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.

Top Baiting Methods & Fishing Gadgets to Feed Your Swim

Fishtec_Guide_to_Baiting_Methods_001

Image courtesy of Dom Garnett

There are lots of methods to feed your swim when fishing, but which is the best for your next session? From the good old catapult to the revolutionary new TF Gear Air Bomb, Dom Garnett takes a look at some of the best devices to buy and most innovative ways to bait up.

Being able to feed your chosen fishing spot accurately can make a huge difference to success. Do it right and you’ll stack the odds in your favour. Do it poorly and it’s not just bait you’ll scatter everywhere; the fish might also end up miles from your hook.

At shorter range, or for small helpings of bait, the angler can obviously throw it in or use a swimfeeder or PVA bag. But when it comes to putting a pocket of bait on a gravel bar at 70 yards, or getting free boilies close to snags, what’s the best way to feed? Here are some of the best solutions, complete with the pros and cons of each.

Feeding your swim with a catapult

CATAPULT_FC-KORDAPULT-L

Models such as the Korda Katapult (£14.99), above, are a quick, hassle-free way of baiting up.

Catapults come in various shapes and sizes and are excellent for projecting freebies beyond throwing range. Some are ideal for small baits and accuracy; others have special pouches and thicker elastic to launch a ball of groundbait or cluster of particles quite a long way.

Pros: Catapults are cheap and with a bit of practise you can be very accurate. Perfect for short to mid range.
Cons: At longer range, catapults get less practical. Accuracy goes down and you might fall short or rap your knuckles.

TIP: For maximum catapult precision, try “locking” your arm straight and holding the catapult on its side. Softer pouches can be gently squeezed for tighter bait placing.

Feeding your swim with a throwing stick

Throwing_Stick_TFG-FIRE-

Old school they might be, but the TFG Firestick (£9.99), above, project boilies a heck of a long way with impressive accuracy. Do pick the right model to match your typical boilies sizes.

A favourite old school carp fishing device, the throwing stick turns you from noddy into baiting ninja… well, with a bit of practice. Various models are available and they do a grand job of peppering freebies around your baited rig. And it’s undeniably good fun too.

Pros: The baiting stick allows you to launch boilies further and more accurately than you could ever throw them by hand.
Cons: Limited to boilies and similarly aerodynamically shaped baits. Only introduces baits one at a time, so not ideal for heavier baiting up (you could be there a long time!)

Feeding your swim with a spod

SPOD_FC-SKYRAID-NEWW

Korda’s Skyraider Spod (£7.50) is ideal for heavy baiting at distance.

The spod is a castable bait funnel that’s rigged up to a heavy carp rod (or indeed a dedicated “spod rod”). They have a fair capacity and are popular with carp and specialist anglers who like to introduce a substantial bed of bait. Although not the most subtle way to feed, the spod gets a lot of fish food out there fast.

Pros: Accurate and ideal for long distances and large amounts of bait. Quicker than most other methods when you want to really build up your feed. Works with any kind of bait you can fill it with.
Cons: Tends to require an additional, heavier rod. Creates a lot of disturbance on impact, which could scare off the fish for a while (less of a problem on longer sessions than quick trips).

TIP: Mix up some groundbait and add a little layer on top of each spod full of feed before each cast; this stops your boilies, particles and other bits spraying out on delivery.

Feeding your swim with a spomb

FC-SPOMB-W

Want to bait accurately at range without the hassle of carrying an additional heavy “spod rod”? The spomb (from just £9.99) is just the thing!

The spod’s baby brother, this bait rocket style device is a similar concept but delivers smaller amounts of bait more tidily. It’s just as accurate and makes child’s play of getting a decent bed of bait out there. With a trigger in the nose that makes this special bait capsule split on impact with the surface, they spill less of your free offerings mid-cast and are easier to retrieve than a spod.

Pros: You can usually cast a spomb on your normal rods, without having to pack a special “spod rod”. Easy to use and very accurate. Less disturbance than a spod.
Cons: A limited load capacity means that the spomb isn’t as quick as the spod when it comes to introducing larger amounts of bait.

Feeding with the TF Gear Air Bomb

The Airbomb from TF Gear

TF Gear’s Air Bomb (£13.99), above, looks to be a real game changer this year. The best solution so far for baiting up at distance.

Carp and specimen anglers are already getting excited about the huge potential of this clever new device. It is cast on a rod and line, much like a spod or spomb, but could well eclipse both. With a rocket-shaped profile, the Air Bomb will reach huge distances. But here’s the interesting part: these gadgets actually open in mid-air when the angler brakes the cast. The result? A lovely spread of bait without as much fish scaring commotion.

It works by stopping short of the mark to “fire” the bait forward, so there is also little risk of losing the Air Bomb. And while your bait will be sprayed a little wider than say a bait boat or PVA bag, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. This is especially true on busy waters where carp grow wary of finding conspicuously neat helpings of food every weekend.

Pros: Easy to use and casts miles. Big payload like a spod, but creates much less disturbance. Better for getting bait into and under cover of trees and bushes, as the angler stops the device short to “shotgun” the bait into position. Little risk of losing it. Brilliant for surface baits, such as chum mixers and bread.
Cons: Not quite as tight baiting as a spomb or baitboat.

The best way to see what all the fuss is about is to read our recent blog post or watch the YouTube video here.

Feeding your swim with a bait boat

FC-PROCAT (1)

For distant or awkward swims, it doesn’t get much more precise than a bait boat, such as the Angling Technics ProCat Mk3 (£475.00), above.

Love or hate them, the bait boat is about as accurate as feeding gets without actually swimming out there yourself and delivering the bait on a tray! Critics may scoff, but anglers use them to introduce bait and position their rigs in the trickiest of swims.

Pros: Incredible accuracy, with the ability to put your rig right in the middle of the feed too. Excellent for awkward and distant spots.
Cons: The most expensive baiting aid on our list by some distance. Banned on some waters.

Further reading…

Need further advice on how to bait for success on your next fishing trip? It’s well worth keeping an eye on the Fishtec blog for expert tips and advice every month, as well as our archives. Previous posts have included our guide to Cracking Carp Baits, Dave Lane’s Guide to Particle Baits and Top 10 Ways to Feed Your Swim More Effectively.

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!

Introducing the TF Gear Airbomb – The Future of Baiting!

We are excited to announce a brand new product from TF Gear! It’s called the Airbomb and it’s a mid-air bait distribution product that we feel is going to be a game changer.


How does it work?

Unlike a Spomb or the Fox equivalent, Total Fishing Gear’s Airbomb does not open upon impacting the water. Instead it opens in mid air, spraying the bait out in a wider pattern that is perfect for creating a nice bed of bait. It works by hitting the reel clip on the cast. This triggers a pin that opens Airbomb. The force of the cast disperses the bait in a forward arc, several yards beyond the cast. Should you not hit the clip (or choose not to) the Airbomb will land in the water and remain shut. You can trigger it to open anytime you wish by yanking your rod tip sharply.

The Airbomb from TF Gear

The Airbomb from TF Gear.


What are the advantages over other baiting products
?

There are multiple advantages, but the main one would be you can create a uniform spread of bait that you can build up quickly. Carp find this extremely attractive, and importantly will feed confidently. Other baiting rockets and baitboats cannot spread the bait as widely when they release their payloads, making the Airbomb unique.

Airbomb creates a unique spread of bait

Airbomb creates a unique spread of bait.

What can it do?

Quite a lot. And there are probably a lot more things that haven’t been thought of yet!

  • Airbomb releases payload in mid-air, creating a shotgun effect bait spread
  • Stealthy no spook baiting operation – Airbomb falls well away from baited area
  • Aerodynamic design maximises casting range
  • Total accuracy every cast
  • Massive load capacity
  • Easy and quick to fill
  • Create vast beds of bait with speed and efficiently
  • Precision bait by drawing over weed gaps and localised feeding spots then jerking rod tip to open
  • No spillage or wasted bait
  • Suitable for all carp fishing baits including boilies, particles and floaters
  • Buoyant and effortless to retrieve
  • Heavy-duty and robust construction – will withstand extreme casting
  • Spreads bait forward in a scattered pattern well beyond the reach of your cast
  • Bait up far margins, snags or islands with no risk of losing Airbomb
  • Confuses nuisance birds and bait eating pests
  • Perfect for floater fishing – release floating baits with no risk of spooking carp

Check out the official video:

When can I buy one?

Airbombs are available to pre-order now, although physical stock will not be here until late March. You will be able to order here. Please note, the first batch is a limited stock delivery, so demand will be extremely high. Therefore we cannot guarantee your back order will be fulfilled from the first stock delivery.

Airbomb can be used with any carp fishing bait

Airbomb can be used with any carp fishing bait.

Women who cast

More and more women are getting into angling, which is great news for the sport. And as they do, ladies are beginning to make an impact in the professional and commercial sides of the sport too. Here’s a run-down of just some of the female angling stars from across the internet.

Marina Gibson

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Marina caught the fishing bug from her mum.

“The fin was a riot of greens, pink-reds and yellows, with distinct lines stretching to a metallic finish on the flanks.” Can you guess what fish Marina Gibson caught when she headed for the headwaters of the Orvis Kimbridge beat during the offseason? Her first Grayling of course. Read all about her experience as she targets the “Lady of the Stream”.

A lady herself, Marina is woman on a mission to change the image of angling and, having given up her career in the City to move to Yorkshire, she now fishes, blogs and guides – ever accompanied by her Romanian rescue dog, Sedge.

To follow Marina, check out her website or Facebook page.

Anne Woodcock

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Fancy a spot of angling ladies? Anne will help you get started.

“I thought my line had got stuck! It was the start of 10 minutes of salmon heaven” writes salmon angler, blogger, business woman and guide, Anne Woodcock, of her fishing adventures on the Dee. If you’re a lady who’d love nothing better than to catch her own tasty salmon, then Anne will help you achieve your goal. The driving force behind Ladiesfishing, she runs not-for-profit fishing days for ladies in both England and Scotland.

A strong voice in women’s angling, Anne is marketing director of Fishpal, the award winning online fishing leads service, and she also contributes to community radio station CVFM’s angling programme, “Gone Fishing”.

To follow Anne, check out her website or Facebook page.

Beverley Clifford

bevclifford

Here’s one I caught earlier.

Determined to do something about the lack of angling instruction events solely for women, angler Bev Clifford set up the Ladies Carp Academy which runs at Pool Bridge Farm Fishery near York. It’s a great opportunity for women to “meet and learn from one another in a social, fun and relaxed environment”, says Bev.

The daughter of a specimen angler, it’s no surprise that Bev grew up to become one of the UK’s top female anglers. She says she “grew up in a house with fishing magazines, books, pictures, stuffed fish everywhere”. A truly inspirational lady, she’s also a team angler for DNA Baits, a member of the England Ladies carp team and works in advertising and marketing for angling magazine, Carp Talk.

To follow Bev, check out her website, instagram or Facebook page.

Bex Nelson

Bex-Nelson

All I want for Christmas is…

Another female angler on the up, Bex Nelson was introduced to angling several years ago by her boyfriend. She says “I’ve really grown with skill and knowledge in the last year or so. I’ve fished for all manner of species but the carp bug has taken hold.” Her best catch so far, 29lb George – an “old warrior”, as Bex puts it, she was hoping to break the 30lb barrier before the end of 2017 – better hurry Bex! Check out her Facebook page to find out if she managed to beat that PB.

To follow Bex, check out her instagram or Facebook page.

Katie Griffiths

Katie-Griffiths

Katie loves her carp.

A designer at Total Carp Magazine, Katie Griffiths has also achieved the honour of gracing the magazine’s coveted front page spot. Pictured with title boss, Dan, she shows exactly what she thinks of his catch! She says: “You know you love carp fishing when you see someone catch their target.”

When she’s not working at the magazine, Katie loves nothing better than to wet a line – something she’s been doing quite a lot since she was first introduced to the sport two years ago. Check out some of the photos on her instagram account and you’ll see that her hobby has grown to become a passion – she says angling always “makes me smile”.

To follow Katie, check out the Total Carp Magazine blog or her instagram account.

Lucy Bowden

Lucy-Bowden

Why not let Lucy help you realise your dream of learning to fly fish?

Always dreamed of learning the art of fly fishing? What are you waiting for? Whatever your age, race, gender or ability, Lucy Bowden will teach you to fish. Dedicated to encouraging girls and women in particular into the sport, since she set up Fishing for Everyone in 2005, Level 2 UKCC Game Angling Coach Lucy has inspired many women to give the sport a try.

From “learning how to set up your fishing tackle, performing basic casts, retrieval techniques, to hooking, playing and safely landing fish,” Lucy aims to help everyone acquire the skills and confidence they need to get the most from fishing.

To follow Lucy, check out her website or Facebook page.

Casting for recovery

Ladies kicking in wellies

Casting for Recovery offers fly fishing retreats for women who’re suffering, or have suffered from breast cancer.

“It was the first time since my diagnosis that I had time to myself to realise the impact of my illness on me, and also to be greatly inspired by everyone there who has survived and recovered.” This is just one of the comments from women who’ve experienced the joy of learning to cast at Casting for Recovery, the charity that teaches fly fishing to women with breast cancer.

If you’d like to find out more about Casting for Recovery’s all-expenses-paid fly fishing retreats, or if you’d like to lend a hand helping to raise funds, just get in touch using the online contact form. The full list of retreats for 2018 can be found here.

To follow Casting For Recovery, check out their website or Facebook page.

Do you know a female angling fanatic who you’d like us to tell the world about? To let us know, just drop us a line on our Facebook page.

Winter – Carping Thoughts by Dave Lane

Out with the old and in with the new, Auld Lang syne, New Year’s resolutions or hangovers.

However you choose to greet the new year it is generally accepted that it is a time of reflection and a time of planning, of looking ahead and considering how you might make the coming year better than the one you are leaving behind covered in streamers and half-drunk glasses of punch.

In carp angling it is probably less of a turning point than it is in normal life, that accolade is reserved for April the first, or June the sixteenth in some cases but still; it doesn’t hurt to be prepared now does it.

A winter pearler

A winter pearler

So, assuming you have your new rods, or sleeping bag, bivvy, FishSpy, toasted sandwich maker or whatever it was that Santa shoved down your chimney, you will definitely be gagging to get out there and give it go but where to, that is the question.

If it’s a quick bend of the new rods in winter you need, and you haven’t been for a little while, then staying realistic is the best option.

There is nothing quite as soul destroying in the cold weather as a blank trip on a lake where you soon realise you have no chance whatsoever; much better to lower your sights and have a quick day on a productive day-ticket lake.

Even if it’s just a small double or two in the bottom of the net at least you are back out there fishing and shaking off the winter blues and the excess mince pies.

If, like me, you are a winter stalwart and keep on angling regardless of the time of year then you probably have your venue already chosen and underway, hopefully you have chosen well and taken into account it’s previous winter form, stock levels, size and age of the fish and the realistic chance of actually catching some of them before April.

I have wasted so many months of my life, a scary amount, chasing smoke and mirrors around venues that were never, ever, going to do a winter bite. Lakes that had zero winter form, had never even seen a fish jump during the colder months let alone produced a bite. The reason for this madness was always the same, the fish were huge and the rewards if I did catch one would be beyond belief.

Nowadays I tend to be a little more rooted in my daydreams and I add a touch of reality to the mix, choosing venues that have some fantastic fish but also those that hold enough back up carp to make a bite a distinct possibility and not just a pipe-dream.

The last couple of winters I joined the Quarry syndicate in Essex. This is sort of a halfway house if you like, it’s not easy by any standards but there are enough fish to make it viable, which is good enough for me.

The first year I landed my biggest ever January carp in the form of ‘shoulders’ a huge mirror of forty-four pounds and I had a couple of other good hits with a few blanks in-between but the good times made up for the bad.

This year I am a bit more undecided on a particular venue, so I have chosen to dot about a bit instead, mainly social sessions with mates on various waters across the country.

Next week, for example, I have two nights booked on Yateley Pads Lake with Mr F, I am really looking forward to that one and hopefully a big old January carp in the net.

A winter social and fish on the bank

A winter social and fish on the bank

In years gone by I have targeted lakes such as Lynch Hill, Hunts Corner, Linear’s Manor Farm and Monks Pit, all venues that I probably wouldn’t dream of fishing in the summer or autumn but all holding enough carp to make them decent winter waters, once the bulk of the anglers drop off.

I personally think that January and March are the hardest months of the entire fishing calendar, with December coming a close runner-up. Any carp caught during these months has got to be worth it’s body weight in gold and even a little gold is better than none at all.

A perfect winter fish

Any carp caught during these months has got to be worth it’s body weight in gold

A bonus like Shoulders is great, it’s a winter fish of a lifetime but it’s the others that made the entire winter enjoyable, and every other successful one before that as well.

Mates can make all the difference to a bit of winter fishing and make the whole episode far more bearable and, sometimes, that is just what you need to get you through.

In the Spring and Summer, I would rather not see another angler; nothing personal but I love fishing on my own but during the winter that all changes.

It’s also a good time to plan ahead a little further, to look into more detail what is available for the spring and summer because it will be here before you know it and lakes are not as easily accessible as they once were.

Hanging up the rods in the garage for winter, and falling out of touch with all things carpy, will make you rusty and slower to get going once the better weather does arrive and, of course, you are never going to land a winter carp if you aren’t actually on the bank trying to.

Like I said above, it doesn’t even need to be a full session, not even an over-nighter really, if you pick the right venues you can travel light, pack a flask and some sandwiches and just do a few hours to keep your hand in.

Don’t be afraid of January by Dave Lane

Well its mid-January and the weather is as expected, cold, damp and generally miserable but that is no reason to be the same yourself.

Most of the lakes are deserted, as they usually are at this time of year and even the hardiest of anglers are looking for excuses not to venture out, but the fish are still there and on the right venues so are the chances for a bite or two.

A winter social and fish on the bank

A winter social and fish on the bank

I think the main reason people stop fishing around now is the cold; nobody likes to get cold and I am no exception but there is really no need to if you look at the portable comforts available to us nowadays, especially when compared to yesteryear.

Yes, you may have to trudge the barrow through a bit of mud and the odd puddle or two to reach the swim but, once there, you can be almost as comfortable as you can at home, but with a much better chance of catching of course.

Bivvies have come on in leaps and bounds with thermally insulated twin skins or overwraps and even an inflatable version like the TF Gear Airflo that I have been testing out; a complete house that goes up in under a minute with built a in groundsheet and a rigidity that will withstand anything even the harshest conditions can throw our way. They now do an overwrap for this one, providing even more winter protection.

Bedchairs are so comfortable now that I honestly think my Flat Out is better than the bed I have at home, with a sumptuous thick memory foam mattress and topped with a fleece lined winter sleeping bag that keeps me warm regardless of the temperature outside.

Obviously though, outside is where we want to be a lot of the time, particularly if it involves netting a carp or two but, even then, a decent set of thermals under a proper waterproof outer layer and boots and there is no excuse for getting frozen to the bone.

I understand that the fishing is harder at this time of the year but, most of the time, you only have the carp to compete with and not the usual hoard of other anglers and anything you are lucky enough to catch will be in tip-top condition worth its weight in gold.

Darkness is another factor in the winter as there just seems to be so much of it, but I am a firm believer in having a decent bivvy light and maybe even an I-Pad or Kindle or something to offer a few home comforts during those long winter nights. Laying tucked up in a comfy bag and watching a film on the pad is not exactly a hardship now is it, as long as you are prepared to leap into action should the alarm belt out your favourite tune.

I had a couple of nights on the bank earlier this week with my old mate Marc Coulson and although we didn’t actually catch anything we still had a great time and ate like kings. I created a whole Tandoori chicken on my new Cobb cooker the first night and followed it up on the second night with sirloin steaks and a vegetable stir-fry, hardly what you would call slumming it.

A winter feast of Tandoori Chicken

A winter feast of Tandoori Chicken

I quite often take the barbeque along with me in the winter as well, not only is it something to keep you occupied for longer than just a pot-noodle but fire of any sort is always a natural draw and warms you up nicely in the evening.

As long as you pick a decent venue that has a very realistic chance of a winter bite and banks that aren’t submerged in the mire then there is no reason to shy away from winter angling. You won’t need a ton of bait either, in fact I usually catch more on single bright pop-up’s than anything else with the odd fish on a zig during the day if I am lucky.

I’ll be out there myself again in a few days’ time and probably the week after that as well, it sure beats sitting at home every day staring at Facebook, the telly or dreaming my life away waiting for spring.

A Beginner’s Guide to Fish Care

Releasing your quarry unharmed is one of the most important things any angler can learn. Dominic Garnett shares essential tips to help you safely catch and release your fish so that they’re ready to do battle another day!

Fish_Care_ - 2

If a fish has fought hard, you may need to support it in the water until it gets its breath back
Image source: Dom Garnett

While it’s great to learn all about rigs, methods and tactics for big fish, one of the most important aspects of modern angling is one of the least written about. Handling and releasing your catch safely should be one of the first things an angler learns; sadly it’s not always the case.

Why do we release fish in the first place? It’s simple. To preserve our sport. If we took our catch home every time we went fishing, we would soon run out. That’s the reality of living on a small island country with lots of anglers and only so many fish to catch! A fish that is dead cannot give another angler pleasure. It cannot grow bigger or, crucially, breed and produce more fish. Furthermore, there is a deep satisfaction in returning a fish safely, knowing it will live to fight not just another day, but possibly many years.

Preparation and essential equipment

FC-ROGUE-CRAD

Featured product: the new Leeda Rogue Carp Unhooking Cradle from Fishtec is just £39.99

Besides the right gear, good fish care is all about anticipation and being prepared. Do you know where your forceps or scales are at a moment’s notice? Is your tackle strong enough, and have you earmarked a safe place to land a fish in advance?

Having the right gear is another must. Two of the most commonly neglected pieces of equipment are the correct unhooking tools (a pair of pliers is no good) and the right landing net (a generous sized net of soft mesh). A large, quality landing net also doubles as a good investment for retaining fish in the water for short periods. Last but not least, nobody fishing for carp, pike or other larger species should be without an unhooking mat or cradle – and many clubs and fisheries won’t let you fish without one.

Many anglers also debarb hooks or use barbless patterns these days too. In 90% of situations, barbless is best. The possible exception is with large fish, the argument being that a barbless can move around and cut more during a long fight. In this situation, I believe a “bumped” hook is best (i.e. one where the profile of the barb has been reduced by pliers, but there is still a slight “bump”). This stops the hook moving around during the fight, but can still be removed without any tearing.

12 golden rules of fish care

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The right way to pose for a quick picture; low to the ground and with a mat underneath
Image source: Dom Garnett

When it comes to safely handling and releasing fish, there are a few golden rules. Advance knowledge and preparation are key here; the time to wonder about best practice is not when a fish is kicking on the bank! Here are some of the universal rules of responsible catch and release angling:

Always handle fish with wet hands: This avoids removing their protective slime. NEVER use a towel. You will notice fish behave much better if you have wet hands (think about it – they have come from somewhere cold and wet, while your paws are dry and warm!)

Always have the right tools: You should never fish without the means to extract a hook. For small fish, a disgorger is the answer and for larger species, forceps are better. If you fish for pike, these should be a minimum of 12” long. Buy quality and always pack a spare set (they are easy to lose on the bank and lots of companies make the damned things green or dull coloured!)

Use sensible tackle: A totally knackered fish is a fish in danger. Try not to play your quarry to exhaustion, but be as quick as reasonably possible. Large fish like carp, pike and barbel need strong gear. If the fish has fought like fury, you could give it a few seconds to rest in the water before you handle it.

Handle fish carefully and as little as possible: The less faff the better here. The more handling, the more slime you remove and the more risk.

Be prepared: Have your unhooking equipment, camera and other essentials ready and close to hand at all times.

Keep time out of water to a minimum: If you want to weigh a fish or take a picture, you can always keep it immersed using your landing net (or perhaps in a carp sack briefly) while you set up the shot and zero your scales. Avoid keeping your catch out of water for more than is absolutely necessary.

Use the right net: Landing nets are often essential for all but the smallest fish. Avoid small nets and harsh mesh materials (modern rubberized mesh is excellent). A large net can also be used to briefly retain your catch in the water to let it recover or give it a breather if you want to take a picture.

Never stand up or walk around while holding a big fish: A fish dropped from standing height is often a dead one; it may swim off, but you will have damaged its internal organs. Instead, kneel with it over the mat or the water for safety. And use your net to carry fish back to the water, lowering gently back.

Handle with care (cradle, don’t clench): A fish is a living thing, not a bragging item. Hold it as you would a little baby, not some macho trophy. If it’s really heavy, supporting closer to your body is safer than thrusting out to the camera. Try to “cradle” a large fish, and avoid clenching or squeezing around the throat area because this is where many of the vital organs are.

Weigh safely and keep your catch wet: The easiest way to weigh a fish is in the net, and then deduct the weight of your net later. Make sure the fish is lying “flush” (i.e. evenly in the bottom of the net with no fins trapped) before lifting the scales. Specimen hunters often prefer a sling. If you use one of these, make sure it’s well doused with water.

Lower, don’t drop: Although non-anglers will ask if you’re going to “throw” it back, this is not something a caring angler would ever do. Every fish should be lowered back into the water if humanly possible. If the spot is awkward and this is impossible, use your net to lower the fish back safely.

Support if necessary: Sometimes fish will swim off strongly right away. Other times they may be tired and need some help. If a fish has battled hard, never just let go of it right away. Hold it upright in the water for a few seconds to let it recover (this could be a few minutes for some fish).

First aid for fish

Last but not least, some anglers go even further with fish care, especially for carp, by applying a little first aid. Products such as Klinik can disinfect any nicks from hooks or scale damage, assisting recovery. Gel-based products are the most effective, as they stick to the target.

Another tip for those who need to retain a net of small to medium fish for photography is to use a little clove oil mixed with water and douse the fish; it is a natural anesthetic and calms them down. In fact, Environment Agency staff have been known to use it in fish surveys to de-stress fish.

Pike and other special cases…

Fish_Care_ -08

The right way to do it: cradle and support your catch , avoid dry hands or clenching at the throat.
Image source: Dom Garnett

Another important point to make in our guide is that not all fish are created as tough as each other. Carp, the most cared for of the lot, are tough as old boots (obviously this is still no reason not to treat them with total respect!)

Grayling, trout and others can be very brittle though, and need extra care. Pike are perhaps the most misunderstood and fragile fish of all, in spite of their fierce appearances. For a thorough guide to pike unhooking and handling, it’s well worth checking out the Pike Angler’s Club’s code of safe practice.

What about sea fish and stocked trout?

While coarse anglers are very much at the forefront of catch and release, a lot of sea and game anglers are now just as passionate about fish welfare. Indeed, if you’re not going to eat it, why on earth wouldn’t you want it to go back unharmed?

Most coarse fish, and indeed many wild game fish, are protected by law these days and removing them is a criminal offence. However, with some stocked trout, as well as sea fish above a set of minimum size limits, you may choose (or be obliged) to take the fish.

We would strongly advise returning slow-growing and precious fish such as salmon and bass, even if you may legally take them. But if you must kill, do it quickly and humanely – a “priest” is the tool to do it, with a short sharp blow to the skull on the top of the head.

How else can we make sure fish go back safely?

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We all have a responsibility to protect our fish stock
Image source: Dom Garnett

Feelings can run quite high when it comes to catch and release practice these days. Facebook pictures of fish handled with towels or without an unhooking mat in sight quickly attract a barrage of critical and angry comments.

While we all want to see responsible fishing, there should be no place for abuse. We can learn from each other and often those targeted by angry comments on social media are just inexperienced, rather than deliberately cruel. Don’t immediately castigate those who show poor practice – the last way to make anyone listen and learn is to start a fight with them. Be helpful and friendly, and remember you were once inexperienced too.

There are of course other cases where anglers know the rules but are still negligent or even criminal – and we can and should help to protect our waters. On the vast majority of coarse fisheries, taking fish is illegal and you should report any poachers or law-breakers to the Environment Agency hotline. The number is 0800 80 70 60 – have it stored on your phone!

We all have a part to play in protecting the sport. It might seem ironic, but the folks who want to stick a hook in fish are usually also their greatest protectors. We will inevitably cause fish some brief stress, but with modern barbless hooks and careful handling, virtually every fish we catch will swim off happily and continue to thrive. I should know. There are several times when I’ve re-captured the same fish years later, bigger and in rude health. What a great feeling!

Read more from our blogger…
A weekly Angling Times columnist, Dom Garnett is also a South West fishing guide and author of several books, including the Amazon Bestseller Flyfishing for Coarse Fish, Canal Fishing and his recent book of angling tales Crooked Lines. Read more at www.dgfishing.co.uk

Top 10 Carp Fishing Christmas Gifts for 2017

Stuck on what to buy a carp fanatic for Christmas? Read on - we've got you covered.

Stuck on what to buy a carp fanatic for Christmas? Read on – we’ve got you covered.

As the festive season approaches, carp fanatics all over the country will be hoping their families forgo the socks and chocs for angling Christmas presents.

Here are ten items to add to your wish list this year, from bargains at well under £50 to top of the range tackle, clothing and accessories. Start dropping hints early…

FishSpy Camera

Fishtec Fishspy Camera

BUY: FishSpy Camera from Fishtec – £129.95

Once upon a time, castable underwater cameras were the stuff of science fiction, or hideously expensive. Not any longer! Get a different view of your swim with this brilliant FishSpy Camera. As well as being fun to use, it’s a great way to find features, check your rig or even watch the fish close in on your feed! There’s some sample footage here if you want to see more.

Korda Mini Rigsafe Combi

All those bits and pieces of rig that carp anglers love to carry have a nasty habit of getting lost on the bank. This tidy rig board plus accessory box comes in handy to store all your crucial components in a small space. An excellent product to keep everything safe and organised!

Prologic Bite Alarms

Fishtec-Bite-Alarm

BUY: Prologic Bite Alarms from Fishtec – £99.99 (Now £69.99)

While the typical bite alarm has fallen steeply in price over the last few years, it still pays to invest a little more and buy quality. Three super-reliable alarms plus a receiver is great value at less than £100 with this Prologic set. Great performance for the budget-conscious carper.

TF Gear Banshee Carp Rods

Fishtec-carp-rod

BUY: TF Gear Banshee Carp Rods – from £59.99 TWO FOR ONE!

For beginners to carp fishing, or perhaps for a keen angler who wants to add a marker or spod rod to their set up, you won’t find better value than the TF Gear Banshee. Correct! You get twice the rod for your cash. Hundreds of happy customers will tell you the Banshee is a great carp fishing rod, even without the 2-for-1 deal. Check out the options here.

TF Gear Airflo Bivvy

Is your bivvy looking tired or falling to bits? The cooler months are no time to be without a reliable shelter on the bank. This TF Gear Airflo Bivvy performs effortlessly well, with amazingly easy “air poles” for rapid set up, and rigid, dependable performance in the worst of weather.

Ridgemonkey Compact Frying Pan

Here’s a clever idea from Ridgemonkey. It’s a shallow “breakfast” pan in four sections that changes to a deeper pan with a single flip. It’s also durable and super portable. Whether you’re knocking up a breakfast fry up or a curry on a cold night, this space saver is just the job. Click here to order.

HD Waterproof Action Sports Camera

For those who fancy some underwater filming without breaking the bank, this little waterproof sports camera has specifications well above its price tag. It has various settings from 1080 pixel / 25 frames per second film, to stills and time lapse options. Add fittings such as a head mount and selfie set and you have a very versatile camera in the style of the classic GoPro, all for well under £50!

Trakker Waterproof Thermal Core Multi-Suit

For anglers who brave the worst conditions, a warm, comfortable all-weather suit is a must-have rather than a luxury. With features such as reinforced knees and seams, along with fleece-lined pockets, this Trakker Multi-Suit will keep you toasty even when the elements are fierce. A great gift for any fishing fanatic prone to catching colds or staying out too long in the wet!

Jag Hook Sharpening Kit

Carp anglers often get fussy about the sharpness of their hooks, and for good reason. The chances of a hooked fish are greatly increased by having a “sticky-sharp” point as opposed to a less than keen edge. This special Jag Hook kit has all you need to hone rigs to optimum efficiency in one tidy pouch, bringing even tired hook points back to their best.

Shimano Tribal Compact Carryall

With most carp anglers carrying a fair bit of kit for longer sessions, a tidy way of keeping it all in good order is a must. Designed to hold various accessory cases perfectly, this Shimano Tribal Compact Carryall is built to last. Packed with well-thought out features it has an extra long pocket for rig storage and space up-top for your buzzer bars.

But if you still can’t quite decide…

Last but not least, if you can’t choose between these carping Christmas present ideas, why not buy some Fishtec vouchers? Available in multiples of £10, they allow anglers to choose their own treat. Available in paper or digital versions.

Whatever gifts you choose this year, we wish all you tight lines and a very Carpy Christmas!

River Pollution: How Anglers Can Help

There are lots of ways anglers can help, including reporting anything suspicious Image source: Steffan Jones

There are lots of ways anglers can help, including reporting anything suspicious
Image source: Steffan Jones

All anglers understand instinctively that good water quality underpins every aspect of our rivers’ health. That’s why, a couple of weeks ago, renowned international competition fly-fisher (and regular Fishtec customer) Terry Bromwell took matters into his own hands…

He’d heard reports that a sewage works in south Wales was pumping out slugs of raw sewage into the River Rhondda, and he wanted to investigate these rumours for himself.

Arriving at the waterside, he was disgusted to see the river below the treatment works running milky white with toilet paper and other sanitary products. Lack of recent rain meant that the river’s natural level was low, and he filmed the effluent pumping forcefully out of the treatment works for many minutes before the flow finally abated.

According to his sources, this was happening several times every day, with thousands of gallons pouring into the unfortunate little river each time.

At the time of writing, the official response to Terry’s viral video is still uncertain, but watching something like this is horrifying even if you haven’t spent much of your angling life in the shadow of a notorious sewage treatment works (like I have).

UPDATE: Welsh Water finally took notice of Terry’s video and investigated the pollution. They are now working to fix the issue.

Back to the bad old days?

The River Usk

A tributary of The River Usk was badly affected by pollution in 2016.
Image source: Shutterstock

Of course, this begs the question: after years of improvement thanks to privatisation of the water industry and European water quality directives, is the water quality in our rivers actually getting worse again?

Frustratingly, the answer to that question rather depends who you ask, how ‘worse’ is measured, and even which set of statistics you’re looking at. For instance, the recent drop from 29 per cent of England’s rivers enjoying good health in 2014, to just 17 per cent in 2015, and 14 per cent in 2016, can be explained by a new, tighter ‘one out, all out’ measurement regime.

But if you measure water quality in dead fish and bugs, then yes, it seems clear that many rivers are suffering. And it’s also clear that Terry’s home country of Wales has been hit by more than its fair share of aquatic catastrophes in recent months:

  • In March 2016, a pollution incident on the Llynfi Dulas (a tributary of the Usk) killed at least 2,000 fish over 5km of river.
  • In December 2016, a slurry leak near Tregaron led to the deaths of 1,000 fish on the upper Teifi.
  • A few weeks later, another slurry spill was reported from a tributary of the Towy near Carmarthen.
  • In June 2017 it was the Teifi’s turn again, when a slug of liquid waste escaped from an anaerobic digester at Lampeter.

A nationwide problem

The River Eden

The River Eden is a Special Site of Scientific Interest
Image source: ATGImages

Yet this uplift in agricultural pollution isn’t just a Welsh problem: Wye & Usk Foundation Director Simon Evans has told me that he’s deeply worried by high-nutrient runoff from free-range chicken farms in the Lugg and Arrow catchments.

Meanwhile, having been sounding the alarm about intensive dairy units in the Eden valley for years, England fly-fishing team coach Jeremy Lucas recently captured unmistakeable photo evidence of a slurry trailer dragging away from the River Eden after discharging unknown quantities of waste into the waters of this Special Site of Scientific Interest.

And it wasn’t long ago that environmental campaigner George Monbiot discovered, completely by chance, a constant stream of liquid manure running into the little River Culm in Devon.

To be fair, for every farmer or utility company employee who doesn’t care or can’t afford to implement best-practice pollution management, there are probably a dozen who are passionate about protecting the environment.

But this new report from WWF, which reveals that more than half of the sewage overflow sites in England and Wales are discharging into our rivers at least once a month (and 14% once a week!) gives us a real sense of the scale of the problem.

Time for us to act

Foam pollutants

Foam pollutants swirling across a river
Image source: Shutterstock

Now, at a time when the impacts of the Brexit referendum make wide-ranging deregulation look likely, it’s time for all anglers to follow the example of the watchful fishermen I’ve mentioned above, and become even more vigilant in our role as guardians of our rivers.

We’re out there in all weathers, we know when something’s not quite right, and as Terry has recently shown us, we’ve got all the power of social media right here at our fingertips if the proper authorities don’t seem to be taking problems seriously enough.

Recent evidence suggests that the courts are now prepared to fine offenders much more heavily – for example, Thames Water was recently handed a record £20 million penalty for repeatedly polluting the Thames.

Better still, recent changes mean that compensation money can now be channelled into repairing environmental damage, via enforcement undertakings, instead of sending it straight to the coffers of the Treasury. And even when long court cases aren’t successful, public pressure can force polluters to invest in improvements like Welsh Water’s new sewage treatment improvements at Llyn Padarn.

How can we help?

Sewage works polluting river

Effluent from sewage works flowing into a UK river
Image source: Silent Corners

So how can we all get personally involved in spotting – and stopping – pollution problems? Here’s a list of ideas I’ve been developing…

Support angling passport schemes

It’s obvious once you know about it, but one of the reasons for setting up these schemes was to incentivise farmers to look after the vital headwaters of many major rivers. If landowners see how much we value these small streams, they’ll look after them better, which benefits everybody in the long term… and of course we can help them to spot potential problems too.

Go fishing in the rain

River restoration professionals always jump at the chance to explore their catchments in the most horrible conditions – taking so-called ‘wet weather walks’ to see where the water really goes when it falls out of the sky, and what it looks like when it reaches the river. With runoff from roads, farmyards, badly-ploughed fields and more, this can sometimes be a real eye-opener.

Follow your nose

If something doesn’t smell right, it’s probably wrong, and you’ll often sniff out pollution before you see it. Another sign of water quality problems is ‘sewage fungus’ – a grey, gelatinous or feathery mass of bacteria which grows in the presence of very high nutrient levels like those provided by slurry or sewage.

Look out for misconnections

On streams and rivers everywhere, many insidious pollution problems are caused by toilets, sinks and washing machines being wrongly plumbed into rainwater pipes instead of foul sewers. If there’s a nasty smell, or if you can see milky discharges, toilet paper or sanitary products in your river, chances are there’s a misconnection somewhere nearby. But on the upside, the local water company should be keen to get it fixed (and it’s illegal for homeowners to refuse).

Get trained as a riverfly monitor

Once a month, a 3-minute kick sample can tell you almost everything you need to know about the health of your local river. Different species of aquatic invertebrates are differently sensitive to pollution, and repeated sampling can locate the source and even provide evidence for a prosecution. Find out more from the Riverfly Partnership website.

Join a local pollution monitoring programme

As well as riverfly monitoring, more and more rivers trusts are setting up networks of local volunteers to spot pollution and help to deal with incidents. Some water companies are recognising the benefits of citizen science too: for example, Thames Water is working in partnership with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) to run ‘outfall safaris’ and identify problem areas for their surface outfall remediation programme. They’ve also launched a rapid response unit which aims to get to the site of any reported pollutions within an hour.

Make that call!

Wherever you live and fish, keep one or both of these pollution hotline numbers in your phone, and don’t think twice about calling if you spot a pollution problem:

England, Scotland and Northern Ireland: 0800 80 70 60

Wales: 0300 065 3000

It’s far better to be safe than sorry, and every report helps to build up a picture of what’s going on. Your vigilance really can make a difference.

And if all else fails… be like Terry, and put the power of social media to work for you too.

About the author

Theo Pike is a freelance environmental, fishing and marketing writer. He’s also Chair of Trustees of the South East Rivers Trust, and founding editor of urbantrout.net, a website and eco-brand dedicated to the urban fly fishing and river restoration movements. His first book, Trout in Dirty Places, was published by Merlin Unwin Books in 2012, and his manual on controlling invasive non-native species, The Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing appeared in 2014.