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

Trout Fisherman (UK) - - Contents -

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.

Steam (£0.00)

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.

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