Old-school carp­ing 195 - 60

His­to­rian digs out his vin­tage carp tackle to take us through the decades.

Anglers Mail - - Anglers -

JUST a mere gen­er­a­tion ago, the coun­try’s lead­ing fish­er­men of the day con­sid­ered the pur­suit of carp a com­plete waste of time, as they were sim­ply too wary and cun­ning to be caught. In the 1940s, even the ed­i­tor of the lead­ing an­gling jour­nal of the day, The Fish­ing Gazette, ad­vised an­glers not to waste time carp fish­ing, as life was too short.

There were, of course, a small num­ber of spe­cial­ist an­glers who did tar­get carp on the small num­ber of wa­ters that con­tained them. The great Richard Walker is of­ten cred­ited with bring­ing carp fish­ing to the at­ten­tion of Bri­tish an­glers, prov­ing that they could be caught by de­sign. He was catch­ing them from a lo­cal Bed­ford­shire pool way back in the 1930s, and was later in­spired by Denys Watkin­sPitch­ford’s clas­sic books The Fish­er­man’s Bed­side Book and Con­fes­sions of a Carp Fisher.

The great an­gler and great writer formed a friend­ship, and they es­tab­lished The Carp Catcher’s Club. To qual­ify as a mem­ber, you needed to have caught a dou­ble-fig­ure carp

(no mean feat), but through the mem­bers’ in­no­va­tive ap­proaches to carp fish­ing, the species grad­u­ally came to be seen as a fish worth pur­su­ing.

The stan­dard kit for your typ­i­cal carp en­thu­si­ast of the 1950s was con­sid­er­ably less than the moun­tains of gear that we now take to the banks. This was an era when there was no com­mer­cially made carp fish­ing tackle what­so­ever. Rods were stowed in leather-trimmed can­vas rod holdalls, and kit would be taken to the bank in wicker bas­kets, which would dou­ble as your seat. Carp an­glers used large salmon nets, but many wouldn’t hes­i­tate to use a gaff! Richard Walker then de­signed a prac­ti­cal land­ing net that was light and col­lapsi­ble, fea­tur­ing lam­i­nated 30 in. cane arms and a sturdy, one-piece cane han­dle – the bench­mark de­sign for all spec­i­men land­ing nets to come.

Suitable rods were needed to deal with pow­er­ful, hard-fight­ing carp. Qual­ity split-cane rods, made for salmon spin­ning or pike fish­ing, were cer­tainly pow­er­ful enough to stop hooked carp reach­ing the sanc­tu­ary of snags and weedbeds.

Richard Walker wanted some­thing bet­ter, so he de­signed his own, and on his fourth at­tempt he got it just

Split-cane rods were re­placed by fi­bre­glass mod­els (in­set) in the mid-’60s.

The kit that an­glers used to tackle carp in the ’50s and ’60s.

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