Ace matchman Jon Arthur looks at some very useful items of tackle that you may have overlooked…
I AM always looking at ways to make my fishing more efficient. That’s why I’m always adapting my gear and love trying new stuff. I love gadgets and gizmos and the tackle tart in me likes having all the latest gear, too!
There are plenty of innovative products out there, but the benefits of some of them are not always obvious or immediately apparent. Here’s a dozen items I never truly appreciated until I actually tried them:
1: Loop Tyer
I used to always use an old-style twin-pronged tyer to create small, uniform loops. Then, former Fish‘O champ Neil McKinnon showed me how to use the Sensas Easy Loop tyer and I never looked back. These are far superior as they create a much stronger figure-of-eight knot rather than a standard overhand one. I now also find this gadget much quicker to use. I think the instructions it comes with are far too complicated, though, so get someone to show you instead, like Neil did with me!
2: Freespool Reels
I don’t think enough match anglers appreciate the benefits of a ‘freespool’ reel, but I’ve been using them for several years now. They’re particularly good for bomb-and-pellet work or ‘underarming’ a Method feeder on the pole line. Simply engage the freespool lever and a big fish won’t smash you up on the take. It’s a much better system than loosening up the rear drag like some people do. Up to recently I was using some old Shimano 4000 DLs but I’ve now switched over to Drennan Series 7 BR 9-30s and 9-40s. Even if you don’t use the freespool mechanism they’re a solid feeder reel in their own right. They’re perhaps too cheap for some of the tackle tarts I know but I honestly cannot fault them.
3: A Middle Roller
The larger, swankier, flat pole rollers tend to come with additional central upright roller arms. I definitely never appreciated the usefulness of splitting the roller in two like this, but it’s a godsend for anyone who breaks their pole down more than once when unshipping. This typically happens when I fish longer than 13 metres on awkward banks. By placing the broken-down portion of the pole on one side of the roller I can still continue to ship back over the other half of the roller without both sections of pole rolling away. If, like me, you often have two different pole rollers set up, you ideally want this wider one positioned as your closest one.
4: Speedex Net
I thought Drennan’s latest Speedex landing nets looked pretty but it was only when I started to use one that I appreciated how quickly you could thrust them through the water. This is all thanks to the larger holes in the side. I laughed when someone at Drennan told me how they discovered by accident that some fish would actually head straight for the white bottom of the net. Well, all I can say is that this actually does sometimes happen! More importantly, these nets are strong and relaible and even the smallest 16in version is deep enough to swallow a double-figure carp if necessary. Too many other landing nets out there are way too shallow for my liking.
5: Roller Bungs
I have used side puller kits with a side slot for several years now but never liked the way they pinched and flattened your elastic if you pulled at a more acute angle. It was Rob Wootton that first put me on to using a ‘roller cone’ fitted inside a top kit and since then I’ve used them in nearly every top kit I own. The difference they make to your elastic’s performance is amazing. It centralises everything, there’s next to no friction and I’m sure it actually helps to prolong the life of your elastic in the long run.
6: Elastic Aligners
A similar device are elastic centralisers in the No2 section of the male end of your top kit. Again, these help your elastic run smoother by centralising everything and reducing the chances of your pole elastic sticking to the pole walls. They also help to protect the elastic when the top kit is folded away. They also weigh next to nothing, so nothing is compromised. I always thought it was a nice touch that Drennan top kits come with these pre-fitted as standard…
7: Loaded Wags
I think almost every waggler I now own is loaded in some way. The only time I might not use one is on a river where I could be tinkering with more shot down the line. On stillwaters, though, it’s loaded all the way. They fly truer and are a doddle to swap and change sizes easily. I tend to attach mine with a simple link swivel trapped with a couple of Grippa Stops either side. I’ve also spent a bit of time juggling loadings and adding lead solder wire where necessary to get all my loaded wags taking exactly the same amount of extra shot down the line (usually just three or four No8s). This way I can swap waggler sizes in seconds and be instantly back in business.
8: Stiff Dacron Connectors
I used to waste time making all my own Dacron connectors from soft fly line backing but I’ve now switched to the readymade Drennan ones (no surprises there, I know!). I initially wasn’t sure about how much stiffer they were but I now actually prefer this extra rigidity. It pushes everything away from the pole tip and really helps to prevent tangles. Dacron Connectors are so light and don’t rattle like plastic connectors can, so I use them for all my hollow elastics.
9: Cassette Footplates
I used to always use a simple fold-down footplate on my old seatbox and never really saw the advantage of cassette-style, slide-out version. When my old box finally gave up the ghost I took the plunge and tried one of these newer designs. I couldn’t believe what I had been missing out on. Because everything is on the same fixed plane, all six legs are rock solid and it takes much less time getting everything level. A few sessions on the boulder-strewn banks of the Tidal Trent were enough to convince me never to go back to a folding footplate!
10: Quality Wire Stems
A wire stem offers you superior presentation on windy days, but they are a bit fragile for ‘carping’ compared to glass or carbon bases. Almost every make I’ve tried on commercial fisheries has buckled and bent too easily, plus they never seem to be glued into the base of the body well enough. I know I’m biased, but the only ones I’ve used that are up to the job are Drennan AS1 and AS2 patterns. The 0.6mm wire extremely durable and in over six months of use I reckon I’ve only slightly bent two stems and not had a single one pull out.
11: The Spomb
I don’t get to spod out bait anywhere near as much as I’d like to, but it’s helped me win money in the past and I’ve spent a bit of time trying to perfect it! A few years ago I spent several evenings casting various spods across a lake to see which was best for my needs. Two really stood out for accuracy; the Korda Skyliner and the Spomb. They both cast brilliantly but a weakling like me really appreciated the way an empty Spomb skidded across the surface on the retrieve rather than ploughing through the water. When you’re ‘filling it in’ with a bowl of grub for bream at 70+ reel turns, that makes all the difference!
12: Quick Release Connectors
Pro-Logic Quick Release Connectors are a brilliant time saving aid. I fix them to all my keepnets so that I can leave my keepnet blocks permanently attached to my seatbox legs. I know a lot of anglers also use them for pole socks, pole roosts and even landing net heads. Make sure you buy the branded ones rather than cheaper copies and they’ll never let you down. I think mine were about a tenner for a pack of three – money well spent!
Well, that’s my round-up of useful gadgets – I hope you find something in there to help make your fishing easier next time out!