10 cult bite alarms you wish you owned
Changing hands for big money in the collector’s circles, these are some of the very best…
There are many rare bite alarms, mainly because they are old and have in effect passed their sell by date: broken, been thrown away or are languishing in people’s sheds unloved. Here though, we are talking cult alarms; alarms that are every bit as useable today as they were when they were made. Changing hands for big money in the collector’s circles, these are some of the very best…
1. Steve Neville Andy Little
There are a few sets of Steve Neville alarms around that remain on the secret list, with photos shared in small circles, however, these were one of Steve’s first roller buzzers following on from his early Antennae versions. There are today so few of these around that they are very sought after by collectors. One of the first ultra reliable Nevs.
2. Steve Neville Bug Eyes
Named due to their ultra large and super bright big LEDs, these were some of Steve’s early roller alarms and arguably his best looking. Based on the MK1 cases, these were no-nonsense on-and-off buzzers that were bullet-proof. Again, ultra rare due to the fact that the cases did sometimes crack (an old neville issue). Expect to pay big money for a set today if you can find any.
3. Steve Neville MK1
In reality, Steve ended up producing slightly different guises of MK1’s, MK2’s and today the MK3, but these standard issue MK1’s were typical bullet-proof Nevs. Like the Bug Eyes, they suffered from the cracking at the base which just adds to the character of these little bleepers. If you find a mint set, buy them, they are a sound investment.
4. Steve Neville Stainless Steel Alarms
The daddy of cult alarms, these are a work of art and highly prized. Originally produced in a MK2 format in very limited numbers and again produced in an updated MK3 version in 2016 in even more limited numbers (I won’t tell you how few, it will depress you). Neville reliability in stainless steel polished cases, and bullet-proof in every way. Of course the MK3’s also benefitted from three level volume control and Steve’s own false bleep avoidance technology. Currently changing hands at around £800 a set.
5. Ted Rowlands Alarms
I will be honest and say I know very little about these wonderfully well-made little fellas. Produced by a Kent angler (I believe) and only really for friends, these are as rare an alarm as you will find. Exceptionally well made and lovingly crafted, these are as simple as a Neville with an on/off switch but with the added benefit of a volume control. We only know of two sets around, although hopefully there are more out there somewhere, these cannot be lost to the archives.
6. Delkim Conversions
When Del Romang first decided to convert Optonics, he turned them into everything that they should have been: volume and tone controls, new LEDs, reed switches, GPO speakers producing a unique and very loud sound, weatherproofing and tidied electronics made these ‘the buzzer’ of their era. Sadly they were stopped from converting them by the makers of Optonics and Delkim disappeared for many years. These alarms are as good today as they were when they were converted. Sets are available if you look hard enough and there are some that have been refurbished by the likes of Lloyds Conversions that are superb.
7. Bamford Conversions
Les Bamford, he of Redmire Pool fame, has been around the carp scene for many years but was previously well-known for his version of the Optonic conversion. Again, they had GPO speakers fitted but differing to Optonics these could be switched off via the big red volume control located on the back of the alarm. Even rarer - as there is only one set to our knowledge - is the square LED version, produced by Les for a good friend but they never made it into production. Bamfords are rarer than their similar Delkim competitors these days and highly sought after.
8. Optonic Super XL’s
The Optonic answer to Delkims and Bamfords and to be fair, for their time they were brilliant. These alarms were the must-have mainstream buzzer of the 90s - and for good reason. Volume and tone controls, run and latching LEDs, carp ears as standard and reliability aplenty. There are plenty of these alarms available compared to the other alarms we are talking about as there are many still in use.
9. Fox Micron SX Orange Labels
In the early 1990s both Fox and Delkim crashed into the buzzer market like raging bulls, launching within days of each other. Delkim had their revolutionary vibration system and Fox stuck with the more traditional route but with one big extra: sensitivity control, which was a revelation. You were either in the Fox camp or Delkim camp, and if there had been Facebook at the time there would have been plenty of arguments as to which one was best! The Micron SX was CAD designed, at first without speaker covers, but then speaker covers were available (the speakers didn’t like rain) and then they were fitted. Over time the Micron design has changed very little, with upgrades at various times but the shape is a classic, good looking; no need for snag ears and just worked. Classics now and will only become more so.
Okay, so I know I said nine but we are slipping in a little extra! AVA’s were produced in the 1990s and the stainless steel-backed alarms were met with huge enthusiasm. Expensive at the time, these stunning looking buzzers appealed greatly to early tackle tarts. To be honest, I am not sure they have ever been bettered in looks. They came in a lovely presentation box with sounder box and leads - in fact there were two different sounder boxes produced, although I cannot remember if the one pictured is first or second. Volume and tone controls, roller wheels and dashing good looks was an ingredient to success. These days these can still be found on eBay and in the tackle trade pages and have generally been looked after as they were so lovely.
Slipping into the ten is the other AVA alarm: The Monitor. Rarer than their better looking cousins, these alarms are simple on-and-off, a very nice shape and lovely size. They seemed to get little or no press but they should have as they are awesome.
Rarity: 7/10 & 9/10