Wiltshire based all-round angler, Mark Woodage kindly sent us this report from a recent session on the Hampshire Avon just before the end of the river season.
How many of us ever stop and think about the quality of those minor items of tackle we use on a regular basis? A recent event really got me thinking about an item of tackle I use so frequently, but really take them for granted! And that item is pre-tied hooks to nylon. Such a small item, but being the last point of contact between yourself and the fish, it is as important as any other item of tackle you are using. And what I find really amazing, is each and every hook is still tied by hand!
The majority of my winter fishing takes place on the majestic Hampshire Avon, a beautiful river which holds some real gems, but it can be tough and the last thing you want to do is lose your hooked quarry!
A recent trip really emphasised the quality of the Drennan hooks to nylon I had been using and left me leaving the riverbank one very happy angler.
My target species was chub, so armed with four pints of red maggot, I started feeding the swim with the use of a 50g Black Cap feeder, presented on 5lb mainline with a size 18 Super Spade hook to nylon.
The second cast the quiver tip signalled a bite and shortly after a typical Hampshire Avon chub of 5lb 6oz graced my landing net with the size 18 hook looking tiny embedded in the chubs huge mouth.
Baiting the hooking with two maggots my feeder was recast to the same area. It became a struggle to work out what was and wasn’t a bite in the wind. However, when the tip pulled around about 3 foot, I knew the battle against chub number two was about to commence.
It soon became obvious after a minute or so that this fish wasn’t a chub. The tiny size 18 with 2 maggots on had been picked up by a barbel! Slowly, but very powerfully it began to move upstream, leaving me with no option other than going for a walk, following the fish up the bank. With the river still running quite fast after recent rainfall the flow of this river and the ever increasing wind, the odds of me ever actually seeing this fish looked very slim indeed. I also hit another problem, I had run out of the field. A fence and bushes signalled the boundary between one field and the next. I had no option other than to fight my way through the shrubbery and climb the fence (you had to be there to believe it!) anyway with some help from a friend we achieved the impossible and I was now in the same field as the fish which was still continuing its journey upstream.
With the barbel making several more powerful runs, it was important to take my time and let the rod do the work. Even though I was using such a small hook and just 4lb line I now felt very confident of success as my tackle so well balanced. A further 10 minutes passed with several hairy moments, but eventually, the net slid under a stunning barbel of 14lb 7oz!