I have often pondered how anglers of yore would view the methods and tackle of today.  Walker was of course my boyhood hero and I borrowed his books from the library and had to renew them time and time again.  Drop Me a Line and Stillwater Angling were probably my favourites but there is no place for favouritism in this area of literature.  My copy of ‘No Need to Lie’ was never returned but as that is nearly fifty years ago my offence is probably spent under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act.


I actually saw Walker fishing on the Royalty and was in awe.  Peter Stone was there and a young Drennan who was making fluted floats around that time – although not on the riverbank of course.  What was Walker like to fish with?  He did regularly fish with the Taylor brothers who were, allegedly, quite good fun and I can’t imagine Dick being constantly serious and abstemious but you cannot have that amount of success without applying yourself almost scientifically and of course he did have an engineering background. His explanation of thermoclines in deep lakes was just within my comprehension and I am sure that Bernard Venables would not particularly have wanted to fish with the wind in his face but I must say that I did not find it made any difference to rivers and ponds; however I never caught massive perch from Arlesey Lake.


The Arlesey bomb is still a superb leger weight and it can readily be flattened, painted or covered in daub to produce a fine patina but would the great man have welcomed sea weights and bolt rigs?


Walker's classic 'No Need to Lie'As I am writing this paragraph it is 0200 hours on 16 June.  I wonder if he started fishing bang on the stroke of midnight and would he have moved into a swim in the afternoon of the 15th in order to be able to get a place to fish?  I know he pre-baited swims but how would he have viewed the shovelling of stones of boilies and pellets into small rivers?  He would have realised that the fish would become bloated and disinterested and I would hate to think that he would have been so unsporting and unconcerned about the sport of others. 


Would he ever have run to a swim as we had to on the Royalty before the maggot ban in the 60s?  Barbel fishing at that time was more akin to laying-on for tench as the slacks were fed with gallons of maggots and one watched as first roach and dace and then perch and finally hoovering barbel moved in over the carpet of gentles.  It was exciting stuff with centrepins and lightish tackle but I think he was after the enormous barbel of the middle Avon at the time and they were a size then, bigger than the current record – and more like barbel.


Without doubt barbel existed in the Ouse during Walker’s time and in his words reached prodigious size but as far as we know he never caught one from that river and his largest from the Avon was ‘only’ twelve and three quarter pounds.  What a fish that is now, let alone how massive it was at the time.


As recorded in ‘No Need to Lie’ he was using ‘A Chapman MKIV carp rod, an Intrepid reel holding 200 yards of 11lb nylon line and my big carp landing net.  On the line was a 1oz Arlesey bomb and a number 1 gilt incurved hook, baited with three big lobs’  There is nothing wrong with Chapman rods as the cane was sometimes made by Bob Southwell, but why did Walker not use one of his own MKIVs? 


The Intrepid reel was presumably a ‘Surfcast’, which friends used to use for pike and eel fishing. I wonder if the hook was a Chapman’s ‘Goldstrike’, which was an immensely strong hook but needed some careful honing on a sharpening stone to be effective.  What would he have used today?  I think he would have been using ‘carbon fibre’ as he always used to embrace new technology; indeed he was already using carbon or ‘graphite’ at Grafham water (Is that how they got their respective names; a chicken and egg situation.)  He would probably have used a Japanese free-line fixed spool, as he put the rod in a rest, made himself comfortable and settled down to wait, allegedly.  The 12 and three quarter pound fish virtually hooked itself, so would he have used bolt rigs after all.  I think not because he was a thinking angler and would not have risked a break off or snagged fish.


On the Kennet he lost a massive fish using very light tackle and never repeated the mistake or caught a Berkshire Beast.


This morning is brilliantly bright and sunny, quite like our wedding day, 37 years ago exactly.  Bunty and I have actually been together for 40 years and in the early days she used to accompany me to Penton Hook and Ham Bridge on the Kennet.  She did fish and I remember telling her to bend into a small barbel at which point she bent her knees, but nevertheless landed the fish.  She was using a Dave Steuart Allrounder which I purchased from a barbel fanatic friend. 


What would he use now?I don’t know if Walker ever fished with his spouse.  In his undergraduate days he fished the Cam, but in the books there is no mention of the fair pheromonal female and he had no need to lie.  He used to cycle  everywhere and it was probably a traditional bike as I had when cycling miles to venues on the Lower Thames and as far as Virginia Water.  Would he have a traditional bike now? The choice is infinite, as it is with everything, but I cannot see him on a bike with small wheels and scurrying pedals and ankles.  His epic ride from Hitchin to Scarborough would have been much easier on a modern bike with Shimano Gears!


I think that there is little doubt that he would have used one of the splendid Shimano fixed-spool reels as they cover the whole range of angling activity but a Baitrunner would only come out on special occasions.  I could not predict which modern centrepin would be in his creel as there are so many splendid creations on the market.  He may have been lucky enough to have inherited an Aerial or Speedia but we do not know much of the young Richard’s angling antecedence. As he fished before the Great War, a strange description of such conflict, he probably had a wooden star back or a creaking tin fabrication.


I shall continue to muse on the banks of a river.  Where would Walker fish nowadays?