I've mentioned it before that Andy Sliwa made a rod for my son Neil but he's also been renovating another rod for me. The rod in question was made many moons ago by my old mate Bunny Bunyan from a DIY kit out of a Bruce and Walker blank.
The Mk iv carp rod was de rigueur back in the day and as Bunny saw himself as a latter day Dick Walker, he just had to have one. It was well made too although I doubt that it ever saw a fish anywhere near the size of Clarissa. Anyway, having spoken about wooden rods to Bunny he graciously gave the rod to me. I didn't use it for a while although Neil had some nice chub on it, but when I did, I caught an unexpected perch but no barbel.
Then I decided to try a spot where I felt I would at last test the rod on a decent fish, but failed to get a bite. I lovingly packed everything away but when I next looked at the rod it was damaged. I was mortified. To use something as personal as a cane rod is a genuine treat but the responsibility is always to cherish it. Yet here I was, looking at a rod that had a peculiar piece of damage where the top layer of cane near the tip had lifted and split. It was not done by knocking it and when I asked a couple of rod builders for their opinions, it was the general consensus that either some glue had failed or it was due to the conditions (Bunny's loft) where it had been stored.
I didn't feel any better.
Bunny was very understanding as he had no intention of ever using the rod again. He said that I should glue it up and hang it on a wall. But that was not right; A damaged rod is no use to anybody, I decided to get it repaired. But then, if I had a new top section made it would not be 'Bunny's' rod. Enter Andy Sliwa.
Andy had a look at it and decided that he could repair it and it would still be usable. I had visions of a built up repaired section or of a rod whipped and bound like a broken leg but he set about it and asked if I wanted the whole rod refurbished. In for a penny.... he went ahead.
Yesterday I met up with Andy on the Red Lion section. Part of the deal when he made Neil's rod was that he would have a couple of days here with me, unfortunately I couldn't be with him on Wednesday but yesterday we got it together.
He produced the rod and I was staggered! I thought that he had put Bunny's handle onto a new rod but he insists that its the same one and the mend is quite invisible. It looks absolutely gorgeous and I can't wait to put a bend in it. This guy has some talent, if your old cane rods are looking a bit sad then he's the man to contact.
a rod reborn
As for the fishing, well we tried a spot that, although lovely to look at, did not produce a bite. So we headed for another beat and I learned that Andy's fishing has not been too successful so far this season and he hadn't landed a barbel so far. Also, he'd never had more than one barbel in a day, due mainly to low stock density on his home section of river. I really wanted to get him a fish or two.
In the chosen swim I droppered a load of hemp and suggested he fish hemp in the feeder with a 10mm pineapple on the hook. I had to pop into Hay for a an hour but returned to find a happy angler who'd had a nice chub and a barbel of about seven pounds. Excellent.
We stuck at it and when Andy's rod (a carbon rod by the way), bent around, he hit into a heavy fish that staid deep and gave a really good account of itself. Safely in the net it went nine pounds exactly. Andy was doing cartwheels down the bank and I felt that I had, in some small way, given back some of the pleasure that his rod building has given me.
Andy looks happy with his fish
Alas, the river switched off during the evening and only a chub was added to the catch. Neil was fishing elsewhere and his chub, that had been biting freely earlier, stopped feeding just at the time you would expect them to come on and have a go. Not to worry, Andy went home happy and will no doubt be back again.
He did give me one more little gem. For the ultimate bamboo tart (I am well short of that by the way) he has made some split cane handled baiting needles. Mine will probably never see the river because I lose things way too easily. But for those who appreciate wood, take a look at the picture and drool. Although I rather suspect that the likes of ol' Twocanes himself will claim, through gritted teeth, "well, I don't use boilies anyway". I know you're jealous Rocca, eat yer heart out ;-)