Having now published well over 300 articles on this web site I realised I couldn’t keep putting off the inevitable. Everyone who runs a web site realises they need to have a spring clean now and then but it’s one of those tedious jobs you tend to put off for a rainy day. Well, we don’t get many more rainy days than we’ve experienced this past week so I dug out the broom and a bit of polish. Blow me, I wasn’t expecting to find half a dozen articles sat there that somehow I’d forgotten to press the publish button!
Even more puzzling was that I’d not published the following article, because let’s face it, had I been on The Apprentice then Alan Sugar would surely have fired me. Talk about dropping a clanger. It should have been published 2 and a half years ago. And there’s a fair argument for letting sleeping dogs lie but the interest in the films has been sustained and they continue to sell well in half a dozen countries. So, better late than never…
Barbel Days And Ways – A Critical View (April 2010)
Stu and I had been discussing how best to offer a balanced view of our DVDs. Instead of us claiming how good we think they are (they’re brilliant – obviously) we decided it might be better to simply collate all the reviews, warts and all and let potential purchasers make up their own minds.
It is common practise in the entertainment industry to take review quotes completely out of context when promoting films, for example, a Sunday Times critic might have written:
‘This film would be thoroughly entertaining providing you had the brain of a two-year-old!’ ,
A strap line then appears on posters advertising the film as:
‘Thoroughly Entertaining! – Sunday Times’.
You know the score. That’s how publicity works. And, of course, we could do that, too. But rather than try to fool anyone by highlighting selective praise, I’ve chosen to publish our reviews in full, as they appeared originally, warts and all, so you can reach a fair and unbiased decision.
So here goes. This what the critics actually wrote:
BARBEL DAYS AND WAYS (Vol. 1)
Bob Roberts and Stuart Walker
I’m not a great watcher of angling videos, most annoy me intensely, so I’ll get my gripes out of the way first. The music is intrusive in places and not always, to my ears, fitting, Lee Swords plays up his on-line personality of ‘a bit of a character’, and there’s a little too much clutch slackening for my taste. Other than that the film is extremely watchable.
Considering that Bob and Stuart appear to have done all the work involved in producing this video it is well presented in a more than semi-professional way. Bob has obviously learned some presenters tricks over the years and does a good job of linking the sections of the film. Stuart, after trying maybe a little too hard early on comes across very naturally and this makes the fishing sequences particularly ‘real’.
There is some atmospheric camerawork that really does get across the feel of being by the river, and the action is just what you want to watch to make you grab the rods and go fishing. Watching the rod tip knowing it’ll fly round was almost as good as the real thing!
Probably the best bits are the underwater footage. Watching fish going about their business is almost endlessly fascinating, no matter what they are up to. The baby barbel at Calverton are really cute too.
With a running time of over 79 minutes this video is excellent value for money and is available from www.bobrobertsonline.co.uk.
Posted May 2009
Barbel Days & Ways Volume 1 – Mark Hewitt 24/09/2008
I don’t want to give too much detail away on this, purely because it really is worth watching. It was not the technical underwater film I was expecting (the underwater shots you see accompany the main footage very well). Add to that the fact that ‘product placement’ was less evident than expected and the quality of the filming and editing was as good as any I’ve seen. You are also left with a very sound DVD that would be enjoyed by anglers from all branches of the sport.I’ve tried to find fault with it (to try and give a balanced review) but in all honesty anything that comes to mind is so ‘trivial’ it’s not worth mentioning.
The film even includes a discussion with the Environment Agency on the subject of Stillwater Barbel, which I’m sure will cause lots of discussion. The film was not meant to be an instruction on how to catch barbel, but a way of re-creating the passion that we get from angling that we can enjoy in the living room. It achieves this very well, and makes want to leave home and head to the river bank!
To sum up
I had a great evening, with good company and the film stacked up really well. For those who live outside Yorkshire the dialog at times can become difficult, with plenty of ‘chuffin-ells’, ‘all-reets’ and ‘eee-by-ecks’. However, modern DVD’s usually come with language selection – with English as an option. Failing that, subtitles can be used, so all should be well!
A final note
In anticipation of the raft of negative remarks about this idea of Bob’s to premiere the DVD. Is this a ‘stunt’ by Bob to get lots of coverage for the DVD for free? I would say yes, absolutely! Bob’s no fool, and I would do exactly the same. I see it as win, win, win! The interest it creates is good for him, good for Graham and the site, and good for everyone following with anticipation! To end I’d like to say a big thanks to all involved, and I’m looking forward to Volume Two!
Barbel Days & Ways Vol 2 DVD – Graham Marsden 15/04/2009
It’s Volume 2 of the barbel series filmed and presented by Bob Roberts and Stuart Walker. Is it as good as Volume 1?
Review of Barbel Days & Ways Volume 2 DVD by Graham Marsden
I don’t think it will spoil anyone’s viewing, as it is a must-see sequence, by telling you that there is a good chunk of the DVD devoted to Stuart wading into the river to place baits by hand on the river bed. The underwater camera films the reaction of the barbel, and chub, each time this is done. I won’t give away exactly what the fish’s reaction is, but be prepared to be surprised and also be prepared, when you’ve seen the DVD from beginning to end, to take another longer look at your approach to barbel fishing. The revelations include surprises in both vision and sound!
And that really sums it up, for Volume 1 and in particular Volume 2, reveal what before we could only guess at, and believe me there will be plenty that you’ve guessed at wrongly!
Steve Pope of the Barbel Society shows that he’s not just an administrator, but also an angler who can catch big barbel, taming a few great fish to submission on the fabulous river Kennet. Angling Times’ reporter Greg Whitehead also gets in on the action and both Bob and Stuart demonstrate their own considerable skills at extracting barbel from various rivers. There is instruction on how to tackle a flooded river as well as other barbel goodies that will get all barbel angler’s pulses racing.
I wrote about Volume 1: “You would have to be completely uninterested in barbel not to enjoy it, and the DVD is testament to the fact that it is possible for two anglers and some reasonably decent kit to make a very, very good fishing film, certainly better than some of the stuff I’ve seen on the Sky channels.”
Volume 2 was made with two cameras rather than one. Both the picture and sound are better quality (not that Volume 1 was poor) and the whole thing is slicker. I’m still full of admiration for how well two blokes who are basically anglers and not film makers can put together such quality DVD’s with a couple of camcorders and a computer.
They should find an investor and take it up professionally!
Barbel Days and Ways Volume 1
Presented by Bob Roberts and Stuart Walker
After the titles, which are accompanied incidentally by some very pleasant music and scenes from the up and coming feature, Bob Roberts then begins with an introduction of both himself and his fishing partner Stuart Walker. We are then transported to a trip the pair made on the magical June 16th to the fantastic River Dove. From the out-set the atmosphere this film creates with its use of the relaxing music and Bob and Stuart’s calm relaxed manner gives viewers the impression that this is going to be something special, which indeed it is. The pair spend the day roving and sharing one rod, working as a team. What a delightful river the Dove is as you can see from the many swims which Stuart pre-baits in preparation for fishing later.
Stuart then returns to the first swim baited and both anglers watch fish feeding accompanied by some great underwater photography. What is evident is how much information is coming through to the viewer for example the lack of fear shown by the Barbel when more bait is introduced over their heads, these films are full of tips and information. Stuart then hooks his first fish of the season, a beautiful double figure Barbel.
What is evident from the first capture and throughout both films is the care and respect shown by both anglers towards their quarry. The steady pace and atmosphere is maintained throughout by the excellent music. The rod then passes to Bob who accompanied once again by great sub-surface footage, catches his first fish, another cracking Dove Barbel.
The pair then move on to another fantastic River, The River Trent. This time Lee Swords is featured as he goes on to show his unconventional shock and awe tactics. Lee’s approach to fishing the Trent is both simple and effective landing him many Barbel through the session. More important and eye opening tips then follow before moving on to the River Swale where the pair once again show their deep understanding of the Barbel and the methods required to catch them. If you are serious about catching Barbel then you cannot afford to miss this, you will learn alot and many surprises await you.
Likes: Lots of info and tips for the novice and expert alike, great music/images/hosts
Dislikes: Cant fault it
BARBEL DAYS AND WAYS (Vol. 2)
Bob Roberts and Stuart Walker
After watching the first ‘Days and Ways’ film I had a good idea of what to expect from this one as far as presentation and such like was concerned. I was pleased to note that the music seems to be much less intrusive, making for a more enjoyable watching experience. And there is plenty to enjoy watching. Again the semi-professional feel is retained with at least one continuity error and a few shots of the second camera, but that’s being picky. The fishing and underwater footage more than compensates.
If anything there is even more of this sort of stuff in this DVD. Seeing barbel turning over large stones and rooting in gravel with their snouts, and hearing them grunting like the river pigs they are as they chomp on pellets, was surprising. If you’re like me and never get to see barbel feeding the overhead shots of fish moving over baited patches will be interesting too.
There is instructional stuff too with both Bob Roberts and guest Steve Pope running through their rigs and methods for fishing small rivers. I’ve often wondered what the appeal of centrepins is for barbel fishing, but watching Steve playing fish using one has left me none the wiser!
Another excellent film that captures what barbel fishing means to a lot of people and which stands watching more than once. Just the ticket to fore you up for a new season. Roll on volume 3!
With a running time of around 77 minutes this video is available from www.bobrobertsonline.co.uk.
Posted May 2009
Presented by Bob Roberts and Stuart Walker
In this the second of the 2 Barbel Days and Ways DVD’s we are again transported straight away into the winning formula of great up and coming feature footage and accompanying smooth and elegant background music. This time though most of the introductions come from the historical bar of the Caer Beris Manor in the heart of Wales.
Bob introduces the next chapter where he visits a tiny , shallow but delightful stretch of a small river in Nottinghamshire. Bob’s approach to this small river shows his depth of knowledge and understanding of the tactics required in these fast shallow stretches where weed can be an issue. He demonstrates how to avoid the weed “hooking-up” on your line showing us a valuable trick to avoid the problem. As in the first film we are treated to amazing underwater footage and all the various secrets this reveals. Bob then manages to capture an immaculate small river Barbel and you cant help but feel the same elation that Bob expresses with the capture of this fish.
Then, later, we once again return to the bar where next we view some absolutely fascinating footage and listen to conversation regarding fish senses, more specifically Barbel and Chub. Then for a real treat, Steve Pope Chairman of the Barbel Society fishing on the Kennet. The conversation flows between Bob and Steve before Steve’s rod wraps round and he is fast into a hard fighting Kennet Barbel. Once in the net Steve shows the care and absolute respect for the fish which is evident throughout these films and carefully unhooks a fine Barbel. Once again there are many valuable tips and numerous Barbel before Steve finishes with a stunning 12lb 12oz fish.
The DVD continues with detailed underwater footage and commentary before we view some of the cracking catches experienced by the pair when everything goes just right!
Likes: Sequels rarely live up to expectations, well this is an exception to the rule.
Dislikes: Cant fault it
BARBEL DAYS AND WAYS (Vol.3)
Bob Roberts and Stuart Walker
If you have watched the first two Days and Ways videos then you’ll know what to expect. Atmospheric scenery shots, down to earth instruction, rod bending action (with a little too much clutch noise and hand-up-the-rod playing technique fro my taste!) and amazing underwater footage.
This time round the on the river action is provided by Dave Mason demonstrating his careful approach to catching Teme barbel at close range, which is a valuable lesson for the clumsy amongst us. Bob Roberts shows how easy it can be on the tidal Trent – until the boats arrive. In his shed Archie Braddock runs through his method of flavouring dead maggots for both feed and hookbaits.
Yet again, however, the barbel are the real stars of the show. There is the incredible hand feeding underwater footage from an Austrian river provided by Planet Prints, and in Stu and Bob’s own footage the barbel prove why they are called ‘river pigs’ with justification. Bold feeders though they can be the filming demonstrates why the baiting has to be right to achieve the frenzied response that makes barbel mugs. I won’t elaborate on what is revealed, buy the DVD and see for yourself, but it has explained to me why my approach works.
It was also fascinating to see how Stu and Bob take their underwater footage. They have nothing high tech like the Korda crew, yet still achieve entertaining and revealing results that are sure to open a few eyes and minds. I have the fourth DVD still to watch. I can’t wait!
With a running time of around 85 minutes this video is available from www.bobrobertsonline.co.uk.
Posted April 2010
Barbel Days and Ways Volume 3
Well it’s been almost a year since we enjoyed BD &W Volume 2, has it been worth the wait? Most certainly, once again Bob and Stu have come up with the goods and produced another dvd that every barbel angler will enjoy.
I’ll take you through the complete film that is an impressive 85 minutes in duration.
Bob and Stu start us off while chatting together in Climax Fishing Tackle, which is situated close to Sheffield.
The first port of call is the glorious river Teme where Stu meets up with Dave Mason who knows the river like the back of his hand. The scene is wonderfully set with some outstanding imagery of the Teme valley in all its glory. Apart from the barbel fishing the area is stunning for its natural beauty, catching hard fighting fish is quite simply, a bonus.
As the mist rises from the river at the crack of a summer’s dawn we find Dave and Stu walking along the river, Dave pointing out all the likely looking swims. Having a direct involvement with the fishery for many years Dave also explains the work that has taken place to improve the habitat and the devastation following the 2007 floods. Work is ongoing and as we join the pair the fishery is looking in fine condition.
Keeping low and approaching the swim to fish Dave explains why many anglers slip up before they even start, the stealth approach is vital on these intimate rivers.
Two pouches of pellet are catapulted into the river, Dave calls it “carpet bombing the surface” and within a couple of minutes barbel are on the scene, investigating!
“Ringing the dinner bell” Dave calls this and quickly proceeds to hook into a typical Teme tiger that fights like fury, great stuff.
Dave runs through his rig, this is something that Bob and Stu have included in all their dvd’s and it certainly helps the viewer understand the thinking behind the different anglers approach.
Lots of good tips in the section with Dave, my one criticism, Dave’s shirt!!
After another visit to Climax Tackle, we move on to the underwater footage, which is simply superb. Watching how bait behaves beneath the surface on the riverbed is a real eye opener and will make all of us think a little more about how we introduce feed.
Then we meet up with Archie Braddock, a great frend of Bob’s, in his fishing shed. This sequence details the way Archie prepares his maggots. It seems rather invoved but the proof is in the results and Archie has caught enough barbel using the bait he describes to make the preparation all worthwhile.
We then see another underwater section where we watch the way different sized pellets react on the bottom. Stu recognises a nice double that moves in to feed and we then cut to a still shot showing Stu with the very same barbel which he caught a long way from where the filming takes place.
Bob then takes us on to the Trent where he shows the method which has been particularly successful of late, he also turns the air blue when a narrowboat passes by rather too close for comfort!
Don’t worry, you don’t have to cover your ears, Bob and Stu know how to work the bleeper!
To sum up, another excellent piece of work from the dynamic duo, lots of great info and hot tips and the superb underwater footage is essential viewing.
Great value at £14.99p
Steve Pope May 2010
Barbel Days and Ways Volume 4
The fourth instalment of this excellent series opens with Bob and Stu on the bank of the wonderful River Wye. Stunning visuals once again set the scene and Witney Court on the Wye and Usk Ticket is the venue on this beautiful river.
Stu informs us how Google Earth is a great help before visiting a new water, especially one like Witney, it’s three miles in length! Add in the fact that the temperature when filming was approaching thirty degrees and Stu had suggested the pair walk the whole length carrying all their gear I began to worry a bit for Bob, he’s not getting any younger you know!
They proceed to walk the stretch pointing out likely looking areas and why the barbel would want to be in them.
Bob then meets up with Simon Evans, the Deputy Director of the Wye and Usk Foundation. Simon explained the thinking behind the Foundation and how we can all fish the fantastic stretches of the Wye they control, as Bob said, this concept provides exclusivity for the common man.
The pair then proceed to catch barbel, beautiful fish in beautiful surroundings. I guarantee you too will want to have a go for the stunning Wye barbel.
Then it’s time for more trademark underwater shots, I assure you they will definitely make you think again before you consider whether to baitdrop, use a feeder or pva. Excellent stuff.
Then we are off to the Wharfe where Bob meets up with Mick Wood. Mick is a top bloke, I first met up with him twenty odd years ago when we both joined the Barbel Catcher’s Club at about the same time. Mick became Chairman and has gone on to become one of the most succesful anglers on the Yorkshire rivers.
Mick shows how he likes to fish with a float, detailing every aspect of his method in a really interesting sequence. You will pick up some really good tips as Mick opens up on some of his edges!
Listen out for Bob as he says ” I’m gonna get out of your hair now Mick”, a truly memorable line. As Mick runs his hand over the top of his head I have to say I laughed out loud, brilliant!
Underwater once again, this time to see how our line react beneath the surface. Again it will open your eyes and question some of the tactics we all use.
The key to benefitting from all of the underwater footage that we have been able to watch on each of the four dvd’s, is how we as anglers interpret just what we see.
The last section finds us back on the River Teme in the company of Stu and Dave Mason where Dave shares some of his secrets with us.
Another great dvd and I would thoroughly recommend this one to you. Indeed, the four dvd’s in this Days and Ways collection really should be an essential purchase for every barbel angler.
The biggest compliment I can pay to Bob and Stu is that their filmwork is second only to Hugh Miles and that really is praise indeed.
I sincerely hope they decide to make more in the future because they have unlocked a few fishing mysteries with their underwater filming but there are still lots more we have to unravel!
You can buy the dvd’s HERE.
Steve Pope May 2010.
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