There can’t be many anglers who have taken their match fishing to international level, racked up a huge list of mightily impressive catches in their previous life as a specimen fish hunter and built from the grass roots up a fishing rod brand that is now a household name within sea angling. If you haven’t already guessed, I am of course talking about Julian Shambrook. Having known Julian for well over twenty years, I’ve looked on as this great angling mind seems to just keep on accomplishing brilliant things. I thought it was about time someone picked his brains and delved in to a back story that would surely inspire new and seasoned anglers alike…

JT: Thanks for your time today Jules. So then, where did it all begin for you?

JS: No problem. I started fishing on my local piers in Torbay, but my interest began when I was very young at Teignmouth Point beach where we had a family beach hut. The beach has changed hugely since then and the beach huts have long gone from the front beach. I used to get live sandeels from the back beach hut when the netters came in from netting the bar and ended up trying my hand catching gars and bass on the float in the mouth of the Teign estuary.

Very early in Julian's angling career!

JT: Who inspired you in those early years to pick up a fishing rod?

JS: A family friend had a boat and took me mackerel fishing, this got me hooked but it wasn’t until I started shore fishing and joined my local club, Torbay ASA, that things kicked off. I was certainly helped by a lot of people in those early years but most memorably by Dave Povey and John Easton. At the time, Ted Tuckerman was the club chairman and a real local legend. We had a good junior section and we were very lucky as these individuals gave me and others all the knowledge needed to start sea fishing. Learning about our local marks, rigs to use and bait to gather, these days it is known as watercraft. 

My fishing mate in my early years was Marcus Ward, he was in the opposing Babbacombe Sea Angling Club and he was both a friend and major rival, something that still hasn’t changed (chuckles). Both clubs have now merged making them stronger. 

It’s so good to hear of some unity within the sport!

JT: Obviously you’re well known for your match fishing, but you were also once a competent specimen hunter. Tell me more about that?

JS: The early years of my fishing were all about catching and chasing specimen fish, winning club trophies and NFSA (Julian refers to the now disbanded National federation Of Sea Anglers) awards, the more the merrier. It was all about the bragging rights. Certain trophies were chased by a select few and I loved trying to win them. The man to beat in those days was Anthony Nockolds, he simply won everything. These trophies are still being chased to this day and although I am not in the club anymore, my name is still on a fair few of them. My proudest specimen trophy I have won was the NFSA Wyvern Division Castle Trophy, now awarded by the Angling Trust, for the best fish from the shore in South Devon and Somerset. 

Before the matches came the specimen angling

JT: For as long as I can remember you’ve had an interest in building rods. How did that come about?

JS: I started fishing with a Shakespeare Omni beach caster paired with an Intrepid Seastreak reel and a Normark Black Medallion beach caster with a  fold down butt ring matched up to a Mitchell 486 fixed spool reel. Soon after, I needed my parents to up the ante and buy me a proper rod. There was only one place; Phil Hyde’s in Paignton. He was the fountain of knowledge and the font of all wisdom when it came to everything carbon, semi carbon, glass and kevlar. For some reason this all fascinated me, I wanted to know how it all worked, actions, diameters, ring spacings and so on. Phil built me my first custom built rod which was a Torbay Special 13ft, it was a 5ft butt and 8 ft tip, an amazing rod, the seed was sown and I wanted to make rods like that.

 

JT: How did you start your rod building business and then what made you decide to start Anyfish Anywhere? 

JS: Anyfish’ was way off the horizon when I first started building rods.

I worked with Phil Hyde for a number of years and learnt the basics of my trade from stripping blanks back to bare, cleaning them, grinding rings, taping them to the blanks, whipping them and finishing them.  When I started on my own it was certainly not with fancy new whipping machines and dryers, instead I started with cardboard triangles with v shapes cut out which I placed the rods in and had to hand turn religiously all day. It was a while before I bought my first dryers and my first whipping machine was put together by Andy Wisdom, we made it from a sewing machine motor and assembled it so it would include a foot pedal – those were the days! Carl Wisdom, Andy’s son, was a junior England international at the time and my invoice for his engineering prowess and immense patience with me was paid by building him a rod.  

Many years later that light bulb moment came from a customer who made a suggestion to me- If you know all about this, why not start your own brand? That customer was Ian Scadding. I considered this and realised that I could in fact utilise my knowledge and skills learnt from custom rod building and transfer them to manufacturing on a larger scale.

Ian and I started the Anyfish Anywhere brand in 2005.

Putting a rod through it's paces

JT: So what are the next rods coming from the Anyfish Anywhere stable and how do you know when you have got them right and ready to release to the market!?

JS: Well I’ve learnt over the years to focus on making quality rods. Put simply, we make very good beach casters, we also spend a lot of time sampling and testing way before we release a new model. Everyone who is close to me knows I am a perfectionist and OCD about these things. We don’t take any short-cuts, and we don’t have an ‘anything will do’ attitude when it comes to putting our label to new products. 

We work with a great mix of different anglers and casters who test, use and abuse our prototype rods to within an inch of their life and that is exactly how I want it to stay. It takes more than a few attempts to get the rod right, moving material up and down the blank, it has taken many years to understand how moving material on the blank impacts on its action, power and fishability, and I’m still learning. The good news is we have two new rods in the pro series, a 13ft 7 Match Pro which will be available this Autumn and the 12ft 6 Bass Pro which should be available this summer.  I know plenty people are waiting to get their hands on these mk2 models. 

Along with his rods, Julian is known most for his match fishing prowess these days

JT: What would you class as your most memorable catches and your best match wins?

JS: I have caught some great fish as a specimen and match angler. Thornbacks rays over 17lb,  small eyed over 14lb,  huge dover soles over 4lb. I have won matches all around the U.K. from Somerset to Lancashire, from Devon to Kent and the Isle of Man. In sporting terms everything bar one event I fish annually would be classed as an away win/game as there are none held near to home. The most memorable for me was winning my first caps for England, including my first home nation’s gold in Ireland and then my World Championship silver medal in Wales. Other memorable wins include a 200 pegged match staged by the Aqua Club open in Eastbourne – one of my earliest big wins, but in January 2022 at last I won the Wyvern open, having chased it for 30 years much to the relief of my friends! 

JT: Who within the angling trade and general sea angling community have you admired?

JS: This is an extremely varied array of people. In the competitive match environment, I’d have to say George Smith. He is so passionate about his sport and is as enthusiastic about winning as he ever was. Saul ‘the machine’ Page, unstoppable and un-phased, he is the number one sea match angler in the world, he is in my opinion in a different league to everyone else. Joe Arch and Roy Tapper are both Welsh legends. Putting the Isle of Man on the map,  Mark Quirk and Andrew Dugdale.  For tournament casting I’d have to say Owen Moyle. There are many great anglers that I have missed out (I can’t mention you all) but I must mention the late great David Rowe from the NFSA who supported many up and coming fishing and match anglers especially from my neck of the woods.

Some very impressive plaice from Julian's earlier angling years

JT: What are your thoughts on social media?

JS: Very much like Marmite.  It can be a fantastic way of communicating with other like minded individuals however it can also be a bit of a poisoned chalice. We at Anyfish have our own Facebook page which many customers use to contact us. However, I have always been a ‘pick up the phone and chat’ kind of guy and continue to find this communication most effective.

 


JT: What are your pet hates within sea angling?

JS: Probably the same as everyone else is thinking right now, people who continually moan that they can do better and are unable to be constructive – lots of talk and not a lot of action.

JT: Finally, have you anymore goals, aspirations and advice?

JS:  As far as fishing goes, there is always that one match that you haven’t won and want to win, I always make sure I tie rigs every week and go practice casting once a week without fail. I find this extremely important with timing as I am getting a bit older and practice still makes perfect. As far as rod manufacturing and Anyfish’ goes, we will always strive to make the best rod on the market for it’s given purpose. As a person, I am 51 years old this year and I will have been in the trade for 30 years. I would say I am pretty grounded and very approachable, I am Jules to everyone!

 

JT: Thanks for talking to me today Jules.

JS: Any time Janse. 

Julian hands over a prestigious trophy to the winner of the two day event he hosts in Llandudno each year
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