Sunday, 26 October 2014

Browning Team Meeting and Warhorse Match

Every year Browning organise a meeting and match for all of their UK sponsored anglers and teams. This year the match was held at Tunnel Barn farm located in Shrewley in the heart of Warwickshire. This year it was made extra special as the following day was the first ever Browning Warhorse Match. A match that stipulated only Browning poles from before 2005 could be used.

The Team Meeting
Friday morning arrived and I could not wait to get the fishery, I love these meetings as they give you plenty of opportunity to catch up with all the lads from the different teams as well as the lads who are individually sponsored.
I arrived at the fishery early and there were plenty of black and burgundy clothed people already chatting in the car park. After a few pleasantries the laughs and banter soon started. Being part of Browning is "family-like" and everybody is so friendly.



The match was to be fished on an individual basis, and was split over 4 lakes, New, Canal, Extension and House. At the draw I drew out peg 29 on new, to be perfectly honest I didn't know what to expect. On arrival at the peg I was pleased with what I saw. I had an island to fish to, that was around 13 meters away. There was plenty of far side reed cover plus some bare bank to the left of this. Margin wise, I had fairly clear banks all the way to the next peg on each side.



My plan 
My plan was to start on the far side whilst feeding a short line, then switch to the short line as soon as the far side line slowed. I planned to leave the margins alone until the last hour, hoping for a few bigger fish late on. I also set up a shallow rig, just in case the fish decided to feed shallow. 

Bait
After a touch of information gathering I opted for both maggots and fishery pellets. The plan was to use the maggots for the long and edge line and pellet for the short and shallow line. 
Rigs 
Far Side Rig 

  • Pole - Browning Z12 
  • Elastic - Yellow Browning Cenex Reflex 
  • Mainline - 0.14 Browning Hybrid Power 
  • Hook length - 0.12 Browning Hybrid Power 
  • Hook - Size 18 Kamasan B911 F1 
  • Float - Chianti Style 0.2 g 
  • Shotting - Spread bulk 

Short Rig 

  • Pole - Browning Z12 
  • Elastic - Yellow Browning Cenex Reflex 
  • Mainline - 0.14 Browning Hybrid Power 
  • Hook length - 0.12 Browning Hybrid Power 
  • Hook - Size 18 Kamasan B911 eyed tied with a knot less knot with a hair rigged micro band 
  • Float - Middy Styrex 
  • Shotting - A bulk plus 2 droppers 

Shallow Rig 

  • Pole - Browning Z12 
  • Elastic - Double 4 
  • Mainline - 0.14 Browning Hybrid Power 
  • Hook length - 0.12 Browning Hybrid Power 
  • Hook - Size 20 Kamasan B911 eyed, tied with a knot less knot with a hair rigged micro band 
  • Float - Drennan Crystal Dibber 0.2g 
  • Shotting - Bulk set just above the hook length 

Edge Rig 

  • Pole - Browning Z12 
  • Elastic - Blue Browning Cenex Reflex 
  • Mainline - 0.14 Browning Hybrid Power 
  • Hook length - 0.14 Browning Hybrid Power 
  • Hook - Size 16 Kamasan B911 
  • Float - Chianti Style 0.2 g 
  • Shotting - A bulk set just above the hook length  

The Session 
I started the match on the long pole, fishing and feeding maggots. The feeding was done by a small pole mounted pot so that I could regulate my feed and keep it accurate. I shipped the pole across to the far side, tapped the maggots from the pot and then lowered the rig in slowly over the top. It didn't take long for the first indication, a second or 2 later the float disappeared and I was in to my first fish. A chunky F1 was the result, this was followed by another 4 fish in the following 4 drops. For some reason the fish backed off really quickly, so I was forced into making a change really early. I switched to the short line on the deck with a hope that the fish would return and settle on the long line. 
The short line produced from the off, but the fish were really small on this line. I had a good 30 minutes on this line picking up mainly small fish with the odd one or 2 decent sized F1s mixed in. I decided to give the far line another try but this never really got going, until I switched to pellet on the hook and feeding micros. I was soon catching much better fish at a much faster rate. During this time I continued to feed the short line with small balls of micros and 4 mm pellets. I started to see fish showing shallow on this line, so even though I was catching on the long line I made the decision to swap back to the short line, but this time with the shallow rig.



I was soon catching at a rate off knots and the fish were a really good size. As the match drew to a close this line got stronger and stronger; I ended up cutting out the 4 mm pellets and feeding just micros and this did me the business. I spent the remainder of the match on this line. 
At the weigh in I weighed in 82 lb 2 oz which was enough to give me a section win. "Happy Days". 

Day 2 - The Warhorse Match 
I was really looking forward to this match as it was something completely different from the norm. As Browning have been making poles for at least 40 years the idea of this match was to bring some of these "old poles" out of retirement. The response to this match was incredible, with anglers from far and wide getting involved. The rules stipulated that only poles produced before 2005 could be used.

Browning put up some amazing prizes for this event, including the awesome Xitan Z8 for the winner, the brilliant Xitan Allrounder for the runner up and the cracking Xitan Xtreme margin for third place. There was also an array of other prizes for sections winners. Browning legend Bob Nudd was also fishing the event , but he was not eligible to win any of the prizes!


The draw took place and the anglers disappeared off to their pegs. After a quick cappuccino myself, Owen Thomason, Paul McBrinn (Browning reps)  and Gary Bull (a previous Fishomania qualifier) went for a walk around the lakes and took a picture of every angler and their vintage pole.  There were some amazing poles on show and some of the stories behind how they managed to come to own the poles was really interesting.


As the match got under way, straight away fish were been caught from all over, which was fantastic to see. As the match developed it became difficult to see any out right leader as that many fish were been caught.


We left the anglers to it as we didn't want to disturb them, so we disappeared back to the on site cafe for another cappuccino and a try out of the brand new poles that were on show at the event. 
Towards the end of the match we again made our way to the lakes to get some final catch shots before the weigh in. As the all out sounded, the odd shout of fish on could be clearly heard. As the weigh in got underway it was still very unclear who had won. As the weigh drew to a close we made our way back to the cafe for the results.


Clive Nada was announced the winner with a magnificent 108lb 3 oz and was presented the Xitan Z8 by none other than Bob Nudd 
Everybody thoroughly enjoyed the day and the event should be even bigger and more popular next year. So if you have an old Browning pole collecting dust, look out for for next years event.

*To inquire or enter for next years match drop an email to: warhorse@zebco-europe.com with your name and contact details and model of Browning pole you will be using.
 





Sunday, 12 October 2014

Zebco/Browning Factory Visit

I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Zebco/Browning factory in Tostedt Germany. The purpose of the visit was to see all the new products for 2015. The products are all on display in a purpose built marquee situated in the grounds of the factory.



On display are products from all the Zebco brands, including  Zebco, Quantum, Van Staal, Fin-nor, Mustad, Black cat, Rhino, Radical and of course Browning. I will be honest I was like a kid in a sweet shop and I didn't know where to look first. The first thing I set my eyes on was the brand new Browning Sphere range of rods, which I have to say I am mighty impressed with. So impressed that one or two will soon be in my holdall, well hopefully any way :-) 





The blanks of the rods are second to none, with a super thin diameter and amazingly smooth action. These are then complemented by a well crafted specially designed handle along with the finest quality guides.



Amazing rods that will match or if not out class the very best rods available on the market today.

I had a good hour or so looking and taking pictures of all the new and revamped rod ranges. The work that has gone into making these rods perfect is staggering. Huge amounts of testing, refining, then retesting go into every single rod in every range. So when you buy a rod from Browning you know you are getting a top quality product.   

A magnetic force then grabbed hold of me and dragged me to the pole alley section of the exhibition. Here sat waiting was the jewels in the crown for me. The Xitan Z14, the Champions Choice Silverlite and the Hyper Carp poles. These were all set up on rollers waiting to be "waggled". I sat myself on the strategically placed new Browning box and started waggling. I picked up the Z14 which was initially set up at 13 meters, I wanted to see if it was actually 10% lighter and stiffer than the mighty Z12. Straight away the difference was noticeable, it is definitely lighter than the Z12 even at 13 meters, I added the 14.5 meter section and then the 16 meter section, at both of these lengths it is noticeably lighter and stiffer than the Z12, which is unbelievable as I have a Z12 and it is an extremely stiff pole.



Another one of the features I wanted to check out was the brand new square pole protectors. These are so comfortable to use as they take the direct pressure off the elbow. The flat surface of the pole protector helps distribute the weight to the entire forearm, it also makes it comfortable on your legs too.


Also on show was the newly designed puller bush, which will be fitted as standard to all Z14 puller top kits. It makes stripping the elastic from the pole smooth and effortless as there is very little friction due to the design.



Then I picked up the Silverlite, a pole designed for predominantly silver fish fishing. This thing has to be seen to be believed. The rigidity at 16 meters is phenomenal which gives instant butt to tip reaction, which is essential for silver fish fishing. If you don't fish for Carp then this is definitely the pole for you.  Next in line was the Hyper Carp which is at the complete opposite end of the scale. This pole has an unlimited elastic rating and is designed for the biggest of Carp. With this in mind you would think the pole would be heavy and floppy, well you would be wrong. This pole is stiff and fairly light but as strong as an ox. It will be perfect for big fish commercials.

I had a good hour checking out the poles, most of this time was spent sitting on the new Browning box, which is as solid as a rock and extremely comfortable. 2 styles are a available, the feeder version and the match version. The main difference is the legs. The feeder box comes with long legs that extend below the frame and footplate. The match version comes with shorter legs that extend above the frame and foot plate perfect for getting your box nice and low. There are also a multitude of accessories available so you can add to the stack system.



This is only a small part of the new products available from Browning, for further information on any of the products please check out Browning Fishing UK on Facebook or check out www.browning-fishing.com

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Stainforth and Keadby Canal

There is definitely something magical about this Canal; for some reason it's the match I look forward to the most each year. I don't know whether it's because it takes me back to my younger days, or just that it's a total change from the fishing I do the rest of the year.


Every year the Police and Fire Service hold a number of inter-service matches on the canal, which are open to both serving and retired members of the Police, Fire Service, Prison Service and others.We always meet and do the draw at the Delves cafe in the town of Thorne near Doncaster which is a 5 minute drive away from the venue.  At the draw I pulled out peg 185, which I know is a fair walk from where we park the cars. It is not far from the Blue Water Marina mouth and there are normally a few boats moored up on the opposite bank, on arrival at my peg this is confirmed. The first thing I noticed was how clear the water was and how weedy the near shelf was. I had to position my box where there was a gap between the weed, so that when I caught a fish it would make it easier to land.

The Plan
I planned to go with a three pronged attack for today's match. My main line was to be at 13 meters which is just over half way across the canal, this is a comfortable distance to start at especially if the wind gets up. The canal is quite exposed so wind can affect it easily.  My second line was a line at 9 meters down the main track of the canal at an 11 o'clock angle. my third line was line just in front of the near shelf weed at approximately 5 meters.

Bait
I have a bit of a selection, for the main line I have some mixed pinkies as well as some red and white maggots, I also have some dark coloured ground bait, as the water is usually fairly clear a dark ground bait doesn't stand out and spook the fish.  For the 9 meter line I have some hemp seed and for the 5 meter line I have some hemp and casters.

Rigs
Main Line

  • Pole - Browning Z12 
  • Elastic - Doubled up 4
  • Main line - 0.12 (3.7 lb) Browning Hybrid Power
  • Hook length - 0.10 (2.25 lb) Browning Cenex
  • Hook -  Size 24 Preston PR 35
  • Float - Alan Scotthorne 1   0.5 gram
  • Shotting - Olivette Bulk plus 2 droppers


Hemp Line

  • Pole - Browning Z12
  • Elastic - Doubled up 4
  • Main line - 0.12 (3.7 lb) Browning Hybrid Power
  • Hook length - 0.10 (2.25 lb) Browning Cenex
  • Hook - size 16 Kamasan B520
  • Float - Dino Duke 0.2 gram
  • Shotting - Small bulk plus a single dropper


Caster Line

  • Pole - Browning Z12
  • Elastic - Yellow Browning Cenex
  • Main line - 0.12 (3.7 lb) Browning Hybrid Power
  • Hook length - 0.10 (2.25 lb) Browning Cenex
  • Hook - Size 24 Preston PR 35
  • Float - Alan Scotthorne 1 - 0.4gram
  • Shotting - Olivette bulk plus 2 droppers


The Session
I started the session by feeding a single ball of ground bait and a few pinkies by pole cup on the 13 meter line. I baited the hook with a single red maggot and
shipped the rig out and lowered it in slowly. The rig never even got time to settle and I was in, a small Skimmer been the result. The next 2 drops followed the same pattern but a Roach and a Perch were the result of these.

The next couple of drops remained bite-less, so I switched hook bait to 2 fluoro pinkies on the hook and the response was instant as I was now catching regularly. To complement this I started feeding small amounts of pinkies via a pole mounted pot to keep the feeding nice and tight. This seemed to work a treat as I started catching at quite a fast rate.

After around 2 hours the canal started to tow like a train, so I switched to a maggot hook bait as it is slightly heavier than pinkies. I let the rig tow through which again worked really well I as kept catching whilst other around me were struggling. I did find a couple of patches of weed whilst towing through, but after a couple of runs I sussed where they where and I managed to line them up with some far bank markers. This made things so much easier as just before the rig reached the markers I lifted the rig up a foot or so over which prevented me from snagging on the weed. This kept the rig running through nice and smooth.
After an hour the tow stopped so I topped up my original swim with a small ball of ground bait, but during the time I had been the rig through there was a certain point that I would get a bite at, so I kept fishing at this point until the bites slowed down.

With just over an hour to go I switched to the hemp line which I had been feeding via catapult for a good hour or so. I had a bite as soon as I dropped the rig in, which resulted in a chunky Roach. I spent the remainder of the match on this line and I kept catching right till the final whistle.
At the weigh in I managed 11 lb 6 oz which was enough to win the match. Happy days!