A centrepin is a reel acting as a line reservoir with its axis at right angles to the rod. Good centrepins consist of a flanged drum, machined to very fine tolerances, which revolves freely on a precisionengineered steel axle. Many models have appeared over the years, ranging from the cheap and simple kind in Bakelite (an early plastic) to the comparatively expensive models manufactured from stainless steel or enamelled metal. Wooden models have also been produced, but are now not so common. The centrepin is simple in construction, and—by virtue of this—reliable, as well as being easy to operate and to maintain. Once the use of the centrepin has been mastered many anglers prefer it to the fixedspool reel. There is certainly more satisfaction in using it properly.
The centrepin is used mainly for ‘trotting’—allowing the river’s current to carry floattackle smoothly downstream, allowing the bait to cover long stretches of water at one cast. It is with this method that the freerunning centrepin drum is put to best advantage. To recover line quickly, the drum is given a series of taps with all four fingers in a practice called ‘batting’.
The diameter of the reel can vary, but most are between 31 in and 41 in. The drum’s diameter will be almost as large, and the larger the drum the more rapid will be the line recovery. Most centrepins have a line guard and optional ratchet, while some also have a drag mechanism. An exposed smooth rim, which allows fingerpressure to be applied to control the line when casting or playing a fish is a valuable feature. Many of the older centrepin reels are now very much in demand for their fine, free action.
Although the centrepin is still used— and indeed has made a comeback in recent years—its popularity suffered greatly when the fixedspool reel was introduced over 40 years ago. This reel permits almost effortless long casting, because the drum is parallel to the rod. To achieve similar distances with a centrepin is a satisfying accomplishment. Nevertheless, the centrepin is still unrivalled in two circumstances: in water where the fishing is virtually under the rod end and there are likely to be big fish which go off at high speed, such as carp; and where the fishing is closein. The centrepin scores in both conditions due to the perfect control which can be exercised by the thumb on the drum of the reel. A point in favour is that the alternative—using the slipping clutch of a fixedspool reel—was not designed for use with fine lines.
Line should be wound at normal speed onto another reel, for if left on the first it can distort the spool and ruin the reel. It is also worthwhile to wind off your line occasionally and then wind it back onto the spool, making sure that it is distributed evenly. When tying hooks directly to your nylon, be careful to remember that one of the properties of nylon is that the oldfashioned ‘granny knot’ will not hold. A good knot for tying hooks to nylon is the halfblood. As with nylon line’s elasticity, its resistance to decay has a serious drawback. Hook lengths, ‘bird’s nests’ and odd lengths of unwanted line are frequently thrown away or left at the waterside after fishing. These coils and loops can easily become entangled in