The Kennet Perfection 11’3″ made by Edward Barder in 1989.

2-pieces + its detachable handle, in mint condition. A truly superb rod with exceptional provenance.


When I was commuting to London from Newbury in the late 1980s, I spent much of my spare time building rods to supplement the rather old fashioned salary I earned at Hardy’s shop on Pall Mall. This Kennet Perfection is one of those rods.

Before joining the Hardy staff, I ‘d managed a tackle shop my home valley. One quiet afternoon, a fellow barbel fanatic saw me restoring a cane rod in the back room. Would I be interested in making some Kennet Perfections for Fred Crouch (THE barbel angler of the period) and his gang, asked my friend. Fred used Oliver’s Kennet Perfections exclusively and his fellow barbel enthusiasts wished to do the same, but Ted Oliver was trying to retire.

I duly went to Knebworth to see Ted. He sold me the wooden planing form on which he’d fashioned his Kennet Perfections. It was, he told me, the one he’d bought from his master when he finished his apprenticeship with Bob Southwell. Yes, that Bob Southwell. The former cost me sixty quid per groove. There’s one for the tip and one for the middle. I left his shop with no money and a very historically important piece of Parana pine.

I made quite a few rods on this former, including one that was bought by a local fishing friend called Colin Whitehouse. It must have had some strong magnetism about it. Colin’s been working with me for thirty one years!

In 1989, aged twenty four, I appeared to have found a trade I was suited for, if this rod is anything to go by. As well as my job with the world’s most famous tackle makers, I was a member of the Red Spinner Angling Society. I joined at the same time as an Oxford academic called Dr Richard Knowles. I seem to remember that he was a noted barbel angler and he commissioned this rod from me. I went to Oxford one stormy night to deliver it, passing a house in Headington that had a twenty foot long shark poking out of its roof. After I’d handed the rod over to Mrs Knowles (Dr Knowles was out, or hiding from sharks), I made off for the Turf Tavern with my girlfriend for a much needed glass of beer. The shark had given me quite a shock.

Thirty three years later, I was reunited with the rod. It was in very good condition, completely sound and undamaged or troubled by its time in the company of barbel and sharks. It had its owner’s name on it and the finish, I’m sure you’ll understand, was not quite so splendid as my current efforts produce. I have refinished the rod to my current standard and it is now as good as new. Better, actually.

In the process, I was able to establish that all components are in perfect order. The split cane, with its incomparably excellent and original Kennet Perfection taper, is absolutely straight and 100% sound. The ferrules are an ideal, firm fit. Their aluminium stoppers are the originals that I sent for from the Hardy factory in Alnwick, as are the sliding reel bands and the rod bag. The stand-off rings are hard chromed stainless steel, with Amberfin butt and tip rings. There is a hook keeper ring above the male ferrule on the middle section.

The cork covered detachable split cane handle has an onion-shaped top and a tapered aluminium butt cap fitted with a rubber button.

The whippings are bottle green silk with matching graduated intermediate whippings. The Indian ink inscription gives the year of manufacture, the maker and model.

A genuine Kennet Perfection is a tremendously versatile, strong and limber rod. This one, made on the same former that was used by Bob Southwell and Ted Oliver, will prove to be ideal for barbel, chub, perch, big roach and tench. My memory, whilst not perfect, tells me that I made about a dozen Kennet Perfections during this period. Colin still has his. My friend Tim has another. Mine was last seen disappearing into the depths of Abingdon weir on the Thames, but that’s another story. The rest went to members of The Associations Of Barbel Enthusiasts, Fred Crouch’s forerunner of the Barbel Society.

It’s a very good, very rare and utterly charming rod. The accompanying pictures will hopefully give you a flavour of it and you would be welcome to make an appointment to view it.

To be used with reel lines of 4 – 6 lbs breaking strain, it will cast weights up to one and a quarter ounces plus bait.

I will provide a signed and dated letter of provenance for the rod’s new owner.