Some of the country’s best and most recognisable shore anglers credit Dave Docwra for not only getting them into the sport in the first place, but also for charting their paths to fishing success. A fishing brain if ever there was one, the Doc was a true expert of all things beach fishing during the 80s and 90s, and much of what he preached and pioneered has become the standard accepted as the way to do things today. Sadly, the Doc’s Great Yarmouth tackle shop is no more, and his brilliant rig building components range, which is prominent in the DVD, is no longer available. However, the legacy of Docwra’s custom trace building bits lives on and prospers in the shape of so many closely copied items, which now line the walls of tackle shops.
This re-jigged DVD is an excellent visual aid and provides a solid grounding for simple rig building. Dave’s easy manner is very watchable and every item covered makes good sense. He doesn’t dizzy the viewer with tackle science, complicated knots and jargon that beginners don’t understand. 20 years on, the clear content is still very relevant, and there are several clever pieces of pro’ and forgotten knowledge in there too.
Yes, trace components and lines have been developed since this footage was originally shot, but the core principals and rig designs demonstrated remain. There’s decades of hands-on experience packed into 75 minutes of video here, and dare I go as far as to suggest that a better rig-building video has not been made?
Before a crimp is slotted, a swivel twiddled or a knot tied, Docwra lays out the simple thought processes, explodes a few myths and explains the rules. Among a raft of other things, the importance of hook snood position and the need to create tangle free finished rigs is stressed. Most instances of tackle failure at the rig end are the fault of the rig’s builder, and Docwra is at pains to emphasise safety and good working practice throughout the footage.
TOOLS, TWEAKS AND TANGLE AVOIDANCE
The required small tools are displayed, and all of these are put to work through the piece. A three-hook trapped swivel trace or “beach paternoster” is explained and demonstrated first. Good close-up camera work ensures nothing is missed, and of course, if you need to see something more than once, just rewind the DVD and follow the particular instructional sequence again.
The demo of how to tie the Uni knot is particularly good as it is done at a sedate, easy-to-track pace, with clear stepped pauses in the process. There’s beauty in simplicity, and the segment explaining why split rings and clips are preferred over swivels at the top and bottom of rigs is case in point.
DD verbally hammers home the message that fishing is far from an exact science. He explains why, at times, he partly constructs rigs, leaving completing until fishing conditions are established when he arrives at a venue. I won’t spoil what’s coming by detailing all the DVD content, suffice to say that flappers, clipped rigs, pennel and wishbone rigs are covered in detail, with numerous little tricks and tweaks to make them fish better outlined therein. How to correctly set up clipped rigs so that they are properly slipstreamed, and how to build in compensation for rig stretch during casting is spotlighted.
Docwra fiercely curbs any temptation to get over technical and mercilessly lampoons over-thinking the whole construction process. It is, after all, a fish you are trying to trap, rather than some freethinking creature of genius, as he points out. Fishing is largely about opinions and Docwra has his. In one perhaps controversial instance he has a right old dig at the haphazard installation of rig tensioning springs, but his reason for avoiding them makes perfect sense. And the Doc’s graphic illustration of why buying cheap hooks is a wholly false economy and a catastrophe in waiting certainly gets the point across!
ART OF WHIPPING HOOKS
I could not agree more with DD when he suggests that the old art of whipping hooks to nylon has largely been lost. The method is the means to the very best in bait presentation when using the likes of bunches of maddies or small whites. Take it from me, whipping is not as easy as this expert makes it look, but it is excellently demonstrated in step-by-step stages, and the forgotten skill is laid bare for any who want to sit down and learn how to do it well.
So now I am going to be petty. I have watched the DVD several times and the glaring spelling mistake in the main opening frame keeps jumping out and assaulting me! On a more telling note, like all other similar instruction video pieces ever made, this one is shot facing the demonstrator, which is ok but not ideal.
My gripe is one of perspective. Most anglers are right-handed, right? Well that being the case, if a knot, for example, is demonstrated face-to-face as it were, then the onlooker actually sees things back-to-front... it is a bit like trying to follow something quite intricate looking in a mirror. By far the best way to demo anything small and worked in the hands to a right-handed majority is to shoot the film over the demonstrator’s shoulder. That way the action is seen in the correct perspective and it is much easier to follow. The upshot is that left-handed anglers will love the DVD perhaps a little more than those of the right-handed persuasion.
Video quality, while not HD, is sharp. The audio quality is also generally clear and crisp. Beginners will certainly glean a great deal from this excellent DVD, while experienced anglers will also find a few golden nuggets within over and hour of compelling film and dialogue.