The Secret Diaries of Dave Lane

It’s what we’ve all been waiting for! The fishing has been on fire at the St Ives shallow lake over the past month, but as a tactical move Laney had to keep things quiet –  and boy did it pay off!!

What you are about to see is a 4 part series of ‘secret’ carp fishing blogs, leading up to the capture of Colin, the 52lb 12oz St Ives lakes mega carp in July 2016.

Watch part one here:

Watch part two here:

Watch part three here:

Watch part four here:

Are you a tackle tart? Take the quiz to find out!

dog with heavy fishing barrow

Image source: Fishtec Coarse facebook page
All the gear and… (dog not included)

Are you a tackle tart? Or, do your mates think you are?

Our quiz will reveal your carping personality – take the test!

rods ready

How long do you spend setting up your gear?

DCR Reels

How would you describe your gear?

Not the way to look after your waders!

How often do you clean your tackle?

carp mad tattoo (Image source: pinterest)

Do you have any carping tattoos?

microcat bait boat

How do you get bait out into the swim?

stick bivvy

The tackle shop has two bivvies on display. They look identical apart from the Trakker logo on the one that's £100 more. Which one do you go for?

fish social media

How do you share your catch pictures?

all the gear

How much do you estimate your entire carp gear collection is worth?

Carp On The Fly

Kieron Jenkins of Fulling Mill talks about his summertime passion for catching carp on the fly rod – an adrenaline filled diversion when trout fishing is at it’s worst!  Read on to discover the tackle, tips and tactics Kieron employs for carp fly fishing.

At this time of year it tends to be too hot for traditional fly fishing. Trout often go deep and sulk in the hot weather, but carp on the other hand provide immense sport on the fly! Fly fishing for carp is a sport that has only recently taken off here in the UK and is becoming many anglers favoured quarry.

Most anglers who fly fish for carp in the UK encourage them to eat from the surface, but carp can also be caught on lures and bloodworms when the conditions dictate. Personally, I enjoy the surface action.

Fly fishing for carp in the UK is really taking off!

Fly fishing for carp in the UK is really taking off!

Getting started – What to feed?

Keep it simple – carp absolutely love dog biscuits. Mixers are perfect, they’re fairly large and float well. Most carp lakes are inundated with silver fish that are attracted to smaller baits, so I tend to use mixers to discourage them from attacking the bait – which unfortunately, doesn’t always work! The lovely, meaty smell of the biscuits will drag carp from all over the lake, so it’s worth spending the time to bait up, feeding small but constant amounts of bait into your swim before starting to fish. Be careful not to overfeed, carp will gorge and lose interest quickly – feed little and often. A catapult will come in handy too.

What fishing tackle do I need?

Small carp can fight, but a big one is something else. The power of even a fish 5lb + is immense, be sure to use tackle to cope with fast surges and big runs. I prefer to use a 10ft 8# Airflo Airlite Competition Special, a fly rod that was designed for playing fish hard and to cast heavy sinking lines. The 8# gives you enough back bone to hold the fish hard to stop them running into the snags, as well as great casting performance over long distances.

The power of carp is immense - a great fight on a fly rod!

The power of carp is immense – a great fight on a fly rod!

This year I’ve been using the Airflo Switch Pro Fly Reel, it has an extremely hard drag system that has stopped almost everything I’ve hooked on my local carp water. Carp often take long, hard runs towards cover, so your backing is regularly out of the rod rings! Ensure to use a fly reel that is up to the job.

As far as fly lines go, I was always under the impression that I could use just about anything and get away with it, but since the introduction of the Super-Dri range from Airflo It’s certainly helped me catch more carp on the fly, let alone trout! The higher floating properties of the Super-Dri Lake Pro fly line ensures a quicker lift off, especially at distance, allowing you to set the hook quicker before the carp has time to spit the fly out. They’re notorious for ‘mouthing’ the fly and letting go, so if you can connect quicker, why not? The non-stretch core of these lines allow you to put more pressure on the fish too, hopefully getting them quickly away from snags.

At the business end I like to use a 5ft length of fluorocarbon, attached to a Salmon/Steelhead floating polyleader. The polyleader allows good turn over with chunky flies – a splashy landing can sometimes deter carp that are high in the water. The trout version is too light, I’ve lost many large carp because the polyleader as broken, but the 24lb breaking strain Salmon/Steelhead version is ideal. A simple loop to loop connection is all that is needed to join your tippet.

If the fishing is fast and furious I prefer 10lb Fulling Mill Fluorocarbon, the leader sinks quickly and is extremely strong, allowing you to really clamp up without breakages and pull carp back through some serious snags! Other times carp can be quite fussy, especially in flat calm conditions. Then I prefer to use a lighter breaking strain – the new Airflo Sightfree G4 Fluorocarbon in 8.8lb is superb. Personally I wouldn’t go any lighter than this, but you may find you have to if you don’t get any takes.

As for flies, a dog biscuit imitation is a must. The Close Copy Dog Biscuit, Bonio Carp Fly and the Bread Crust pattern from Fulling Mill are all you will ever need. A fly that closely represents the size and colour of the real thing will always be preferred, so choose your fly wisely.

A dog biscuit imitation fly pattern is a must!

A dog biscuit imitation fly pattern is a must!

Carp on the surface

Once the carp are up and feeding all that’s left to do is to hook one, and land it of course. What I tend to do is sit patiently and spot a fish that is cruising. Carp will sit/swim high in the water if there are numerous biscuits on offer, if you can track a fish and accurately present a fly a few feet in front of it, more than likely it will eat it.

The hardest part about fly fishing for carp is hooking the damn things! They’re cunning creatures and learn very quickly. Carp will often come to the fly a ‘test’ it out, sitting a few inches under the fly, sucking it from the surface. If your line is tight or your leader is floating, the biscuit won’t move and the carp will flee onto the next one. This is where fluorocarbon comes in handy as it’s relatively heavy and sinks. The sunk leader will let the fly get ‘sucked’ into the fish’s mouth.

Once you’ve hooked one, hold on tight and clamp up that drag. More often than not they will head for cover to free the hook. A correctly set drag will save the break offs and give enough stopping power to tire the fish before getting to those roots.

Carp on the fly success!

Carp on the fly success for Kieron!

Finding a carp water can be difficult, many venues don’t mention the fact that they allow fly fishing on their website or facebook pages, so it’s definitely worth a call to your local carp fishing water to ask before turning up…

A quick re-cap to carp on the fly:

  1. Use appropriate fly fishing tackle, there’s nothing worse than being under-gunned.
  2. Cast accurately to feeding carp and try to avoid spooking them.
  3. Play carp firmly and use your kit to its full advantage. Hold them tight and get them to the net quickly.
  4. A selection of carp flies is essential. Change the colours to suit.
  5. Always check with the fishery owner that they are happy for you to fly fish.
  6. You will need an unhooking mat and a decent sized landing net with soft mesh to comply with most carp fisheries rules. Be sure to check this before heading out.
A selection of carp flies is essential.

A selection of carp flies is essential.

Line Angles – Carp Fishing tips from Dave Lane

In his latest tips blog post, Dave Lane shares his years of carp fishing wisdom – How often do you consider line angles and concealment? It could make all the difference to your carp catches!

I think that line awareness is the single most alarming thing to carp, it has far more effect than rigs, leads, bait or any other aspect of our angling that we give carp credit for detecting.

I do not actually believe that a carp can even see a rig as it gets up close, its eyes are in the wrong place to start with and, from what I have seen in observation, most bait items are inspected by feel in the mouth. I think this is why a good rig, or one perfectly suited to the way carp are testing baits, will outscore other presentations. It’s just a case of being able to prick the fish, to get that initial hook hold, before they can eject the rig.

Line angles are something different, this is an early warning system that all is not as it should be. It doesn’t always mean that the carp will not feed, they just do so with the natural caution of an animal that knows it is being hunted, playing the percentages is how I like to think of it.

A free meal is on offer, they know something is dangerous and they feed carefully and methodically to avoid being hooked and, every now and again, they get it wrong.

Sometimes fish seem terrified of lines, particularly when they are in a spot where they seem to have not been expecting them to be.

One day I sat up a tree at Burghfield and watched as a group of fish came in contact with my lines, the result was instant and dramatic and, within seconds, there were no more carp to be seen anywhere.

I have been out in a boat at Wraysbury and actually watched two stockies feeding right up to, but not over, my line as it sat slightly proud of the bottom. They had decimated the bait on one side of the spot and completely left the bait on the other, unwilling to cross the line to achieve yet more free food.

It often amazes me how excited anglers get when they start receiving line bites, as if this is an indication of an imminent take.

To my mind a line bite is either yet another spooked carp or a fair sign that you are simply fishing too far out or badly presented between the rig and the rod tip.

I always try to keep all my line hard on the lake bed but, unfortunately, this is not always possible.

When you are fishing large lakes in adverse weather conditions for example, any slack line just gets dragged out into a big arc and, pretty soon, it rises up into the water anyway.

Fishing near to snags or in a situation whereby you cannot afford to give the carp an inch, this also calls for a tight line and, the worst of the lot, weed. It doesn’t matter how well you think you have sunk your line when fishing over weed, it will either already be on the top of it or, if it isn’t, it will be soon. Even the tiniest filaments of floating weed will accumulate and lift your line towards the surface and, quite often, the angle of line between the edge of the weed and the spot you are fishing is horrendous.

There are things that help, heavy lead core leaders, pinching blobs of putty a meter or so behind the rig, pole fishing leads on the line, flying back leads, they all go some way to alleviating the problem.

Myself I am a great fan of the captive back leads, I use them often to keep a tight line pinned down from the moment I set up the rod, once it’s down there and pinned it is harder, but not impossible, for the weed to lift it back up.

Pinning down the line with captive back leads.

Pinning down the line with captive back leads.

Lines pinned down and ready for action!

Lines pinned down and ready for action!

Attacking a swim from an unusual angle can be a brilliant way of disguising the fact that you are fishing that spot, particularly on pressured waters where the carp are actually checking it out before feeding, sometimes a different angle can also ensure a lower line lay, if you are casting over weed from the main swim but up against it from an alternative plot is a good example.

Gravel bars and plateaus work in the same way as weed, it is far better to actually drape your line over the bar on some occasions than have it exiting the bar halfway down and streaking through the water mid depth.

Fishing the close side of a bar will allow you to sink the line better so, if you want to fish the bottom of the bar at the back, why not cast from a swim on the far bank and have all your line in deep water leading up to the feature.

It’s not always possible on busy waters to actually fish from the wrong swim though, but the more thought you can out into concealing a line, the better your results are likely to be.

Returning a big mirror caught at range with the line totally concealed near the rig.

Returning a big mirror caught at range with the line totally concealed near the rig.

 

New TF Gear Carp Fishing Tackle Videos – with Dave Lane

Earlier this year Dave Lane met up with Marc Coulson, editor of Total Carp Magazine on the banks of the renowned Quarry fishery in Essex. Together the guys shot a full length DVD on targeting big carp, and reviewed a load of TF Gear carp fishing tackle.

In this blog post you can watch 11 awesome carp fishing tackle product videos from the Total Carp Magazine DVD. In these videos Laney and Marc review and explain each and every innovative feature of these products. Trust us, these videos are well worth watching if you are looking for new carp fishing gear!

Watch the YouTube videos in the windows below, or click through to the Fishtec TV YouTube channel.

TF Gear Hardcore Packaway Unhooking Mat – A quality pop-up carp fishing mat that is easy to transport and just the right size for large carp.

TF Gear Hardcore Trail Boots – Waterproof, tough and good looking these Hardcore trail boots are the ideal footwear for a dedicated carp angler.

TF Gear Banshee clothing – Dave Lane talks about the outstanding waterproof and breathable banshee carp fishing clothing by TF Gear.

TF Gear Hardcore Desert Boots – Rugged carp fishing boots from TF Gear. Ideal for trekking through awkward terrain to the water’s edge. Fishing footwear built to last.

TF Gear Flat Out Superking Pillow – A good nights sleep is essential for carp fishing. Here TF Gear have designed a pillow specifically for carp anglers that integrates with your sleeping set up seamlessly.

TF Gear Flat Out Sleeping Bags – A premium carp fishing bag made for comfort and ease of access, this bag is the essential choice of Dave Lane and many other hardcore carp anglers.

TF Gear DL Black Edition Spod Reel – Finally a spodding reel man enough for the job!! Purpose built for spodding, this hardcore spod reel has been built to Dave Lanes demanding specifications.

TF Gear DL Black Edition Speedrunner Reel – The finest carp fishing reel for your money – smooth, powerful, and capable of casting huge distances this baitrunner reel does it all.

TF Gear DL black edition carp rods – The new DL black edition carp fishing rods offer a new benchmark in looks, casting performance and fish playing ability.

TF Gear DL Black edition net – A 42” carp landing net designed by Dave Lane. Quality and performance at a decent price!

TF Gear Chillout sleeping bag – Sleep in comfort with the Chillout sleeping bag! Designed for hardcore carp anglers, this bag is the pinnacle of bivvy comfort.

Baiting up – Carp Fishing tips from Dave Lane

As part of a series of blog posts TF Gear tackle consultant Dave Lane shares his huge experience of carp fishing, staring with some great tips on baiting up! Read on to discover baiting up – the Laney way!

When it comes to baiting up a swim, I think a lot of anglers tend to get too tied up with trying to get every item of bait to land on the exact same spot in the lake, leaving the rest of the swim devoid of attraction for the carp.

Admittedly, I am quite fanatical about the exact spot my hook-bait lands on but I am not quite so obsessive about the free-bait.

Firing out boilies, or indeed spombing them out is something that is always going to lead to stray bait but a lot of the time I am quite happy with this and, as long as the general area is hit, I know I am increasing the amount of attraction in the swim and the bait that falls in areas where it will not get eaten is not detracting anything from the effectiveness of the main spot.

If my hook-bait is on, what I consider to be, the very best spot in the swim then I know that it will get eaten fairly quickly and I do not need every single ounce of bait to be piled up on top of it.

A decent spread of bait will allow more carp to feed at the same time and create a larger area that they can home in on, bringing even more fish to the party.

A nice Burghfield mirror caught from a swim baited with a large spread of boilies

A nice Burghfield mirror caught from a swim baited with a large spread of boilies.

I think that this is where baitboat anglers miss out a lot of the time, presenting just one little pile of bait is, to my mind, fishing for one bite at a time and not really creating much of a feeding response.

If you were baiting in the margins you wouldn’t dream of sticking a kilo of mixed bait on one little tiny spot and dumping your rig right in the middle of it, as you can see straight away that you are defeating the object of the trap by lowering the percentage chances of the hook-bait even getting picked up.

Striving for perfection when casting and baiting is obviously a good thing and I try my hardest to hit the same spot every single time with the spomb but I know that I won’t, I accept this and, should I be having a particularly accurate day, when everything is landing in the same hole, then I will actually add or lessen the clip mark on the reel or aim slightly right or left to increase the spread of bait. Usually though I don’t need to as I am just not that consistent.

Different lake beds demand different approaches of course, if you are fishing on features then you may need that level of accuracy but, as I have said, if you do not think that they fish are feeding in the deeper water around the feature then the odd wayward spomb is not going to pull the fish away from your spot in the slightest, I just count the ones that hit the mark.

I regularly hear anglers cursing out loud every time a spomb sails off target in the wind or a single pouch of boilies doesn’t quite hit the marker float but getting stressed when it is not going quite right is a bit of a recipe for disaster.

I know it can be hard to keep your cool sometimes when it all feels like it is going wrong but the more you get wound up, the worse you actually fish.

We just get stressed and blame our tools instead of taking a deep breath and a cup of tea and then starting again, calmly and patiently.

Carp Safety & Photography

Carp safety and photography is a crucial part of carp fishing which doesn’t get written about nearly enough and should be at the top of the list of your fishing knowledge. Follow my easy steps on how to get things right!

It is very simple and easy, you just need the following carp fishing tackle items out ready and set up for when you catch a fish, not all packed away to keep them dry! They don’t cost a lot compared to other items of tackle e.g rods and reels. These essential tackle items can be easily maintained for many years before needing to be replaced.

1 – Unhooking mat
2 – Retaining sling
3 – Carp care kit
4 – Scales
5 – Camera
6 -Tripod
7 – Forceps
8 – Weighing pole
9 – Bucket

Follow these key steps on setting up your carp safety and photography equipment:

1Unhooking mat pegged out in a safe area which you should have already chosen for your photos.

2– Retaining sling out, next to the unhooking mat.

3Carp care kit.  Now, hands up – how many people own one but never use it?
Please think of the Carp.  I am sure we all would like them to look nice for as many years as possible and grow to be that big famous 40lb plus carp that everyone is after.

Carp care kit

Carp care kit – use it!

4 – Weighing Scales.  Now, I understand that you may not wish to leave these outside unattended but keep them handy, perhaps by the bivvy door or under your bedchair.

5 – Camera.  In this day and age there is no real issue with cameras.  You can spend as little as £35 on eBay for a camera with a flip round screen.  This enables you to see what you are up to and speeds up this process a lot.  I have used Cannon camera’s for years and found that the G range from G2/G6 are perfect, as you can use an infer-red remote. They have recently released the G1, which has a flip out screen, they had stopped making this feature for a number of years. There are a number of other options as they have revamped the original air pressing ball that you can have under your knee, as some people find holding fish and the infer-red remote tricky and these kits come complete with a tripod adapter kit.

I currently use a G6 for the night-time photo shot and a Panasonic DT70 ( check model), this has a time-lapse option that allows you to take as many photos as you like – every 10, 20, 30 seconds as you wish.

You also need to know the distance the camera should be away from the mat and the simplest way is a peace of cord attached to the tripod.

6 – Tripod. There are plenty of options here from the gadget that screws onto your bank stick to the original camera tripods.

7 – Forceps. Not always needed, but must be handy just in case of a firmly hooked fish.  You can ill afford to be rummaging around in your tackle bag when there is a fish on the bank.

 8 –  Weighing pole. These are a fantastic bit of kit that will help you lift the fish easier and steady the scales when reading the weight.

9Bucket. You should always have a bucket of water ready and always use the water.  It stops the fish from foaming up and makes for better photos.

Always think of the fish – would you like to be responsible for a fish’s death?  Just follow these simple steps and there will be one issue for you – banking your target fish!

Just think safety first, and remember it’s not all about the perfect photo in the morning sunshine or when your friend can get down to take the photos for you. In this day and ag with the advances in technology and some practice you should be able to do your own photos.  I have been fishing by myself for over 20 years and all my fish photos are self taken and some have ended up in the Carp magazines, even night shots.

Success!!

Success!! A self take shot.

To sack or not to sack?
I feel very strongly about the use of Carp sacks to the point that I have not owned one for over 10 years. The invention of retaining slings has made the safety of Carp so much better, however there is still no need to leave the fish in there for hours.  Please think of the fish and not yourself and respect the fish as they are living things after all.

I hope the above article has been informative and will help you keep the Carp safe and sound, plus enable you to take better photos.

Tightlines Richard.

 

How To Catch Carp In Silt

big lin carp caught in silt

Big Lin weighing 37lb from Tyram Hall, caught from a silty depression

Silty water offers a great deal of carp fishing potential. You can almost guarantee that if there’s silt in your water, the carp will know about it and feed there. The only determining factor is that where silt is sparse compared to the surrounding bottom, it is sure to be very obvious to the angler as well, putting the fish very much under pressure.

On the other hand, where silt is abundant, the coin is reversed and the task of locating the feeding areas is somewhat harder. In fact, it can be so difficult on some waters, it’s one of the main reasons why I think the silty meres and estate lakes are the hardest venues to fish.

Find your mark

silty carp lake

A shallow silty estate lake with big carp

Getting to know the lake bed is where success at silt fishing really lies, especially on those waters which hold a great deal of it. I firmly believe that not even the pressure cycle can make some gravel pits as hard as the heavily silted venues, which have an awkward nature about them.

The reason for this is that not all silt is the same. It varies in depths as well as in age. It is formed in a number of different ways too, more often than not by deposits of leaf matter which are then broken down by organisms in the aquatic environment.

In a newly dug gravel pit (twenty years old or less), silt may be found in very isolated patches. These may be a couple of centimetres deep. Finding them could lead to the gold mine we all dream about. The leeward side of a gravel bar may be one such area, or perhaps the windward end has a bay which is surrounded by trees. Naturally occurring weed areas may be silty too – the silt is often why the weed roots have established there.

silt forms from leaves

Silt is formed by fallen leaves being broken down by organisms in the water

At an old estate lake, the silt is likely to be much deeper and different in composition. The depth of the water may only look a couple of inches but underneath there is four feet of silt. The older the silt, the deeper it usually is, but the important thing to remember is that age does not affect the richness of the food found among it. A lot of the nutrients a water needs are locked up in the silt, which is why fisheries add lime to silty areas to assist with nutrient control.

Stinky silt

a handful of silt

Silt might appear horrible, but the carp most definitely love it – as long as it’s not rank…

You may also find really smelly silt. These are usually in the deeper windward areas. This kind of silt stinks and is very black in appearance. It sounds strange, but the best way of finding it is after you’ve fished. Where it is present, your hookbait will turn black after soaking up the deposits of it. It will have lost all attraction and will smell of rotten eggs, and in my experience these areas aren’t very good.

Bait for carp in silt

particle bait

My first choice bait for silt is particles

The ideal in silt is to discover the natural food larders. These are the spots which the carp visit to feed on a regular basis. A rolling fish in the same spot may be a sign of one, as might fizzing making its way up from the bottom, or coloured water. The food larders are sometimes locked up in the silt as much as a couple of feet down, because this is where the larvae feel safest depositing their eggs. Once they’ve been discovered by the carp, there will almost certainly be a difference in depth.

One of the best types of bait for silt is particles. I’ve had so many memorable sessions over silt using tiny seeds, it’s usually the first bait which comes into my mind when I’m confronted with it. Small seeds which excite the grubbing instincts of carp would be my first choice because they resemble the types of food that carp feed on in these areas. They tuck away into little crevices and get the carp rooting around which prolongs the feeding spell, as the fish need to work to achieve satisfaction.

Of course boilies also work well over silt. However, I tend to use them only where the silt is much firmer as I don’t like the idea of burying them, making it hard for the carp to find them. On the hook I prefer bottom baits when I can get away with them, but there aren’t many types of silt that are hard enough to keep this type of presented bait visible. I therefore have a tendency to use pop-ups more than anything when confronted with silt. A lot of silt has at least an inch or two of suspended surface layer, so I usually go with one of about two-inches up off the deck, critically balancing it on a fairly long link of at least 8-inches.

Which rig to use in silt?

align the tubing properly with the hook

A basic hair rig should suffice here

For the rig I use the same basic one I looked at last time. I will take into consideration that the lead may sink into the silt, so if I’m using a preferred length of hooklink, say 8-inches, I will add a couple of inches to allow for the sinking of the lead. This applies to both boating out hookbaits as well as casting. If I’m boating out, I’m usually fishing at extreme range, in which case I will be using a heavy lead to keep the line tight.

So there you have it, a short and concise look at how I tackle silt. I’ve had some great catches down the years from silty waters and you too can experience the same if you tackle it in the right way.

Tight lines!

Simon Crow
You can follow Simon on Twitter at @CarpManCrow
All images courtesy of Simon Crow

Why the perfect capture shot?

Why the perfect capture shot?  This is the question I ask myself quite a lot when flicking through Facebook. There is a distinct lack of night shots and I know that technology has moved on with slings and sack. However, there is no way of stopping the stress placed on the fish. It has just be captured and taken out the water weighed and then put in a retaining sling for 8 or more hours, all because there is a demanded to have the perfect shot.

There is a distinct lack of night shots on social media

There is a distinct lack of night shots on social media.

In my book this is just not an acceptable way to treat fish.  It amazes me that anglers are happy to do this, when they treasure the quarry so much and get upset when they get eaten by otters or when another angler mistreats the fish.  Hypocrisy, I would say.  If you are on the list of anglers who keep the fish in a sling/sack for more than 10/15 minutes, this is all the time you need to set up the camera kit.  I have been doing it this was for more than 35 years. We are in a battle to outwit the carp and land them. It therefore does not matter if you didn’t get a photo, it was poor quality or even not in the perfect spot.  You have captured your quarry and won the battle. Now all that it required is to put the fish back and reduce the stressed caused.

I have seen anglers take the photos in the morning after the fish has been in the net most of the night, then place the fish back into the retainer, then sit in their brolly checking if the photos are perfect.  If not, they keep repeating this process until they get it spot on. They would then wonder why the fish goes belly up a couple of weeks. I believe this is partly driven by the industry who demand the perfect shot. This is a bit narrow-minded in itself as most are anglers, modern day anglers are hooked on Facebook and there seems to be a need to also out do their fellow anglers with who gets the best shots etc. I come from there era of ”secret squirrel” and you never really knew who caught what, other than what you heard over the grape vine. Don’t get me wrong, I have embraced Facebook, as it nice to see how well other anglers are getting on.

It’s a battle between the angler and the fish and not a battle between us all, unless you are match fishing.  The barbel anglers fully understand this and do their up most to look after the quarry.  Why can’t the carp anglers (with the advice of camera technology and remote systems) do the same?  The perfect shot can be taken at night, the more anglers start doing this must be better for the fish. This would also have the knock on effect of showing the rest, who may be not keen that fish safety must come first.  How do we know how much stress builds up in a fish over time?  Just look at human beings, there is a great deal of people having to take tablets for stress (which has built up over time), this must be the same for all living things.

On my website there is a page all about Carp Safety Photographing Fish which is the way I have been doing this for many years and with camera technology moving on things can only get better.

A good example of what you can achieve and with a bit of help from a photo editor.

A good example of what you can achieve and with a bit of help from a photo editor.

Just remember, the next time you see a photo of your target fish, how much stress was placed on it at the time? And will it be around for you to catch it in the future?  Look after the fish and they will be around for a long time to come.

Be lucky in your quest for the monster fish.

Richard.

 

Beginners guide to float fishing – waggler floats

bream caught on waggler

A nice small water bream to a very simple waggler rig.

The sight of a dipping float is something that sums up the excitement of coarse fishing. Learn to fish the waggler, and you’ll have a method that will work on countless waters for all manner of species, and bring you that excitement wherever you fish.

Fishing For Dummies and Canal Fishing author Dominic Garnett provides an easy-to-follow guide to waggler float fishing.

What is a waggler?

There are various types of float used in coarse fishing, but the waggler is perhaps the most popular these days. They’re easy to set up, and allow for a stable, relatively tangle-free presentation that works with all kinds of baits on all kinds of fisheries. So what exactly is a waggler?

In simple terms, wagglers are floats that are attached by the bottom end only. This makes them easy to rig, because you can simply pinch them in place on your main line with split shot. This type of float also gives good stability, with the angler able to sink the line into the water, beating surface tow and debris.

Which waggler to choose?

types of waggler

There’s a wide selection of wagglers

Walk into any tackle shop and you’ll see various waggler floats to cater for different fishing scenarios. It’s well worth buying a variety of wagglers to suit various uses. You might be fishing right at your feet one session and casting well out into a stiff wind the next, with each scenario requiring quite a different float. There are several kinds of waggler to look out for:

canal wagglers

Canal and mini wagglers

A: Canal & Mini Wagglers are for fishing sensitively, usually at close range. They are often tapered and have a fairly fine tip. These are great for fishing on natural stillwaters and canals, where species such as roach, skimmers and crucians can be shy biting. Short versions like those shown also make sense for shallow water, where you don’t want a long or heavy float crashing down each cast.

insert wagglers

Insert wagglers

B: Insert Wagglers: Come in many sizes, but have a noticeably finer tip section or “insert”. This aids sensitivity for spotting gentle bites, although larger models can still be cast quite a distance.

Straight wagglers

Straight wagglers

C: Straight Wagglers: As the name sounds, these floats are straight, and have a thicker tip than insert models. These are sensible floats to use when you need extra stability; for example, when wind or tow will pull a skinny tip under and give false bites. The longer, larger floats can handle blustery conditions and be cast a fair distance. Some also have little “bodies” or thicker sections to offer even more casting weight and stability.

loaded and pellet wagglers

Loaded and pellet wagglers

D: Loaded and Pellet Wagglers: Some wagglers are weighted or “loaded” at the bottom, or come in much chunkier dimensions to allow longer casts made. These are excellent for aiming at distant features such as islands, and are often used for carp with slow sinking baits.

Typical Waggler Fishing Tackle

pellett waggler

Image source: UK Match Angler
A pellett waggler, hard at work!

The best rods for waggler fishing are float or match rods, although you will also get away with a light spinning rod for fishing close to the bank. However, ideally a float rod will be 12 or 13 feet long and suited to use with lines of 4-8lb breaking strain.

Many quite powerful “Carp match” or “power match” rods exist these days, and are ideal for commercial fisheries stocked with hard-fighting carp. Lighter rods that are ideal for natural venues and species such as roach and rudd are less commonly available, but a lighter rod is a lovely tool to use on canals and rivers.

It’s best to combine the rod with a small to mid sized reel, loaded with quality line (avoid cheap mono at all costs!). 5-6lbs main line would be typical where species such as carp and tench are the staple, or 3-4 lbs strength for silver fish and bream, where the odd bonus might show up.

Last but not least, it is always worth using a hook length (a foot or so of finer, more sensitive line to which the hook is tied). Not only will this give you better presentation (fish are less able to detect thinner line), but means that should you snag up, you will only lose a hook, not your whole rig. You can tie these yourself, but they also come ready-tied for convenience.

Tackle and typical waggler rigs

fishing tackle

Tackle!

Setting up a waggler rig isn’t rocket science, but the way you do this can be crucial to success. While not essential, it’s very helpful to use a float adaptor. This is a little silicone sleeve which accepts any waggler float.

The adaptor allows you to change your float at a moment’s notice without starting all over again. For example, you might decide to switch to a larger float to combat wind, or to make longer casts.

First, attach your waggler by trapping it onto your main reel line with split shot. Most floats will tell you how many shot are required by the numbers and letters written on the side (for example “3BB” or “5AA”).

A good general rule is to trap the float in place with at least two thirds of the required shot. This is because having most of the weight in one place helps with casting; lots of shot scattered down the line tend to cause tangles.

Attach your shot snugly to the line, but avoid squeezing them on so tightly that they’re fixed. You should be able to move them along the line to adjust the depth.

waggler on line

A balanced waggler outfit, ready for action

 

With your float secured in place, you will also need to attach some shot down the line, to help sink the bait and indicate bites. A few smaller weights (typically sizes 4, 6 and 8) will be much better for this than one or two larger samples. If you want the bait to get down quickly, try a little “bulk” of shot clustered together a foot to eighteen inches from the hook.

If you want a slower sinking bait, for example when you can see fish such as rudd or roach swimming higher in the water, try spacing the shot out evenly (see drawn illustration below).

Last but not least, you’ll also notice that we always set up with a final, small shot just 2-3 inches from the hook (usually a size 8,9 or 10 shot). It might be the least visible, but this little shot (often called the “tell tale shot”) is so, so important.

Why, exactly? Because when a fish takes the bait, this little shot also moves and gives you an early indication that you have a bite; without it, you will spot bites late, leading to more missed and deep-hooked fish.

waggler rigs plumbing depth

Try a “bulk” of shot to get down quickly; or space evenly for a slower fall of the bait.

Basic Waggler fishing skills

Many new and inexperienced anglers just want to cast their float as far as possible. However, the best advice on most popular day ticket lakes would be to start much closer in, because there will often be many more fish right by the bank and close to marginal features.

Sometimes you might fish off the bottom when fish are cruising in midwater, or even fish “overdepth” with a little line on the bottom if it is too windy to keep the bait still. Most of the time, however, it is best to start with the bait just about touching the bottom. This ensures that any bites you get will quickly be transmitted to the float tip.

Plumbing the depths

Sussing out the depth of your chosen spot is a vital skill. Too many anglers either don’t bother, rush the job, or get it wrong. Do take your time, because there is a huge difference between having the depth spot on and “about right.”

The easiest way to test the depth with a waggler is to carefully pinch a larger shot, such as an AA, onto the final inch of line right next to the hook before casting out and observing what happens. If the float plunges down and out of sight, you are set too shallow and should move the float away from the hook.

If the opposite happens,and the float sits up too high or even lies flat, you have too much line between float and hook and must narrow the gap. Adjust this length carefully, until just the very tip of the float shows and you have the right depth.

Be warned though, you must give a little slack line when testing the depth. This avoids creating a diagonal angle between hook and float and getting an inaccurate reading.

You’ll find it much easier to get the exact depth closer in – and it’s also worth spending a few minutes trying different spots around your swim and seeing how the depth changes. This can give you some handy answers to important questions. How deep is the water right by the bank? How deep is it two or three rod lengths out? Does the depth drop away suddenly or gradually? Answer these kinds of questions, and you will be able to catch more fish!

Where to begin

A good starting point for your waggler fishing session is often to try just down the “shelf”, where the margin drops away into slightly deeper water, often between one and two rod lengths out. In warm weather, fish like carp might come right under your feet; in the winter, you may fare better by fishing deeper water.

Once you’re happy with where you want to fish, it’s time to add some bait. Start with a small handful of samples, but be prepared to keep adding a small amount to this at regular intervals.

Spotting Bites and Striking

action on the waggler

The author plays a good fish on the waggler; in this case a tench, hooked in deep water with a long bodied float

Bites can vary a lot between different fish species. The classic movement will be the float just pulling straight under – for fish like carp and tench it’s best to ignore the tiny movements, and wait for this to happen before striking.

Other bites can be cagier, however, with the float “taking a walk” but not submerging. Sometimes the float can even lift slightly. Experience and practise will tell you when to strike, but with shy-biting fish like roach and skimmers, you might have to hit these indications early!

Above all, pay close attention to that float, observing how it settles as the bait and shot fall through the water. If the float stops or behaves suspiciously, this can quite often be a fish taking “on the drop” as the bait falls. Strike!

Waggler Fishing Tips

waggler caught tench

A margin caught tench, caught on the waggler

    • One of the best tips for all float fishing is to hold the rod at all times. Don’t be lazy and put the rod down in a rest! Much of the time you will have missed the fish by the time you pick the rod up. Instead, be ready to strike with a nice positive lift.
    • As with the casting and feeding, the strike takes practice. It should be decisive but not violent – find a happy medium! Strike too softly and you won’t set the hook Strike brutally and you’ll “bump” fish off, or risk breaking the line on a big one.
    • One of the most common mistakes when fishing the waggler is to have too much float showing above the water. If you give the fish too much tip to pull under, many of them will simply get suspicious and drop the bait. Aim to have just the brightly coloured tip showing – or just the final 2-3mm if conditions are calm.
    • For most waggler fishing, a floating reel line is sensible. However, in windy conditions, you can also sink the line to avoid tow. Do this by dipping the rod tip under the water and giving a couple of pulls after casting out.
    • As with most types of general float fishing, you will usually catch a lot more by loose feeding. Try doing this “little and often” by throwing or catapulting in just a few samples of bait every three or so minutes. If you keep casting to the exact same spot and keep your feed accurate, this will help concentrate the fish.
    • Try Stotz rather than dust shot for your smaller weights. They tend to stay on the line much better than tiny traditional shot in sizes 8,9 and 10.
    • Don’t just sit there when you waggler fish. Quite often the fish will bite just as the float settles, because they have spotted the bait sinking to the bottom. Try recasting to get extra bites – or search different areas of your swim. For example, if you’re catching a lot of fish in your main feed area, you might find that the fish start to back off or go a little further out.

Further Info:

You can find more of Dominic’s fishing tips, tales and photography at www.dgfishing.co.uk

His book “Fishing For Dummies” is excellent for beginners and those returning to the sport, while Canal Fishing: A Practical Guide provides the lowdown on a wide range of methods, species and locations across the UK.

 

All images courtesy of Dominic Garnett unless otherwise stated