Tackle Old to New – My Journey

How it all came about for me, discovering tackle.

When I first started carp fishing seriously (most weekends and some nights), I was on a garden chair under a brolly trying to stay up as long as possible and sleeping on the ground in an old sail bag that my dad gave me. Then came the plastic sheet wrapped around the brolly and tucked under the brolly spoke to hold it in place. This didn’t last long when the wind picked up.

Things have changed so much in the chair, bedchair, brolly, bivvy front since 1981 when I started out night fishing.


The original nash canvas bivvy was a brilliant step forward and kept you warm through the winter months. It was great fun to pack up in the wet or when a frost was about. It was like folding cardboard. Now look at what you can get, even if you are on a small budget, you can kit yourself out very well. If you’re not worried about money, then Aqua products are probably the top of the range, you have so many brands to pick from.

The same can be said about bedchairs and chairs. I started out on a garden chair and slept on the floor and progressed to an Argo’s sun lounger in bright orange! If you where lucky you could get a blue one! I use to peg my one to the ground, firstly I would dig grooves in the ground and then peg it down. Why, you ask? Simply because they were a death trap.  They would clamp and fold up on you in the middle of the night and if you where zipped up in your bag, it was pretty hard to get out.  A couple of my friends used a piece of wood with a v cut in each end to wedge the legs open, this stopped the folding up, but not the  tipping forwards or backward!  It was a great laugh fishing in those days.

They were a few more choices on reel front; Mitchell, Cardinals and the odd sea reel.  They were no way near as many as there are today.  I used the cherner method, which was just basically let the reel spin round on the take and grab it hoping to smash your knuckles on the reel handle (if it was spinning very fast).  Today you have the option of bait runner’s, fantastic front drag system for a free spool set up.

Rods – from fiberglass to carbon fibre.  It’s been an amazing journey and the development put into carp fishing alone is amazing.  We can party thank F1 & Military based technology companies for passing down the line the breakthroughs and advancements.  A little unknown fact about Century Rods is that it’s a subdivision of an armoury company in the body armour side of things (and probably more). The distances and playability of modern rods is such a leap forward.


Once upon time, which is not so long ago, buzzers were a complete dream for me.  A few coins balanced on the spool and a tin lid for them to land on, was all we had to wake you up in the middle of the night.  Then came the Heron alarms, which at the time, I couldn’t afford.  But after a while, a few other similar ones arrived.  The Optonic was born, but you did need to listen out as they were very quiet, even with the sounder box (which had 2 ft leads), unless you made some up yourself, which generally was all that was happening in that era of fishing.  Then Dell & Kim arrived with their Optionic conversions by adding a speaker from a telephone, that’s an old fashion phone and this changed the fishing world forever.  There’s a bit more to the Delkim history.  It however, wasn’t an overnight revolution, it still took a long time for the fishing industry as we known it today to be born.  I should mention that you could also get Bamford conversions as well.  In the early 80’s & 90’s there where still only a few fishing brands, these started slowly in garages/sheds and then took the world by storm.


Fox, Nash, Delkim, Solar – Some History

From what I can remember, the first hooks I used for carp were clearly not man enough for the job and I broke a few.  My worst recollection was 3 broken hooks in the space of a couple of hours, looking back, it’s was pretty amazing to get any takes in those days.  This did me a flavour, as I headed off to the tackle shop and got some much better ones, can’t remember what they were and they did bank me a fair few carp,

End tackle was pretty simple, size 8 swivel and mono hook links.  This was until I discovered Dacron hook links, I started running rigs and then moved on to bolt rigs, which I can’t believe didn’t kill more carp.  This was probably because the line was so poor quality, I didn’t discover hair rigs until about 1984, which is the year my carp fishing completely took over.  Previously, I was happy to catch anything even though I was doing nights but in 1984 a group of us headed off to Weybread Pits on the Norfolk Suffolk boarded and that was it.  I was completely hooked as they say and still going 35 year’s later.  How things have changed over the years.  It was a slow process and some of the tackle was pretty cheap and rubbish, but the industry learned the hard way and sometimes things just got better.  They then started to think what does the angler need and now they have moved onto comfort and well-built products.


When I started out, you basically used what they call Arlesey bombs, which I thought at the time was a term for a large lead.  Little did I know its history.  I just remember that it was hard to find big leads and I hadn’t thought of sea leads, making my own or even getting a tackle shop to do it.  In those days Match/Sea fishing was the thing and tackle shops were not overly interested in carp fishing, let alone a young sixteen years old trying to buy carp tackle.  But now everyone knows someone that makes leads in their shed and there are so many small cottage companies leads making these days.

Not really sure which line I started out with, but I soon moved over to Slycast line black & sorrel from what I can remember.  I don’t remember having many issues with line, probably due to the lack of carp over 20lbs!  I permanently used 8lb line in those days and stepped it up a bit for pike fishing in the winter.  Over the years, there has been a dramatic change in line technology, which is brilliant.  Back in the 1980’s, line dimeter was very thick and would reduce casting agility.  Today this is one of the key points line companies are permanently endeavouring to reduce, abrasion is another key area.

Clothing back then for me was just your everyday stuff; jeans, cords, a warm coat and wellies.  Boy, did I get cold feet!  I’m sure I am paying for it now, as whatever I buy my feet are cold.  I’ve tried sketeex field boots, Baflin boots, all sorts of socks and they just don’t cut it, my first ever pair where the Boom 80 Boots.

I mostly where walking clothing these days as underlayer and them a fishing hoodie, as I have yet to find a tackle brand that combats the outdoor conditions better.  In their defence, why spend the money on development when the outdoor clothing company have already invested millions and they can’t get it right unless you buy the real top brands.  You can’t really justify that expense for the short period of time you would wear them e.g. waterproof clothing.  I suppose there must be a good brand that I just have not tried, I can’t believe the match anglers would sit out in the rain and cold without good kit.

Cooking wasn’t too bad, as camping was/is quite popular, but the kit was very chunky and I used a normal pan to cook with.  But we did eat pretty well and none of the pot noodle rubbish.  Modern stoves and cooking equipment is much more compact and a lot lighter, the Ridgemonkey toaster is brilliant and could be used for so much more than toasting sandwiches.  I’ve warmed up baked potatoes, omelettes, chilli, the list is pretty endless and I am sure most anglers may eat better than they do at home, but don’t tell the wife.


Wheelbarrows, where clearly not an option.  I first started out with an old style pram with the baby carriage removed, I then chopped down a barrow and just used the frame.  I was quite lucky on one lakes I fished for a few years, I could park behind all the swims.  Then carp porters arrived, which changed the amount of tackle you could take.  The downside of a booming tackle business was more and more tackle started to get stolen, this was a real shame.  You need to get your tackle from the car to the swim in one go and for the older or disabled angler’s there are even motorized ones, which I am sure I will end up with.


How and why it I started Carp Fishing

The moment that I discovered the true power and of coarse one of the pivotal moments was fishing Llandroed Wells carp lake back in the late 70s.  My parents dropped me off there for the day and went walking for the day.  I bagged a few bream and was very happy and then I hooked a carp.  I had no idea it was a carp.  I had it on a size 16 hook and even the tackle I was using was very old at the time.  I had it on for what felt like a life time and I so nearly got it in the net.  When I say net it, I’d worked out there was clearly no way it was going in there.  So I did my best to get it in the keep net, but it was not meant to be and my recollection has faded but I reckon I still could find the swim as I can clearly picture the swim.  That day carp were topping everywhere, I can distinctly remember that and how it changed me.  There is another incident that I so nearly caught my first carp that sticks in my mind forever.  It was on a farm near Framingham in Suffolk, there were 3 small ponds and used to love fishing on them after the crucian carp.  One day, I fancied giving the small one a go, which had one swim and was surrounded by reeds.  I hooked this fish and spent another life time getting out of one set of reeds, only for it to charge off into the other set.  It then finally shed the hook, without even an attempt to get it in the net. But the seed was sown.

First Carp

Latest Carp

I moved on to other small lakes until I started work and joined GAPS.  I took the first week of the session off back in 1981 and by chance had a conversation with someone in a office I had visited.  He suggested that why don’t I fish the night, I was only ledgering at night and float fishing in daylight hours and started to enjoy Tench fishing.  I did most nights when I could and even made up my own boilie mixture at home.  To my amazement I had a few bites that snapped the hook, little did I know at the time these were carp.

One particular night, one of the more friendly carp anglers spent a good two hours talking to me about my fishing and if I tried carp fishing.  He explained, firstly I would catch more tench which I loved and secondly there was a good chance of a carp.  As I was doing night’s it would make sense and so it began.

Until next time







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About richardhandel

I would like to give a brief snap shot of my life and introduce myself; My name is Richard Handel and was born in 1965 in Suffolk. I have worked as a UK Operation & Intermodule Manager for a shipping company. I live in Hampshire now and am married with 2 young children, both girls so I am a bit outnumbered even the cat is a girl! I have been fishing since I was about 7 years old. I started on small local rivers in Suffolk, then moved onto gravel pits and then carp fishing. My personal best is a 39.08 mirror, over recent years I have started river fishing again, on the Hampshire Avon, this is a nice break from the carp lakes. My life has turned a big corner this year, the company I was working for relocated their Operation centre to Estonia. I was offered a job at the head office in London. This would have meant a 5 day commute and working in Stratford. As a family, we did not fancy this, as I would hardly spend any time with the children (and the Mrs). So after 22.5 years, I was given a nice redundancy package and with my wife is working full time. I became the house husband. This has meant a complete turn around in my fishing, as I can pick and choose when I go. I have found a splendid new syndicate to fish this year, which includes 5 lakes and some 8 miles of river with only 150 members. It's an amazing change to the way I am able to fish. I am now trying to start my own tackle business and make a bit of a name for myself in the world of fishing, as I have retired from real work. Richard
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