Jeff Prest jokingly reveals the poor man’s gear guide, but they’re all genuine items!
In the mood of the moment, I present a Gear Guide for the, er, cost-conscious. If you routinely turn your wipers off when driving under a bridge, this is for you
IT has been that month of the year when I step out of my comfort zone: away from books, whimsy, fishers and fisheries, and into the world of equipment. Assigned the task of putting together those pages in our annual GearGuide where it was felt I would do least harm, it was comforting to see technology (or maybe just good old market forces) bringing the prices of certain items down to more affordable levels. A welcome contrast, certainly, to a recent morning at Rutland, photographing product by the water’s edge, when I could feel myself becoming slightly faint as our tester rattled off typical prices for top-end wet-weather gear – the kind of sums I’d expect to pay for a week’s self-catering in a respectable English resort. Looking back, that was probably where this month’s column was born. In the interests of inclusivity, what chance a poor man’s gear guide, aimed at those of us who, either through circumstance or sheer bloody-mindedness, have dedicated our lives to avoiding the pillage of our purse? Thrift being something of a lost art in an era where declaring bankruptcy has somehow metamorphosed into a shrewd financial strategy, I held out no great hopes to start with, but exploration of fishing’s ‘Poundland’, as it were, has been a revelation, and I am proud to present the following 12 items, with which to transform your fishing in 2018. All items and prices, where applicable, available on amazon. co.uk at time of writing (inclusive of P&P) except where otherwise stated.
That’s the stuff from your kettle, not the Internet gaming platform. Will salvage lures and flies that have become matted through heavy use. Health & Safety alert – because we all occasionally forget that steam and boiling water are effectively the same thing, hold the hook with pliers, not your fingers...
4cm button (£3.20 for five)
I don’t know about you, but this is the bane of my life when on foot: both hands full and a bag strap over one shoulder that repeatedly slips down my arm. A large button, securely sewn onto your shirt or jacket shoulder, keeps the strap in place.
Ball of string (£2.30) and cable-ties (£1.78 for 100)
Multiple rod tubes aren’t easily transported on foot when you have other bags to carry as well. To make a handle, knot a short section of string at either end and fasten each end against the tube with a cable-tie.
Stitch unpicker (£0.50)
Easier to find than a piece of wire, and less fiddly than using another hook, this tool is used in the clothing trade and contains a small spear ideal for lancing those clogged-up hook-eyes you invariably encounter when trying to tie on size 18s in a gale with your eyes watering. Don’t get mad, just get fishing.
Tyre protectant (£6.59)
Extend the life of boots and waders by treating them several times a year with stuff that normally takes care of your car tyres. It improves the boots’ resistance to cracking and also dry rot.
Power Magnet (£6.15)
Comes with a hole drilled in it – attach it to a length of string and dangle it just above the floor around your tying bench when you’re done. Better that this baby finds all those hooks you dropped, than kitty’s paws. A U-shaped magnet also spares you the fishing equivalent of Russian roulette, when you insist on leaning your rod against a car with one of its doors open. The magnet stops the rod from sliding and ends forever your days of tempting fate. Thin sticky tape over the magnet’s poles will avoid scratches.
Outdoor carpet (2 sq.m. £18.93 at onlinecarpets.co.uk)
Replace worn-out felt soles on your wading boots: cut the carpeting to size and attach with waterproof epoxy. As grippy as felt, it will outlast it and absorbs less water. The price shown is for brand new but you can probably haggle over scraps/free samples at your local home improvement store. You know you love that.
Pipe Cleaners (£2.30 for 100)
As pipe-smokers go the way of the dodo, fishing could be the saviour of this manufacturing sector. Use them to clean those hard-to-reach places on your reel; as twist ties on bags; to hang a lantern with if night-fishing; or as a stop-gap – threaded through two eyelets – should your boot-lace snap. Hell, if you’re getting desperate, you could even wind half of one around a hook and fish it as a lure.
Safety pins (£1.39 for 20 in various sizes)
The theory is that if a rod ring breaks, you bend the bottom quarter of a safety pin 90 degrees upwards and tape the rest of the safety pin to the rod blank, before feeding your line through the wire circle at the foot of the safety pin. In practice, though, just how many years it stays there will become a matter of honour for the more committed ‘economists’ among you.
Feather powder (£8.60 at www.merlinarchery.co.uk)
Normally used by archers on their arrow feathers, it will perform the same waterproofing action with your flies, yet at a fraction of the cost of many floatants. That £8.60 buys you 25oz. I’ll leave you to do the maths. Health & Safety alert – I understand that this stuff and inhaling don’t go together, so handle with care.
Whisky (around £17) and duct tape (£1.86)
Arguably all the first aid kit a true outdoorsman ever needs. I make that £70.60 all told – £5.88 per item – and I suspect I’m merely picking through the upper reaches of fly-fishing’s bargain bucket here. Who knows? Maybe this time next year, I’ll be in charge of my own supplement. The HardlyPaysGuide springs to mind, although I’m sensing legal issues.
Jeffrey Prest: The TF Features Editor on what’s caught his attention this month.