The ‘Craftversa’ 11’3″ Avon rod №5 made by Edward Barder in 1993.

Signed by Bernard Venables MBE. In mint condition. One of only nine made.


I was very fortunate to know Bernard and Eileen Venables well and we met often from the 1980s until Bernard’s death in 2001. We collaborated on a number of fishing tackle projects -the Bernard Venables landing net, the BV fly rod and a limited edition of nine Craftversa 2-piece Avon-style rods.

Bernard had been a great friend of Terry Thomas, who was the chief rod designer for Milward’s of Redditch. Thomas favoured rods with reverse tapered butts, so that the section of the rod to the rear of the reel would flex slightly when casting. This doesn’t diminish from the rod’s power at all but it does give one’s cast a satisfying fillip, rather as a whole cane butt does.

The Crafversa was Bernard’s favourite coarse fishing rod and in his typically encouraging way, he suggested that I might like to make a few, based on his rod. I produced nine in total, all made in my original workshop at Northend, on the Hants-Berks border. This was BC (before Colin). The first three were signed at Bernard and Eileen’s cottage at Fosbury, the final six at Upavon. Bernard was eighty six at the time. He liked to give me a good lunch and plenty of nice wine before he signed the rods. As you can see, quite a lot of Indian ink got on Bernard’s fingers. The same happens to me and I don’t drink wine at work.

This is not only a very rare, collectible and special piece, it’s a superb fishing rod. I not only built the butt with a reverse taper to the final 18″, it’s also hollow-built. The cane was all hand split and straightened before precision tapering. The nodes on the tip are arranged in the Garrison pattern. I could explain this to you but you’d find it very boring. The nodes on the butt are arranged in the classic Leonard 3 x 3 pattern. This too has its own equally dull explanation.

The rod’s action is progressive, steely, lissome (who can get enough of lissome in these days, when everything’s really heavy, man) and just gorgeous for trotting and touch ledgering. One of the nicest rods I ever made, signed by Bernard Venables and there’s only nine of them. Imagine that.


11’3″ 2-piece hand-built split cane. Hollow-built butt section, reverse-tapered from 18″ above its end. The cane is perfectly straight and lively. The rod has had minimal use in its twenty nine years.

The 26″ Flor grade cork handle has a subtly flared top, new Barder Rod Co sliding winch fittings, an alloy conical butt cap and a RED RUBBER BUTTON. This last detail seems to matter a lot. I was sent to boarding school as a child and thought I’d seen all kinds of odd, but rod collectors and their red rubber fetish. That’s a new one.

The Beatson’s of Sheffield splint end ferrule is blued, lacquered, snug fitting and retains its original hand-turned stopper.

Rings are Amberfin butt and tip with Hopkins & Holloway hard chrome plated stand off intermediates. A hook keeper is secured by the handle top whipping. Whippings are Burdundy silk, varnish impregnated. The rod has an impeccable hand applied marine grade varnish finish.

The Indian ink inscriptions include the model, year of manufacture, length and of course Bernard Venables’ signature on the bottom flat between the handle top and the butt ring.

The rod comes with its original tailored bag and a photo of Bernard signing the rod.