Over the past few months I’ve purchased some classic vintage boat fishing tackle, just for a bit of fun. I’m talking about quality old tackle, boasting well executed and functional design. Tackle that was built to last and proudly crafted in England. The type of gear that when I was a young lad, was regularly illustrated in the angling magazines of the day, alongside well known anglers and their seemingly colossal fish. In those days, such tackle was completely out of my price range, so all I could do back then, was to dream and drool. I’ve been surprised, however, that some of the rods from the top English makers of the 1960’s and 1970’s like Hardy and Bruce and Walker, can still be found in nearly new condition. To my mind at least, some examples now offer fantastic value for money, either as collectors pieces, or dare I say it, to use once again. For some reason, I’ve found old sea fishing tackle is much more affordable than so much of the vintage freshwater tackle you see advertised. This may be down to the fact that so much old sea fishing tackle has been damaged by saltwater that people don’t think it’s worth collecting, but I’ve found that if you’re prepared to spend a little time hunting around, there’s some great classics to buy out there. By way of example, last year, I picked up a 7’ 30lb class Bruce and Walker fibre glass boat rod. The rings are in tip top condition and apart from a small area of flaking varnish; the rod is in great shape and came with its original cloth bag. The cost - £32. I’ve since teamed this rod up with a narrow Mitchell boat reel – the 622 model with stainless spool and stainless side plates. I don’t know the exact age of this reel. It probably dates from the early 1970’s, but it still runs incredibly sweetly and the star drag works just as well as the day it left the factory. Previous owner(s) have fastidiously maintained the reel and it shows negligible signs of corrosion. This reel set me back the princely sum of £26 from that well known auction site. I’ve loaded the Mitchell reel with 250 metres of new 30lb Dacron. Whilst this line is a chunk thicker than modern braid, I thought that it would be more fun to fish this outfit with a line type that closer matched the era. I thought briefly about spooling it up with blue 31lb Sylcast, but I’m not sure I could deal with the elasticity of monofilament on a boat rod outfit ever again! Teamed up with the Bruce and Walker 30lb boat rod, I now have a balanced vintage setup that still feels remarkably good today. Bruce and Walker must have really thought about the rod design too, for here is a medium weight class of boat rod that actually bends! (It has a delightful through action). By comparison, I can’t remember my only boat rod from that era bending much at all. The B&W rod is hollow fibreglass, so weight wise, the outfit would still be a doddle to use today. I don’t know whether my purchases will increase in value in coming years, but that’s not been the driver behind me buying them. Rather, I wanted to live the dreams of my youth by owning the tackle I’d drooled over back then and have some fun using it every now and again. Don’t get me wrong. Quality modern gear definitely has the edge, but I’ve surprised myself just how serviceable some of this 40 to 50 year old tackle still is. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that with a limited budget, I would much rather spend my £60 on the Bruce and Walker rod and Mitchell reel, than the same amount on a cheap modern boat outfit! I’d also wager that this old school outfit would still be performing long after the modern outfit fails. How often do you hear about cheap boat multipliers lasting less than a season, or rod rings rapidly corroding? So what else have I picked up recently? I think the star find for me recently, was a set of three Hardy IGFA 50lb class big game boat rods. These are things of real beauty and ooze class. So they should too, as the Hardy Company was truly on top of its game, when these rods were made back in the 1960’s. The standard of workmanship is exemplary and each rod is numbered and signed off with the initials of the Hardy craftsman who was instrumental in their build. In my opinion and very sadly, Hardy gear has lost so much of its desirability, now that the Company has its rods manufactured out in China. Interestingly, the vendor of these boat rods told me with pride of the 364lb porbeagle shark that was landed on one of these Hardy rods when he fished them in the UK. A shark of that calibre would be an achievement today, but was certainly a very special fish in those bygone days. I would like to think that one day; I might bring them out to do battle once more, if not on the porbeagle shark, perhaps a big common skate? The Hardy 50lb rods are teamed up Grice and Young Tatler Supreme reels. There are two Mk 4’s and a Mk 5. Again, these have stood the test of time incredibly well and I’d be very confident using these today. I must admit to being in a slight dilemma here. Part of me is itching to press these Hardy rods and Tatler reels back into service, but the other part of me says that they are in such great condition; perhaps they should be left alone to enjoy their retirement. Some of the ‘older’ members of this forum will be smiling now, I’m sure. I’ll bet there is still a vast collection of vintage fishing rods and reels sitting in people’s homes that hasn’t seen the light of day for decades. Perhaps some of you own examples of the same tackle I’ve detailed above? Does anyone care to share some pictures and tales relating to use of your vintage gear? Perhaps there should be a vintage gear outing one day?