Aside from the glamorous and highly collectible numbered limited edition, made when I was a shy, nervous lad of twenty five or so, it’s easy to overlook the MK I version of the Barbus Maximus.
To do so would be a mistake, especially when you see a later example such as this. I suppose one could say that it’s the final expression of refinement after seven years of manufacture. By 1997, we were making our own nickel silver handle fittings and ferrules, and our rod tapers were tried, tested and established. We had the same precision equipment that we’re using now.
This rod is extraordinarily nice in every way. I was quite taken aback when it came in. First by its mint condition and then by everything else. If I was asked to recommend a long, limber split cane rod for general river fishing, or for tench, bream, large crucians and perch in lakes, this would be it.
I can easily picture myself sitting with it by a barbel swim on the Wye, or fishing for chub with it on the Thames in winter. It would be just the thing to coax the big gravel pit tench I don’t seem able to catch anymore from their weedy bolt holes.
I love this rod. Why don’t I buy it for myself? I’d like to, but I’m just a poor ‘umble artisan and it’s not my place to fish with rods intended for the gentry.
The split cane blank, with its hollow-built middle section, is made from flame tempered vintage bamboo, most of which I acquired from Oliver’s of Knebworth, who had bought it from Edgar Sealey in Redditch when they ceased split cane production in the sixties. It’s a striking mahogany colour, or Manuka, if you’d prefer one of my honey references.
The rings are Hopkins & Holloway hard chrome plated stainless steel throughout. Superbly elegant and practical. Nothing to wear out or go wrong. The rod is whipped with Pearsall’s green silk, tipped in Scarlet Pearsall’s Gossamer and varnish impregnated. The splint end suction ferrules are blued, lacquered and complete with their hand turned hardwood & cork stoppers.
The handle has an onion shaped top and is turned from exceptional Flor grade cork supplied by the sadly defunct Western Cork of Wales. The sliding reel bands and butt cap are finely knurled nickel silver.
There is a hook keeper ring incorporated into the male ferrule whipping on the middle section. The Waterman Indian ink inscription reads: E.B. ’97. The Chris Yates Barbus Maximus.
I put my initials by the date to identify myself as the maker, in case the detachable handle got lost. It’s nickel silver butt cap in engraved with: E. BARDER, MAKER.
The rod comes in its tailor made bag with press stud fastenings and a pocket in the flap for the ferrule stoppers.
Reel lines: 6-8 lbs BS
Casting weights: up to 30 grams
Test curve: 1¼ lbs
This late-ish Barbus Maximus MK I has a super progressive action, with plenty of tip strength as well as sensitivity. It’s very nicely balanced for a long rod and someone will have the pleasure of christening this twenty five year old ‘sleeper’ with a fine fish.