Time For A Change

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A 20lber off the surface

Time is one of those luxuries that I’m sure most of you could do with a bit more of. I work five days a week in a busy tackle shop, meaning that I have quite obscure days off (Sundays and Tuesdays.) Because of this it’s always a case of squeezing in quick nights between work and making the most of any holiday I have.

As you may already know I have been focusing my attentions this year on a syndicate water in Northamptonshire and have been quite pleased with the results that I have had so far. Despite this, the rising price of petrol and limited time I had I couldn’t justify the 160 mile round trip for just the one night fishing so I took a bit of time to look at the options and see what took my fancy a little more locally – I still wanted to fish in Northampton but I would leave that for when I had a little more time on my hands. Even though I can count the number of sessions I have had down there recently on one hand, a few fish have still crossed the draw string including a new PB common.

It was now time to start planning what I would be doing for my local fishing. I have a couple of club tickets on the go with a variety of Carp waters, none of these have any huge Carp and in reality if you can get a 20 then it’s one of the real biggies – but for what they lack in size they do make up for in looks with some really dark, old scaleys waiting to be caught.

This self-imposed local fishing allowed me time to try something that I had been thinking about for a while – fly fishing for Carp. As the weather had been warming up through the year more and more customers were coming in at work enthusing about how much fun they were having catching modest size Carp on these tactics. This would fit in perfectly as there was limited gear to carry so short sessions could be made easy and any spare few hours could be utilised. Add to the fact that you are using light gear the size of fish is largely irrelevant.

A new PB common from Northampton

I have been using just my standard reservoir Trout kit – a 7/8 weight rod, floating line and 8-10lb leader. There are a hundreds of different rods out there but if you want a good value outfit to get you going the Greys GS Rods will be hard to beat coupled with a decent reel and line is all that you really need. Now this is where the boundaries of fly and Carp fishing really start to blur and any traditionalists may want to stop reading now. The ‘fly’ –  I use that term loosely are the deer hair imitation dog biscuits, there are many companies that commercially produce these, they float on their own and look realistic but a quick note here is that they are often quite bulky compared to normal mixers so I often ended up chopping them down a bit when they were being a bit finiky.

Other than the casting part it’s just a case of treating it the same as your standard surface fishing – a bucket of mixers and a catapult are standard issue, a small rucksack with a few spare flies and leader along with scales and camera. A roll up unhooking mat and landing net completed the minimalistic gear and it was so refreshing to be able to fish as many pegs as you wanted in the day. You are slightly limited where you can fish because of having to allow space to fit in a back cast so often you have to keep feeding and slowly draw the fish into a more accessible area.

Once the fish are feeding this is where you notice the real advantages – with no controller float crashing in you can literally cast out and not spook them. Also, as you’re holding the line at all times you can tweak the hook bait back undetectably slowly into the path of a feeding fish. It can get frustrating with missed bites as always with surface fishing but the real key on the fly gear is if you do strike, as long as you can raise the line you can normally recast to the exact same spot in one motion and quite a few times I have managed to get the same fish to take within seconds of a missed opportunity – now try doing that with a controller float!

Plenty of flies to try

A lot of people probably looked at me as a one of them slightly eccentric anglers trying to catch on unsuitable methods as I walked onto their lake wielding a fly rod but, as you get deeper into it in many conditions it can offer you superior presentation and in fact catch you more fish and most evenings I was out catching multiple fish. I have been lucky enough to catch plenty of fish through the summer – mainly doubles which are great fun on fly gear, I did manage a stunning 20lb linear off the surface but I must confess that it was caught on more conventional gear.

So if you want to give it a go yourself for the first time, I would recommend spending time getting your casting sorted. If you can get someone to teach you then that’s great but there is also loads of books and DVDs out there if you wanted to try and teach yourself. It’s worth spending the time practicing this as once you have sussed this bit out you are ready to go. Some other pointers once out on the water are:-

  • Match your gear to the size of Carp you are targeting – 7/8 weight rods for smaller fish up to mid doubles. If you are looking for 20’s or bigger a 9/10 weight would be more suitable.
  • Trim the deer hair biscuits down to match the freebies on tricky days.
  • Get used to recasting immediately after a missed strike.
  • As with all surface fishing feeding is the most important part – take plenty of bait with you and get their confidence up before casting.

An old dark mirror and the first one on the fly!

It is really just a case of getting out there and giving it a go – for relatively little cost you can get kitted out and have some great fun, don’t worry too much about the technical elements, just sort out the basics of casting and you will be catching before you know it.

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