Inventor Dave Lendon has invented a casting device that he claims allows him to gain 30-40 metres on an average cast despite only having one arm.
Dave Lenden will never forget the day he fell in love with fishing – because on his very first cast he caught a kahawai.
“I can’t remember how big it was, but to me it was bloody huge because I was only a kid of about nine. And that just took me fishing for life,” the 74-year-old says. “I have loved fishing ever since that first day at Muriwai [on Auckland’s west coast].”
Now there is rarely a day when he doesn’t go fishing – but there was a time when he doubted he would ever be able to.
Lenden lost his right arm just below his elbow in the Vietnam War after his hand was trapped in a helicopter fuselage. He also has an artificial shoulder joint in his left arm, and a steel plate in the top of his head as a result of that day.
His physical recovery was slow, and fishing became his mental rehabilitation. However, learning to cast left-handed, with a hook for his right arm, was not easy. “Doctors told me I’d never lift that arm above my shoulder height. I’ve got a pretty high threshold for pain. Now I can lift it up just like anyone else, but I don’t have a lot of strength in the shoulder,” the man, whom many dub Captain Hook, says.
“I tried to start fishing again but couldn’t cast a surfcaster as well as I’d like to. I see a problem, I think ‘I can make that better’. I went to university and got four degrees – one was in civil engineering. I’ve got a good brain in my head.
“So I started playing around with using all different types of techniques and different weight fishing gear.”
The epitome of a Kiwi battler, his decades-long dream has now become a reality, with Lenden launching DaCinka, a sinker/ lure for landbased fishing. His invention, he says, achieves greater casting distances, minimal drag and enhanced popper lure appeal. His patented design also has a berley oil feature.
“I get people that are just absolutely amazed at the distance I can get with it given I have one arm – you can reach up to 30-40 percent further when casting. The way they behave during retrieval, they look like a fish in distress. I’ve had kingis and kahawai attack them. I got a 20-kilo kingi on it.
“I’ve tested them at 90-Mile Beach where the west coast fishing is renowned to have quite a current and they sit in that really well.”
Not surprisingly, it had to be easy to set up, and Lenden has the sinker loaded in minutes.
“You set DaCinka up as a running sinker or as a ledger rig. It has a breakaway grapple system or non-breakaway. Once you place the bait inside DaCinka, you pour berley oil in and tape it, it’s ready to go. There are no bare hooks going around your head when you’re casting. And the bait doesn’t get released from the sinker until it’s hit the bottom.”
He designed DaCinka to be 4oz or 5oz, with or without a grapple. They are made from a non-biodegradable acetol plastic compound that will not disintegrate and leave microplastics in the ocean; it will instead wash ashore intact. And the surfcasting tape is 100 percent biodegradable.
“It protects the bait and it gets to the bottom of the ocean floor and sits there for about 90 seconds while the water dissolves the adhesive off the tape and lets the bait out.
“I’m really quite proud of the product because it really does everything we say it does. This has been a dream for years.”
Living near Thames in the Coromandel District, Lenden designed the sinker so it would also work for rock fishing. DaCinka rises to the surface – minimising the risk of getting snared.
“When you retrieve them, they actually lift off the bottom and come up to the surface, so you’re not dragging them through the weeds and the rocks.”
A DaCinka loaded and ready to fish.
This summer you’ll find Lenden meandering up the coast of the Firth of Thames, looking for a place to park up and fish. It is an area he knows well, as in the 1980s he ran landbased fishing tours up and down the Coromandel and was dubbed Captain Hook.
“I find somewhere where I can cast a rod. I sit on the side of the road, and wait for a bite. What a life!”
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– Hayley McLarin
Thames’ Dave Lendon gets all set to make another cast during testing of the DaCinka.