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Thursday, December 31, 2009

So it goes

I've not been out fishing over Christmas as I've been feeling a bit under the weather, and the weather outside hasn't been encouraging enough to tempt me out into the cold. So I've stopped in reading and re-reading Gierach. I'm glad our winters don't last as long as the ones they get in Colorado. It's almost made me want to take up flyfishing with bamboo rods - but not quite... A little Googling has turned up a Gierach article on-line.

2009 wasn't a bad year, England beat the Aussies to regain the Ashes and I caught some nice fish. But my fishing was a bit up and down like the England cricketers' performances. The cold start to the year scuppered any chance of good barbel catches but I got a feel for chub fishing. Then the last week of the season panned out well when the weather changed for the better. Alas the good fortune didn't carry on into the spring tench campaign. I was hoping to really get to grips with my chosen venue this year but a combination of unfavourable conditions and a lack of time meant I caught just nine tench - although the ones I did catch were worth having.

Work restricted me to the one late spring bream session that went better than I could have hoped for. Then the rivers opened and I got sucked back into barbelling, because it was handy and fitted in round work, forgetting my other plans for the summer because I couldn't put a foot wrong with the barbel between July and November. When winter came back with a bang work piled up making me miss those narrow slots when the river was on form or a stillwater worth a visit.

Here's the highlights:
  • Barbel - 12-12
  • Bream - 14-06 [pb]
  • Carp - dnw
  • Chub - 6-09 [pb]
  • Grayling - 1-05 [pb]
  • Roach - dnw
  • Tench - 9-09 (f) [pb]
[pb]= personal best, dnw = did not weigh (i.e. small!), (m) = male, (f) = female

Perhaps not as spectacular as last year when it comes to variety of personal bests, but the longer you fish the harder they get to beat and I have no complaints. The main thing is that I've enjoyed my fishing once again. New stillwaters and stretches of river have been explored and fished successfully. That's probably the greatest thing about fishing, there's always something to do that you haven't done before. When it pans out well in pleasant surroundings, which seem to become more important than the fish as I get older and grumpier, there's nothing better.

All the best for 2010.

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Better than a blank - just!

The rivers would be carrying extra water, the barbel would be feeding, but I quite fancied sitting behind three matched rods on a stillwater. So the sunny morning was spent in deliberation. Time was when I'd have done what I thought I ought to, but eventually I chose to do what I wanted to do. Three rods were put in the quiver along with the plumbing rod. It was a late decision. I had Test Match Special on the wireless as I made some sandwiches. Two Aussie wickets down with the first two balls of the day. Should I stay home and listen? Nah. I can just about get long wave reception with my fishing radio on the dashboard.

The journey was slow. Not stop-start, but slow. The cricket made it bearable as more wickets tumbled. I arrived at the lake later than planned, even with the late start. Although there was a strong south-westerly blowing I chose to fish with the wind off my back. There was one other angler fishing the same bank - the only other angler on the lake, and he'd caught a decent bream in the morning. I felt like I was in with a chance.

I mixed up some groundbait and fired out a dozen and a half balls to the marker float which was over 12 feet of water with a fairly clean bottom. Then two method feeders were cast out temporarily while I rigged the third rod with a simple running leger and shot hooklink, and baited the rig with two 9mm Tutti Fruti bolie pellets. The method feeders were then swapped to cage feeders on simple helicopter rigs. The clouds started to gather but it remained bright.

Ever since I spent a year on a 'massage the dole figures' scheme working three days a week on a nature reserve I have disliked them. They are totalitarian. The argument that anglers disturb wildlife and damage the flora is a nonsense. The path was alive with butterflies as I walked to my swim. Small brown ones, small blue ones, larger white and speckled ones, all feeding on the masses of flowers.

Butterfly heaven

The baits had been out nearly an hour. Time for a recast then put the kettle on. I was screwing the gas bottle to the stove when I was disturbed by the sound of an alarm. The middle bobbin was up at the top, the line bowstring taut and the alarm still sounding. I lifted into the fish and felt not the thump of a bream, but the pull of something else. My first thought was that I'd hooked a carp, but it didn't feel too heavy, maybe a tench - of which there are supposed to be a few in the pit. It kept pulling to my right and kited in. Now this could be a problem as the water was a good two feet higher than normal. Sure enough the fish ended up in the marginal reeds that should have been stood in inches of water.

I'd almost put my wellies on, but there I was paddling out in my boots. I soon went over the top of the left one. I backed out and walked down the bank to see if a change of direction would free the fish. It didn't. What I could see of the fish wasn't much, just a vaguely dark back and some ripples on the surface. It looked like a decent tench. I put the rod down, removed my boots and socks then tried to roll up my trouser legs that were already damp around the ankles. Rod in one hand landing net in the other I soon realised that wellies wouldn't have been much use anyway. With the water up to my knees (and my trousers soaked to the same depth) the fish rolled on its side. It was a carp. I'd got soaked for a small carp!

Small carp & wet trousers

I left the fish in the margin while I took my trousers off and hung them on the back of my chair, covering my pale legs with my bib and brace. I put my boots back on my bare feet - Gortex lined boots don't feel clammy against skin when damp so I was quite comfortable. It would have been a different story in winter, though.

Luckily it was a good drying wind. Two hours later the trousers were dry enough to put back on. The clouds had coalesced to one grey sky. Bad light stopped play at Edgbaston. Then the rain arrived. Intermittent spots at first, falling lightly now the wind had dropped to a mere zephyr. Then getting heavier, but not heavy, and steady. I sheltered under the Aqua Rover.

What I wanted to do, not what I thought I ought to be doing

With the cloud cover, and the shortening days, dusk came around nine. I hoped to see the dark backs of bream rolling, but none showed themselves. Although it wasn't cold my feet were turning chilly. I packed up early, in the dark and rain, at half past nine. It could have been a better session, but it had been eventful in its way!

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Planning ahead

The tenching has been more like sitting in the open air staring at rods than fishing so far this year. Either I haven't been able to find them or they just haven't woken up and started exploring yet. The bream, on the other hand, had been going wild down south. I couldn't string the time together to go after them though. It can be a short period of easy fishing and I'd missed out on it last year. Tuesday saw me able to get away. Unsure of the range I'd need to fish at I packed my Interceptors and one of my Ballistas. My plan being that if I needed two long range rods I'd press the marker rod into operation - so I put a spare Baitrunner in the bag. For some reason I threw another spod in the bait bag, to give me a choice of four. It must have been premonition.

The first task was to walk round the lake looking, and asking, for clues. One thing I will say about carp anglers is that when they know you're one of those weirdos who prefers catching bream or tench they are very helpful. A spot where the bream had rolled the previous evening was pointed out to me. It would be a starting point if nothing else, so I wheeled my wheelbarrow round and selected a swim that gave access to open water. Out with the plumbing rod and hard gravel was located almost at the casting limit of my Interceptors - determined by casting a feeder at the marker float. This process revealed that one of the Sporteras was making a grinding noise and felt as rough as a bag of gravel. I put my spare Baitrunner on that rod and swapped the other Baitrunner from the Ballista to the other Interceptor. I prefer to fish with matching reels so that I know where all the knobs and levers are and that they all work in the same way. Essential in the dark, I find.

Tools of the baiting trade

The next task was the spodding of feed. A presoaked mix of pigeon conditioner and groats to which I added a load of mixed pellets. To save my back I stood the spod mix bucket on two other bait buckets. This also speeded the spodding up. Well, it did until the first spod fell apart. I had wondered why the bead was a tight fit under the loop on the MCF spod when it hadn't been on the previous cast. Everything looked okay. Then I cast again and the fins fell off. I had assumed the fins to be an integral part of the moulding, but they are not. They are a separate piece that is glued to the spod body. As the wire loop is attached to the fins and takes the force of the cast inertia did the rest. No matter, I had three more spods.

Spod the difference

I clipped on a bigger spod that I'd modified to release like the MCF, filled it up and let rip. There was a resounding crack as the line parted and the spod flew free. The line had tangled at the reel. Arse! Time was getting on and I had two options. Swap my marker reel to the spod rod (it was clipped up at the correct distance and I had my horizon marks picked out to aim for) or take the float off and use the marker rod. Out with a second MCF spod (because it was smaller) and try the marker rod. It did the job easily, and was less tiring to use than the heavy spod rod. I was soon working to a rhythm and the bait was placed accurately. I think I'll try a lighter rod for spodding again.

With half the spod mix out on the lake bed I set to sorting out my method mix. This consisted of Vitalin, more of the mixed pellets and some Sonu fishmeal and pellet method groundbait. The thinking being that bream like pellets and fishmeal! One rod fished two grains of floating fake corn set about half an inch off bottom and the other rig had a 10mm Tutti Frutti boilie on the hair. With both rods out I set up camp and waited. As if a switch had been thrown bream began rolling at eight o'clock. First of all well out from the baited patch, then closer and all points between the bait and the middle of the lake. Confidence was sky high.

When tench fishing with 'bolt' rigs I set the baitrunners and the line tight. The only way the bobbin can go is down and the tight drag helps set the hook and stop it falling out. When I'm fishing for bream I've started fishing the bobbins almost as low as the chains will allow but with just a bit more of a drop possible. The baitrunners are slackened off so if a bream does move away it can take line and give an indication. One or two have actually given decent runs. Too often I've failed to spot a bream take using the tight set up. All that happens is a single bleep and that's it. Either the fish stays where it is or it kites round on the tight line. Ignore the bleep and you end up winding a bream in when you wake up!

The down side to the slacker approach is that you are more aware of line bites, some of which can fool you into thinking they are the real thing. I always give an indication plenty of time before lifting into it. Letting the bobbin go up and stay up, watching the line tighten and the rod tip move, waiting while the bobbin goes up and down for ages, or watching it drop right back. Even so they still manage to fool me now and then. Line bites can occur on a tight line too, and if they result in a slack liner you have to get up and reset the bobbin. I think fishing the bobbin's on a bit of a drop is the best, and most informative option.

Loaded for bream

Once it was dark everything fell into place. Suffice to say that the bream found the feed and my hookbaits, the bobbins jiggled, alarms sounded and the tripod was required! One fish came out in daylight, and after I'd returned it and was sorting the landing net out I found a tiny pikelet. The tiniest pikelet I think I have ever seen.

From acorns...

To give a sense of scale!

The second night followed a similar pattern to the first. Bait was spodded out in readiness for the dark hours and right on cue at eight the bream began rolling. Again it wasn't until the light had gone that the bobbins moved and the scales and camera were required. Despite the problems that beset the start of the session a little forethought in packing extra spods and reels and some improvisation on the rod front had rescued the situation and I'd done okay. As I packed away my bream camp in the morning sunshine it was apparent that my bunny suit and towel would need a good wash!

Many years ago I scoffed at people wanting to fish for bream. It wasn't until I caught my first double that I realised big bream are different to small or medium bream. They're not groundbait devouring slime-balls, they are impressive and majestic beasts.

A male bream rests before release

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

A bream wind did blow

Saturday was a great day. I had to be in Nottingham (near as dammit) to attend the PAC AMM and stand down as webmaster. Free at last, free at last! To celebrate I spent the afternoon and evening bream fishing. Things got off to a bad start when I loaded the barrow up, pushed it five yards then felt it grind to a halt and topple on its side. Some straps off the rucksack had tangled with the axle and wheel. Reloaded and I was off again. When I neared the spinney where I fished last week the path was blocked by a fallen tree. Should I drop into the swim in the open or muster all my strength and move the tree? I rolled up my sleeves and set to work. After a few minutes the tree (okay, it was couple of large branches snapped from a willow by the recent strong winds, which were still blowing) was shifted and the way ahead was cleared.

The sun was shining on the sheltered gap in the trees and it was a pleasant spot to fish from. The wind was really howling straight into the bay making casting any distance difficult, and catapulting balls of groundbait out with any accuracy nigh on impossible. I opted to fish the feeders on their own. Two method balls, one with the inevitable two grains of fake corn the other with a 10mm Tutti, the third rod fished a maggot heli-feeder rig set up on heavy tubing (more for the hell of it than anything). The hook had a couple of fake casters on the hair so I chucked it to my left close in where I thought tench might patrol.

Once settled I had a rethink. Last week I'd picked up fish on a long chuck in daylight. A loaded blockend feeder would cut across the wind better than a method ball. So the maggot feeder was wound in, the feeder swapped for a heavier one loaded with a backlead and a worm added to the hook. The rig certainly flew.

Add a worm for bream

On with the kettle. Hardly had the brew been poured when the bobbin rose on the worm rod and the spool started spinning. I wasn't too sure what I'd hooked, I think I was fighting the wind on the line as much as the fish - which turned out to be a be-tuberculed five pound bream. That was all a bit unexpected.

A bream with acne

Half an hour later I had a repeat performance. When I lifted into this fish there was a bit of weight then all went slack. For some reason the hooklink had parted. Peculiar. Fifteen minutes later the Tutti rod was in action resulting in a seven pounder, the corn rod producing a fish of about six pounds after another quarter of an hour. Then the liners started.

As six o'clock approached the wind swung around and the white caps disappeared from the water, the surface turning to a gentle ripple. A shower passed over then the sun shone again. The liners dried up. Bream were to be seen rolling all over the place, but the bobbins were static.

No fish at the end of the rainbow

I expected more action when the darkness drew on, but although the rolling continued and a few liners materialised dusk was quiet. Into proper darkness and it went completely dead. A final bream, the smallest of the day, came along to the worm/caster combo. Then nothing again.

I can only assume that it was the wind that got the bream feeding. Or maybe if I'd put some bait out when the wind dropped they might have settled on that late on. Anyway, it was a good day to be out and a great way to enjoy my freedom!

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Three deserved bream

A man can only take so much frustration and last week had been mighty frustrating. Even so, when I woke the rain was hammering on the window and I very nearly rolled over and went back to sleep. However the BBC on-line weather forecasts have proved to be pretty accurate when it comes to the 24hr predictions and this rain had been foretold to clear. Sure enough it began to ease, so I got up and loaded the car.

I'd been studying the pit I was heading for on Flash Earth* and there appeared to be a shallow bar off a point that faced the prevailing wind. It had to be worth a look if the spot was free. Being almost as far from the car park as you can get it was free, despite my late arrival for a Sunday session. The barrow proved it's worth in getting a heavy load of bait round to the swim. The tackle I can manage, but a bucket of pre-soaked Vitalin and groats weighs a ton, plus there was dry groundbait and pellets adding to the load.

Out with the plumbing rod and there it was. At a couple or three feet it was rather shallower than I'd anticipated, but with twelve feet of water just beyond and to the left of the bar it had to be worth a shot. With the marker float in place in ten feet I set about catapulting out balls of Vitalin laced with groats and a mix of smallish pellets of various types. There were some groats remaining in the big bucket after I had tipped the mix into my groundbait bowl for balling up. Dry pellets were tipped in and water added. Once the catty had done its job the spod rod was used to put out the remaining pellets and groats over the top.

Some of the Vitalin mix was held back and half a bag of Sonu Carp Method Mix added to make a smoother mix to use on the two method feeders. One feeder was baited with a 10mm Tutti and the other with two grains of floating fake corn with a shot attached a quarter of an inch from the hook eye. The third rod was to fish a 15mm fishmeal boilie on a simple helicopter rig, with a PVA bag of crumbled boilies.

The helicopter rig consists of a quick change swivel trapped between two Grippa Stops and Hiro Rollsnap (any snap link swivel will do) being tied to the end of the mainline. The hooklink has a rig sleeve on it to slide over the loop that slips into the quick change swivel. No tubing, no lead core. Dead simple.

It don't get much more basic

As the Ballistas I built up for breaming last year haven't sold I decided to take them for an outing. They did a good job of casting the method feeders. At 2.5lb test so they should! I'd prefer a rod with a slightly softer butt section though.

Posing as a carper

The day had brightened up and sheltered from the strong wind I was nice and warm. It still being spring the temperature soon dropped when a cloud obscured the sun though. With the wind blowing into the bay I expected bream to be in residence. Action wasn't anticipated until the sun started to sink. So I settled back on my bedchair to read a barbel book.

At five to two I was disturbed by the right hand bobbin lifting and holding. I gave it time to drop back in case it was a liner, but it stayed up. I lifted the rod, felt a weight then it was gone. Must have been a liner after all.

The next four hours were spend reading, listening to the wireless and being bemused by carp anglers. I think some carp anglers mustn't own an umbrella as they erect a bivvy for day sessions. And what's all this about facing away from the water? I know fishing into the wind can be unpleasant, but you can always manage to get the brolly (or whatever) arranged so you have at least a side on view of the rods. And if it isn't raining just wrap up warm!

For some reason I thought I'd recast the big boilie rod further out, maybe twenty yards more. I must have forgotten to switch the Delkim back on because twenty minutes later I heard a short, sharp buzz from a baitrunner. The bobbin on the big boilie rod was up at the top. This time when I lifted the rod the fish stayed attached. Fairly hooked it was a modest bream of some six pounds.

15mm bream mouth

Around seven thirty the wind dropped, a cuckoo called, I had a liner, and a couple of bream rolled beyond my bait. An hour later the big boilie rod was in action again. The result being a slightly bigger bream which I weighed to see if my guesstimate was correct. It was. A shade over seven pounds. Another hour later with the light pretty much gone the liners started to increase in frequency. Most were gentle lifts and falls of the bobbin, but one whacked it up so hard the clip hit the rod butt and I was convinced it was the start of a carp run until it immediately dropped back! I now had the baits staggered with one beyond, one on, and one short of, the baited area. The bream were rolling with a vengeance, and the liners were coming constantly. At ten o'clock all three bobbins were in motion at once, Delkim lights flashing and buzzers tweeting quietly. One stayed up at the top longer than usual and the final, and smallest, bream of the session was landed.

On the way back to the car I knew there was a pothole I had to avoid with the barrow. I reached the place where it was, thought I had negotiated it, then promptly pushed the barrow into it. It was the perfect size to trap a wheelbarrow wheel. Bugger. Much heaving and cursing later I extricated the barrow and carried on. Stopping briefly to rebalance the load that had shifted during the mishap. Still, it was better than trying to carry the load back to the car.

No monsters caught, but I put some thought and effort in and didn't blank. Now I can face the workbench again. For a day or two at any rate.

* You didn't think that link would actually go to a view of the pit, did you?

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Friday, May 01, 2009

A deserved blank

When you watch a coot swimming out to your baited patch, diving down, popping back up with a tasty morsel in its beak, swimming back to its chick and repeating the process, all day, it should tell you something. Slow on the uptake it took me almost two days to work out that there were either no fish in the swim or the coots had devoured all the bait. That was last week and it was nice to be out in the sun, but that's not the same as catching fish.

Coot food

What was surprising was that the coot (or coots as I suppose the pair might have been taking turns) rarely picked up my baits. The fake casters were never touched, the fake corn occasionally and the boilies only after they had been recast. A bait was never picked up a second time. I also noted that when there was a hatch of flies in the evening the coot(s) stopped nicking my bait and made the most of the meat that had come available. Once the hatch was over they went back to the pellets and stuff. There'll be some well fed cootlets swimming about soon.

A coot snack

On the way home I collected my latest batch of blanks which have kept me occupied since my return. I'd be more occupied with them if I wasn't still waiting for a few rod fittings. Par for the course though for a European distributor to be out of stock...

A few rebuilds and refurbs have materialised this week. As usual they show varying levels of craftsmanship. The professionally built rods just need tidying up even though they are fourteen years old. They do have ridiculously long handles though. The 'home made' rods are a different matter. One of the reel seats on one pair is fitted off centre. I wouldn't actually know how to achieve that if I wanted to! Other than that they are a simple rewhip and varnish job that is almost complete. The third pair of rods are a full strip and rebuild.

One of the reel seats was loose. When pulled off it was apparent why. Whoever had built the rod failed to run epoxy round the outer edges of the rolls of masking tape under the seat. This allows water to get in and soften, and eventually rot, the masking tape. The reel seat then works loose.

Rotten tape

The blanks are Tri-Cast Arrowlites which are nice blanks, but like all woven carbon/Kevlar blanks frustrating to refurb. Strip the clear coat off and the Kevlar strands stick up. Being bullet proof they are impossible to shave off with a blade. Apply varnish over them and you have sticky-up bits. These can be trimmed away for a second coat. But it's all a right pain.

With no time to get away I snatched a couple of fly fishing sessions. One a blank on the ressy, one on the canal that resulted in a jack attacking a 'fly' three times before getting fed up. Pleasant evenings but, as with the tench/bream session, I'd have preferred to catch something. At least I put some effort and thought in so didn't feel like kicking myself.

With warblers arriving the cuckoos won't be far away. The trees are leafed up nicely, hawthorn buds starting to show (even elder buds) and the reeds are starting to turn from straw to green as their shoots reach up through the water.

New shoots

It all makes you want to get out and fish. Then another Bank Holiday approaches to spoil it all.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Delkims sound in anger

I'd done enough waiting around to last me a long, long time. Friday I was definitely going fishing. However, a total lack of fish since the river's closed was sufficient disincentive to make me roll over and go back to sleep when the alarm clock went off. By the time I managed to crawl out of my pit the motivation had returned. Now indecision was nagging. Was it to be a Friday overnighter into Saturday on Longtail Pit or would it be a an afternoon/evening session on Cottontail? I fancied some rat-free peace and quiet, so it would be Cottontail.

There was just one car in the car park when I arrived and, sure enough, the angler was about to set up in the very swim I had my hopes on fishing. No matter, with a lot still to learn about the pit any swim would do as I have no real clues to work from. The plumbing rod revealed a clean bottom shelving off steadily to fifteen or sixteen feet. I could have cast it further, but with a strong, very strong, north-easterly blowing into my face I'd never have reached the mark with my baits. I settled on an easy cast that I could also catapult out some groundbait to.

One reason for the session was to see which rod of three would be best for chucking method feeders. Truly testing conditions for the comparison! Of course this meant that my set-up looked a complete mess. One of the rods doesn't even have a final coat of varnish on the whippings. Although the reel seat has been glued in place.

No points for presentation

First of all I cast three baits out. Two method feeders, one fishing a 10mm Tutti the other two grains of plastic corn, and a maggot feeder with two plastic casters on the hair. The second job was to mix up the groundbait. I'm not too sure what it consisted of - I found it in a bucket in the garage... With that mixed I wound the method rods in and baited the feeders. Then I set about my third task of spodding out a dry mix of small trout pellets, old maggots, casters (erm, they were casters in with the old maggots actually), fresh maggots and a handful of 10mm Tuttis. With that lot in place the final task was to ball up some of the ground bait and catty it out.

While in the process of balling up the feed a lad and his dad turned up and asked to pick my brains about the pit. This didn't take long as I know little about it except what I have been told - which may or may not be accurate. The dad thanked me, then asked if I minded answering one final question. "No. What is it?" " How do you get all that gear to your swim, do you carry it all in one go?" "Yep, pretty much." "You must go to the gym to work out then!" Laugh? Not half!!!

No need for a work out, carrying your gear keeps you fit

I must admit that it's the groundbait and water for the kettle that adds the weight. Other than that it's not a big deal when my knees and hips work properly. Besides, on this occasion I'd walked less than 200 yards.

When everything was set how I liked it, bait out, rigs on the spot, bobbins hanging with a five inch drop, I sat down and waited. The wind was blooming chilly and I was glad of the fleece and bunny suit. When the wind dropped briefly and the sun shone it was actually quite warm. With the trees greening up nicely there was another sure sign of spring - a fly in my first brew of the day. The summer migrants were in greater evidence too - terns, swallows and martins were all spotted. The frustrations of work (or waiting for stuff to work on) were forgotten and I concentrated on recasting the feeders at intervals.

By all accounts the bream hadn't really woken up on the pit. The water felt pretty cold still, so I thought the deeper water I was fishing might produce the goods. I was actually quite confident. When the light went I had hoped to see signs of rolling bream on a glassy calm surface. The wind refused to abate, it just started to swing more to the east, then back again. The trees had been turned to silhouettes for an hour or so when the sounder box in the top pocket of my fleece bleeped once, the right hand bobbin having risen a couple of inches. Although the bobbin didn't drop back pulling on the line failed to reveal a fish attached. As I was adjusting the bobbin's hang the sounder burbled as the middle bobbin rose to the rod.

Immediately I lifted into the fish the nod-nodding as I brought the fish in confirmed that I was attached to a bream. Not the world's biggest, it was still my first fish from the water so it got weighed and photographed. Although it wasn't big enough to justify a self-take an eight pounder would do me for starters on a new-to-me water.

Off the mark

Carrying a few leeches suggested that the fish had just begun to get active. When the right hand bobbin lifted and held at the top, twitching slightly, twenty minutes later a second bream was landed. Smaller by a couple of pounds and also carrying a leech or two, plus what looked like a water snail on its dorsal. Both fish were as plump as you might expect at this time of year and quite silvery. The colouration probably being explained by the lack of clarity in the water, which had actually improved slightly from my first visit.

Soon after all that it was time to head home, taking care to avoid the rabbits on the track back to the main road, now filled with enthusiasm to plan a speedy return.


Monday, April 06, 2009

Bream, flies, and 'mushy peas'

I always think that spring has truly arrived when the blackthorn is in bloom. It's surprising how much further advanced the year is down south. Last weekend I travelled to Northampton and the bushes were white with blossom, yet back home the buds had yet to open.

Blackthorn in flower and the bream should be on the move

Using natures signs from the land can give you clues as to what the fish will be doing and I think that bream are a worthwhile option when the blackthorn is out, but tench become more viable when the hawthorn is in flower. So, on my way home from Northampton I called in at a pit for a few hours in search of bream. I hadn't fished the pit before so didn't expect much. I wasn't disappointed. I blanked. Although I did have a worm bitten in two.

Yesterday I intended to make the trek south again and give the place a more serious assault. However I rose late. Having nothing better to do I set off anyway, arriving after noon but still with plenty of time to put some bait out and fish a few hours into dark. The plan was to spod out a load of pellets, mixed with some sloppy green groundbait to hold them in the spod.

Mushy pea spod mix

With the bait out to a marker float two method feeders were cast out on top of this into about eleven feet of water. The third rod fished a maggot feeder to a gravelly spot at the bottom of the marginal shelf just in case any tench were moving about. Sitting back in the sun with the light dancing on the ripples alternatively watching the water for signs of fish and the bobbins for signs of movement it was most relaxing. Far more so than the fly flinging I'd been indulging in on the local canal during the week.

All set up and ready for action

The concept of fly fishing, for trout as well as pike, has a theoretical and aesthetic appeal. The thought of carrying just a rod, net and light bag is enticing when you have carried five rods, a rucksack and chair plus what felt like a ton of bait half way round a 20 acre pit. And the collecting, or creating, or 'flies' is an added bonus. I had bought some Alien Hair from Alex at Zoota Lures and done some messing about. Nice stuff to work with once you get the hang of it.

Crudely tied pike 'flies'

As I said in another post there is a pleasure in the casting of a fly line, but sitting in the sun waiting for an alarm to sound is more my style these days. Especially when I'm blanking. Which is what I did on the bream pit. I was full of anticipation when the wind dropped towards dusk. I expected to see numerous dark rolling backs over my baited area and the bobbins dropping back like glowing yellow stones. It didn't happen. Just as it had got dark enough for the head torch to be required I had two 'bites'. One to a method feeder one to the maggot feeder. But they were only lifts of the bobbin that dropped straight back. Liners I suspect.

I missed out on some good bream fishing last April because I couldn't string together three days to fit in a two-nighter. With Easter weekend approaching it looks like this year might follow the same pattern. Once the weather has warmed up enough to get the tench moving in earnest then day sessions become a viable option for decent fish - provided you can get up early enough to hit the water at dawn. The very thought of it makes me quail!

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pick of the year

Well, that's another year's fishing over. For the first time in a long time ending in a big freeze. Although I had been hoping for some prolonged cold weather to target chub this winter I hadn't wanted it this cold for so long - and predicted to continue. I nipped out mid-morning today and it was -2c and foggy, by late afternoon it was still -2c and foggy!

At least the fishing this year didn't grind to such a complete standstill as last year did. I started barbel fishing later but caught more, larger and for longer. The year had started slowly, but I made more better decisions and was more flexible than I have been in the past, so carried on catching fish by shifting my targets. You never stop learning.

Spring and summer were difficult owing to the ever changing weather with hardly two consecutive days the same. Even so I managed to catch some nice fish. After a season of bad timing on one river in 2007 I managed to get it right more often than not this time round, as my barbel results show. But where have the chub gone? Usually a few have come along to the barbel rods. This season (so far) they have been a rarity.

I'm not making any firm plans for the coming year but I do have a couple of new venues in my sights. If I can up a few more PBs along the way I'll be happy. Then again, I'll be happy if I catch more often than I blank. Unfortunately for the blog the issue of publicity bans cropped up this year and will be a factor in the coming months too.


That doesn't stop me looking back at some of my fishy highlights of 2008.
  • Barbel - 14-03 [pb]
  • Bream - 11-02
  • Carp - dnw
  • Chub - 5-09
  • Dace - 0-07 [pb]
  • Golden Orfe - 2-00 [pb]
  • Grayling - dnw, but bigger than the one I caught last year! [pb]
  • Perch - 3-05
  • Pike - 16-02
  • Roach/Bream Hybrid - 5-06 [pb]
  • Roach/Rudd Hybrid - 3-04
  • Roach - 1-10 [pb]
  • Rudd - dnw
  • Sea trout - dnw [out of season]
  • Tench - 7-04 (m) [pb], 9-03 (f)
[pb]= personal best, dnw = did not weigh (i.e. small!),(m) = male, (f) = female

Quite a satisfying list by my standards.

All the best for 2009.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Underwater Ireland

I stumbled across a link to today and found some cracking underwater photos of fish. There are also some good videos of fish in the clear waters of Irish loughs and canals which are most easily viewed on YouTube. Here's one.

By the way if you have Lumbland bookmarked, or have a link to it on your site, please change the address to It's taken me ages (and much tearing out of my remaining hair) to work out how to get the new domain name to function with all the pages displaying correctly, but I think it does now!

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Friday, July 18, 2008

La indecisiĆ³n me molesta

After fighting the weed at the weekend I didn't really feel like tench fishing and was stuck for an idea what to do. The problem with becoming an 'all-rounder' is that there are just too many options! Tuesday was wasted in indecision, so by lunchtime on Wednesday I was in the car heading for the tackle shop and some bait. Although I still didn't know where I was going or what I was after catching. I had plenty of groundbait, bought some maggots, and still was clueless!

After a chat with my mate in the shop I decided it was bream or bust. A few hours later the indecision was about which swim to choose as I had the entire lake to myself. I plumbed the shallows, which were fairly weed free reasonably close in and the wind was off my back - which was handy as I managed to cast off my plumbing float...

Like a fool I decided that it would be better to fish the opposite bank. On arrival there the weed was pretty thick, but I found that at forty to fifty yards it was clear, and there was around nine foot or more of water. I mixed up a couple of kilos of groundbait and balled it in, leaving enough behind for adding to the method feeders. Then I spodded out some pellets, set the rods up and settled in for the night.

It had been warm and sunny when I arrived but it clouded over at dusk. Although this meant I was able to sleep wearing my bunny suit under the bedchair cover it also meant that the dawn was grey, and showery.

The night had passed surprisingly uneventfully. Although I wasn't after them a tench had rolled in front of the rods before dark. However it may have been a prelude to sexual shenanigans as I am pretty sure I saw tench spawning when the light had faded enough for the head torch to be required. It was certainly too dark to be 100% sure what was writhing in the marginal weed.

I hadn't set the alarm, but still awoke shortly after first light. After the usual cup of tea I rebaited and recast then nodded off again. What befell my eyes when I awoke didn't fill me with glee. I'd been robbed of groundbait. By ducklings... The greedy little half-grown beggars had scoffed the lot, and paddled their muddy little feet all over the groundbait bowl and my catty!

I've been robbed!

They were unrepentant too, and weren't for being told to **** off - just coming back for more as soon as I turned my back. When I mixed up another bag of feed I made sure the bowl was duckproof.


During the morning I swapped rigs around. One rod fished The Rig with an eighteen and two maggots to see if there were any roach or hybrids about while the baits on the other two rods were varied between pellet, fake corn and 10mm pineapple boilie - all baits that could pick up almost anything. It was noon before a smallish roach fell for the maggots. At least I hadn't blanked.

Better than nowt.

A slightly larger skimmer came along around three, but it was pretty quiet. More bait went out in preparation for the hours of darkness; groundbait, maggots, pellets and seeds. The spodding process was carried out in two periods. Not for any carefully thought out reason, but because I cracked the spod off and had to wait for it to drift back into the bank before recommencing the bombardment. That's the second time it's happened and I reckon it's time to step up the line on the spodding reel. Although I use a shock leader it is the shock of the line hitting the clip that seems to be causing the leader knot to fail. Back to the 30lb Power Pro, methinks.

I was confident that a pellet, a boilie or the fake corn would be picked up by something in the night. Untroubled by nagging doubts I was asleep well before midnight, and again didn't need the sleeping bag. At twenty five past four in the morning I was staggering out to the rods, trying to get my specs on and remain upright before determining which rod had caused the remote sounder to disturb my slumber. It turned out to be the middle rod fishing the boilie and the culprit looked more like a roach than not to my inexpert eyes.


Or not?

The helicopter rod was converted from a pellet/bag rig to a maggot/feeder. The hook was a size 14 Animal and four red maggots were crammed on to it and a piece of red rig foam trimmed to give a slow sink. This produced a small roach/bream hybrid an hour later that had had a lucky escape from a small pike by the looks of things, followed by an equally small roach. The day tried to warm up, so I donned my waders and searched the margins for my missing marker float. And found it in the reeds near the next swim!

With that I called it quits while I was ahead.


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Sunday, July 06, 2008

All good things...

As the sun sinks slowly in the west I'm amazed that I've managed to keep this blog going as long as I have on a fairly regular basis. In my early twenties I kept a diary where I wrote each trip up in detail when I got home. That lasted a couple of years before dying the death, and it looks like this blog might be going the same way. I have an inherent loathing of routine and 'having' to do things. That's why I stopped pike fishing and writing articles - neither are compulsory activities, and neither is writing this blog.

There may be a few rig thoughts to come, probably some tackle reviews, and possibly a tale or two if anything really interesting happens. But but for now, that's about it.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Slow progress

It was back into the bunny suit after the brief heatwave. Not only was there a north-easterly blowing but there was also rain around. I managed to get set up in the dry after pondering my swim selection on the basis that nobody was catching much. The decision was made more on a whim than anything, selecting a deeper swim that hadn't been fished this season as far as I know. I kept the baiting to a minimum and cast three rods out all fishing different baits. Two method feeders were set up one fishing the standby of two grains of plastic corn, the other a 10mm pineapple Boosted Wrap. The third rod fished a maggot feeder with two plastic casters on the hair.

Unusually there were lots of small fish topping all along the bank from a few yards out to maybe thirty yards. Small fish don't often show on this lake, although I have had one day in three seasons that they have been a nuisance on the maggot rod. Grebes, terns and pike were making the most of this abundance of prey, all obviously catching small roach by the looks of things.

The first night was quiet. Not a peep from the alarms. Before dark I had swapped the Boosted Wrap for three 6mm Tutti boilie pellets, and when I started to wind them in in the morning a small pike of around two pounds grabbed them. Two red maggots were added to the bare hook on the plastic caster rig, and it wasn't long before a small roach was landed. Plenty of bites came to this rod, most failing to result in hooked fish. If I had scaled things down I'm sure that a number of small roach could have been had on single maggot. But that wasn't what I was after. Around noon the caster/maggot rod produced a bream of some five pounds, followed by another little roach.

Then, out of the blue, the alarm on the middle rod (fishing the corn) screamed out, and my best tench of the season so far was landed. Not fully filled out yet she was a sleek seven pounder. As I was weighing the tench the caster/maggot alarm bleeped once. The tench was sacked while I set up the camera and as I did so the line on the caster/maggot rod tightened and I pulled into what felt like a heavy bream. In the shallows it swirled and took some line, then all went slack. The hooklink had been bitten through. Pike. I guess that first bleep had been a roach hooking itself, to be taken by one of the pike patrolling the area.

The day was not exactly warm and not exactly cold. Despite the light rain, coming in showers of varying length, it wasn't unpleasant as things soon dried out when the rain eased off. The wind was cool, but not strong, although annoyingly unable to settle into one direction.

At eight in the evening a small bream picked up the caster/maggot combo, so for the dark hours I fished without the maggots - as I did for the following day. The idea being to leave the plastic casters to wait it out for a tench. Most of the night was quiet apart from a roach/bream hybrid of a couple of pounds that picked up a Boosted Wrap at one o'clock.

Sunday dawned brighter with the wind more steady in direction, and turned out quite warm in the afternoon. The grebes, terns and pike were joined by cormorants - all catching small fish well within casting range. One tern actually took a fish from the very edge, a foot or so from the marginal rushes. The bobbins, however, were still.

As I had had a flurry of activity around noon on the Saturday I intended to stop until one at the earliest, and stay longer if action was forthcoming. Sure enough, at a few minutes before twelve the bobbin on the caster rod dropped back slowly. So slowly I thought a small roach had picked up the bait, but when I wound into the fish it was obviously not a small roach but a tench. A six pound male as it turned out. This spurred me to stop longer. As the Test Match was interesting I thought I might as well listen until close of play. I did, but no further action was forthcoming.

A frustrating session is some ways, but the most tench action I've had on the lake so far this season. It certainly seems like there aren't many tench, and they are wandering around pretty much at random. If you pick the right swim then one or two might move through while you are there. As they are not moving around in shoals it doesn't make too much sense to put down big beds of bait. Having watched tench grazing in a bay two years ago I don't think they follow patrol routes. Those fish sometimes turned round and covered ground they had already been over. All pretty random as far as I could tell.

If this is what's happening then the light baiting/feeder approach is probably wise. There doesn't seem much point to pile in loads of feed and sit on it until the tench show up in numbers. It might be worth a try for the bream though.

A while back I got fed up of having to go and fetch my forceps from my rucksack when unhooking fish in the landing net, so I started clipping a pair to the mesh by the spreader block. This proved to be useful even when fish were to be weighed and were being unhooked on the mat. I wasn't too sure about the security of the forceps, so I pinned a 'zinger' to the net. This arrangement is working well so far - even if the 'zinger' is looking a bit rusty now!

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Fish. No, really!

I was pretty sure I'd spotted a fish being returned up the opposite end of the lake on my last day there, so that was where I hoped to fish this time round. With the weather turning suddenly hot I reasoned that the shallows would have warmed and the tench would be mooching around them. As the prevailing wind had been blowing into that end of the lake that was a second reason for the choice.

Arriving in late afternoon I was surprised to see just one angler in the area, and only a couple more on the rest of the lake. A chat revealed that there had been a few tench caught in the area over the last week, but that the guy fishing there now hadn't had a bite for two days and nights. I then went for a look around as another option was a large shallow bay round the corner. An hour later I was setting up in the next comfortable swim to the bloke already fishing. The bay didn't look any more promising, and was a midge infested swamp!

By the time I started setting up camp the strong wind was easing to manageable proportions and everything calmed off nicely towards dusk and a night so mild that the bunny suit was surplus to requirements and the sleeping bag didn't need zipping up. I soon had a couple of indications to the maggot feeder, just twitches that could have been liners, which suggested there were fish in the area. With catches being just a few fish I kept the baiting minimal, ten or so spodsful of particles, dead maggots and pellet mush topped up with the method and maggot feeders.

Preparing to get some sleep the alarm on the middle rod with the trusty method feeder fishing two grains of plastic corn bleeped a couple of times. Popping my head out of the bivvy I saw the bobbin right up on a tight line. Lifting into the fish I felt the nodding weight of a bream. My first double from the water and, apart from a split tail fin, a nice clean, young looking fish.

Half an hour later the same alarm signalled a far more positive take, and after a good scrap a tench was landed. A female of five or six pounds. Things were looking good and I was anticipating more action through the night. It never came. One more twitch and that was it.

In the morning there were tench blowing over a wide area in front and to either side of me and the other angler, but as usual they didn't play ball. Out of the blue the other angler, who had broken his duck with a few small bream in the night, landed a male tench around ten o'clock with the sun beating down. He packed up shortly after and I was on my own on that length of bank watching the scummy algae and weed drifting on the surface as the bottom 'broke up' with the heat.

What little wind there was caused this scum do drift into, and collect on, my lines requiring it to be cleaned off at intervals or it would have clogged in the tip rings had I been lucky enough to hook a fish. As the water went calm when the sun set the scummy blobs remained on the surface slowly drifting straight in to me. When I got up in the night to see what might have caused a single bleep I spotted huge mats of scum drifting in. I put on back leads to prevent problems.

By dawn the scum had cleared, but the wind failed to gain any real strength and more blobs started to appear. I decided that the best plan was to move upwind to find a spot where the wind would drift the scum away from me. With the sultry conditions there were plenty of pike basking in the marginal shallows, all either small or very small.

Although the swim I picked had produced a few double figure bream over the last couple of weeks, and I had seen tench bubbles moving through it last week, the afternoon, night and first four hours of daylight were completely fishless. I'm sure that it was a combination of bright sunshine and lack of wind, plus the bottom 'breaking up', that was the reason the fishing was patchy. The lake is either going to switch on big style soon, or continue to be moody for the rest of the spring. Knowing my luck it's going to be the latter.

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

When you see a good idea - nick it!

For some time I have been struggling to find a tangle free way of rigging up a marker float. I've tried different shaped floats, bits of tube, links on the lead, all sorts. None worked with any degree of satisfaction. The other week I spotted an angler's marker rig and a little light went on in my head. I'd tried one cork ball between my big eyed swivel and the float, but not three. As well as acting as an anti tangle device this also adds a fair bit of buoyancy to the float. Trying it out on The Crow Pit it seems to work well, the float only failing to surface when the whole lot got buried in weed and not tangling once.

What the plumbing revealed was a small clear patch about twenty yards out. So that was where I kept casting a method feeder and a maggot feeder. Another maggot feeder went down the edge. It soon became apparent that the clear patch was either not all that clear, or it was smaller than I thought. So, the feeder on The Rig had it's hooklength increased to seven inches, and the size sixteen with three live maggots was swapped to a sixteen with three live maggots on the hook and a plastic caster on the hair to give a slower fall. Furthermore I added a bit of PVA foam. Now I have a problem with PVA foam. For some reason it always comes off the hook too quickly for me. So I popped it into some PVA mesh and nicked the hook in that. It worked!

I had arrived later than I hoped, starting fishing around one o'clock. Around two thirty I started to get drop backs to the maggot feeder on the clear patch. I suspected roach to be the culprits for some reason. This activity didn't last long, and I couldn't be bothered shortening the hooklink again to get a hook up. After all, I was tench fishing.

Out of the blue, at five, the method rod was away. I picked the rod up, felt the fish kick, and with the line under little tension everything went slack. For some inexplicable reason the mainline had parted. I had only recently tied on a fresh hooklength with a 10mm pineapple boilie and a piece of floating plastic corn on the hair. So I can't see it having been knot failure. But you never know.

An hour later I was stood by the rods staring vacantly over the water when I hear the thud, dink, clunk, bzzzzzz of an indicator hitting the rod, the line pinging out of the clip, the indicator hitting the rod pod and the baitrunner whirring. The caster/maggot rig was away, and it wasn't a roach. After a decent scrap on the 1lb 10oz Interceptor I had a chunky male tench in the net.

The next bite also came to this rod, an up and downer that eventually held at the top. Lifting into something it didn't feel large but could have been a small tench, until it flashed silver. There were roach out there, and this one scraped over the pound mark. The other two that managed to hang themselves, from numerous bites, were about half that size. Now I'm trying to work out how to avoid roach!No self take photos this time as something has gone awol from my tripod. Just when I'd got the bulb release sorted too...

For the first time this spring I was able to fish without the bunny suit. Even when I packed up at dark it was still mild, and the light showers hadn't proved an inconvenience, barely requiring the waterproof jacket. With a first tench from a 'new' water under my belt it had been a good day.

I had gone fishing for two reasons. One was because my plans to work Monday to Wednesday morning and fish the rest of the week had been scuppered by the late arrival of rod blanks, limiting me to the Friday only. The other was the arrival of some goodies from Sonubaits. They're not really a sponsor as such, I just happen to know someone who works there.

Not being much of a bait fiend I actually get more excited by the simple stuff than the latest 'guaranteed' fish catching gimmicky baits. That's why I was keen (as in having run out of groundbait) to try out their method mix and Hemp and Hali Crush which are just what they claim to be and full of 'bits' for the fish to browse on. Add the two together and you have something that should appeal to the tincas. I already had faith in their feed pellets when added to a method mix so some of them joined the two groundbaits in the bowl.

I was also sent some 10mm Boosted Wraps in pineapple flavour to try. These are a pretty simple birdfood boilie by the looks of things, but with a peculiar jellylike flavoured coating. It was one of these, on the method rod, that I lost the tench on. At least I know they don't actively repel fish, so they'll be getting further outings. The groundbaits certainly will.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

New toys and April showers

Having bought myself three new reels recently I have been itching to try them out. I have been looking for an intermediate size baitrunner-type reel for some time. The Okuma Epix Pro 30s that I use for perching have been great. Nice and smooth with a reasonable front drag too. But they are a little small for tenching, while I find the Shimano Aeros just a tad too large and don't like the fact that the various size spools are fitted to one size of body. That was why I got myself three Daiwa Regals last spring, but they proved a bit frail in my hands. The bale arms bent just by looking at them for one thing!

After a bit of interweb surfing I settled on the Tica Sportera 3507. These have the size of spool I want with a body that is in proportion. The baitrunner lever (or Hit and Run lever as Tica call it) operates the same way as the Shimanos I'm used to - unlike the Daiwas - so eliminating confusion. Initial impressions are good, but of course new tackle means blanking, so I'll have to report back more fully later in the year!

First time out was an afternoon roach fishing session in the same area of the lake that had produced on my last couple of sessions. Result? Five hours before I got a bite, followed by a small roach and a Tommy ruffe...

Undeterred I loaded the spare spools with some heavier line and headed for The Crow Pit, which I had never set eyes on before. The day was cold and wet as I set off, but although there were showers forecast (which duly arrived), I found a sheltered little sun trap to spend a pleasant afternoon watching swallows and martins from. Crystal clear water with no features I could find, and few clear spots, I fished three rods for almost eight hours with one half hearted bite (to double maggot) for my trouble. This was more an exploratory session, as much as to actually find the place as anything, than a determined attempt to catch some tench (or bream). That's what I keep telling myself, at least.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Rig

As promised here's a description of The Rig that I have been using with some success for a number of species. There are a number of variables that can be changed to suit the baits being used and fish being sought but two constants are 14lb ESP Power Gum and Drennan Grippa Stops.

I don't claim this to be an original idea, far from it, as it is in fact a variation on the helicopter roach rig described on FISHINGmagic by Andy Nellist. I wonder if Andy has ever been a carp angler? Because his rig seems overly complicated to me! Admittedly the Grippa Stops weren't around when that rig was described, and they do make the rig more streamlined.

The first thing I got rid of was the upper hook. I have a hatred of double hook rigs ever since I watched an idiot (there is no other word for him) fishing one with two hair rigged boilies for tench in thick weed at Sywell back in the dark ages. He was getting runs okay, but unsurprisingly losing more fish than he was landing (which wasn't many). Why he couldn't work out that the hook with no fish attached was the problem I haven't a clue, but I saw him retackle with the same double hook rig...

Anyway, here's The Rig.

I first knot the Power Gum to a size 10 Power Swivel using a four turn Uni Knot, then add a Grippa Stop followed by a size 12 Power Swivel and the second Grippa Stop of the pair. Finally a Hiro Rollsnap is knotted to the other end of the Power Gum. The snap link can be any kind you like really as it only serves as a quick change device for removing the feeder when packing the rods away, so it doesn't clatter about when the rod is broken down rigged up with the hook placed in a rod ring, but the Rollsnaps are quite neat.

The length of the Power Gum isn't critical, but should be at least twice the length of your hooklink and no more than twelve inches. I suppose that the longer it is the more shock absorbancy there is - which would be handy with very light hooklinks. The hooklink should be no more than four inches long, it's strength and the hook size being determined by what you are fishing for. I must say that I have found that with these short hooklinks fine line is not too critical, so I rarely go below 0.11 Reflo Powerline even with a size 20 Animal.

You can either tie up your own hooklinks, with a loop to make gauging length easier and to facilitate quick changes with cold hands, or if you find small hooks fiddly to tie you can buy hooks to nylon which you can cut down to suit.

Some people might prefer to set the Grippa Stops closer to the Rollsnap so the bait lies at the side of the feeder, but even with the little bit of silicone tube over the small swivel acting as a boom I find the hook can get stuck in one of the holes in the feeder. Placing the stops so the hook lies just above the lower knot makes the rig less tangle prone and doesn't seem to affect catches.

On stillwaters you fish The Rig on a tight line with a heavy bobbin to show dropbacks, which is what the vast majority of bites are unless you are on a commercial full of daft carp! Where carp are a possibility then a baitrunner should be used and engaged, but where they are not a problem I have managed fine with a standard fixed spool reel. I've even used this on rivers using a quiver tip as bite indication and it has worked superbly.

As well as using The Rig to catch my target species I have also taken to using it to supply myself with livebaits as it requires no effort and is a pretty foolproof self hooker. Just cast out The Rig with a size 20 and a single maggot and wait for something to hang itself. A packet of hooks to nylon and a couple of Power Gum links now live in my pike box!

One word of caution. Make sure that the hooklength is always lighter than the main line, and certainly no heavier than five pounds, just as a safety measure. For use with heavier hooklengths then a safer feeder rig is this one. I have recently streamlined this rig by swapping the Run Ring for a Rollsnap, and replacing the upper bead and stop knot with a Grippa Stop. So far it seems to work.

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