Like so many things in life, carp angling follows fashion.
In fact, it is fashionable to go carp fishing at the moment. Hundreds of young anglers are taking up the sport because of the trendy image that it has, the tackle and the fashions.
Trends though always throw up objects that achieve iconic status, and so it is in carp fishing.
Below I have drawn up a list of what for me are the top ten all time icons of carp fishing tackle.
Other anglers, especially the younger generation, will probably not know or not have used many of the items listed. They were for the most part the items that set the standards for what was to follow.
1. The Mitchell 300
The first proper fishing reel that I owned having moved on from a Black Prince. The Mitchell 300 despite all its flaws, was a great piece of kit at the time, due to its simplicity, and robustness. I still have two or three of these Iconic reels in my garage and they are still in prefect working order 30 years on.
2. Abu Cardinal 55
The reel that moved us up to the proper carp fishing gear, offering smooth gearing, an adjustable rear clutch system and quick change spools. It was light years ahead of the Mitchells.. But for me the most notable advance was that it put an end to back-winding as a way of playing carp.
3. Shimano Baitrunner
I remember turning up at a water in Normandy not long after I had moved to France and saw a British angler with a set of Shimano 4500 Baitrunner reels. The free spool system knocked me out, and I just had to have a set. I went through several of the early versions, including the first double handle jobs… I really only moved on to bigger reels when I started to fish the big French waters.
4. Optonic Bite Alarms
The Optonic was the bait alarm that set a new standard in bite indication for carp anglers. I was still as school and had been saving my Saturday job money to get a set of Heron’s, when John Wilson wrote about the Optonic. Well that was that, we all had to have Optonics. Despite their shortcomings, they helped us fish better at night and bank a few more fish during the day also. I had the first ones out with the white sounder box. They were far too quiet, hence the Delkim and Bamford conversions.
5. Gardner Rod Pod
I still prefer banksticks but like most carp anglers I have a pod in case I can’t get the sticks in the ground. I believe Gardner Tackle invented the first rodpod, even coining the name. I’ve had one of their aluminium pods now for 20 years and still use it occasionally. These items have been much copied, redesigned and now have become pretty much synonymous with carp angling. What identifies a carper more than a set of parallel rods on a rodpod?
6. Drennan Boilie Hook
Having grown up reading “Carp Fever”, and using the strong but crude, Au Lion d’Or hooks, I had been on the look out for a good strong sharp carp hook. This was when we started to fish with the Drennan range of hooks and naturally the Boilie Hook was the one to choose. Strong sharp and reliable it caught us countless carp. I only switched to the Continental version hook, when I moved to France. I still use these for a lot of my fishing today.
7. Maxima Chameleon Line
8lb Maxima was our standard fishing line for donkeys years. Its purple/green two tone colour, made it stand out from the rest of the lines on the market. It was strong, abrasion resistant and we all believe the advertising that the fish couldn’t see it.
8. 11lb Sylcast Line
Another iconic brand of carp fishing line was 11lb Sylcast. Virtually unbreakable, it was a thick as wire, and hugely strong. It must have severely handicapped our casting but it enabled us to bully carp out of snaggy swims. I started to use it because, Rod H said he used it..
9. The Scopex Boilie
On the subject of Rod H, I don’t think any boilie flavour has been as copied, used or successful as the original Scopex. In the nineties I used it virtually on every session. It must have accounted for thousands of carp. If ever there was a flavour that is indissociable with carp fishing it is “Scopex”. How many carpers can say today they have never used it?
10. Mark IV Carp Rod
Finally my number one carp fishing tackle Icon has to be the Mark IV Carp Rod. It was the first specially designed piece of carp fishing tackle in a day when few anglers set their stall for the species. It and its inventor Richard Walker set the trend for all that was to follow in modern carp fishing. My very first carp rods were glass fibre versions of the 10 foot through-actioned rod. Fishing rod design has come a long way with modern materials and designs but this is where it all began.
Naturally my own list is very subjective. It is based on my own journey through carp fishing time from the late seventies to today. The modern tackle industry is moving very fast and it takes an exceptional article now to achieve iconic status. Indeed with the huge and varied amount of tackle available we may have seen the end of Carp Fishing Tackle Icons.
So what would your top ten items include?