Sean Meeghan must have been a good boy as he's just been to Centrepin Heaven!
Recently I spent a really enjoyable couple of hours in the company of a master craftsman. It all started at the last Yorkshire regional meeting of the Barbel Society in Wetherby when I won a Wallis casting lesson with Chris Lythe who, for those of you who don't know him, builds centrepin reels to die for.
The afternoon started with a welcome cuppa in Chris' home workshop while we discussed the finer points of centre pin construction and swapped tales of fishing for barbel and grayling on the Yorkshire rivers.
I then had a good poke round the workshop, admiring the machine tools (I am a production engineer after all!) and batches of work in progress.
Chris produces all his components in-house with the bulk of them being machined from aerospace grade T6 aluminium billet. Chris's reels are all true pins and the amount of work that goes into matching the spool and the pin is truly amazing!
Next I admired the finished product, a reel which was waiting to go out to a customer (all reels are made to order).
All reels are based on original Aerial designs and the quality of fit and finish has to be seen and felt to be believed: they are masterpieces of precision engineering with tiny gaps and beautifully finished components. Even the presentation cases, which are hand made for him, are exquisite.
Now for the lesson! We set up our gear on the local recreation ground, my 15 year old Swallow and Garbolino Carp Match rod, contrasting with Chris's '1915 Avon' and 11ft home built trotter. Chris soon had me drilled in the basics of the Wallis cast and, once I'd un-educated my multiplier educated thumb, I was achieving distances of about 15 yards.
One thing that did stand out was how much easier it was to cast with Chris's reel (a true pin remember) than it was with my well run in and very lightly oiled ball bearing reel. The Lythe pin seemed to have a very slight 'stickyness' which was probably down to the film of oil on the much larger area of the plain bearing. This didn't seem to affect the rotation of the reel once it was moving, it just seemed to slow the acceleration slightly and so was probably due to a surface tension effect. I'm going to try a slightly heavier oil on my reel before my next practice session to see if it makes any difference.
So, will I use the Wallis cast in future? The answer is a resounding probably! I need a bit more practice before I'm competent casting a float and the check on my reel is a little too soft for legering for barbel. I'm going to have to see if I can get hold of a stronger spring for the Swallow. Does anybody know of a source of spares for this reel?
All in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon and many thanks to Chris for his time and patience. If you haven't seen a Chris Lythe Centerpin before then check out his website.
But be warned that when you see one you'll want one and there is a waiting list!
By the Same Author
- Book review - Memories of the Yorkshire Fishing Industry
- Winter Fishing – A Wandering Session
- Barbel Fishing - Floodwater Tactics on Big Rivers
- Nash PegOne Tackle ‘n’ Bait Caddy
- Loch Lomond Dreams
- River Fishing - The Last Hurrah
- Cold Water Chub
- Chub Fishing on a Rising River
- Grayling Fishing - Between Times
- Book Review - The Lambton Worm by Pete McParlin