How time flies

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I can’t believe that a full two weeks have past since I last updated my blog. In all fairness not much has happened and as work pressures put pay to any fishing before the end of the season for coarse fish we are now upon the start of the season for fly fishing for trout on rivers.

Over the winter months a few items of tackle were purchased and amongst those items were the odd fly box, namely vintage Wheatley alloy boxes and an interesting item for retrieving the odd fly out of overhanging branches. Having had the time to sort all the tackle out into boxes and mark them up accordingly I am further sorting out the fly boxes to contain patterns for the different rivers and locations we fish, well that was my reasoning to justify the acquisition of yet another fly box to Mrs Tales. This latest box made by Wheatley I assume is an early box but it does seem to have the more modern addition of a foam insert to the top of the lid. The compartment have the distinctive yellow celluloid windows however the compartments to the outer edge have oval shaped windows. It would be great to know if this really is an early Wheatley box, so any pointers would be much appreciated.

This box will be made up of flies for fishing the river and lakes of The South West and Wales as we may head there over Easter. Most of the flies used for Wales will be classic wets which fill form the contents of another box with clips.

In the last edition of Trout & Salmon magazine there was a feature on early season flies, most tied on size 14 hooks and forming a group of emergers. Out of a large collection of flies accumulated over many years I will try to put together a workable selection to cover early season needs for woodland and moorland streams, with a good selection of flies for lakes such as Bala or Tynconel.

It would be good to hear from any of you as to your early season choices of fly. 

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From Luxor and beyond…

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Earlier today a package arrived containing a lure box by Pezon & Michel, Paris. Similar in construction to a Wheatley box but bearing the distinctive Luxor embossed logo to the front.

In another package 20 more sweet painted ladies arrived from North of the Boarders, these are now house in a vintage Edward Sharp & Sons Ltd confectioners tin appointed by the Late King George VI.

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Sweet painted ladies…

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Each had it’s own unique decoration much like a row of ladies sitting on the underground. Their makeup painted on in different ways, colour and texture, however these are a mixed collection of Devon Minnows whose purpose is to deceive or attract the attention of the salmon.

Over the years I have cast many of these and on many an occasion retrieved them only to find that the triple hook had lodge itself into a sunken branch in much the same way that a well heeled lady has had the misfortune to get her heel stuck in the groves of the escalator or gap in the pavement, the difference though is that the later is retrievable where many a minnow has been lost to nature.

There are all sorts of Devon Minnow imitations. Here captured below are set of hand painted wooden and brass minnows each carefully decorated and now rare to find.

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Other peoples junk…

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In my pursuit of finding good vintage fishing tackle I trawl car boots, on-line sites and visit a circuit of vintage tackle fairs. There are a couple of antique and vintage markets which always produce the odd reel, box of flies, fishing bags and spinners.

On a recent visit to a local car boot sale I found in the bottom of a cardboard box a metallic blue reel, a Mitchell Match 440A. Still in good working order it is robust and will last at least another 20-30 years. Also as detailed in yesterday’s post I found a large silver plate scallop shell platter which will be ideal for serving mixed seafood on a bed of ice served with a chilled glass of Picpoul de Pinet with its notes of mineral, white pepper and grapefruit tang, it’s a great wine from the sun-baked vineyards of Languedoc. I can’t wait for the warmers days to arrive but this wine when served with fish makes me think of balmy days near the Med.

Picpoul de Pinet 2020, Domain Félines Jourdan, Languedoc, France available from Berry Bros & Rudd, http://www.bbr.com £8.95 or Picpoul de Pinet Prestige 2010 Domain Cabrol, Languedoc, France available at Majestic Wine http://www.majestic.co.uk

For Mitchell reels contact The Reel People – Jims Reel Shop http://www.jimsreelshop.com

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Building Blocks Part ii

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The acquisition of vintage tackle seems to form part of everyday life in the Tales household, either by the familiar thud on the doormat or having been tucked into an old Brady bag to escape the eyes of Mrs Tales and smuggled into the house, usually on the first Sunday of the month which coincides with a well known West London car boot.

Having received a package that contained a blue card box bearing the ink description ‘Building Blocks’ and containing a mix of vintage tackle on Friday I ventured out early on Sunday morning to the local car boot sale in search of vintage items for the home, vintage bar ware and vintage tackle.

First purchase of the day was a silver plate scallop shaped platter, large in size and interesting as to its intended use, any pointers would be much appreciated but I guess a platter for sea food? There was much on offer on this bright day in March, however I was focused on finding items that would help me with my gin presentations, and any items to go with my interest in Vermouth, a liquid which I sense my grow over the next few months. I did find three nickel silver Scottish spirit measures, typically large in the measure size but not a must have requirement.

As I scoured more boxes of castoffs, bric-a-brac and odds and ends I came across a distinctive blue painted Mitchell 440A, dusty, ingrained with oil and dirt but all there and when rubbed the blue paint was bright, the chrome un-pitted and the bail arm worked to a fashion, possibly in need of a service by James Partridge of Jims Reel Shop. For just over the fraction of the cost of a pint of Guinness I purchased the reel and tucked it away in my trusted Brady bag. Time was soon ticking by and I had promised young Tales a visit to Robins Wood, a favoured fishery and one he has started to understand how it fishes.

Clearly the teaching of recent years is paying dividends, it wasn’t long after having arrived at this picturesque Surrey trout fishery that young Tales was into a bright eyed fish, caught on a nymph that the fishery owner recommended.

Over the winter months much had been done to improve this fishery, new paths, bridges and some of the dense vegetation and overhanging trees having been cut back. It did give the fishery a tidy and manicured look without detracting from is pastoral feel, where a trickling stream dropping into lakes then down through woodland to make this an idyllic destination worth the 40 minute drive from South West London.

I sense we will be back before the official start to the trout season for young Tales to increase his tally and show that his youthful enthusiasm can out fish me again this season.

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Building Blocks…

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Inked on the top face of a small rectangular blue card box were the words ‘Building Blocks’, this box was dispatched from Glasgow a couple of days ago and it contained a mixed lot of vintage tackle. The items in the box could be timelined from the late 40’s early 50’s, why, because the three reel spools that form part of this hoard were all from early reels, one from an Abu 444, the other two from J W Young bearing the part numbers JWY170 circa 1948 and JWY259. Other items in the hoard were a cloth covered minnow, several named spinners, some home-made spoons for pike fishing, a packet of traces and two cards with flies attached, 3 Yellow May and 2 McGinty.

I was a little aprehensive when I first opened the box as a musty smell filled the air, the tissue paper that encapsulated the items was old, brittle and yellowed with time. As I took out each item out me apprehension gave way to joy as I started to realise what made up this mix of items. Over the next few days I’ll write up about the reels associated with the spools, I’ll photograph some of the other items in the box as some of the contents were intriguing …

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All boxed up…

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With a thud to the doormat a brown Jiffy bag landed containing an Alex Martin alloy lure box. It had all the hallmarks of being made by Wheatley but did not bare any of the distinctive stamping or logo, instead on the underside it had the remains of a transfer stating Alex Martin.

Inside the box was a transparent sheet and beneath two minnow spinners and a mount for a sprat, in what seemed to be unused condition. This box makes a good addition to our collection and will be used. Wheatley make such good quality boxes that they last a lifetime and can be passed down to the next generation, real classics.

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Treasures from the back streets

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There had been little time to fish this month and even when the opportunity presented itself the fish weren’t biting. With the official start to the trout fishing season is fast approaching I’m spending time sorting through bags and boxes full of tackle in order to catalogue what I have and what will eventually form the stock for my pending sales of piscatorial vintage items.

A recent visit to a car boot sale offered up some good finds however in the back streets across the country there seems to be an array of vintage fishing tackle items for sale. Having never owned one I found two leather line cleaners, one made by Hardy and the other simply stamped ‘Made In England’. In a mixed box of items I found a lead and cork plummet plus three Harcork floats and an ACA car badge. Other good finds were a small Allcocks 3 inch diameter with 2 1/2 inch spool fly reel in its distinctive dark green livery known as Hydraulic Green as it was the same paint as used on the Spitfire, so I guess it dates the reel to the late 30’s to 40’s, the reel still retaining the silk line and from what I can make out an early model that bears no date stamp, I’m struggling to find out what it is, a Condex style reel clearly not a ‘Black Night’ or an early Popular as the reel casing and spool are flat alloy with no surface texture. Finally I found an early Wheatley compartment fly box with its ‘Wipe Clean’ printed slate, all great items that will be used this season.

It give me no greater pleasure than to give some of these items a new lease of life for them to be used again especially when you realise that if you were to by some of these items as new a small Wheatley six compartment fly box now retails for over £50, so to source, recycle and reuse seems to be the way forward this year.

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Joining the Club…

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It was describe as ‘rather tatty’, a large vintage Brady of Halesowen salmon bag that I found on that well know on-line auction site. Why did I need another bag is a good question, however having seen the most recent whisky release Haig Club from Diageo in its distinctive blue glass bottle the full length commercial features a salmon fisher sporting a similar Brady Severn bag slung over his shoulder. This gave me the idea that as part of the brand ambassadors brand kit he should carry his samples around in a Brady bag. As a consumer with the love of fishing and a fine dram of quaffable grain whisky from the Cameronbridge Distillery, the oldest grain distillery in Scotland. The whisky itself is light, clean with hints of butterscotch giving it a smooth finish, ideal for those that fear to tread towards the complex single malts. I decided to buy this larger Brady bag in order to carry a bottle of Haig Club to share with my fellow fishers whilst we endure the chill of the start to this seasons salmon fishing. By all accounts the season has started well on the Tay and Tweed and hopefully we will entice a silver bar to the net this season. The postman delivered the bag this morning, rather than tatty I would say it has been well used and has a story or two to tell. Vintage Brady bags take on a quintessential charm of their own, each very different and the front pocket was a snug fit for the iconic blue bottle ….welcome to my Haig Club.

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Outcasts…

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It was one of those mornings where I struggled to leave the comfort of a warm bed, but something told me to get up, get dressed and head over the river to a local car boot.

With a chill wind blowing from the North only the hardy or foolish ventured out to walk around tables of other peoples cast offs and unwanted items. There have been few times I have come back empty handed from this car boot sale, however walking down the lane, across the meadow there seemed to be far fewer visitors than I expected for this first sale of the year. As I got closer there were people already leaving with their finds. One woman was clutching a rather attractive star backed mirror and others passed by with some elegant guilt and gesso picture frames, this indicated that there were some quality items to source. Enamel industrial light fittings, shade and lamps littered the ground as I entered the tall mesh gates.

The first few stalls were of bric-a-brac and vintage clothing, then heading to the back of the playground where this sale stalls out in the winter months I headed for a couple of dealers who have the same pitch month in, month out. The first find was a long thin metal tin containing some vintage floats, there I found three good Hardcork floats with their distinctive three band tips, these would be ideal for young Tales if we go Grayling fishing again. The next two dealers had rods, reels and nets, a real mixed bag of items however a good condition Wilko extendable net for the cost of a pint of Guinness had to be snapped up. I passed on a good 9ft #7 fly rod just that had I purchased it I’d be doubling up on rods I already had and there wasn’t enough profit on it to trade it comfortably.

After a scout around the back section of this car boot I saw a Barbour jacket liner on a stall and again a blue note secured this item. Now chilled to the bone I started to make my way back but couldn’t help momentarily stopping to admire a watercolour of the Clapppergate Bridge near Ambleside by Henry Wilson (1864-1934), an artist and sculptor who taught at the Royal College Of Art, at the Central School Of Arts and Crafts, and at the Victoria Street School for Silversmiths in Birmingham. The painting was in an old traditional oak frame but the mount was badly watermark damaged however the watercolour itself was fine, I enquired on the price and without further questioning made the acquisition. As I decided to head home I took one last look at a rod in a tatty fawn rod bag, inverting it to untie the distinctive orange Sealey cotton ties I revealed a Edgar Sealey Octofloat 2, with it’s purple whippings intact, rod rings bright and cork handle in good condition. I enquired as to the price and after a brief conversation and negotiation picked up the fawn coloured rod bag and contents and headed back, down the lane and across the meadow with a smile on my face.

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