Most anglers take the basic shape of modern carp leads for granted, but we have the great Dick Walker to thank for revolutionising the art of legering 65 years ago…
In September 1953, just two months after Angling Times had launched, ‘new’ weekly columnist Dick Walker lifted the lid on an item of tackle that he and his friends had developed for their own use, but one that would ultimately change the way all people fished.
He described it as “a special lead that was designed for fishing at range for big perch at Arlesey Lake in Bedfordshire” (a venue where Dick would go on to catch numerous 4lb-plus specimens).
Up until that point, anglers wishing to fish the leger were limited to using ‘coffin leads’ or ‘drilled bullets’, both of which had serious limitations.
It didn’t take long for Dick to realise the many other applications for his new invention, and he went on to list its numerous advantages.
He wrote: “By reason of its shape it travels nose-first when cast and offers less wind resistance. This not only means longer casting, but greater accuracy when the wind is across the line of the cast.
“When used as a leger, with the line running through the swivel-eye, the hook length never gets twisted around the line on the rod side of the lead; or, if it does, the twists come out as the tackle sinks or when you tighten on your lead.
“This is a terrific advantage. Very few fish, especially big ones, will hang on to a bait if they feel the drag of a leger lead.
“Unless your line runs freely you may have dozens of bites and never know: and the longer the range at which you’re fishing the more likely this is to happen.
“At Arlesey, where very long casting is needed to catch the big perch, we found that with coffin leads or drilled bullets, we got a twist-up at least once in every two casts.
“This was the same as losing an hour’s fishing in every two and in a cross wind it was worse than that.”
Dick also revealed how the many hours of experiments he and his friends had undertaken showed that it wasn’t just stillwater anglers that were set to benefit from the new shape of lead.
“In river fishing, the lead doesn’t roll much and it doesn’t kink the tackle when it does. It nearly always lies swivel end downstream and thus minimises friction of line through the swivel eye.
“Even when a fish goes off at an angle the lead turns on its largest circumference and keeps the friction as low as possible.”
Dick concluded his piece by saying: “It’s the best leger lead I know of and I’d like to see it available for everyone who wants it.”