Entry No11 – Andy Hathaway

HT4 at Farmoor

Farmoor Reservoir no 1 near Oxford is quite a special place. Clean clear water, tons of fish food, especially buzzers and sticklebacks, coupled with a skilful and positive stocking policy by Thames water in a catch and release environment mean there are a large number of superb, fit grown on rainbows to be caught. There are also some amazing browns which show up occasionally. I have heard it criticised as a large stock pond, very unjustly. Those fish do get hammered early on by lure anglers, and are well educated. They feed on the insect life avidly, but are very spooky. It takes a certain aproach to catch consistently, and I had several brilliant days recently with my new HT4. One day in particular I landed over 40 cracking, fit, full tailed, grown on rainbows(many over 4lb), partly at least thanks to the versatility of the HT4.

I’m no inherent respecter of equipment, and put 99% success down to angler skill, always allowing for the odd kamikaze trout. But the HT4 did help.

The problem is that those excellent fish are best tempted on small (14 and 16) flies which must be barbless. My favourite is a black spider size 14. Until I had the HT4 I did pretty well on the HT6, but lost more than I should. Smash takes at close range are always a fun problem, but that’s not the reason for the more annoying losses. The hooked fish bolt and dive of course and you try to maintain the pressure, but when they suddenly change direction you get a great swathe of line bowed in such a way that adequate pressure to keep that small barbless hook in place is impossible. Result: tears. So down we go in line weight, a 4 was what I found best. The thinner, lighter line cuts through the water better and leaves you in better contact. But 4 weight rods don’t handle 15′ 3 fly leaders in adverse winds all that well, and the ones I tried were tied in knots by those cavorting fish.

Enter the HT4. A light but powerful 4 weight. No problems casting and following the ripple line out, or in turning over long leaders. Plenty of backbone to hang on to fit quality fish, and yet at close range able to absorb the bucking of hooligans fearful of the net. All rods are a compromise. For me this one has it dead right.

Even more, if you sit down at Farmoor and minimise false casts, the fish come really close. Just tapping the tip of that HT4 with as little as a foot of line outside the rod tip and I got nice straight delivery. Practically French leader style, and when the reservoirs heat up and I move to ultralight stream fishing, I know what will be my first choice of rod. And with the light tip, smash takes at that range didn’t break me.

What a rod! And thats the opinion of a tried it all tackle cynic.

Andy Hathaway