First of all, being primarily a carp angler, I've got two tackle boxes, if you count the one I use for my infrequent hit 'n' run, mobile days. Anyway, both contain the same sort of gear, just less of it in the mobile set-up. That makes being mobile easier, see?
Grrrreat. So, starting with the carp gear, for me the basic tools of this trade are a trio of Yately Angling Centre's AK47 rods. These 12.5-foot rods each come with a pair of top sections to cope with different situations.
My choice, and by far the most popular, is the 2.5 lbs. and 3.5 lbs. tips, enabling me to cover short flicks and mega-chucks with the same rod. Using the 2.5 tip, an 8010 Shimano Baitrunner reel and a 3 ounce lead, I can fish from under the rod-tip, to 100-plus yards, without too much effort.
Changing the tip for a 3.5, the Baitrunner for a big pit reel and the 3 ounce lead for a 4 ounce bomb, my longest measured cast to date is 147 yards. So, all in all, my AK47's pretty much do it all for me - and they look good doing it, too.
Crucial, that, obviously. AK47's are sold in standard or hand-built form, and I got Yately to tweak mine around a bit and fit SiC rings throughout. I have to say that the service Yately provide is first class and their level of expertise is matched by their friendly attitude and willingness to help.
And before you ask, no, I'm not on the payroll. :-) Alongside the AK's, I keep a 10-foot, 2lb. test curve, ABU stalking rod, for margin-mooching and floater work. God knows how old this rod is, but I love it and it was the rod I caught my first twenty on, so it'll always have its place in my holdall.
It's also used for pike fishing and my kids can handle it easily, so that's plenty of reasons to retain its services. Bless. As already mentioned, my reels are Shimano 8010 Baitrunners, with a large-spooled Shimano Ultegra Biomaster XT 14000 on stand-by for when serious launching is required.
Tragically, the supremely engineered Biomaster has a tarty, white-pink-snot pearlised finish to its metalwork (it's a beachcasting reel, I think, and that Julian Clary paint job shows up better at night, when shore fishing is often carried out) but it's a master cranking tool, no doubt about it. My Baitrunners are the cheaper, Aero jobs, and while I'm looking to upgrade them, I'm still confused regarding choice.
Ideally, I'd like a Baitrunner with a larger spool than my 8010's, without it being as huge overall as The Big Pit Baitrunner. We'll see, when Daiwa launch (or don't launch) a baitrunner'ised version of their long chuck reels.
Bite alarms next, and I'm 100% chuffed with my Delkim TXi's. Make that 99.9% chuffed, due to the battery door on my ones working itself open a fraction, now and again. Like all top-of-the-range buzzers, the Delkims offer all sorts of set-up permutations and juggling your tone, volume and sensitivity preferences alongside this alarm's all-weather electronics, means that there's a perfect setting for every condition in there somewhere.
I've got the TXi radio-jobbies bolted onto the base of my Delkims, so when I'm bivvied-up in the wee-small hours, I can turn the volume of my buzzers to zero, and divert all the decibels to the receiver unit that I keep next to my ear. That way, if something fishy grabs my bait, I get a full-on sonic wake-up call, without subjecting the rest of the world to the strains of the Delkim symphony orchestra.
Also, should I need to shuffle off for a widdle, I can keep in touch with my rods and respond to their needs as well as my own. For visual indication, I've settled on Solar Butt-Bangers, with counter-weights and ball clips. Simple, effective and fully adaptable via Solar's range of indicator options. There's an isotope glowing away inside the flouro-heads of the indicators, so everything's easy to 'read' at night when the Delkims go 'diddley-diddley'.
My rods, reels, buzzers and indicators sit solidly on a Gardner Black Shadow pod, which I've found to be practical, hard wearing and double-easy to set up. It's not the sexiest pod in the world, and at full stretch, the synthetic, 'D' section buzz-bar arms can droop fractionally under the weight of an AK47 / Biomaster combination - but I'll stick with it.
I own a stainless steel pod (posh one, too) but I'm not as impressed with it as I thought I was going to be, so I went back to my Gardner. I'd like some more height and positional options on the pod, but I've managed so far, so the Shadow stays.
My rods, pod, banksticks and brolly, all slide snugly into a cruelly abused Trakker Holdall. I've virtually wrecked this fine piece of kit, although it did take me over two years to do so, and that speaks volumes about the quality of Trakker stuff. I'll be going for another Trakker soon, one of their space saving, 'two-up, two-down, jobs, which may just be easier to hammer into the back of my car for the full two day load-up.
For most sessions, a 75 Litre, Wychwood Rucksack is my transport vehicle of choice, although I try not to fill it right up and kill myself with fatigue before I reach my swim. The strap system and padding on this rucksack is too good if anything, because it settles the load so well that you think you can tramp for miles, no matter how much kit you've got hanging between your shoulderblades. I know better now.
Most times, anyway. I've also got a 20-litre Napier Rucksack for short stays in summer and this holds just enough bait, rigs and bits for a decent evening session.
Bivvy-wise, I use a Nash Profile Brolly, with groundsheet and overwrap, for one-nighters, and a good old Shakespeare Cypry Dome for longer stays, or when I'm loaded with children - which I usually am, and not just my own, either. Kids love camping out and fishing, so, the prospect of doing both attracts them in swarms.
The Cypry Dome's been great, and apart from the hassle of threading poles through sleeves (which all domes of this type are prone to) I really can't fault it for the money. The Nash Profile is simply the nuts, in terms of simplicity and speed of set-up. I love that brolly and would recommend it to anyone. I'll be using it a lot more, too, as my kids grow and take up more room in the Cypry Dome - it'll be great to have angling's version of a granny-flat to hide in.
Inside the Dome or under the Profile, there sits my mega-comfy JRC Super Cocoon 3 Bedchair, which, for someone with a spine full of pins and bolts (as I have) is possibly more of an essential than rods and reels. I used to have a cheap bedchair. It made overnighters more of a trial than they ever should be, so I invested in the big JRC, and she's a beauty. Not the easiest thing in the world to carry, both on the bank or in the car, but I never leave home without it.
On the sleeping bag front, I've always used just a £40, ex-army job, that is so warm I rarely even zip it up. I don't feel the cold much and that bag is all I need to stay warm and happy in my wee bivvy of a night time. I also use a JRC Classic Chair, which is in dire need of a repair here and there, but has served me well since I first got back into fishing around three years ago.
It's terminal tackle time, I guess, so I'll kick off with a rapid run-through of my rig bits and stuff. Mainline is Shimano Technium in 12lb. test, which has proven itself to be fault-free over a busy summer campaign. It's an ultra low-stretch line, neutral grey in colour and seems to have high anti-abrasion qualities, although I've yet to haul a 20 across a mussel bed and three gravel bars with it, yet. I fish at long range quite a bit, so a shockleader is essential and I've been using the excellent E.S.P. Tapered Leader, which joins the mainline at a neatly-knotted 14 lbs. test and terminates 20-odd feet later at a mighty 40 lbs. breaking strain.
The thick end of this leader is so stiff that I'm going to try using it without anti-tangle tubing, adding a flying backlead to keep everything pinned to the lake bed. Maybe it'll work, maybe not, but with the tubing out of the way, I won't have to worry about the leader knot getting snagged on the tubing in the event of a break in the mainline - and anything that makes a rig safer for the carp has got to be a good thing.
My Fox System Box is stuffed to bursting, mainly with E.S.P. terminal tackle, especially their Raptor Hooks. I like the way these classy little claws hold fast until the fish is in the net, then let go without undue effort from my forceps or fingers. Great hooks, these. I'm a big fan of Carp R Us Gizmos, which are just clever little wire clips that make changing hooklengths a 5-second, knot-free exercise.
Brilliant idea - too expensive by miles - but excellent all the same. My leads are mainly by Korda, backed by their Safety Clips and Sleeves. When set correctly, these really do eject the lead in the event of a snag-up, which is of paramount importance. In the bits and bobs category, my tackle box contains, a Cobra King Boilie Stick, which can hurl a 20mm boilie well over 100 yards, plus a Drennan Boilie Pult, which can't match the Cobra for range but does a fair job of bait-bed building at ranges up to 50 yards or so. A Gardner Mini-Spod completes my food distribution network, and I can happily hit 100+ yards with this, using my AK47, with the 3.5 lb. tip fitted.
A few more bits and the odd bob still to go, and highly recommended comes my Coleman Double-Burner petrol stove. There have been some mighty meals made on this little beauty and with stereo burners, I can have the pasta and the sauce going on at the same time. Marvellous kit for fat gits who lurve their bankside scoff. I never leave home without my Bush-Tec Candle Lamp, either. Even on day sessions, I always seem to be setting up or packing away in the dark, and combined with my head torch (which I can't remember the name of) the candle lamp gives all the power I need to get myself sorted.
Onto the clothing side of things and without a doubt, my favourite bit of gear are my Derriboot Neptunes. I've also got a pair of Derriboot Pisces, which are slightly shorter than the Neptunes but every bit as warm and comfy. These are the kings of the moonboot stylie - without question. If you're looking for a pukkah pair of thermal boots, get these. Says me, who has tried the rest, as it happens.
I'm usually all cammo'd up, these days, thanks to Realtree's Wetlands Pattern and the high quality clothing made from it. Sure, I resemble large expanses of Norfolk marshland, but I'm warm and comfy and nobody can see me unless I want them to - including the carp, probably.
Lastly, the bait. I got on Nash Whiskey and Squid right from the start and bullied my fishing mates into using it, too, on our first concerted baiting campaign. We've caught more fish than ever before and we'll be Whiskey'd up for the foreseeable future, I'd say. I know that I've left out a ton of stuff, but I covered the main items and going through the whole list again has just made my back ache at the thought of carrying it all.
Carping, eh? Just the odd bit of gear and a Motor to cart it all around with. It's great being a purist, I reckon.