Welcome to my first contribution to The Session. I am going to talk about the 1% I try to concentrate on my own fishing. Anyone can now buy all the gear they will ever need to enjoy the sport of Carp fishing, anyone can also watch all the DVD’s, read all the mags and books and access ‘how to’ videos from the comfort of their sofa and laptops to enable them to construct effective rigs to catch them a personal best. The 1%’s are the little tweeks and edges I concentrate on having over the angler next door.
First and foremost has to be your willingness to go the extra mile compared to the next man. What’s the point of going to all the expense and time taken to commute to waters without the buzz and drive inside you to push yourself to the max and beyond in your quest? A few years ago I was fishing a big fish water in Reading. I found Sundays were the best day to arrive as most mid weekers turn up on Monday morning. In short time I came to realise that the fish did the majority of their crashing and showing between 2 and 3am which either meant setting up in a swim on the strength of the weather or where they had been at the weekend or what I started to do was travel down at midnight, load the barrow in the car park, push the barrow round to a convenient mid point then watch and listen for the fish to tell you where they were holed up. I could then get angling quickly from the barrow as near to the fish as possible. I would then set my alarm on the subsequent nights for 2am with most of my gear already to go onto the barrow should they have drifted off from my original pitch.
The waters I am fishing this year have a 48 hour time limit. I have lost count of the amount of anglers who turn up have a quick walk around, mark the swim as taken with a water butt, then set all their gear up bivvy and bed first, leaving the rods until last. They have then lost 1-3 hours of their 48 hours fishing.
I always organise my gear so that the rods come out first, this then gives access to my tackle box, lead box and bait tub and a small chair which means I can leave 90% of my gear on the barrow and still be fishing within 10 minutes of spying an opportunity and, perhaps more importantly, be packed down and ready to move within the same time frame. The gear will stay on the barrow until I am 100% happy with my choice of swim.
I am very meticulous about recording the exact distances of any productive spots, using either my road workers wheel to measure the distances or, if the banks don’t lend themselves to this method then two banksticks a rod length apart and counting the rotations. This data is then recorded in my lake specific notebook along with far bank markers to cast towards from a fixed point in the swim. This then allows me to turn up, choose a swim, measure out the spots, mark and clip up the lines, line them up and cast them out without any undue disturbance which is imperative if you’re moving onto fish. A spare rod is also always ready to be measured out to the required distance should I have a trauma with one of my rods enabling me to maximise my chances during what could be a brief window of opportunity.
My rigs have also been honed to suit my angling and to increase the efficiency of my angling. I use a 3 inch piece of shrink tube at the swivel end to ensure that the hooklink kicks away the maximum distance from the lead when the rig settles on the bottom along with a piece of shrink tubing down the hook shank to help flip and turn the rig these items also ensure that if I get done by Mr. Carp the rig will right itself and not leave my head in a right mess as to what’s happening with my rig every time I get a bleep.
I always cast to the line clip which also helps to kick the rig away from the mainline and tubing to prevent any tangles occurring during the rigs descent to the lake bed and always try to use a stringer when using bottom baits which adds weight to the hook end to further prevent tangles. If I am using a pop up rig I will pva a pop up onto the hook which will hold the hooklength vertical until the pva melts the rig then slowly kicks out from the lead and settles on the bottom at a controlled slow rate settling on top of any weed etc the last little thing I do is to take a small length of solid pva tape and wrap this around the hook from point to shank a couple of times then lick it and stick it this then encapsulates the hook gape and point to stop anything possibly masking the point this is a little fiddly and can be time consuming if the casts are not going to plan, but I would rather sit back to watch the water knowing that I had done everything I could to ensure that I am fishing as effectively as I can during my short time at the lake.
I have been trying to perfect the art of hook sharpening using the jag range of products with varying degrees of success for some time now. Recently though all my prayers have been answered when I hooked (lol) up with Jase from STICKYCARP HOOKS on Facebook who sharpens and sells two patterns of hook. Having ordered both patterns I was alarmed at how blunt my current patterns are compared to these. I have had to adjust my rigs to suit these hooks but believe me it’s an adjustment well worth doing. Jase tells me that not all hooks lend themselves to this level of sharpening as it depends on what grade of metals are used to produce the hooks.
I no longer have to worry about how sharp my hooks are as they couldn’t be any sharper, you just need to treat them with care as the points are so sharp and fine.
As you can see from the photo my rigs are quite straight forward and simple, I rely on the aforementioned tricks to prevent tangles and to ensure that the rig can right itself if Mr. Carp should get away with it. The sharpness of the hook hopefully ensures that my hooks grab hold of even the oldest and wisest of Carps bottom lip. I also sleeve the swivel on the lead as this is another weak point in the rig whereby Mr. Carp can move the rig without feeling the full weight of the lead at the hook end. Try it with a lead that’s sheathed as in the picture and one that’s not.
I wanted to go onto talk about some of the special hookbaits I have been using this year to further tip the odds in my favour, along with some neat little tricks for single hookbait fishing that I have been tweaking since last autumn but the word count will not allow me to do them justice so I will save that for next time.
I am a great believer that you only get out of something what you are willing to put in. I am pretty sure that I wouldn’t have caught the fish I have if I didn’t go that extra mile when angling. I like to relax just like the next man but not until I am 100% happy with my approach.
Until the next time, enjoy your angling and good luck with your seasons quest.