Summer holiday fishing for mackerel

fishing for mackerel

A good sized mackerel caught from a small boat.
Image source: Shutterstock

Mackerel are one of the most popular fish for UK anglers to target and for good reason. They’re relatively easy to catch, put up a great fight once hooked, and taste great.

Mackerel fishing doesn’t require a great deal of equipment or complicated fishing tackle so it’s an ideal way to get children interested or for holiday-makers who want to try their hand at sea fishing. Here, Chris Middleton shares his top tips to give you the best chance of success.

Understand your quarry

Using a light rod and a spinner is one of the most common ways to catch mackerel.

Using a light rod and a spinner is one of the most common ways to catch mackerel.
Image courtesy of Chris Middleton

Mackerel visit UK waters in the summer after spending the colder winter months in deeper offshore waters. They generally arrive around the British coastline in May and stay until late-September, although this can be later around southern England.

Mackerel are a relatively small fish – the UK shore caught record is 5lb 11oz but the average size for mackerel in the UK is only around 1lb or so. Despite this they are fast, active hunters which feed on smaller fish such as sprats and sandeels. For this reason the main method for catching mackerel is with artificial lures such as spinners, feathers and daylights.

Where to find mackerel

Piers are one of the most popular marks for mackerel anglers to fish from.

Piers are one of the most popular marks for mackerel anglers to fish from.
Image courtesy of Chris Middleton

Mackerel hunt for their prey in mid-water so fishing from places like piers, breakwaters, jetties and other artificial structures which extend out into the sea is the best way to access this deeper water. It’s also possible to catch mackerel from steeply sloping beaches. Indeed, Chesil beach in Dorset is one of the UK’s top mackerel fishing marks. However, shallow, sandy beaches are unlikely to offer water deep enough for mackerel to be present and are therefore best avoided.

Visual hunters, mackerel can be caught at any time of the day, but it’s worth noting that rough seas and choppy water can send them out of range into deeper water. Your best chance of success is usually during a steady spell of good weather and calm seas.

Best tackle for mackerel fishing

A mackerel caught with a spinner.

A mackerel caught with a spinner.
Image courtesy of Chris Middleton

Mackerel fishing doesn’t need to be complicated. Most anglers use a spinning rod of 8 – 10ft in length which can cast lures of 1 – 2oz coupled with a simple fixed spool reel. You can often buy rod, reel and line combination deals that give you the full setup for a reasonable price.

The main types of lures used in mackerel fishing are:

Spinners: These are solid metal imitation fish fitted with hooks. There’s a seemingly infinite number of spinners on the market but simple, traditional silver spinners seem to work best for mackerel. Alternatively, try this set of four of the most deadly coloured lures.

Feathers: These are hooks which have been fitted with brightly coloured feathers to make them resemble a small fish. They’re bought ready-made on rigs usually containing three to six feathers. Using feathers is an effective way to catch mackerel, and there’s always the chance of catching multiple mackerel if a shoal attacks the feathers.

Daylights: Similar to feathers, these lures are made with synthetic plastic material instead of feather. You’ll need to remember to buy weights if you’re casting feathers or daylights.

The best method for catching mackerel

Multiple mackerel caught on daylights.

Multiple mackerel caught on daylights.
Image courtesy of Chris Middleton

The great thing about fishing for mackerel is that the same method is used for spinners, feathers or daylights. Cast your lure out as far as you can and then reel it in through the water to tempt the fish to attack it and get hooked.

As mackerel are a shoaling species they can descend on an area very quickly. A spot which has produced nothing for a number of casts can suddenly become alive with mackerel, producing a fish every cast.

If you’re not having any luck, try varying the speed that you reel your lure in. Reeling in quickly will bring your lure back high in the water, while reeling slowly will retrieve it much deeper. Try various depths to give yourself the best chance of locating the feeding mackerel.

Another tip is to watch for sea birds diving into the sea (a sure sign that small fish are present and mackerel will be nearby) or bubbles appearing on the surface of the sea. This happens when mackerel chase small fish upwards through the water, causing them to panic at the surface and the sea to look as if it is bubbling. This is a clear sign that mackerel are present and a productive fishing session will follow.

Eating your catch

Hot mackerel straight from the barbecue is a real treat.

Hot mackerel straight from the barbecue is a real treat.
Image source: BravissimoS

Mackerel is a tasty fish which is full of healthy omega-3. Once gutted, it can be very simply barbecued, grilled or fried, although take care to avoid small bones which can be difficult to completely remove. There’s not much that tastes better than a fresh mackerel thrown on the barbecue on the beach within hours of being caught.

For more ambitious chefs mackerel makes excellent pate and can even be substituted for sausage meat in scotch eggs. If you have a bumper haul, gut, fillet and freeze your catch for another time. Try some of these recipes from Great British Chefs for inspiration.

More about the author…

Chris Middleton writes for British Sea Fishing where you can find find information and advice on all aspects of shore fishing around the UK with information on techniques, bait, tactics and fishing marks across the country. As well as this there are features and articles on wider issues such as commercial fishing, conservation and the sea fish species and other sea creatures found around the British Isles.

Airflo Covert Compact Fly Vest Review

Looking for a new lightweight  fly vest that is comfortable and full of storage options? We might have found something for you. In this review Fishtec blogger Stuart Smitham takes a closer look at a vest he has been using for some time, the Covert Compact from Airflo.

Having used the original Airflo Outlander vest back pack for some years, it was good to see it have a freshen up, with some innovative digital camo. Ceri Thomas at Fishtec, hinted of another new addition to the range, called the Covert Compact vest. I’ll never forget Ceri’s apt description, “It’s a fishing bra with two chest pack’s”.  In truth, it’s a lot more than that.

I’ve had mine since March this year, so I’ve had time to make an accurate assessment of it. Once you see it you’ll see why it’s attributes become easily visible.

In general the Covert Compact has a generous pouch capacity, not only on the front two, but also the back. A lightweight system in digital camouflage. The philosophy of a one size fits all, works here for sure.

The Airflo Covert Compact fly fishing vest

The Airflo Covert Compact fly fishing vest

Looking at the vest from the inner most out, the padded areas offer a great stand off from your clothing, so allowing air to circulate between the vest and your body. Wide shoulder pads, much like the vest back pack, help spread weight distribution. The mesh back is great for two reasons. (1) to help keep you cool and (2) it allows you to wear a day pack with ease. A plus plus from me, particularly if your hiking and dumping waterproofs inside.

There’s a D ring in the top of the mesh yolk which is well stitched and will stand up to the endless pulling that I do on my net magnet.

Padded areas and D rings are a nice touch!!

Padded areas and D rings are a nice touch!!

The pouches on the front are very spacious, with split storage. They differ slightly as the right pouch has a velcro with fly patch. On both of them there’s a small inner pocket on the back wall, for small items and then a larger storage area. This will easily cope with fly boxes, spare tippet and a small water bottle. On the outside are two smaller pockets for tippet, nips, floatant and so on. The front pouches clip together for a secure fit, and you can also use the side straps to tighten it all up for optimum comfort.

The front pods and the back pouch of the Covert Compact vest

The front pods and the back pouch of the Covert Compact vest

The back pouch has rod tube straps on the underside (rod tube not included) which is a neat touch. On the inner are two small pockets on the back wall, for things like spare glasses, sunscreen etc. The main storage area here is large enough for your large fly boxes, snacks, drinks and even a lightweight jacket.

The construction and build quality on the Covert Compact is something else. Good stitching and quality zips that will stand up to heavy abuse. Overall, this is a well thought out piece of kit, worthy of joining the Outlander range of fishing luggage. For more on the Outlander range, visit the Fishtec tackle website. Best regards, Stuart.

Stop press: Covert Compact Fly vests are now just £34.99 (rrp £49.99)!!

AVAILABLE HERE

FishSpy Camera Videos by Carpology Magazine

The latest FishSpy underwater camera videos by Carpology magazine!

Discover how a FishSpy marker float can drastically increase your catch rates by allowing you to explore and check underwater features.

In these two videos Dan Whitford of Carpology explains how a FishSpy camera has helped him on his syndicate carp fishing lake, as well as for bait checking and discovering feeding areas.

July 2018 FishSpy video

May 2018 FishSpy video

FishSpy camera’s are £129.95. They are available from the Fishtec Tackle store here.

Carp In The Park 2018

What is Carp In The Park?

The ultimate carp social. Two days of chilling, socialising and learning from the biggest names in carp fishing. Giant screen and slide shows from Dave Lane and Alan Blair, plus many more. Demos and displays from Avid, Chub, Nash, JRC, TF Gear, Shimano, Sonik and a host of other great brands. Live music, outside bar and a chance to bivvy up and socialise with the stars of carping. This is a carp event like no other and you’ll want to be able to say “I was there”!!

Carp in the park

Carp in the park

Dave Lane and the TF Gear team will be on hand to discuss and demonstrate selected products, Including the Airflo Inflatable bivvy, the Airbomb bait distribution device and the unique FishSpy underwater camera.

Carp In The Park: June 30th & July 1st, Billing Aquadrome, North Northamptonshire.

See you there!!!

For more information and ticketing visit www.carpinthepark.co.uk

Dave Lane on using the TF Gear Airbomb for floater fishing

As soon as I saw the very first Airbomb prototype all those long months ago, the first thing that came to my mind was floater fishing.

Apart from all the other obvious advantages of being able to present a spread of bait, regardless of the depth or range, floating bait presentation was the one I really wanted to try out.

Apart from close range catapult baiting or relying on the wind to drift floaters out into the ‘zone’ we had always had to suffer the ill effects of a huge great splash as our spod type devices crashed into the surface right where the carp were feeding. Obviously, this was always a major disadvantage, particularly if the fish were a bit cagy and it was always a gamble as to whether they would return and continue to feed afterwards.

Dave Lane casting the TF Gear Airbomb

Dave Lane casting the TF Gear Airbomb

With the Airbomb you can stop it in flight well short of the ‘feeding zone’ and the baits will continue their flight, landing with the minimum of disturbance right where you want them to.

Recently, on an impromptu trip to the Water Park for a breakfast with the family I had the perfect opportunity to try it out.

The fish were all cruising about behind the café on the main lake and I had all the floater kit in the back of the truck.

I simply fed the swim with the Airbomb before ordering my breakfast and let them get confident while I filled my own face with eggs and bacon. Once I had finished and the fish had cleared up most of the free offerings I was able to keep feeding floaters right on top of them and they just kept on eating them, which was the perfect scenario.

Using a heavy controller to cast way beyond the carp, I then teased it back into position and was soon hooked into a lively mirror of around twenty pounds.

That fish fought like crazy and it was a good five minutes before I got him anywhere near the net, during which time most of the feed had been demolished and the fish were starting to drift off, so I asked Dee, the wife, to have a go at Air-bombing some more out there for me while I was trying to net the fish.

Floater fishing success with the TF Gear Airbomb

Floater fishing success with the TF Gear Airbomb

Despite never having cast one before she had mastered it by the second cast and I just knew there would be another chance in the offing if I was quick.

With the mirror dealt with and the fish still having it out in the lake it didn’t take too long to get a second bite at the cherry and I added a lovely common carp of a similar size before heading for home.

It was every bit as effective as I knew it should be and I can’t wait for the next opportunity to give it a go.

Dave Lane

 

Airflo Modern Stillwater Tactics 2018 – Full Length DVD

Airflo sales director Gareth Jones and Fishtec blogger Iain Barr are two of the countries most successful stillwater fly fishermen. Together they co-operated with Trout Fisherman Magazine to bring us their latest fly fishing feature film.

In this new DVD titled ‘Airflo Modern Stillwater Tactics 2018’ they visit a variety of UK waters in search of trout. Their secret methods, fly lines, flies and tackle are all revealed, along with essential tips on how to catch more fish. If you fly fish lakes or reservoirs, then this is a ‘must watch’!

Want to see more of the Airflo Stillwater Tactics series? You can check out Volume 3 here.

For the others, head to our YouTube Channel!!

A Complete Guide to Using the Spod, Spomb and Airbomb

A great way to introduce bait accurately and efficiently, many carp and specimen anglers would be lost without their spods and other devices. But there’s so much more to feeding your swim than chucking in a load of bait and waiting for bites.

From a few pouchfuls of maggots, to several kilos of pellets or boilies, there are many ways to do it. Getting it right could be the difference between bites galore and a big fat blank. This month, Dominic Garnett and Andy Parkinson present a handy guide to using spods, spombs and airbombs to best advantage.

What is spodding?

A spod is a special bait-dispensing device, designed to be cast using a rod and line. It’s a cylindrical container with dart shaped fins for accuracy. Fill it with boilies, particles or whatever bait you’re fishing with, before launching to the area you intend to fish. Upon landing, the buoyant nose of the spod rises to the surface, tipping out its goodies in seconds. With practice, and the right gear, it can be great way to bait up.

However, we should also mention a couple of other devices here. The spomb is a great alternative. Rocket shaped and enclosed, it releases bait on impact. Meanwhile, there’s also the new TF Gear Airbomb to consider. Again, a rocket-shaped profile allows the Airbomb to reach huge distances, but this clever piece of kit is designed to open in mid-air, when the angler brakes the cast.

Whichever device you choose, the same tips and principles will apply. For example, the tackle used to cast several ounces of bait is similar whether you use a classic spomb or the latest device.

The pros and cons of spodding

Mirror carp

Andy Parkinson cradles a fine mirror carp, tempted over an accurate bed of bait at distance. Image courtesy of A. Parkinson.

So why use a spod, spomb or Airbomb in the first place? First of all, baiting up in this manner is accurate and efficient when it comes to any substantial quantity of bait beyond a few handfuls. Using a spod, it’s possible to add several kilos of bait in a matter of minutes, should you want to.

Another advantage is that you can bait up at longer range in a manner that can’t easily be otherwise achieved. Even with a powerful catapult, for example, your free baits would tend to scatter over a wide area at long range. The spod, on the other hand, can be controlled to land the same distance every cast, only discharging its contents right where you want them. And while you might be able to fire big boilies 100 yards out, the spod lets you feed even tiny morsels of bait, or those which are the wrong shape or too light to be launched big distances.

When to spod and when not to?

Just because you have the means to dish out a big hit of bait at 100 yards, it doesn’t mean you always should. Spods and larger spombs create quite a lot of disturbance when they hit the water. So when would you bother using a spod, when might you decide to leave it out, and when would an Airbomb make the best choice?

When to use a spod or spomb

  • When you can’t introduce bait by other means. For example, beyond throwing range.
  • When you’re expecting a lot of fish and want to bait up hard (a large shoal of bream or tench, or several large carp).
  • When you’re going to be fishing for a long time.
  • When fishing in deep water (8-10ft plus).

When not to use a spod

  • When you’re fishing at shorter range and could throw or catapult your feed without the extra hassle and splash.
  • When you don’t need to introduce so much bait.
  • When you’re fishing in shallow water (margin fish don’t like a big spod crashing down!)
  • When you’re fishing a shorter session (a lot of bait can take a long time for fish to eat).
  • If the fish are fewer in numbers or easily spooked.

Your decision should be guided by the situation in front of you. If in doubt ask yourself two questions: Do I need to? Will it help make the job easier?

When to try the new Airbomb

The new kid on the block has some definite advantages over its predecessors. The main difference is that the Airbomb opens above the water when the angler checks the cast, as opposed to dispensing bait on impact. Here are some scenarios when the Airbomb would give you a distinct advantage:

  • When you’re fishing shallower water or want to avoid scaring fish at all costs.
  • When you’re casting close to snags such as trailing branches.
  • When you want to loose feed with floating baits.

Equipment for spodding and spombing: Rods, reels, line, leaders

Casting a great big container full of bait is a punishing job. Sure, you can cast the smaller spombs or feeders on your usual gear. But for anything with a large payload (that’s any spod, larger spomb or the Airbomb), you’ll need to tackle up for the job. Too many fisheries have spods in trees due to ill prepared anglers!

Typically you’ll need a spod rod (or possibly a spare beachcaster or similarly tough rod), along with a meaty big pit reel. Load this with at least 30lb braid, very possibly with a 50lb shockleader. This will help take the strain of each cast without that sudden sickening breaking sound as the line parts!

Tip: When using a shock leader for spodding, pay attention to where the knot goes. To have minimal impact on the cast, it should be positioned towards the bottom of the reel spool.

Choosing and loading baits

bait for spods and spombs

Mix it up. Smaller and cheaper offerings help to stretch out more expensive boilies.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

One key advantage to using a spod, spomb or Airbomb is that they will take any sort of bait. Tiny feed particles such as stewed hemp seed, wheat or micro pellets are a piece of cake – and you can now deposit these accurately at distances impossible by most other means!

However most carp anglers these days prefer a mixed payload, which gives carp and other fish a mix of bait sizes. It depends on where you fish and the species you target too. You may, for example, want to include some baits that are too big for roach, skimmers and other fish to eat. Cost is another consideration, with most of us opting to flesh out the more expensive baits like boilies with cheaper bulk feeds (like vitalin, brown crumb, stewed wheat or beans, frozen sweetcorn etc).

In many ways, a mix of bait sizes also helps with the spod or spomb too, because smaller offerings and groundbait such as fishmeal based crumb are ideal for filling the gaps left by larger baits. In fact, a good way to avoid spillage on the cast is to top each spod-load of bait with a layer of groundbait or sticky pellets. This keeps everything stuck down tidily.

Fishtec: loading a spomb with bait

Spombs (above) are slightly different: fairly spill proof but avoid clogging the trigger mechanism.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Spods are a simple case of fill it up and cast. Spombs, on the other hand, have a special opening and closing mechanism. They need loading carefully, so as not to get in the way of the trigger that opens everything up on impact with the water. Done correctly, this makes for an extremely safe and accurate way of delivering bait into the swim (and the spomb also dives less deep and is much easier to retrieve than a spod).

Loading and using the Airbomb

When it comes to loading the new Airbomb, the principles are similar to the spomb. It’s a locking capsule, basically, so provided you don’t overfill it or gum up the locking mechanism, you can load it up however you like. It’s perfect for boilies and particles of all sizes. Here’s our quick video guide showing you how to set up your Airbomb.

The big difference, however, occurs on delivery because you empty the AirBomb before it hits the water. This is done when the angler brakes the cast by pulling back on the rod. This activates the trigger to open the capsule, releasing the bait in a controlled manner.

With practice you can get wicked accuracy and some different effects. You can release just over the water to land your feed quite tightly, for example, or higher in the air for a wider spread of bait. Indeed, on a lot of busy fisheries the carp can grow a little wary of super concentrated beds of bait.

How do I know which baiting device is right for me?

This could depend on several factors. The spod is simple and effective for great distances and deep water. The spomb is tidier though – and smaller ones are great for anglers who don’t want to fork out for a special extra rod. As for the Airbomb – well, you just have to try it! It’s a great way to deliver a large payload with the least noise and water disturbance – and it will easily fire bait into tricky areas under trees or other tight spots.

Don’t discount old school catapults and other baiting methods though; if your fishing tends to be shorter range, no problem. Our recent blog on feeding methods is well worth a look here!

Casting out with a spod, spomb or Airbomb

Fishtec: casting a spomb

Preparing to launch a spomb – smaller models can be cast on regular gear without needing an extra rod.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

So you’re all tackled up and ready to cast out. What happens next? Well, the first cast or two can be where mistakes happen, so take time to prepare. Firstly, if you’re using braid, it will really help to wet your reel spool. Dry braid is more prone to catching the wind and tangling, so you want it to behave itself.

Start then, by casting an empty spod or spomb just thirty or forty yards and then literally dunking the reel in the water as you reel in under tension. This will help to get the braid damp and sitting cleanly on the spool. Even with mono, it’s worth making a couple of smoother, shorter casts and reeling in, just to ensure your line is laying evenly.

As for the actual cast, it’s a case of keeping it smooth and controlled. There should generally be around half a rod length “drop” between the spod or spomb and the end of the rod. Try to come straight overhead with power but no sudden jerk of force. In many ways, the cast is very similar to casting out a rig with a heavy PVA bag attached – smoothly does it! If anything, you can aim a little higher if you’re casting a spomb, because you want it to land nose first and open cleanly on landing. Of course, if you’re using an Airbomb you’ll want a more direct cast which you’ll need to “break” just before the area you want to target. The Airbomb will open mid-air and fire your bait into the desired spot.

To get your casts to land the same distance each time, you could measure the distance and use the line clip on your reel. Many anglers will literally pace out the distances on dry land. Simply walk in a line along the ground, or use two sticks as distance markers. This way, you can be sure that your spods of bait travel the exact same distance as your baited rigs. That said, you may want to allow slightly more distance to your rig because it will sink to the bottom, while your spod or spomb won’t.

Tip: Feather it down!

It’s easy just to lob out a spod and watch it go splat on the water. However, to make a little less commotion and prevent it from diving far under the surface on impact, try “feathering” the cast down. This simply means dabbing your fingers on the reel spool to slow things down as the cast lands, increasing control and lessening impact. It’s also a good habit to get into for casting leads and PVA bags.

Dom Garnett and bream

The proof of the spombing… one of four double figure bream taken over a bed of bait introduced at range, via the spomb. Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

For a quick, simple and visual guide to spodding use our infographic below:

Fishtec spodding infographic

Fly Fishing Slovenia by Alps Fly Fish

Soča valley in Slovenia is considered one of the most spectacular destinations in the world for fly fishing. In its emerald waters live the mysterious Marble Trout. ALPS FLY FISH invites you to know it!

Slovenia is known to many of us by Ernest Hemingway’s famous book “A Farewell to Arms” or for being the home country of Melania Trump, the wife of the current president of the United States. But what not all fishermen know is that this small country in Europe is one of the best destinations in the world for the practice of fly fishing.

Despite the small size of this country located on the sunny side of the Alps, there are thousands of kilometers of rivers for fishing. In a radius less than two hours we can fish on alpine streams, lakes or clear chalkstream.

Some of the most beautiful are:

The Soča: Emerald waters of Soča River.

Sava Bohinjka: One of the most beautiful rivers situated next to the famed Bled Castle.

Radovna River: A wild river that goes through the Triglav National Park.

Idrijca River: Excellent river for trophy Marble Trout.

Lepena River: Pretty alpine stream of turquoise waters.

The fisherman who visits Slovenia can enjoy fishing for different species such as:

Marble trout: It is a unique salmonid in the world that is located in countries of the Adriatic Sea basin such as Croatia, Italy, Slovenia … It is characterized by its great aggressiveness.

Rainbow trout: It is an allochthonous trout that comes from hatchery. The waters of many rivers in Slovenia are repopulated continuously by these fish existing excellent populations already naturalized.

Adriatic Grayling: Are a kind of Grayling whose populations are extraordinary in some lowland rivers like Unec. Grayling fishing is spectacular in the months when there are May fly hatches.

Also is possible to fish for Brown trout and Taimen.

The Taímen is fished from November to March and the trout fishing season begins in March and ends in October. The variety of rivers to fish in Slovenia is very large so it is very difficult to determine which are the best months of the year.

Bovec town is located in the upper part of the Soča River Valley, is considered the capital of fishing in Slovenia and one of the points used for a lot of anglers as a center of operations on his fishing holiday in Slovenia.

If you want a more information about the destination you can visit the ALPS FLY FISH Facebook page or email alpsflyfish@gmail.com

Should you need some guidance on tackle for destination fishing, make sure you check out this blog post by experienced global angler Chris Ogborne!

The TF Gear Airbomb – Dave Lane Q & A Session With Total Carp Magazine

In this article by Total Carp Magazine Dave Lane answers some TF Gear Airbomb questions….


TOTAL CARP: WHAT WAS THE THOUGHT PROCESS BEHIND PRODUCING THE AIRBOMB?

DAVE LANE: To create a system that could bait a swim in a similar method to a catapult but at any range, rather than just deposit small piles of bait on the bottom of the lake.

In shallow water this is even more pronounced when you are using a spod or similar type of device as the bait has no time to spread out on its descent.

The Airbomb will scatter your bait in a wider pattern and actually create a feeding area rather than individual spots that are impossible to accurately land a rig on top of.

TC: HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN IN TESTING?

DL: I suppose it must be around two years now, since we had the original samples made. Throughout that process we have made a few changes and tweaks to ensure that it performs exactly as we intended at the outset.

Everything was kept under wraps for a long time as we were always aware of just how good this device would be and we wanted to perfect every aspect of it before releasing it to the angling public.

TC: WHEN IS IT AVAILABLE?

DL: It will be available around the end of March this year.

TC: DO YOU SEE ANY LIMITATIONS?

DL: Not really, no. In fact there are quite a few ways you can use the Airbomb to create different baiting patterns.

If you hit the line clip high in the air while the Bomb is still climbing then the bait will spread in a larger circle on impact with the water.

Alternatively, you can adjust your line clip to stop the Airbomb nearer the surface, on its descent, and this will fire the bait in a smaller, more compact pattern.

If you are fishing on very small spots, like holes in the weed for example, you can overcast without hitting a clip and the Airbomb will not open on impact. By doing this you still have the bait inside and if you carefully wind the Bomb into position you can then flick the rod tip and deliver the bait from the surface into the hole in the weed, or whatever other area you
desire.

TC: HOW DOES THE MECHANISM WORK?

DL: On casting there is a retaining clip that negates the firing pin but, on the cast, this
disengages.

The Airbomb is triggered by a sudden force on the line, provided by the line clip on your reel or trapping the line with your finger.

The Airbomb then opens and stops in mid-air while your bait carries on under its own inertia for a short distance before falling into the lake. Because the Airbomb is empty it now has very little weight and makes a minimal splash as it hits the water, but the real beauty
is that the Airbomb falls about 20 yards back from your spot and doesn’t spook feeding fish.

Airbomb projects bait forward over your marker

Airbomb projects bait forward over your marker

TC: WHAT RANGES ARE YOU COMFORTABLE FISHING THE AIRBOMB OR IS IT PURELY DOWN TO THE ANGLER’S ABILITY?

DL: I would be comfortable fishing at any range at all, as long as I could hit the line clip while the Airbomb is still in flight.

Casting ability will figure in the same way it would with a very good spod or similar device.

The Airbomb has an extremely aerodynamic profile and the four finned flight at the back ensures that it stays stable and flies true through the air.

TC: IF YOU WERE  FISHING AN AREA AT SAY 80 YARDS,WHERE WOULD YOU SET THE CLIP AND WRAP THE ROD TO ENSURE YOU BAITED THE AREA ACCURATELY?

DL: This would vary depending on the weight, shape and profile of the bait you were using because 18mm boilies will fly on a lot further than sweetcorn, for example.

As a rough guide I would say about  two rod lengths shorter for particles and three rod lengths for boilies, but a simple test cast with a very small amount of bait will soon give you the range and you can easily tweak this until you have it clipped up perfectly.

TC: FISHING LARGE SPREADS OF BAITS IS OFTEN ASSOCIATED WITH BOILIE FISHING; WOULD YOU USE THIS BAITING DEVICE WITH OTHER BAITS SUCH AS PELLETS OR PARTICLES?

DL: I totally disagree with that,actually; I always fish particles in a nice wide pattern so that I can get more fish feeding in the area at the same time.

If I was to go out in a boat to bait up then I wouldn’t dream of just upending a bucket over the side, I would scatter it around my mark with a scoop and this is the effect that the Airbomb will give you.

Remember that you can vary the spread easily by the timing of the ejection against the line clip. I can see huge advantages for fishing particles with an Airbomb as there is no other way at the moment of creating that ‘catapult like spread’ at range.

Airbomb can be used with a wide variety of baits

Airbomb can be used with a wide variety of baits

TC: IN WHAT SITUATIONS CAN YOU SEE YOURSELF USING THE AIRBOMB?

DL: Apart from fishing my own margins, where I can bait by hand, I cannot honestly think of any situation where I wouldn’t use one.

Throwing sticks have become a thing of the past because of the sheer amount of terns and black-headed gulls that now live inland and seem to feed almost exclusively on bait.

The existing delivery systems we use all have the same disadvantage of dropping piles of bait in the same way that bait boats do, and this ‘dollop baiting’ has never been a favourite
of mine but, up until now, I have had no other alternative.

Think about the implications here; using an Airbomb, not just for open-water feeding in a nice spread pattern but what about baiting tight under snags, or islands, or an out-of bounds far-bank scenario?

You can stop the Airbomb 10 yards short of the bushes and spray hemp or boilies right on the edge of the canopy, never having to worry about casting into the tree again because the Airbomb doesn’t need to get anywhere near the branches.

TC: CAN IT BE USED FOR FLOATER FISHING TOO?

DL: Floater fishing at range will be completely transformed using this device. You will be able to silently bait up right on the heads of feeding fish and the only sound they will hear is the bait sprinkling down on the surface; the empty Airbomb will be a minimal splash about 20 yards further back towards you, further still when you master the art of flicking it back on impact with the clip while still high in the air.

TC: WHAT IS THE LOAD CAPACITY OF THE AIRBOMB? ARE THERE DIFFERENT SIZES?

DL: I suppose about 30 15mm boilies would be a good fit or a decent scoop of particles, similar to a large spod really. There are plans for a small version a smaller version in the near future, possibly it would also suit match anglers for spraying maggots as well as lighter baiting for carp anglers.

TC: CAN YOU USE IT AS A NORMAL SPOD/SPOMB OR IS IT ALL ABOUT GENERATING LARGER SPREADS OF BAIT?

DL: It isn’t really comparable to either, nor is it trying to be. The whole idea is to remove the huge impact associated with both the methods you have mentioned and bait up in a more silent and effective fashion.

You can quite easily achieve the same results by either hitting the clip just before impact with the water or pulling back slowly from an ‘overcast’ past the area but, personally, I think the effect it achieves when used normally gives a far superior baiting pattern.

The spread of bait is not massive, it doesn’t just scatter randomly all over the place and, in fact, boilies of the same size and weight will usually land within a one-yard circle of each other.

CONCLUSION:

Overall this newly designed baiting concept certainly looks like it will revolutionise the baiting patterns you can now employ at range, and as with any new product on the market time will tell how successful it will become.

The angler looking to keep  ahead of the trends and take advantage of a new baiting tool will certainly see the benefits and we are certainly keen to get our hands on one here and give it a good going over.

Check out the Airbomb tutorial video here:

TF Gear Airbomb’s are available here.

Article reproduced with kind permission of Total Carp Magazine.

Carp Tackle Buying Guide

Dave Lane carp

Beginner, regular carp angler or pro – here’s your ultimate buying guide.
Image source: Fishtec

Whether you’re a beginner trying to kit yourself out for carp fishing or an experienced angler looking to overhaul your existing gear, the Fishtec team has everything you need.

But with such a huge variety of carp fishing tackle on offer, how do you determine what you need and how much to spend? Here’s the ultimate guide to getting tackled up, from basics and budget gear through to fishing equipment for the lifelong carp addict.

What kind of carp angler are you?

Before we launch into kit, it’s important to know what stage you’re at. If you’re just starting carp fishing, for example, you won’t want to spend too much until you get going. We’ve broken things down into three categories to help you make decisions:

Carp Angler Categories
Beginner
You might be new to the sport, or someone who knows the ropes but can’t get out every week. You could simply be on a tight budget. Whatever the case, you’ll want functional gear that offers excellent value for money.
Regular
You know your stuff and fish fairly often. You wouldn’t class yourself as a die-hard, but you’re keen enough. You might not have cash to burn, but you want decent kit that can handle more than just the basics.
Expert
You live and breathe carp fishing and spend a lot of time on the bank. Your gear has become more specialised over the years. You like kit that’s not only practical, but a joy to use. When you can afford it, you have no hesitation in buying the best.

You won’t necessarily fit neatly into one category – you might fall between two. For example, you could be your first year into to the sport but coming on fast and needing better gear. Or, you could be a carper with bags of experience who needs to watch the purse strings.

Top tip: Carp fishing can get technical at the best of times and some of the kit isn’t cheap. But it’s not a fashion contest and the most important thing is that your gear works for your budget and style of fishing. Many anglers with expensive rods have been out-fished by someone with cheaper kit and better watercraft (or better luck!). If you’re a beginner, start at your own pace. You don’t need the best from the word go, so let your tackle evolve as you learn.

How to choose a carp rod

It’s the most popular impulse buy of all, every angler loves to own rods. But which is the best for your needs? These days, quality carbon blanks have never been better value. The calibre of carp rods available for less than £50 would probably have cost several times that a decade or two ago! Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Carp Rods
Beginner: Daiwa Black Widow G50 Carp rod
Serious rods that still give you plenty of change from £50! These are anything but toy models though. A great range of options too, from 2.75 to 3.5lbs test curve.
Buy now from £39.99
Regular: Nash KMX Carp Rod
For a sleek finish and superior build quality, these rods punch above their weight in the mid-price range. Durable blanks, with a spod rod as part of the set for those who need this option.
Buy now from £69.99
.
Expert: Free Spirit “S” Lite Carp Rods
For ultra light, beautifully sleek rods, this range is a joy to use. A comprehensive selection that really push the standards of design and performance beyond expectations.
Buy now from £159.99
.

Which carp rods will suit you best?

Most rods sound great on paper, but how do you decide the power and length you need? Test curve rating (the amount of strain required to pull the rod tip over by 90 degrees) is one key factor to look into. 2.5 or 2.75lb test curve rods are more forgiving, for example, to play fish at close to mid range. If you’re punching out rigs and very possibly PVA bags at longer range, 3 to 3.5lb test curve rods have greater power.

Length is another consideration. There’s a reason most rods are 12ft; it’s a versatile all-round length for most scenarios. A 13ft may be better still for long casts, say on a tough gravel pit. However, for many anglers who fish smaller waters, the reverse is true and a 10ft rod is great for close quarters and swims with trees and limited casting space.

Finally, how many carp rods do you need? For most beginners, it’s enough to get the hang of using two at first. In fact, on the smaller waters which are ideal for getting the hang of things, a third rod might be overkill. Too much kit makes you less mobile, while an extra lead splashing down and another line through the swim can make it less likely you’ll catch.

Top tip: Rather than just buying the rod(s) you like the look of, think about your local or regular fishing. Although many anglers get hooked on identical rod setups, this isn’t always sensible either. For example, you might want at least one rod in your arsenal that is specifically designed for margin fishing, with a lower test curve and a more forgiving action.

How to choose a carp reel

Ok, so reels are not quite as sexy as the latest rods, but they’re just as important. In fact, as a rule they tend to cost a little more than rods of similar quality. Most reels are measured in numbers, with sizes between 4,000 and 6,000 typical for most carp fishing. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Carp Reels
Shimano Ultegra CI4 Plus XT-C Reel A Beginner: Korum Rodiac Freespool
Basic but reliable and really smooth, this is a solid starter reel. Excellent value for money for those just starting out or watching the pennies.
Buy now from £34.99
Daiwa Windcast BR 5500 LDA Reel Regular: Daiwa Windcast BR5500
If you intend to fish every weekend, or want slicker long term performance, it’s worth spending a little more. Daiwa reels have top quality gears and parts, and the Windcast is no exception. With a larger “big pit” spool, this model is a good mid range option for those who need to hit longer casts.
Buy now from £79.99
Korum-Rodiac-Reel-A Expert: Shimano Ultegra CI4+
There’s a bloody good reason hardened anglers like Shimano reels. They have the best gears in the world (they also produce gears for top spec bikes). Perhaps this is why they keep going year after year. The Ultegra CI4+ is not just a workhorse – it’s a Rolls Royce. Large spool for long casting, fantastic quality.
Buy now from £219.99

Top tip: standard or “big pit” reel?
Standard model reels are fine for most regular fishing… until you get into long distances and specialised applications like spodding. “Big pit” reels are a bit larger and more cumbersome, but hold more line and are ideal for throwing a heavy lead or spod for miles on venues like large gravel pits. If your typical venues are small to medium day ticket lakes, whether you’re a beginner or regular angler, standard reels should be fine.

Main lines for carp fishing
The best kit in the world is no good if you use a poor quality fishing line. Indeed, even if you buy the cheapest carp fishing rod and reel going, we’d advise you to spend decent money on your line. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Main lines
Daiwa Sensor Beginner: Daiwa Sensor
Looking for a great value line that will fill up at least three reel spools for under a tenner? This is it. For the money, it’s solid stuff – the 12lb or 15lb options are tough enough for most of your carp fishing needs.
Buy now from £8.99
Maxima Chameleon Regular: Maxima Chameleon
Maxima line has been trusted by anglers for generations, owing to its consistency and quality. It’s not the most ultra fine, but boy is it tough and reliable. A single 200m pack should fill one reel spool.
Buy now from £8.99
Korda Kontour Fluorocarbon Expert: Korda Kontour Fluorocarbon
Experienced carpers are now increasingly experimenting with fluorocarbon main lines. Not only are such lines less visible to fish, they also sink and hug the bottom better. However, they take some getting used to and don’t come cheap, so invest with care.
Buy now from £19.99

Choosing hook links and hooks
Now we’re really getting to the nitty gritty. Like main lines, even if you’re a total beginner, there’s no way on earth you should count pennies here because bad hooks and poor rigs cost fish.

The world of hooks and rig materials is too big and complex for a simple summary here. Experienced anglers will seldom want to fish with anything tied by someone else. However, for beginner and regular anglers, ready tied carp rigs can save time and get you going in no time at all. Take our advice, and keep it simple to start with. There are a hundred and one clever setups, but a basic hair rig will still catch. Here is Fishtec’s top pick:

Hooks and hook links
Korda Ready Tied DF Carp Rigs Timed poor angler: Korda Ready Tied DF Carp Rigs
If you want to save time and hassle, these are straightforward and efficient. An aggressive hook angle makes it  likely your next pick up will result in a reel-screaming bite. You might not have the experience of Danny Fairbrass yet, but this is the next best thing to pinching his favourite all-round rig, just as he ties it.
Buy now from £1.99

Which rod pods and bank sticks?
Now that you’re tooled up with rods, reels, and rigs, you’ll need somewhere to rest your gear, primed for a bite. But where should you start? Do you need a rod pod to go carp fishing, or are bank sticks fine?

The answer to this probably depends on where you fish. Rod pods are rock solid in the wind and ideal on hard surfaces where you can’t insert a bank stick. That said, if you’re able to get single sticks into the ground and point your rods at your rig and bait, this is often preferable to a pod. You can space your rods out a little more this way – and get better bite indication too. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Rod pods
TF Gear Banshee Rod Pod Beginner: TF Gear Banshee Rod Pod
Although this is a sturdy, dependable bit of kit, it’s also one of the cheapest rod pods for carp fishing you’ll find. We’ve sold hundreds of these and they’re a popular best-seller.
Buy now for £29.99
TF Gear Cross Pod Regular: TF Gear Cross Pod
This light, but strong and sturdy pod is a versatile choice that can be adjusted really quickly and easily from a standard pod to two sets of posts. It even comes with a free carry bag worth £14.99.
Buy now from £39.99
JRC Contact Rod Pod Expert: JRC Contact SQR Rod Pod
Rock solid and with adjustable height and frame length, this is a tough but refined pod. With a detachable frame, you can also use this as a “goal post” set up (i.e. without the connecting horizontal pars) for further versatility.
Buy now from £59.99

Prefer bank sticks to a pod? If your local venues have soft banks where you can push in rod rests, you might find them a better option. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Bank sticks
Cygnet Bank Sticks Beginner/Regular: Cygnet 20/20 Banksticks and Buzz Bars
With the small “Sniper” bankstick starting at just over a fiver, this range is durable and high spec, but not too pricey. That said, they will stand up to regular use and abuse too.
Buy now from £5.50
Korda Singlez Bank Sticks Expert: Korda Singlez Bank Sticks and Buzz Bars
For the serious carper, these components are not only stylish, but optimum quality. Stainless steel and super tough, they should last as long as you do!
Buy now from £12.50

How to choose the right bite alarm
Just like rods, reels and hardware, you get what you pay for with bite alarms. An occasional weekend away is very different to night after night of use from rain to frost to baking hot sun. Unsurprisingly, models with tough components tend to cost more. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Bite alarms
Leeda Bite Alarm Beginner: Leeda Rogue Wireless Bite Alarm
Cheap but fully functional, a pair of these will get you off the mark for under £30.
Buy now at £13.99
Nash Siren Regular: Nash Siren S5R
For regular, no nonsense use, these alarms come with good sensitivity and bomb-proof construction.
Buy now at £49.99
Delkim TXI Plus Expert: Delkim TXI Plus
For the best performance of all, these Delkims have awesome features. Using no moving parts, these actually use vibration to indicate bites – and even have an anti-theft alarm!
Buy now at £122.50

Top tip: Bite alarm etiquette and proper use
Why do you need a bite alarm? Well, these devices were originally developed by the great Dick Walker for night fishing, when the angler couldn’t see the bites. They’re also handy on long sessions though, because obviously staring at bobbins for hours isn’t a lot of fun.

They’re not always necessary, so don’t let technology prevent you from trying other methods like float fishing, stalking and using buoyant baits. They can also make an unwanted racket, so do keep the volume down when other anglers are around.

Bed chairs – budget to best
Take it from us, if you intend to night fish regularly, you’re going to need something to sleep on. That old camp bed or inflatable mattress won’t do! Thankfully, bed chairs start at less than £100 these days. Get as comfy as you can afford; your back will thank you! Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Bed chairs
TF Gear 3 leg bed chair Beginner: TF Gear Chill Out 3 Leg Bedchair
This is about as affordable as it gets for a really functional, comfy bedchair. At under 20lbs in weight, it’s not drastically heavy to carry either.
Buy now at £69.99
Trakker wide flat bed Regular: Trakker RLX Wide Flat-6 Bed
Need a bit more space? Anglers who are a bit bigger will appreciate some extra width and comfort. This tough model fits the bill and will keep going for many seasons.
Buy now at £129.99
Nash Indulgence SS Bed Expert: Nash Indulgence SS 5 Season Beds
Featuring top spec materials, sturdy design and an integrated outdoor duvet, this is just about as good as it gets. The only drawback? You might prefer it to your bed at home!
Buy now at £399.99

Carp landing nets – what to look for
Obviously you’re going to need a good-sized net for your fishing. It pays to be generous too, because a big fish might fit in a small net, but the reverse isn’t true! Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Carp landing nets
TF Gear Banshee Landing Net Beginner/Regular: TF Gear Banshee Landing Net
A serious sized 42” net, complete with handle, this is a reliable set up for under £30 that would suit beginners or regulars alike. Hard to beat in terms of value.
Buy now at £29.99
DL Specialist Carp Net Expert: DL Specialist Carp Net
With a sturdy 6ft handle, quality build and ample space for the biggest carp, Dave Lane’s own brand net is a great option for the experienced carper.
Buy now at £49.99

How to choose an unhooking mat
With virtually every carp fishery in the UK insisting on a decent unhooking mat, you need one of these before you start fishing. A good one will last years, protecting every fish you catch from danger. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Unhooking mats
TF Gear Unhooking Mat Beginner: TF Gear Unhooking Mat
Need a good-sized, well padded option that won’t break the bank? This is one of the best carp unhooking mats for under £20 you could hope for.
Buy now at £16.99
Leeda Rogue Carp Unhooking Mat Regular: Leeda Rogue Carp Unhooking Cradle
With padded sides, this safely cradles a large fish while you unhook it. Also a good idea for those with bad backs who may not like stooping right to the ground to handle fish. And it’s good for photography – kneel behind the cradle and support the fish just inches from a safe landing.
Buy now at £39.99
TF Gear Hardcore Universal Barrow Mat Expert: TF Gear Hardcore Universal Barrow Mat
Designed by Dave Lane, this option is not only the ultimate in carp safety, but doubles up as a handy way to store and carry some of your kit to and from the bank.
Buy now at £79.99

Carp fishing bivvies
If you’re a day session angler, a brolly might be enough to shelter you from the elements. But for most carpers, night fishing is a must and you’ll need a decent home from home to tackle cool conditions and the elements. Here are Fishtec’s top picks:

Bivvies
TF Gear Scout 2 Man Bivvy Beginner: TF Gear Scout 2 Man Bivvy
This spacious set up is as practical as it gets on a budget. A carp bivvy for under £100, that will see you through several seasons of use.
Buy now at £99.99
Trakker Cayman Bivvy Regular: Trakker Cayman Bivvy
For a bivvy at less than £200, Trakker’s Cayman is ideal. A breeze to set up and sturdy enough for the roughest weather.
Buy now at £179.99
Nash Double Top MK 4 Bivvy Expert: Nash Double top Mk 4 Bivvy
This bestseller from Nash is a cracking bivvy for just about anything the British climate throws at you. Among a wealth of high spec materials and features, the extended “hood” of this design makes it easy to go about your fishing and keep an eye on rods in heavy rain.
Buy now at £359.99

Other essential carp gear checklist
Anglers invariably spend the most money on rods, reels and kit that is used to play and land fish. But there are other items that are just as important. From delivering bait, to storing tackle and keeping dry, here are some of the essential items most carpers won’t leave home without:

TOP TIP: Save yourself hassle on your carping trips by getting organised. Why not compose your own list of kit that you need every session? A checklist avoids stress and makes it less likely you’ll turn up without a crucial item!