It has been available for some time, but on the "Ginger Beer" stretch at Kimbolton, there were plenty of the rods with matching lines so that anyone who wanted to could have a few casts. My good mate Geoff Lambert accepted my second invitation and we set off with three of our children in tow.

We departed Bristol in miserable conditions, but as is often the way when heading east along the M4, it soon brightened up. We took a small detour round a specialist carp anglers’ shop in Swindon, (high protein barbel bait is also sold there and we enjoy fishing for this species in the summer months) and arrived at about midday. First of all we had a look around the marquee set up to hold the range of Orvis tackle that is available, then it was down to the river. There were plenty of people trying out the new rods and we decided that a bacon roll would be a good idea to while away some time whilst we waited our turns.

Famous angling artist Charles Jardine was present to give a casting demonstration and, as we sat looking over the river, he passed just by us and went in for a spot of fishing – though not the sort that most enthusiastic trout anglers would imagine! No, Charles had a "tiddler" net and was trying to catch some nymphs to show the assembled crowd some key entomological features.

While all this was going on our own children had found a length of nylon with a small goldhead hare’s ear at one end, and had decided that a spot of fishing was in order. A twig was converted into a rod and my daughter was sent off to the men doing the cooking to "scrounge" some bread for bait – well they were not to know that it was a fly only water. The minnows, which had been reasonably interested in the goldhead, completely ignored the fly bedecked with bread, so maybe the fish had more standards than our young children!

Of the rod itself I am afraid I cannot comment as we actually grew tired of waiting for a chance to have a chuck! I did pick up one in the tent, but that is no indicator of how the rod will respond with a line on it. I must have a word with Richard Banbury and see if I can get him to bring a test rod along to Chew on the day of the Orvis sponsored competition which my club Bristol Reservoirs Fly Fishers Association runs in May.

Back to the domestic scene: the start of last week was superb on Chew and Blagdon and I have heard a few whispers that the Tanks have started to fish pretty well too. There were several competitions being run of which I will report next week. I had four guiding trips and all were relatively successful, but the most startling aspect of last weekend were the dangerous winds blowing around. Peter Firth told me that on Friday two boats actually sunk at Bewl Water in Kent! Both were anchored, or rather tied up, to the buoys around the fish cages and, when the wind increased in strength, the waves started to lap over the gunwales. At first the anglers aboard baled out, but soon the water was coming over faster than they could empty it, and gradually they submerged. Thankfully everyone was safe, but it should serve as a warning to others.

The wind was severe on Chew yesterday and Bob Handford, the fisheries manager, thought long and hard about letting the boats out. In the end it was decided that it would be safe enough, but I can tell you it was pretty unpleasant. I was merely "pleasure" fishing with a client, but there was the first of our region’s England eliminators going on and boy was I glad that I opted to fish the second one! To have been fishing on the drift all day in the swirling, gusting wind out there would not have been a lot of fun!

Match reports next week.

Tight lines,

Martin Cottis