A return to form: the satisfaction of a split-cane fishing

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It’s not an easy thing to throw away, an old fishing rod. For one thing, there’s the emotional attachment, and when it comes to a split-cane fishing rod in particular these attachments are liable to run deep. Maybe you were given it by someone who has since cooled and is now casting his or her line on the banks of the Great Perhaps. Maybe it was with this very rod that you caught your first trout or salmon back when you were a nipper. ‘No,’ you tell yourself, ‘there are some things that one just can’t bring oneself to part with.’ Added to that, for the city dweller there’s the question of logistics and the eternal conundrum, to whit: What goes in what bag for the bin men – should they ever deign to arrive? We know that, according to the Scriptures, anything that decomposes goes in the weird, caul-like white bag. Anything that doesn’t decompose goes in the red / clear / pink / blue recycling bag. Anything not recyclable such as polyethylene (or, if the month has an ‘r’ in, polypropylene) that cannot be recycled goes in the black bag so long is it a) cannot be composted and b) doesn’t qualify for the fabled brown bag that you have to order specially from the uncontactable council. Nobody knows whether a split-cane fishing rod falls within council definitions of compostiblility or recyclability, if those are even words. It probably fits both and almost certainly qualifies for the brown bag, too. So you consider the rubbish tip but soon find our that it’s only open on the eleventy-fifth of Jantember between 11.35am and 11.38am - and anyway split-cane rods are specifically prohibited along with electrical goods, armchairs, anything bigger than an apple and plutonium. So it looks like you’re stuck with the infernal thing. Our advice? Take it to the river. There’s something uniquely satisfying about re-learning old skills or learning those same skills for the first time. It takes a bit of getting used to, this strange, unyielding yet peculiarly effective sliver of timber, but when one finally lands a fish, one can reassure oneself that one did it the hard way. The proper way. (And if you come up empty-handed? Well, we would be the last to countenance littering or fly tipping, but we would be so bold as to say that perhaps there would be – if only in theory, of course – something just and natural about consigning an old piece of wood to the sweet, sweet waters of the river.)