B. James & Son ‘Built To Endure’ Richard Walker MK IV.

Made in 1952, this is a very rare and early MK IV carp rod.


At this stage in their production, James (Jim) Bruce and his son (also Jim) were waiting for the new transfers that Richard Walker had suggested they use. He’d signed a few rods (the infamous ‘Signature MK IVs) but this wasn’t a practical option so while they waited, Jim Bruce the elder carried on with his inscriptions.

Perhaps slightly piqued by Walker’s forthright criticism of his handwriting, I sense a significant improvement at this stage. This green whipped rod has just the one gold Built To Endure B. James London transfer. I think they had probably run out of the small lozenge shaped gold B. James transfers. After this, the transfers used were the new ones with black script incorporating a facsimile of Walker’s signature.

The rod is otherwise quite typical of the really early B. James MK IVs. It is built on a blank supplied by Bob Southwell, with alloy handle fittings from W R Products of Shepherds Bush.

The rings, including the lovely agate lined butt and tip, are whipped with mid green silk. The intermediate whippings are nicely spaced, not too close, and I believe these were done in the B. James workshop, not by outworkers. They were sealed with cellulose, which yellows beneath the varnish and produces a patina particular to this vintage of MK IVs. A single coat of correct varnish has been applied over the original finish to seal and preserve it.

The rod is nice and straight and particularly light in the hand. The butt section is 4’ of split cane let into an 18” piece of whole Tonkin bamboo. This was fairly standard on early MK IVs. It gives the rod a lovely light feel, that incomparable whole cane flex, and the casting power Walker was so insistent on when he designed the MK IV.

In completely original and usable condition, this seventy one year old rod is a lovely piece of historically significant equipment. These rods are by definition very rare. If you find the immediate post war carp fishing scene fascinating, love fine old tackle and want something really special, this rod is a peach.

In its maker’s bag.