A question from Rob Allen of Bristol (and echoed by many more fishermen): What is it about old-time beachcasters that appeals to the modern generation? My mate bought one of the original Penn Sidewinders at a boot sale for £25, and he reckons it’s great.
Apart from the joy of picking up a classic for peanuts at a boot sale or in some tackle dealer’s secondhand rack, there’s a real prospect of getting hold of what could prove to be the finest rod you’ll ever use.
What’s so special about old-timers such as the Zziplex GS series, Conoflex 240T, the occasional veteran Daiwa and Penn, and even the daddy of them all the Abu 464? In a word, usability.
Back then, fishing and tournament rods and methods were more closely aligned than they are now. Many of us used the same rod for fishing and field work. And with minor adjustments, we used the same pendulum style – the style known as the fishing pendulum in contrast to the flat pendulum methods now dominant in competition.
I don’t want to go into the pros and cons of pendulum styles except to point out that excellence with the modern flat style usually requires a long and very stiff rod. This is exactly the kind of casting style and the design of rod that the average guy on the beach struggles to master.
The fishing pendulum cast – like the majority of us beach fishermen – does best with a less savage rod. Nice tip, fairly stiff butt and a progressive middle section; a maximum of 13ft 6in long; speed and stiffness balanced for smooth delivery of 150-170g leads and baits across a broad band of distances. That’s why 1980’s golden oldies in particular continue to be such wonderful fishing weapons. Of course there are modern rods that measure up. Trouble is, they’re often lost in a forest of lesser products where the emphasis is on marketing hype and designer bling rather than on solid, appropriate engineering.