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The processes aren't complex. The secret lies in the taper, the particular geometric shapes of the black graphite sheets that combine with the glass to give the rod its action. "The way we cast in England now punishes a rod," Carroll says. "If a tip isn't flexible, it won't last a big cast. The blank snaps. I want a lot of tip action and a stiff butt, 11'6" or 12 feet overall. That used to mean a heavy rod, but not anymore. My rods weigh 16 ounces—that's less than a normal reel."
He pulls a finished blank from a rack. It is mat black and unimpressive looking, except to those who have seen it in action. "That's my Barebones," Carroll says with pride. "No cosmetics—they don't exist anymore. Tape the guides on. Tape the reel on if you want. Or use the clamp that comes with it. Or, if you want to be fancy, one of those lightweight Japanese fittings. No varnish. What's varnish for?"
It was clearly time to give Barebones its fling, on the open ground behind the railroad car. The reel that Carroll tapes on is of the conventional American type—and even a short while ago, one would have added "of course" to that, because to turn up on a British beach with a guzzler would have been like arriving at a posh wedding in jeans.
There is still an esthetic argument to be made against the spinning reel; it is far pleasanter to cast or play a fish on a conventional reel. But the great gap in the guzzler's performance when it came to throwing surf-sized sinkers has dwindled considerably.
Last year, for instance, when Kerry made his monumental 723-foot cast with a conventional reel, a spinning-reel specialist named Richard Jacobs went more than 677 feet with his guzzler. There's still a gap, but it's closing.
Why so? "For a start, we threw away that ridiculous great butt ring you see on most saltwater spinning rods," says Carroll. "It does nothing. When we figured things out properly, we were left with just three guides, and the first one was seven feet—yes, seven feet—up the rod, the first guide being 40 mm in diameter, the next 25 mm and the third 12 mm. And then, of course, the tip ring. That way the line doesn't bite on the rod. It doesn't touch it.
"A while back I wouldn't even own a guzzler, and at that time, for sure, you couldn't have sold a spinning rod with only three guides. The angler would think he was being ripped off. And now, by golly, you couldn't sell one in England with more than three.
"Something else. Notice the way the line lies on the spool of a spinning reel when you've loaded it? That concave profile? No use. The line keeps catching on the next layer. We thought about that, too. What you have to do is build up the spool by hand, winding on backing line to the right profile so that when you come to wind the casting length on top of it, it's level. There's no dip."
All the same, it's a conventional reel he fits to Barebones for the demonstration. "Still really don't like guzzlers," says Carroll.
He goes through his repertoire. First, the classic pendulum cast (see drawings below), which starts with the angler's back to the direction of the cast and the sinker hanging down to about the same level as the reel. The sinker is swung like a pendulum, out to the left, to the right and back left again. The power compression starts at 270 degrees, Carroll will tell you precisely, from the direction of the cast, the sinker coming over his head, then under and round, as his powerful body begins a mighty pirouette. Then there's a swish! as if a giant Mr. Squeers is wielding his cane at Dotheboys Hall, and the sinker is traveling out at 200 mph. This throw measures 660 feet. "Meanwhile," Carroll says slyly, "a big wave has hit you in the butt."