Why stop at reels? What about all our big Noreens?
By Brian Clarke, Fishing Correspondent
AS YOU may have read elsewhere in
these pages, an enterprising company has come up with a new set of ringtones for
anglers’ mobile phones: the recorded clicks and whirrs of classic reels as the
line is ripped from them by imagined monsters.
All the reels were made by Hardy Bros, of Alnwick, Northumberland, and a
significant proportion of the money raised from the ringtones will go to the
North Atlantic Salmon Fund, a conservation body.
For the better part of a century, Hardy had the reputation of making the world’s
finest reels and, given that there were lots of them and that each made its own
triumphal note, there are plenty of distinctive ringtones to choose from. They
include the sound of the Zane Grey Big Game Reel — “the best big-game reel ever
made”, the publicity claims. We can have The Field Salmon Reel, a reverential
recording of the 1895 model named after that well-known sporting journal.
We can have the monstrous, nine-inch Fortuna, a reel made for tuna anglers: the
Fortuna, for tuna, so to speak.
All the ringtones are fine in their way, that of the Fortuna being highlighted
by the marketing company because, it says, this was “the Frank Sinatra of
Now not even my best friends will accuse me of being a businessman, but in the
matter of ringtones for anglers, I am on home ground.
While the reel-sounds idea has a certain novelty, it does seem limited. A reel
is a reel is a reel, as it were. There are lots of other sounds that, if
supplied as ringtones, could not only lend variety but grab any angler’s
attention. Such sounds could be of pretty much anything associated with fishing,
but the most vivid and effective will have originated in youth.
A ringtone that would electrify me, for example, would be the sound of a
North-country farmer shouting, “Oi, you — gerroff that bloody tractor”. Purists
might complain that this is not really a fishing sound at all, perhaps more
strictly one falling into the category of “countryside noises”, but it is the
kind of thing millions of anglers will have heard when young. Certainly, it will
for ever be associated with fishing in my mind, as I first heard it when Tony
Richardson and I, then about 12 or 13, had somehow found ourselves turning
handles and pulling levers while fishing on the River Tees, near Croft.
Were I able to download it now, a sudden “Oi, you — gerroff that bloody tractor”
would be capable of getting my attention on a train in rush hour. It would take
determination to ignore it, in even the tensest business meeting.
Another ringtone to grab attention would be a sharp, parrot-like
“Where’s-yer-permit? Where’s-yer-permit?” Millions of young anglers will have
heard such a cry. I often heard it on the posh Darlington Anglers’ Club water at
Blackwell, usually after David Buckle and I had inadvertently walked past three
No Fishing signs and wriggled under a taut, barbed wire fence without noticing.
Another thought. Surely, if carefully chosen, some tones associated with fishing
could be used not as alarms of various kinds, but as the bringers to weary
anglers of deep, happy sleep. The recorded slow arch and collapse of waves on a
coral island while bonefishing would be one example. The sound of some burbling
brook, perhaps casting the listener back to some childhood high-summer idyll
would be another. Had one been made, a recording of a later idyll when Big
Noreen from No 12 asked if I would take her fishing and I did would have a
million old hearts a-flutter. Sales could be enormous. We all have our Big
Noreens from No 12.
As to pricing, I see that the reel-tones on offer at the moment are billed at £3
to £5 apiece. The inclusion of other angling sounds would not only introduce
more variety but the possibility of a more diversified — and more lucrative —
pricing structure. Individual recordings could be broken down and sold, moment
by moment, to different market segments.
For example, the news that some pompous national figure had fallen in from a
high bank while trying to land a chub. So many of us would rejoice at the news
that, were his fall to be captured on tape, even snippets from it used as
ringtones could fetch hefty prices.
A segment that captured the moment Mr X realised his fall was unstoppable — a
strangulated “Uh-uh-uh!” for example — could be offered at £3 a time at the low
end of the market. The same followed by “Aaaargh!” might fetch £5 in the middle
market. The full tape — “Uh!”, “Aaargh!” followed by “Kersploosh” — could go
well at a tenner.
Other angling sounds used as ringtones could be fitted into this basic
structure. Except for Big Noreen at No 12. Big Noreen must be a price-setter’s
dream. Any company that could bring back that heady afternoon — and stay this
side of the law — could charge what it liked, as far as I’m concerned. If it
were up to me, I would sell the recording moment by moment, as above — and start
high. The sound of the zip alone would be premium-rated.