Folded Reel Handles. An admission. / by John Hannent

Nothing makes carp anglers separate like and oil and water like a folded reel handle. Women, waters, named fish, simmos; we’ll always find a middle ground, but the collapsed winch? Not a chance, you’re either for or against. Me? I’m all for it frankly. Simply because it makes what I have to look at far longer than I should, far more aesthetically pleasing, which I’m allowed to say because I work in design. There, said it. While I’m now descending into the realms of a ‘pusher of the pink porter’, I’ve got it off my chest. I did it, originally, for a very good reason, which has become lost over time.

About 15 years back, I was at the photographer’s studio working out how we’d make Solar’s latest piece of space-age rod scaffolding, The Globetrotter, look lush (rods and rod -pods are notoriously hard to make look good, due to their ‘spindly’ nature). The pod stood-up well under camera, as Lockey’s gear does, but the rods looks untidy to say the least. So, to make them look more of a ‘unit’, we folded the handles. It looked lovely because the rods weren’t all-over the show. And the reels looked like folded aeroplanes on the deck of an aircraft carrier waiting to be deployed. ‘Tight’ I thought.

To my surprise, a few years later, I saw someone with his handles folded. Then, I saw it again. Weird. Had they not set-up yet? Why could the owners only talk of ‘Tel’, Yateley and the big LED Nevs? They stood, or sat cross-legged beside there immaculate set-ups. Everything level, bobbins equidistant and rods nearly touching in a smug-haze brought about by tackle karma.

I gave the matter some thought, then on a trip to France it dawned on me. I was somewhat refreshed when I was awoken from my slumbers by a blistering take. I flung myself like a knotted hanky at the rods, grabbing the loud one and wrenching it upward as a reflex action. ‘ZZzzzzZZZZZZ!” The loosely-set clutch dispensed line at a furious rate, further confusing my befuddled brain. By the time I’d un-knotted myself, the unseen adversary had made the weed, and a short time later, a clean getaway.

Then the penny dropped. Looking back, I’d wrong-changed myself, but I’d got change. “If I fold the handles, I’ll take care of the spool first” I lied to myself. So I started to do this. By posing, I slowly educated myself to brake my spool when hitting takes. But frankly, I just preferred to look at the rods like that. Aesthetically, I was catching!

It’s the modern day ‘tips-up’ you see. ‘What the hell’s tips-up?’ cry the younger anglers, the more closeted anglers and those that have been serving a long-term sentence at Her Majesty’s leisure in a high security solitary confinement prison amongst you. Well, for the young and the closeted (the ex-high-security will invariably set-up beside me next time I fish), in day’s of yesteryear, when ‘modern’ carp fishing was finding itself on the banks of various gravel pits within spitting distance of the M25, it became necessary to fish with one’s tips pointing in the air to A. Keep the line clear of vicious, mussel-ridden gravel bar and B. Hoop the tips over, keeping the line bow-string tight to a heavy lead. Whenever the unsuspecting cypry so much as sniffed the bait ‘BANG’ the whole ensemble would dislodge and the tight line would send the hook recoiling back and set the hook firmly in Mr Peckish’s bottom lip.

Now, this represented the cutting edge of carp fishing for a while, so ‘tips-up’ became the statement to make when you were angling. You weren’t anyone unless your rods faced skywards, the bobbins nestled neatly in the butts and your tips were cambered around with your line singing in the breeze. While it DID work momentarily, it soon lost it’s effectiveness on the 1 acre swamps of Norfolk and beyond. In fact, it was probably the worst thing you could do. But boy, you looked good. Why should results get in the way when you’re looking ‘Savs’.

Well now, it seems a section of our beloved sport insist on looking ‘CP’, where I’m assured the folding started. Probably, I’d suggest, one of our leading lights set his gear up, dropped an almost assembled rod in the rest while he polished a buzzer bar and a passer-by-cum-punisher crawled past, saw the collapsed unit and took the fad nationwide by unsolicited distribution amongst his fellow anglers. Where sadly, in the wrong hands the method (!) could become lethal, or worse, untidy. 

I’ve read the suggestion that it allows for more space in tight swims. If space is that much of a premium, can I suggest Weight Watchers? Or just relieving yourself of all that bull***t you’ve got wedged behind your ears. I’m sure if you did every plot, no matter how small, would seem like the Seren-bloody-geti.

Or is it so the rods are closer to you, meaning you can strike quicker? Or are you making your carbon footprint smaller (geddit?)?

Like all methods available to the angler, it’s prone to misuse. I’ve detailed three of the prime misuses below. Should you see them on your water, keep a fair distance between yourself and the perpetrator and don’t make eye contact...

The Pile-Up - A less-than-3 inch gap between reels resulting in flaring/tilting of the external units. Shoddy, just plain bloody shoddy. 

The No-Need - A greater-than-4 inch gap between the reels (still with folded handles) so space would actually allow the reels to have their handles fully unfurled. I’d hate to see these peoples’ rigs, or indeed dig up their allotments.

The Tw*t -  Folded reel handles on a Shimano, or ‘Schmo’ as current bankside slang dictates. Now, this isn’t anything against the Shimano reel, just a heads-up to the fact that they don’t feature one-touch folded handles, it’s a Daiwa (sorry, ‘Dwa’) feature only. A take would see you frantically trying to tighten the screw on your reel handle while a fish merrily swims to the other side of the lake, through every snag in the universe. While there’s possibly room for a ‘handle plinth’ from one of our leading stainless manufacturers, to leave the spare part on while trying to slide a fag paper between your carbons, we can only blame Daiwa for this fad.

Indeed, it’s apparent that some people sell perfectly good reels so they can fold their handles. And, I bet, soon one of our custom tackle manufacturers will offer a ‘folding’ service. Like the Tackle Box sold smaller handles for the old Biomasters, there’ll soon be a folding handle available I’m sure (you read it here first).

And apparently, having the ‘nearest’ rod to your good-self ‘tucked’ is a no-no, it should be in the prone position. While the correct handle angle hasn’t been designated as yet, I prefer a jaunty 45 degree tilt to the mahogany of my SSs. And, truth-be-known, a slight ‘Savving’ of the rod tips.

Am I becoming a Gok-Whan of angling (he used to be fat too you know)? Am I taking the p...p....Mickey? Frankly, I don’t know myself!

I had set aside this article to tell you all about my start of the season proper. But it went so well I ain’t telling no-one!

Tight ones


The article below was commissioned by CARPology magazine, alongside a great many others from Aitch2’s Director, John Hannent. John was in fact one of the original collaborators of the magazine. As creative Director he was responsible for the loks, launch and pitch of the title.

The article below was commissioned by CARPology magazine, alongside a great many others from Aitch2’s Director, John Hannent. John was in fact one of the original collaborators of the magazine. As creative Director he was responsible for the loks, launch and pitch of the title.