A bank is a place that will lend you money if you can prove that you don't need it.
We're all fisherman here (if you'll excuse the assumption and yes I did say fishermen and I don't care. As far as I'm concerned it's a generic term not a sexist one. It's a noun used to describe a pastime so just get over yourselves, and you know who you are. I don't think sex of any kind has any place in fishing. It's asexual. Now let's move on).
We all know the score regarding tackle. We need a rod reel and a few sundries. Most of the gear we troll around is handy, not essential. Someone once remarked that fishing gear is designed to catch fishermen not fish. I doff my waterproof wide-brimmed hat with in-built in midge net to this simple but perspicacious thought. But we're not going to stop. It's like a disease, part of the deal. I fish, therefore I habitually buy spurious bits of tackle that, in all honesty, I'll never use. Fossicking around in tackle shops is one of the pleasures of fishing. Small, off the beaten track emporiums with the capacity of a Tardis and an aroma of naphthalene, ground-bait and boilies that will assault your nasal passages as soon as you cross the threshold. The proprietor will have an encyclopedic knowledge of all the equipment in his shop and the fisheries surrounding it. Often, not always, he'll have some idiosyncratic tick that will lend him an air of individualism that so befits the personality of his shop. He always has time to talk and share information and this soul warming experience will usually end with the confused angler standing outside the shop, peering bemused into a small brown paper bag at a collection of tackle items various that, with all probability, he will never use and wondering how it had all happened. However, before the non-believers start their heckling remember, that we have quite a way to go before we usurp the philatelists and the Stobart spotters In the eccentricity stakes.
So if, as fate seems to have ordained it for us, we are compelled to tread this path festooned with tackle items various, we might as well get some benefit. We may not be able to resist the net with the scales built into the handle, despite the fact that we already have both a net and spring balance already, but if we are destined to make the purchase then use it we must. Of course our favourite items will always get more use than the other less worthy ones. Worthy will of course be dictated by usefulness, aesthetic appeal and of course the luck they bring. It's funny to think that we consider ourselves to be competent fishermen but we're still reluctant to trust a successful day on skill alone.
After one particular fishing trip, whilst having repaired to a suitable looking hostelry, the subject of 'your favourite fishing accessory' came up. Items were discussed, merits were debated and opinions proffered. Then it was my turn. My accessory of choice, and has been for many years, is my dear old Kelly Kettle. For those who don't know what this item is I will explain. It's a kettle, obviously, that is powered on twigs sticks and grass making it ideal for the outdoors-man. It consists of a fire bucket at the bottom and the kettle with a built in chimney sits atop it. It has the capacity to hold a litre of water which, conditions being propitious, can be boiled in less than four minutes. Truly a fantastic piece of kit. I first saw one being used by Chris Yates in a Passion For Angling. I knew I had to own one. A purchase was soon made and it was taken out on the very next trip.
The principle behind its efficiency is simple. The wind enters via an aperture in the fire bucket and ex-filtrates via the top of the chimney creating a cyclonic effect which burns like Hades on a particularly hot day when all the heaters have become stuck on the hottest setting. I would be lying if I said that it didn't need a little practice to get the hang of it but it's great when you do. Not only does it boil water but in the summer the smoking embers double as a deterrent to the ubiquitous midge. Of course the scorn pouring then began. Wouldn't it be easier to take a flask. What if it's been raining and there's no dry fuel? What if there's no wind? What about gas? What about you buying a round of drinks!!!! The thing is I've heard it all before (especially the round of drinks one) and I don't care. Yes it's not the most efficient use of my time and resources. Yes a flask is less troublesome and maybe I do go thirsty occasionally due to meteorological conditions and it's not funny when the smoke temporarily blinds you, well not to me anyway. Again I don't care. My kettle has class and quirkiness. It's the impoverished aristocracy to the gleaming new canister cookers. But when the gas runs out and a flask is empty my kettle is still left with options. It needs no maintenance and has an attachment which sits in the top so it can also boil a pot. All this and it still ticks the green box. Just a small pile of ashes is it's only footprint. It's the series three Land Rover of the stove world, far from perfect and well knocked about but still going strong while the competition flounders.
So am I ashamed of my accessories? No. I know I'm a sucker. My fishing trips would be equally successful with quarter of the gear at half the price. But not to buy the gear would mean depriving myself of the tackle shop experience. This is all part of the angling experience and I think we would be spiritually poorer without it.