Until recently a rod rest was a length of stick with a forked end, often cut from a hedge by the water and sometimes referred to by the term ‘idleback’. Its best use was as a support for the rod while the angler ate a snack, but today any attempt at ledgering or layingon is certainly pointless without a firm base on which the rod can be securely cradled.
Strength, lightness, adaptability and simplicity are the four essentials of a good rod rest. Strength sufficient to penetrate deeply a hard bank or gravel pit edge so that the rod will be firmly held, especially in a wind, suggests the use of a metal support. But when one considers that two sets (four rests) may have to be carried, lightness prohibits the use of thick steel or iron bars.
The best models
Various kinds of thin, light alloy rod rests are available in the shops, but most are likely to bend if full body pressure is applied to drive them into the ground. Better models are thick, hollow, well pointed, and without a seam or join along the side through which water can seep and leak over tackle or the angler. One or two models, made from a hard metal and shaped into a T’ or T section, have recently appeared on the market. They are remarkably strong and by virtue of their shape are easy to mount into the bank. But they do cost a lot more than the average rest and are just as likely to be left behind as their cheaper counterparts. One suggestion for the forgetful angler is to paint a part of the rest a bright colour to act as a visual reminder.
Adaptability includes adjustable length and several angles of use apart from the upright position. Telescopic rests that can be held open to the required length by a thumbscrew are popular, but rather more delicate than the onepiece variety. Unfortunately, they tend to collect water and mud in the hollow section, to the detriment of rod bags or holdalls.
There are a few rests that have adjustable heads, but most have vertical grips for holding the rod. A model with an inclined head is available, which can support a rod with the tip pointing downwards for swingtip ledgering.
Simplicity is essential at the head. The rod should sit lightly but firmly in the support, and there should be a gap so that the line can run smoothly when a fish takes. The usual ‘U’ and ‘V7 shapes are particularly likely to trap a line below the rod, and more than one good run has stopped short because of this.
Setting rod rests demands a little thought. They should be well spread, giving maximum support to the rod itself. Mounted too closely together the rod will vibrate in any reasonable wind, leading to false bites registering at the indicator or float tip. Where the bank is extra hard, preventing a good vertical push into the ground, try to set the rests at right angles to each other. Sufficient shaft can then be buried to give support.
Finally, there should be adequate soft plastic or rubber padding around the arms of the head so that the rod will not be chipped when set down or accidentally knocked. Electricians’ waterproof tape can help where protection is thin, but it should be renewed every season.