When you travel the country and find yourself in a 'strange' tackle shop, you invariably see much the same tackle as you would see back home. Nowadays, you'll usually see a selection of items that are either the shop's own brand, or a brand from a local supplier.
Darkside Tackle are a brand local to the North West of England, but due to this wonderful thing that we call the internet, their products are available all over the UK and beyond.....
A lot of the 'own brand' stuff I see in shops is instantly recognisable. I could probably tell you where a lot of it came from, as much of it is purchased from the same few wholesalers and repackaged. Julian Grattidge, the brains behind Darkside Tackle, decided that wouldn't do for him, or his customers. He wanted something better and he knew that North West carp anglers wouldn't fall for poor quality – they tend to be a bit clever with their cash “Oop North”. I was going to say they were tight so-and-so's, but some of them know where I live! That said, I think we're all becoming that way. The credit crunch has certainly taught me to value money a lot more than I may have done in the past!
I've known Julian for a number of years. He's as honest as the day is long and one of life's grafters. I remember him mentioning the idea for his own range of fishing tackle ages ago. Part of this was a desire to have his own business, but he was also motivated by the poor quality of some of the tackle available, especially online. Tackle shops tend to be pretty savvy, but auction websites have no idea what tat gets sold through them and some of it is terrible...and that's being polite!
I thought that Julian had given up his master plan. Let's face it, you only need to take one look at Ebay to see how swamped the market is with 'budget' fishing tackle. I was wrong, however, as he'd been busy sourcing quality products that others didn't sell, developing his own items for sale and creating his own brand image.
The result is Darkside Tackle.
I was sent a selection of rig components for carp fishing to give my opinion on, including swivels, rig clips, rig tube, bait stops, safety clips, bait bands and shrink tube. I decided tow rite this short piece about them as a whole, rather than each pack individually, as there's only so much you can write about a swivel on its own!
The packaging is spot on; colour cards explaining what's in each pack and further details on the back. If Darkside Tackle is to expand into more tackle shops, then this is important, as first impressions are very important.
I was immediately drawn towards the clear dumbbell bait stops, as they are spot on for my needs and will be going straight into my tackle box. The bait bands, too, look good – they're individually mounted and save any fiddling around.
In fact, all of the bits and pieces looked well made and up to the job they're designed for. Take them out of the packets and you wouldn't be able to tell that they're as cheap as chips! And that's the main surprise with these rig components – they really are cheap. So cheap at the moment, in fact, that some people may be wary of them. Until they've used them, that is. I think Darkside Tackle's main battle, to begin with, is going to be to convince anglers that they're not in the same league as some of the nasty stuff available online. That's easy to do in a shop, where anglers can pick them up and feel the quality, but may take time over the internet. It'll be one of those “word of mouth” things.
Darkside Tackle will have a website in 2009. In the meantime, you can click here to view their current offerings. As I type, the deals are amazing, as most pieces are being sold as well-thought-out bundles at discounted prices, saving you even more. It will be interesting to see the Darkside Tackle brand grow, as I'm told that this is just the beginning. As long as the pricing and quality is maintained, which I'm sure it will be, then I can see quite a few anglers turning to the Darrkside in the coming months....
It's worth remembering, too, that Darkside Tackle is not just about carp. Specialist coarse anglers will be well catered for, too.
Elton Murphy, December 2008