Like it or not it is human nature to be wary of change. The fact is that change brings with it a definite air of uncertainty that always carries a degree of risk.
When we take that into account it’s no wonder many Carp anglers are hesitant to experiment with new ideas, preferring to stick to their tried and trusted presentations whatever the conditions without a thought to a more suitable alternative.
You will hear it said time and again that we should find the rigs and tactics that work for us and stick to them no matter what, to build up that all important confidence. This is sound advice that I totally agree with. However there will be times when a bit of versatility in your approach will definitely put more fish on the bank than the angler who is stuck in their ways and reluctant to tailor their presentation to suit.
Be aware that just because a certain tactic has been highly successful on your previous water doesn’t necessarily mean it will produce the goods on your current venue.
So how do you interpret when or indeed if this change is needed? Well by reflecting on the conditions found at any given water and the behaviour of the fish present is vital. There’s a key word here that cannot be stressed enough…..observation.
A FRESH APPROACH
When a Carp angler continues to have poor results and the blank sessions begin to mount up it is nearly always down to them becoming stagnant in their approach or even too stubborn to make the required adjustments. Of course they will tell you that the fish just are not having it?! With this mind set their angling soon becomes one dimensional…. not good!
However the other end of the scale to this is the anglers whose minds have been boggled with way too many rigs and presentations that they are left in a constant state of confusion. To be honest I am not surprised with the sheer array of information and ideas floating around that the less experienced angler would feel totally perplexed. There was a time when I too would be left scratching my head at the thought of which one of the many presentations best suited the conditions.
My advice to those in that situation would be to totally empty and de- clutter your tackle box and start a fresh. Clear you mind, strip everything down and go back to basics. Think about rig mechanics and exactly what you are trying to achieve down below on the lake bed. Mentally visualise and try to understand the fundamentals of how a certain presentation behaves when it is fished and the sequence of events that as a fish picks up the bait and ultimately becomes hooked.
By understanding the mechanics of various presentations and grasping the basic physics behind why one tactic is more successful than another given a certain scenario will be of huge benefit to your angling. But remember, the more you fill your mind with different concepts and ideas the more you are just increasing your ability to doubt, which is never a good thing for your confidence in any angling situation.
On each and every water before I fish, I will first take time to make an assessment on which tactics and presentation will best suit that individual water and conditions to give me the best possible chance of success. This evaluation will take into account many variables. One of the first things that I look at is stock levels and the make up of those fish i.e average size, stock density and also the abundance of other species present. When I have this information I will then move onto the next all important area of bait choice and the application of this chosen food source. Having made a decision on the correct baiting strategy to apply I now have to do the research with regards to the nature and topography of the lake bed where my bait will be applied and ultimately the underwater environment where I shall be placing my hook baits. Once I know this information I can then move onto the next part of the equation and start to formulate a plan of attack. Now my thoughts turn to the choice of end tackle and rig choice which will be heavily influenced on the type bait applied and fished.
ADAPTING THE BUSINESS END
In this part I am going to take you through the presentations that I use for various conditions and baiting scenarios that I have faith in and could perhaps influence you in some way to make a positive change.
First up is bite indication. For the vast majority of my angling these days I use a lead safety clip system fished semi fixed and incorporating a leadcore leader, which can be tailored to suit although mine are made typically 4-7 foot in length and of a colour to closely match the lake bed being fished. This is then attached to the mainline with a standard leader knot or for speed of change a loop to loop attachment if needed.
I feel it is at this point I should emphasise the importance of fish safety when fishing with lead core leaders. I always doctor the lead clip so that it can easily slide straight off the leader and away should a breakage in the line occur. This modification of the lead clip also ensures the lead deposits with great ease and is out of harms way so a fish is not left trailing. Of course this is also what makes the safety lead clip system so effective when fishing weedy waters.
At the business end of the leader I slice on a small quick change clip that is then pulled inside the safety clip to give it that all important bolt effect. If conditions dictate, this system can easily be adapted to a free running system be gently squeezing the opening of the lead clip until it becomes almost oval in shape. This enables the quick change clip to run freely away with ease. I think it is worth mentioning that a free running system can be vary effective on firm bottomed weed free waters especially at relatively close range. This is an extremely sensitive presentation that is great at fooling wary Carp particularly in the colder months when bites can be very subtle. Another plus point is that not many anglers tend to use them days, so if conditions suit don’t rule it out.
As most waters I fish hold a fair amount of weed nearly all year round I tend to stick with fishing semi fixed for the majority of the time. The set up described above now forms the back bone of my approach. I am as happy fishing it semi fixed on a dirty or weedy bottom as I am a free running set up when conditions are favourable.
Over the years I have always tried to simplify my angling by eradicating any faddy ideas and streamlined my presentations to a few tried and trusted rigs that can be tweaked if needed to suit the baiting strategy and conditions encountered. To this end I now have just three rigs that I utilise for nearly all my angling. I shall briefly run through these and give examples of the variables of each rig that enables me to cover all aspects I am likely to come across.
First up is probably my most commonly used presentation and is predominately used with bottom and critically balanced hook baits. It simply consists of a length of coated hook link material knotless knotted to a size eight wide gape pattern hook with a small shrink tube kicker along with a small piece of silicone tubing to hold the hair tight to the shank of the hook. All fairly standard stuff, I am sure you will agree. A figure of eight knot is then tied to the other end for attachment to the quick change clip on the safety lead clip system. For standard boilie fishing I peel back 5mm of the coating just above the kicker to give it that hinge effect that enhances the turning ability of the hook on the take. The length of the hooklink when using the boilie approach is generally between 6 – 9 inches and I nearly always slide a small PVA stick onto mask the hook point on decent. This also makes the presentation tangle free as well as providing great attraction just where you want it.
This rig can further be adapted to fish over tighter beds of bait such as particles and maggots by simply shortening the hooklink to between 2 – 6 inches and the coating stripped back a good 20mm to increase the natural movement of the hook bait so as to mimic free offerings. This shortened rig can also be fished within a solid PVA bag presentation by simply stripping a bit more coating away.
Next up is the rig I use for nearly all my pop up fishing. It Is pretty much a hinged stiff rig that I can adapt to various conditions. It consists of a 1 – 3 section of stiff monofilament tied to a size 8 choddy hook with a small rig ring for pop up attachment. On the other end is a small ring swivel that is then tied to the boom section. This boom section is constructed to either a length of fluorocarbon for clean and clear lake beds or a coated hook link material in a colour to match the lake bed of more weedy or choddy waters.
Hope this helps…. now get out there and get catching!!