Fishing lines: Driven to drink

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The Independent Online
My friend David Hall, clearly concerned that people aren't taking him seriously enough as an angling publisher, has just bought himself an Aston Martin Lagonda. I haven't the heart to tell him that now he has absolutely no chance of being taken seriously ever again by the people who matter.

Oh, the car's very fine. It looks wonderful, sexy as the Spice Girls. It has all those essential accessories like a gauge to measure the temperature on the left-hand side of the boot, dashboard lights that adjust their colour to match your eyes, and a singing waterfall. But it's not a proper fishing car.

There are some useful accessories, it's true. Those sheepskin rugs are very handy to go under the wheels when you get stuck in a muddy field. He will be doing a lot of this because the beast weighs getting on for two tons. And picnic tables! I've always wanted a car with them.

Not to eat food from, of course. For trout anglers, there's nothing worse than finding your quarry feeding wildly on the one fly you left at home. But tying flies on the bank is a nightmare: the materials blow everywhere and trying to screw a vice to your wader just doesn't work very well. With picnic tables, I could use the right-hand one (being left-handed) as a solid base for a fly-tying vice; the left-hand one to hold tinsels, varnish, hackles, capes, fur and beads.

But the Aston falls down on little things. First, its build quality just isn't good enough for a fishing car. White leather looks very pretty. But when four friends in wet clothing pile in and devour the sandwiches they never got round to eating on the bank, sip sticky drinks and wipe muddy hands on the nearest surface, it's dark velour you need.

Then there's the all-important matter of rods. Oh, sure, the Aston's as big as a bus (17ft 4in: imagine trying to park that in a narrow country lane) but that elegant roof lining just isn't going to last a season against intrusive rod rings. I have suggested that David replaces it with sticky dark vinyl, which can be easily repaired with a dab of superglue.

Worst of all is the boot - the tackle container just isn't good enough. Its capacity is disappointing, and it is so shallow that a normal tackle box has to go on its side, meaning all the hooks, shot and maggots fall out. The first two are easy to hoover up. The last disappear into impenetrable places, reappearing as bluebottles three months later.

In his quest for image, Hall has missed the essential point of a fishing car. Looks are unimportant, but practicality is. The Aston is far too comfortable. It's an angling truism that the person with the biggest and best car drives. OK, some people like acting as chauffeurs. But it's no fun going on a long trip and finding all your mates have fallen asleep within minutes of starting the return journey.

I used to run a battered Volvo estate as my fishing car. The seats were lumpy and uncomfortable; exhaust fumes belched into the car; the heater didn't work and it wallowed like a duck in the bathtub. I insisted that if we took my car, others shared the driving. Nobody ever dozed off, however tired they were, because it was so cold/uncomfortable/nauseous inside.

Hall wants a car to turn heads. The Volvo certainly did that. Its original colour was blue, but much of this had peeled off and the rest had faded or been dabbed with red oxide in a vain attempt to halt creeping rust. The green roof rack set it all off rather nicely. A car like this cuts through traffic faster than a police escort. If I had known that Hall wanted a car that would make people talk about him, he could have had mine.

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