The other perhaps slightly worrying thing is that I feel at a point where there isn't much left to improve. I'm not far off having what I would consider the perfect set up for me. I have what I consider the best fishing kayak (Stealth ProFisha 575), I have a top end dry suit (Kokatat), I have found a way to weedlessly jig for cod and pollack with rigs that far outfish traditional hokkei and pirk rigs. My seabass fishing is also much improved. Gone are the lethal triple sets of treble hook infested plugs costing £25 a throw in favour of single hook soft plastics. I've found reasonably reliable reels that can withstand the salt to a large degree. I've found some nice kayak sized rods that allow the fish to give a good account of themselves but which can handle the odd monster. There's really not much left on the horizon that I can see which really gets me excited about future developments.
But, just when you're ready to let your blog die a natural death of neglect, along comes a game changer. Something that could fundamentally change the relationship anglers have with top lure manufacturers permanently, and something that may well result in an explosion of home spun innovation from hobbyists anglers all over the world.
That game changer is 3D printing. The ability to print objects from strong rigid plastics like ABS, the same plastic used by Duo, IMA and other top Japanese lure manufacturers, will change how people buy and design this type of hard lure. But 3D printers are also printing in newer flexible materials that will let us print out soft lures. It's hard to imagine, but I really think this is the future and it's not as far off as you might imagine.
3D printing and what does it mean for me?
Put simply, a 3D printer uses a 3D file format to print solid objects by adding very thin layers of melted plastic on top one another until the object is printed. It's not fast, and the quality is often poor. A fair way to compare it would be to try and recall the early dot matrix printers - do you remember how awful they were? Yet within five years we would have relatively cheap laser printers rivalling professionally printed documents. Five years after that and we had cheap inkjet printers for everyone. And that's the kind of revolution in quality and speed I'm expecting to happen with 3D printing.
|The CEL Robox 3D printer in its Kickstarter colours!|
|3D printed at 50 microns and this will no doubt improve soon, but even this level of finish is perfectly acceptable for most fishing tackle!|
It looks impossibly sleek, incredibly difficult to make, a thing of great beauty. But is really that difficult to make? It would be, if you had to carve out the shape in wood, create a mould, work out the interiors and weights. Duo estimate this process generally takes around 2 years from design concept to finished product. That's an enormous investment of labour. No wonder the end product is so darned expensive!
But let's try a little experiment. Using a simple, freely available 3D design program like TinkerCad, could you create two halves of plug that you could just print out, glue together and experiment with until you got the casting weight and action you wanted? I don't see why not. I spent one weekend having a go. The results convinced me that I wanted to buy a 3D printer to find out:
Wow, just add tungsten ball bearings, stainless steel wire loops and plumber's glue! If I could do that in a weekend without any prior knowledge of 3D modelling software then I imagine a whole lot more sophisticated stuff is possible after a few years experience. I'm not saying that my rough design would work as it is, but it could form a simple prototype on which to refine. Don't forget, I can print this stuff out like printing out a receipt for just a few pence. I can afford to experiment. Now this is starting to get interesting!
I'm not the only one who's seen the potential for this. New flexible materials will be coming to a 3D printer near you in the future - in fact it's already started:
|3D printed soft lure using white Ninjaflex filament.|
Anglers are always making stuff, and anglers have been making their own tackle since the year dot. But there was always a gap between professional tackle makers and the gifted amatuer. In recent years, that gap has probably widened more than it ever has, but with 3D printing I see the pendulum start to swing the other way. This is a very interesting development, and it's just enough to make me continue with the blog a bit longer!
Not saying that I won't still post my summer catch reports, or any developments that are particularly useful to me, but I think I might have found something that's got my mojo up and running again! I'm downright excited by the prospect of 3D printers for fishing. And you, dear reader, can expect the more than the odd report of my own experiments with printing out fishing tackle!
That's it for now - more in the coming months. Don't forget to check your reels and rod rings over the winter months for signs of wear and damage. It's amazing how that stuff catches up with everyone at the same time and then you find everywhere is out of stock of the stuff you need!
Happy new year and tight lines for 2014.