Thwarted by an onion!

Thwarted by an onion!

Tracy&James | Sunday, 1 May 2022

Tracy and I had planned on going fishing today (Saturday as I write) but an onion thwarted our intentions! To be fair, the onion was almost entirely innocent in disrupting our plans, it’s only ‘crime’ was to be sat in a dark, under-worktop cupboard awaiting to be called into action as an addition to a Friday night pizza. However, the act of bending down to retrieve the aforementioned allium put Tracy’s back out to the extent that she looks like she’s walking around in a stiff suit of armour. As such, we thought a day on the river was out of the question given that her first thought was to go for the pain-killers this morning.

Given I now had some spare time on my hands I decided to use it productively by preparing an outfit for BFCC use.  Recently a ‘T50’ rod was found in storage where it had been put a couple of years ago and forgotten about.  The ‘T50’ isn’t actually a BFCC event, it was an outfit that apparently juniors and women could use in the T120 event if they felt they weren’t up to the full horrors that the heaviest outfit holds.  In hindsight this is a bit patronising, since it’s been ‘lost’ we’ve seen plenty of juniors use the full T120 outfit and Tracy is pretty much the only woman casting regularly at the BFCC and I think she would be more than a bit annoyed if offered an easier option for any discipline. 

I therefore decided to cut down the T50 rod to make a S55 salmon overhead rod.  The current club outfit is a fairly soft, fifteen foot, #10 weight Spey rod paired with a 55 gram floating shooting head.  I should, at this point, say that we used to have a much stiffer Spey rod that in my opinion was much more suited to casting overhead than the current one, but it got broken at the Game Fair (actually it got broken more than once, both times in the butt section).  Having trialled the T50 rod with a S55 line, I was quite confident that it would make a good (but stiff) S55 rod – I just needed to make it shorter to comply with the rules of the event.

The T50 rod is a typical ‘Mike Marshall special’, cobbled together from what I believe is some sections of carp rod (probably 4 pound plus test curve), a parallel handle section and a short flexible tip.  In fact, no two sections are of the same length; the tip is about 2.5 foot, the carp sections are about 5.5 foot and 4.5 foot respectively and the butt section was around 4 foot – giving a total length of ~ 16.5 feet.  This needed trimming back to 15ft to allow the rod to be used in the S55 event.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m not the most practical of people, in fact I’m not far off being useless.  It was therefore with some trepidation that I took a (blunt) hacksaw to the butt section, having measured 15 feet exactly down from the tip.  This cut the reel seat off, so I decided to recover it by removing it from the off-cut with a Stanley knife.  At my work they don’t like scientists using sharp tools and I demonstrated why by slicing it into my finger – I subsequently proceeded with adequate PPE!

Rather than whip the reel seat into its new position I decided Gorilla tape would adequately perform the task.  I then set about making two new grips.  Now anyone who has ever seen my S55 rod will know that this is my speciality!  I bought my rod as a blank and had the rings professionally whipped on in a local tackle shop – leaving me to do an equally professional job with the handle.  I decided for weight saving reasons I would go with taping the reel on every time the rod is used (so at least the new BFCC rod has a ‘proper’ reel seat).  For the handles I went for the obvious – ripped up tea towels with tennis racquet grip tape over the top!  Most rod handles are described by their shape, full wells etc. or the luxury material, i.e. the finest flor-grade cork – I think my handles are best described as ‘lumpy in places’.  However, my rod was used to set both the men’s and women’s BFCC records so the handle must be good, hence the adapted rod got the same treatment.

To finalise this project I need something to go in the open end of the recently cut carbon tube.  I decided on using a champagne cork in the butt – I suspect I was thinking back to a particularly memorable night in a club in Rhyl, but I won’t go into that here.  The cork was roughly ground down until it could be glued in place.

The only thing left to do was to go for a test cast.  This was not in good conditions at all for big distances with a Salmon overhead outfit and I had in my mind that I’d be happy with a cast of maybe 170 – 180 feet if I was faced with similar conditions on a competition day.  As it turned out I managed a fair few casts in the 190 foot region and one of 200 feet.  As such, I was happy that it performed as well as I could expect my own outfit to.  Therefore, from the next event onwards BFCC casters (who don’t have their own gear) will have two options for the S55 – the soft Spey rod and the ‘Frankenstein’ beast.

Have a great week,

James.