20 May – Another Southwell

Manchester City 6 – Watford 0. I’m not a football person. I only watch the Cup Final. However, the game was compelling and I completely forgot about a very important appointment. I’d had a tip off about another Southwell fly rod. It wasn’t hiding, it had worldwide exposure and I was expecting to be outbid. As the clock ticked down through the final twenty seconds of the auction I increased my bid and awaited the usual flurry of activity from snipers. There was none, perhaps the collectors were all Man City fans out on the beer.

I collected the rod and examined it in detail, it was 9′ 3″ and whipped with scarlet silk. The colour of the silk had been preserved with dope before the varnish was applied, a sure sign of a professional rod builder. The rod was named ‘Chew Valley’ in Indian ink just above the handle. The reel fitting, ferrule and rod rings were correct. The nodes in the cane alternated and were hot pressed. The rod tip felt steely and the quality of the dark coloured split cane was obvious.

I had a brief meeting in Petworth and then drove to the northern part of the Estate to christen the rod. It was a beautiful afternoon and the Mayfly were hatching all over the lakes. Clouds of male Spinners fluttered under the trees and over the short grass between Great Springs and Little Springs. Duns were hatching around the edge of Little Springs and the surface of the water was covered with crippled Duns, shucks and spent Spinners. The fish were wandering around, leisurely sipping in tasty morsels. A Trout even picked off a couple of nymphs under the Potamageton leaves just a rod length from the bank.

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I threaded the Rio # 3 line through the rod rings and gave the rod a waggle. It felt floppy but with reserves of power. I chose a Mayfly with a quill body and olive hackle point wings. It was a convincing imitation of a crippled Dun. I kept low and presented the fly to a passing fish which ignored it. A few casts later a fast moving Trout rose and grabbed the fly. It seemed surprised by the hook. I watched the rod as the fish took line, lots of line. The rod had a tip action, I wondered if it had a compound taper. I felt every thump of the fish through the cane. I released the Trout from the landing net and left the fly sticking in my trousers to dry while I paused for thought.

The action of the rod was unique. It was slow and graceful but when the rod unloaded at the end of the cast, it gave a little kick. Just like a Mk IV Carp. When the fly had dried I covered a couple of cruising fish both of which took the fly but came unstuck. I eventually hooked and landed a second Trout which fought long and hard, almost making it to the opposite bank. I presented a selection of Mayflies to the feeding Trout but the fish rose then sheered away. Educated fish.

I moved around the lake to the shallows between the two trees and caught a third fish from under the tree on my left. It took a teal winged imitation of a Spinner. I crept further along the bank towards the big Oak tree andย swapped to a French Partridge imitation of an emerging Dun. I had two aggressive takes and missed both, I was so surprised by the Trout that I lifted the rod too soon.

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Having put the fish down I walked back around the top of the lake to the second point and found a good fish feeding on nymphs. It followed them vertically to the surface and grabbed the nymphs just before they could hatch. I dropped a Hare’s Ear nymph weighted with fine copper wire into the deep water close to the rushes. The leader twitched and I lifted. I felt a good fish tweak the line and it was gone. I cast a little further from the bank and watched the leader, it drew away from me and I hooked my fourth fish. I landed the Trout and caught a fifth from the last point.

I’d caught three Trout on Mayflies and two on a nymph and although I had the lake to myself and the fish were still feeding, I’d had enough.

I was very pleased with the rod. Its action is completely different to my other cane rods. I fished for nearly four hours, both right and left handed, without any pain. The latest addition to my small collection will surely become my favourite cane rod.

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