Carp Accessores

Landing Nets
There are many different sorts of landing nets available. For river fishing you will need one with quite a wide mesh so that the flow of the water passes through it easily and does not drag the net out of your hands when you attempt to land a fish. Fine-meshed landing nets are designed for stillwaters and you should select one to Suit the type of fish you are going to catch. Very shallow ‘pan’ nets are really for canal fishing. If you are likely to catch bigger fish, such as carp and tench, buy deeper one. Triangular, oval and round nets are all available and really the shape you choose is a matter of personal preference. Specimen nets are huge and are for the big carp, pike or catfish angler.

As with landing nets, there are all manner of keepnets on the market. The best choice for the beginner is to select one of around l0ft (3m) in length with a fine mesh. Choose a keepnet which has a device which allows it to be locked at various angles. Good manufacturers include Keenets, Drennan International and Waterline.

Bank Sticks
Every angler needs a selection bank sticks into which he can screw rod-rest heads, bait trays, keepnets and the like. The best bank sticks are extendible and have a tough, solid point which pushes easily into the ground. The best I have seen are the Dinsmores Arrow Points. Do not be tempted to use a bank stick as a handle for your landing net; buy a purpose-designed landing-net handle instead.

If you are fishing mote than about 15 fret (4.6m) from the bank you will need a catapult to feed the swim. You can buy pole catapults for feeding accurately up to about 50ft (16m), match catapults for waggler fishing up to about 80ft (25m), and groundbait catapults for firing balls of roundbait up to 100ft (30m). I use catapults made by Drennan for loosefeed, and by Seymo for groundbait.

Seat Boxes
You are going to need something to sit on while you wait for a bite, and for beginners you cannot beat the plastic seat boxes made by Shakespeare and Daiwa. They have comfortable carrying straps, plenty of room for your tackle inside and you can also buy trays that fit to the side of them into which to put all your bits and pieces of tackle. You can also get your local tackle dealer to fit Octoplus levelling legs which can be a teal boon on sloping banks. If you make progress in your angling, you might want to buy a more expensive continental’ box. These have integral levelling legs and integral side and front trays for your bits and pieces, and cushioned seats. Many can have wheels fitted to ease those long walks along the bankside. Good makes include Boss and Brilo.

Split Shot and Olivettes
Split shot are used to weight your float down so that only a little piece of the tip is showing above the water. Sizes are (from largest to smallest): SSG, SG, AAA, AA, BB, 1, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14. The larger sizes are placed around the base of the float to make up about four-fifths of the total weight required, with smaller shot, such as 8s, strung out beneath. For many pole-fishing situations, most of the weight is placed in a bulk about two-thirds of the way down the line with a couple of tiny shot strung out beneath. Instead of using shot for the bulk, you can buy olivettes which are measured in grammes. In their larger sizes, split shot are also used for link legering.

Rod Rests
These are another essential item of equipment for all types of angling. For legering, the best are those with several rod grooves, as they allow for careful setting of the quivertip. For float fishing, those with a soft band on which to place your rod are the choice as these help to protect your rod.

Float Rods
Float rods tend to come in three sections of equal length and be 12 to 15 feet (3.7 to 4.6m) long and designed for use with lines of 2-41b (0.9-1.8kg) breaking strain. Rods for waggler fishing tend to have a hollow tip section and plenty of ‘give’ below, which allows you to make long, sweeping strikes at a distance without the possible risk of snapping light hook lengths.
If you do a lot of stick float fishing you will require a different action. With this technique you have to hit lighting-fast bites from wary fish, such as roach, and consequently stick float rods tend to be quite stiff up to the top two feet (60cm), allowing you to pick up line very quickly, but have a soft tip ‘spliced’ in to absorb the initial force of fast strikes into fish at short distances.
Unless you intend to concentrate on match or specialist fishing, it is advisable to buy one float rod, and spend as much as you can afford on it. Overall, a hollow-tipped 13ft (4m) match rod with a nice snappy action, but a forgiving top third, will suit most pleasure fishing situations you are likely to come across. While there is no doubt that having exactly the right tool for the job is useful, the best advice for the newcomer is to keep things simple.

Leger Rods
Leger rods are generally two-piece rods measuring between 9 and 12 feet (2.7-3.7m) long and designed for use with lines of between 3-61b (1.36-2.72kg) breaking strain. Most have either a screw thread or are hollow at the end, to accommodate the use of screw- or push-in swingtips or quivertips for bite indication. They usually have quite a forgiving (bendy) top half, but have plenty of power in the middle-to-lower section allowing you both to cast good distances and set hooks at that range.Some of the better leger rods come with a selection of quivertips, and these are the best buy for the beginner. These tips will be of different strengths, measured by their test curve (the amount of dead weight it takes to pull the tip of the rod to an angle of 90 degrees to the handle) in ounces. A 2-3oz tip is stiff and designed to be used on fastish-flowing rivers, while 0.5-1oz tips are more suited to stillwater fishing.

Specialist rods
These two-piece rods of 11 to 13 feet (3.4-4m) length are measured by their test curve. They are designed for casting big baits and dealing with big fish, and tend to have much larger rings than leger and float rods. An ideal all-round choice for close-to-medium range fishing would be a l2ft (3.7m), 21b (0.9kg) test curve rod with a medium to tip action, which means there is plenty of give in the top half of the rod to enjoy the fight of a big fish, but plenty of backbone in the lower half to allow you to cast big baits and bully fish away from snags.

Like all fishing rods, float rods have one of three actions, they being; tip (fast), middle and butt (through) actions. These actions describe the bend that the rod takes on when its tip is pulled through a 90 degree angle. Regardless of a rod's action every single fishing rod is tapered from the butt through to the tip - it gets progressively slender in the diameter of the blank as you follow the rod from the handle to the tip. But it is the wall thickness and the make-up of the materials used in the rod's construction which give the rod its action. Spliced tip rods and extremely fine hollow tip match rods, in the main, have tip actions. The tips are so delicate and slender that it takes very little weight to pull the rod through a 90 degree angle, and in the case of tip action rods only the first two feet or so of the rod will bend. Of course, as more pressure is exerted upon the tip the remainder of the rod will begin to bend. Middle action rods, when enough force is applied to take the rod through 90 degrees, will bend from the tip section through to the middle of the rod. Butt action rods, often referred to as through action, bend right through to the handle of the rod. When bent so the tip is set 90 degrees to the butt the rod will look like a boomerang!

There are two different styles of reel seat, screw-lock and split graphite, and two different components used to make up a rod handle, cork and Duplon. Nowadays the vast majority of float rods feature screw-lock reel seats, which many anglers feel is a bonus. Some of the 'older' style of split graphite reel seats continually need adjusting to ensure that reels having narrow feet remain attached to the rod and do not drop off into the water when casting or playing fish! A securely screwed down locking reel seat gives the angler confidence that the reel remains solid upon a powerful cast or during a battle with a big, hard-fighting fish. Also, screw-lock reel seats can actually help anglers to cast, feather the line and control line better when trotting a stick float. Why? Because screw lock reel seats are moulded into the handle and therefore the reel's foot, when locked onto the rod, sits closer to the blank as opposed to a reel locked onto a cork or Duplon handle using split graphite seat. It may only be a matter of millimetres closer to the blank, but this can make all the difference because the reel spool will be that little bit closer to the handle and easier to locate with the index finger. Lengths of handles vary between the different styles of rods available. Spliced tip, stick float rods tend to have very short handles which enable the user to manouevre the rod easily across his or her body when feeding a river swim or when baiting up, whereas carp waggler rods tend to have longer handles to give the angler better leverage when casting out weighty floats or when playing a larger fish. Duplon is cheaper than cork, so budget priced float rods, those under £30, feature soft, waterproof Duplon handles. Cork is a luxury really, and you'll find all top of the range float rod handles feature it. Both are waterproof and both can be scrubbed down with warm water for cleaning. Remember to dry the rod thoroughly afterwards though.

You'll find that the vast majority of float rods available are made up using one of two compounds, they being either carbon or composite. When compared like for like a carbon rod will be lighter, stiffer, thinner and more powerful than a composite rod of the same length, but a composite rod offers more flexibility through the blank. A carbon rod blank is made up using both carbon and a resin. The resin is used to hold the rod together, and the contents of an average carbon float rod will be in the region of 70 per cent carbon and 30 per cent resin. The lower the amount of resin used the lighter the carbon rod will be, but by the same token the rod will lose some of its flexibility and overall strength. Composite rods also incorporate a small amount of carbon within the construction process purely to reduce the rod's overall weight, but a huge percentage of glass fibre is used too, plus around 30 per cent resin to bond the two compounds together. Glass fibre is an extremely flexible material, hence the reason behind using glass fibre quivertips when fishing for shy biting species as the compound bends freely. Carbon, in its natural state, is a very brittle and fibrous material. It only becomes rigid and flexible when mixed with resin. There are three different styles of rod joints, they being spigot, put over and telescopic. Spigot joints feature a length of solid carbon, half of which is glued securely into the end of the male rod section. This solid length of carbon is then inserted into the next section to form a strong link. Rod sections which feature put over joints have a large enough diameter to allow the next rod piece to be inserted inside the first. This style of join is far stronger than put in joints, some 50 per cent stronger, therefore a great deal of carp waggler rods utilise put over joints throughout. Finally, there are telescopic joints. These lock together when the rod is extended because the sections are tapered. The outer diameter of a section is slightly larger than the internal diameter of the next section.

Legers come in different sizes and shapes, the main legers are bombs, coffins, barrels and bullets. The streamlined bombs can be cast long distances, the coffin lead is good in rivers as it holds the bottom better than a bomb. 
The barrel leads can be used to roll along the river bed, as can the bullet, both of these last two leads are also used in Pike rigs.

Swivels and snaps come in different sizes and should be matched to the line thickness being used. The swivel is used to help stop twisting of the reel line when legering or spinning with lures. The snap-link is useful as it allows the fisherman to change leads or lures without having to tie a new knot.


Fishing line is fishing line, right? Wrong, I’m afraid. There are mainlines and hooklengths, including floating lines, sinking lines, braided lines and pre­stretched, hi-tech lines... Each of them has a specific use and it is important to have a basic understanding of each type, as selecting the wrong line can spell disaster.

Monofilament Lines
Ordinary monofilament lines are the first choice of most coarse anglers, and they come in many variations and boast various qualities. The vast majority of what anglers call ‘mono’ sold in the UK is made in Germany and Japan. Bayer Perlon, which floats, is a particularly popular choice for float fishing and Maxima, which sinks, is the top choice for legering. Ordinary mono line stretches, is quite robust, and is the right choice for main line to put on the reel. There are many different colours from which to choose; from green to grey, brown to clear or even yellow.

For most float-fishing requirements 2-31b (0.9-1.36kg) breaking strain would be a good choice, with 3-41b (1.36-1.8kg) line a better strength for legering.Big carp and pike anglers should be using mainlines not lighter than 10lb (4.54kg). Always use a hooklength, which must be less than the strength of the mainline, so that if you snag up you will only lose the hooklength.

As a general rule, the hooklength should have a breaking strain in the region of 10-20 per cent less than that of the mainline.

Pre-stretched Lines
Some lines are pre-sttetched in order to reduce their diameter and so appear less obvious to the fish. They have a high breaking strain for their diameter compared with mono mainlines, but because they have had the stretch taken out of them during the manufacturing process, they are quite brittle and not suitable for use as mainlines.

They should be used only for hooklengths and for the mainline on pole rigs, where the pole’s ‘elastic’ (a short length of elastic line) provides a cushion. Pro-Micron line is particularly popular, but because of the extra work that goes into making pre-stretched line, a spool is usually twice the price of ordinary mono.

Often you will read angling articles which refer to the diameter of the line in millimetres (e.g. 0.12mm), rather than to its strength. These are invariably pre-stretched lines, and although different makes have different breaking strains, a general guide to breaking strains is shown below.

Braided Mainline
Braid is a weave of materials, rather like an ultra thin rope, and it can be used for either mainline or hooklengths. it is quite easy to tell which is which as mainline braids tend to be supplied in spools of at least l00m (330ft), whereas hooklength braids are usually in 10-20m (33-66ft) spools.

There has been quite a trend in favour of using braid as mainline in the last few years. The key feature of braid is that it has no stretch. This has proved a real boon for lure anglers, who say they can feel takes from pike, zander and perch that they would never have felt with mono on account of the latter’s stretch.

Lure anglers need a sinking braid, such as Berkley Fireine or Gorilla Braid, although there are other brands which float and these are used by pike anglers who like to drift baits downwind using drifter floats. A sinking mainline would be a disaster with this technique.

Some carp and tench specialists also use the ‘no stretch’ factor to draw up a mental picture of what a venue is like underwater. They cast out a lead and bounce it along the bottom to ‘feel’ for gravel bars, which are a great fish holding feature. It is amazing how you can feel every stone you bounce a lead over, even at l00m (330ft) when using braid.

Most rods are designed for use with monofilament lines, so it is essential to use a ‘leader’ of 8lb (3.6kg) mono for the last 25 feet (7.5m) or so of your rig.

Braided Hooklengths
Braided hooklengths are softer and more supple than braid used for mainline and they have a very small diameter for their strength compared to mono. It is this combination of softness and fineness, together with a high degree of resistance to abrasion compared to mono lines, that appeals to the specialists, who are often fishing for wary specimens in snaggy swims.

Big-fish anglers tend to use braided hooklengths of between six and 15 inches (15-38cm); many of the most popular brands are made by Kryston and Drennan.

A final word of warning though; braided hooklengths are much more expensive than their monofilament counterparts.

The modern fixed-spool reel is a masterpiece of engineering design. It has banished one of the angler’s oldest problems, that of casting to the required spot, and has doubled, or even trebled the distances over which the average angler can hope to cast accurately. At the same time, it has reduced the problem of tangled line to a minimum.

Anglers have become so accustomed to these benefits that they take them for granted nowadays, much as they do their wife’s washing machine. Yet anyone who grew up with nothing more than a wooden centrepin reel can recall the constant practice needed to learn to cast direct from the reel, and the inevitable tangles and bird’s nests’, which resulted all too often.

Despite this, we still occasionally hear ’the reel’s critics bemoaning the fact that it has taken the skill out of casting. Even if this were wholly true, it would be no more a cause for regret than the fact that the washing machine has taken the drudgery out of washing day.

Alfred Illingworth patented the first fixed-spool reel in 1905. It incorporated all the basic principles of the modern reel, which still hold well today. The line spool was fixed with its axis at right angles to the direction of casting. When line was released, as long as the tackle provided the necessary inertia to pull it off, it simply spilled over the edge of the spool, with practically no unnecessary friction, and without requiring the spool to revolve. Hence the modern name - fixed-spool.

Line was retrieved simply by hooking it onto a primitive bale-arm, which revolved around the fixed-spool, laying line back when the reel handle was turned.

Slipping clutches and crosswind reels
To provide the faster retrieval desired for spinning. Illingworth geared the reel handle to the bale-arm to provide a retrieval ratio of approximately 3:1. The fixed-spool reel has come a long way since those days, and, not long after Illingworth’s first reel, slipping clutches and crosswind reels were developed, although these only entered the market in the early Thirties, not really coming into common usage until after the war.


Now it is possible to buy such reels with a wide variety of retrieval ratios suitable for every possible kind of fishing. All have adjustable clutch mechanisms, a reciprocat-ing reel movement, which provides even laying of line, and a crosswind action to prevent the reel jamming.

To be effective, such a reel must be properly used. Most manufacturers’ in-structions today refer to the loading capacity of the various spools, which varies with the b.s. of the line required. Many manufac-turers provide a spare spool, and since most spools are quickly detachable the angler can change spool and line in a moment to suit his needs.


The most common methods are bank sticks with rod rests, bank sticks with buzzer bars or the rod pod.

Bank Sticks: Two bank sticks will be required for each rod. They all come with a standard female thread into which a front electric bite alarm is screwed and for the rear a normal rod rest. A good make of rear rod rest is the John Roberts Mini Grip, which I personally use, they grip the rod very tight even when on steep sided banks. The bank sticks are normally positioned so that the bite indicator is either between the reel and the butt ring or the first and second ring. Bank sticks can vary from 12" to 30"and most are now adjustable. Normally bank sticks will be constructed from either aluminium or stainless steel, if you can afford it always go for the latter as they will last a lifetime.

Buzzer Bars: Considering most carp anglers use a minimum of two rods, normally three and in some cases four the buzzer bar system became the normal progression from the standard bank stick set up. This was mainly down to the need of having to carry six bank sticks with the old system, which was reduced to two using buzz bars. Buzzer bars consist of a T shaped bar which has a male thread and is screwed into the female end of the bank stick, a two rod system is normally fixed with three and four rod systems being adjustable. The correct amount of alarms and rear rod rests are then simple screwed into the female housings on the bar.

Rod Pods: The main benefit of the rod pod is that the bank stick does not require driving into the ground to provide support. The rod pod is self-supporting and is simple placed onto the ground with the legs splayed at an angle to give a very stable platform. The earlier types had a ½ inch hole at either end to house the bank stick and buzzer bars. Modern pods today normally come with an integral stick at either end and in some cases with there own buzzer bars. Rod pods are used when the area to be fished would be unsuitable for normal bank sticks such as wooden fishing platforms, concrete paths, gravel swims, hard sun baked earth etc. Other advantages gained when using a pod is that there is no noise from banging in bank sticks on arrival at the swim and all rods will be perfectly aligned with each other.

Stringer Needle: Once again consists of plastic handle however this time the needle is not retractable. The stringer needle is used in conjunction with a length of PVA string or tape, which is cut and tied according to the amount of bait being used. To use the needle push on as many boilies as you wish to use, next place the end of the PVA string or tape over the hook shaped end and push the boilies down the needle onto the PVA. It is essential to leave a small gap between each bait too allow the PVA to melt fully.

Boilie Punch: A very useful tool in any carp anglers arsenal as this allows any boilie to be turned into a pop up. The punch consists of a small plastic handle which is topped with a hollow piece of metal for cutting into the boilie, also a small plunger for pushing out the pieces of bait removed and for pushing the foam insert into the bait. Take your hookbait and place the end of the boilie punch against it turn the punch and at the same time exert pressure, as you push into the boilie the plunger will be forced backwards. Do not try to push all the way through the boilie in one go as this will result in the boilie splitting, little by little is the best way with the punch being removed and the plunger pushed home to remove the pieces that have been cut out. Once the punch has gone all the way through the boilie, remove the plunger and insert the correct size piece of foam required into the back of the punch. I have found that wetting the foam first will make it easier to insert and push along. Once the foam is inserted place the punch into the whole previously made until the end of the metal edge rests against your finger. Take the plunger and push downward at the same time withdrawing the punch slowly, the foam should be felt against the finger as the punch is removed. Once the foam is inserted into the boilie small alterations to the size can be made if necessary.

Loading the spool
When loading the spool it must be borne in mind that the rotary action of the bale-arm around the spool imparts twist to the line, and that over a hundred yards of line this becomes considerable, especially when medium weight lines, which are fairly springy, are employed.

This twist in the line is largely responsible for the manner in which the monofilament lines often tend to spring off the spool. To prevent twist it is recommended that the line be pulled off the manufacturer’s spool not by letting it turn on a pencil as you wind, but over the flange of the manufacturer’s spool in much the same way as the line spills over the edge of the fixed-spool itself. Since pulling line off and laying it on both impart twist to the line, the tactic is to impart opposite twist as the bale-arm lays the line on the spool.

Pumping a Fish
When the slipping clutch is set, this must be done so that if a dangerous strain is put on your line, the clutch will slip before the line breaks. This also implies that you must select a line b.s. suitable for the rod you intend to use. If. for example, your line is of 2Olb b.s. and you set the clutch at, say, 18lb, you have a margin of safety of roughly 2lb. However, if you are using a rod of a 1/2lb test curve there is considerable danger that you will already have strained or damaged, or even broken your rod before the clutch will start to slip. To allow this to happen is clearly absurd, and so lines must be selected to suit the rod. If you must use heavy lines on a light rod you would be better to set the clutch to give when the rod is entering the test curve position, or somewhat before

Once the clutch is properly set you can safely expect that the line will not break, but a safety margin should be allowed to give you complete control. When a heavy fish takes and you make a successful strike, the fish can run, taking line off the spool as the clutch slips. All you can do is to hold the winding handle steady. On no account should you attempt to wind in line by turning it, for this will only twist the line as the fish continues to run against the clutch.

When you judge that the fish has tired a little you can exert pressure by extending your index finger so that it rests against the revolving spool, so making the fish fight harder for line, and eventually halting it. To retrieve line, retain the finger control and raise the rod tip gently, then lower it as you turn the handle to retrieve line until the rod is more or less horizontal.

This pumping process can be repeated to bring the fish under control. If necessary, let the fish have its head when it surges in between pumps. You will find that by applying side strain and finger pressure, with a bit of pumping in between, you can subdue most fish after some practice. The fixed-spool reel leads you to replace the skills of casting with the greater skills involved in playing your fish with finesse and judgement, and until these are acquired your reel will not assist you in landing many big fish.

Long trotting
Long trotting is a fishing method for which many anglers prefer an ordinary centrepin reel, but this does not mean that they cannot practice it perfectly well with a fixed-spool reel. The technique is to take up slack after casting, and then open the bale-arm so that as the float drifts down through the swim it pulls line off the spool freely. If line is running out too freely, the extended finger comes into play, not on the spool, but close by it so that line is slipping off brushes against the finger, the friction slowing the rate of flow. When the float disappears, the finger is clamped hard on the reel spool, stopping the line flow at the same time as the rod is raised swiftly to strike.

One of the minor problems of the fixed-spool reel is that line occasionally springs off the spool without warning. Sometimes this is due to the wind, sometimes to twisted line, and sometimes to overloading. Whatever the cause, this has been the subject of criticism by anglers fishing with fine tackle over long distances. Others complain that for long trotting it does not give the instant control, which is required.