There is a debilitating condition called Tackle tartness. A peculiar condition that afflicts us anglers turning that sensible “need” sense in your head into that troublesome “want “ emotion that gnaws in your brain to convince you that the latest shiny sage rod or new fancy reel or whatever will improve your fishing. I suffer with it from time to time especially in the depths of winter when the lack of been out there fishing combined with the feeling that you cant tie any more flies. Results in time spent dreaming and wondering and perusing magazines and web sites.
It occurred to me recently that this condition must be truly a modern phenomenon. Among my most treasured physical possessions is the rod and reel that belonged to Grandad who is sadly no longer with us. The rod he left me is a magnificent Greenheart and Lancewood Scarborough sea rod and 8 inch diameter mahogany and brass Scarborough reel. He could cast a good 80 yds with that which I can tell you is no mean feat.
I fished with him often on the rocks around the town when I was growing up, He showed me the fishing marks and explained the effects the tides and weather had on those places. He was the most perfect of Grandads he taught me to fish was a good friend and was full of stories of the Somme, Ypres and Paschendale and it only occurred to me recently that here was a man who fished pretty much his whole life through with one rod and one reel. Its hard to believe it even after I wrote it but I have memories of him telling me he bought the rod and reel when he returned from France after the war and he was still using it up till the time Grandma wouldn’t let him fish anymore. I went with him the last time he fished. I wish I had a decent memory of the time but sadly I don’t. Incidentally Grandad always referred to WW1 as the war, Not the great war or the first war. He didn’t much talk about WW2 I think mainly because the Army wouldn’t let him join up as he was to old . He took that personally I am sure he still had unfinished business with the Germans even till the time he died.
But the point is he was a man who loved fishing but yet the “stuff “ The rod and reel were tools, a means to an end what made him a good angler (and he was) was the hard won stuff, the local knowledge understanding the tides and the weather knowing which marks fished on what tides, and the real value of that stuff is that it can be handed down or passed on. Give a learner another fancy rod or whatever and he is still a learner give him some hard won knowledge and he becomes an improver and is then on a better pathway. I restored the rod recently, Varnished the wood and polished the brass and it now hangs on my study wall It hangs above the fly tying desk and this winter when the tartness starts gnawing I shall look at the rod and convince myself that I would be better studying Falkus or Edwards and trying to learn things instead of buying more stuff. Well I will try anyway…….