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
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
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
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.
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.
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 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
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 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.
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
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!
REEL SEATS AND HANDLES
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
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.
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.
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
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
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 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
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
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
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 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
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 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.