Saturday, 24 September 2011

How to get the best from the PAC Convention

If you haven't been to a Pike Anglers Club Convention before, you're in for a treat. It's the biggest and best event of its kind on the UK predator fishing scene, which is why so many see it as the best way to kick off their season.

But PAC Conventions can be a bit daunting to newcomers, because there's so much going on. So here's a quick guide to how to get the most from the event - which is open to all, you don't have to be a PAC member to come along to pike fishing's showcase event..

Get there early's good advice. The venue's in Thurston Drive, Kettering NN15 6PB. Key the postcode into your SatNav or mobile app for directions. Click here for a map from the venue's website - it's 15 minutes' walk from Kettering station for those travelling to the event by rail.

There's usually a queue before the doors open at 9am for a good reason - seasoned bargain hunters know the second-hand lure and tackle stalls do a roaring trade right from the off, so the first through the doors get the pick of what's on offer.

Bring your own kit to sell, if you've got any reels, rods, luggage, lures or other odds and ends you no longer use. Especially popular are Baitrunners (particularly the US-style), ABU multipliers (particularly left-hand wind 6000 and 5000 models), electric outboards, Delkims and any hard to find lures.

Mint, boxed lures command best prices. But time honoured favourites like Burts, Replicants, Shad Raps in unusual colour schemes and Landa Pikkos that have seen some use will also sell.

To save time, download and print off seller's form and stickers from the info library section of our website here, to give to stall helpers on the day.

If you're buying, examine any reels or rods carefully before you part with your hard-earned. Check the gears are smooth and the handles aren't bent on fixed spools and multipliers. Bail arms should snap shut with a turn of the handle, while the spool should re-engage first turn on a multiplier.

Give the spool a spin on multis, to check it rotates freely in free-spool (casting) mode. If it doesn't, it could mean a bent spindle - sometimes caused by pointing the rod at a snag and pulling for a break using strong braid.

Check the eyes and reel seat on rods before you buy, along with the spigots or overlap joints for excess wear.

It's worth bringing a backpack or bag to carry any small purchases you make - stick a plastic lunchbox or two in to carry lures safely.

Haggle - some sellers are willing to do a deal. Remember whether you're buying or selling that a percentage goes to support the work of the PAC.

Check out the programme and plan your day so you don't miss the speaker you've come all this way to see. Click here for line-up and times.

One reason the venue's been so popular is the food's reasonably-priced - it's a chips with everything hot buffet, so lunch shouldn;t break the bank. But queues do build up around lunchtime.

Several authors will have stalls selling their new books or current works. They're more than happy to sign them. You can bring books from your collection for people to sign as well.

It's free admission for accompanied juniors, and admission to this year's programme of junior teach-ins is also free. Any youngsters joining on the day at the reduced price of £7.50 get a 'goody bag' with kit worth more than twice that thanks to Pikepro/Baitbox, who are generously sponsoring this.

Please consider joining the PAC if you're not already a member. Anyone who signs up on the day gets a £5 discount, to reflect different admission prices for members (£10) and non-members (£15).

There wouldn't be a Convention without the traders who continue to support the club. We've got a good line-up again this year, ranging from one or two big names to independent rod and lure makers. Click here for full list.

One of the great things about the Convention - in this age of the internet - is it gives you the chance to try before you buy, and handle tackle items before you hand over your hard-earned. Almost all of our traders are pike anglers, who actually use the stuff they sell, so don't be afraid to ask questions.

While some may be able to accept payment by card, others will only be able to accept cash for payments - so make sure you bring enough folding stuff, as there's no cashpoint at the venue.

Please try to have the right money to hand on the door, as it helps keep the queue moving and get everyone into the venue in time to have a quick nose round the stalls before the talks begin.

Remember we're all volunteers and a lot of people are giving up their time to help us run the event, by staffing stalls, helping out on the door and doing all the other 101 things that need doing on the day. It's been virtually a full-time job at times for Convention organiser Colin Goodge.

The PAC Committee, speakers, traders and our army of helpers hope you'll have an enjoyable day and go away inspired to start your season. 

We'd like to thank the incredibly accommodating staff at Kettering Conference Centre for putting up with us on our third convention at this superb venue.

We aim to move the event around every three years, so we'll be off to a different part of the UK next year. We'll be revealing the venue for Piking 2012 towards the end of the day. Work on organising the next Convention will start almost as soon as this one ends.

+++Follow @pikelines on Twitter for all the latest in the run-up to the event and on the day. Tweet us using the hashtag #pac.

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