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Martin James award-winning fisherman consultant,broadcaster,writer


21/01/2014 - Review on Trefor West Chub Rod from Lone Angler

At 76 I’ve certainly had many rods pass through my hands some horrid that shouldn’t have been called a fishing rod, not even suitable for growing beans up. Others have been passable but good enough to help me catch a good fish, or help me make a catch or good enough to win a match. I have had a few which have been excellent that I have used for many years until superseded by better rods. Rods that designers and builders have given us through new materials, blank technology and design.

As a 5 year old with the help of a neighbour we made a nine foot rod with two pieces of garden cane using some old brass ferrules to join the two pieces together, the handle was a small length of black rubber hose cut from a stirrup pump with two thick rubber rings from lemonade stoppers, safety pins were shaped for the guides. This rod lasted just a few months until I was given a 12 foot greenheart fly rod. A few days later I took this monster for a day’s fishing to a local club venue Laughing Waters , having cast out a float fished worm I put the rod on a forked stick then sat down on my small basket. For what seemed ages but was probably a few minutes this monstrosity was nodding up and down like a nodding donkey similar to a pump jack as seen in oilfields. Back home I had a word with Mr Bolton my neighbour who suggest we cut back the rod tip two feet, it stopped the nodding donkey effect but we felt it was too stiff, a few weeks later I swapped that rod for a tank aerial from which we built a 10 foot rod which was ideal for spinning and legering. In those days you could buy a tank aerial rod kit from Exchange and Mart, I reckon they must have sold thousands of kits as it seemed as every angler in the late 1940’s early fifties had such a rod.

A few months later I met Mr Clarkson who wasn’t just a good angler, but made some excellent bamboo rods. With some money from my grandparents I ordered a fifteen foot rod, whole cane butt and middle joint with a split bamboo tip. Matched with a Centre pin reel I used the rod on both still waters and rivers, on the river Beult when it was bank high it performed perfectly. Using a big swan quill float, bored bullet stopped fifteen inches from a size 6 hook baited with a lobworm I caught more than my share of big bream fish often between four and 7lbs. On mild winter days I even caught some nice tench, many pike were caught on this gear some into double figures. I would strike when the float submerged usually hooking the fish in the scissors.

Mr Clarkson was a kind gentlemen who was willing to show me the art of building rods, I was also fortunate to have some relatives who were making cane fishing rods. Within five years I had a good collection of bamboo rods, not only for coarse fishing, but sea and trout fishing. My ten foot bamboo beach caster was put to good effect at Dungeness, Deal, Herne Bay, Ramsgate and Dover. I suppose I’ve been involved for around 60 years in building rods, starting with those early bamboo which had to be split, planed then glued together. In 1952 Dick Walker gave us Rod Building for Amateurs then in 1953 MacGibbon and Kee published Drop Me A Line by Maurice Ingham and Dick Walker, these books really did take rod building forward, at the same time Walkers of Hythe were supplying bamboo rod kits, which greatly increased the number of anglers building their own rods and getting an understanding of how a rod should perform.

In the late 50’s early 60’s some nice tubular steel rods from Accles and Pollock become available in tackle shops along with excellent glass fibre blanks from Sportex a German company. Also at this time some good British made glass blanks were becoming available. Iv'e always felt we didn’t take glass fibre to its full potential, what I like about this material was how you could get a nice soft action rod far more forgiving than carbon fibre. As a Pro-Staff member with American company Thomas and Thomas who are probably one of the best three fly rod manufacturers in the world, we produced some glass fibre rods about 4 years ago which were perfect especially for dry fly fishing. They had the action of cane with virtually the same weight as carbon. These days I use the glass three and four weight rods for all my dry fly fishing.

Some years ago I worked with one of the great rod builders sadly has now passed away, between us we built three rods, a 13 foot big fish float rod, a 12 foot barbel rod and a 11 foot 6 inch chub rod in in three pieces, all rods were finished in green, virtually the same colour as the Lone Angler rods. In fact it took us several months before we got the correct paint job. Today those rods are still in use, I cannot fault them. When I was told a few months ago by Mike O’Neil that a chub rod was on the drawing board, I showed more than little interest in the project. Mike and myself discussed the proposed rod in detail, even to the extent of discussing our ideas on BBC Radio Lancashire. Chub are one of my top species, they are a fish that feed in all conditions from sub-zero water temperatures with thick ice down the margins, too hot airless sunny days and blue sky. Chub in my book are the spookiest fish that swims in freshwater, when spooked they disappear ghost like. That’s a brief history of my involvement in rods and rod building which I feel gives me a right to offer an honest review on Lone Angler chub rod which I should point out I purchased. Also knowing Trefor for many years and his love for chub fishing, our minds probably work in the same direction with tackle baits and fishing techniques.

Just after Christmas my Trefor West chub rod arrived by TNT in a large solid cardboard tube wrapped in lots of bubble pack, the rod was in a black bag, apart from the two sections the bag had a small section holding a small quiver tip that immediately took me back to the 1960’s and the “Winkle Picker” how many anglers remember those. Before they were in the shops East Anglian rod company had a long running of weekly advertisement white type on black so it would show up from the other advertisers in the Angling Times simply saying “The Winkle Pickers are coming” At every match I attended in those days the topic of conservation was “What are the Winkle pickers” In my opinion this item that comes with the chub rod as an accessory isn’t needed, also its fitted with tiny tip guide that will quickly get blocked by rubbish, my advice is use the rod without the tip.

The 10 foot 6 inch two piece all through action is in a delightful green colour much better to look at than a black rod. The test curve is given at 1lb 6 ounces. Having given it a thorough testing for the past 18 days, I reckon its ideal for lines between 4 and 7lbs, having said that in experienced hands it would take 3 to 8lb lines. The end ring is a tight fit which can be removed to take the quiver, I have refitted my tip ring with a dab of superglue. The cork handle from the top to plastic button is 26 inches, I personally would have made the handle 22 inches. 3 inches down from the top of the handle is a quality screw winch fitting. I felt it should be an up screwing fitting. I really did like the nine good size guides, two on the butt, seven on the top joint. The good size hook keeper fitted just above the handle is a must, I hate rods that don’t come with this simple but very important item. I found the rod light to hold, very responsive when setting the hook with a lot of power in reserve even when I have hooked good size fish including brown and sea trout. In fact it would make an excellent rod for those anglers who worm for sea trout. It’s a rod you can hold for hours, as you move from swim to swim in search of your quarry. All you need is a small bag with hooks weights and bait, a bit of sponge to sit on, a landing net with a good long strong handle completes your set up. Rod rests brollies etc. forget them.

As mentioned I have used the rod for eighteen days of consistent fishing under every kind of weather and water conditions one could possibly have during winter months. Gale force nine south westerly wind, hail storms, heavy rain, river conditions varied from normal winter level to bank high, on one occasion on the River Wye it was well over the banks. At no time did I feel I should have a more powerful rod. I have used the rod on the River Ribble with five feet on the gauge, on the Hampshire Avon the river was well over the banks often I stood waist deep in the water for several hours as I bounced bits of sausage sizzle flavoured crust down the stream catching chub. As one of the regular and a top angler who catches many 2lb plus roach Charlie Kemmett said to me one morning, “You certainly know how to fish that bread also that rod looks perfect”. On the river Wye I was told conditions were not worth fishing, I done as I always have when faced by flooded river I gave it my best shot. If you don’t have a bait in the water you can’t catch. I have good water proof clothing and thermals that keep me warm and dry. Having fished in the past up near the Arctic Circle, fished through ice holes in blizzards, there is nothing in this country that will stop me from doing the sport I love. As previously mentioned chub will feed in most conditions, though it's extremely hard to get a bite if snow broth is in the water.

                                                 A Mixed Bag on the Wye

Having fished the flooded Hampshire Avon at Britford for 3 days where I caught chub each day, despite the heavy overnight frost and gin clear water. I reckon they couldn't refuse the sausage sizzle flavoured crust so I would advise all of you to make sure you have a bottle of sausage sizzle spray in your tackle bag. it's not just for barbel, most fish seem to like it even sea and brown trout. Dave and myself left Wiltshire at 6 o'clock on the Wednesday morning making our way to the River Wye, thankfully most of the traffic was in the opposite direction arriving in Ross about 8 o'clock. After a good breakfast we went off to the river, where we found it high and coloured with a water temperature of 42 degrees F, we fished hard all day trying several swims. I didn't get a bite, but David fishing a bit of crust close to a submerged tree missed a great bite as the tip was pulled savagely round.

About 9'clock the following morning we were on the bank of a still rising river Wye, thick banks of very dark cloud greeted us as we arrived in the car park, there was just enough time to get into our chest highs and jackets before the heavens opened up. Nothing we could do about the weather so we chucked some baits, weights and hooks into our tackle bag, then made our way downstream fishing a couple of likely looking spots on the way. After an hour I moved into my third spot a small area between two submerged trees, where I found by using 3 LG shot covered in plasticine I could just hold bottom. Chopping up a dozen lobs I grabbing a handful of mole hill soil then added the chop worms to the soil, before dropping the mix a couple of feet upstream into the submerged branches of the tree. Leaving the swim alone I moved downstream to bait two other likely looking spots, one with cheese paste the other with mashed bread. Taking the water temperature I got a reading of 44 degrees F two up from the previous day.

Back in my first choice spot I started off fishing a lobworm on a size 4 Pallatrax barbless hook, using a small square of rubber band to keep the worm on the hook. Within a couple of minutes I had a confident pull striking the rod hooped over a nice chub was soon netted, no monster but most welcome. After unhooking the fish I left it in the water, hoping I would quickly catch another fish, I did a perch about 8 ounces which was returned but fifteen minutes later I had another chub. After unhooking this fish I asked Dave to take a pic of the brace knowing I would be writing this rod review. Dave having taken a couple of photographs, I trudged off downstream through a flooded field to release the chub back in the river. I caught four more chub like peas in a pod averaging about 3lbs. It was turning into a good session. Half an hour without a bite I fed in some more chopped worms with mole hill soil to get the bait down on the bottom, then moved off to my second swim which had been pre baited with a dozen pieces of cheese paste. Taking off one of the LG shot I baited with a pigeon egg size bit of cheese paste, casting out I allowed the bait too settled on the edge of the crease. I sat holding the rod hoping a fish would pick up the bait, while my attention was drawn to a fast moving bird. I quickly realised I was watching a Peregrine Falcon swooping down then snatching hold of a dove in flight. About two miles downstream of where I was fishing I would often watch these great birds of prey on the cliff face. Five minutes later I felt a light pluck then a determined pull, soon another chub was in the net.

After releasing the fish downstream I returned catching three more chub, cheese paste the successful bait, this was turning into a good day as the Lone Angler chub rod I was field testing was performing as it had done on its previous outings. For twenty minutes I couldn't buy a bite. Calling Dave I suggested it was brew time he agreed. After a mile long walk back upstream we arrived back at in the car park. As we sat drinking tea enjoying wholemeal pasties, we discussed the mornings fishing. Dave said "I've lost six sets of hooks and weights in snags" I suggested some spots he could try, also he should use his weight wrapped in plastacine. After a break Dave went off upstream to fish a big slack water swim he had fished the previous day while I trudged off downstream.

                                  Four Perch A Trio of Chub and A Big Roach

Back in my first choice spot of the morning session I fed in a handful of chopped worms, baiting with a large lobworm I cast out so the bait was a few inches upstream of the downstream submerged bush. Within minutes I had a perch about eight ounces quickly followed by three more perch the best about a pound. Certainly a good choice swim, soon the perch were followed by three chub two on worm one on cheese paste. After a thirty minute blank spell I decided to move upstream to the swim in the bottom of the long meadow close to a big oak. The river had now risen four feet plus, my chosen swim now resembled a small stretch of canal, the water was virtually still. Choosing to fish just two LG shot I cast out to see if the bait would be dragged around in the swim, it didn't move I was in luck. I also chose to switch from a size 4 hook to a size 8 hook and fish a lobworm as the swim had form with quality roach. In the highly coloured water I had great hopes of roach in the fading light. After cutting a forked stick as a rest, I baited the hook then cast to a spot under the overhanging branches of the big oak. Holding the rod and using the rest I squeezed a bit of flake on the line to act as a dough bobbin, twenty minutes later as I was thinking I wasn't going to get a bite the bobbin moved up half an inches seconds later it moved slowly to the butt ring. Striking I felt the unmistakable movement of a good fish, a few minutes later I had a good roach wallowing on the surface, pushing the landing net further out from the bank I slowly eased the roach over the net, it was min the scales gave a reading of 1lb 6 ounces. I reckon my best fish of a good session. One has to be off the water an hour after sunset and with about ten minutes left it was time to call it a day.

Finally if you're looking for a rod that is a joy to use not only for chub but other species, I reckon this chub rod would handle a barbel if you don't hook one close to a snag. The Trefor West Chub Rod from Lone Angler does everything I want from a rod and no doubt I will get another rod in the near future so I have a pair of them for my tench fishing. Please note This review is my personal opinion with no influence from Lone Angler. The only improvement I would like is a length of 11 foot 6 inches in three pieces. Apart from that it’s an excellent bit of kit.



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Martin James Fishing
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