Fishing Tackle that will last you a lifetime

I’ve been trying out some new fishing tackle, and been using my TF Gear V8 Distance reel for over a year now, and can honestly say that I’m more than impressed with it! When I’m looking for a fishing reel I need one that can stand up to the abuse of big French carp and English fishing too.

TF Gear V8 Distance Fishing Reel

TF Gear V8 Distance Fishing Reel

I like the smoothness, performance and feel of the reel and most important the light weight of it. The line lay is perfected which helps with those long casts to the horizon, and the gear ratio can cope with any size of fish you have hooked. You can set the front drag from semi tight or as loose as you desire. I love the big reel rubber handle when winding in from extreme distance, as it seems to be no effort at all.

V8 Distance and TSI Rods

V8 Distance and TSI Rods

When mixed with the TSI rods you will have the ultimate tools for catching carp, which is very light weight and a perfect match. I use the 3lb test rods which are incredible thin blanks with a beautiful black carbon finish to it. The TSI handle has a Japanese shrink-wrap covering which gives you a good grip of the rod when playing monster carp.

TF Gear TSI Fishing Rod

TF Gear TSI Fishing Rod

The TSI is an all through action rod which will cast any lead to extreme distances all day long, even with a PVA bag, it won’t let you down. When playing fish this is where the rod comes to life as the rod will do all the work for you and is fantastic for playing fish under the tips; I have never lost a fish when using these fishing rods.

pit 4

So if you’re looking for fishing tackle which will last you a life time and won’t let you down, check out the TSI rod and V8 reel.

pit 5Happy fishing!

Carp fishing in the Margins

How many of us inspect the margins when we arrive at a lake?

You might want to, if you want to improve your catch rate. Fishing for carp in the margins can be extremely productive if you find the right places and apply good angling tactics. How many fishermen/fisherwomen ignore the margins when fishing? They see all that water out in front of them and think that the fish must be out there. I often see anglers using three fishing rods with all of them cast out to the far bank. With so many anglers casting out far it makes the margins a safe place for carp to hang out. In fact, the margins can even be the best places to target the bigger carp in the lake.

Fishing in the Margins

Fishing in the Margins

As long as you’re quiet when setting up your carp fishing tackle and actually fishing, you can take fish from the margins in most lakes. Carp have great hearing and will be able to pick up vibrations from the surrounding bank, so you do need to be as quiet as possible.

Centre Pin Fishing Reel

Centre Pin Fishing Reel

When it comes to margin fishing I tend to use a small 8ft rod and centre pin reel; this allows me to fish in-between trees, and other places where it would be hard to use a 12ft rod. It’s best to wear dark green or brown fishing clothing, or better still, use camouflage clothing, as you can blend into the surrounding. I like to find the more subtle features rather than the obvious ones such as overhanging trees, island banks, etc. I like to look for features like undercut banks, posts or trees sticking out of the water, small bulrushes, bushes, lily pads or inlet pipes all these can be ideal feeding spots for carp.

Carp taking bait

Carp taking bait

I like to use a small float, 8lb fluorocarbon line and a size 10 hook partnered with good quality bait. One of my best methods is to wrap paste around a small boilie, many fish have taken using this approach, as the carp are not wised up to these methods. So as the weather starts to warm up go out and have a go, this is a very rewarding way of catching carp guaranteed to provide a good fight whatever size fish you’ve hooked into.

Landing the Carp

Landing the Carp

All the best and good fishing!

Fantastic result!

Fantastic result!

What Types of PVA are available?

Tape

Tape can be used to form stringers or for tying off the tops of solid PVA bags. Tape also has several advantages over PVA string. It doesn’t shrink in water. Due to its thicker profile, the tape holds strung baits better, great for long-range casting. Also, this thicker profile opens a bigger hole in the free baits, allowing more scent to be released, enticing the Carp in.

PVA Tape

PVA Tape

Solid Bags

Flat, solid bags that can be filled with all manner of freebies, regardless of the size of bait used. Their disadvantages are that they are slow to form and tie, always pierce solid PVA bags with a baiting needle, as this will help the trapped air escape, preventing it from floating.

PVA Solid Bags

PVA Solid Bags

Mesh

Made from woven PVA thread, this stocking material having an open weave, doesn’t suffer from trapped air. Usually comes in long lengths allowing bags of any size to be made up. The other advantage of mesh is that they are much quicker to make than their solid counterparts.

PVA Mesh

PVA Mesh

Rig Foam

These buoyant nuggets are either hooked on to or folded over the hook before casting. Once in the water, they hold the hook off the bottom until the nugget dissolves. The hook will then gently settle on to the bottom of the lake. Rig foam is indispensable when fishing over silt or weed, getting your bait where you want it without the worry of loosing any fishing tackle. When the rig is cast in, the lead will either sink into the silt or dive into the weed and the rig foam will help stop your hook from being masked.

PVA Rig Foam

PVA Rig Foam

PVA Liquid Bags

Small stamp size PVA bags that are filled with liquid, such as flavours, slimes or dips. This is a great edge when you are fishing single hookbaits. The liquid puts out a strong level of attraction into the swim, but the only food item is your hookbait. It can be placed on to your hook or placed inside any PVA for a extra edge.

PVA Liquid Bags

PVA Liquid Bags

Back to Barbel

I didn’t get to do much barbel fishing last season, but having just acquired a ticket for a pike lake which also has a stretch of river with some prime barbel fishing, I thought it was time to get back out on the banks and try out some new fishing rods like the TF Gear Classic.

Now I may be shooting myself in the foot a bit here, but with the popularity of commercial carp fishing at the moment our riverbanks are almost deserted so finding good fishing isn’t a problem. I’m lucky in that I live only a short distance from some superb barbel fishing, maybe not the record breaking fish of the Ouse but plenty of double figured fish if you put the work into finding them.

Coarse Fishing Tackle Used

Rods

I try to keep as mobile as possible so keep the tackle down to a minimum. Most of my barbeling these days is done on the river Wye and I find the Tfgear new Classic barbel rod is spot on for this. Most of the time the 1.5lb test curve is great, sometimes I’ll up it to the 2lb test curve when I need to use a bit more weight to hold bottom, sometimes upto 5oz. I’m not a great fan of carp rods and bite alarms for barbel fishing and this is just a personal choice.

The Author with a Barbel

The Author with a Barbel

Reels

I use a baitrunner type reel for my barbel fishing which can be set to give line on the take, barbel takes can be very savage at times and the baitrunner type reel can prevent the rod from being dragged of the rod rest. A good drag system to one of the most important features that any barbel reel can have and I find the Tfgear Force 8 GT free spool perfect.

Main Line

I have to admit that I’m a fan of TFGear grunt braid for most of my barbel fishing except were there are a lot of rocks and snags on the river bed I would then go for TFGear red mist monofilament in 10lb which has great abrasion resistance.

Rigs and Bait

Again I keep things simple with my rigs, a standard running rig with either a braided or fluorocarbon hooklink to a hair rigged hook. Bait wise halibut pellets are still top of the list and have incredible pulling power; I generally decant some of the mixed halibut pellets into a smaller container, just enough for a session. Small mesh pva bags are made up on the bank and just nicked onto the hook. Another great rig is Matt’s time bomb feeder.

Retaining Barbel

One last and very important point, barbel have no place in keepnets but it is also very dangerous especially after a prolong fight to release the fish straight back into a fast flowing river. I always leave the fish resting in the margins in the landing net for a few minutes to let it regain its strength.

A Barbel

A Barbel

Winter Grayling Fishing

With the onset of yet another cold winter spell the chances of good sport from most fish species is still looking very unpromising. However one of the few fish that feeds readily in icy cold temperatures is the Grayling. By cold this can mean temperatures way below freezing with ice forming on the rod rings and thick snow on the banks.

Fly Fishing for Grayling

Fly Fishing for Grayling

The Grayling is now a relatively common fish, and it is thriving in rivers such as the Wye and tributaries, Taff, Rhymney, Dee, Severn, Eweny, and many more rivers throughout Wales, all of which can be fished on relatively inexpensive day tickets. The Grayling season is open until 16 th of March so there is plenty of time to get out for a few hours and catch some of these beauties, which are in peak condition at this time.

Grayling on a winter's day

Grayling on a winter's day

Grayling can be caught with a number of fly fishing methods, the most effective of which is called Czech nymphing. This involves the use of very heavily weighted flies such as in our packs of Airflo Di bugs, combined with a long sensitive fishing rod like our purpose designed Airflo Streamtec XT 10’ #4/5.

The technique involves pitching the flies slightly upstream on a very short line and letting them drift back bumping and rolling across the riverbed. The long rod helps control the drift. We do a hi vis Czech nymph polyleader to complement this technique, which greatly helps with the bite indication.

Grayling in the River Severn

Grayling in the River Severn

Another very effective method is the use of a pimp indicator with a team of smaller nymphs such as copper johns, fished on a longer line dead drifted through likely looking runs and riffles. On warmer days they can also be tempted with dries such as klinkhammers.

One very important thing is to keep warm with modern hi tech layered fishing clothing. We have a good selection of thermal garments such as the new thermo skin underwear and bib and braces, which provide comfort in freezing conditions. If you combine them with a pair of neoprene fishing waders such as the Airflo Alaska’s you can be pretty much immune from the cold all day.

A successful catch

A successful catch

New Compact Fishing Rods

I am very excited about the new range of TF Gear Compact fishing rods. For many years now I have believed that we use rods that are too long. Long rods are unwieldy on all but the biggest waters, and on most modern fisheries (where long casting is unnecessary) they can be a liability. Anyone whom has tickled the backside of the bloke in the next swim when trying to feeder fish on their local water will appreciate what I am saying

The Compact range, designed and tested by yours truly are, I reckon, the best fishing rods to come out for a long time. The rods retain all the power and attributes of regular rods in but in shorter lengths. And those of you who have tried using short rods will know that you get much more power and leverage.
When I go fishing, I like to be as mobile as possible, and these rods are so easy to carry that you forget that you have them in your hand sometimes. Indeed, touch legering with the eight or ten foot Compact feeder is effortless – you can sit there all day without the tip wobbling around.

The Compact Range includes 10′ Carp, 10′ Feeder, 8′ Feeder and a 10′ Specimen Float. All are real pocket battleships with killer actions.
I recently used the 10′ float at Himley Hall in Dudley where I caught carp of 10, 14, 16, 22, 24, 25 and 30 pounds without one snap-off or lost fish. Incidentally, I also landed grass carp to twenty six pounds too! The ten foot float is also a great floater rod for commercials and a nice alternative to an avon for barbel and chub on small rivers.

The carp rods are perfect for small to medium carp waters, and perfect for anglers who don’t want to carry a heavy armoury of carp kit. At two and half pounds test curve, they are perfect for general carp fishing and also make great stalking and floater rods for big fish. I would use them without hesitation on all commercial-style waters where long range casting is not required. Having said this, the rods will cast over eighty meters in the right hands. A big bonus is that they make cracking pike boat rods!

Perhaps the star of the show, though, is the 8′ feeder. This is a cracking little rod and a real pocket battleship. It too has already landed carp into the mid-twenties without breaking sweat. I can’t wait to use this rod for some touch legering for barbel and chub this winter. I used the prototype last year and it was awesome!
The best part is that all the fishing rods come in at decent money. They are top quality but because they are shorter we use less carbon, hence a lower price!

Floater fishing the Total Fishing Gear Way

Summer’s now with us and as we all know carp love to get the sun on their backs, so its time to look to the surface for our action throughout the day. Stalking carp off the surface has to be one of the most exciting forms of fishing there is but week after week through the summer we visit lake and see carp cruising in front of anglers who sit there watching motionless bobbins seemingly oblivious to what’s in front of them.

So we would like to go through some of the basics to help you catch a few of those sun bathing carp.

A little more thought.
90% of the anglers that do venture out to catch carp of the surface grab a bag of Pedigree chum and start firing them out at the first fish they see. With a little more thought and preparation you’ll find that your catch rate will improve dramatically.

Flavoured dog biscuits
A simple tactic that will put more fish on the bank for you is flavouring and adding oils to your free offerings which will draw carp from some distance away and also draw carp up to the surface. One of our favourite mixes and one that we would never be without on the bank is the TFGear Hot Krill and Special Brew mix. Mix around 100-200ml of Hot Krill oil and 100ml of Special Brew together, pour a 2kg bag of Pedigree chum dog biscuits into an airtight container then add the liquid mix seal the lid and give it a good shake until all the biscuits have a good covering, then leave overnight to soak in. The Hot Krill oil will float on the surface creating a calm slick around the free offerings while the Special Brew being water based will sink through the water column drawing fish to the surface.

Hook baits
I know many top carp anglers who still use dog biscuit as hook baits but we find this way too time consuming. Hair rigged cut down boilies are the way we do most of our surface fishing and the boilie of choice at the moment is a cropped down 15mm Amino Active CSL boilie hair rigged to a Korda widegape size 10 hook.

Controllers
Without doubt the best surface controller is the TFGear surface missile in the 30gm size, this casts up to 80yds with ease and due to the design of it when the carp takes it will act like a bolt rig and the weight and shape will help to hook more fish. Using a hook length of around 6ft and greasing this up to 1ft before the hook will also help hook-ups.

Rod
Fishing rods of between 2 & 2-½ lb test curve with a parabolic action are a better option than the quicker action heavier test curve rods that are more in vogue today. The TFGear X series 2.2lb test curve barbel is an ideal choice.

First Horshoe Experience

I’ve been meaning for some time to have a go for the fabulous tench of Carp Society water Horseshoe Lake near Lechlade in Gloucestershire and this year I finally did something about it. On my arrival I was greeted by Luke and Dave, who man the lodge at the venue, and I was immediately impressed with their professionalism and the terrific way the water is run. They were also very helpful with advice on where tench had been showing and I was soon ensconced in peg number 1. the most productive swim had apparently been Summer Point, the swim next closest to the lodge in Summer Bay, but it was temporarily closed, as were the swims round the shallows, as carp had started spawning.

Once again, I was using a size 12 Pallatrax hook on short Gamma fluorocarbon hooklinks, fished above the Kamasan feeder and held between rubber grip beads on rapid sink rig tubing. This rig ensures that no fish can possibly be tethered on a main line break. It is also easily adjustable to fish the hook bait right alongside the feeder or as far away as deemed necessary.

After finding a nice clear area about 30 yards out, with light Canadian pond weed around the fringes of the swim, I baited with six of my large cones of mixed hemp, casters, mini pellets and dead red maggots. Hook baits were two Enterprise buoyant red maggots with two real ones accompanying. By the time I was sorted out it was late morning, and the first two hours passed uneventfully as far as tench were concerned, although I was being regularly plagued by small rudd. Then, at 1.30pm, I had a real screamer and soon landed a superb tench of 7lb 8ozs. That fish opened the floodgates and in the next four hours tench came regularly. I wasn’t to get a really big fish but there were three more seven pounders and a few sixes. Nothing under six pounds was landed.

After a quiet night, I was expecting more tench action on the second day. But, typical of fishing, for some reason the swim had just died. Apart from more rudd, not a tench was tempted on day two.

It had a been a great first session on a fabulous water and I couldn’t wait to get back. That was planned for the following week.

A First Catfish Session

After missing a week’s fishing fulfilling a promise to the wife to re-decorate the hall, stairs and landing, I was certainly in need of two days fishing! This season, I have made myself a promise to catch a catfish to beat my current best of 22lb 12oz and headed for Cemex water Jones Pit on Wednesday morning for a 48 hour session. It was my first visit to the water and I was given some tremendous help by bailiffs Ed and Chris on the water. On their advice, I settled in a swim called “Dead Man’s Hole”, so called because an angler shot himself there a few years ago!

It was all close range work, with interesting small islands to left and right at roughly 10 O’clock and 2 O’clock respectively. A cast of barely 30 yards would be needed for those, while to my right, wooded margins coincided with a nice lily bed only feet from the bank. Ed informed me that a bait fished right alongside those lilies was a reliable tactic for the cats. Eventually, I settled on one rod to that margin, one to the fringe of the right hand island, and the third about a 40 yard cast midway between the two islands.

Because of the closeness of the swims, loose feeding was easy enough, and I prepared the margin swim with 1kg of 18mm Halibut pellets plus another 1kg of fish meal boilies. To this was added a bag of Fox Blood Red groundbait, which is specially formulated for attracting predators with its heavy fish oil content.

The middle of my carp rods was baited just with halibut pellets via catapult, and I went in initially with 3kg. I wanted a bed of bait that would stop a marauding cat in its tracks, and as they go to near 70lb in the water, 3kg would not be overdoing it.

The left hand rod was just a boilie attack, and I fired out the best part of 3kg of 18mm boilies.

The left and right fishing rods were both baited with 18mm boilies, wrapped in fish meal paste to make offerings of around 30mm, and then dunked in a thick, gooey gunk of anchovy flavoured dip. The middle rod was baited with a 30mm Catmaster Tackle Mega Chunk halibut pellet. These are specially formulated for large cats and feature a tough exterior but soft interior. Unlike many pellets, these can be left out for several days if need be without dissolving.

There is not that much to say about the fishing. Both nights I was plagued with line bites from the lakes large bream population, but never had a proper run in the dark hours. The only real run I had occurred just after dawn on Thursday when a I struck into a very big fish after getting a real screamer on the open water rod. Unfortunately, and a rare occurrence for me, the hook pulled after about three minutes and I practised a few well rehearsed swear words to myself!

The lost fish could have been a big carp, of course, but, as the hook point was turned over when I examined it, I rather fancy a catfish hooked in the hard, Velcro like pad on its top jaw.

Ah well, there’s always next time!

Layers…

You’ve probably noticed that we have got quite a bit of fishing clothing in the TF-Gear range. What with the primal range, second skin and the latest ranges it’s quite a comprehensive collection. Designing and selling fishing clothing for the British market is sometimes frustrating though, primarily because a lot of British anglers simply don’t understand layers.

The common misconception is that if you want to stay warm the answer is to wear something big, bulky and with plenty of padding – the old fashioned one-piece suit being a classic example. They are awful things! When you walk to your swim you sweat like crazy and then, when you arrive the sauna lasts for about five minutes before you start to feel cold.

Why? Well, the answer is body moisture or, to put it more bluntly, sweat. When we move we sweat. Our skin is breathable and can exchange moisture with the atmosphere. If we want to stay warm our clothing should do the same – hence the term ‘breathable.’ The beauty of layered fishing clothing is that it can be made breathable and because the layers trap air between themselves, the result is a warm, comfortable wearer. The other advantage of layers is that you can take them on and off to cope with changing weather.

The art of making breathable clothing is to ensure that sweat can pass through the layers but water molecules can’t. In many respects Gore-tex is the ultimate material but it does not sell well here in the UK because whilst Brits are happy to spend a fortune on fishing rods the same principle does not extend to clothing. We have worked very hard to source waterproof, breathable fabrics at a price that won’t break the bank and we have enjoyed great success with it. Seams are very important too – most clothing is let down by leaking seams. Ours isn’t.

Let’s look now at the layers and what they are designed to do.

Base or skin (second skin): this is a thin, breathable layer worn next to the skin. It forms the base layer and can be worn on its own on warm days or form the first layer on cooler days.

Mid- Layer : this is the layer that builds up warmth, usually in the form of a heavier fleece. Sometimes, if it is very cold, two layers of second skin and then the mid-layer are needed. Primal fleeces are perfect for this layer.

Top (shell): whilst most people love to wear padding, it is rarely necessary. Shell type jackets allow moisture (sweat to escape) but keep rain out. If you want to build up more heat, add more mid-layers. Some people prefer a lined or padded jacket and pants for the top layer and for less active styles of fishing this is OK.

At the end of the day, in addition to keeping you warmer and drier, there are other advantages to properly layered fishing clothing – notably that it is more comfortable to wear and makes you look less of a plonker.