1. Bobbins at the top
Following on from the ‘Fish Savs dunneye’ posturing of the levitated tip, suddenly, in the late 80s the humble bobbin stacked on weight and gravitated to the top of the needle. The needle until then had invariably been the Gardner ‘off the shelf’, made for carpers, clear plastic affair, complete with isotope or, if you were a skint as me at the time, suffocated glow worm. Takes were signified by the howl of a converted Optonic (always set to 11) and the Gardner Monkey blurring at the top of the needle. (Footnote: Did carp anglers account for every AA call box isotope around this time? Discuss if you know what the hell I’m on about!)
Suddenly, the wisdom from ‘Darn Sarf’ brought in PTFE bobbins, or Liteflo if you were really on your game. Looking like Adele on a sapling, the size of the bobbin directly represented your skill (as does the size of your spool and butt ring). Fished on a tight line to clips, takes were now signified by the dull thud of three-pounds of PTFE hitting the deck like Audley Harrison (but not as often). While the tight lines hit instant success everywhere, the window of opportunity was short lived as fish realised that the tight line spelt danger. While on the windswept gravel pits of the Home Counties and beyond, the opportunity lasted longer; on the semen-filled pools elsewhere (not an insult lads, I filled them) results dried up like a piss-pool in the Sahara.
2. The carpy jumper
Yates with the Bishop, Hearn with Black Mirror, Hilton with the Linear, Hutchinson with the Leather. All of these iconic images have one thing in common: each of the captors were bloody freezing! Brass-keffin-monkeys they were. Why? Each sported a woolen garment, you know, the type that’s recently made a comeback. True, donning said apparel will make you as carpy as Yates’ undercrackers after a week on the ‘Mire, but high performance it ain’t. Your cardy sucks up the moisture like Monica Lewinski on a trouser leg, and drains the heat from you like Monica Lewinski on the Presidential pole. Plus, when saturated it takes on a mind of its own, stretching like something from Ghostbusters (cheers John) across your skeletal, trembling frame; snapping your bones with its lead-like weight. The only way to relieve yourself of this incredible encumbrance is to snag an end on a handy bramble and stagger a couple of hundred yards. You’ll find the resultant sleeved ‘moob tube’ both light and fetching, showing your manly assets and silverback-like gut to their best advantage. Wool? Sh***.
3. Dirty spoons
While the sooty kettle has become an epitaph to the death of carp angling, the shitty spoon could be the reasoning towards your death. Proudly lifting a spoon that looks like a fossilised turd to symbolise how long you’ve been around (from the start obviously) isn’t necessarily the thing to do. Why? 1. Norovirus (The Spews), 2. Diarrhoea (The Splats) and 3. Gastroenteritis (all of the above) - all proliferate on the aforementioned ironmongery. It never reaches 100-degrees and it doesn’t often dry out properly meaning you’re at peril of finding yourself in the bushes, your dignity leaving you in a Porsche, almost as fast as your last meal.
4. Kettle shot
*&^k it, while I’m in the kitchen I’ve got to admit I’ve had enough of the kettle shot. I believe it was Gareth’s trusty Coleman that he captured in the half-light of a carpy, low-pressure day, it’s warm flame tickling the bottom of a sooty vessel. Lush. It symbolised everything that was good about carp fishing: the social, the expectation, the quest. Queue an avalanche of badly composed, flameless, soulless kettle shots. If you didn’t do a kettle shot, you didn’t feature on the social scale; social media I mean. If you could have blurred rods somewhere in the background, Facebook actually sent you beer vouchers it was that carpy, honest! And Instagram sent you £10ks worth bait or brasses, your choice. A thousand camoed arms a minute were stretching out from 60” of turtle-like comfort to snap… A poxy kettle. I ask ya!