Sunday, 13 September 2015

Fishing, well almost...

No fishing today. Well, not the sit on the bank type of fishing, anyway...

Living here in South East London, we have most shops to hand. Regular readers will know we can walk down the road to a host of shops. I can see Argos from the upstairs window, at least I could until the new shop/flats (or is that 'apartments' these days?) development grew an extra story. We can buy all manner of spices, cheap bread and biscuits and all the tinned meat and corn I need for my bait-making experiments. But, what I can't buy are angling magazines. Tesco sell Angling Times and Angler's Mail but that is it. Since the WH Smith shop closed, buying a fishing magazine means a 25 minute trek to Lewisham. The exercise is good for us so a brisk walk is the order of the day.

Hmmm... Who bought that pole magazine?
While Sue is paying homage to one of the many sellers of ladies footwear, I am off to WH Smith for a session in the 'library'. After politely ignoring the bloke who saw me looking at a fishing magazine and instantly thought he would discuss the shocking price of tackle with me, I settled on the latest copy of Improve my (your) Course Fishing. A few more nodding grunts at the bloke still going on, by now he had got around to telling me about the huge barbel he had caught on no more than a bent pin tied to a garden cane, he suddenly said, "Oh well, must be getting on". I stifled a "Good!" and gracefully got my lips around to bidding him  "Good day".

By now, still with no sign of Sue, I was reading the other magazines. I had decided that I would expand my reading and maybe move away from IYCF as I fear it might become repetitive, but jury is still out on that one at the moment. I found myself looking at Pole Fishing... WHAT! Hold on a minute, I am always saying I am not interested in pole fishing. Hmmm... This is just like I was emphatic I would not be into match fishing and look where that has go me. At that point Sue arrived and it was time to move on. not having time to put the pole magazine down I had to part with an extra £3.95 when I got to the checkout. Looks like I might have to force myself to read it at some point - I am not really interested in pole fishing, I'm not... Honest!

Having walked all this way and trekked around the shopping centre I was fully justified in accidentally ordering a full English from the Market Cafe. Well, we had walked there and that meant walking back again...

On the way back we pass the hardware shop that sells the black plastic washing up bowls that I use for my bait making. The small ones are ideal for holding my method mix on the bank. Might as well get another one of each size while I am here. At £1.29 for the small one and £1.79 for the larger one that just has to be a really good buy. What's even more surprising is they are made in the UK. I have waffled on about these bowls before, you can read about the small bowl HERE. I bought another one of each, you just can't have enough bowls - Can you?

All that walking and eating meant that Sunday afternoon went by extremely quickly. It is of course a vicious rumour that I was asleep on the sofa, put out by the people who did not catch as many fish as me in the last match. After coming to, it was almost time for the Sunday roast, Yes I know more eating but I am getting to the fishing bit - a bloke has to eat...

Making my own method hooklengths
Sunday evening in our house is a quiet affair, more often than not. A good time to check the 'stock' as I have another match next Sunday. That's two matches in the diary - still can't get my head around that, who'd have thought it a year ago? Not me!

The Tree Gods close cousin, the reeds, claimed another set of feeder end tackle last week so I need to replace that. Oh dear, that means another trip to the tackle shop. I also need some more short hooklengths. I know I can buy them ready made but I do enjoy making my own. So far that has been everything but these hair-rigged with a push-stop. A simple job once the routine is sorted out. The first thing needed is some means of setting the length. For this I am using a rig box that a kind fellow forum member (  sent me when I was trying to fathom out how to tie rigs to length. He also sent me a few other bits an pieces including the hooks I have used tonight - Thank you for your kindness.

For anyone reading this who is not conversant with the art of tying there own hooklengths you might find my following notes useful. If you already know all this, please fell free to go and surf ebay for a few minutes instead!

The first thing I do is to strip about a foot of line from the despondence and tie the pushstop onto the end by capturing it in the loop of an overhand loop. I am using 8lb hooklength so any other kind of knot seems to be too bulky to me, but please let me know if you have a better solution. I now secure the hook (here, I am using a size 12, Preston B911x) in the jaws of a Rigmaster (type) hair tool. This is intended to set the length of a hair by placing the loop over the stud in the collar and securing the hook in the vice to produce an identical length to each hair. In this case I am mainly using the tool to hold the hook. I have found that I can hold the hook in my figures and tie it but using this tool as a vice does make it much easier. I can also gauge the length of the hair by holding the stop against the collar until it has been whipped in place after a few turns.

I then tie a knotless knot by passing the line through the back (opposite side to the point) of the eye and then making several turns - usually eight or nine - until the whipping is approximately in line with the point of the hook. The line is then passed through the back of the eye again and pulled tight. If my explanation is not clear, an internet search for 'knotless not, fishing' will bring up lots of illustrated instructions.

My home-made loop gauge
The next part is the bit that always confused me until I realised the the length of the hooklength is determined by the position of the top of the loop tied in the opposite end to the hook.  Once the end is doubled over, so long at that dose not slip, it will determine the length. Okay, it may seem obvious now but it is just one of those things that my small brain found difficult to comprehend. A gauge can be made from a block of wood with panel pins driven into it and the head removed. But the easiest way to do it is to use a rig box as they can be stored in there after they have been made. Once the hook and hair have been tied, the hook is places around the 'hook' pin in the box and the other end is wrapped around the length pin. In this case at four inches. The hooklength is removed from the box and while holding the tag end against the hooklength an overhand knot is tied. I like to keep all the loops to a similar size. This is not necessary but I like to keep it all looking neat.

To do this I use a home made gauge that consists of a slice of dowel with a couple of panel pins set into it. One is longer than the other and the distance apart will set the size of the loop, without effecting the length of the hooklength. You can buy a commercially made loop gauge/tyer such as this one HERE. To do this pass the loop, of the overhand knot, over the long pin and the open knot over the short pin. moisten the knot and pull tight slipping the knot off of the shorter pin and pulling tight with the loop still hooked over the longer pin.

Labelling the rigs before I forget which is which!
Once the loop is tied it can be 'loaded' into the rig box and labelled with its vital statistics before I forget exactly what I have made.

Working on the kitchen table is a good height for me to work and the light is good for my tired old eyes. I also use a piece of black cloth to work on making the line, hooks and those tiny stops stand out. This also makes passing the line through the hole in the stop and the eye of the hook much easier to see.

Next job is to drag myself off to the tackle shop to re-stock the method feeders - Oh well, If I must...