Good centrepin says all you need to know about the angler

Dick Masters is understandably proud of his 11.5 bream and, inset, one of his centrepins a thing of

Dick Masters is understandably proud of his 11.5 bream and, inset, one of his centrepins a thing of real beauty. Photo: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

I've just been fishing with Richard Masters, a great guy in his seventies, an engineer by trade and a maker of super old-styled centrepin reels.

He brought one of his creations with him and it was absolutely gorgeous. I lusted after it. This was also a massive coincidence because I am involved with a precision tool company down south, hoping to produce centrepins made in titanium and I'm scared. I know if we get this wrong, we'll be crucified. Pins are used by anglers who have very fixed opinions indeed. Some of the centrepins from the past are absolutely hallowed these days, iconic pieces of tackle. I know that if we get the design wrong, we'll be slaughtered. If we get the innards wrong, we'll be ridiculed.

I love centrepins. The simple fact is that you cannot trot a river properly with any other reel, in my book. And that includes closed face reels, too, an old favourite back in the last century. Centrepins also let you scale down in line strength, really useful at this time of the year if you are fishing the stills for tench and bream, for example. Centrepins don't have gears like fixed spool reels so you are just more in tune with the fish, more alert to the nuances of the fight. I promise you this is the case. When blokes my age were kids, we were all brought up to fish with centrepins and it's a skill that has sadly gone astray.

I've got to be careful here but I sort of think that centrepins say something about who you are. A centrepin angler, to me, thinks about his fishing. It doesn't mean that he is just a traditionalist or a fuddy-duddy, it suggests that he is a man who really cares, who lives for his sport. I suggest it's a bit like the modern revival of vinyl records. They're seen as a lifestyle choice, I'm told, and it's a bit like anglers with their centrepins. Pins look great, they fish great and they are great.

I love centrepins and hate easterly winds in equal amounts. East Anglia has traditionally been cursed at this time of the year by winds from the north and from the east and I've always loathed them. There is the old doggerel that says when the wind is in the east, the fish bite the least and it's 100pc true. The stillwaters at this time of the year are simply crucified by winds from this direction.

Just such a wind was blowing the couple of days that I was out with Dick. It was extraordinary. When the wind died away or swung a few degrees to the south, the water that we were fishing would explode into life. As soon as we had periods of calm, insects would hatch and lift off and fish would roll and begin to feed. Over the two days we had a smattering of really good specimens but only, and I repeat only, when the wind died completely. It was bizarre.

What I do know is that you have to make your bait and your feed desirable during a cold spring. Tench, especially, have to be tempted. They won't shovel in stodge that simply fills them and they are looking for the tastiest titbits you can offer. Hemp, mini pellets, casters and flavoured corn are top of my list perhaps laced with oils and additives. I fish light hook patterns too, knowing fish are not feeding with gusto and are likely to be picky over baits that don't behave naturally. Everything we do has to be touchy-feely till the winds swing south and west and the good times really roll.