a night-time sea trout tool.

Well. The other month, September to be precise, I was invited down to fish for sea-trout at night by my chum Alistair, on the Test and at Testwood. Blimey, you can imagine the excitement - then BOOM!!! It hit me like the spear of Osiris whacking the Scorpion King in his bracelet of Anubis; like a bag of spanners dropped from a height of something over 30ft, onto my head, after a night on the beer. Whack it went. It was a shadow - a shadow......of doubt. DOUBT. Doubt in my own assertions. A doubt about the accuracy of MY fact.

This trip would be outside my comfort zone and in the company of someone who knew the beat. Would my cheap rod be up to the task? Would I look like an incompitent fool? Would, for the sake of a £400 horseshoe, the battle be lost? Well I say a shadow of doubt. It wasn't a shadow at all, not even a slight shading. It only lasted a nano-second and I soon wiped it away with a brief self chastisement and a shrug, but on the two hour drive down it resurfaced as a niggle and I could do nothing to negate it. Damn that niggle. Damn that doubt. Damn my tight arsedness.

It was 9pm when I met Alistair at the hut. It was nearly 10 by the time we got fishing as the other guest, Rob, was late (he's a great chap is Rob. A student. A fisherman. A good egg. Just.......well......late. I am never late.........). By 1am Al had caught 5 fish including a four pounder and Rob had had 3 including a 5 pounder - his personal best. I had caught nothing. Nothing. Not a fin had I touched. Why? Because I couldn't get the fly where it needed to be as quietly as it needed to get there. Good grief I struggled.

The Test at Testwood is a pretty wide river below the bridge and a stealthy delivery is required in the dead of night. The boys, who are both good casters but normally no better than I am, were fishing expensive rods and pitching their flies in the hot spots silently and with ease whilst I began to doubt my abilities as a caster. Alistair sussed I was struggling and we swapped rods for the last half hour. He used my £50 effort and I his £600 one. He couldn't get a line out past what I would describe as normal distances for me if I were at home, and never caught another fish, whereas I was suddenly hitting the spot every cast (which required the joint from line to backing to be only a turn onto the reel) and on my first time through the pool I caught a lovely fish of 8lb, the biggest of the night.

My assertion that a £50 rod is as effective as a £500 one was, of course, based on the fact that I only ever fished withing the abilities of a £50 rod, as that is the kind of rod I always fished with. I regularly caught fish on water that I know and so the 'fact' was never challenged. That night in Southampton it was and I have to say it came as a shock to me dear reader; a shock.

Obviously some cheap rods are better than others and some expensive rods are probably over priced cheap ones. There are situatons where a cheapy will perform well enough as I stated earlier and I do think that some good rods are simply too expensive and that they simply cannot warrant their price tag when compared to some others.

Did I leg it straight to Alistair's wonderful shop and part company with a wad of notes? No I did not. What I did do though was buy second hand 10ft rods in 7 and 8wt via the internet in models that I could never afford to buy, or be forgiven by the boss for buying, new. Sorry Alistair!

So here is my FACT for the day: Buy the best you can afford as PRICE REALLY DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!!......................

Actually forget that. It is my OPINION for the day. I think I am giving up on facts - they only lead to trouble!!

Oh........and don't be a tight arse!!