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 £78.99)

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 Airflow 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!

Who’s the daddy? Fly-fishing crane flies for end-of-season trout

September is always a poignant time of the fly-fishing year. As the days grow noticeably shorter, the trout are the fattest and healthiest you’ll find them all season, but they often seem to be fixated on the very smallest and most technical food forms – like midges and pale wateries, presented totally drag-free, on gossamer-fine tippets.

Author, fisherman and environmentalist, Theo Pike discusses the exception to this rule and the secret weapon that shouldn’t be too far from your fly-box this September. It’s the daddy-long-legs. Here’s 6 top tips for landing yourself an end-of-season specimen.

crane fly

A crane fly, commonly known as the daddy long legs.
Image source: Shutterstock

Also known as crane flies (Tipulidae), these big insects will have spent the year as leatherjacket grubs, burrowing invisibly in the roots of the grasses and meadow flowers along our river banks. Now, as the air cools a little and turns humid after the long hot summer, they start to emerge and search for mates, to start their mostly-hidden life-cycle all over again.

For reasons best known to expert entomologists, some years are more prolific than others. Yet it’s no exaggeration to say that even in a sparse year, this can be the daddy of all seasonal hatches – at least as significant as the grannom or mayfly for the observant fly-fisher.

With cigar-shaped bodies, rambling legs that stick out in all directions, and wings that don’t seem nearly big enough to keep them airborne, daddy-long-legs look like Heath Robinson contraptions that fly badly, when they fly at all. The slightest puff of wind is usually enough to dump a few of them onto the nearest body of water, where they’ll struggle haplessly in the surface film, attracting attention from fish for yards around.

There’s no delicate sipping when these big mouthfuls are splashing down: trout and chub in particular will hit drowning daddies with real intent, sometimes even leaping out of the water, flattening them with a belly-flop, and circling back again to mop up the doomed insects.

If you think this sounds like some of the least technical fishing of the year, you may be right. But there are still a few useful things to remember if you really want to make the most of the early-autumn daddy-long-legs bonanza…

1 – Beef up your tackle

Daddy-feeding fish don’t tend to be too tippet shy, and the takes can be vicious, so this isn’t the time to take your tippet diameter much below 5lbs. Stiffer monofilament will help you avoid corkscrewed tippet when you’re turning over big, air-resistant flies into a headwind, and you may find a slightly heavier rod helpful, too.

2 – Match the hatch

daddy flies

Daddy long legs flies
Image source: Fishtec

Entomologists say there are around 300 species of crane flies in the UK, and while it’s hardly worth lugging around enough flies to match all of these, there are definitely times when the fish will respond better to one pattern than another. Carry a good selection wherever you’re fishing at this time of year, and stay alert for opportunities to try the nearest possible imitation.

3 – Chop and change

box of daddy long legs lures

A selection box of lures for variety
Featured product: Fulling Mill Daddies at Fishtec

Most of us aren’t lucky enough to be able to fish when the weather is perfect, so having a tactical selection of patterns in your box will let you pick the best option for the conditions you’re facing. For example, a fully-hackled fly flutters lightly over a wave, while choosing a low-riding pattern, with hackles clipped off the underside, will help your imitation sit enticingly low in a flat calm.

4 – Give it a twitch

After ditching in the drink, most daddies will fuss and struggle as though they’re trying to signal for help. Follow their lead by adding a little twitch to your presentation now and again, instead of focusing on a perfect dead drift, or just letting the fly float static. If the fish you’re targeting hasn’t been convinced so far, this may help to seal the deal.

5 – Go trophy hunting

The crane fly fall will often get the biggest fish in the river looking up for the first time since the mayfly hatch, so now’s your opportunity to target the really big beasts. Don’t be afraid to use the heft of these flies (and of course your heavier tippet) to fire them into places you’d normally assume are far too tight. After all, this is where the trophy trout, chub and even carp will be lurking.

6 – Don’t strike too soon

As mentioned above, some predators will deliberately swamp a struggling daddy, then come back and take it confidently under the surface. If you don’t feel the fish, try to ignore the impulse to pick up for another cast – just leave your fly in place. It sounds counterintuitive, but it often works.

large trout

September is the ideal time to land a large trophy trout
Image source: Shutterstock

Like Kieron in this article on how to fish daddy-long-legs, I do tie most of my own flies, but I tend to make an exception for daddy-long-legs and mayflies.

These are two hatches when having a flexible choice of different patterns is more important than having a whole row of clones in your fly-box, and it’s fun to let the designers show their paces with all the latest innovations. Grab yourself a generous handful of daddies from your favourite supplier – Fishtec stocks Fulling Mill, Iain Barr and Caledonia – and get out there to make the most of this end-of-season bonanza!

author profile

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 new Pocket Guide to Balsam Bashing appeared in 2014.

10 Ways To Feed Your Swim More Effectively

The way you introduce bait when fishing can be absolutely key to success. Dom Garnett has 10 top tips and suggestions to boost your catches.

Fishtec_Feeding_Tips

Smart, accurate feeding can make the difference between the odd fish and a full net.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

1. Keep it coming…

All too often, anglers dump a load of bait in, wait, and that’s it. Try feeding less but more often. The sight and smell of bait falling in regularly is attractive to fish. A steady supply gets them competing and entices new fish to come and explore.

Fishtec_feed_little_and_often

If in doubt, feed little and often to draw fish and get them competing.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

2. Catapult happy

Catapults are very useful for pinging feed out, but do get the right one for the job. Try squeezing the pouch to concentrate your free offerings. Accuracy counts!

3. Pick a marker

Talking of accuracy, it’s no use throwing in bait everywhere. Pick a marker on the far bank, such as a tree or platform, to improve your aim.

4. Mix it right

Fishtec_groundbait

Make groundbait into balls.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Groundbait is a superb way to get bait in a concentrated area. Don’t do it slapdash though. Consistent feeding calls for consistent groundbait. Make it evenly and thoroughly so it can be formed into balls. Wetting your hands at the end to make a “skin” on each ball helps keep balls of bait together.

5. Feeders for accuracy

Rather than throw your bait willy nilly, a feeder offers great accuracy at distance and does the regular feeding for you. If you’re fishing a bomb or carp rig, you could always unclip the lead and attach a feeder to give them a few payloads. If the water is deep, you can also try taping up the holes of your feeders to release the bait right on the bottom (as shown below).

Fishtec_feeder

Taping up your feeder will allow bait to get right to the bottom of deep water.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

6. Colours

As a rule, fish have less trouble finding bait in clear water- and can even spook if you go OTT, so try dark groundbaits and simple offerings like bread. If it’s murky and muddy, you can try brighter groundbaits, such as red or orange.

7. Don’t scare them

Occasionally, it’s better not to feed! If you suddenly see fish in your swim, avoid smashing free offerings down on their heads. It’s often better to cast just one bait or add a small handful rather than charging in.

8. Top droppers

If you regularly fish running water, especially deep rivers, a bait dropper is excellent for getting the feed to the fish without being swept all over the shop. That said, if you fish a stillwater full of “bits”, you might use one to get small baits like hemp and maggots straight to the bottom without getting picked off!

9. Spombs away

Fistec_Spomb

A Spomb from Fishtec currently costs just £9.99.

Spods are great for launching loads of bait out quite accurately for carp, but are a bit big and unwieldy for other anglers. A spomb is the answer! These neat devices will cast on a regular barbel rod and are fantastic for fast, neat baiting. Also fun to use, they cost just a tenner from Fishtec.

10. Cheat!

Of course the ultimate way to feed accurately is to bend the rules a little. A pole cup is one excellent way to feed (even if you are not fishing the pole). PVA bags are another great shortcut to tight feeding (just see any carp magazine in the history of time). Heck, use a bait boat if you must!

Fishtec-bream

A large bream on the method. Big catches of this species often depend on feeding accurately and generously to hold the shoal in your swim.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Read more from our blogger…

You can catch more from Dom Garnett in the Angling Times every week, or through his various books and regular blog at www.dgfishing.co.uk.

A Beginners Guide to Fishing for Catfish

Ebro catfish

Fishing for cats is not for the faint-hearted.
Image courtesy of Simon Howells

With brute power and a bad attitude, catfish are an exciting target species. Fishing for cats is not for the faint-hearted. Wels fanatic and former Ebro guide Jim Sutherland offers some handy advice.

The Wels catfish

Wels-catfish

The Wels catfish could be the biggest fish you ever catch.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Whether it’s their sheer strength, or one for your bucket list, fishing for catfish is an exhilarating experience. They represent not only a mysterious, deadly quarry, but for many anglers, the chance to catch your biggest ever freshwater fish.

Of course there are many catfish species all over the world, but for the purposes of this article we are referring to the Wels, or European catfish (Silurus glanis). A voracious hunter and scavenger, these beasts can grow to a formidable size. On the River Ebro, Spain, where I used to guide for the species, they run to over 200lbs. But in the UK, many waters now hold fish to 40lbs and bigger.

Whatever your reasons for seeking catfish, they are a beast that demands a special, considered approach. There are not many fish that will strip line at such an alarming rate, or ask so much of your tackle. Here are a few golden rules to get you off the the right start.

Preparation, confidence and respect

catfish

Catfish are becoming more common right across the UK. Dom Garnett caught this one from Anglers Paradise, Devon. Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Preparation is essential for any successful angler. Where do you begin this challenge? Finding waters that hold a reasonable supply of catfish is the best start. It’s no use heading to a venue with just one or two rumoured monsters. You could have a long old wait and no doubt the novelty will dwindle after the second night and you’ll start to wonder why you bothered.

Initially at least, stick to a water that holds a good head of catfish that vary in size. Up to about 40lb would be a good start. But always be prepared for the unexpected, because catfish are often a bit of an unknown. I’ve fished waters and managed to winkle out monsters that the owners had forgotten about or didn’t even know existed!

One excellent source of information is the Catfish Conservation Group. They have a list of catfish waters. I would always pick one nearer to home before you think of venturing further afield. You may have to persevere for a while to catch your first cat, so targeting a fishing venue closer to home will allow you to focus your efforts.

Tackle for catfish

fishing-for-catfish

Catfish fight powerfully! Your tackle must be up to the job.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Catfish are a powerful species that will punish any weakness in your tackle, so you must have complete confidence in your gear. Carp tackle will often suffice, but you need to step up your lines and other gear to handle them.

Rods: Choose a rod that can double up for the larger carp, as most waters will hold a possible PB, so again, expect the unexpected! Go for a 13ft 3.5tc. There is a nice range on the market but remember, these rods do the job and you will have a lot more pleasure when fighting the battle. You don’t need a telegraph pole to catch cats!

Reels: I prefer big pit reels for catfishing. The simple reason being that these creatures can easily tear off 100m of line on one run. You have been warned! If you are night fishing, you can set your baitrunners a little tighter than for carp, to help set the hook. Be sure to set your drag carefully.

Line: It must be a robust braid, as they will take you to places on a lake that only they know. Behind trees, islands, gravel bars and the last thing you want is to lose your quarry because you opted for the cheap seats! Go for a 20-30lb breaking strain as a minimum.

The Business End: You have a choice between an inline lead or lead clip. I usually use both options on my two rods. Inline is better for distance casting I find, although cats are not always far from the bank. In fact, they will patrol close in at night.

When fishing to snags close in, a lead clip system that will dump your weight during the fight is the best system. This should help avoid getting weeded or smashed up. I tend to use 3.5 or 4oz leads for cats, as this weight tends to hook them straight away so there’s no need for a vicious strike on the rod – you can just lift into them.

catfish-tackle

Don’t be caught out – have the right tackle.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Hook link and bait: You can use large boilies, or even small dead or live baits where permitted, but I tend to like pellets. I hair rig two 21mm halibut pellets on one rod and three on the other. Why, you may ask? As I’ve said, you should sometimes expect the unexpected, big carp! I use a catlink of about 23inches and 70lb breaking strain. The catfish have teeth like very coarse sandpaper and they will do their utmost to chew through your leader!

Should you be fortunate enough to capture a fish, do always double-check your rig for wear and tear before recasting. You’d be surprised at the number of fish lost due to blunt hooks or a frayed bit of hook link. Use about a 4inch hair, or even longer, as you can always take up the excess by wrapping it around the hook. The pellet can be hard up against the hook if need be.

I always like to have a few pellets soaking in halibut oil for hook bait. Soak these for a week, as you might have to rely on the aroma to attract your quarry. A 9-ply pva stringer with around 5-7 pellets around your hook bait usually works a treat.

In terms of other bait, I would always recommend groundbaiting for cats. Fishmeal based mixes are ideal, as are any crumb mixes that will also draw in small prey fish. Cats can eat a lot, so you can also introduce plenty of free offerings, such as large pellets and fishmeal boilies. Prebaiting can also be well worth the effort.

catfish-eyesight

Catfish have poor eyesight and are avid night feeders.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

Hooks: Use either a BP Special size 1 or 2, or an Eagle Claw size 4. Always make sure you are allowed to use these hooks on a venue. If there is a size restriction, a nice wide gape carp hook will do the job nicely.

Backleads: It’s always worth pinning the line down with captive back leads and these will drop off when you lean into the fish. It’s not that catfish are line shy, but more the case you want it pinned out of the way, because these are big, clumsy fish! You don’t want spaghetti junction at 3am.

Night fishing: A tidy rod pod or two bank sticks, fully alarmed, is ideal for catfishing. Bite alarms are very useful, given that I find late evening, night, and early morning the most productive time. You can’t beat the warm summer nights, when catfish will be at their most active in the year.

Respect!

catfish-glove

You’ll need a large landing net or a glove to land your fish.
Image courtesy of Dom Garnett.

So you’ve hooked your catfish, the next question is how the heck are you going to land it? We come back to the golden rule of preparation. You have two choices here. A large landing net or a glove. I always opt for the glove method but it can feel a bit unnatural at first.

If using the glove method, make sure you have some idea of the hook hold. You don’t want to run the risk of a late night outing to A&E! The fish is likely to be tired so it will feel heavy. Don’t be fooled. Tap the cat on the head, should its mouth be shut, and it will oblige. Put your hand into the mouth and position your thumb under its chin. It will feel like a suitcase handle but stay alert. They can catch you out and it’s not unusual to get a broken wrist from 100lb+ fish.

For most beginners to catfishing, the net is the way. Pack an extra large triangular-headed net, fully anticipating a fish that could be six to eight feet long! A large, well-padded unhooking mat is also a must.

A strong, quality pair of long nosed forceps is a must for unhooking, In spite of their mean appearances, catfish can be quite docile on the bank. But you must take charge of the situation, so be positive and keep the fish under control.

Always have your mat and unhooking tools together, and a spot to take your picture worked out beforehand. It’s essential not to stress the fish in any way and get it back to where it belongs ASAP. When releasing, hold the fish and give it a couple of head rubs. You can even kiss it if you are that way inclined (just don’t tell the wife)! The fish will tell YOU when it is ready to swim off – and what a moment – to see that monster say goodbye with a sudden wrench of power. They’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but you simply can’t help respect a creature like that.

100lb plus river Ebro catfish!

Top 10 Fishing Gifts For Fathers’ Day

fishing

Don’t struggle for a Fathers’ day gift idea if you’ve got a fishing-mad dad.

Is your dad an angler? If the answer is a yes then you know what to do this Fathers’ Day (Sunday June 18th ). Aftershave won’t cut it. Novelty ties won’t cut it. Beer just might work, but it’ll be gone in no time. So why not give him what he wants?

Here are ten brilliant gift ideas for fisherman everywhere this Fathers’ Day.

1. Stylish sun protection

sunglasses

Fortis Aviator Sunglasses aren’t just for fishing

Every fishing father needs a decent pair of polarising glasses for the summer. They’ll protect his eyes and are as handy for driving as they are for fish spotting. They’ll also help him maintain the illusion that he is listening attentively to family chat, when he’s really daydreaming about fishing…

Stylish glasses needn’t cost the earth either. This Fortis Aviator pair are a chic example and cost less than £25.

2. A tonne of top fishing tales

Crooked Lines book

Crooked Lines by Dom Garnett is an entertaining bedtime read.

Most fishing dads like a good read. Trouble is, they’ve often read more than enough “how to” books over the years. So how about something entertaining instead? Dom Garnett’s Crooked Lines (£9.99) is packed full of brilliant, hilarious, page turning angling tales and original artwork. Whether dad is a coarse, carp or fly angler he’ll enjoy it – and at under a tenner it’s great value. Or for a totally unique fishing gift, you could get it in limited edition fish skin leather! Find out more at www.dgfishing.co.uk

3. Top of the drops

drop shot kit

The Savage Gear Drop Shot Kit is a great value gift.

Whether your father is an existing lure fanatic or new to the world of drop shotting, here’s a neat little box set of new toys. Coupled with a simple lure outfit, the Savage Gear Drop Shot Kit (£10.99) has all he needs to tangle with various predators.

4. Protect his neck!

hat

The Nash Scope Bucket Hat will help protect dad from sunburn and heatstroke.

In terms of summer fishing gifts, a decent hat is another great offering. Dads often neglect to protect themselves from the sun. Baseball caps are all well and good but this Nash Scope Bucket Hat gives better all round protection for £19.99.

5. Caught in action

waterproof camera

The HD Waterproof Sports Camera is a great way to record the one that got away.

Even old dogs are learning new tricks with technology today. It’s great fun to make your own film clips and easier than you think, even for old-school dads. Not only that, prices have come right down. The HD Waterproof Sports Camera is just £34.99.

6. Upgrade his old baggage

ruckbag

The Korum Ruckbag is a quality gift that will stand the test of time.

Does your dad still drag around the oldest, scruffiest fishing bag? You know, the one that’s falling to bits, with gruesome bits of old bait in the pockets? Do him a favour by gifting a new model that’ll keep his tackle tidy. The Korum Ruckbag (£54.99) is so well made, it’ll last many Fathers’ Days to come!

7. On target to a tee…

t-shirt

The TF Gear Bullseye T-shirt is spot on if your dad’s a carper.

Dads love a stylish t-shirt, but not necessarily one of those ironic “Old guys are still cool, even if they smell funny” statements. Why not get him something sharper and fishing related. This stylish TF Gear Bullseye T-shirt for the serious carper is a good choice.

8. A healthier way to smoke!

Airflo Smoker Cooker

Foodie fishermen will love this Airflo Smoker Cooker.

If your old man is a keen trout or sea angler, he may well be the sort of dad who likes to get grilling in the summer. If so, how about the Airflo Smoker Cooker at £39.99 for a great gift idea? In no time at all he’ll be producing his own smoked trout or mackerel. You’ll probably never hear the end of it, but he’ll be happy and you’ll get to taste his smoked offerings too.

9. Sitting comfortably?

Korum X25 Accessory Chair

The Korum X25 Accessory Chair is a luxury gift for any angler.

You know what dads can be like as they put miles on the clock. Their joints ache, their backs creak and yet they still insist on using that crappy old fishing chair that wasn’t very comfortable in 1991. Why not spoil him with something better? At just under £100, the Korum X25 Accessory Chair is not just a great bit of kit, but will do wonders for his back.

10. Angling gift vouchers

gift voucher

Not sure what to choose? A gift voucher is always well received.

Still stuck for ideas when it comes to fishing treats for dad? Well there is a simple answer: let him choose for himself! Fishtec gift vouchers let him do exactly that – and he can order online directly from his favourite fishing chair.

To Infinity And Beyond – Simon Crow On Carp Fishing Gadgets!

There are lots of gadgets in carp fishing today which divide opinion, but I’m one of those anglers who embraces change, making use of the latest products if I think they are going to help me catch a few more fish.

I’m a short session angler whose time is very precious so I don’t see the point in making hard work of something if there’s a new tool which will make life easier.

Bite alarms

Bite alarm

It might seem hard to believe, but many years ago bite indicators were frowned upon by lots of anglers

When I was a lad I remember the older guys looking at my bite alarms and giving them a right slating. Now buzzers are viewed as an essential part of the carper’s kit, and there are upwards of a dozen companies making more than one model each.

Bite alarms now range from the very basic type which clip onto the line, to ones which operate with digital technology. We can now get different coloured LEDs on our alarms, vibration modes to assist deaf anglers, high and low pitch tones, as well as remote boxes which sound when we’re several yards away.

Bait boats

Bait boat

Bait boats aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but they will certainly help you catch more fish

If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard someone slag off bait boats, I’d be a rich man. One of the best excuses I hear from the moaners is that anglers use them to put baits in unsafe areas. Well the same could be said about line in trees and carp towing cracked off rigs because someone has just gone for the ‘big chuck’!

Who’s right and who’s wrong? My advice is to embrace them both. Casting allows us to use our judgement to ‘feel down’ a lead to the lake bed, while bait boating gets rigs quietly into position without excessive casting.

Echo sounders

Echo sounder

Echo sounders are brilliant for checking the depth but not so good at finding the fish

Echo sounders get a bit of stick because, apparently, they take away the skill of watercraft. I know where the detractors are coming from with this one because the day we’re told where our target fish is swimming is the day we become trappers not anglers.

But today’s echo sounders aren’t even very good at deciphering whether an echo is a snag or a fish, let alone capable of picking out individual carp, so we’re a long way off them being a substitute for traditional watercraft skills.

I use echo sounders for depth finding and looking for clear spots, mainly because they reduce the amount of casting (aka carp spooking) needed. They’re also great when I’m on a big water where boats are allowed and even the best casters in the world won’t get beyond the margins.

Underwater cameras

Underwater camera

Life below the marker float, what a great way of checking your baited spot

This moves me onto the underwater camera, a piece of kit which is fast becoming a common sight at venues where the water is nice and clear. You can attach them to bait boats or normal boats and even floats like FishSpy which then send the image back to your smartphone.

Using them for finding fish is a hassle, so their main advantage lies in helping you check out the bottom, especially once you’ve cast out and want to know that your hookbait is sitting right.

I really rate the cameras on floats although their cost needs to come down a bit before they turn into ‘must have’ items. Just the thought of cracking off with £150 on the end is enough to stop many an angler from becoming a convert. (Editors note: FishSpy underwater camera’s are now £129.95)

Droning on

drone

A bird’s-eye view without climbing a tree
Image: Shutterstock

Last but not least we come to the latest craze – drones. Yes folks, believe it or not, carp anglers are starting to use drones with cameras to help them find fish, as well as to identify features. Climbing trees to get a good view is a thing of the past as nothing quite compares to getting a proper bird’s-eye view.

You can even leave your drone hovering in the air while you cast out, keeping an eye on your phone screen to check that the cast has landed ‘spot on’. A decent drone with a camera and smartphone app will cost about £500 and believe me it’s worth every penny, unless that is, you end up dumping it in the lake when the connection cuts out!

So there you have it, a look at a few of the latest carpy gadgets on the market. You can take or leave them – fishing will always be a sport which leaves the choice entirely up to you.

Simon Crow

Thank you to Simon Crow for permission to use these images.

Introducing Hodgman Fly Fishing Products

Fishtec are pleased to announce we are stocking Hodgman fly fishing products for the 2017 season.

Hodgman are an American firm that have been producing premium fly fishing gear since 1838; renowned for their fly fishing clothing, breathable waders and innovative wading boot design, Hodgman offer first class fly fishing gear.

New to the UK for spring 2017, Fishtec have cherry picked a full range of Hodgman products that we feel offer tremendous value for money, with superior quality that only an American brand can offer.

What makes Hodgman garments so special in our opinion is attention to detail. Every product has been carefully thought out with the fly fisherman in mind. Packed full of features, we are sure this brand is going to be a major hit in the UK alongside the likes of Simms and Patagonia. Hodgman equipment isn’t low budget orientated, it’s quality. You really do get what you pay for when you invest in Hodgman equipment and their stuff is clearly built to last.

The following videos are a ”must watch” – our key Hodgman products are explained in detail!

Hodgman product videos:

Hodgman H5 Stocking Foot Wader

Hodgman Aesis Sonic Stocking Foot Wader

Hodgman Aesis Sonic Zip Front Stocking Foot Waders

Hodgman Core INS Wader Liner

Hodgman H-Lock Interchangeable Sole Wading Boots

Hodgman Aesis Shell Fly Fishing Jacket

Hodgman Aesis 3-In-1 Jacket

Hodgman Aesis Sonic Wadelite Jacket

Hodgman Aesis Hyperdry Down Jacket

Hodgman Aesis Softshell Fleece Jacket

The full range of Hodgman fly fishing equipment can be found here.

“Marmite” Fishing Tackle

marmite

Dividing opinion. What’s your “marmite” fishing tackle?
Image source: David Hunt

For every angler who loves having the latest kit, another will be busy shaking their head at it. Fishing tackle innovations are seldom embraced equally by everyone in the angling community. Dominic Garnett takes us on a quick tour of the fishing gear that divides opinion  – the “Marmite” of the fishing tackle world.

The Bite Alarm

Bite-alarm

Bite alarms – Love or hate?

Many years after their widespread adoption by anglers, these little boxes of joy (or disturbance) continue to provoke debate.

It was none other than the great Richard Walker who invented the electronic bite alarm. The idea wasn’t to promote “lazy” fishing though, but to detect runs at night. 

Have we become hooked on them? Many specimen hunters wouldn’t be without theirs and sadly, not everyone seems to know where the volume control is.

Centrepin Reels

centrepin-reel

Is old-school best or should the centrepin reel be consigned to history?

Old-school romantics love them and in the hands of a master, a centrepin reel can be poetry in motion. But for the less skilled, not so silky smooth; we’re talking long trotting or a tangle every five minutes!

Fish Finders

Fish-finder

Fish finder – the ultimate cheat?

Struggling to get a bite? Worse, have you no idea where the fish even are? A fish finder could be the answer. On large waters, a lot of us use them to help us identify features we can’t otherwise see.

But more and more anglers are also using fish finders on rivers and lakes where they’re much quicker than traditional methods for plumbing the depth. But is using a fish finder to locate your prey a clever tactic or does it show a lack of watercraft? After all, just because you know where the fish are, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to persuade them to bite.

The Bait Boat

Bait-boat

Are you a bait boater or do bait boats give you a sinking feeling?

Faced with long distances and awkward casts, some clever so-and-so wondered if he might use a radio-controlled boat to place his bait and rigs to the exact inch. A few years later we have high-tech devices and a debate that just won’t lie down. Are bait boats genius or cheating?

Dropshot Gear

Drop-shot-gear

Drop shot gear – best thing since sliced bread or pastime for the brain dead?

Who saw the whole dropshot trend coming? In the past three years or so it’s become all the rage. But are you a convert or just plain confused? The technique does take some getting used to, that’s for sure. It takes a lot more patience than standard lure fishing, nor is acute concentration and vertical jigging for small perch everyone’s cup of tea.

Underwater Fishing Cameras

Fishing-camera

Fishing cameras: innovation or intrusion?

What exactly goes on under the water while you fish? Not content with centuries of crackpot theories, some clever clogs decided to cast out a little film camera to take away the guesswork.

Unlike many of angling’s more high-tech trends, the British did it first with the FishSpy camera, a product purely designed for carp anglers. But is this understanding the water better, or killing any remaining mystery?  

Split Cane Rods

Split-cane-rod

Split cane: old-world charm or obsolete?

“Simply wonderful,” the traditional angler sighs. “Look at that old-world craftsmanship; lovely to play a fish on too.” But split cane rods are also pretty heavy and slow-actioned.

Where you stand on vintage tackle is a very personal thing and while split cane certainly has its romance, would you really favour it over carbon? Is it a joy to use, or more akin to replacing your new car with a horse and cart?

Further Information

What’s your take on “Marmite” tackle? Tell us what fishing equipment you love or loath via Twitter and use #MarmiteTackle

For more talking points on a weekly basis, check out Dominic Garnett’s column “The Far Bank” in the Angling Times, or discover his books and regular blog at www.dgfishing.co.uk

Float Tube Fishing

Float tubes can open a whole world to the fisherman, whether you are a flyfisher or a predator specialist. In this blog we take a look at the world of float tubing and the advantages they can bring to your fishing.

Float tube fishing - a great way to fish!!

Float tube fishing – a fun way to fish!!

What are they?

A float tube (aka belly boat) is an inflatable fishing craft originally based on a tractor tyre inner tube. These early ‘donut’ designs have long been replaced with much better U or V shaped hulls designed to cut through the water efficiently. Float tubes typically have an integrated seat and a bar across the lap with a mesh tray designed to keep you from slipping out.

You propel yourself about the lake by using a pair of fins attached to your fishing waders. These fins are much like those used by scuba divers, although specialist types are available. The paddling motion required is very much like cycling a bike – but backwards.

float tube with fins

Float tube, fins and life jacket – the essentials!

Are they safe?

Float tubes in our opinion are even safer than a boat. They feature multiple inflation bladders and a thick cordura covered hull; which when taunt is very resistant to punctures. Once inside the tube it is almost impossible to flip yourself out or go into the water.

There are however a few common sense safety concerns to address:

  • Ensure the tube is fully inflated and the valves securely tightened.
  • Never walk to the water with the flippers on, put them on at the edge.
  • Enter the water slowly backwards so you do not trip over head first.
  • Choose a gently sloping bank to access the water.
  • Wear an inflatable life jacket as a back up.
  • Wear warm waders – e.g neoprene, or a thermal undersuit even on summer days.
  • Be aware of sharp objects including your own hooks.
  • Stick to stillwater – never tube in a flowing river or the sea.

Float tube techniques – the advantages they bring.

Float tubes allow complete freedom of movement, giving you a huge advantage if a boat is not available on the venue. They allow you a silent, stealthy approach – for whatever reason fish simply do not fear float tubes like they do a boat or wading angler. This allows you to get very close to them and  fish shoreline shallows where bank angling would instantly spook fish. As well as conventional casting, float tubes allow you to troll your flies or lures allowing you to cover a vast area easily.

A wild brown trout caught on a float tube.

A wild brown trout caught on a float tube.

Float tubes are most popular for fly fishing for trout –  a 10 foot long fly rod will help keep the line off the surface on the back cast. A floating line is the best option, a short headed 6 or 7 weight is ideal. Although for trolling with flies a full sinking line like an Airflo Di5 or Di7 will really come in handy.

Float tubes are also becoming ever more popular with the pike and predator community, for pike fly fishing or lure fishing with spinning rods. Float tubes can give you access to areas pike love that are often inaccessible from the bank – for example outside edges of weedbeds, off thick reed banks and on drop offs where treading water allows you to hover in position, and present your lures effectively.

A pike caught from a float tube

A pike caught from a float tube.

Where can I use one?

It would be great if you could use one anywhere, but you should always check fishery rules before you launch one. Generally natural venues such as the Lochs of Scotland, Pike loughs in Ireland and the Welsh mountain lakes are places where you can freely use a tube. For stocked trout fisheries the BFTA (British Float Tube Association) has a great list of float tube venues on their website. For predator anglers wherever you can use a kayak or launch your own boat to fish it should be a safe bet.

It’s great fun!!

Above all, the main draw with a float tube is the enjoyment factor. Nothing beats being out on the lake, fishing from what is essentially a comfortable armchair but with free mobility. For those who try, there is simply no looking back. So get out there and tube!

Fishtec stock the Ron Thompson Max float tube and also matching float tube fins. A great combination to help get you started on float tubing – available for just £164.98.

The HD Sports Action Camera on test

Capture the action for a fraction of the price of a GoPro! The new HD sports Action camera is ideal for capturing fishing footage. Available for just £34.99 it really is a bargain.

Perfect for fly, coarse and carp angling this HD action camera can be used to get underwater and action fishing shots.

The HD Action camera is £34.99 - complete with all the extras shown here.

The HD Action camera is £34.99 – complete with all the extras shown here.

The HD action camera is supplied complete with a waterproof housing case, as well as a variety of mounts and accessories. There is also a comprehensive additional accessory pack available for just £19.99 – this includes a head strap and chest harness, ideal add-ons for active fly and lure fishing situations. All mounts and accessories use the same universal system you will find on a GoPro.

The camera has a 120 degree wide angle lens, just like a GoPro. It records video in 1080p, 720p and 480p. 720p and 480p are recorded in 30 frames per second, and 1080p at 25 frames per second. It has a full LCD screen at the back, so you can review your footage right there on the bank. To get the footage, it’s a simple case of plugging it into a computer and dragging the files off it.

To see whether it was any good, we decided to take the camera fishing on a foggy, dull December day on a grayling river in South Wales.

The camera was set to 720p, the best compromise for frame speed, quality and storage room. A 8 GB micro SD card was inserted (not included) – this will give about 40 minutes of footage at 720p. The camera was very intuitive to use – no fiddling about, and easy to turn on/off even with cold, wet hands.

Firstly, after finding a few fish we did some close up under water fish shots, which you can see below. To film these, the camera was simply held in the hand with no attachment used.

As you can see, the footage is decent even in poor light conditions.

Moving on, a large shoal of grayling was located allowing filming of fish captures using a fly rod. The chest harness supplied with the accessories pack was fitted, to give point of view action footage.

This part of the river was surrounded by sunken banks, with a tree canopy overhead. With the sun going down as well it was quite dark and dismal. Despite this the camera picked up some great footage – proving the camera works well in low light conditions.

We will update this review with some more footage from a brighter day soon.

We are sure these cameras will be popular with our customers and become a best seller – after all, they are just £34.99! You can buy the HD action camera and accessories here.