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Having never really been into carp fishing I now find myself fascinated by it. More from the point of the vintage rods that seem to cause such a stir. Over the last few days I have been reading up about Allcocks, Chapman and B. James, three of the most talked about manufacturers of cane carp rods.

Being the owner of a B. James Kennet Perfection rod I can with hand on heart say that the B. James rods are made from fine cane and feel great in the hand. I have never had the pleasure of fishing with a Chapman 500, 550 or Chapman ‘Dennis Pye 700′, furthermore the classic Richard Walker MK IV Carp Rod. What I did miss this week was acquiring a B. James Richard Walker IV Avon rod that was for sale on eBay. Without having seen it in the flesh it was difficult to decide how much to bid on it but in the end it went for no more than a meal for two with a bottle of wine in an average restaurant! I know which one I would rather have had, at least with the rod the pleasure would have been more memorable.

I have seen several Allcocks & Co Superb Carp rods at car boots but they have been complete restoration projects. What I did see last time out at Chiswick car boot fair was an Allcocks & Co Lucky Strike, the one used by Chris Yates in the Passion For Angling series.

I would be good to hear back from any committed Carp fisher as to what they think is the better of the three key manufacturers. There is a bias towards B. James made rods as it is a common thought that they used better quality cane than Chapman of Ware.

Chapman was established in the late 40’s by Charles and Ronald Chapman and traded as R. Chapman & Co of Ware. Throughout the 50’s and 60’s Chapman created a range of innovative rods, they were the first company to offer the British Angler five-strip bamboo coarse rods.

With over 50 years of and after three generations of tackle making under their belt Chapman rods are sought after by collectors and traditionalist. If you watch eBay you’ll see them change hands at a premium and vintage tackle vendors are asking £250-300 for a good rod.

The B. James of Ealing rods with their trade mark whippings do look the part on the river bank and again vintage tackle dealers will ask a premium for a good Richard Walker MK IV carp rod, you can expect to pay £395 for a very good condition rod, and if you buy an Avon similar to the one I missed out on this week you’ll be looking at £450 and upwards…

So what makes a good cane carp rod. Most are built to a similar specification, some are 3 piece and other 2, average length is 10′ – 10’ 4”, with the butt section between 24-30”. I personally feel the quality of the finishing on the B.James rods better, their honey coloured cane and deep red whipping stylish. I have seen a few recently restored and offered with green whippings.

I do believe there are other good custom-built rods out there so what I would say is try before you buy and don’t just be led by the bias of the market, also there are some rods out there being sold that are either shorter than the original spec so a tell-tale sign that the tip was broken or glossed over so you can’t be sure of the quality of the lamination of the cane.

For more information see http://www.chapmanblanks.co.uk

The debate will continue for some time but it would be good to hear your views so feel free to comment. Also if you know of other worthy cane rods to be placed in the carp rod hall of fame, please tell.