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

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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

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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…

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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

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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

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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.

Dave Lane On Particles

Although boilies are my main bait of choice I still like to supplement them, at the right time of year, with particles.

Hemp and Tigers are, have always been, and will remain to be, a fantastic combination that carp will readily eat in almost all situations. On waters where I may be fishing for what I class as ‘wild’ fish, fish that have seen little in the way of either, pressure, or bait, then hemp and tigers will play quite heavily in my approach. I find that a tiger nut is instantly acceptable to fish that are more used to feeding on natural food items.

Particles by the bucket load at the right time of year

Particles by the bucket load at the right time of year

I am not quite sure why Tigers are such a good bait as, to us at least, they seem to have very little smell or obvious attraction. I do know that they contain a lot of natural sugar that leeches out in the water and, maybe, this is what the carp find so attractive.

Contrary to popular belief, I also find that other species like Tigers as well, which goes against the thought of process of using them to deter ‘nuisance’ fish. Strangely though, bream seem to like them far more than tench do, on some lakes I have fished I have been plagued by bream on tigers. At Sonning for example, it was impossible to fish with them and even a single tiger hurled out into the wide expanse of the main lake would get snaffled in no time at all by a big old slab.

Roach and chub also seem very partial to the odd ‘Growler’ and my biggest ever roach of 3lb 10oz fell to a single tiger fished on a bolt rig with a four ounce lead, not exactly purist tactics I know, and I don’t actually count it as a personal best because I certainly wasn’t targeting roach on that occasion.

More recently, I have started using hemp throughout the winter, albeit mixed in with a decent amount of boilies. In fact, my best ever winter was the one just past and I used large quantities of hemp, 18mm 15mm and 10mm boilies all mixed into a spod mix, right throughout the coldest months of the year. This was a new tactic for me and a result of constant badgering from my mate, Paul Forward, who has long sung the praises of hemp in the winter. I ended up banking around seventy fish between October and March, including two forties and a whole string of good thirties and, most of these, were caught on Hybrid boilies fished over the hemp and boilie spod mix, so who says you cannot teach an old dog new tricks?

As for clearing spots, yes particles such as hemp or pigeon conditioner can encourage the carp to scour back the bottom, uprooting weed and creating clear areas but, to be honest, so can a decent supply of boilies. Carp will keep revisiting a spot long after the bait has all gone and they are more than happy to scour around for whatever else may be there, particularly if it is an area where they regularly get fed. I do find however, a spot that is ‘too’ clear becomes harder to fish. The carp will still visit a glowing yellow patch of ground but presentation becomes more of an issue and the fish seem to ‘get away with it’ a lot more regularly. I suppose this sort of leads into the last part of the question, how long do I leave a pre-baited area before fishing it.

Obviously, from what I have already said, I do think there is such a thing as ‘too long’ I do not want it to be stripped back to bedrock before I reap the rewards of my hard work. In reality, it’s just never going to get that far though, as I am terribly impatient and I tend to change my mind so often about what areas and which approach is best that I regularly ditch plans as fast as I hatch them.

My most recent fifty plus from a baited spot of particles and the boilies

My most recent fifty plus from a baited spot of particles and the boilies

Pre-baiting is a strange one really, if the fish are feeding on the bait you are introducing then why not jump straight in and catch them. If you are already catching in other parts of the lake, do you think there is enough feeding activity to guarantee they are feeding on your pre-baited area as well and, most importantly, are you catching less because of it?

If you are pre-baiting then you must assume it is getting eaten, if not then why chuck a load more, fresh bait, on top of bait that is still sitting there from the previous day, or week? If the carp are indeed eating all your free grub then the area is already prime for exploiting, or at least that’s the way I look at it.

The perfect scenario for me is to pre-bait a lake that I am not fishing at the time, one that is close enough to either home, or the lake I am fishing, and one that is not really getting fished by others. This would be ideal as I could happily plan the downfall of the fish while busying myself catching carp elsewhere but, even then, I would probably not give it too many applications before I just had to find out if it was working, impatient should be my middle name!

One perfect way to find out what is happening below the surface on your areas, without actually committing to fish them, is by using a FishSpy camera float to regularly check the area, this will give you a real time view of what bait is left and save you valuable time and effort with a rod and line.

I do understand the power of bait, and I also know that boilies will create more of an ongoing situation than particles ever could. I do not think you could ever condition the fish into seeking out a particular bean, seed or pulse in preference to all other foods but, I know, with the correct application you can educate a carp into eating a certain type of boilie far more readily than another, different type. I have done this on lakes in the past and, by careful and prolonged pre-baiting myself and my friends, have completely dominated waters for a considerable amount of time.

So, I think there is a place for both boilie and particle in most fishing situations and it all depends, for me at least, what I am trying to achieve; a long term result, a quick clearing off of a few spots or a big hit on one session when everything is right for it.

If you enjoyed this article, why not check out Dave Lane’s new book? Titled Fine Lines, Dave’s third publication delves deeply into the mysterious, weird and wonderful big carp scene. For more details click here.

Be Different – Dave Lane

I always like to say that, if you do the same as the most successful angler on a lake then, possibly, you will end up catching as much as him, but what if you want to do better?

So, let’s look at some specific examples of how this pan’s out in real life shall we.

Monks Pit, I joined the lake with one fish in mind, a common in the mid forty pound bracket, this would constitute my PB common and first ever UK forty plus common. As with most biggies there was already a set of ‘rules’ in place that dictated where and when you would catch her.

I cannot remember all of them but I know that it was nearly always on the East bank, never in winter and definitely not on a zig.

I eventually landed that magnificent common at forty six pounds on the 7th February, from the West bank and yes, you guessed it, on a zig. I also hooked it from a known distance swim, twenty yards from the bank. So what made me break all the rules surrounding that fish, I was simply fishing where I had seen fish and using the method that I thought was right on the day and the biggun just simply came along.

Wrong bait, wrong spot and wrong time of year

Wrong bait, wrong spot and wrong time of year

I have missed out in the past by adhering to the legends surrounding a certain fish, no lesson was learnt more succinctly than, a few years later, when I was targeting my first UK fifty pound plus common, at Black Swan Lake.

I had a swim on there in which I do not recall ever blanking, it was a long range gap between two islands and I knew the spots like the back of my hand, as such it was one of my favourite swims and I fished it whenever possible.

The big common however, he apparently never got caught anywhere else except for a large bay at the extreme Southern end of the pit. Every capture of this carp had been from there and, although never fifty pounds before, I knew that he would be over that weight during the autumn and winter that year.

I decided, using the information available, to target that one area for the entire winter, starting my campaign in late September.

On my only my second trip in the bay, my long time angling mate Paul Forward decided to set up in the Gap Swim, he was just fishing for fish and that was as good a spot as any; I think you can see where this is headed!

In the evening he invited me round for a barbeque and a couple of beers and later, just as I was leaving to walk back to my swim, he had a bite in the gap. After a short tussle a great big common rolled into his net, first time over fifty pounds, as expected, but not from the bay, from my favourite swim on the lake. I had missed out by fully believing the legend and fishing where others had told me I had the most chance rather than where I most fancied.

So, what of the Burghfield common then, it was accepted that he normally got caught in one of the small bays rather than the open water but, was that because he lived there, fed there, or was fished for the most in there and how does the catch rate equate to rod hours spent waiting?

It was also widely accepted that he did not feed with the other fish, always on his own or with a very small, select band of friends which made him a very tricky target indeed.

Eventually I caught him by doing exactly the opposite. He was the second of a six fish catch from the open, deeper, water and fell to my standard approach of baiting as heavily as the situation seemed to warrant.

I was also catching tench and bream from the same area so I knew that I could use a substantial amount of bait, and it worked.

The Burghfield common, not such a solo feeder after all.

The Burghfield common, not such a solo feeder after all.

That’s the beauty of carp angling; there are no hard and fast rules, only guidelines that we, the anglers, assume to be correct.

You cannot have too much information of course, not when you are tracking a single fish but, as with everything in fishing, there is a time to follow it and a time to follow your gut instinct and only time will tell which one proves to be right.

If you enjoyed this article, why not check out Dave Lane’s new book? Titled Fine Lines, Dave’s third publication delves deeply into the mysterious, weird and wonderful big carp scene. For more details click here.

A Beginner’s Guide to Night Fishing for Carp

night-carping1

You’re unlikely to see the full potential of any carp water until you have night fished it.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Are you ready to tackle carp after dark? The small hours can be the best time of all to trick a wary specimen. We asked Dom Garnett to share some sound advice and practical tips for staying comfortable and catching carp at night.

Establish your pitch

night-carping2

Ready for the night: traps set and everything in position.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Even the most welcoming looking swim can become a dark, mysterious place at night. Get to know your swim by day before you go overnight. Have a cast around and take particular note of any snags. Arrive in good time if you can, so you are completely comfortable in the spot before nightfall.

Bivvies and home comforts

Look after your back with a high quality carp fishing bedchair.
Featured product: TF Gear Dave Lane Hardcore Bedchair from Fishtec

To night fish regularly with any success, you need to get tooled up for nights on the bank. You can night fish under just a brolly in the summer, but if you’re serious, get a decent bivvy (you can get a good one these days from around £100) and your essentials in order. Do your back a favour and get a good quality bed chair too.

Accuracy is key

night-carping4

Solid PVA bags give confidence for a clear presentation.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

If you can, cast out and get your baits exactly where you want them before nightfall. If you’re leaving a rig out for many hours, you want to be absolutely confident you are weed free and presentation is spot on. Solid PVA bags are excellent for a clean delivery every time.

Big baits & simple rigs

If you have your heart set on a big carp, you really don’t want to be disturbed by smaller fish. Bait up with a man-sized, tough bait to avoid the attentions of other species. Tying new rigs or tinkering with your gear is a nightmare at night, even by head torch. Do yourself a favour by sticking to what you know and having a supply of spares ready to go.

Keep warm

night-carping5

Keep warm and comfortable with a decent sleeping bag and thick socks.
Featured product: The Trakker Big Snooze Plus Sleeping Bag from Fishtec

Even in the summer, it can get really cold in the early hours of the night. It is imperative you keep warm! Pack a decent sleeping bag and a thick extra pair of socks. If you are a real softie, or like winter fishing, a hot water bottle is a rare pleasure on a cold night.

Food and drink

night-carping6

A stove is a wise investment to keep you warm and fed.
Featured product: The TF Gear Thermo Lite-Stove from Fishtec

Another great way to keep your body heat levels up is to prepare hot food and drinks. Keep it simple with tins of soup, bacon, bread and tea or coffee. A well-maintained gas stove is a useful piece of kit for day or night.

Winning margins

night-carping7

If you’re quiet, carp like this common will come really close in at night.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Don’t feel like you need to heave your bait out miles after dark. Even on pressured waters, carp come much closer to the bank at night. I’d always have one rod close in.

Line management

How many rods and lines should you put out at night? Don’t always assume more is the best policy. Three can be used (if you have the right license!) on big waters, but for tighter swims and channels, stick with just two. You’ll also want to sink each of your lines out of the way, so backleads are a great idea.

Light sources

night-carping8

A good-quality head torch is invaluable when excitement strikes!
Featured product: The Ridgemonkey Headtorch from Fishtec

Always carry at least two light sources when night fishing. A quality head torch is a must- and I keep mine in the same place always, to be grabbed at a moment’s notice. I also keep a hand torch and small lantern. I wouldn’t be unduly worried about light when making a bite to eat or baiting up, but I do try to keep light disturbance to a minimum.

Ready for landing

night-carping9

A lovely mirror carp, landed in the early hours.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

With a bit of luck, you’ll get that sudden run in the early hours and bank a big fish. But first you must be ready. Have your net within reach and an unhooking mat nicely spread out with tools and scales to hand. Have a camera and self-take set up ready and a means to briefly retain the fish if you must.

Things can be chaotic in the excitement of a big catch, so keep your wits about you and watch where you put things down! Night fishing is all about this sudden excitement though, and the mysterious time when angling dreams really can come true. In fact, it’s probably fair to say you’ll never see the full potential of any carp water until you have night fished it.