B. James & Son The Avocet 11’3″ 3-piece Avon rod.

Made c1954, this is an outstanding example of the most sought after classic Avon-style rod.


This rod came to us from the estate of a collector who died a while ago. Its ring and ferrule whippings had dried out, as things do after nearly seventy years. Its ferrules needed re-finishing and their original stoppers had to be varnished and re-corked. Apart from that, the rod is completely original.

These early Avocets seem to have gone through three distinct incarnations. All have split cane middles and tips supplied by Bob Southwell of Croydon. The earliest examples are lovely and stylistically close to Wallis Wizards. The second versions, of which this is one, have slightly finer, closer whippings but similar tapers. The final versions, still with Southwell cane and ‘trumpet’ handles, have significantly heavier tips and exceedingly closely spaced whippings. They’re all nice, but it’s the first two formats that make the nicest rods to fish with.

In the hand, this rod is lissome and lively even by Avocet standards. It isn’t clubby or top-heavy. Later ones often are. It’s surprisingly light too, and as you can see from the accompanying pictures, it’s a very beautiful rod. No collection of classic cane rods should be without an Avocet. If there’s an Avocet-sized gap in your rod rack, this one will fill it nicely.


11’3″ 3-piece. Whole cane butt, Southwell-built hand-planed split cane middle and tip. All dead straight.

Splint end spigot ferrules, blued, lacquered and retaining a snug fit. Original stoppers, re-corked and varnished.

26″ ‘trumpet’ topped cork handle with W R Products sliding winch fittings, conical alloy butt cap & RED rubber button.

Rings are original bronzed carbon steel ‘Bell’s Life’ stand-off, with clear Agatine centred butt & tip rings. This ring set is unusual for a rod of this vintage. They usually had small low bridge rings which aren’t the best thing for float fishing. This may have been a special order. There is no ghosting on the cane to suggest that the rod was once fitted with different rings, and the whippings we removed looked original.

The silks are dark green Pearsall’s. We have varnished these to match the rod’s original intermediate whippings.

The rod comes in its vintage tailored cotton bag, restored by our seamstress.