When you hear the term “Traditional carping”, different people think of different things, and I guess it all depends on what era you’re from personally. For the gentleman who was around on the late fifties/early sixties it would mean fishing venues such as Beechmeere, Redmire Pool and Woldale. It would mean using cane Mark IV rods coupled with Mitchell reels or centrepins using bread paste and potatoes as bait and their heroes would be men such as Jack Hilton, Dick Walker and Maurice Ingham. Now if that angler fished in the seventies he may be using fibre glass rods with Cardinal reels, monkey climbers and have heroes such as Rod Hutchinson and Chris Yates and use the first prototype boilies or particles, I class this more “old school” than traditional. But for an angler such as myself, a relative newcomer, traditional carping is about what I choose it to be, having not fished through any of the aforementioned eras, I am at liberty to see traditional carping however I see fit, and having deep interest for carp fishing in the early, pioneering days, I choose the early Redmire days as the golden era and the one that conjures the most passion.
My involvement in this subject doesn’t bore as deep as some, I’ll admit to owning a couple of cane rods and fifty year old reels, but do not fish exclusively with this tackle, I enjoy the odd summer day session on a quiet pool, preferably away from the crowds watching a brightly painted quill with the Kelly kettle roaring away and a few pretty carp for angle for, and they don’t particularly have to be big carp, just as long as they are good looking and hard fighting. There is something reminiscent of childlike innocence when fishing in this manner, and it can be just as exciting as any other form of angling. But for the main part I use the most modern tackle I can to help in my pursuit of whatever species I’m angling for, something the likes of Walker and Ingham did, even Issak Walton, they used the most modern tackle available in order to give them the best possible chance of success. It’s possible that Chris Yates, public figure that he has been, kick started the trend of using vintage tackle by the exposure his methods and style received in that much loved series, A Passion for Angling, that series of short films aired on our screens was revolutionary in as much as it appealed to the non-angler and went far to explain why we do it to those who didn’t get it.
For me, traditional angling can be whatever you want it to be, but I believe it is more about the values than the methods practiced, tackle used or even clothes worn, it is more a state of mind, to fish on your terms and in your own way. It’s true that I enjoy regular trips to legendary Redmire Pool, the home of carp fishing for me for it was there that big carp started to get angled for and caught by design. Much of the pioneering work carried out by the Carp Catchers Club took place on other waters such as Woldale and Mapperley Reservoir, but all the hard work and ideas were put into place, and successfully I might add, at Redmire. A string of big fish were being landed, some of which shook the angling world, fish that most thought couldn’t be caught on rod and line, fish that some didn’t even think existed, and that was the difference that band of gentlemen made to our sport, we have merely expanded on their ideas to evolve carp angling to what it is today.
There is much literature to be found if one sought information of said era, books by “BB”, Maurice Ingham, Richard Walker, Jack Hilton to name but a few, can provide information and stories from the days when carp fishing was in its infancy. I read a lot of these books and their writing styles are simply beautiful, the tales they tell are most exciting and you can feel the atmosphere simply oozing from the pages. Active novelists include Chris Yates, telling tales of more recent times but still capturing and practicing those values, encompassing that closeness to nature we all yearn. His books can draw you deep inside almost making you feel like a third party, there with him witnessing every moment, every loss and every triumph. Then there are the websites, one in particular is a fairly new forum I am involved with, the Traditional Fisherman’s Forum has been online since August of last year and has gone from strength to strength. We have members from all walks of like too, from veritable whippersnappers like me, to legends that were there when it was all happening. The amount of information on all aspects of traditional fishing is mind blowing and with over 160 members it is proving to be very popular. Discussions on tackle, pools and rivers, the fish and the legends of yesteryear are just a few of the subjects covered by a group of gentlemen, and that’s just what they are, no tempers fraying, all polite, diplomatic discussion carried out by a bunch who love their fishing and want nothing more from life but to carry out their favourite pastime however they see fit. If you fancy saying hello some time, log onto www.traditionalfisherman.co.uk
So you see there is no hard and fast rule as to how you should fish, the values we traditionalists share to are simple, do whatever it is that makes you happy in a manner that fulfils your desire to catch fish, after all, that’s what we’re in it for, but don’t be too unhappy if you fail, for a day fishing beats a day doing anything else. If the path you choose means using a cane rod catching small carp from your local pool then brilliant, but it’s not really about what’s in your hand, it’s what’s in your heart that really matters.