All posts by Samantha Collins-Ratcliffe

Samantha’s fishing tackle choice

I was peacefully staring out onto my local lake waiting for a bite a couple of hours ago now, when a group of younger lads appeared in my swim. They were asking all the usual questions about the lake and what fish had been out, when one of them noticed my set-up.

I then spent the following half hour explaining my choices to them and why I had opted for these rods and reels etc. I even ended up reeling one of them in for them to have a go casting! Now I have put my rod back out and re-baited the others I thought I would put this little blog together explaining why I have opted for the setup I have. After using 3lb x-flites + for a couple of years, which I know many people have their own opinions on, I highly rated them and they served me well.

I wanted my carp rods to be just as effective for me so I opted for the TF Gear TSI 12’ 3lb rods. I have used them now for about 2 years and they’re still going strong, it would take some amazing new rod to make me change them. What impresses me most about these rods is how thin they are yet how much control I have when both casting and playing a fish. I have also noticed an increase in my casting distance since using them with ever increasing accuracy.

SCRP1 Samanthas fishing tackle choice

I have recently opted to team these rods up with the new TF Gear Delta GT 10000 reels. I love the design of them and they certainly look different on the bank. Many people have quizzed me on why I have chosen them. I was instantly impressed with how well the line lay on them and the smoothness of casting with them. Being big pits they are perfect for the big lakes I often choose to fish, I have even been influenced to take them down to my local beach to give them a good old test.

SCRP2 Samanthas fishing tackle choice

I decided it wouldn’t be right unless I completed the look with a set of TF Glimmer bite alarms. Now those that fish with me would back me up when I say that I am extremely fussy when it comes to alarms. The first things I take into consideration are the look of them, the ease of use and how effective the bite detection is on them. I love the way I can alter these alarms to suit different situations especially between the day and night. Having a receiver with these alarms is also a big plus for me as I like to keep my alarms down low and use the vibrating function only at night.

Well that is just some of my reasons for using the fishing gear I have with me today. I’m still waiting for a bite and hopefully now the weather is cooling down a bit the fish will be on the feed. Hopefully next time I write a blog I will be able to report news of a fish or two from Linford Lakes when I compete in the BIG FISH 2011.

Tight Lines Samantha

Linear fishery on my week off

It was Friday lunchtime and I’d just finished work for the school holiday. I had planned on getting my gear ready over the weekend and heading off on Monday to the local lake I fish for a few days session. Well this didn’t quite go to plan as I had had a week from hell and needed a break! So on the drive home it didn’t take me long to decide a carp fishing sesh was all I needed. I got home loaded the truck of fishing tackle and was out of the house all within the following hour.

I drove off towards my local lake but never quite made it there; I’d changed my mind and decided to head up country towards Oxford. To cut a long story short I ended up on Brasenose 1 at the Linear complex right at the beginning of a bank holiday weekend!

sc1 300x196 Linear fishery on my week off

Well as you could probably imagine everyone else had had the same idea and pegs were few and far between. I managed to find myself one right in the middle of the lake and that is where I set up home for the week. Now to me this lake has always been Known as a runs water so I had high hopes for the week setting up my glimmie bite alarms and new Delta GT Reels.

sc2 300x198 Linear fishery on my week off

Well that night I managed to lose not one but two fish in the weed and woke up the following morning a more than a little annoyed. I decided a change of rigs was probably the best option and made a fresh start recasting my rigs and baiting up some perfect little clearings in the weed. Early the following morning I was rewarded with a lovely Linear mirror. Over the following two days I had the pleasure of landing a few more stunning linear mirrors.

sc3 283x300 Linear fishery on my week off

It all stopped then, the weather had been creeping up in temperature as the days went by and the fish were no longer interested in feeding. They were getting ready to spawn and that was that! I decided to stick it out till the end of the week just in case but ending up spending my days camping and not really carping. My TF gear bed proved too be the perfect place to spend some time relaxing and sunbathing.

sc41 300x183 Linear fishery on my week off

Hopefully all carp have spawned by my next trip wherever that might be.

Tight Line Samantha

New Season

Being a bit of a warm weather lover the new season has only just really started for me. I have been out and about over the Easter holidays looking for the perfect venue to focus my attention on when I’ve only got a few hours or time to do an overnighter.

Now here in Cornwall there aren’t that many lakes to choose from and ones with a decent head of fish are few and far between. I had word that a very small lake far down the south was producing some good carp to 30lb so headed off down there to check it out.

pic 1 New Season

The sight of all the fish bathing in the pads proved to me that they were definitely in there and some them were looking like right lumps! I couldn’t resist and had to set up my fishing tackle and rig up with a zig rig to try to tempt one of them out. It hadn’t been any longer than 30 mins when I had a 16lb on the bank. Happy with an hours fishing and looking at photos of other peoples captures from this lake I decided I would definitely be back for some more action in the near future.

One thing was bugging me a bit though, this lake was mainly a carp lake and I was hoping for a little more variety getting some coarse fishing. After ending my season on Linear Lakes Manor Farm last year I managed by some complete stroke of luck to land a 19lb Pike. I have to admit I was a bit wary of it at first and needed a little help with unhooking it but after putting it back I wanted to catch another one.

pic 2 New Season

So now I’m off to investigate a 70 acre lake that I know has only a low stockage of carp but these are up to 40lb and a very rewarding catch when they’re in the net. I have heard that this is also a local attraction for pike anglers so you never know I could tempt one of them out too.

The end of a two year blank

How annoying and frustrating it is to know the carp are in the lake but whatever you try they’re just not having any of it. Well that’s exactly the scenario I have been faced with over the past two years, fishing a lake down in the south of the country.

Don’t get me wrong by saying I’d blanked; the odd upper teen and twenty had graced my rods, which I am more than thankful for, but they were not the thirties I knew were in there and desperately wanted!

As any angler knows you start question just about everything and haven’t a clue where to focus your attention. Is it down to location, bait, rigs, fishing tackle or a combination of all these things? You even start to question your ability as an angler.

Well as anyone can imagine I played around with all these things trying different combinations of this and that and much to my frustration didn’t seem to be getting anywhere. To top it off I was getting just a little frustrated with people saying something along the lines of “You’ve got to work your way through the smaller ones in order to catch the bigger ones”. Probably the last thing I wanted to hear sometimes!

Then one Saturday morning I woke up looked out of the window and decided that in my opinion it was a perfect day to go and spend a few hours on the bank. So that’s what I did and boy I’m glad that I had!

I opted to go very light with just two fishing rods set up on combi rigs and ½ a kilo of 14mm boillies. After watching the water for just 15mins I decided where to cast my rods and promptly did so. Within the next hour the first had a screaming run and an 18lb was in the net. No more than 10 minutes later the Delkim bite alarm on the second rod had a series of beeps that quickly developed into a take and I was into my second fish. Now this to me was a miracle on this lake and I was desperate not to lose this fish. I don’t think I have ever played a fish so cautiously in all my life. After what seemed like forever the fish was in the margins and I could tell I had hit the jackpot, I was so worried it would escape the net somehow.

When it was finally in the unhooking mat I could have jumped around the bank in excitement but all I wanted to do was weigh it. The beautifully scaled mirror weighed exactly 30lb and I was over the moon.

IMG 0352 The end of a two year blank

Okay so it wasn’t the biggest fish in the lake but it was the thirty I had been waiting on for two years. It shows that with a little perseverance you can achieve in the end.
With my confidence taking a boost let’s hope it’s not another two year for my next one out this lake.

sssss The end of a two year blank

TF Gear Trail Blazer Barrow and Bag

TFG Trail Blazer Barrow

I’ve tested out the new TF Gear Trail Blazer Barrow for some time now, and really put it through its paces. It caters for all my angling needs, from carting my excessive amount of fishing tackle around a 70 acre lake for 3 days fishing, to light loads for a day session. The barrow is lightweight and has adjustable front and side bars for larger loads with 2 adjustable back legs. When fully loaded, the barrow has a good centre balance and really impressed me by not tipping over – something which has happened to me on numerous previous occasions. The barrow comes with 2 bungee ropes that hook onto 4 rings which are built into the framework for better grip.
The frame is lightweight and has a removable wheel for ease of loading in your car, with screw-in hands making the barrow useable in a matter of seconds. The tyre has good tread that is nice and thin which helps when pushing over rough terrain. You can even place 2 buckets at the back of the barrow which will rest on the 2 bars perfectly when requiring more space.

Pit 11 TF Gear Trail Blazer Barrow and Bag

Pit 21 TF Gear Trail Blazer Barrow and Bag

TF Gear Force 8 Heavy Duty Barrow Bag

The barrow bag is the perfect accessory for the barrow, with a hard top and bottom and heavy duty material which will protects all your gear inside. The bag comes with 4 large pockets on the outside, and one large pocket in the lid with a heavy duty zip. Inside the bag there are pockets built into the back and sides for easy organisation of your tackle. For the best result, try 2 barrow bags -  this will take all your gear and fits on the barrow perfectly side by side.

Pit 31 TF Gear Trail Blazer Barrow and Bag

Pit 41 TF Gear Trail Blazer Barrow and Bag

Fishing Tackle that will last you a lifetime

I’ve been trying out some new fishing tackle, and been using my TF Gear V8 Distance reel for over a year now, and can honestly say that I’m more than impressed with it! When I’m looking for a reel I need one that can stand up to the abuse of big French carp and English fishing too.

pit 11 Fishing Tackle that will last you a lifetime

TF Gear V8 Distance Fishing Reel

I like the smoothness, performance and feel of the reel and most important the light weight of it. The line lay is perfected which helps with those long casts to the horizon, and the gear ratio can cope with any size of fish you have hooked. You can set the front drag from semi tight or as loose as you desire. I love the big reel rubber handle when winding in from extreme distance, as it seems to be no effort at all.

pit 21 Fishing Tackle that will last you a lifetime

V8 Distance and TSI Rods

When mixed with the TSI fishing rods you will have the ultimate tools for catching carp, which is very light weight and a perfect match. I use the 3lb test rods which are incredible thin blanks with a beautiful black carbon finish to it. The TSI handle has a Japanese shrink-wrap covering which gives you a good grip of the rod when playing monster carp.

pit 31 Fishing Tackle that will last you a lifetime

TF Gear TSI Fishing Rod

The TSI is an all through action rod which will cast any lead to extreme distances all day long, even with a PVA bag, it won’t let you down. When playing fish this is where the rod comes to life as the rod will do all the work for you and is fantastic for playing fish under the tips; I have never lost a fish when using these rods.

pit 42 Fishing Tackle that will last you a lifetime

So if you’re looking for fishing tackle which will last you a life time and won’t let you down, check out the TSI rod and V8 reel.

pit 51 Fishing Tackle that will last you a lifetime Happy fishing!

Carp fishing in the Margins

How many of us inspect the margins when we arrive at a lake?

You might want to, if you want to improve your catch rate. Fishing for carp in the margins can be extremely productive if you find the right places and apply good angling tactics. How many fishermen/fisherwomen ignore the margins when fishing? They see all that water out in front of them and think that the fish must be out there. I often see anglers using three fishing rods with all of them cast out to the far bank. With so many anglers casting out far it makes the margins a safe place for carp to hang out. In fact, the margins can even be the best places to target the bigger carp in the lake.

PIT 1 Carp fishing in the Margins

Fishing in the Margins

As long as you’re quiet when setting up you fishing tackle and actually fishing, you can take fish from the margins in most lakes. Carp have great hearing and will be able to pick up vibrations from the surrounding bank, so you do need to be as quiet as possible.

PIT 2 Carp fishing in the Margins

Centre Pin Fishing Reel

When it comes to margin fishing I tend to use a small 8ft rod and centre pin reel; this allows me to fish in-between trees, and other places where it would be hard to use a 12ft rod. It’s best to wear dark green or brown fishing clothing, or better still, use camouflage clothing, as you can blend into the surrounding. I like to find the more subtle features rather than the obvious ones such as overhanging trees, island banks, etc. I like to look for features like undercut banks, posts or trees sticking out of the water, small bulrushes, bushes, lily pads or inlet pipes all these can be ideal feeding spots for carp.

PIT 3 Carp fishing in the Margins

Carp taking bait

I like to use a small float, 8lb fluorocarbon line and a size 10 hook partnered with good quality bait. One of my best methods is to wrap paste around a small boilie, many fish have taken using this approach, as the carp are not wised up to these methods. So as the weather starts to warm up go out and have a go, this is a very rewarding way of catching carp guaranteed to provide a good fight whatever size fish you’ve hooked into.

PIT 41 Carp fishing in the Margins

Landing the Carp

All the best and good fishing!

PIT 5 Carp fishing in the Margins

Fantastic result!

What Types of PVA are available?

Tape

Tape can be used to form stringers or for tying off the tops of solid PVA bags. Tape also has several advantages over PVA string. It doesn’t shrink in water. Due to its thicker profile, the tape holds strung baits better, great for long-range casting. Also, this thicker profile opens a bigger hole in the free baits, allowing more scent to be released, enticing the Carp in.

tape What Types of PVA are available?

PVA Tape

Solid Bags

Flat, solid bags that can be filled with all manner of freebies, regardless of the size of bait used. Their disadvantages are that they are slow to form and tie, always pierce solid PVA bags with a baiting needle, as this will help the trapped air escape, preventing it from floating.

solid What Types of PVA are available?

PVA Solid Bags

Mesh

Made from woven PVA thread, this stocking material having an open weave, doesn’t suffer from trapped air. Usually comes in long lengths allowing bags of any size to be made up. The other advantage of mesh is that they are much quicker to make than their solid counterparts.

mesh What Types of PVA are available?

PVA Mesh

Rig Foam

These buoyant nuggets are either hooked on to or folded over the hook before casting. Once in the water, they hold the hook off the bottom until the nugget dissolves. The hook will then gently settle on to the bottom of the lake. Rig foam is indispensable when fishing over silt or weed, getting your bait where you want it without he worry of loosing any fishing tackle. When the rig is cast in, the lead will either sink into the silt or dive into the weed and the rig foam will help stop your hook from being masked.

foam What Types of PVA are available?

PVA Rig Foam

PVA Liquid Bags

Small stamp size PVA bags that are filled with liquid, such as flavours, slimes or dips. This is a great edge when you are fishing single hookbaits. The liquid puts out a strong level of attraction into the swim, but the only food item is your hookbait. It can be placed on to your hook or placed inside any PVA for a extra edge.

liquid What Types of PVA are available?

PVA Liquid Bags

TFG Lok Down Bivvy

I’ve been using the TFG Lok Down bivvy for 6 months now and I’m more than satisfied with it. You can set it up in less than 5 minutes ready for a 24 hour session or spend a few more minutes and put the second skin in for longer sessions. The Lok Down bivvy has been built to a very high standard without any compromise, making it big enough to take all your kit and still have loads of room to spare.

1 TFG Lok Down Bivvy

The Lok Down comes in a large carryall, which may seem obvious to most, but how many times have we struggled with fitting other bivvy’s into a bag that seems smaller than the bivvy that came out of it?

2 TFG Lok Down Bivvy

The ground sheet goes down first and initially struck me with how thick and strong it is. I am confident to put the bivvy up on rough ground without worrying about tearing it. I also found it to be quick drying whenever it got wet in the lovely British weather we choose to fish in.

3 TFG Lok Down Bivvy

I loved having all the support bars that come with the Lok Down; they’re adjustable and clip to the frame with ease. I had real confidence in the sturdiness of the bivvy right from the first time I put it up.

4 TFG Lok Down Bivvy

All pegs are screw threads which will go in to most hard grounds; here the peg goes into the ground sheet and the bivvy ring.

5 TFG Lok Down Bivvy

The Lok Down doesn’t just look the part beside a lake, but also provides great shelter from whatever the weather can throw at us. It is as solid and sturdy as any carp angler could hope for.

6 TFG Lok Down Bivvy

This is the first skin which can be used for any session. The Lok down has a clever second skin – most bivvys on the market have second skins that go on the outside; the Lok Down’s goes inside the first skin.

7 TFG Lok Down Bivvy

I must admit, the first time I put the bivvy up I was a little unsure as to how the inner skin was going to take shape. But, after a moment or two of clipping it to the rings, it soon became apparent to me what a clever idea it was. I’m constantly taking it out and putting it back in depending on the weather and the length of my session. I’m glad it is made of a breathable material that as of yet hasn’t shown any condensation even on the dampest of days.

8 TFG Lok Down Bivvy

All set up ready for a week’s session. I would seriously recommend this bivvy to any carper who wants the best at a price that won’t break the bank.

Horse Shoe Dreams

Started off from sunny Cornwall. The A30 was clear, foot to the floor – as I hit Bristol the heavens opened and down came the rain. As the traffic slowed down to 40 miles an hour, there was a slow drive ahead of me towards the M4. The pace picked up, I turned off juntion15 edging towards Lansdale and after a while I turned up at the Carp Society’s Horse Shoe Lake.

2 Horse Shoe Dreams

I was greeted by David, one of the Managers at the lake. We started to chat about what had been coming out that week and he advised me to look at Winters Bay as some fish were holding up in there.  As I slowly drove around the lake, not thinking of carrying my fishing tackle to winter bay! Looking around, it was standing out to me as there was nobody in there. I finally opted for peg 20, this was a double swim with a fair amount of water to go at. I started to set up and once again down came the rain; it must have followed me from the M5! Up went the bivvy and out went two kilo of Smokey fish Boilies all over my swim with the throwing sick, closely followed by two rods loaded up with PVA bags into the edge of the weeds. Within two hours of waiting off went my first rod, a good 10 minute fight and my first Horse Shoe carp on the bank.

3 Horse Shoe Dreams

I have heard that these carp are one of the best looking strains of fish in the country, and I wasn’t disappointed when faced with a lovely scaled mirror on the bank. Later that day I was feeding fish from under my rod tips with crumbed up Smokey fish boilies; these fish weren’t shy, they would have stayed there all afternoon eating all the bait I put in front of them.

4 Horse Shoe Dreams

This was good time to test out my new camo rig, as can be seen it’s camouflaged with a gravel affect but all the straight lines still stand out; as Shaun Harrison once said to me there are no straight lines in nature. So the next stage on my quest for the ultimate camouflaged rig is to disguise the lines even further.  But as far as Horse Shoe Lake goes, you’re not allowed to use any leaders of any kind and can only use tubing, so this is the best camo I’m probably going to get at the moment.

5 Horse Shoe Dreams

As the sun went down and the moon came out I sat down and watched the water in the moon light over a glass of red wine, Horse Shoe is a very peaceful and tranquil place to fish, next month I plan to return for some more action!

6 Horse Shoe Dreams