Swinton miner Freddie Foster is next in our series of the top ten greatest anglers. In the middle of the 20th century, he was famous on the open match circuit for his wins, ledgering with the swing tip on the Witham, Welland and the Fen drains.
However, he didn’t begin using a swing tip. Fred, like many other Witham experts, was a hugely successful float angler using the centre pin reel. His haunts included the local Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation and other canals in that area. He said that he won as much, if not more, with the float as with the swing tip.
Fred’s truly remarkable successes came courtesy of Boston tackle dealer Jack Clayton, inventor of the famous swing tip bite indicator. In the late 1950s, the Witham roach feeding habits changed. A new method was needed to detect shy bites with a ledgered still bait. Jack experimented with a fine whalebone tip, whittling it down to a fine point. This wasn’t quite right until a ‘eureka’ moment when the fine tip flopped to a right angle with Jack’s rod top.
He quickly worked with a new material using an 18-inch long ladies comb to perfect his ‘swinger’. Jack made a number for sale in his shop and they began to catch on with the fenland bream anglers who quickly realised its potential.
The ‘daddy’ of all tippers
Fred was one of these, and with his own adaptations to Jack’s original design he became the uncrowned ‘swing tip king’, the ‘daddy’ of all tippers. For ten years or more Fred dominated the Witham open matches. His name was in print almost weekly in the Angling Times Lincolnshire fenland results.
I doubt anyone can list all of Fred’s wins and placings without combing through the national angling newspapers of the day. Fred was such a good angler that he went beyond the Witham, winning the Sheffield and District AA John Haigh Whisky Trophy in 1959 with 24-10-8. He won the 1965 Welland Angling Championships with 15-2-4 and the 1970 Clubs National Angling Championship also on the Welland with a bream haul of 58-8-0.
Fred’s book 'Swing Tipping' became the bible for any angler wishing to learn advanced swing tip principles and techniques. The first edition came out in 1976 but the foundation for this little gem had featured in the Angler's Mail a number of years previously. Over the years, Freddie developed the ‘bouncing bomb’, the leaded tip, counting to hook fish on the drop and the twitch method, which involved slowly drawing the bait back and enticing fish to take it.
Only weeks after the manuscript for the book was completed Fred died at the age of 53 from miner’s pneumoconiosis. How many more matches could he have won?
Last date edited: 13 January 2021