For the last year or so I've fished almost entirely using centrepin reels. I've had a Leeds 'pin for years now and a Marco Cortese model which cost next to nothing but which works really well. Having watched someone who really knows what they're doing play a large fish on a 'pin - yes, I'm talking about you Sean - I fell in love with the whole idea.
At first this expressed itself in a purely acquisitive way. I purchase first a Matt Hayes pin, then a TFG Classic, then a Youngs Purist II and finally an old Trudex. In their own way they are all things of beauty and they're practical too - especially for the kind of fishing I normally do. But having ventured out to the river yesterday, I'm starting to have second thoughts.
The field down to the Adur was like the Somme. Completely saturated, riven with hoofprints, most inches deep in water. It was treacherous as only a wet, muddy field can be and I wasn't looking forward to the walk back in the dark. Still, there were no other cars in the farmyard so it looked as though I'd have the river to myself.
I baited up the swim with liquidised bread, then tackled up with the John Wilson travel rod and Purist II, 4lb line straight through, a size 8 and a lump of home-made cheesepaste. I swung the bait into the water, settled the rod in the rest and then sat back to await results. I didn't have to wait long. There was a slight tug, then a cartoon chub bite, as if a five year old had grabbed hold of the other end and was trying to pull me in. This unmissable bite resulted in the chub you see here. Probably about three pounds, in good condition, though perhaps with an emptier-than-usual belly. Which could explain that bite.
Next cast a had another, very similar bite. Then another, then the cast after that, another just the same. You'll notice that I'm not going on to describe the fish or the fight for any of these bites, which is because I missed them all. Every single one. It took an hour before a landed another, much smaller chub, before finishing off the day with one that would have weighed somewhere in the middle. Thirty minutes before he turned up, I hooked and then lost a much bigger fish which bit through the line. I think it might have been a pike.
I reckon the reason I missed all those bites was because of the 'pin. On several occasions, I didn't quite grip the reel hard enough when I struck and I could feel a certain sagginess in the strike; not much, but enough to make me wonder. Next time then, it'll be the Shimano fixed spool for me (but otherwise the same setup) and we shall see what we shall see.
Rob Beattie is the author of several popular fishing books. He's also a regular contributor to Waterlog magazine.