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.
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 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!
The air temperatures were hovering around zero and some of the shallower bays were iced over, the water itself was highly coloured and only 1 degree. Thankfully the wind was not too strong and with our fishing clothing, chill out boots and fleeces we were all comfortably protected from the elements.Things did not look promising as by early afternoon we had not had any action at all, not a sniff to deadbaits or the usual soft plastics and jerkbaits.
As a change of tactic I switched to one of the new cutting Edge Jig fishing rods and bumped a smaller shad back hard on the bottom at a very slow pace. I was rewarded with 5 and 8 lb jacks in quick succession and also a 3lb 8 oz Perch. So the fish were there to be caught.
Late afternoon bouncing a jig over a ledge I landed a Perch of 4lb 1 oz, just as this was returned boat partner Simon had a run on his deadbait and after a good scrap I netted a very fat 19lb Pike for him.
As the light faded the wind completely died leaving a tranquil scene. Both boats were positioned on a drop off slope about 50 yards from the bank. I threw out a bright green grub tail on a jig head close to the bank and bounced it back feeling every contour of the bottom through the sensitive grunt braid and the ultra slim blank. The rod hooped round and I was into a fish, it stayed deep and dived under the boat with brute power. I now realised this was something really big as I had not seen it yet despite really putting on the pressure. With the pencil thin rod bent double I finally I brought it to the surface where it was netted. This was a lump of just over 26 lb and a new PB.
Tim had avoided the dreaded blank and landed a 14 lb’er which had taken a deadbait at exactly the same time as my battle with the big girl. Steve had also had a jack.
All of this was remarkable considering the conditions and a testament to the productivity of the water. The final cutting edge samples had also proved their worth, these will be released in April.
Living as I do near the river I often get the chance to play around with barbel baits and tactics. Many years ago I got a new rod for christmas and I was desperate to try it out so, while my mom was stuffing turkey and the rest of the world was opening presents, I snuck off up the river and nailed my one and only christmas day whisker in less than an hour on a big lump of meat. When you know a river really well such things are possible and so too are endless possibilities to try out new fishing baits and ideas. It was on the Severn, for instance, that I invented the new infamous ‘time bomb’ method using an open ended feeder stuffed with pellet groundbait and boilies/pellets – an approach that has changed the way anglers fish the river irrevocably.
The middle Severn was also the place where I played around with boilies when formulating the amino active CSL boilie that is now a flagship product in the TF-Gear range. Amino Active CSL is basically a commercial version of a home-made boilie I had been using for a number of years to catch barbel. Amino active is one of those rare baits that not only works the first time you use it but carries on getting better the more of it you put in over a period of time. That’s because the base mix (food value) of the boilie is naturally strong whilst the flavour label (an essential oil) is very subtle. It’s my experience with barbel (and other species, actually) that baits heavily laced with flavour never catch fish for very long.
People often ask me how to fish the river barbel given the success of pellets. ‘Have the pellets blown?’ they ask. The answer is yes and no. On the heavily fished stretches of river you can forget about using great big halibut pellets on the hook – the barbel have wised up to them. A few small pellets in the feeder or bag (3-4mm) jobs will help to attract the fish but keep the free pellets at a low level and instead stuff the feeder with a mixture of mini pellets, Crunchy Fish groundbait and broken amino active CSL boilie with the edge nicked off (this releases the subtle aroma that barbel will home in on). Using this combination I feel confident of catching barbel anywhere on stretches of river ranging from easy to difficult.
Of course, no bait will work unless you use it in the right swim and in the right conditions. In winter, the conditions that you are looking for are rising or stable water temperatures with the river temperature at four degrees or more. Don’t worry about the colour – I’ve caught barbel in rivers so dirty that visibality is reduced to just a few centimeters. Quite how the barbel manage to sniff the bait out in chocolate coloured water amazes me sometimes but they do.
After a fair amount of research on the product and discovering that red is the first tone to disappear in the colour spectrum, making red mist almost invisible in water, I was more interested in giving it a chance and ordered my sample. When it turned up I was very impressed, a nice smooth silky feel to the line and a good knot hold I soon poured hot water into a bucket and dropped the spool of line in there for 10 minutes, getting rid of any memory in the line. Red may not be the first of choices for a ‘serious’ carp angler and definitely goes against the norm but slowly it is tempting more and more of us into giving it a chance, and why not? Changing your fishing tackle can bring great success.
After being convinced to put my waders on and half freeze to death, during a recent winter session, and stand in the lake for that prize picture I was intrigued as to what kind of temperature the water itself was. This gave me the idea of pinching the ray temp gun out of my husband’s kitchen and having a built in laser it has proven to be extremely accurate in the lake each time I go fishing and more importantly each time I have landed a fish. This is beginning to help me build up a good picture of the year to come and hopefully in time to come help determine the ideal water temperature to catch. I’m sure each lake has its own characteristics and differing reactions to differing water temperatures but never the less spending short periods of time researching a water could pay off greatly in the long run.