FISHING WITH AN ANTIQUE TRAVEL ROD BY GEORGE LAMB
The 1950s was a time of huge technological advancement. During the period after World War 2, many inventions changed the way humans lived including the credit card, McDonald’s, superglue and even the pacemaker. From an angling perspective, a very worthy addition to that list is the solid glass Milbro travel spinning rod. Here at Rigged and Ready we have a passion for the compact side of fishing and looking back on those that came before us is a big source of inspiration.
Founder Andy Rigg has a very impressive collection of vintage travel fishing rods in our Kendal-based office. After a quick look through it during a meeting, there was one that caught my eye. This 70-year-old solid glass spinning rod looked eager to be brought out of retirement, and it was soon decided that I’d be heading out to film a video fishing with it. The 4-piece rod was made by Milbro in Scotland, a brand which is surprisingly difficult to find out about online. These days it’s very rare to find rods made in the UK unless, of course, you hop on eBay and pick yourself up a Milbro!
I decided to rig up the rod and take it out pike fishing on the Lancaster canal. For the sake of fish welfare, I opted to use the reliable Rigged and Ready RR3000 fixed spool spinning reel loaded with 30lb braid down to a wire trace. While period reels do exist, and I’m sure in some instances would be perfectly adequate, I didn’t want to risk a malfunction during a fight with a big pike. As you can see, the reel seat is extremely basic, but I found it to be surprisingly effective. Until it started raining that is, and the two metal rings were constantly needing to be readjusted. However, due to its unique nature, the reel can be fixed at any point along the handle. Maybe, just maybe, one may be able to attach a fly reel to the bottom for a very ad-lib solution.
My favourite feature of the rod is undoubtedly the striking green colour. I’m not completely sure if this is a consequence of the production methods used in the time period or an aesthetic choice but either way, it looks fantastic from a stylistic perspective. In addition, the metal joints connecting the sections together, while very cumbersome, add a nice bit of shine to the rod. In terms of performance, my review isn’t quite as sparkling. The rod is surprisingly heavy and unbalanced but somehow has an unusually soft and floppy action. This gives the rod a very clunky feel when casting, and you might be able to see what I mean in this action shot below.
It’s this soft action that I’m blaming for the fact that I lost quite a few fish on that trip, and the lack of backbone probably resulted in an inability to adequately set the hook. However, as anglers, we are very susceptible to excuse-making, so it could well have been user error! That said, I did manage a couple of pike nonetheless. No monsters, but the satisfaction of catching a fish on a 70-year-old rod is comparable to that of a double-figure fish any day of the week.
The Rapala Husky Jerk proved too much for this pike to resist, and fortunately for me, the Milbro was able to land it with ease. Pike really are an amazing predator and even a small one is enough to terrify a large shoal of roach. I mean, just look at those teeth! When fishing for pike please make sure you always use a trace to ensure it doesn’t bite through your line. I’m aware a titanium leader doesn’t exactly fit the bill for a vintage approach to fishing, but fish care comes first!
It's the many quirks of this rod that make it so loveable, and it was an absolute pleasure to use. For example, look at the size difference between the first and the second eye! Although I’m pleased to be able to get back out with my normal Rigged and Ready fishing kit, I have to admit this was one of my favourite videos to go out and film for YouTube. It’s great to see how travel fishing equipment has developed over time. We sell our rods fully protected in a strong Cordura travel case, a world away from this rod’s transport solution!
If you want to watch this rod in action, the full video is out on my YouTube channel ‘Adventure Fishing UK’
If you enjoy the video, I’d really appreciate it if you dropped a like, and subscribed if you want to watch more of the videos I make!
The trip really made me ponder the history of the rod I had in my hand. How many fish had this caught before? How many anglers have used it before me? I’m sure it has hundreds of stories to tell, and now it has one more.