It is worth adopting the point of view that something new can be learnt from every fisherman you meet. We all have our methods and they are all there for a reason, and often for long after the reason has been forgotten. If you care to know how I go about something, let me know and I will explain as best as I can......but I am not an expert on any fishing thing.
Having said that, there are few alternative ways to say "First, locate the feeding fish, then present them a bait without spooking them, from as near to them as you can get, using tackle that gives you a 99% chance of landing them.", although I have been known to take water temperature into consideration and also whether said fish have been learned to associate danger with any particular bait. Generally 'I go fishing when I feel like it', so to maximise my chances, I probably spend more time thinking about where fish might be than most. I put significant stock in the following two quotes:
"If people don't occasionally walk away from you shaking their heads, you're doing something wrong." ~~ John Gierach ~~
"It has always been my private conviction that any man who puts his intelligence up against a fish and loses had it coming." ~~ John Steinbeck ~~
In any event, here is a list of some things that might, broadly speaking, be considered 'guides':
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Chasing Butterflies...(a Work Mostly Finished but Still in Progress)
I'm currently (in 2010) addicted to surface-fishing and pursue it with the stupidity of a dog chasing a butterfly, flying in the face of all common sense. I'm no expert I can tell you, but at the very tail-end of 2008 and for most of 2009, I surface-fished continuously. On January 1st 2010 I took two carp and three chub 'off the top'. So, I've read a book or two (Chris Ball's is excellent), learned as I've gone along and despite my neophyte status, here's what I've discovered so far...
For my first attempt, late in 2008, I used the plain biscuits out of the dog's kibble which, more by luck than judgment, I soaked to perfection. Using these, I nabbed a 10lb fish on the last ray of dusk during a fly-by at Barton's Court'One', then a week later using the same baits nabbed three more carp from Arfleet'Four', although somewhat hampered by rudd destroying all baits in under five minutes. Despite these results, it was 2009 before I went back off-the-top.
It's a thrilling way to fish. Really. The adrenalin rush is huge, it's often frustrating but is hugely satisfying. You can catch a lot of fish. Despite what you read, very few folk bother and nearly all of those that do use boilies and mixers, despite there being plenty of other baits fish have not been trained to avoid. The other big plus is that you really learn to find fish - it's mandatory really, unless you fancy chucking in your bait at random...
On the whole it's a simple method, mostly requiring only a rod, a reel, some line and a hook. I mostly stick with the Cardinal '66 and use Stren Original Clear mainline in 6-14lb. This is low visibility, tough and just sinks when wet. Rods; I've used; the Harrison's Avon, the Hexagraph Avon (both 11ft & 1½lb t/c), an ESP Floater rod (12ft & 2½lb t/c/ but stripped and rebuilt with a proper ringing pattern) and a Fox Floater Special (12ft & 2lb t/c but a very soft tip). If I'm planning to floater fish I tend to use the ESP, but the others are used often. I've had some fun sessions with a Chapman 550 as well.
It pays to have one - although this is the easy part. Here's mine; find your fish, ideally feeding fish. Then get as close to them as is possible without spooking them. Get a bait to them without spooking them, on tackle strong enough to get them out (the astute will have realised that this is my strategy for almost all angling).
"Always remember," Eugene said, one afternoon at the Rye Dyke, "that the objective is to get them 'out of there' and 'onto here'." This in response Tam and myself's naive pondering on the sporting ethics of landing a 2lb roach on an 11ft Bruce & Walker Mk.IV 'G' S/U. If your strategy is to find a lake with lots of big fish conditioned to live on HNV bait, pick a comfy swim, bung out three of the said HNV baits at random and wait for three days in a tent on the off-chance BAWI gather this is known as bait'n'wait which seems to describe it pretty well. In some weird way this is easier than working out where fish are and getting a bait to them quietly. All righty then. , then you're on the wrong website.
Finding the blighters. OK, not so easy. In fact this is by far and away the hardest bit, but if you crack this you're over halfway there with any fishing. Really. What the great books and anglers often do is mention how important finding the fish is, then write a few pages on it, leave out swathes of useful information then skip blithely onto the next part of the book...'Carp Fever' and 'Still water Angling' are both a little guilty of this, the former more than the latter, in fact location is all. Well almost.
Consider this for a moment: the best tackle in the world is worth nothing if the fish are not present. You've got more chance with crap tackle where the fish are and 100% more of a chance with one rod in the right place than three in the wrong places(s). It's that simple. Bafflingly, nearly every fisherman you see gives this no thought whatsoever, but plonk themselves into their favourite swim or one which looks OK. Job done. Fair enough if you're not bothered and it really is. If you are happy just being there with fish strictly a bonus, then why not? I've done it.
Anyhoo, here's what I learned. Firstly, if you can see carp feeding on the surface, then there are carp feeding on the surface. Bit obvious? obsThis is in the same category as 'If someone's hiding something, then they have something to hide'. Yep. That obvious (don't you love it when someone hides something and swears there's nothing to hide? Yeah, right). Well, can be, but sometimes carp are very fly and hardly make a noise or a ripple. They may be under weed or trees, and only the slightest disturbance will give them away. I've had baits disappear in front of me with hardly a sound or a ripple...so really here the first point is to observe. You're looking for the obvious things (e.g. 'clooping') but also the not so obvious.
'Water Devils' spin, carp don't...you need to watch the surface for any unusual movement of the water, this is hard when there's a ripple but time and experience will tell. For example, small and transient flat spots in the waves. Calm water makes thing easier, but often the only indication that you'll get then is the slightest shimmer of the surface. Carp often have regular patrol routes. If you mark one such on a day of good visibility, then it's worth laying a trap for the day when the fish are not so obvious. On a lake, the carp almost always move clockwise around the margins, for the same reason the shadow on a sundial does.
The windward end is usually the right end, summertime at least, as it's the end with the highest DO (dissolved oxygen) and when it's really hot, this is the cool end. And while flat calm conditions always look great for surface fishing, a bit of a ripple is better as it hides you and the line.
In colder conditions it's often worth re-thinking this last point. In cold weather (10°C and under) carry a thermometer for this simple check; is the water warmer than the air or vice versa? This tells you whether the windward or leeward end is likely to be warmest. The warm end, usually, is the place to start fishing. If you are sure fish are about, but have little firm sign, then flicking in a few mixers about with a spoon will often get fish moving around to check out the bait. If you have a small water to yourself, wander about with a pockerful of dry mixers and put a handful into likely locations, find a nice place to watch, pour a coffee or tea, then wait...
If you only fish for fish you have observed (and haven't spooked), then you'll do well, but location is hard to get right 100% of the time. I'd settle for 50%...
A few other points. If you come across a drift of debris on the water caused by the wind-drift piling stuff up, then fish against the edge of it, or even on top of it. It might seem silly, but you'd be surpised how the carp can detect and locate baits presented in this way. Don't be frightened of snags and weed. Carp are very bold when they think they are safe. The key is to use a strong through action rod, 2lb t/c or so and 12lb/14lb/17lb line and don't give an inch, screw the clutch down and let the rod absorb the energy. If you use a tip-action casting rod for this, you'll get broken off repeatedly. Larger hook can help (size 4 and 6) as the thicker wire resists the hook cutting into the fish and pulling out, although some smaller hooks are made with extra thick wire now, Korda Wide Gape 'X' and 'XX' for example.
With lilies you have to hold the the fish firm, but with Canadian pond weed steady pressure will often win out as well. For lilies, if the rules permit it, use a three-four feet length of 16lb super braid as a weed cutter, but ensure the main line can take it and the hook length (at least two feet long) is considerably weaker that the braid. That includes the knots to join it all up.
Spook them not... so, finding the fish is key. Then, having done all that hard work, you scare them off. So you are back at the start and will have to wait, quietly, for the fish to get over their shock. See why that matters? Good-oh. Firstly then, movement. Most fish are prey animals (a fancy way of saying they're lunch for something else). Nearly all prey animals react strongly to sudden movement with an equal or greater movement in the opposite direction, so move slowly and steadily.
Secondly, the skyline around a water is virtually constant on most waters. Sudden changes to it are suspicious. So keep off the skyline. Thirdly. Blend in. There's nothing wrong with 'real tree', it works. But dark greys and olive greens are fine, you don't need the full combat camouflage for you and all your kit. It's for a fish, not a enemy sniper. Hats are fine, but no silly colours. No red's whites and blues. Don't be like the dolt I saw recently who walked around every swim in the lake in a red shirt, blue shorts and a red hat, clutching a big orange bag of mixers, tossing a handful into every swim. An expert in this field to be sure.
Don't forget the face. It's very very very visible and if you want to get really close to a surface feeding fish, try a veil, bee keepers' if in a drab colour, I made mine from a piece of army suplus scrim, I cut a hole in the middle so it dropped over my hat. I expect a landing net mesh would work well. One may not look ever so cool, but on the upside folk will walk right by you. Always fun then, to suddenly cough. Also, as mentioned above, carp often patrol predominately clockwise, so if you have a choice and cover is available, keep close to the right-hand side of the swim.
Sound and vibration. Fish react strongly to vibration and noise, even voices (low frequencies especially, they travel further in water). Here is a list of things which cause enough vibration in the water to put fish down in a 100 yard radius. Dropping tackle boxes. Hammering in banksticks. Idly whacking some item of tackle on the ground because 'yer bored'. Clumping your feet. Running around to yer mate for a chat. Radios. Sitting down so hard on yer box or chair that I can feel it. Yakking loudly on your mobile. Bivvie pegs, insertion of.
I recently went fishing on a one-acre pond on a completely windless day. There was barely a ripple and the bank was quite soft with recent rain. If I raised myself four inches from my seat and dropped back suddenly, a faint ripple spread out from my position...intrigued by this handy opportunity to experiment, I stamped a foot gently. Ripples...I stood up and raised myself onto the balls of my feet and dropped onto my heels. Ripples...
Now it might be that you are fishing at range or on a water where fish are used to clumping fishermen and their trundling trolleys, so why bother? Well, I'm here to tell you that even in waters where fishermen are commonly about the bank and the fish are used to the sight and sound of them, they'll still take a bait much more readily if they think no-one is there. Oh yes.
Ok then. You've spotted them, sneaked up on them, now what? Well of course you set yer rod up before you started the spotting and sneaking. No? Should have mentioned that. It's worth assembling the rod and tying the end-tackle, even if it's just a hook, when by the car...the first time you spot a fish and try, without spooking it, to set up a rod and get a bait to it, will demonstrate the value of this simple tactic.
Controller Floats or 'controllers'. I don't use them much. I prefer to fish near rather than far and find that most off-the-shelf ones are designed for 50+ yard casting (I assume). I can get crust 30-40 yards and two mixers on a size 6 some 20 yards, three on a size 4 go miles...having said that small baits and longer ranges are often worth a go, so I made some flat controllers. Cut ¼ balsa sheet into ¾ strips, and then cut a groove for a cleaned biro refill tube and put solder wire (lead free...) around the stem. When it's about right, glue the halves together with wood glue to get a square section and set to with a sharp knife. When approx. bomb shaped (tube central), smooth with sandpaper. Then I seal and paint matt green/grey, the colour of stuff that's been bobbing in the water for a bit. These cast OK, I've made about eight, for less than the cost of one off-the-shelf.
I plan to make a few from sticks off the apple tree, just cut and sealed, with either wire through the middle or just a swivel glued in. One of the most effective controllers I've used is a very large porcy quill, self colour, just put on the line with silicon tubing at each end. It's got weight and being streamlined, casts like a missile. In summary though only use a controller float when there is no other way and then use controllers that look like natural flotsam first, flat matt-green controllers, sticks and so on.
There are no magic baits of course, but there are some good staples and contrary to the overwhelmingly self-serving opinion of the angling press, you can buy nearly everything you need at any supermarket.
Mixer Biscuits. I use a plain supermarket mixer biscuits. Stick them in a tub, cover with boiling water, shake for 1 minute, drain the water and stick in the fridge with the lid on. In the morning they'll be fine for floater fishing. At the boiling water stage you can add flavouring, colours etc. Green is good for baits where there are a lot of birds (they can't spot it at distance). I use all sort of flavours, the water from sweetcorn, water from the hemp flask, fish sauce, anchovy sauce, tuna water, strawberry, pineapple juice, All good. Pineapple and hemp seem to work the best. You can freeze and re freeze these baits.
The other method is to add about 150ml of liquid to 1lb of biscuits and shake them (a bag is best) until all the liquid is absorbed. Leave overnight in the fridge. I find this works better if the liquid is very hot, boiling. I think the air in the mixers is expanded out and as it cools the liquid is sucked in.
You don't need expensive flavours, you can use cooking Strawberry flavour and colours and pineapple juice reduced by half in a pan is very strong. Vanilla's not bad, anchovy sauce is good but you seem to need a lot of it to really flavour the mixers, so for 1lb of mixers add two table spoons of the sauce and top up with water to 150ml. Shake well, microwave to boiling, then add to mixers etc...
An excellent wheeze is to drill a 1mm hole through the middle of the dry mixers you are soaking for hookbaits. When they're soaked they'll thread on the hook soooo-oooo easily. This is a fine way to put three or four mixers onto a bare hook and that will cast a surpisingly long way.
Bread. A good white unsliced sandwich loaf my staple bait. White is more visible, wholemeal tougher. If you can get bread baked the old fashioned way with yeast, the smell is better and the bread is tougher. Most supermarket bread is not baked this way...you can do a lot with bread. Big bits of crust work, two smaller bits back to back hide the hook and cast further and flake, pinched around the line hide the hook completely and will often get a take when crust is treated with suspicion. Often, when mixers are being treated with suspicion, a big bit of bread will get a quick take as it's less familiar and greed also pays its part.
It can be worth dunking crust quickly before casting, as if the bread is hard when it lands you will not hook an instant take (it does happen). A thin slice of a mixer biscuit cut with a sharp wet knife and place between the hook bend and the crust can help it on when casting.
Other baits. Supermarket shelves are stacked with interesting ideas, the three most useful I've found are naan bread, crumpets and pizza bases. Naan bread (at least the ones I buy) need taking out the packet and drying overnight to get firm enough for putting on a hook. On a plain naan, the slight spice smell seems to attract the fish, even suspicious ones and I've had fish take naan and swim past bread to do it. It's quite tough, casts well and resists small fish.
Crumpets are tough but soft and cast well. The downsides are, that they are very holey and can present a challenge to hook, they also don't deform when slurped. So if you use a big bit, it resists being taken. Again get the good ones, the yeastier the better. Having made crumpets from scratch at home (OK the Marmiteangler did), I recommend those as a floater bait. Pizza base is custom built crust and foiled packed with a yeasty smell. Ideal for keeping handy, just in case. Good for casting.
Strawberries float...on most water strawberry flavouring is familiar...marshmallows can work well. Worms using a cork ball or injected with air are good, but everything likes them. If it floats and it's edible it's worth a try. All baits can be tweaked with flavour, bank-side I use pineapple, hemp oil and anchovy sauce (Lea & Perrins). For the latter a touch from the top of the bottle is all you need to differentiate your hook bait.
Some Other Notes on Baits.
I'm not convinced that flouro is any better than clear nylon per se and although it occasionally seems to work, I've found all flouro unreliable for knots and gave it up. I think a thinner hook length can occasionally help with really suspicious fish, I don't think it matters so much what it's made of.
My major problem is that of attaching the hook length to the main line, often dissimilar materials and thicknesses. If you use a swivel, even a little one then you need some kind of controller. I work very often on the basis that no controller will cancel a thicker leader.
I've tried a cocktail stick stuffed up a silicone tubing over a swivel and it doesn't always float. Pop-up foam, with a hole run through it, pulled over a swivel does. Use a cork ball and rig ring to use a fine leader if you're not casting far.
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Float Fishing for Carp
Float fishing for carp is much neglected, but it's still possible to catch carp this way and while you can fish any old way with a float and occasionally latch into one, if you want to catch them on purpose, there are methods which work better than average.
As shown...anything from 4-12" over depth, often bites will take 10 minutes to develop and it pays to use a float with some buoyancy and/or a long antennae so line bites are horizontal dithering, rather than the float sinking. A pheasant quill is good, a good big crow quill as well. Put the bulk shot by the float and a BB on the bottom. (My favourite float for this is a pheasant quill, made self-cocking with copper foil which sinks with a 1BB 'tell'tale'.) The float should sink with the 'tell-tale' but otherwise don't over shot the float.
I use braid hook-lengths, tied directly to the mono, and favour baits that small fish can't take on. Carp like flake, paste, worms, meat, all good. I probably spend too much time using cockles and mussels on large hooks over a bed of hemp. The idea is that the carp fiddles around with the bait until it feels happy that it's OK, then it wanders of with it. That's when you strike.
A pole float, self cocking, fish about 4-6" over depth, no shot on the line. This works well for small baits and one water I fish this is the most effective method of catching carp on the float, with a size 14 (barbel) hook and a single grain of corn (on 7lb 14oz Preston Reflow or 6lb stren right through with a 6lb braid hook length about 4" long). The carp here are old timers and wary of multiple baits and boilies but are used to mopping up low risk single particles. Avoid snags with hooks this size, you've no chance, it's an open water technique. You could scale it up to 10/12lb line, but the line would exceed the hook's strength and the success of this set up is the relatively fine line and small hook.
So a small particle behaving 'naturally'. 6lb Silkworm and 8lb mono is as thick as I've gone and had fish this way.
The fish taking the bait will pull the float under right away and the resistance is so low that often the fish goes off with it. This works especially well when the bottom is steeply sloped towards the bank, as the bait can be laid onto the slope, reducing the chances of the fish hitting the upright line, which is almost right against the sloping bed.
|can be as subtle as you like...or not|
This sketch is not to scale in any respect. The floats are secured with float stops & naturally I'm using cane rods & sweetcorn as bait ;-)
Two variations...(1) use a small pole float, 0.4g (1×BB) or less, use a tell-tale shot that will sink the float, then ensure the bait, shot and float are in line by over casting and drawing back. Then the float will bury when the bait is sucked in or 'inspected'. Strike right away the float goes and this I find works best with large baits, two mussels, meat in one inch cubes.
(2) lengthen the tail to two feet, and add another shot and pop up a crust or a floating bait. Tricky to cast, but works well, bites are often odd, with the float popping under four inches and staying there for an 'elephant'. I tend to say "One ele-" and then strike hard...bread crust is good, but prone to dismantling by the small fish, so either check it often, use crumpet, which is tough or floating dog-biccies.
This is nothing more or less that the original (Patent Pending the Taylor Brothers) lift method slightly adapted. You can stick with peacock quill if you like, it's white, can be cut to length and is cheap. The idea is to place the bait between 2-6" from the hook. Shot the float to sink (just) and then set the depth so it's only just showing, 1mm or so is fine (you can sink it entirely, but it's good to know where it is). When yer carp sucks up the bait for a preliminary inspection, the float will pop up. Strike pretty much right away, the idea is to catch the fish on this inspection of the bait.
Works best I find with large baits, so big lumps of paste, a size 6 with three cockles or mussels or a big bit of meat. While it can take some adjustment to get the "tail" right, it's good for those waters where fish are wary of all baits and will inspect everything. I've got a couple of floats made with a cork ball and a bamboo skewer for this, with a long tip, orange and the top of the ball white, so I can keep the smallest bit of tip in view and when it pops up it's very positive.
The idea here is fish right in the margins and even stalk the fish, if feeding signs are seen. If fishing in a static way it pays to keep the rod tip back from the water - the plan is to strike when a fish inspects a bait in a normal and relaxed way, which it won't do if it thinks you are there. As soon as the bait is given its first speculative suck the float will pop up. Strike right away.
Clearly you need to check the depth carefully. Also with 'bottom end only' fishing in this way, with care, small adjustments in the line can set the float tip down almost to the millimeter. Yes, this is what some folks call "sunken float" but really, it's not new.
|up, down, it's all the same to me...but you need to pay attention|
This sketch is not to scale in any respect. The left hand float is fished top and bottom and the right hand float is secured with float stops & bottom end only. Naturally I'm using cane rods & as I'm after bigger fish this time, maize as hook-bait ;-)
It's worth thinking about the length of the 'tail' in relation to what you are trying to catch here. Assuming the 'tail' is laying straight on the bottom, then the chance of a fishing brushing the vertical main line as it approaches the bait are directly proportional to the size of the fish and the length of the 'tail'...so I suspect (but haven't tested) that anything over 6" overdepth will not work well with this method shorter is better, although I also suspect less than 2" is too short. I'd suggest, 6" if you expect or are trying for really large fish and 2" for less than 10lb or so. But I'm guessing, I've not done any experiments or anything.
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Snag Fishing or 'Skullduggery for Beginners' (a Work in Progress...).
This started life in "Chasing Butterflies", then I realised it was a topic in it's own right and worth expanding. I'm going to add a few diagrams here as well, as the whole business of 'position relative to the snag' is not as straightforward without them.
Don't be frightened of snags and weed. Carp are very bold when they think they are safe.
Some folk think snaggy waters and snags=bad, some clubs even denude lakes to the point of dullness on this basis. No, they're just snags. Weed-beds for example are potentially tricky to fish, but they also provide food and shelter for the fish. If you fish in such a way as a fish can cover 10-20 feet (and a fast carp can cover 40 feet per second) before you've even moved towards your rods, then you will get into trouble - that's not the water's fault it's yours. With snag fishing you hold the rod all the time. Or you should. It's far easier to prevent a carp running, than to stop it once it's got up to cruising speed. It goes without saying this is a single rod job.
You CANNOT safely fish snags of any type with more than one rod. It's a mistake to think you can. To those who do - it is not responsible and you ought to be banned.
This applies equally to bottom fishing as surface fishing. It you have a rig against a snag, wherever the other rod is, if you're not hovering over the "snag rod" ready to hit a run before it's gone a foot, then you'll lose fish to incompetence or laziness or both. Then you are at fault, 100%.
The key is to use a strong through action rod in the 1½lb - 2¼lb range coupled with 12lb/14lb/17lb line and don't give an inch, screw the clutch down. It is vital the rod has give, you're going to be absorbing hard lunges at short range and without a quite bendy rod you'll get snapped off and if you don't you'll do a lot of damage. I've heard that a 9wt fly rod is a good tool for this, but I've not tried it myself, but I have a 12 wt salmon rod on the shelf...
The heavy line is as much for it's resistance to abrasion as for the strength itself and it should go without saying that once a fish has been banked, re-tie the hook and check the last 6 feet or so of line very carefully indeed...
The hook size is important. Firstly you'll need wire thickness to take the strain and secondly, a small hook with thinner wire will never hold as well as a thicker wire, hook holds being equal. A thin wire will either straighten enough to twist out or will, being thinner will simply cut its way partly or completely out under the pressure. I suspect, but I don't know for sure, that small hooks on large fish with stiff tip action rods cause more damage that with larger hooks, especially with repeated captures. I think there is a case for tip-and-middle action and lower t/c's than 2½lb on some waters, but that's another discussion. I don't recommend tip action rods for this fishing, all through is better. Tip and middle OK, but this depends on the rod length. A 12 foot rod with 8 feet of tip and middle action has as much flex in the 8 feet as a 10 foot rod all through...
You need the control but you also need some shock absorption. All through actions which are so good at shock absorption, can make it difficult to exert control at short ranges and also when the fish is close to a snag. Tip action rods are generally too stiff to cushion the lunges even on the strongest tackle and if the line can stand it the hook-hold may not.
I use, mostly, the ESP Floater rod, tip/middle 2½lb t/c with 12/14lb line, but that's what I have, my ideal rod for this would be a 9ft or 10ft 2lb t/c with an all through action. If I'm stalking on snaggy fish, I'll use the 8ft solid carbon rod which is around 2¼lb t/c with 14lb/17lb line. This would probably pull a donkey out a field of carrots, even so, get in charge and stay there.
It's worth a quick note on rod length. While a long rod can be handy for some things, the length is essentially limiting the force you can put on a fish. Your 'O' Level mechanics will remind you that the rod is part of a parallelogram of forces and as a through action rod bends it's length in effect shortens and give you greater leverage, while maintaining the shock absorption function.
So for a given length of rod, a through action rod will allow you to apply more force on the fish than a tip action rod, and if the rod is shorter to begin with, you're better off in this respect. Of course you need enough rod to be a shock absorber as well, so I suspect, without any empirical evidence, that about 8ft is probably the shortest through action rod which will give you the best of both worlds.
If you are fishing with a longer rod and find you need a bit more leverage, with the non-reel hand hold the rod on the far side of the butt ring, although you need to ensure you have the reel under control.
I learnt some of this the hard way, fishing against lilies with 14lb line and a tip action rod, I got broken by the hook on the first lunge, but a softer rod, the ESP Floater, gives enough in the top 8-9 feet to prevent that. Both rods are nominally a 2½ t/c. The tip action rod got sold on, I really don't have a use for it.
The other general point here is control. You must be in control of the fish from the first moment you've struck. You must strike and take over at that point. If you even leave the strike too long, the fish may bolt, once it's moving stopping it can be an issue, even if it's not snagged yet. Hit hard, hit it quickly and hold it right there. When you get that right, even the biggest fish can be dealt with in small areas.
With lilies you have to hold them!
If you fish on the edge of lilies or a running fish gets a little way in, if you the lilies and the fish are in line, pressure back out the way it went in will usually win. The fish will tend to pull away from the pull on the line, so don't angle the line, the fish will go the other way and if the line get angled around stalks, you're in more trouble than you can probably fix.
The same applies to fishing alongside lilies. If you do this and the fish bolts into the lilies and you are now at an angle to the line of the fish into the pads, then you are stuffed. Once the line is around a few stems at a varying angles, the friction build up will make it impossible to pressure the fish without line damage. This is when you will end up pulling for a break and hoping the fish can't feel it. The way to avoid getting into this position is not to fish so it can happen. This applies especially to bottom fishing when you can take a second to hit a running fish and in that second it can be 20 feet into the bed. You've lost, but worse you've done it by fishing so that was the only likely outcome (I see this several times a season and often having lost one the fisherman will repeat it and loose another the same way, moronic really.
If the rules permit it, you can use a 3-4 feet length of 16lb super braid as a weed cutter, but ensure the main line can take it and the hook length (at least 2 feet long) is considerably weaker that the braid. That includes the knots to join it all up. However this is "as well as" fishing in the right place relative ot the lilies and tackle strong enough to control the fish, not "instead of".
This stuff comes in large clumps and tends to accumulate on the line as the fish progresses. It's not strand by strand as tough as lily stems, but nevertheless can be a problem. The rules don't really change though; it's still about being in control of the fish. If you and the fish and the weed are more or less in a straight line, then you can often pull the fish out the way it came with steady and firm pressure. IF the fish gets stuck so that rod pressure does not shift it, get some slack line and handline the fish. By this I mean pull the line directly with your hand. This will allow you to put a little more pressure on the fish and often steady handlining will get the fish moving and it will free itself. You're not trying to drag the fish out by hand here, just get enough direct pressure on it to encourage it to move out by itself. The important thing is that you need to be ready to let go and pick the rod up in an instant.
In general fishing near or among tree branches is not as bad as it looks. The branches seldom (but not always) go far under the water for a start and if you fish so that the branches are pointing towards you then you can pull the fish out the way it went in with little trouble. However, branches, especially those with a silt coat from changing water levels can be as rough as glass-paper, so thick line! I know flouro can be good for abrasion resistance, but the knot strength is always a mystery so I avoid it.
It can help to get the rod tip down under the water, then you are pulling the fish down under the branches as well, this can help.
It's worth taking the time to check out the lie of the wood. There will be spots where the fish, if hooked is surrounded by branches. This means that you will be stuffed if you hook it; you can't pull a fish over the top of branches, only out from among. If the exits are barred, don't fish there.
|Single 'VB' Hook trace...(and back to the top of the page)||Single 'VB' Hook trace||Single 'VB' Hook trace|
Just a short list of JAA's most commonly used abbreviations. Contains occasional rude words...
|...coffin...(and back to the top of the page)||...barrel...||...coffin...||...barrel...||...coffin...||...barrel...|
Words have great power. What you call something can change the perception of it in a quite startling way. For example "wind farm"...you're no doubt thinking of lush grass waving gently in the wind while silent and elegant turbines rotate in the rural background while sheep graze. "Wind Power Station". Now what are you thinking?
See? Well, fishing has similar examples and frankly, some are worse. Some are confusing. Some words have changed their meaning altogether. Some mean different things depending on who you are. I offer up my own explanation for the old and the new and also those words for which the meaning changes according to the user.
Anglers and fishermen often ascribe different meanings to the same word or phrase. Confusing? Not any more clI freely admit to using clichés where the cap fits - clichés may sound trite, but that doesn't invalidate the point made by them, although they allow the self deceiving to sneer at the cliché as an alternative to rational though. .
A Bfor 'BB' Cfor carp Dfor something beginning with 'D' E Ffor feck GGolf HHotel IBu88ered if I can think of any fishing stuff for the letter 'I'. Yet. JBu88ered if I can think of any fishing stuff for the letter 'J'. Yet. K Lfor leather. Or 'Lima' M N OOne 'O' for orthodox Oscar P Qgot to be less than six people or it's too long RBut soft! What light from yonder window breaks? S T UNo U's so far V W XBu88ered if I can think of any fishing stuff for the letters 'X', 'Y' & 'Z'. I did, after some diligent googling, find a Carbon XXX strength system, but that's too silly for words. YBu88ered if I can think of any fishing stuff for the letters 'X', 'Y' & 'Z'. I did, after some diligent googling, find a Carbon XXX strength system, but that's too silly for words. ZBu88ered if I can think of any fishing stuff for the letters 'X', 'Y' & 'Z'. I did, after some diligent googling, find a Carbon XXX strength system, but that's too silly for words.
"It doesn't matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn't matter how smart you are. If it doesn't agree with experiment, it's wrong." ~~ Richard P. Feynman ~~
|Overly manly fishing. Some might say.|
|'perca fluviatilis'...(and back to the top of the page)||Stripey||'Sarge'||A 'swagger' of perch||'Sarge'||A 'swagger' of perch||A 'swagger' of perch||'perca fluviatilis'||Stripey||'Sarge'|
Some Rough Guidelines...
|The Lady of the Stream...(and back to the top of the page)||Thymallus Thymallus||The Lady of the Stream||grayling||The Lady of the Stream||Thymallus Thymallus||grayling||Thymallus Thymallus|
This is: 'whatever the weather is when I feel like going fishing and can'. For example, the optimum weather for me is often "What the weather is like on Sunday morning." I realise that for some, fishing is a matter of being forever poised for optimum conditions, fishing when the signs are right, when conditions are perfect, the moon is waxing, the star are aligned, that bloke in the fishing magazine said it was a good time, and so on.
Meh, if I wanna fish, I go, rain, snow or gale; these then are unmatched asupcies. I will figure it out when I get there rhetI've spent a large portion of my life working logically and rationally with a wide range of things which simply won't respond to pleading, endearments or bullshit. When you throw in a cursory interest in rhetoric, basic philosophy of science and a more than passing acquaintance with critical thought, you might see why 'rational' is the last bl**dy thing on earth I want to be in my time off. . Plus, if you are fishing, there is a chance of a fish. If you are watching the barometer (or whatever) instead, then you most certainly will not be currently catching anything.
There is always a chance.
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I do not have 'rigs'. In general I tie a hook to the line and impale the bait on the hook. I suppose this might be a 'rig', we might even call this the 'orthodox rig'. I do not bother much with carping writing, but the paraphernalia required for the 'next big rig' is often quite extraordinary. I suppose they work. I am certain no-one has ever tested whether you would catch fewer fish without them. In scientific experimental circles, this is called 'not having a control condition', i.e. to check 'nothing' or 'what we did before' is not working as well as the experimental condition.
Jim Gibbinson, one of the few more contemporary writers worth reading, uses about three and states quite clearly none of the others are really needed. I guess using the same old basic rigs does not sell a whole lot of 'rig bits'.
Still. This is the 'JAA rig'. I thread two clear silicone float stops on the line either side of a tiny link-swivel. I Albrightaka the 'JAA magic braid' or 'combi' knot a braid hook-link on the end and then tie the hook to the braid. I usually, but not always use a 'uni-snell' for this. I will often tie it the day before I go fishing, as threading the hook, stops and the mini-swivel through the rod eyes is barely slower than threading line. The braid is generally long enough for a second hook-tie, but not always. Any 'tell-tale' shot is subsequently pinched on the braid hook-link.
I developed this idea from my original 'braid float attachmentWhile I have no doubt the idea came out of my own head at the time, I would bet someone somewhere thought of it before me.' I came up with in the 1980's - this linked attachment changed into two slider knots either side of a link swivel and then when I discovered cheap latex float stops, I used those (as opposed to 'well known angler' named float-stops which I simply refuse to pay for). I stopped using those when a fleabay moron sent me 'dayglow' stops and argued he didn't have time to update all his product descriptions, the feck-wit.
At this point, I bought silicone cord, cut it into 5mm sections, threaded them onto 8lb 'Fireline', then transferred them onto loops of the same for use. 'Fireline' is what I keep for trotting, but its slick surface and thinness make it ideal for this job. With a fine needle and a small pair of pliers it takes about 30 minutes to make enough for, well 'yonks'. These are much cheaper than any I can buy and silicone does not seem to be so fierce on the line and stands multiple reuse.
|So here it is. That's literally the one out of the float tube from the last time I went out, including the float.||So in close up: the hook, 'uni-snelled' to 6lb spectra braid, a no.6 'tell-tale' shot, an 'Albright' knot to 6lb Stren, then two silicone stops and the mini-swivel.|
When I tackle down, I slide the whole thing down to the Albright knot, cut the mono off at about 6" length and drop the lot into the float tube with the line still attached. For the next session, I tie this piece of mono over the reel line with a single overhand and then thread the whole lot onto it. Once they are too loose to work, I throw them out, but that seems to take many uses.
So this is my 'rig'. GOS gosThe Gloucestershire Old Spot is an English breed of pig which is predominantly white with black spots. It's also the nom d'internet of a pretty good angler. also developed exactly the same, as we discovered when nattering one day. This 'rig' allows me to swap floats in a trice, change depth in a moment or two and the addition of a small cork ball to the link-swivel, surface-fish cbI have some 10mm cork-balls with a small link epoxy'd in them for this, although making a slit with the point of the VSSK and pushing the link into it works well at a pinch. . I can remove the float and by sliding the stops apart on the line, I can ledger, make a link-ledger on the link-swivel with swan shot and a loop of thin mono, or even free-line. See how handy this is?
I have two variants of this: firstly I replace the 'top' stop with a tiny plastic bead and a slider knot made with braid. This is useful if the water is deep, especially if you need to cast near a snag. You can accurately and easily underarm cast tackle set up this way, even in water that is only 4-5ft deep. Even at moderate ranges it is easier to get such a set-up accuratly against (say) a lily bed, without over-casting and reeling back (and adding the weight to do so). It is also the case that the line running through the float is often enough to sink the line to the rod tip.
Secondly, I put 2 × 8mm cork balls between the two silicone stops. Generally one is red and the other black, coloured with permanent marker (I keep four in my bag, black, red, green and brown). I tend to do this on trips when I plan to surface-fish. However, the addition of a shot and sinking bait will catch plenty of fish - as long as you do not mind the really silly carp sucking hopefully at the cork-balls.
If a venue has a braid ban, I will use the same set up, but put a 'tell-tale' shot between two additional stops. My shot-box has a few shots bored through for this purpose, using an 0.8mm drill, and also a number of weights made of solder wire wrapped around a needle, then coloured black with a permanent marker. These are also handy when fishing with hemp in the ground-bait. To be frank, anywhere that bans braid hook-links usually bans surface fishing as well, which means I will never fish there.
Lastly, I use uncoated dyneema braids for hook-links, it is quite soft, the 6lb is around the diameter of 4lb 'Silkworm' (for example), but crucially, if bought as 'no-name' braid on the slow boat from Hong-Kong, is about £3.50 for 300 yards. I rather resent paying £10 for 25M of 6lb braid because...well I really cannot see why I would. For £10 I have a lifetime supply of 6lb braid...
There you go. 'Rigs'. Pfft *waves hand dismissively*.
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Crucian Fishing: I do not usually write this kind of entry, as in truth I attach little importance to such things. Nevertheless, I have evolved several basic methods for playing with crucians. I can take no credit for these, as having read and taken in so much information over the years I cannot tell whether I have had an idea, or just remembered someone else's.
It is unfashionable, but I generally use a braid hook-link, even for little crucians. Generally, this is 4-6" of uncoated un-fused 4lb braid, of which I have a generous supply, combi-knotted to the main line. This useful length allows at least one hook-change. This, in the water, feels indistinguishable from the normal filamentous stuff fish expect to pick up along with whatever they are currently eating. Additionally, the one or two shot used are pinched onto this braid, and I remain firmly convinced this is far less likely to weaken such line, than the same shot pinched onto monofilament.
A digression: a 'shy' bite is not the same as a 'sensitive' bite. A shy bite does not move a float very much, perhaps as little as 1mm. A sensitive bite may move a float a long way, but resistance to the bite needs be minimised. For crucians, the issue is generally lack of movement (shy) rather than lack of confidence (sensitive) on their part.
So, I usually fish using the 'exaggerated lift' for 'shy' bites. This requires a float of my own devising, a 4-5" porcupine quill with a 75mm (3") × 1.2mm cane antennae insert (I realise this is more-or-less the same as a small 'Stillwater Blue'). The idea is to set it so the tip is about 1cm clear of the water. This is done by adding 1 × no.6 shot, the inevitable mini-swivel with float-stops and then to wrap solder wire around the base until the float just sinks, then use tweezer-cutters to nip off wire until just 1cm is above the plimsoll line.
Once this is done, I take the wire off the float, smooth it out by pulling it around something round and hard, like the handle of the VSSKthe 'Very Sharp Small Knife'. I then put a smear of water-proof cyanoacrylate just above the eye-whipping and neatly wrap the wire on. I then pull off my glued-on finger, and if required add a little more cyanoacrylate to keep the wire's ends stuck down. When the glue is 'off', I colour the solder-wire with a green or black permanent marker. There, all done.
|A selection. The 'lucky crucian float' is in there along with a small 'Still-water Blue', and two small quills that work perfectly on those fussy fish days described below.|
I uni-snell the hook onto the braid and put a single no.6 shot about ½" from the hook. Most days. It can pay to vary this. Bites generally show as the slightest of dips on the tip and then a steady rise. Generally you need to strike as the float is rising, that is, before the float gives the fish a gentle tug. A variation on this, perhaps my own, is to 'uni-snell' the hook and leave the tag end of the braid intact. Then tie a figure-of-eight knot in this tag and tighten it some 1cm from the bend of the hook. Then put the tell-tale shot on this tag - the knot is simply to stop the shot sliding off.
This, correctly set and fished with a long rod, is very effective, especially with bread-flake or punched bread. The trick is to set the depth very slightly 'over', place the float and when has settled, rest the rod, sink the line then tweak the line in (a centre-pin is good for this) until the tip is dotted down. This is incredibly effective on its day.
There is a need to check the braid has not looped around the hook between casts but it is easy enough to cut the tag-end off if this is not working. I have often taken this shot off and put it above the hook and fished on without cutting the tag-end off and it makes no difference to the crucian.
I have also found that when the swim is alive with crucians, sizes various, it can pay to fish a little off the bottom and split the single no.6 into 2 × no. 8's, very nearly the same weight. Particularly with hordes of smaller crucians, the bait is often taken on the drop, and once one has tuned into the slight delays as the first and second shot reach depth, a bite will often register as one or the other 'settles' being late, as it were.
In this way, I have managed decent catches of small crucians using far less sensitive floats with two split-shot. Even detecting just ¼" drops in the float is enough to catch. A crow-quill float will do the job, especially if the tip is delineated by two or three black bands about an eighth of an inch apart - two such are shown in the picture above. Any small slender float will work, as long as it is easy to tell 'one shot settled' from 'two shot settled'.
When the fish are definitely there, but for some reason bites are not forthcoming, it is worth adjusting the depth so that the bait is just on or just off the bottom. Sometimes this does not work, so moving the shot to the top of the braid can be worth a try, but then there will be no 'lift bites'. But persevere; I have had 'hard to hit a bite' scratchy periods transformed by removing the tell-tale shot, and vice versa.
I have alluded to 'knowing fish are there' and so to make adjustments and sometimes, with all the planning and careful setting up of tackle, adaptation is required on the day. So, how do you know if the fish are there?
The first and most reliable method is to catch the odd one and miss a lot of bites...
Crucians do prime at the surface, zipping up from the depths, flipping over and plunging back again. The smaller ones even 'buzz' a bit as the tail clears the water and I have seen crucians do this from a fathom of water. So there is that. They do bubble, but unlike the tench's obvious effervescence, crucian bubbles are often sporadic. A few large fish will generate two or three larger bubbles. Now and then. These seldom 'track', as a feeding crucian stands on its head, roots about, then having found something, tend to right itself and potter on. But with experience, the pattern can be learnt.
In my experience, the most maddening days are when you have a lot of small to medium sized fish in the swim. They churn the bottom up, compete and then bites can be both un-missable and quite missable. If this happens, it can pay to fish slightly outside the feeding zone. Try a slightly larger bait such as a grain of corn, if you are after the better ones, or, fish 'on the drop' as discussed above. However, all such advice might still leave you striking at air and then it is time to try different things.
|A constellation of crucians||A constellation of crucians||A constellation of crucians||A constellation of crucians||A constellation of crucians|
One last thought. Small crucians, like all small fish, are easy to catch although they are more fun than most as even the little ones scurry about putting perch to shame. Larger fish learn fast. Good catches from a particular swim, on a particular bait, or even at a specific time of day, will seldom occur twice especially if the stocking density is natural (that is, not overstocked). If this happens, you might find that to keep catching you will need to try a different swim, a different bait and a different time of day. And sometimes all of those. And lastly, I have fished as sensitively as possible and many times when reeling in to check my bait, have discovered crucians, both large and small, on the hook - and I would swear there was not the slightest indication a fish had taken the bait. Not a flicker.
Happy crucian fishing.
|three of the best, '1'||three of the best, '2'||three of the best, '3'|
The observant will have noticed that the above is concerned with catching crucians. Finding them is another matter entirely...
|Single 'VB' Hook trace...(and back to the top of the page)||Single 'VB' Hook trace||Single 'VB' Hook trace|
One of my bug-bears is the incredible shininess of some items of fishing tackle and I have a particular dislike of very shiny rod-rings and other rod fittings. I have sorted out a way of dealing with chromed surfaces that does a reasonable job. Firstly, you rough up the surface of the metal. Use '000' grade wet'n'dry perhaps, although toothpaste or wire wool might work. Once mildly roughed up, colour over the offending metal with a dark grey indelible pen, more than once if you like. Black works well also, but green tends to produce a finish that is a smidge too Christmassy for me. This is surprisingly durable, and can be easily re-applied. However if you really wish, varnish over the colour, matt varnish obviously.
You can remove most indelible pen using nail varnish remover on a piece of kitchen-roll, but take care not to get it on the rod itself or glue, varnish, etc. As with all fettles, it is wise to do a tiny experiment somewhere where it will not show, otherwise you can end up with a tip-ring that looks like a Christmas-tree bauble, to give a random example.
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