Redditch Tackle Fair – Further Thoughts

I’m delighted there has been some reaction to the pieces both I and John Stephenson have written on last week’s tackle show, and I especially liked the reaction to the pictures of “Old Man River’s” landing nets and handles, which were truly exquisite.

Exquisite and surprisingly inexpensive, considering the work involved AND by comparison with modern, plastic rubbish that is almost the same price and lasts exactly two minutes if given hard use.

I reckon one of “Old Man’s“ creations would see me out.

I especially liked the discussion that these nets might be (loosely?) based on Maurice Ingham’s designs, modified of course by Richard Walker.

This aspect of the interchanges drove me to locate my copy of Drop Me A Line, bought for me by Nanny Hempel when I was barely out of primary school, and which I thought I had lost in one of the house moves.

Hurrah, I not only found the book, but also the letters where Ingham and Walker discussed net design.

And, indeed, the diagrams from all those years ago do indeed look very similar to the nets so beautifully crafted and on display at Redditch.

So, all in all, a powerful and charming link to some of our yesterdays.

And a reminder of why carp fishing meant so much to anglers of a certain age in the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies, and why it means so much less today.

Drop Me A Line is a great book in many ways, but for many of us it reeks of nostalgia for what carp fishing once was before it became the circus we know it to be today.

Those days when the quest was finding a water holding carp, rather than today, when it is almost impossible to find one that does not.

Those days when if you wanted specialist tackle, chances are you had to make it for yourself.

Those days when potato, worm, banana and bread were the top baits, if not the only ones.

Those days when freelining was universal and striking was part of the art.

Those days when a ten pound carp was a cracker, and a twenty was the stuff of dreams.

Those days, in short, when carp fishing was all about mystery and romance, and those days which we will never get back again.

At least with an Old Man River net pole in your hands, you can still dream!

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