WHAT is so captivating about dace and roach? Being a dedicated river angler, I love visiting the places where you find these ‘giants’, which are almost as rare as unicorns, thinking my way through the biology of the fish and how they may be behaving. I also like their natural beauty, and other mysteries that are too deep and elusive for words.
Throughout angling history, a 2 lb roach has always been considered to be a ‘fish of a lifetime’, and you are almost as likely to encounter a dragon as you are a 3 lb specimen.
Likewise, 1 lb-plus dace have a near-mythical status, and even my friend, the venerable John Bailey, talks of ‘doubles’ (10 oz or more) in hushed and reverential tones.
Dick Walker coined the term ‘magic double’ (a 2 lb-plus roach and a 1 lb-plus dace, in one sitting), reckoning it to be the ultimate attainment in river angling.
But with application and luck (never forget that luck always plays a massive part in angling), you can narrow the odds of putting specimen roach and dace on the bank.
By such good fortune, I have banked over 1,000 2 lb-plus roach, including 14 of over 3 lb, one being the Bristol Avon river record; a good number of 1 lb-plus dace, including the Hampshire Avon and Bristol Avon river records; several ‘magic doubles’; a ‘double magic double’, comprising two 2 lb-plus roach and two 1 lbplus dace; and even a ‘magic triple’, when I added a 5 lb-plus chub.
Hot to trot
It is true to say that I catch as many big roach and dace on quivertip and cage feeder tactics as I do on a float.
However, trotting rivers with a long rod and a centrepin reel gives me the greatest pleasure.
When I put a good fish on the bank by using classic trotting tactics, I say to myself that I’ve caught a fish ‘properly’.
In terms of rods, I am hardly a purist, having abandoned heavy and fragile wooden rods in the 1960s, after laying my hands on a fibreglass model. A 15 ft blank allows me to control a float at range, as well as controlling hooked fish that seek near bank snags. The blank needs to be responsive and forgiving, to allow for ham-fistedness, and have sufficient ‘backbone’ for striking and playing fish at range.
It also needs to have a comfortable, good quality cork handle, and not just either side of the reel seat, but right under the hand, for holding during extended trotting sessions, providing comfort and a secure grip. The finish needs to be understated, classy and muted, so that it doesn’t ‘flash’ and potentially scare fish that are feeding close to the bank.
I also like my rods to have strong, double-legged rings equidistant from the joints, so that I can fold the sections together ‘zig-zag’ style without breaking down the end tackle when packing up in the dark. The other rod rings should be single-legged, for lightness.
By good fortune, I have designed a rod (the Dr Redfin Roach Trotting rod) to my exact specification, so that I and anyone else can access the fruits of half a century of innovation, and experience hunting out specimen roach, dace and other species.
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