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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Bass Fishing the beaches in the old days!

My particular sphere of interest over the decades has been bass fishing, surf beaches, broken ground etc around the coasts of Wales, Devon, Cornwall, Channel Islands and southern Ireland. Light tackle was the drive for many forward thinking anglers at the time, late 60's/ 70's. Competition to be the first to purchase a new fibreglass blank coming onto the market was met by fierce but friendly one upmanship which was rife. There was a plethora of suitable fibreglass blanks on offer of varied qualities and characteristics from which the anglers could make a choice. D.I.Y. rod building was popular, each individual deciding on the ringing arrangements and reel seat position most suited to their aspirations. Inevitably, there were some Fiberglass blanks that rose to "stardom" via recommendations and plaudits of respected authors in the highly revered magazine "ANGLING".

Wood Shotgun Plant Tool Air gun


Not only rods (blanks) but reel's, hooks, were subjected to intense scrutiny and review. The idea was to produce and use .D.I.Y. rods , reels (inevitably from the original ABU range), low b.s.test 6-10 lbs monofilament lines, self sharpened hooks and suitable weight leads ( 1,2, or 3oz) as conditions allowed. The driving force behnd the light tackle vison was to extract as much enjoyment from an encounter with a bass (or other species), whilst giving the fish a fair opportunity to show its potential. An obstacle free beach is a perfect opportunity to allow the bass full rein via the thumb and freespool, reeling in any slack line, holding the rod high, and avoid any attempt at bullying a fish ashore. When guided to the beach, remove barbless hook, quick measurement, photograph and carefully release.

Table Wood Musical instrument Hardwood Wood stain


The alternative to one bass rod for all beach (bass) circumstances, was to develop a range of sticks of different specs like a golfer has a variety of irons in his/ hers golf bag, from which to meet a specific requirement be it a putter, driver or wherever. In those Halcyon days there were plenty of good fibre glass blanks coming on the market so choice was at a premium. The ultimate choice was a all-in-one (no spigot) blank/rod, transported via secure clips attached to the car roof and bonnet. The "all-in-one" blank, probably11 - 12 ft was a choice of myself and friends at the time. It was quite a sight, cars festooned with long rods hitting the road to places like Llangenith, Cefn Sidan or Pembrey, long before these beaches became well known and popular.
Gesture Finger Musical instrument Musical instrument accessory Microphone



Most of the rods in my circle, were d-i-y and assembled to each individuals calculated spec. Rod whipping thread was kept to a practical minimum on the rings, and at the spigot joints where applicable. In the early days, the reel seat was one of the Fuji flat fittings, whipped directly onto the blank, no hand grips, maybe a butt button to protect the bottom end of the rod. These rods were built for function, no frippery or unnecessary decoration. Not a rod rest in sight, "Holding the rod" was the preferred method of the day, echoed around the coasts where bass or even cod (read the late Ian Gillepies book on the subject) were the target prey for many forward thinking anglers in those days!

The attached pictures are of a small range of my personal surf beach rods, built in the 70's to accommodate a variety of beach/ surf conditions from very active to calm water.. I have nursed them through 45 years plus to today! They have been used down the years until the Bones became the "Jewel In The Crown". The 1-3 ounce casting fibreglass rod coupled with the tiny ABU 2100 multiplying reel was undoubted;ly my favourite set up! the motivaton was to search out your prey (bass) by holding the light, balanced rod/reel combo, with the line passing over the index finger, alert to the smallest inflection of change at the terminal tackle, slowly walking in the water parallel to the surf lines!

If you have never experienced the thrill of bass interest at the hook, a reflex strike.resulting in a feisty bass of reasonable proportions (5 lb. and upwards) you are missing one of the most exciting moments in sea angling!!

Best regards,

Ticker (Derek)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Good morning members,

I would be interested to know how many of you recognised or own a similar or same reel to that in the photograph in my introduction post. It is the ABU Sport 2100, initially designed as a tournament casting reel despite its small size, but proved to be an excellent piece of engineering and a proficient fishing reel when used in a light rod/reel combo surf fishing for bass. The downside was that the metals used in its construction were prone to corrosion very quickly when comng into contact with salt water, and demanded a no delay, thorough wash and oil regime as soon after the fishing session! This was not a chore when weighed against the pleasure of using it in the right environment , surf bassing! I included it in my luggage on my trips to southern Ireland and used it to effect when conditions were appropriate on whichever Strand we were fishing. Out of interest, I looked up this reel on Facebook just to see if it was mentioned after all these years and was astounded by the prices being asked for them second hand. Averaging between £200 and £ 500 each with one reel priced at over a £1000 on ebay! An incentive to look after them if ever there was.

Best regards,

Ticker (Derek)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
Rod building was a popular pastime in the 70's/ early 80's, enjoyed by many individuals in the pursuit of excellence. I am interested to know what the state of play is in the 21 st Century. Are there still anglers around who have the desire to build their own sticks or is choice limited to choosing from a range of readymade rods? Are there outlets where an individual can purchase rod blanks at will or are those days long gone? There seems to be a plethora of glassfibre/ carbonfibre blanks available for Fly,Coarse, Carp fishing but little if any to satisfy the specific needs of sea angling. I am the first to admit that I am no longer sufficiently informed regarding the todays state of play in this matter. Assuming there are individual anglers who want to build their own rods in preference to buying "readymades", how do they source this ambition today? For what it is worth, the names that immeditely come to mind as big players in the rod blank scene of Yesteryear are Sportex, Futaba and North Western to my knowkledge. I have it in mind that Conolon (?) the manufacturers of the blank for the ABU 484 beachcaster, also sold blanks. Apart from several Japanese specialist spinning rods, I have never bought a readymade! Even my longtime beachcaster was built on the early Zziplex 2000 Sport carbon fibre blank. I am genuinely interested to hear from any individual rod builders and read how they manage to source their ambitions....Thank you.

Best regards,

Ticker (Derek)
 

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Rod building was a popular pastime in the 70's/ early 80's, enjoyed by many individuals in the pursuit of excellence. I am interested to know what the state of play is in the 21 st Century. Are there still anglers around who have the desire to build their own sticks or is choice lmited to choosing from a range of readymade rods? Are there outlets where an individual can purchase rod blanks at will or are those days long gone? There seems to be a plethora of glassfibre/ carbonfibre blanks available for Fly,Coarse, Carp fishing but little if any to satisfy the specific needs of sea angling. I am the first to admit that I am no longer sufficiently informed regarding the todays state of play in this matter. Assuming there are individual anglers who want to build their own rods in preference to buying "readymades", how do they source this ambition today? For what it is worth, the names that immeditely come to mind as big players in the rod blank scene of Yesteryear Sportex, Futaba and North Western to my knowkledge. I have it in mind that Conolon (?) the manufacturers of the blank for the ABU 484 beachcaster, also sold blanks. Apart from several Japanese specialist spinning rods, I have never bought a readymade! Even my longtime beachcaster was built on the early Zziplex 2000 Sport carbon fibre blank. I am genuinely interested to hear from any individual rod builders and read how they manage to source their ambitions....Thank you.

Best regards,

Ticker (Derek)
The market appears to be dominated by factory built rods, with the influx of far east manufacturing allowing competitive prices for the completed product . Make of that what you will.
However home grown products are still available from Century, Zziplex and Harrison, and they provide blanks on request (through most recognised dealers) with Century providing finished rods as a default first option. There are other brands from Italy and Argentina, but they are only usually found in the niche market of tournament casting.

Custom built rods are as ever popular, but the emphasis has gone from light weight builds (despite the progress in making blanks ever lighter, or maybe because of that) to decorating, and potentially dulling the action with over extended whipping, unnecessary under whipping (that is often false anyway, and just a gap filler) and the use of guide leg climbing high builds to “glue” the threads together, instead of relying on the tensioned coils of thread to secure the guide firmly.
To further add senseless weight, high build is also popularly used to protect the decals, which appears to be a “status symbol” proclamation for many, and also a way of protecting their apparent investment when it comes to selling it on. Which often happens, and is particularly prevalent with one famous brand. They have never provided an official, accessible means of informing punters of their products power ratings and where it fits in the range. Apart from early advertising in the early 80’s, word of mouth appears to be the main source of information, with well intentioned listings on forums on the bewildering choice of models from actual users themselves being the most reliable source.
This can still lead however, to false expectations either from the rod, or the caster himself.
Thankfully for myself, the casting courts have provided me with the “hands on” experience of borrowed rods from friends also in that game, and that has often steered me away from the rods beyond my “talent”.
That casting arena is just about the only place where lightness in the build is appreciated, with butcher’s tape used to secure the guides, allowing quick changes to be made in the guide sequence, and coasters the only practical option for reel position experiments. Both are essential for fine tuning for optimum distance. This is the nearest thing to the Cod Pole that Ian Gillespie and John Darling were using and promoting in the mid 70’s.
I still prefer to wrap my guides on though, with good old firmly tensioned old stock “Gudebrod”, and I still appreciate the benefits of a conservative low build finish.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Good afternoon Surflite,
Many thanks for your excellent and informative response to my request for information on the current rod building scene. I agree with everything you say re over-decorating rods and blanks.to the detriment of performance. I understand from your casting results that you are assembling somewhere near Southerndown. If you could provide me with the venue, I would like to come along if weather is o.k, my grandson will bring me along. Once again , I am very appreciative of your interest!

Best regards,
Derek (Ticker)
 

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Good afternoon Surflite,
Many thanks for your excellent and informative response to my request for information on the current rod building scene. I agree with everything you say re over-decorating rods and blanks.to the detriment of performance. I understand from your casting results that you are assembling somewhere near Southerndown. If you could provide me with the venue, I would like to come along if weather is o.k, my grandson will bring me along. Once again , I am very appreciative of your interest!

Best regards,
Derek (Ticker)
I use the WSF casting section as an archive for our casting results, and it goes back over many years.
The following contains most of the answers to questions that inevitably surface when the club is highlighted....

“Surfcast Wales” hold their monthly field casting event near Southerndown, on the last Sunday of the month.
Updates, directions and posting of results can be found on our Facebook page, “Surfcast Wales”.
The club welcomes casters of all standards, and advice is freely given.
Don't worry about any special gear, as most fishing tackle is more than capable, and that is what you want to use anyway when you go back to your favourite mark.
There are so many variables involved in choosing a suitable casting rod, so stick with your fishing rod to start with, as you know it better than any other, and that is what you will be using for fishing, which is really what it's all about.
Most of us bring more than one rod, and we often try each others out, which allows us to "try before we buy" and that saves many an expensive mistake.
We will show you what's required on the day, and that will save you from buying unsuitable gear.
We always have plenty of line and leaders and weights amongst us to get you started, and having a strong leader of high visibility is the most important safety factor.
There is a fee of £10 for membership, to cover the hiring of the field and insurance costs, and when you see what's involved, you will find it's cheap day out!
When you get competitive and want your cast recorded, then the minimum requirement of line diameters are....
100g...0.25mm
125g...0.28mm
150g...0.31mm
175g...0.35mm
There should be a minimum go 8 turns of leader on the reel, and the minimum diameter is 0.65mm for 100g/125g and 0.75mm for 150g/175g.

And finally directions, and the field entrance is at the lay-by on the approach road to Southerndown.

Property Water Ecoregion Map Land lot
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Good morning Surflite and members,

Thank you Surflite for your comprehensive explanation of the workings of Surfcast Wales and for providing the map showing the location of the casting site. By my calculations, the last Sunday in this month (June) is on the 26th.(Confirmation from Surfcast Wales would be appreciated.) Given the opportunity of good weather conditions, this must be a great opportunity for local anglers and others to visit this meet, and watch what accomplished long distance casters can achieve, and how this skill can be applied to regular sea angling. It is definitely a benefit to have this ability in your armoury to call upon when the fish are known to be at distance or to assist in overcoming difficult weather conditions. I attended a seminar on the east coast of England run by the ANGLING team in the 70's, , designed to demonstrate and instruct anglers from all over the countries, in the Pendulum casting style. On returning to Wales I practised what I had learnt and put it to good use on my local beaches with resulting improvements in ray and cod catch rates. It was an essential technique if any degree of success at Dungeness was on the cards during our annual visits with the late John Darling. Apart from carrying out demonstrations at venues around Wales and parts of England, an invitaton to participate in a selection process for the Welsh Federation of Sea Anglers, lead to a demonstration by me of the fledgling Pendulum cast, and the rest is history. My claim to fame for what it is worth, is that I was the first angler in the region to use the Pendulom cast in anger. Since that time, the style has been refined and the inprovements in rod / reel etc technology has led to major improvements in distance over what I could achieve in those days. As a result I have always been a fan of Surfcast Wales and congratulate them on their achievements and their generocity in opening up this important and invaluable Style to anyone interested. Check out the Surfcast Wales FaceBook page! I would encourage any interested sea angler to make the effort to visit and particpate in this event if possible. Now adays I would be lucky to reach the bottom of the garden with a cast, but it has definitely added value to my life down the years, when called upon. I hope to see you at the event (Fingers crossed for fine conditions on the day!)

Best regards,

Ticker (Derek)
 

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Interesting point about bare blanks. I don’t fish off the beach any more only on the boat but the same applies.

It’s hard to find a custom blank you can make your needs.I used to build the odd rod but theses days I have gone to reputable builder as they get a better job and finish as well as drying machines etc.

There is a lot of focus on making a rod look nice… in my pendulum days it was eyes taped onto the rod for a few sessions and then whipped on. Was function over form for me… now I chase bigger species from the boat you need a bit more strength so I’ve got a pair of rods custom made, however it is an art form and there are some excellent rod builders around the best perhaps Dai Llewelyn who is based in Barry and makes it into an art form
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Good morning members,

Long Distance Casting and the Myths!

It could be considered a privilege to be invited to attend the Surfcast Wales tournament casting demonstration on the 26th June 2022 (weather permitting) to observe some of the best long distance casters in the region and enjoy the associated advice and instruction. Granted these fellows are achieving extraordinary distances over a measured court using top of the range technology rods and reels tuned to perfection but they all probably started with "normal" sea fishing gear. Who best to advise and show what can be achieved with shop rods and reels, if not to reach these stellar heights of casting perfection, but how to get the best out of their current gear! Apart from enjoying the spectacle , this is an opportunity to talk to the casters and get tips, advice and maybe a demonstration, showing how individuals could with practice, significantlly improve their casting distance on the beach , maybe with modifications to terminal tackle, but definitely with a "relaxed" modern casting style. There is no reason why any individual, encouraged by the spectacle, couldn't go on to achieve equally stellar distances on the court, setting up with the appropriate Top Gear! There is no substitute for a meticulously measured casting pitch for exposing the trurh of one's perceived casting ability. Often the reality comes as a bit of a shock ! Neither the proverbial pacing out a cast on the beach or Goal post distances are credible agents of an anglers casting performance. Don't believe any claims about casting distances out to sea, they are notoriously inaccurate. If interested why not pencil in the date Sunday 26th June on the calendar. Keep an eye on the Surfcast Wales Facebook page for any changes or cancellations.
Best regards,

Ticker (Derek)
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Good afternoon members,

Preparing for Pendulum!

One of the first areas on a rod that I would check before commencing any instruction in the Pendulum casting style, was the reel seat position whether A Readymade or D.I.Y. built rod, as this can be the most important if not critical, stumbling block when moving from an untrained style to a rewarding style like the Pendulum. You can all try this test!

(1) Place the butt end of the fishing rod comfortably in the arm pit, stretch your arm, relaxed not taut, towards the current reel seat position on the butt section, grip the rod as if you were completing a cast with the thumb on the spool (multiplier reel) or releasing line following the cast with a Fixed Spool reel. Ask an assistant to mark this position with chalk or pencil at the location on the butt section, take a measurement. This is the starting point for establishing the readers personal/ individual reel seat position. If carried out honestly on a readymade or D.I.Y rod butt, it is possible that the trial will indicate that the reel seat in situ has to be repositioned above or below its current siting. What I would do myself and encourage a pupil to copy, is tape the reel (M or F/S) firmly but temporarily to the mark on the butt , gently try some trial casts, altering the temporary reel position up or down until completely satisfied and able to perform a comfortable cast.

I suspect that if you visit the Surfcast casting site as per map on this thread on the 26th June, you will see some casters with reels set at the bottom of the butt section I never succeeded in mastering this technique maybe you will !

Best regards,

Ticker (Derek)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 · (Edited)
Good evening members,

Putting Your Best Foot Forward...Long Distance Casting !

The title is a reference to the importance of the stance when employing the popular Pendulum casting style. The positions of the feet and their distance apart is critical for retaining balance during the athletic procedure of swinging the lead backwards away from the body, then forward to the level of the shoulder, a split second pause followed by the body twisting to face forward (in the direction of the sea) simultaneously pulling the lead down, around and up to the point of release. The conclusion of a well performed cast is extremely pleasing, the whistle of the line streaming off the reel as if it is never going to stop.

Back in the yesteryear, Ray fishing off the beach was very welcome, starting circa early to latish April, depending on the severity of the weather during the previous months. Even then before climate change was on the agenda, heavy falls of snow and severe frosts were not unusual at this time of the year. The beach I regularly fished was stunningly unpopulated for years. Analysing the Tide Table booklet to highlight the big Spring tides, calculating the time of low water, I would arrive at the beach about an hour before turn of the tide, using this time to hammer (mallet) the monopod into the hard sand and tackle up in readiness for the show of the new flood. Bait was a lot simpler and less complicated in those days yet equally successful. Remove the "Bell" from the squid, open it out flat and cut it into narrow (1" at widest part) triangular shaped pieces 6 to 8 inches long. The wide end of one triangle was looped over the hook point and secured with cotton thread. Pendulum cast the trace, clipped down 12 inch baited snood and 5 ounce Breakaway lead as far as possible into the distance, aiming for the deep channel reportedly situated just beyond casting distance, where the rays were thought to be resting before moving in with the new tide. It seemed at the time that the speed with which the rays moved into the shallows either to drop their eggsacks or to feed was influenced by the climate on the day. At this time of year , the sun when it showed was fairly weak, but never the less the impression was that even this modest warmth was sufficient to encourage the rays to move in faster than if there was no sun and particularly following a heavy,hard frost which appeared to delay their advance. Three hours from turn of tide was the max I would spend on the beach, which experience would suggest was the most active part of the tide, for me anyway! The rod standing high in the monopod, with the tip bending to the sea was impressive, the usual slack line bite, rod straightening and a run inshore was the usual show of a successful hook up. I fished for the rays off the side of Witches point, but I must admit the beach was my favourite!!

Best regards,

Ticker (Derek)
 

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Afternoon Derek @Ticker . Interesting account of some of your Ray fishing. That beach still produces good numbers of rays but is used a lot more during the daytime by beach goers and dog walkers. Night low waters as on many beaches are by far more productive. Smalleyeds in particular are the main species, although the others still put in an appearance. Was it the same in your experience ?
Plain squid is still a regular bait along with mackerel and the more readily available these days, frozen sandeel and bluey baits. however the modern vogue is to fully wrap and streamline our baits to reduce the flapping and drag caused by lightly hooked ones.
I assume you were using fibre glass rod blanks. What distances do you believe you were fishing at ?
The deep channel does exist and can be see on Navigation charts. ( I have marked a distance of 300ft / 100yds ) as a guide to the distance.

Water resources Map World Line Water


On the bigger spring tides and with modern rods and techniques I'm sure this area of fishing is more readily achieved .
I often wonder what could have been achieved if us older guys had had the tackle and techniques that modern anglers have at their disposal. Then again the fishing back then was so much different. A 10lb shore cod today is a great achievement whereas in the 60's they were quite common before declining in the late 70's and onwards.
Still that was then and now is now. We all have to move with the times, while still acknowledging the developments of the past and utilise to our advantage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Good afternoon Notso,

Thank you for confirming the existence of the channel. The reason I always and only fished the big and biggest tides at low water, was because it was the one opportunity plus a Pendulum cast, to get anywhere near or within reach of the target area, the perceived channel. It proved to be good logic, and usually the first 3 hours of the new flood provided enough action to satisfy me, even in daylight. The bulk of the fish caught were small eyed rays with the occasional thornback thrown in.(Never saw a Dogfish!) The original beachcaster I used was a beefy stick, not sure of the manufacturer probably from the Fibatube stable, got a feeling it was fitted with an aluminum butt. It was popular amongst my Swansea /Neath friends and a very capable stick against the local cod. Eventually, I purchased one of the early Zziplex blanks (through my rod business) the 2000 Sport which was a good performer, yet a pleasant experience when playing a fish at distance at the likes of Dungeness. As I said in a previous post, estimating distance of casts over the sea is "notoriously inaccurate" so I have no idea what distances were being achieved, apart from the fact that fish interest was forthcoming at distance not long after the tide had turned. As I have said many times before the ray episodes were a welcome experience when not many species were available and a prelude before the bass. The "privacy" and the general ambience of the venue was very much appreciated, a situation rare today for the modern angler due to Social media. I agree that the fishing was different back in the day but a 10lb Cod was applauded then as now, and fish in double figures were caught fairly regularly along the shore of the upper reaches of the B.C., from Swansea through Ogmore on to Barry, Cardiff and beyond. I can remember getting an excited telephone call (Mid 1980,ish) from a friend who lived in Cardiff (one of my casting proteges) that he had landed a 20 lb Cod off the pebbles of the Knap, at distance. He said he was going down to the pebbles again the following evening and I agreed to meet him. On reaching Barry, getting out of the warm car I was hit by a freezing frost that took your breath away. I located my friend, bent over another double figure cod 21 lbs from the same vicinity of the previous, at circa the same time in the evening. I.M.O.likewise re-living personal fishing events from the past could be benificial to the intelligent anglers of today who like me in the early 60's (60 years ago, married with two boys).looked at sea angling at the time and decided there has got to be more to sea angling than was generally accepted. We were very lucky we had top role models in the names of the late John Darling, Ian Gillespie, Digger Derrington and Brian Harris ,editor of ANGLING magazine to name but a few, to lead from the front in new tactics, techniques some of which were game changers like the principle of the "breakaway" lead..
I have to say that at the time and looking back I am more than happy with the results of those days in terms of ray catches from this venue, with the gear and knowledge available.at the time.

\Best regards,

Ticker (Derek)
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Good evening members,
With regard to the Surfcast monthly casting session due to take place on Sunday 26th June between 11.00 am and 02.00pm, I have researched the weather prediction for that day as attached below. I appreciate that this forecast is a week in advance, and anything can change in between, but on this showing the prospects look positive. I will keep a wary eye on the daily predictions.

Product Font Rectangle Line Office equipment

Best regards,

Ticker (Derek
 

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Ticker, your article in Sea Angling Monthly titled "Ray's a Laugh" back in the early 80's inspired me to explore this area, as I was still focused on my local Cardiff marks.
And "that book" (Bass Fishing in South East Wales, original issue) was lent to a "friend" and never returned. You know who you are..........
 
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