Sunday, 6 November 2016


The Rocket Fishing Rod
The Rocket Launcher Fishing Rod
With the videos above it's a case of spot the parody, the original Rocket Fishing Rod and its associated promotion, seem to me to be a particularly cruel hoax to spring on the naive. It's a case to ponder just how embarrassing it must be to turn up at a water, all bright eyed and expectant, with what is essentially a toy. Facing down the ridicule and coping with the concomitant disillusion, is not something I think children should be subjected to, neither should their unfortunate, possibly gullible, parents. None the less, The Rocket Fishing Rod became a bit of a cult item, with more than a few of us anglers, eager to seek out this bizarre artefact. When I tried to track one down, I found it was unavailable, either withdrawn or out of stock. A MkII version made a brief appearance on the market a couple of years later, with an extendible section, complete with plastic rod rings but by then my interest had waned and I wanted the original, in all its gaudy faux plastic awfulness.

Australia's Alvey Reel
Fishing and the tackle concomitant with the practise, is an interesting subject to ponder. The means methods and equipment we use to catch fish, are subject to culturally acquired notions and as such, the variations in such culture are reflected in the differing equipment favoured by differing cultures. A good indicator of such divergence, is the esteem in Australia held in regard for the locally produced Alvey Reel. The Alvey seems a bit of a monster to eyes such as mine, seemingly crude even by comparison with to the long expired patterns of yesteryear's reels. But those are my culturally acquired notions at work, to be honest, British anglers are prone to displaying some bizarre tackle preferences when taken in the cold light of practicality. Such an example would be spending close to £300 on a custom built Abu or other multiplier to pursue flounder, when you could really get away with a old wooden Lincoln centrepin, the sort of thing that used to run a fiver at a junk shop. If you think fishing is about catching fish though, then you've probably never been fishing. You could spend all day pulling out fingerling pollack in Weymouth harbour if you want to catch fish and after pollock number 3,458, there's a chance you'll begin to understand.

I do have a collection of Australian fishing magazines from several decades ago, the Alvey features reasonably prominently in the articles concerned with beach angling, although even then, some of the more exotic equipment is evident. Since then, I believe the Alvey star has faded somewhat but they're still taken seriously as options. They've even produced geared reels to enhance their performance but the quoted 2:1 retrieve ratio is cause for slight concern.  I think possibly, a lack of engineering finesse is betrayed there, because a 2:1 gear ratio will not be optimised for wear according to the hunting tooth principle.

A 'pimped' reel
Into this cauldron of culturally acquired notions and expectations, there enters Jamie and his business of 'pimping' reels. Pimping in this case, essentially means adding magnets to assist braking on multiplier reels, along with some other bits and pieces. To be honest, I'm not really sure what magnets are for on multiplier reel, other than for fulfilling the task you should be using your thumb for that is. I've heard a few people moan about getting their thumb burnt as they brake the spool with it but seriously, are you kidding me, just how frail are you? Even the leader knot doesn't smart if it catches your thumb, yet you still hear this persistent myth, perhaps it's gay thing, 'Ooh no, ma poor thumbsie'. On second thoughts, I shouldn't cast aspersions upon our gay angling brethren, not least because distance casting is certainly a hairy chested, full on butch endeavour for any angler to undertake.

You'll encounter the term pendulum in reference to distance casting and as a technique I can tell you it works, I'm not so sure about the prescribed equipment though. And I say this through dint of experience, I do constrain my efforts with the pendulum because it's just such a beast to unleash and that whine it elicits from the reel is truly alarming as you think, when will it flippin' stop? The idea though that you need a tricked out reel is a bit misleading. I recall a trip just west of Selsey, a sandbank lay sullenly some distance off shore. 'I'll aim for that sandbank,' I said somewhat wryly and my quip was received with a yeah right look. I had in my possession, probably the jokiest reel in the world with which to attempt such a feat, only slightly less embarrassing the rocket fishing rod. A reel I purchased in state of crass naivety, an Abu AG Seven. Replete with level wind and sans ball races, it had just the bare bronze of plain bush bearings to facilitate the task. So I make my effort and... about a minute and a half later the lead hits water, the gentle sound of a distant splash belied the torrential fountain of water that accompanied the feat. I tried hard to remain sanguine, yeah like I do that every day but it was just impossible, my reaction was more like: what the fu... just happened?

I don't quite recall if I caught any fish that day, maybe some black bream after we'd moved back towards Selsey, The sandbank location had been a spot explored in the quest for a daytime tope, the huge bait required for such a quest, probably accounting for the distance during casting. The received wisdom concerning tope, states that they're only catchable at night or during the low light of dawn or dusk but I'd since had one steal a chum bag while fishing at a location where the ebb draws a current perpendicular to the shore, a brief mania to catch one during the day had taken hold.

The media is a key vector in establishing our broader culturally acquired notions, we rely on news gathering institutions for a great deal of the information we base our view of the world on. The same mechanism is at work on a smaller scale with angling and the press that services that interest, only if you thought the broader media was jaundiced by bias, then wait till you get hold of an angling periodical. It's not quite so bad today as it was a decade or so ago but they're still pretty much just dedicated to selling you tackle or promoting some personality who--wants to sell you tackle. Just how pervasive the bias and misrepresentation is in the angling press is, was brought home to me during a period when I was skirting its periphery and became aware of a notable contributor who it seems was entirely ghost written. Ghost writing is associated in the broader world, with personalities promoting their image rather than their ability, people concerned with looks and style, film stars and such like. It was something of a surprise to me that the individual of concern here was not writing his own material because--well, he's was no film star.

The concept of discreet culturally acquired attitudes is reasonably well recognized, as is the problems associated with it. It's so well recognized that a certain abuse has arisen in regard to it. I'm thinking of the terms bandied so thoughtlessly in the media and by politicians, terms like knife culture. My assurance has let me down again because I'm not really sure what knife culture is it supposed to mean, there's a group of people occupied with the adoration of knives or something?

At the moment, I'm saving very hard for my special reel, I'm not too sure I like the term pimped, sorry Jamie, good luck selling those reels. I'm not a pimp, though perhaps if I were I could afford one of your reels. Hey, maybe I could buy an Alvey, get one shipped over from the land of Oz. I'd need to work on my biceps but perhaps if I shared some tips on audio recording with the sales manager, I could swing a discount.

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