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Monday, March 01, 2010

Dace rig update

I thought a photo might help explain the simple helicopter rig I was using for the dace and roach. Hooklink to the left, mainline (6lb) to the right, and feeder link (5lb) to the bottom. The feeder link is shorter than the hooklink, but all lengths open to modification.

Easy peasy heli-feeder rig

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

All purpose barbel rig

Recently I've mentioned upper and lower hooklinks on my barbel rigs. I thought that as there's been a lack of photos recently I'd brighten the blog up with some pics of my barbel rig and a description of how it's put together and why.

The first thing threaded on the line is a large eye swivel. This could just as easily be a small eye swivel, but the large eye's ones are cheap. This is followed by a 6mm rubber bead, and a size 8 Power Swivel is tied to the end of the line. A paperclip is attached to the free eye of the running swivel. The paperclip is a weak link should the lead or feeder snag up on the retrieve or when playing a fish.

The basis of the rig

To the free eye of the Power Swivel I tie either a length of 15lb Amnesia or 35lb Tiger Braid to form the upper hooklink. On the rare occasions I am fishing mono mainline instead of my usual 30lb Power Pro this upper link might be tied from a length of mainline. How long an upper link I use is pretty random. It's never less than three feet and can be almost six feet. The longer it is the more I can cut it back if it gets damaged. A Power Swivel completes the upper hooklink.

Rig, upper and lower hooklinks

The lower hooklinks are tied up in advance to suit the baits I'm using at the time and are stored on the rig board in my Korum Rig Manager. All bottom links terminate in a loop tied using a Sensas Easy Loop. The link material is usually 35lb Tiger Braid, sometimes 20lb Tiger Braid and occasionally 15lb Amnesia.

Lower hooklinks stored on rig board

You can use whatever lines you like for constructing either of the links. Coated braids, fluorocarbon, anything you get on well with. I just happen like braided hooklinks and have found Tiger Braid to be as abrasion resistant as any braid (the 35lb is tougher than the 20lb though) - and it sinks. It's also a damned sight cheaper than braids sold for making hooklinks!

The thinking behind the rig is simple. You get fewer line bites with long hooklinks than you do with short ones. I have found I catch more barbel using them. Most damage to hooklinks occurs close to the hook - usually within three or four inches. If you use a long one piece hooklink it's difficult to cut it back and retie if using the knotless knot to attach the hook. It soon ends up shorter than required, and this is wasteful. Having the hooklink in two sections cuts down on waste as the upper section lasts a long time. This is less so if you use mono for the links as I don't trust knots to last in mono and after losing a fish due to knot failure I recommend using a fresh upper mono link at the start of every session. If it wasn't for this I'd used Amnesia all the time for the upper link. Braid can be left on for ages without any worries. So I stick with it. If you do use Amnesia give it a stretch to take the remains of any coils out before casting out.

The swivel to which the lower hooklink is looped serves not only this purpose, but also pins the last few inches of the rig to the river bed. Although I use a sinking braid a one piece hooklink can still loop up and result in foulhooked fish. The weight of the swivel almost completely eliminates this.

I don't claim to have invented this set-up. I did arrive at it independently though, through a process of evolution. It's easy to swap from straight lead to feeder. It's almost as easy to swap lower hooklinks. If needs be I use my hair needle as a knot unpicker. I have used a snap link in place of the lower swivel, but they are more expensive. This is a consideration if fishing where tackle losses can be high. A snap link isn't as heavy as a swivel either. I suppose it could be covered in tungsten putty, but I like to keep things as simple as possible.

If you prefer to use a semi-fixed lead then there is an easy and cheap way of rigging that too. Just replace the rubber bead with a tail rubber and jam the large eye swivel over it. A convenient advantage of this arrangement is that when breaking the rod down the lead doesn't need removing. The large eye swivel is easily slid off the tail rubber so the lead slips neatly in the pocket of the quiver like a running lead does, and doesn't rattle against the blank half way up the rod like it would on a conventional semi-fixed clip.

Semi-fixed alternative

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Monday, June 22, 2009

The shortest night

With all the work I could get done out of the way, and the T20 World Cup finals over in short time I was getting twitchy as I hadn't wet a line since Monday. In anticipation I'd prepared some hemp and fancying a dusk into dark session thought I'd fish the feeder for a change, so I'd tipped in some crushed halibut pellets to soak up the hemp juice and form a binding, and attractive, mush. Originally I'd planned to set off around eight, but by the time the Archers was over I could stand it no more. An hour later I was walking the banks of a deserted stretch of river that didn't seem to have been fished much during the first few days of the season.

The river was painfully low, bare rocks showing that are usually betrayed by the disturbance they create on the surface, and hardly any flow on the bend. Small fish were topping and splashing, so it didn't look as 'dead' as it can. The level had obviously been higher judging by the damp line on the rocks and there was a slight peaty tinge. I wasn't expecting action until dark so took my time setting up.

I'd tried to travel light by leaving the rucksack behind and putting everything in my bait carry-all. It didn't really work and I felt more disorganised than usual. By quarter past eight I had two feeders out, one fishing an 8mm crab Pellet O and the other a piece of fake maize for a change. It wasn't long before the maize was replaced by a 10mm Tuna Wrap. I'll save the plastic baits for a time I know there are plenty of barbel to be caught.

A 50g cage feeder was all that was required in the slow summer flow

The wind was light and the sky cloudy, but it being the day of the Summer Solstice darkness was a long time coming. At eleven it was as dark as it would get. Few bats were seen, and fewer chub pulls. Unusual. My intention was to fish until about one. By midnight my hopes were starting to fade when I heard the sweet sound of a baitrunner spool spinning and saw the downstream pellet rod arced over for the first time this season. There was a satisfying steady pull on the end of the line, it felt like it might be half decent. A couple of runs and I was starting to play the 'guess the weight' game. When the fish hit the light from the Petzl it looked smaller than it felt. In the net I wasn't sure. Three months since I'd last seen or weighed a barbel and my powers of weight estimation had deserted me.

The scales revealed the answer, just on nine pounds, maybe a shade over. Not a bad way to kick off the river season and nice to get a bend in a rod again after a couple of blank tench sessions. Would there be more barbel to come?

Off the mark

As it turned out there wouldn't. There was a slight sign of hope when the same baitrunner burst into life when the adrenaline had worn off and my eyelids were starting to droop half an hour after returning the barbel. That turned out to be a chub of some three or four pounds that soon gave up the fight. By one I was wide awake again and decided to give it another hour. By quarter to two I'd had enough and began to tidy the inessentials away. As I did so drizzle started to fall. Time for bed.

Driving away I turned into the village to hear a loud metallic rattling and screeching sound coming form some part of the car. I pulled over and shone the head torch underneath expecting to see something dragging on the road. There was nothing. I set off again and the noise quietened until I turned another corner when it came back only to fade away on the straight. At the next bend, crossing a bridge, the screeching started as I turned the wheel, then shut up and came back as I turned the other way over the bridge. Once more I pulled over for a look. Nothing to be seen. Having had a wheel bearing fitted last week I decided to take the wheel off. None the wiser I put it back. I'd set off again and if the noise was there I'd call the AA. Off I went, there was a bit of a squeal then it went. Round some bends and silence. I drove home expecting a wheel to fall off at any moment. By the time my head hit the pillow at 3.30 dawn was cracking a smile

Back to the mechanic today for an inspection I think. Cars? Can't live with them, can't fish without them. The most important bit of tackle you have.

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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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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Flexible chub rig

During my less than successful attempts at intentionally catching chub last winter I wanted a rig that would allow me to vary the length of the hooklink and still take the force of a fair cast. My first rig failed the casting test as the stop slipped. The rig I eventually settled on is shown below. As well as having a variable hooklink it can also be used as fixed or running by sliding the Grippa Stop up or down the line.

The main line is 6lb Daiwa Sensor as it's tough and cheap. The leger link is lighter than the mainline, and preferably lighter than the hooklink too, the hooklink being Reflo Power Line in 0.15 for flake, paste and worm, lighter for maggots when I feel the need. Hook pattern and size being chosen to match the bait.

The snap link on the end of the leger link allows the cage feeder to be swapped to a maggot feeder or bomb as required. I carry a few of these links, with a loop on the other end, to make retackling easier in the dark after a feeder is lost to a snag.

All pretty self explanatory I think.

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

In it to win it

Having a session where interesting things happen does give some inspiration to blog. Especially when it gives me an opportunity to have a dig at the 'internet' anglers who haven't a clue! Reading the barbel forum post about the Trent to get an idea of conditions it seemed like people were giving up after a couple of hours because they were sick of their rigs being dragged out of position by the amount of weed coming down. This is probably why I didn't see any barbel anglers on a couple of miles of river when I arrived.

The river was about a foot up and carrying a tinge of colour, not muddy at all, but just enough to hide the river bed in three foot or so. Nice. My first port of call was a stretch I still haven't got around to fishing, and by the looks of things neither has anyone else this season. The banks were totally overgrown with head high nettles and other vegetation. I walked a good distance and found some nice looking spots. Overhanging bushes and creases, gravelly glides and streamer weed. I did spot some weed floating down too. I had plenty of time to look around elsewhere and return later so headed off to a favourite stretch.

Again the river was empty of anglers, save for one packing his float gear away on the opposite bank. The path through the nettles had been opened up a little, but it was evident that the swims had hardly been fished since the season opened. The path beyond the favourite swims was almost impenetrable - and getting to one I fancied further down river would have required some machete work!

There's a path in there somewhere!

As this was my first river session of the year I wanted to kick off with a fish or two and soon had my gear in the very same swim I ended last season in. It's a bit of a banker despite the fallen willow having been washed away last winter. Taking my time I droppered out a sticky mix of seeds, pellets and groundbait onto the line of the crease. Slowly I set the rods up, and rather lazily left the same rigs on that I had last used in March. One advantage of braid is that you can get away with doing this without even retying the knots. I did change the baits though!

The rock hard boilies were removed and one rod rigged with a 21mm halibut pellet topped off with a seafood boilie to fill out the hair, and the other rod had one and a half Sonu Tuff 1s (blatant plug!) in Monster Crab and Mussel. I get lots of Sonu stuff for free (some is really good, some less so) so I felt I had to give these a try. Although they look a nice dark colour I was disturbed to discover that once they have been in the water they turn a bright emerald green! Both rigs had a large PVA mesh bag of mixed pellets added to the hook as is my habit.

Make the bait fit the hair...

As soon as I cast the first rod out to the crease I realised what the weed situation was like as the rod almost immediately pulled right round and the lead bounced along the gravel. Oops! Now this is where I used my nous. I've fished in these conditions before and one of the tricks for keeping the bait out as long as possible is to fish so most of the line passes through slacker water. This particular peg is a small eddy, and the water by the bank flows upstream with the slack slightly downstream. If I could position my six ounce lead (which will hold out better with weed on the line than a lighter lead) in the right spot, just inside the main flow, I'd be in with a chance. I cast the second rod to a fishless spot upstream, close to the bank to avoid as much weed as possible. This rod rarely produces, but it's another bait in the water.

The upstream rod was collecting more weed than the downstreamer. It was a bit of a pain removing weed every few minutes, but I was able to leave the downstream bait out for at least fifteen minutes without too much weed building up on the line. That's long enough as when I fish the feeder for barbel I will often recast at a similar interval.

There are other advantages that my rigs give me for fishing under these conditions. What people don't realise is that most drifting weed doesn't actually collect on your hook. It just looks like it does when you wind the rig in. Most of it actually collects on the line well above the end rig. The line isn't straight to the rod tip when fishing in a flow, it takes on a curve, and the weed collects at the point where the curve returns. As I use hooklinks of at least four feet this means the collected weed is not only above the rig, but often well upstream of it.

The hooklink itself is in two parts. I have a long length terminating in a swivel to which I loop-attach a shorter length of about eight inches with the hook on the end. This arrangement was originally devised to make changing hooks easier (partly as most hooklink damage occurs in the last few inches by the hook). It has two unplanned advantages. Firstly the weight of the swivel helps pin the hooklink down in the critical area near the bait. Secondly it collects most of the weed that would foul the hook.

The sun was shining with fluffy clouds in the sky so I expected action to occur later rather than earlier. At eight twenty the downstream rod pulled round more decisively than if a large lump of weed, or even a branch, had hit the line and the baitrunner creaked into life. The first barbel of the season was on! It put up a good scrap and once in the net I had to drop the weed enveloped lead in the net to be able to carry everything up the bank. The fish looked very lean, particularly around the back end, with a seemingly large head. It was hard to judge the weight. The scales revealed it to be a nine pounder. Hastily sacked, the bait wasn't recast while I set up the camera, took three quick snaps and put the fish back.

First of the season

The barbel police would say I did that all wrong and should have rested the fish in the net before weighing it, shouldn't have used a sack and should have rested it in the net prior to release. All I can say is that the fish fought its way out of my grip as soon as it felt the water over its gills. I really do wonder how long it takes these people to land their barbel...

More bait was droppered out before I recast. Then while washing the sticky residue off the dropper rod handle I lost the dropper. D'oh! The light was starting to fade but the weed showed no sign of disappearing. During daylight it was quite easy to see where the upstream rig had dragged to and judge when to wind it in for clearing of weed. But in the dark it was not so easy. By eleven I'd had enough of dealing with two rods - the downstream one being less trouble - and put the upstream rod back in the quiver with the now useless dropper rod.

I'd had a tidy away of the camera equipment and drunk my final cup of tea from the flask when the remaining rod pulled round again in a fishy fashion. This one felt a bit bigger. Or was the line carrying more weed? Once netted it looked a longer fish. Another lean one, it tried hard to make ten pounds but fell ounces short. The sacking and photographing process was repeated. I recast, had a final final cup of tea then headed for home half an hour later.

Getting bigger

In the end I think I picked the right swim as one that would have involved fishing in the main flow would have been frustrating in the extreme with all the weed in the river. Now I have my barbel gear sorted out I guess I'll be back at 'em again soon. Where, I don't know.

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

No fish (the real blog)

Three nights (as in four evenings and three mornings with most of Sunday spent away from the water) with hardly a sign of fish until I was packing up when some fish, maybe hybrids, showed at dusk. The first two nights were spent in a swim that isn't a swim, but plumbing around with the MkII modifed plumbing rig found something interesting, the south-westerly was blowing into the area and all looked good. Apart from three or four single bleeps during the hours of darkness the alarms remained silent. Which is more than can be said for the coots.

The lake is certainly waking up. Not only are coots sitting on eggs (when not squabbling amongst themselves) the swans and geese are nesting too. The cuckoo was calling at dawn each day and the hobbies are back in town. In the water the invertebrate activity in the margins has increased, so I assume the fish activity will be doing the same.

I have to admit that after moving for the final night I did spy some tench bubbles at one point. What looked like a couple of fish moving through a bay. I had a cast at them, and would have moved if they hadn't been moving through so quickly - and I hadn't already put the last of my bait in for the night.

Not much (if anything) was caught at my end of the lake while I was there. So maybe the bulk of the fish have moved with the change in the temperature. It was t-shirt weather at times, and the rain was that summery sort that doesn't make you chilly and soon dries from the grass.

Two good things to come from the session were the upgraded plumbing rig, and the foamed baits. I'd noticed that after very little use the cork balls between lead and float were getting damaged, mainly by the clip on the end of the line. Opening up my pike box to find a hard plastic bead to act as a buffer I spotted my bait poppers. Two birds, one stone. They could replace the cork ball and alleviate the need for a plastic bead - as they are hollow hard plastic. I also cut up a single leg rod ring and added a snap link to it to provide a hi-tech run ring. Knowing my luck it will crack, but I'll stick with it for the time being.

The other step forward is one I've been trying to make for ages. I'd seen PVA foam used on his hooklinks by Terry Lampard in an issue of Coarse Angling Today a couple of years ago. Unfortunately it wasn't the issue in which he'd explained how it was done and it looked like the stuff had been sliced and the line slotted in to it. I tried that and it failed - the foam flying off on the cast. Then last week I had a blinding flash of inspiration. If you can call it a flash when it took two years to happen! I'm sure this must have been written about a million times, but I obviously read the wrong magazines. Take a piece of foam, lick one side of it, fold it round the hooklink and hook point and squeeze. The damp PVA sticks to itself and the lump stays put.

Much better than fiddling about putting the foam chunks in PVA stocking. D'oh!

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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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Thursday, February 14, 2008

A commercial success

Sunday afternoon saw me staring at a big gap where a favourite barbel snag had been all autumn. It had looked pretty permanent, but the power of a flooded River Trent is not to be underestimated. I headed for an area upstream of where I had fished on the Friday. Anticipating a cooler river after two nights frost I was armed with a quiver tip rod and some maggots, just in case. Sure enough the water temperature had dropped to 5.9C. The river looked well, but I didn't manage much. One minnow and a chublet not much larger to double maggot. I switched to a barbel rig with a lump of paste after dark, but it remained unmolested and I headed for home around nine with a ground frost forming.

Tuesday afternoon saw me back on the commercial lake after the perch. A chat with the bailiff convinced me to try the area where a good match weight of perch had been caught a couple of weeks back. A worm went under some overhanging bushes over a carpet of maggots, and a maggot feeder bolt rig was dropped straight in front of me a couple of rod-lengths out. It was only fifteen minutes or so before a carp picked up the maggots. A bream followed later, then around four the something started to show an interest in the lob. When a strikeable bite materialised this proved to be from another mirror of four or five pounds.

Two days later I was on my way back and called in at a local tackle shop to pick up some red maggots. Here I was greeted with the news that the midweek match had been won with a good catch of perch - from the peg two along from the one I had fished on Tuesday. No guesses where I made a beeline for when I saw the swim was free!

Again I sprayed some maggots close in and this time dropped the feeder rig on them. More maggots went straight out and a lobworm was fished over them. It didn't take long before something started messing with the worm. This had the look of perch activity. Then the maggot rod wrenched round in the rest, and I pulled out of a carp. Fifteen minutes later the maggot rod was away again, but this time the 3lb 12oz hooklink parted. I retackled and continued spraying maggots over both lines. As I did the worm rod kept giving short indications that couldn't be struck at. Convinced perch were responsible I converted the feeder rig from a bolt rig to a running one with a longer hooklength and cast it straight out to the line the worm was fishing.

In no time at all a good bite developed and I finally managed to connect with a perch! As there is a barbless only rule on the water I was using half an Enterprise plastic bloodworm to keep my four red maggots on the size 14 Kamasan Animal.

It was nice to get a decent perch at last. Despite the bailiff telling me the perch were full of spawn this one looked pretty empty, with room to fill out a fair bit over the next month or so.

An hour later I got a repeat bite and landed a slightly smaller perch. After four perchless sessions it all seemed rather easy. All that had been needed was to get on the fish, and use the bait they would pick up with confidence! After the second fish I switched the lobworm over to a couple of red maggots on a 16. This might have been a bad move. Although I landed a skimmer on this rig I hooked another perch that fell off. If I didn't have things to do tomorrow I'd be going back again...

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Autumn's here

There's a definite tang of autumn in the air, and for a change the leaves are turning colour before December! There'd been some rain over the weekend but I hadn't been able to get to the river owing to catching up with business following the PAC Convention. By the time I was able to get out the river had dropped a bit, and with the full moon I wasn't too confident. At least there was cloud cover which would keep the air temperature up after dark. There were also a few showers around, but nothing major. Even so it's time for a slight change of tactics.

The session started badly when my fifteen minute hike to my chosen area revealed that part of my low chair was missing. With nobody else on the stretch I left my tackle in the swim and retraced my steps - all the way back to the car where there was also no sign of the missing backrest. I eventually set up around five pm, and was planning to move at eight. Two minutes past eight the downstream rod jerked and the reel handle spun backwards. Some idiot had left the anti-reverse off! It was a barbel, but not a monster despite the change of tactics.

As the water temperature starts to fall in autumn I ease up on the freebies and add attractiveness to my hookbaits in the form of paste. The idea is to draw fish to the bait without feeding them too much. One way is to use the boilie sausage - two boilies on the hair with a 'doughnut' of paste wrapped around the hair between the boilies as per the photo.

Around eleven the cloud cover thinned and the moon shone with all it's brightness. Time to go home.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Barbel Time

Playing with a new mould I knocked up some big feeders for the Trent recently, and decided to put an article about DIY Swimfeeders together for Barbel Now.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Method Feeder Rig

Without a doubt this rig, in various guises, has proved to be my most successful so far this spring. Various feeders have been tried and I have settled on the Drennan's for now. The only 'faults' with the feeders are that the tail rubbers are a bit of a slack fit, easily cured by a dab of super glue, and the hole through the tail rubber is very small - only a problem if you are visually handicapped!

All dead simple. Mould some groundbait laced with hemp and pellets around the feeder, chuck the lot out, set the bobbins, sit back and wait.

A larger swivel could be used for attaching the hooklink, but I like to make the link come out stiffly from the feeder using the silicone tubing to completely eliminate tangles. While I have mostly been using two grains of plastic corn the rig works equally well with other baits, popped up or on the bottom.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Maggot Feeder Rig

Last year I was using a helicopter variant as my maggot feeder rig, but changing hooklinks was a bit of a pain and I was never convinced that it was all that good a rig anyway. Although this one uses more components than I'd really like it is pretty simple, and easily converted to a straight leger rig. I don't like quick-change connectors between my main line and hooklink, preferring to retie the knot. It takes only a few seconds longer, ensures that the knot isn't neglected and makes the rig more streamlined. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

The feeder is a 30gm Kamasan Blackcap, and the backlead shoved inside it is around 30gm too. This makes for a feeder that flies well, is heavy enough to tighten up to without moving and which still sits horizontal on the lake bed. Using a sliding Powergum Stop Knot to trap the Run Ring between two beads makes the hooklink stand out from the main line on the cast, and gives me the option to quickly change to a free running rig should I so desire - by sliding the knot up the line a few feet.

For what it's worth I have been using Daiwa Infinity Duo as mainline, in the 0.285 diameter. I quote the diameter because this line is IGFA rated at 12lb, so it will break below that. I have heard it said that Duo is bad for line twist, but I have actually found it to be less prone to twisting than Sensor. Maybe it's the fact that the two-tone colouration of the line that makest he line twist readily visible that has given Duo this reputation?

It was the limpness of Duo that attracted me to it in the first place, and it has proved good in that respect once loaded on the reels, and it seems pretty abrasion resistant too. Reflo Powerline has been a good reliable hooklink material so far, in both 0.19 for the casters and 0.21 for corn. It's maybe not as limp as it could be in short lengths, but it is very clear and I can't see the need to delve into the murky world of fluorocarbons when this stuff is avialable.

One thing I don't like about using plastic baits is trapping them on the hair using a bait stop. It looks kind of clumsy, although I know full well it doesn't put the fish off. Even so I have had problems with artificial baits falling off the hair, so when using casters and pellets I tie them on to the hair. That way they ain't going nowhere!

While I have read that Kamasan Animals are not particularly sharp hooks, my experience has been different. Even so, it's no great hardship to run a file over a hook if the point is not up to snuff. When I want to use a small hook the Animal is the one I go for.

So that's about it. Maybe not the most exciting rig, but it seems to work well enough.

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