Just as the tank suited masses had relaxed into the square lines of an ABU Cardinal 55 or, if inclined to length, the 57; or the traditionalist’s favourite Mitchell (yeah, I know there’s others but I’m painting with a pretty broad brush here, so give me a break); Shimano entered the market, first with the Triton 3500, 4500 and the then-gargantuan 6500 Baitrunners, fresh from the American market reeking of ‘Braggin’ sized Muskies’ and ‘Possum for the pot’ and Daisy Duke’s crotch piece. They were square, ugly, but felt ‘right’… Suddenly, carp anglers were using American ‘Baitrunners’ (and still are today, you can’t kill them reels). Then, all of a sudden like, Mr Shmo brought out the sleeker 4500, 6500 and 8000. Visually stunning, as black as the ace of spades and built for a carp angler. We all had to have them. ABUs and Mitchells hit the second-hand market like fat girls in a pizza bar as the Baitrunners stole the show.
Suddenly, runs had a new meaning. The open bail arm or ‘foam’ was replaced with a ratchet that purred and whizzed
on a take as your bobbin, Liteflo (of course), hovered blurred against the buzzer. The unsuspecting angler had
a new toy… A line twist machine.
You see, nobody expected it. Takes went from 0 to 60 in zero seconds. To set the Baitrunner tighter would’ve been foolhardy. After all, you wouldn’t get a screamer if you did, or as they were known regionally, ‘a pisser’. So carp would pull miles of line off the clutch, or if you were like me you would boat your bait out to the horizon off the Baitrunner. The resultant line twist and twizzle could pull rods off banksticks, KJB pods off banks or break reel stems as your beloved tackle shot spinning over the lake. How good a line was Big Game? People still loved it at the time despite ‘running yards of twist into it. Just giving it a second’s slack would see coils fly off the spool and twizzle into a kinky mess (I’ll leave that one).
The Shimano Baitrunner: a modern classic but originally abused to hell.
2. Big pits
Shimano had nabbed the carp market. Despite a million wannabee reels (Silstar ‘Baitfeeders’, DAM ‘Lineshafters’ and The Hardy Perm Master, they were untouchable. It took the sleeping giant of Daiwa and a man called Kevin Nash, who actually invented carp fishing, to peg them back by the arrival of the ‘big pit’.
Having had its gusset slightly stretched by the Shimano 6500 Triton, Kevin stuck his hand right in carp angling’s nylons with the SS3000. A sea reel. Made sense though, the long-range shore casters were using… multipliers, or big fixed spool reels if they were shite. Shite we were and we took on the big pit with the gusto of an expending market, like an expanding waistline consuming a Victoria sponge; SS3000, Emblems, Longbeams, SS9000s, Millionmax, Biomasters et al, the list went on as the carp anglers perceived need for the horizon grew. ‘You can do everything with a big reel that you can with a small reel’ a tackle dealer told me earnestly ‘… and more’… ‘Stick it up your arse?’
3. Retro reels
Why? Personally, I use 20-year-old reels because they seem to last longer (twenty years as it happens) and they represent the time I was getting into the sport and dreamt of owning them. But why does the average (and above average) teenager, who should be playing One Direction downloads and sniffing bike seats, have them hanging off their rods? To say, ‘Been there, done it’? As a mark of respect? No. It’s because he knows that the days of discovery are long gone, or at least few and far between so he commemorates them. Rather than trying to discover more? I’m in too deep.