Sunday, 24 January 2010



tackle,  noun,
·        equipment, apparatus, or gear, esp. for fishing:

tart,  noun,
  • promiscuous, of easy virtue,

A mildly derogatory term traditionally used in a self-mocking manner, or for good-natured abuse of friends.
Anglers have always wanted the best toys they could get to practise their sport and this phrase came into the lexicon of angling to jokingly (usually) refer to those who abused that privilege.
From Elfric the Abbot writing in his “Collequy” in the tenth century, via Dame Juliana’s “Treatyse of ffyshynge with an Angle” in 1496
to most contemporary writings, magazines, blogs and forums we have come to believe that we need to get better kit to be a better fisherman. A large proportion of today’s fly fishermen are “Tackle Tarts” or, as they prefer to be called - “Collectors”.
The ubiquitous internet has allowed forums to develop, and that other modern affectation, the blog, where people can show off their fine fishing kit; this, of course becomes the ironic form of ‘encourager les autres’.
The “Fly Reel” is one obvious avenue for collectors As a man (grown up boy) and one time engineer, who has spent the past twelve months researching one of the early makers for a forthcoming book, I now, more than ever, appreciate these fine pieces of the craftsman’s art.
When one looks at the stunning products of late 19th and early 20th century makers like Slater, Heaton, vom Hofe and Dingley and on to contemporary craftsmen such as Bogdan, Ari t Hart, Mohlin (pictured right) and Hermann it is easy to understand the attraction. 
The internationally famed Hardy Brothers of Alnwick alone have such a varied selection of models, styles and variations of fishing reels to keep some collectors searching for a lifetime. A pair of Hardy White-wickam big game reels made around £50,000 a few years ago and there are, allegedly, even rarer Hardy reels still to be unearthed. Another consideration is the investment value of these items. The White-wickhams, of which there are only three known to exist will never be worth less than the £50K paid for them, as this has become the benchmark.
In the past 18 months alone we have seen that most collectable of reels, the Hardy Brass Faced Perfect (or BFP as it is commonly known, left) effectively double in price on the open market.
The internet has moved collecting on, the specialist auctions, which were once only known to, and attended by, the select few, now offer the facility, via the ‘net or telephone, to bid live from anywhere in the world. The few dealers who published and posted their regular catalogues to the same select band, now publish online to an international market. The wiser collector was there in the early days of ebay and picked up many bargains. As the internet has developed so has the sophistication of collectors and as well as more specialist dealers with an online presence there is now a network of worldwide collectors who deal among themselves and advise others by acting as ‘spotters’ on the various auction sites.
Sadly; some may say that it’s a result of the Blair legacy that one can lie, and profit from it, if one is devious enough; the growing band of collectors has also created a market for the frauds and fakers. Some have aped the old time antique ‘restorers’ by taking a modern copy and ‘aging’ it – sand blasting a modern replica reel and adding a chemical ‘patina’ can increase the value of a reel by 50% or more – these are usually aimed at the novice collector. As they say, “A little knowledge is dangerous”. That even more blatant creation, the so called “Spitfire” reels; middle range reels which have had all the original finish removed and then highly polished; are aimed at those of us who like shiny things!
As with all things it’s a case of ‘caveat emptor’ - buyer beware. Investment in good quality specialist books and time spent on research can save a lot of heartache and frustration, and prevent that feeling of utter despair when one finds out that he has been conned.

The cynic will say that these reels are merely pieces to wind your string on to, and he’d be correct. But, a man who adopts that attitude fails to understand the true philosophy of “Fly fishing”. It is no mere attempt to catch fish; swim feeders with maggots will achieve that much more productively. Fly-fishing is more of an art form. It is one of those pastimes where the more one learns about it, the less one realise he knows.

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