Many anglers think that fishing with a centre-pin is something that only quirky, nostalgic anglers do. That they’re fit only for those anglers who still sit on wicker creels holding heavy, split-cane rods while longing for all our yesteryears. Maybe they do, but there is much more to fishing with a centre-pin than simply enjoying a spell of nostalgia.
Until you’ve fished a stickfloat with a centre-pin you haven’t lived. The method must rate as one of life’s great pleasures. In comparison, trotting, striking and playing fish with a fixed spool reel is like trying to ride a bike with one pedal. Possible, but not easy. The degree of control that the ‘pin gives you as that stick trots down a smooth glide, pulling line from the ‘pin in an effortless, steady flow, is incomparable. Holding back the stick by dipping a finger onto the slowly revolving spool is a breeze compared to trying the same thing by braking line as it drops off a fixed-spool reel. And when it comes to braking the spool to a dead stop when the float disappears and you need to strike, well, with a centre-pin it’s a doddle, and playing the fish a real treat due to the direct contact.
But beware, there are centre-pin reels and centre-pin reels, and while a good one will provide the pleasure I describe above, a bad one will do no more than provide a headache. The ‘pin I’ve been playing with – and ‘playing’ is a very accurate description, for I felt like a boy with a new toy – is the Young’s John Wilson Heritage from Masterline, probably the Rolls Royce of centre-pin reels.
Made by the renowned Young’s, from lightweight aluminium with brass furniture and ball bearing, the reel is a masterpiece of engineering. You flick the spool and it spins so smoothly you think it floats on air and you wonder if it will ever stop. And this particular, top-of-the-range model has a special hole pattern to reduce weight without losing the ‘flywheel’ effect. It also has the very useful line guard that John Wilson can be seen using in his popular TV programmes, which is used to prevent wind fouling the line peel. The specification is: ratio 1:1, 1 ball bearing, width 3/4in, size 4 1/2in.
I found using the JW Heritage Centre-pin was as good as it looks. Trotting for barbel with a stick float and 6lb line is an absolute delight. The line runs off extremely smoothly and the float is controlled so easily it is a real pleasure. First time out with it I caught several barbel on caster, the best a splendid fish of 9lb 8oz, and now I can’t get enough of it. A wonderful reel that I have no hesitation in recommending, and one that can be stood on the mantelpiece and admired when not in use.
At £ 250.00 it isn’t cheap, but there again it was never meant to be. However, when you see the quality of the engineering you’ll understand why it isn’t cheap.
Each reel comes with a signed and numbered certificate from J W Young. A Young’s black, sheepskin leather pouch is also available at £ 29.95. Both can be ordered through most quality tackle shops when not in stock.
The Young’s John Wilson Heritage Centre-pin Reel, Ref. Y 2000.