Alfred Jardine Esq. was undoubtably one of the most famous and successful of early pike anglers.
With the introduction of the Fishing Gazette Magazine, the 1870’s bristled with reports & images of tackle inventions, catches and all things fishy.
Jardine took on the mantel of pike guru, indeed many of his close friends referring to him as “Alf the giant pike killer”!
His catches of pike are legendary, although some weights are still disputed to this day.
Five pike for 172lbs in the 1890’s with weights ranging from 30-1/2lb to 37lb are outstanding, especially if you consider the tackle of the day. Wooden star-back reels, bamboo and hazel wood rods with horsehair line and twisted steel traces.
But its pike gags we are focusing on today.
I have always said that half the battle with a pike is in the water, the other half is when it gets out!
Jardine recognised at an early stage the toothy predator was a danger unless handled correctly.
He went about designing and producing various gags to hold the jaws open whilst the unhooking procedure was performed.
A company – B R Bainbridge, patented a very similar gag in 1896 with a screw adjuster showing how popular pike fishing tools were.
My collage of unhooking gadgets is taken from the Fishing Gazette 1894, and it shows how little we have progressed in over 100 years.
On the top right is the Jardine Improved pike gag (image 1), made from brass with a steel worm-screw and twisting handle, 9 1/2” long overall, but by simply screwing the handle it expands or shrinks the gape to a maximum of 5-1/2”.
Now I’ve never stuck my head in a lion’s mouth but this must be about the same as using it on a 30lb pike, no good and fraught with danger.
So a longer, larger gag (image 2) was brought out and with a ratchet had one-handed operation, so was safer and easier to use.
Both these are rare and command well over £1,000! A No. 2 pattern recently selling for over £2,000 to a gadget collector.
Allcock’s, Farlows and many other retailers sold the scissor types 3 & 4, they are fairly common and sell under the £100 mark.
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