Carp Surface Fishing

Whilst the weather is still pretty changeable, most parts of the country have had a few days of warm temperatures and light Westerly winds – ideal conditions to get the carp moving. Whilst you can stalk carp on some waters most of the time, these conditions really make life a lot easier. Firstly, the air temperature will be warmer than the water, so the carp will tend to be found along the bank facing the wind. They will also tend to be in the surface layers, making them very visible if you wear polarised glasses.

In the summer carp can be incredibly frustrating, whilst they are visible, when the water is too warm they become lethargic and uninterested in bait. At the moment though they can still be tempted right through the day. Try to creep up on the fish and watch their reaction. If the carp are moving around, interacting with other fish and generally looking pretty alert then they are catchable. What you don’t want to see are fish that are just sitting there motionless.

You might think that surface baits would be the easiest way of catching these carp. This is true – sometimes, but I find that you need a decent breeze to catch during the day. The wave action breaks up the silhouette of the line, giving the fish a little more confidence. Alternatively, look to make use of any surface weed to hide the line from the fish.

As the fish are right in the edge there is no need for complex rigs. Normally a couple of mixers can be free-lined to the fish, once you have got them feeding confidently. Whatever you do don’t try and catch one until they are actually looking for more bait. One of my favourite methods at this time of the year is to drape the line over an overhanging branch and then to gently lower the bait onto the water surface so that no line is touching the surface. When you get a take, don’t strike too hard, wait for the carp to run away from you, lifting the line off the branch and then tighten up.

Surface fishing is very exciting, but there is a more effective method of catching carp at this time of year. Generally, the carp will be the only fish right in the margins, so you can fish for them with baits that might otherwise pick up nuisance fish. Maggots are the bait par-excellence for pulling carp down for a feed. Even when the fish are swimming around in mid-water they will easily locate a few maggots and come to investigate.

My plan is normally to watch the carp for an hour or more. Make a note of any spots where the fish linger, or where they turn, next look for spots where you can present a bait on the lake bed, free from too much weed or snags. When the fish melt away, introduce a handful of maggots and the same amount of hemp on to the clear patch. Once again, don’t cast out. Sit back, chill out and watch the reaction of the fish. Each time the carp leave the swim add another pinch of maggots to replace any that become buried. It can often take a few hours before the carp decide to feed, but eventually they will and slowly their confidence will build up.

When the carp are feeding on the maggots, colouring the water, it is time to introduce the hook bait. Wait for the carp to leave the swim and then swing the rig into place. I normally use six maggots on a size eight hook balanced with a small piece of rig foam. A six inch nylon hook length of 10-15lb strain depending on the size of the fish is used. Leads need only be light, 1.5oz is normally enough to set the small hook. Now sink the line so that it is out of the way of fish entering the swim, top up with a few more maggots – and make sure you put the baitrunner on! Takes when you are almost eyeball to eyeball are pretty explosive!

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Carp Legering

European bottom fishing techniques are the best in the world, far better than most other crude methods for catching catfish, carp, and pike. For most of us a large hook and several ounces of weight (for distance) are enough. If a fish tries to pull the rod into the water we try to hook it. More often we miss the fish and come up empty handed. The modern bank angler has a tremendous advantage when it comes to bottom fishing because his methods are more sensitive and more likely to succeed. Legering is the British term used for a bottom fishing approach. This method includes sensitive bite indicators and terminal tackle suited for each technique. In this chapter I will focus on swingtipping and quivertipping, techniques which are best used for the smaller bottom feeding species such as catfish and methods for carp and pike.
Terminal Tackle

There are two terminal schemes used in legering, the paternoster and the link leger. The paternoster rig is characterized by weight being placed at the end of the line while the link leger has the weight somewhere between the hook and the rod. Each has its advantages and disadvantages.

The Paternoster Rig

The paternoster is a rig borrowed from ocean fishing and adapted to fresh water needs. A weight (a bell sinker in USA) is tied onto the end of the line and a loop is placed four to 12 inches from the weight. A leader and hook are attached to the loop. Variations on this theme include a swivel instead of a loop and several gadgets which form a loop without a knot. The loop to weight distance, called the link, is always shorter than the leader. This allows the baited hook to float down while the line is held tight against the sinker. The paternoster is a sensitive terminal rig in both still and moving water. Leaders of up to six feet are used in still water but the link is never longer than 24 inches. When cast, the weight dives towards the bottom with the hook trailing behind. Once the rig reaches bottom (or just before it does) you start reeling the line in both to move the sinker towards you and to tighten the line. The result is a straightening of the leader and a tantalizing action on the bait. It is very common for a fish to hit the bait at this point so the process of setting the rig must be done smoothly. Otherwise you will miss the strike. Strikes will be quick with the paternoster as the fish will feel the weight of the sinker fairly rapidly. Some species will reject the bait once they feel lead so you have to pay attention to the indicator when using this rig. In moving water the leader and link can be shorter. Since the leader is always longer links tend to be four to eight inches and the leader 12 to 24 inches. The motion of the water will straighten the leader but you will still have to achieve a tight line by reeling it in. A short leader and a shorter link are used when fish are shy biters. Experiment to find the correct combination for your conditions.
Leger Link Rigs

The static leger link is the most commonly used bottom fishing method in North America. It consists of a sinker crimped onto the line with four to 18 inches of line left before the hook is tied on. Ironically it is considered the least useful of the leger link rigs by Euro-style fishermen. These anglers think that the running leger offers more versatility and sensitivity since the running rig allows the bait to roam free once the rig reaches bottom. It is especially helpful when the fish are leery about weight. The weights used can be a bell sinker, large split shot, or swimfeeders. Each of these has a specific use and can be employed with or without a link. Elaborate booms and other devices have been designed for running legers but are generally unavailable in this country. The easiest running leger is a bell sinker placed directly on the line and a small split shot used to keep it from hitting the hook. The hook can be connected to a leader whose breaking strength is less than the main line and attached loop to loop or to a swivel. This is a good rig for long range casting and is used extensively by the carp fishermen. Another type of running leger is heavy split shot clipped to both sides of a length of line looped over the main line. This is called a swan shot leger and it is good for moving water where the bottom is rocky or full of snags. The split shot will pull off when caught and the rest of the rig is saved. It has the added advantage of your being able to add or subtract weight in an instant. The link can be made from the main line, can be a special rigid tube with snaps, or can even be a float. The latter two are useful in mud and weeds as they allow the bait to rise above these obstacles.

Hooks

Forged hooks are used with most of the rigs you will set up. A variety of specialist hooks are available in Europe but any good quality sharp hook is acceptable. One of the most common mistakes made is to use too small a hook. Tiny hooks are needed for float techniques where the majority of fish are not going to bend the hook and the angle of strike is overhead. Bottom feeders can be any size and these fish often hook themselves sometimes with considerable force. The best configuration is a short to medium shanked forged hook (such as the Gamakatsu Live Bait hook) which is sharp and strong. It is tied to the leader with a palomar knot or snelled on if preferred. Check the link and knot often because this part of the outfit takes quite a beating between catching fish and setting up the rig after the cast. Replace the leader as often as needed. Wire hooks have their place when the fish are paranoid due to intense pressure. A slight outpoint can be placed on a wire hook which will render it more efficient. Wire hooks will have a shortened lifespan when legering.

Leger Link Rigs

The static leger link is the most commonly used bottom fishing method in North America. It consists of a sinker crimped onto the line with four to 18 inches of line left before the hook is tied on. Ironically it is considered the least useful of the leger link rigs by Euro-style fishermen. These anglers think that the running leger offers more versatility and sensitivity since the running rig allows the bait to roam free once the rig reaches bottom. It is especially helpful when the fish are leery about weight. The weights used can be a bell sinker, large split shot, or swimfeeders. Each of these has a specific use and can be employed with or without a link. Elaborate booms and other devices have been designed for running legers but are generally unavailable in this country. The easiest running leger is a bell sinker placed directly on the line and a small split shot used to keep it from hitting the hook. The hook can be connected to a leader whose breaking strength is less than the main line and attached loop to loop or to a swivel. This is a good rig for long range casting and is used extensively by the carp fishermen. Another type of running leger is heavy split shot clipped to both sides of a length of line looped over the main line. This is called a swan shot leger and it is good for moving water where the bottom is rocky or full of snags. The split shot will pull off when caught and the rest of the rig is saved. It has the added advantage of your being able to add or subtract weight in an instant. The link can be made from the main line, can be a special rigid tube with snaps, or can even be a float. The latter two are useful in mud and weeds as they allow the bait to rise above these obstacles.

Hooks

Forged hooks are used with most of the rigs you will set up. A variety of specialist hooks are available in Europe but any good quality sharp hook is acceptable. One of the most common mistakes made is to use too small a hook. Tiny hooks are needed for float techniques where the majority of fish are not going to bend the hook and the angle of strike is overhead. Bottom feeders can be any size and these fish often hook themselves sometimes with considerable force. The best configuration is a short to medium shanked forged hook (such as the Gamakatsu Live Bait hook) which is sharp and strong. It is tied to the leader with a palomar knot or snelled on if preferred. Check the link and knot often because this part of the outfit takes quite a beating between catching fish and setting up the rig after the cast. Replace the leader as often as needed. Wire hooks have their place when the fish are paranoid due to intense pressure. A slight outpoint can be placed on a wire hook which will render it more efficient. Wire hooks will have a shortened lifespan when legering.

Rods and Reels

European anglers have a wide variety of quality bottom fishing rods to choose from while North Americans have no specialized legering rods. The 1990 Diawa catalogue from England lists 25 different styles ranging from inexpensive graphite-fiberglass quivertip rods to an elaborate combination Kevlar and graphite rod which boasts the best Fuji guides. Most of these rods reflect the fishing conditions in England and are not needed in North America, but the technology and design can be adapted for our styles of angling. The most common setup for bottom fishing in this country is a Zebco spincast rod and reel combination which is propped up on a forked stick or stuck in a single rod holder. The fisherman waits for a clear indication of a strike (usually the fish pulling the rod into the water) before setting the hook. Good strikes can be few and far between. As a result most of the concern of anglers in the new world centers around bait and placement (mostly bait). Periodically the angler will check his hook to see if some little fish has stolen the bait. Usually it has. More enterprising fishermen have added bells or other indicators to the line or rod tip to alert them to a bite. They meet with more success and have learned the shortcomings of the five and one half foot rod when dealing with finicky eaters. These anglers catch a lot of fish because they use what they have to its best advantage. Euro-style rods used for legering have a fairly stiff all-through action which is similar to a flipping rod. Because these rods are eight to eleven feet long they have a different feel than the flipping rod and tend to have a lower test curve. A good feeder rod needs guts to set the hook and cast an ounce weight while remaining sensitive. The rods that would be useful for catfish, etc. are eight to twelve feet long with enough power to cast long distances. The extra length allows you to set the hook even if the line is not as tight as it should be. The only way to achieve this with a short rod is to run backwards while setting the hook. If you are handy enough to make your own rods, you will find that heavy steelhead blanks can be used to make a good bottom rod. The newer crappie specialty rods make a good substitute for a leger rod. Almost any good spinning reel can be used with leger rods. Casting rods and reels are useful with the larger species such as flathead catfish but are ignored in Europe for this purpose. Reels which can be set on free spool or have quickly adjustable drags are better, especially if you use the same reels for carp and catfish. Reels designed for long range fishing are very helpful. The Mitchell 300 is still praised by the Europeans in spite of its age. Any reel you feel comfortable with is good. You will have to work the reel quickly when the fish bite so pick one which is simple and reliable.

Bank Sticks

This may seem a minor point but there are no decent rod rests made in North America. The majority of them are gadgets resembling outriggers and most anglers use a forked stick or nothing at all. The bank stick is a very important part of legering systems and the position of the rod is crucial to its success. If you just add three rod rests to your present system, you will improve your fish catching by 25 percent. The best rod rests come in a variety of lengths and are made from quality aluminum or stainless steel. Specimen fishermen consider the purchase of a good set of bank sticks an investment. Cheap rod rests do not provide stability and will wear out quickly. In England you can buy several brands of rests with a variety of screw on heads. These heads have various purposes such as holding the handle or the tip of the rod. Rests for the body of the rod will have a groove cut in them to allow free flow of the line. This technology keeps being refined (like all modern bank fishing) and new ideas added yearly.

How to Leger

Legering is the Cinderella form of Euro-style fishing. For years it was thought of as a last resort when match techniques failed. Now it has an exclusive following who are constantly refining the methods and broadening its scope. These anglers are concerned with presentation, bite indication, chumming and/or finding the fish, and setting the hook. In North America there are still plenty of naive fish who take the bait and run but the other 90 percent of the fish population are now available to you with legering techniques.

Preparation

All of the legering techniques are used over baited areas in Europe. Old world waters have been transformed to canals and the remaining fish are usually cyprinoids who are wary and smarter than the average North American counterpart. In order to assure the presence of fish large amounts of chum may be used especially in moving waters. Canals in Europe have little structure so fish have to be attracted. We don’t think in these terms because our waters have good structure and we can usually pinpoint where the fish are supposed to be. But the use of feeding can open up worlds of opportunity for the astute fisherman. If you add the element of free offerings to your favorite fishing hole you may greatly increase the chances for fish. Feeding is a time consuming affair but is an integral part of the system of legering. After you feed to your favorite structure you will find that it will become more consistent. If you feed time and time again fish will alter behavior and deliberately seek where you chum assuming you pick a spot which has obvious structure. Carp anglers will feed a gravel bar for an entire season to attract one large fish. For example you could use a slingshot and put several ounces of sweetcorn at the head of a pool which carries the fish you want. Sweetcorn is cheap and an almost universal bait for most freshwater fish. Don’t feed too much (little and often) and the fish will find your bait quickly. You can also use groundbait to attract fish without actually feeding them very much. Once you are at the water’s side and have begun the feeding process you should prepare your site. Set up your rod rests, place your seat, and put your net in place. Bait, drinks, umbrella, target board, etc. should be ready before you assemble your rod. This serves two purposes: it allows you to plan your fishing a little better and it preserves your rod from clumsy feet. A word of advice. Don’t take more equipment than you can carry in one trip. Often you will set up only to find conditions better in another spot. After several such moves you will become a master of angling minimalism.

Rods and Reels

European anglers have a wide variety of quality bottom fishing rods to choose from while North Americans have no specialized legering rods. The 1990 Diawa catalogue from England lists 25 different styles ranging from inexpensive graphite-fiberglass quivertip rods to an elaborate combination Kevlar and graphite rod which boasts the best Fuji guides. Most of these rods reflect the fishing conditions in England and are not needed in North America, but the technology and design can be adapted for our styles of angling. The most common setup for bottom fishing in this country is a Zebco spincast rod and reel combination which is propped up on a forked stick or stuck in a single rod holder. The fisherman waits for a clear indication of a strike (usually the fish pulling the rod into the water) before setting the hook. Good strikes can be few and far between. As a result most of the concern of anglers in the new world centers around bait and placement (mostly bait). Periodically the angler will check his hook to see if some little fish has stolen the bait. Usually it has. More enterprising fishermen have added bells or other indicators to the line or rod tip to alert them to a bite. They meet with more success and have learned the shortcomings of the five and one half foot rod when dealing with finicky eaters. These anglers catch a lot of fish because they use what they have to its best advantage. Euro-style rods used for legering have a fairly stiff all-through action which is similar to a flipping rod. Because these rods are eight to eleven feet long they have a different feel than the flipping rod and tend to have a lower test curve. A good feeder rod needs guts to set the hook and cast an ounce weight while remaining sensitive. The rods that would be useful for catfish, etc. are eight to twelve feet long with enough power to cast long distances. The extra length allows you to set the hook even if the line is not as tight as it should be. The only way to achieve this with a short rod is to run backwards while setting the hook. If you are handy enough to make your own rods, you will find that heavy steelhead blanks can be used to make a good bottom rod. The newer crappie specialty rods make a good substitute for a leger rod. Almost any good spinning reel can be used with leger rods. Casting rods and reels are useful with the larger species such as flathead catfish but are ignored in Europe for this purpose. Reels which can be set on free spool or have quickly adjustable drags are better, especially if you use the same reels for carp and catfish. Reels designed for long range fishing are very helpful. The Mitchell 300 is still praised by the Europeans in spite of its age. Any reel you feel comfortable with is good. You will have to work the reel quickly when the fish bite so pick one which is simple and reliable.

Touch Legering

This is a technique familiar to most of us, keeping the line in hand while waiting for a strike. When all else fails, Euro-style fishermen will go to touch legering but its sensitivity is actually its greatest drawback. Touch legering requires no rod rests and is simple to understand. A strike is readily felt because you are in direct linkage with the fish. It requires constant attention and it is so sensitive that it is difficult to tell a line hit from a slight nibble. This can lead to striking too early. It is an expert’s method and best used when there are frequent light strikes.

Swingtipping

This is the oldest of the sophisticated legering systems but the one which has wide application in the new world. Swingtips were invented by Jack Clayton (in the 1950s) who added a 15 inch extension to his rod to catch shy biting bream. This indicator had an extruded nylon link attached to the rod which allowed it to rise and fall as the fish struck. Now you can find swingtips of various sizes and weights to suit conditions. Swingtips are utilized in still water and slowly moving rivers or streams. They allow you to see virtually every bite which occurs and after a while you will learn when to strike. But you must pay attention to the details. The usual swingtipping setup is a paternoster terminal rig, three rod rests, and a seat close to the handle of the rod. Set the rod pointing directly at the bait. The rig is cast over a baited area then drawn back towards it. As the weight hits the water you should reel in the slack line and pull the weight in your direction. This will have two effects: the line will become taut and the bait will begin to float down behind the line. At this point many fish will strike as they are triggered by the swarming effect of feeding and the slow fall of the bait. Your attention should be on the swingtip throughout this process. If you don’t get a strike at once reel in until the swingtip shows some movement and set the rod on the rests. The tip of the rod should never be more than 12 inches from the third rod rest or you will lose sensitivity. Set the angle of the tip 45 to 90 degrees from the water. The swingtip should be as close to the water as possible. In heavy winds it can even be in the water a little. A strike will be indicated by a lifting of the swing tip to almost 180 degrees. This can be a quick indication and will require close attention. Usually you will get a few preliminary movements caused by fish mouthing the bait or hitting the line. If you strike then you will almost always miss. The wind can cause movement which is mistaken for a fish. On windy days it is best to use a heavy swingtip or weigh it down with lead wire. You will lose sensitivity but still catch fish. When striking you should just lift the rod. If you are set up correctly the line will be taut when the fish hits and the bait in the fish’s mouth. A quick lift will drive the hook in and the ten foot lever you use for a rod will multiply the force. If you give the fish a bass shaking yank you may pull the bait and hook out, especially with small fish. If the swingtip suddenly flops into the water you have a fish swimming right towards you with the bait in his mouth. You must reel in a few inches and then set the hook. This is the only time you may want to add a little extra oomph to the hook set. If the swingtip will not stay at an angle steep enough to register fish you should go to the quivertip.

Quivertipping

This is a later refinement in rod tip indicators and it consists of a thin fiberglass tip spliced into the rod or screwed in via a special rod tip. Quivertips come in a variety of sizes, lengths and resistances which fit various conditions. It is set up by casting a heavy (3/4 ounce or more) weight and reeling the line in until the tip arcs slightly. Any pull on the bait will cause the tip to move telling you there is a fish on the line. Like the swingtip you will soon learn how to read it and when to strike. The quivertip can be used in fast moving water with great success. Swimfeeder users will weight the feeder until it holds in place (barely) and then set the quivertip by reeling in line until it bends. When a fish hits it will dislodge the swimfeeder causing the tip to spring back and then bend when the force of the current moves the swimfeeder or weight. In slower moving water the same trick can be used with lighter weight. The quivertip is set after the rig is in place and watched. Any twitch not due to wind will be a bite. The rod is set up at 90 degrees to the bait when quivertipping. This allows for a to and fro movement of the tip and takes full advantage of sensitivity. Three rod rests are used but one of these could be your tackle box. When a fish hits strike across the current to add the force of the current to your hook set. You should cast directly in front of you when using a quivertip so the rod is parallel to the bank. The rod should then be pointed downstream. This assures maximum sensitivity. In fast moving water, especially with a swimfeeder, a different method is used. Current tends to move line and the line can act like a sail in some circumstances. Under these conditions the rod should be held almost vertically in the rod rests with the quivertip high in the air. Most of the line is held out of the water and the swimfeeder doesn’t have to be burdened with excessive weight. The tip will indicate in the usual way. This trick can also be used in any situation where the rod can’t be placed in a horizontal position. It is hard to use a vertical rod in high wind conditions. Quivertips are especially good to use in stiff winds because they are stabilized by the tight line. With a swingtip the wind can move the line and give a false signal. In the new world strikes are still vigorous enough to be seen in a 25 knot wind. In fact you may see your rod pulled off the rests by an aggressive bluegill if you don’t keep your hand near the rod.

Springtips

This is the latest refinement on rod tip indicators consisting of a swingtip linked to the rod by a spring. It combines the best features of the quivertip and the swing tip. You use it the same ways as the other methods and the sensitivity of the method changes with the strength of the spring. It is especially good in wind.

Target Boards

Sometimes the strike is very tiny and after several minutes of watching a thin tip your eyes will begin to play tricks on you. This is where the target board comes in. It can be used with swingtips or quivertips and it consists of a board on a stick placed as a background to the tip. Most anglers make up their own target boards by painting a piece of plastic or wood a dull color and putting in a series of parallel lines to act as reference points. When the tip moves there will be a steady background to watch instead of water or leaves. This is much kinder on the eyes. In addition the target board may serve as wind break for the tip and add to the sensitivity of the system.

What to do When the Fish Won’t Bite

In spite of advanced technique, you will run into situations when you know the fish are present but they are neutral or negative. This is where twitching is a good method for triggering strikes. Twitching consists of moving the terminal tackle through the baited area by lifting and reeling in a few inches every minute or so. This slow lifting and falling of the bait will get the fish’s attention and probably cause a strike. At times this is a devastating routine which will fill your keepnet. Don’t be too eager to move the bait. Let it settle and wait for a while to see if a finicky fish will bite.

Swimfeeders

Swimfeeders are hollow tubes one half to one inch in diameter which are attached to the line instead of a weight (although weights are commonly added) and are filled with bait or groundbait. Two types of swimfeeders exist: open and closed ended. Open ended swimfeeders are used with groundbait which stays in the swimfeeder until it hits the water. The groundbait then loosens and falls towards the bottom. Closed end feeders are used for bait such as maggots which exit the swimfeeder while it lies on the bottom. Maggots can be used in open ended feeders if they are packed in with ground bait while commercial catfish baits and loose groundbait can be used in closed ended swimfeeders. There are no hard and fast rules. Swimfeeders serve the purpose of depositing the feed in the same spot that you are fishing thus attracting the fish to you. Most of the time you will not feed the area before using a swimfeeder, but there are times when both feeding methods can be used. When using the swimfeeder you must cast accurately so you leave food in the same area each time. Eventually the fish will come. Swimfeeding is a waiting game which can yield large catches. It may take an hour consisting of casting, waiting a few minutes and then reeling in an empty swimfeeder, but the wait is worth it. It is especially good for catfish. The setup for swimfeeding is a little different from the other legering methods. A quivertip is the usual indicator and the swimfeeder can be placed as a paternoster or link leger. I prefer a modified link leger in which a large 12 inch loop is placed on the main line with the swimfeeder running freely in the loop. A smaller loop is placed at the end of the large loop and a small hook with a 12 to 18 inch leader is tied in loop to loop. I also prefer to use a snelled wire hook since my main bait is usually maggot or worm. I commonly use ground bait in the swimfeeder as an attractant, especially for catfish, and leave more smell than bait. This may be the best place to put those commercial stink baits which never seem to stay on the hook all that well. In sandy bottoms the swimfeeder is a killer. Vic Bellars, well known English pike angler , uses ground fish and Alka-Seltzer to attract fish. The bubbles appeal to sight and sound senses while distributing the odor. In this country the same trick is deadly on catfish.

Philosophy

If you learn these techniques and apply them to catfish, bluegill, or you name it, you will catch fish often and consistently. You must practice them in order to make them work and at first they will seem odd. My experience of watching a good fisherman with bad equipment out fish me was tough at first, but as I improved that same fisherman came over to learn about the swingtip (which he called a “neat idea”). On our next session together one of his rods boasted a crude swingtip. There will be times when legering will not work and times when legering will catch fish not usually thought of as bottom feeders. Bass and trout fit in this category not because they aren’t bottom feeders but precisely because they are. Most food eventually ends up on the bottom and all fish have to become opportunists if they wish to survive. Try these methods when all else fails.

Practical Hints

Most of you are not going to be able to go to England for equipment but never fear, help is on the way, sort of. The new interest in crappie fishing has brought us several rods ideal for legering. These rods have thin tips and are fairly stiff. They are eight to fourteen feet long and are designed for light line. Most of them are fiberglass or fiberglass/graphite and are reasonably priced. They work fairly well. For those of you who cannot find or afford a new rod a quivertip is still possible. If you live where ice fishing occurs you can find wire bite indicators for sale in any tackle shop. These are designed to go on the rod so the loop is directly over the tip. This way a vertical bite is indicated. If you place it in the tip itself and let the wire extend beyond the tip it will indicate horizontal takes and becomes a quivertip. It is not as sensitive as a built-in quivertip but it has the advantage of being cheap. If a quivertip or a swingtip is not practical you can try a technique called float legering. This is an old North American trick which uses the tension of the line to hold a float in place against a rig on the bottom. Set up a waggler (as a slider) and a running link leger terminal rig. Make sure the line below the float is overdepth. When the bait hits bottom, reel in the line until there is tension on the line. Put the tip of the rod in the water and continue to reel until the float sets up correctly. The tension of the line will hold the float in place as long as the water is not moving too fast. Any take by a fish will pull the float in or cause it to rise. This is the time to strike.

Carp Float Fishing

Float fishing is probably one of the easiest way for new steelhead fishermen to learn. It is similar to bobber fishing for trout, except you use a unbreakable float instead of a plastic red and white bobber. Floats come in many shapes and sizes. The size of your float should be just big enough to float your bait/lure with out sinking so fish don’t detect the float. In clear water use a clear float or a natural cork float. Float fishing is a very effective method in calm pools, and boulder strewn rivers. Without float fishing in your arsenal you may be missing some very good opportunities to catch more fish.

Presentation for Dead Drifting a jig

Floats come in many shapes and sizes. The size of your float should be just big enough to float your bait/lure with out sinking so fish don’t detect the float. A float should ride the surface naturally occasionally stuttering as the bait/lure hits a rock. You can cast a float farther upstream than a drift fishing approach since the float will keep the line from going around rocks. As a float comes down stream reel up the slack, and as it goes down stream free spool with just enough tension not to disturb the float but enough to set the hook immediately. Keep your line off the surface of the water so it doesn’t drag the float. It is extremely important not to drag the float which will cause the bait to rise off the bottom out of the strike zone. Always use sticky sharp hooks. Let me repeat that always use sticky sharp hooks.

Tail out Skimming Presentation

If you have a tail out you would like to cover with your float you can increase your leader length so it is longer than it is deep and hold back pressure against the float so it pulls the jig off the bottom and works it way back to shore.
The STRIKE

The float will just go down… SET THE HOOK!!! Your line should be tight and rod should be ready to strike.

Floats – fixed

Most float fishermen use a fixed float with about 4-9 feet of line to the bait/lure. The float should be placed on the main line with the swivel between the float and the bait. The distance below the float to the bait should be adjusted so the bait is just above the bottom. Fixed floats are difficult to cast with a bait casting reel. It is far easier to use a spinning rod to cast the float and jig. Above are two different types of floats. The foam ones on the right are commonly called dinks and the line is inserted through a tube on the top, then wrapped around the foam and reinserted into a tube on the bottom. The leader distance can be adjusted very quickly to meet the fishing situation with this style of float. It also supports a heavier weight setup. The Balsa floats on the right can be rigged as solid or sliding depending on your fishing style. To make them fixed just thread two surgical pieces on the line and pull over the ends of the float. The balsa stemmed float can also be fished with one piece of tubing and a piece of lead inserted in tubing make casting easier.

Removable Fixed Float setup

Another easy way to use the a fixed float on a sliding clear bobber is to place tiny split shot above and below the bobber. Be careful not to crimp the split shot to hard so your line doesn’t become damaged.

Floats – sliding

With a sliding float the line goes thought the float and stops sliding by hitting a stopper on the main line. With this style of rigging it is easier to cast your lure with a bait casting reel. Generally a sliding float is fished with a casting reel, but can be also used on a spinning setup. Float stops can be place above and below the float. The top one is to set the depth and the bottom one is in case you break your main line so you can get the float back.

Adjusting the float

The distance below the float to the bait should be adjusted so the bait is just above the bottom. If the float hangs up going down the hole, shorten the leader by six inches at a time until it doesn’t hang up. If it never touches bottom lengthen the leader another six inches until the bait just touches bottom, then shorten by six inches so its just off the bottom. Fish have good upwards vision and will rise to take the jig/bait when suspended during warm water temperature months.

Line

If you are a dedicated float fishermen you should use a main line that will float on the surface so you can mend the line. Braided lines work well for this purpose or you can use dry fly line dressing to help keep the line from sinking. A small film container with a small cloth soaked in Mucillin will allow you to coat your line on the retrieve quickly at the start of the day.

Swivels

Barrel Swivels are used to attach a lighter leader to a heavier main line. This allows you to quickly adjust your rig to water conditions & minimize loss to snags. To avoid float loss, make sure float is attached to the main line above the swivel. A dropper fly can be added on a short leader for extra attraction. (check regulations before adding second lure)

Leader

You should always use a leader of a lighter strength below your float so you don’t lose your float when your lure breaks off. Leader length should be at least 18 inches to the swivel. During the summer you can go as light as 4# test with the right setup and successfully land steelhead. During the winter 20# test leaders can be used in colored water when chasing Trophy class steelhead.

Bait/Jigs

All kinds of setups can be placed below the float. A jig can be used with bait and without. You can use a drift fishing rigging below a float using back pressure to fish tail outs or just to cover water that tends to be to snaggy to drift fish. Soft plastics are also a favorite used on jigs and with out. Soft plastics can be used in worm, egg cluster and single egg presentations. All of these methods can be combined in one way or another to meet almost any situation. Straight bait such as eggs, sand shrimp or night crawlers can be extremely effective when presented in the correct manner. In extremely clear water you may even give single eggs a try.

Carp Setting Up

First of all, being primarily a carp angler, I’ve got two tackle boxes, if you count the one I use for my infrequent hit ‘n’ run, mobile days. Anyway, both contain the same sort of gear, just less of it in the mobile set-up. That makes being mobile easier, see?

Grrrreat. So, starting with the carp gear, for me the basic tools of this trade are a trio of Yately Angling Centre’s AK47 rods. These 12.5-foot rods each come with a pair of top sections to cope with different situations.
My choice, and by far the most popular, is the 2.5 lbs. and 3.5 lbs. tips, enabling me to cover short flicks and mega-chucks with the same rod. Using the 2.5 tip, an 8010 Shimano Baitrunner reel and a 3 ounce lead, I can fish from under the rod-tip, to 100-plus yards, without too much effort.
Changing the tip for a 3.5, the Baitrunner for a big pit reel and the 3 ounce lead for a 4 ounce bomb, my longest measured cast to date is 147 yards. So, all in all, my AK47’s pretty much do it all for me – and they look good doing it, too.

Crucial, that, obviously. AK47’s are sold in standard or hand-built form, and I got Yately to tweak mine around a bit and fit SiC rings throughout. I have to say that the service Yately provide is first class and their level of expertise is matched by their friendly attitude and willingness to help.
And before you ask, no, I’m not on the payroll. 🙂 Alongside the AK’s, I keep a 10-foot, 2lb. test curve, ABU stalking rod, for margin-mooching and floater work. God knows how old this rod is, but I love it and it was the rod I caught my first twenty on, so it’ll always have its place in my holdall.
It’s also used for pike fishing and my kids can handle it easily, so that’s plenty of reasons to retain its services. Bless. As already mentioned, my reels are Shimano 8010 Baitrunners, with a large-spooled Shimano Ultegra Biomaster XT 14000 on stand-by for when serious launching is required.
Tragically, the supremely engineered Biomaster has a tarty, white-pink-snot pearlised finish to its metalwork (it’s a beachcasting reel, I think, and that Julian Clary paint job shows up better at night, when shore fishing is often carried out) but it’s a master cranking tool, no doubt about it. My Baitrunners are the cheaper, Aero jobs, and while I’m looking to upgrade them, I’m still confused regarding choice.

Ideally, I’d like a Baitrunner with a larger spool than my 8010’s, without it being as huge overall as The Big Pit Baitrunner. We’ll see, when Daiwa launch (or don’t launch) a baitrunner’ised version of their long chuck reels.
Bite alarms next, and I’m 100% chuffed with my Delkim TXi’s. Make that 99.9% chuffed, due to the battery door on my ones working itself open a fraction, now and again. Like all top-of-the-range buzzers, the Delkims offer all sorts of set-up permutations and juggling your tone, volume and sensitivity preferences alongside this alarm’s all-weather electronics, means that there’s a perfect setting for every condition in there somewhere.
I’ve got the TXi radio-jobbies bolted onto the base of my Delkims, so when I’m bivvied-up in the wee-small hours, I can turn the volume of my buzzers to zero, and divert all the decibels to the receiver unit that I keep next to my ear. That way, if something fishy grabs my bait, I get a full-on sonic wake-up call, without subjecting the rest of the world to the strains of the Delkim symphony orchestra.
Also, should I need to shuffle off for a widdle, I can keep in touch with my rods and respond to their needs as well as my own. For visual indication, I’ve settled on Solar Butt-Bangers, with counter-weights and ball clips. Simple, effective and fully adaptable via Solar’s range of indicator options. There’s an isotope glowing away inside the flouro-heads of the indicators, so everything’s easy to ‘read’ at night when the Delkims go ‘diddley-diddley’.

My rods, reels, buzzers and indicators sit solidly on a Gardner Black Shadow pod, which I’ve found to be practical, hard wearing and double-easy to set up. It’s not the sexiest pod in the world, and at full stretch, the synthetic, ‘D’ section buzz-bar arms can droop fractionally under the weight of an AK47 / Biomaster combination – but I’ll stick with it.
I own a stainless steel pod (posh one, too) but I’m not as impressed with it as I thought I was going to be, so I went back to my Gardner. I’d like some more height and positional options on the pod, but I’ve managed so far, so the Shadow stays.
My rods, pod, banksticks and brolly, all slide snugly into a cruelly abused Trakker Holdall. I’ve virtually wrecked this fine piece of kit, although it did take me over two years to do so, and that speaks volumes about the quality of Trakker stuff. I’ll be going for another Trakker soon, one of their space saving, ‘two-up, two-down, jobs, which may just be easier to hammer into the back of my car for the full two day load-up.

For most sessions, a 75 Litre, Wychwood Rucksack is my transport vehicle of choice, although I try not to fill it right up and kill myself with fatigue before I reach my swim. The strap system and padding on this rucksack is too good if anything, because it settles the load so well that you think you can tramp for miles, no matter how much kit you’ve got hanging between your shoulderblades. I know better now.
Most times, anyway. I’ve also got a 20-litre Napier Rucksack for short stays in summer and this holds just enough bait, rigs and bits for a decent evening session.
Bivvy-wise, I use a Nash Profile Brolly, with groundsheet and overwrap, for one-nighters, and a good old Shakespeare Cypry Dome for longer stays, or when I’m loaded with children – which I usually am, and not just my own, either. Kids love camping out and fishing, so, the prospect of doing both attracts them in swarms.

The Cypry Dome’s been great, and apart from the hassle of threading poles through sleeves (which all domes of this type are prone to) I really can’t fault it for the money. The Nash Profile is simply the nuts, in terms of simplicity and speed of set-up. I love that brolly and would recommend it to anyone. I’ll be using it a lot more, too, as my kids grow and take up more room in the Cypry Dome – it’ll be great to have angling’s version of a granny-flat to hide in.

Inside the Dome or under the Profile, there sits my mega-comfy JRC Super Cocoon 3 Bedchair, which, for someone with a spine full of pins and bolts (as I have) is possibly more of an essential than rods and reels. I used to have a cheap bedchair. It made overnighters more of a trial than they ever should be, so I invested in the big JRC, and she’s a beauty. Not the easiest thing in the world to carry, both on the bank or in the car, but I never leave home without it.
On the sleeping bag front, I’ve always used just a £40, ex-army job, that is so warm I rarely even zip it up. I don’t feel the cold much and that bag is all I need to stay warm and happy in my wee bivvy of a night time. I also use a JRC Classic Chair, which is in dire need of a repair here and there, but has served me well since I first got back into fishing around three years ago.

It’s terminal tackle time, I guess, so I’ll kick off with a rapid run-through of my rig bits and stuff. Mainline is Shimano Technium in 12lb. test, which has proven itself to be fault-free over a busy summer campaign. It’s an ultra low-stretch line, neutral grey in colour and seems to have high anti-abrasion qualities, although I’ve yet to haul a 20 across a mussel bed and three gravel bars with it, yet. I fish at long range quite a bit, so a shockleader is essential and I’ve been using the excellent E.S.P. Tapered Leader, which joins the mainline at a neatly-knotted 14 lbs. test and terminates 20-odd feet later at a mighty 40 lbs. breaking strain.

The thick end of this leader is so stiff that I’m going to try using it without anti-tangle tubing, adding a flying backlead to keep everything pinned to the lake bed. Maybe it’ll work, maybe not, but with the tubing out of the way, I won’t have to worry about the leader knot getting snagged on the tubing in the event of a break in the mainline – and anything that makes a rig safer for the carp has got to be a good thing.

My Fox System Box is stuffed to bursting, mainly with E.S.P. terminal tackle, especially their Raptor Hooks. I like the way these classy little claws hold fast until the fish is in the net, then let go without undue effort from my forceps or fingers. Great hooks, these. I’m a big fan of Carp R Us Gizmos, which are just clever little wire clips that make changing hooklengths a 5-second, knot-free exercise.
Brilliant idea – too expensive by miles – but excellent all the same. My leads are mainly by Korda, backed by their Safety Clips and Sleeves. When set correctly, these really do eject the lead in the event of a snag-up, which is of paramount importance. In the bits and bobs category, my tackle box contains, a Cobra King Boilie Stick, which can hurl a 20mm boilie well over 100 yards, plus a Drennan Boilie Pult, which can’t match the Cobra for range but does a fair job of bait-bed building at ranges up to 50 yards or so. A Gardner Mini-Spod completes my food distribution network, and I can happily hit 100+ yards with this, using my AK47, with the 3.5 lb. tip fitted.

A few more bits and the odd bob still to go, and highly recommended comes my Coleman Double-Burner petrol stove. There have been some mighty meals made on this little beauty and with stereo burners, I can have the pasta and the sauce going on at the same time. Marvellous kit for fat gits who lurve their bankside scoff. I never leave home without my Bush-Tec Candle Lamp, either. Even on day sessions, I always seem to be setting up or packing away in the dark, and combined with my head torch (which I can’t remember the name of) the candle lamp gives all the power I need to get myself sorted.

Onto the clothing side of things and without a doubt, my favourite bit of gear are my Derriboot Neptunes. I’ve also got a pair of Derriboot Pisces, which are slightly shorter than the Neptunes but every bit as warm and comfy. These are the kings of the moonboot stylie – without question. If you’re looking for a pukkah pair of thermal boots, get these. Says me, who has tried the rest, as it happens.
I’m usually all cammo’d up, these days, thanks to Realtree’s Wetlands Pattern and the high quality clothing made from it. Sure, I resemble large expanses of Norfolk marshland, but I’m warm and comfy and nobody can see me unless I want them to – including the carp, probably.

Lastly, the bait. I got on Nash Whiskey & Squid right from the start and bullied my fishing mates into using it, too, on our first concerted baiting campaign. We’ve caught more fish than ever before and we’ll be Whiskey’d up for the foreseeable future, I’d say. I know that I’ve left out a ton of stuff, but I covered the main items and going through the whole list again has just made my back ache at the thought of carrying it all.
Carping, eh? Just the odd bit of gear and a Motor to cart it all around with. It’s great being a purist, I reckon.

Carp Care

A large Quality Landing Net is required and essential, big enough to get the largest carp in the lake into and some more.

A very large padded unhooking mat is required and essential.

A good quality weigh sling is required, with thick straps, not the thin strings that can get caught in the carps gills and caused damage to it.

Ensure that you know how to handle carp out of water. If you have not got the experience ASK FOR HELP most people would be delighted to help you at anytime with a capture of a large carp.

DO NOT fish for big carp if you do not know what you are doing.

After carefully unhooking the carp put on some healing antiseptic liquid or gel. If the carp has cuts, boils or other damage to its body, then put some on this as well to help the healing process and clean the wound.

When having your photo done, try and use several Carp mats under the Carp and keep it wet at all times. If there is someone available, especially when it is hot and sunny, get them to pour lake water over the carp regally. Also try holding the carp as low as possible to the mats.

Whilst you are getting the camera and weigh sling ready after capture, keep the carp in the landing net in the water, only get the carp out as soon as everything is ready. This will reduce any stress to the carp.

If you are fishing close to snags, fish with the bait runners OFF. I have seen plenty of anglers fishing snags with the bait runner on and having the carp go into the snag all too easy, they end up loosing the carp and possible have them trailing a hook line and lead in there mouth.

DO NOT FISH WITH a fixed lead rig. Check you rig so that the lead can easily break away from the line if you was to snap up. The carp can then shed the lead and dramatically reduce the possibility of getting tethered and die. Check your rig for faults during the session as well. There is a lot of tackle on the market that can help you out and it is all labelled as SAFTEY RIGS but ensure that the instruction are followed properly.

If you loose a carp in the snags and you feel that it may be tethered, contact the venue bailiff. He would rather come
out and help to get the carp un tethered or check to see if it is or not tethered than to loose a big carp.

JUNIORS, go to one of the many carp schools that are around such as the one that are run by the Carp Society. If you know an experienced carp angler, ask to go with them or get some first hand tips. Remember, if you don’t ask you won’t get told.

Carp Night Fishing

There is no doubt that fishing when the fish are most willing to feed gives you a mighty edge. For carp, bream and barbel this can be almost obligatory, but how do you get started? Is night fishing so very much more difficult than fishing during the day?

Night fishing for me developed out of fishing early mornings for tench. It was quite early in my angling career that I realised that I could catch more by fishing for a few hours when the fish were willing to feed than by fishing for much longer when they weren’t. Getting up at the crack of dawn wasn’t much fun, but the tench fishing certainly was! What was even more pleasing was the tales of almost universal woe expressed by those who only fished during more sociable hours.

Tench fishing progressed into carp fishing, and with it came habitual weekends spent at the lake. Short morning sessions turned into one or two night stints. In retrospect, this wasn’t the most efficient way of fishing, but when the lake was so far away (and I was dependent upon public transport) there was little choice.

So, I go night fishing for two reasons. Firstly, because for some species, in some circumstances, it offers the best chance of success. Secondly, because if I am forced to stay at the water for more than a few hours I might as well fish all night in the hope of a bonus fish or two. Whether you think the second reason is sporting is up to you. Certainly, if the water is full of bootlace eels I will soon wind in and get my head down!

Staying awake all night is incredibly difficult, and rarely desirable. It is very rare for fish to feed throughout the night, just as they do not feed equally through the day. The hours either side of dawn and dusk are generally the best, although this is not a hard and fast rule. If you want to fish effectively then it is normally best to concentrate on these periods. There are no hard or fast rules though, as angling pressure and the weather can cause fish to feed at other times. With modern bite alarms it is possible to fish and sleep at the same time. Again this comes down to ethics, but most people are now happy with the idea. It is certainly more desirable to be asleep next to your rods than wandering off and letting them fish for themselves. This does lead me on to my first sermon though. Above all, night fishing is about getting away from the modern world, so please keep it that way, tilly lamps, loud bite alarms and ‘raves’ on the bank are NOT what night fishing is about!

There are no great secrets to successful and enjoyable night fishing. Mostly it comes down to familiarity. The more you do, the easier it will become. For the budding night angler I would suggest gradually easing yourself into this form of fishing. With the right equipment it isn’t difficult, but if you are not used to being outside then it can be quite unnerving. The easiest way to begin is to extend sessions an hour or two into darkness. In this way you will have a good idea of the layout of the swim and will not have to set up in the dark. Choose a swim that you know well, and one that does not present any obvious dangers, such as steep banks and thick weed. Choose a warm summers evening and give it a go. Plan to arrive a few hours before dark and pack up a little after dark. The only equipment you will need are a decent torch and some warm clothes. Keeping warm is absolutely essential and sitting out being macho in a t-shirt all night will NOT catch you any more fish!

Head torches are an absolute boon for night fishing. Their only disadvantage is that they attract insects around your head, so only use them when you need to. Tilly lamps and area lights are a no-no. If you sit in the dark you will be amazed at how your senses quickly sharpen up and you will find that you do not need any light for many operations. Something you will have to do at night is change the batteries in your torch. Always carry spares and practice changing the batteries with your eyes shut! This may sound daft, but you don’t want to be stuck without some form of light just in case of emergencies.

The other secret, if you want to call it a secret, to night fishing is being organised. I always lay out my kit in a certain way. My torch is kept by the front leg of my chair or bed, tackle box and rig bin is under my chair, landing net is next to the rods and unhooking gear is behind me. Other bits I may need, such as scales and camera, are always in the same pockets of my rucksack, so that I know where to find them instantly. Knowing where everything is also makes it much less likely that you will leave stuff too. Get into a routine (most people do anyway without realising it) and you will be well equipped to fish the nights through.

Carp Feeder Fishing

In fishing for carp, there are two methods that you can use: maggot or groundbait. It seems that nowadays, ground bait is considered the most popular with anglers as it encourages the carp to feed and right to their hook interested by the cloud and the scent given off.

There are mainly two kinds of feeders; for deep water (1½ -2 metres), the open end feeders are the best, as they don’t release from the tube until they are near the bottom. For shallower water, the cage feeder is considered more practical, releasing as soon as it comes in contact with the water, often with fishmeal and crushed hemp (50/50 ratio) as the bait – a favourite with carp.

With all kinds of feeder fishing though, it is important to mix the groundbait with only the slightest amount of water, this is especially important when using crushed hemp, if it is too wet, the pond water will have little impact when the groundbait comes into contact with it, thus not encouraging an active release from the feeder. It is also a good idea to add a few pinkies into the groundbait, to entice the carp even more.

The season, determines whether to use active or inactive groundbait. If the weather is colder, the carp will be swimming near or at the bottom of the bed, so an inactive groundbait such as fishmeal and brown crumb (50/50 ratio) will be suitable. As the warmer weather draws, carp will swim at all levels, resulting in the active groundbait being a better choice, possibly Hi-Pro Carp mixed with brown crumb or crushed hemp (75/25 ratio).

By baiting say, two fluoro maggots, with a barbless hook, one threaded through the blunt end, the other hooked through the pointed end of the bait, you will reduce hooklength spin which in turn, reduces the concealment of the hook’s point.

As carp feed and feel safer around more featured areas of the pond, like near reeds and over-hangs, it is a good idea to try to cast around there. You may have to cast several times before any sign of results and again, depending on the season, will decide on whether to keep to the same region of the pond by clipping the line. As the fish are much slower in winter, willing to move less, it may be advised not to clip in colder waters.

Generally, if you are having trouble catching, it is advised not to change groundbait, once you use one mixture, don’t change that choice throughout that day, unless you are prepared to change your peg.