Personally, I don't normally buy Sea Angler magazine these days due to a lack of innovative content but I have to congratulate the guys over at Sea Angler HQ for a wonderful May/June publication. The reason why issue 453 stands out is that it features a 35-page special on bass tackle and techniques - in fact the only reason I picked it up from the newsagent shelf was that the cover showed some Japanese, Varivas braid and a fancy looking lure. A quick flick through revealed articles on plugging estuaries from the boat, and an interesting looking review of modern bass fishing by Henry Gilbey, complete with shots of a Tenryu Red Dragon Express, a Van Staal and a box full of attractive soft plastics. As well as a nice looking feature from bass guru Dr Mike Ladle, a 5-page review of 15 bass rods looked well chosen at first glance. £3.35 later (I think it was £2.80 when I last bought it!), I was rushing back home to get stuck in.
The best articals, as you might expect, were from guest writers Henry Gilbey and Dr Mike Ladle on how plugging/spinning for Bass is changing here in the UK, lead mostly by Japan who fish for a close relative of our European bass, and in-turn, closer to home, France which in recent years has caught 'bass fever' big time.
Gilbey mentions his own concerns in how he has become more obsessed with fishing tackle since moving into the world of specialised bass fishing. I can sympathise here. I'm sure many of us have concerned ourselves over just how dependant or interested we have become with the tackle we use - at times feeling stronger than that of the angling itself. I agree that specialist lure angling is especially encapsulating in this way and relate Henry's comments to my own angling development when I got into lure fishing whilst in Australia, 2005. I was backpacking at the time and irrational decisions ensued over what 'essentials' I should throw out to make room for 'just one more new lure' were testament to the draw of this new area of my sport. Henry, I feel for you.
In a separate article Gilbey gives a long-term review of a new breed spinning rod - the 8ft long, Grauvell Teklon Concept Spin. The second line indirectly hints at how this new thinking of spinning tackle is being driven in the UK; "Take these two Grauvell Teklon Concept spinning rods imported from Japan by Barcelona-based Grauvell for the Frenchmarket." This new tackle is very much hand-me-down material, but don't let that put you off - the quality and innovation from Japan is first class. Henry goes some way to explain how the thinking in rod length has changed. From 10 and 11 foot spinning rods to stiffer 8ft rods, and shorter. The objectives here are 'feel' and 'control'. With a longer rod both are compromised. Newer plugging techniques like walking-the-dog and popping often require sudden, induced movement to attract the fish. With a longer rod your efforts are more likely to be softened, or indeed absorbed by extra length and a soft rod - hence the development of shorter rods with faster actions. I must admit, I blundered into this thinking with no real logic. When I travelled around Australia I had limited space so chose an 8ft travel rod. It was only later that I was delighted to discover that seasoned Aussie lure anglers favoured shorter rods, and so a beautiful partnership blossomed. For your information, the rod was a 4-piece Fox Trek 8 Spin 20-50G travel rod - a rod I still use today. Highly recommended as an all-rounder, although slightly heavy for plugging all day.
It was a shame that Sea Angler didn't back up this new thinking from the guest writer with a rod test that supported and guided anglers towards the latest design rods - I'm sure a number of anglers would have been enthused by the feature and been looking for guidance on how to get kitted out. Out of the 15 rods featured, the Grauvell Teklon Concept Spin again got a mention, as well as the 2.10m Tubertini Dorado Spinning Rod and the 8ft Savage Gear Bushwacker XLNT, but alas the majority were all more traditional bass & spinning rods. It's not a massive critisism as I'm sure that's what the majority market expects, but it would be nice to see the UK's leading angling press 'lead' the market for a change. That may be naive of me to think that, but I'm always slightly jealous when I read foreign fishing magazines like Loup & Bar (French) and PescaMar (Spanish) that feature the very latest tackle used by more trendy, youthfull anglers who understand how to use and embrace it.
All in all the new bass fishing section lifted my opinion of Sea Angler. I look forward to reading the follow-up to the bass series in issue 454.
An unexpected bonus - as well received as the magazine itself - was the inclusion of Veals' 2010 Bass tackle brochure. Leading on from my comment on magazines playing safe on tackle promotion, it was really encouraging to see a successful tackle retailer like Veals pushing the boundaries by sourcing exciting new tackle from other countries and untapped tackle manufacturers. Check out this list of hot brands now sold by Veals: Jackson | Dice | Megabass | Lucky Craft | Cultiva | Maria | Varivas | Smiths | Sebile | IMA | Tackle House | Daiwa Morethan Branzino | ABU Fantastista. Yes, some of the prices look a little scary but if you love your fishing and you love your tackle, anything new that will improve your angling, or indeed just your confidence is a great investment.
And finally, perhaps the most exciting development from Veals is their decision to import a number of items from the French Daiwa bass range - a brave commitment that hopefully Daiwa UK will take note of. UK bass and lure anglers can now buy some of the most innovative fishing tackle from around the world direct from one of the most trusted of all mail order tackle companies. Gambling on online tackle auctions maybe a thing of the past. If you're interested, I really would recommend you take a look at Veals 2010 lineup.