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Features
11 Aug 2017
by Julian Cundiff
We're going back to the nineties!
For many, the Nineties was the golden era...

For many, the Nineties was the golden era, combining the mystique of the Seventies, the excitement of the Eighties but without the overt commercialism of the Noughties and beyond. It certainly made a huge impact on me and many of the guys you read in CARPology cut their teeth in this era. Without further ado, let me remind you precisely why it was the best decade…

Cassien in France was seen by many as the ultimate big fish water

The venues making the headlines

Sadly Longfield was gone in the Eighties but the waters that followed it soon became equally famous in their own right. The Yateley complex which held such valued carp as Heather, Bazil and Single Scale became a breeding ground for the next generation of big fish anglers spawning the infamous Yateley Ya-Hoo Crew many of who still fish today. Carp to fifty-pounds inspired many from that generation to give up everything in pursuit of the fish on that complex.

Three Lakes in Selby was transformed in the early Nineties to a syndicate by Julian Cundiff and by the late-Nineties was producing carp to over forty-pounds which was almost unheard of in the North at the time.

Mangrove and Birch Grove came to prominence through the writings of Angling Publications own Tim Paisley producing carp to high-thirties until Birch Grove in later years had a tragic fish kill.

Three Lakes: one of the most well-known Northern venues during the 90s

Horton received the Longfield survivors and despite some early bad feeling from some (many of who ended up fishing it) produced carp to over fifty-pounds with anglers like Dave Lane and co. making their name at it.

The Grange (both Big and Little) came to prominence with the release of Mainlines all-conquering ‘Grange’ boilie producing carp well into the forty-pound mark.

Harefield shot to fame with the era of Rob Maylin, Martin Clarke, Frogger and Care Bear with carp to forty-pounds too. Layer Pits and Linch Hill went from easy doubles/twenties waters to producing carp to over forty-pounds whilst College Reservoir in Cornwall rose and fell due to the ending of the close season and stocking policy issues… Tilery and Motorway Pond in East Yorkshire produced carp to over forty-pounds and were regarded as an essential step up for many of the North’s well known big fish anglers.

Frampton seemed to appear from literally nowhere with Mike Wilmott catching many good fish to over forty-pounds as it too became one of the circuit waters.

Wraysbury of course made most of the headlines with carp to mid-fifties including the record carp to a number of anglers one of who became probably the most famous carp angler of all… and to think he was known as ‘Terry The Tench’ for some years.

Also making the news were Sutton in Kent, Waveney in Norfolk, The Manor in Essex and of course Cassien in France which was seen by many as the ultimate big fish water before Raduta briefly took its crown only to fall prey to a massive fish kill.

What is incredible, is that some seventeen years on many of these waters are still making the news with only College, Tilery, Waveney and Harefield slipping off the radar. Testament to great stocking policies, good handling and the sheer resilience of the carp that have probably been caught dozens, if not hundreds of times.

One of the ‘Plex’ ranges from Richworth - a bait firm which was riding high during the 90s

How the bait game has changed

As the Nineties passed by, many bait companies started to suffer with a huge increase in smaller garage enterprises setting up and some of the more old school firms just not getting their act together either by design or lack of foresight.

Mainline and the incredible Cell became dominant with Nashbait and Dynamite up there too. However, Rod Hutchinson’s Catchum died a death as did Richworth and Premier Baits in the public eye and Nutrabaits became less influential in
the grand scheme of things.

Three of four main players became dominant forces with hundreds of smaller firms taking what was left. Great marketing, good baits, the right anglers using them and much of the general carp fishing fraternity wanting to (and being able to) use what the leading lights use which wasn’t quite the case in the Nineties.

Top baits (and firms) from that era: Ball Pellets, Micro Mass, Dave Thorpe’s Juicy Peach, Tails Up, SBS Baits

Another big player from the 90s: Nutrabaits and their amazing Ener-Vite Gold mix

How we all got our information

The main player in the Nineties was, without doubt, Carpworld and Carp Clinic from Julian Cundiff which ran many years answering hundreds, if not thousands of questions whilst Tim Paisley’s Carp Leader piece in each issue was often the first article many read, simply because of the lengths Tim went to in order to get things right and to look deeply into the issues that really were making the news in carp fishing. And who can forget Black Flier/Profumo where the ‘names’ of the day were ribbed unmercifully.

In Big Carp the new breed of Southern big carp anglers got their chance with Nigel Sharp, Terry Hearn and co. writing some incredibly influential words about the circuit waters at the time.

Carp Fisher continued to produce the acclaimed ‘Carp Fisher Interview’ feature where leading carp angling personalities were interviewed in depth by Tim Paisley, Julian Cundiff and Paul Selman. From Kevin Maddocks to Terry Hearn, Andy Little to Rod Hutchinson, it really was the golden boot of approval to be interviewed in this magazine.

Crafty Carper was the first truly technical carp fishing magazine and Jim Gibbinson’s pieces on everything from Line-Aligners to ethics were must-read pieces. Advanced Carp Fishing and Catchmore Carp lifted the bar in production terms and under the guidance of a young Jim Foster were the first to go at it with a journalistic approach, interviewing anglers on the bank and in many instances doing the words for them.

Many of today’s magazines still follow this format, employing their own media managers to produce the words instead of the angler or editor in the Nineties.

Influential writers from the 90s: Jim Gibbinson, Bob Roberts, Tony Davies-Patrick, Fred J. Taylor, John Seal, Chris Ball, Leon Hoogendijk, Paul Selman, Paddy Webb, Brian Skoyles, John Carver, Harry Haskell, Martin Clarke, Ken Townley, Alan Smith, Dave Miller, Nev Fickling.

Video before there was YouTube

Julian Cundiff’s Practical Carp Fishing videos and Kevin Maddock’s Carp From The Start were instant best-sellers, concentrating simply on ‘how to’ rather than ‘in session’ with many anglers preferring to watch rather than read for their inspiration and education.

Tim Paisley’s Birch Grove duo was a revealing look at the water and Tim’s approach, whilst Harefield Haulin’ from Rob Maylin was perhaps the most awe-inspiring catch ever to appear on film despite Rob’s attire at the time. I guess it was the Nineties but the colour schemes belonged more to a night out than a night on the bank!

The Fox Guide To Advanced Carp Fishing (a trilogy too) showed that the major manufacturers had wised up to a change from words to film being all-important but within ten years this format would die a death, being replaced by social media in all its forms.Videos were selling in the multiple thousands then yet by the Noughties hundreds would be a result…

The top production from the 90s:
1990 French Carping 3: Chantecoq Haul - Kevin Maddocks and Alan Taylor
1990 Carp Fishing in the Canaries - Dave Plummer and Kevin Nash
1991 Carp Baits - Tim Paisley & Friends
1991 Carp in Session Part 1 and Part 2 - Tim Paisley and John Lilley
1991 Carp Fever 1, 2 and 3 - Kevin Maddocks
1991 Yateley Ya-Hoo Crew - Rob Maylin
1992 Birch Grove Revisited
1992 Harefield Haulin’ Part 1 and Part 2 - Rob Maylin
1992 Mangrove Session Part 1 and Part 2 - Tim Paisley & Friends
1994 Practical Carping 1 and 2 - Julian Cundiff
1996 Withy Pool - Home of Monster Carp & Catfish
1996 Fox Guide to Carp Fishing Parts 1, 2 and 3
1998 Fox Guide to Advanced Carp Fishing Parts 1, 2 and 3
1999 Carpwise Part 1 and 3 - Gardner Tackle
1999 Richworth Carp Baits Exposed - Parts 1 and 2
1999 Rod Hutchinson’s Dream at Madine Parts 1 and 2

The 90s started carp matches as we know them today

Love them or loathe them, the Nineties saw the explosion of carp matches. Horseshoe staged the first one in 1991 which Tim Paisley won in controversial circumstances, the 1994 Sony King Carp Challenge, the 1996 Fishabil World Carp Cup and in 1999 the start of the British Carp Angling Championship.

The ultimate 90s set-up: Fox CamLok Goalposts, Fox Rod Loks, Shimano 4500 GTs, Daiwa Infinity rods and Fox Micron alarms

The era of real innovation

From out of nowhere (well, out of working for Natwest) Korda burst onto the scene and have been on an upward trajectory ever since. The ebb and flow of the Nash and Fox power bases and the end of pure innovation and more fine-tuning and copying. Daiwa and Shimano went head-to-head on the reel front with their big spool and rear drag beasts, the birth of the Titan and Fox Microns plus the big tackle dealer’s state of the art catalogues (Penge, Jack Frost, Tackle Box, Walkers of Trowell etc.). Sadly the larger tackle dealers gain was the end of the corner shop tackle dealers. In time many of the big boys were put out of the business by the internet.

Pre-Microcat bait boats. The Broadland Bait Launcher measured over 2.5ft long and could hold a whopping 1lb of bait!
Who remembers Nash Tackle’s circular landing net?
Before the Spomb! John Bryhn (Bankside Developments) Spods were the staple diet of all bait bags
Nashy and Gary Bayes showing off their latest Titan model at one of the carp shows

30 revolutionary products…
1. Shimano 3500 and 4500 Baitrunner reels
2. And then the 5010, 6010 and 8010 Aero Double-Handle reels
3. Daiwa Tournament 5000T and 6000T
4. The Baitrunner Conversion Caps
5. Shimano Big Pit Baitrunner
6. Daiwa Twist Buster system
7. Daiwa Dictator and Amorphous rods
8. Tri-Cast rods
9. Century’s Armalite rods
10. Rod Hutchinson Dream Maker rods
11. Bruce Ashby’s Spod rod
12. Fox Micron bite alarm range
13. GR60, Daiwa Sensor, Berkley Big Game and Amnesia
14. Rod Hutchinson Sabrebraid
15. Shimano Technium
16. Nash Titan
17. The dome tent - namely from the Hutchinson camp
18. Three-legged bedchairs from JRC and Fox
19. Fully adjustable rod pods
20. John Bryhn (Bankside Developments) Spods
21. Broadland Bait Launchers
22. Essential’s Comet and Terrapin Leads
23. Kryston’s Superstiff and No Tangle
24. Bi-Tech Viper bite alarms
25. Nash Wasp Indicators
26. Super XL Optonic
27. Century’s Big Bertha
28. Goalpost rod set-ups
29. Solar Sod Pod
30. Skee Tex Original Thermal Boots

The Carp Society’s Winter Show

What a carp show was a real social event

The CAA came to an end in 1991 and the BCSG started to rebuild from its 250 members. The Carp Society was at its peak with the acquisition of Horseshoe in 1991 and its conferences attracting 1,200-1,500 visitors twice a year. A return to the Queensway Hall was a breath of fresh air but all was not good behind the scenes as Tim Paisley, Derek Stritton and Les Bamford had to return in1994 to sort out the mess The Society had become. Some things never change…

How show stands used to look pre-Korda and Nash upping the ante. Ian Russell showcasing his company’s (Heathrow Bait Services) range of pop-ups
One of the big awards in the 90s: The Cobra Cup. Seen here is Kevin Nash, Gary Bayes, Chris Berry (remember him?) and Jim Shelley
‘Carp Teams’ were part of 90s marketing

The 90s equivalent to DPM and folded reel handles

The setting up of ‘Carp Teams’ saw the true commercialism of carp fishing start to kick in with the major players realising that exposure equals sales and the more writers and personalities you have, the greater the exposure and the greater the sales. Sadly few lasted the course, as many of the team anglers simply didn’t have the drive or ability to produce work month in, month out never mind year in, year out.

Full-time angling became all the rage as the carp got bigger and harder to catch with time the last big edge in all honesty. Some names gave up work whilst some never had a job in the first place, going straight from school or college to the banks at a cost to many of them in the long-term.

As carp started to dominate the magazines, fishery owners realised carp equals cash and day ticket waters were stocked with carp and many were syndicated to maximise revenue potential up front.

Some of the more established anglers and companies saw the interest in fishing abroad and began leasing or purchasing waters overseas and sadly in some cases moving fish from open access waters and rivers to their own fisheries for instant big fish headlines.

Angling conferences became carp shows and the draw of general anglers to them literally disappeared overnight. Unless you had an itinerary of carp speakers and stalls the public simply didn’t attend. If you did, it was a licence to print money for many businesses pre the boom in the internet and on-line sales.

And who can forget the era of branded clothing, the louder the better, and all full of the sponsor’s name and logos. Red, yellow and even pink took over, with one shirt even sporting the word ‘LoadsaCarp’ in true Nineties fashion.

Terry Hearn: the lad many idolised and the first real angler to travel really light.

The larger-than-life characters who made carp fishing

The era of one big fish making a name came to an end and the need to be in the public eye was all-important. First to recognise this was Julian Cundiff who appeared in almost every magazine, every conference and produced numerous books and videos to cement his place. Tim Paisley through Angling Publications and The Carp Society was as big as it gets and his two young apprentices, Simon Crow and Rob Hughes shot to fame with their Day Ticket Waters series in Carpworld and then their triumph at Fishabil and beyond.

Frank Warwick and his incredible mind gave us hi-attract hookbaits, long-range casting and the helicopter rig which was soon claimed as the Chod Rig. Martin Clarke and his Big Carp series in Carpworld and follow-up work in Big Carp couldn’t be ignored and Terry Hearn from new talent to G.O.A.T in this decade and still continues to be so.

Anglers such as Dave and Phil Thompson had golden years and the trio of Chilly, Jenks and Dave Lane made their mark with success at Horton, Wraysbury, Linear and beyond… Paul Selman through his writings and editorial made waves for some years, with many personalities burning bright but fading quickly such was the growth of carp fishing and the sacrifices many were prepared to go to in pursuit of carp and fame.

Big fish angler, Dave Mallin
Tim Paisley: owner of Carpworld and author of numerous books published in the 90s
Julian Cundiff: a carp-catching hero to many
Tackle innovator of the 90s, Kevin Nash
Frank Warwick: thank him for long-range casting and hi-attract hookbaits
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Nothing lasts forever

The biggest surprise is that much of the Nineties still lives on through waters, anglers and firms with only a few biting the dust. The scene has exploded out of all proportion, with the casualties mainly being amongst those that didn’t get on the carp gravy train.

Specialist angling has shrunk dramatically, general fishing all but disappeared and much of this can be traced to the Nineties albeit blamed on the Noughties.

The few have become the many and in reverse terms, the many have become the few if you picked the wrong horse. In most cases tackle and bait has become more affordable and certainly better and definitely available to all rather than a select few. Secrets are long gone and the only real edge is now time and drive. When it comes to bait and rigs it’s generally fine-tuning rather than invention no matter what many may claim. The innocence has certainly gone but the sheer amount of waters being available means that most can still do it on their own terms providing they think, look and travel…

Long may it continue, and let us all thank the most influential era ever for what we enjoy today. Remember whatever you are trying, catching or using, it was probably thought up, stocked or designed in that era, guys…

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