Continuing on with the theme of British craftsmanship in angling, I move from artisan float builders to Jack Luke, the engineer.
Jack Luke was an employee of Hardy’s of Alnwick from 1936-1987, a man dedicated to his job and the reels that he made. Why am I interested in Jack Luke? Well, he built my Altex Mark V No2 fishing reel over fifty years ago, having his initials stamped on the reel would have added a sense of pride to the makers at Hardy, no mass manufactured reel could adhere to this level of craftsmanship.
Why do I like these Hardy reels over more popular reels like the Mitchell 300 or the Young’s Ambidex, although both still excellent reels? The Altex is an engineers reel, the spokes on the clutch control adjuster and the tiny anti-tangle wire bar that is fixed in the bail arm are all finished by hand using soldered parts. Every reel seems to have a ‘signature’ that you don’t get with the mass produced reels. Some find the Altex to be the ugly sister compared to the french curves of the Mitchell but I like the deco looks with its combination of burnished metals.
The question now, is it any good to fish with? Yes, its excellent, despite the spool being quite narrow the Altex can cast a long way with little effort and the line lay is extremely even. The bail arm is automatically closed from an internal pawl, this makes for a very smooth action as it is triggered close to the reels central spindle, needing less inertia to trip the bail arm. And talking of smooth, the Altex clutch is exquisite compared to the Mitchell 300, it is a pleasure to turn using the front four spoked brass adjuster.
Designed originally as a spinning reel for salmon (it was probably considered too expensive for the lowly coarse angler) but it has now become popular with traditional carp anglers mainly due to the fine clutch. I shall be using it with lines from 5lb to 12lb and for a wide range of fish including chub, tench, barbel, carp and pike. This year I’m keeping my angling more simple than ever before using just one fixed spool reel, the Altex and a few centre pins where suitable.