AArticles

 

Big carp and how you can catch them - By the legendary Richard Walker

How To Stalk Carp - By Garth Barnard

Silent But Deadly - By Rod Hutchinson

Flavours and additives - By Archie Braddock

Extreme Range Carping - The Key Points - By Chris Woodrow

Angling Ethics - By Jim Gibbinson

Particle Baits In Europe - By Chris Woodrow

Carp From Big Waters - By Jim Gibbinson

 

Big carp and how

you can catch them

By :  The legendary Richard Walker

Most anglers regard the catching of 'specimen' fish, big fish, as something which hardly ever happens.  Some think it is a matter of luck, or the opportunity to fish old and well thought of waters, or things of that sort. Others regard those who regularly catch big fish as having skill or knowledge far in excess of the average man.  They are all wrong.  Catching big fish is a specialised branch of angling, and success in it is well within the powers of any ordinary man.
I personally have caught a few large fish, although I am not a very skilful angler, nor is my intelligence above the average.  But there are thousands of anglers out there who could do very much better than I, if they would only believe in the possibility.

I am sure that you would like to catch some really big fish, and there is no reason why you should not.  My difficulty lies in convincing you, that you can.  If you and I could go fishing together half a dozen times, it would be easy.  You would believe you could catch a big fish readily enough if you had one kicking on the bank, and I know what you would say, because I have heard it said several times by men whom I have convinced in that way.  You'd say, 'why, it's easy!  I wouldn't have believed it!  If I had only known this years ago.'
 

And the picture above is 'Clarissa' held by the legendry Richard (Dick) Walker. Caught on September the 12th, 1952 from Redmire Pool and weighed 44lbs. The photograph is one of many that appear in 'Still Water Angling' written by Richard Walker and published by Macgibbon & Kee in 1953

As it is, I can only tell you that there are very many more big fish about than most anglers think.  It is true that some of them are in private waters, and it is true that there are waters in which there are none. But in most waters there are specimen fish in numbers, and in reality, there are very few anglers who have no chance to fish for really big specimens.  The fact that on most waters very few are caught does not mean that they are few in number.  Big fish are sometimes caught by luck. But more are caught by people deliberately setting out to catch big fish, and by their unshakeable determination to be content with nothing less.

I know that now and then someone who is fishing for ‘anything that comes along’ catches a big fish, but very few anglers do catch specimens like that. The Notable Fish reported in the Carp Angling press averages well over 2000 fish each year. We are told that there are four million anglers in Britain, but if there was only a tenth of that number it would still mean that only one angler in a thousand catches a really big fish perhaps once a year. Perhaps that is why such fish are often called 'The Fish of a Lifetime.'  They need not be, for you can catch fish of that size several times in a season, if you go about it in the right way.

The right way is to be methodical and do everything in its right order of importance; and obviously, the most important thing is to find the fish.  We will assume at present that you are going to fish a water which you are confident contains some big ones and you are determined to catch some of them.  Bearing in mind that the average angler does not catch big fish, we may learn something by seeing what he does and then deciding how our methods must differ from his. What he does is to choose his spot on three main grounds:

1. A comfortable place to sit
2. A part of the water free from weeds and snags
and, 3, with the wind at his back.
Having found such a spot, he starts fishing right away.

His chances of catching big fish are already slight, and if you think, you will see why. Big fish are not rare, but they are not so many that you will find them wherever you choose to sit. They do not care a bit whether you are comfortable or not; they do not care to be far from cover, and in still water they are much more likely to be in places where the wind is in the angler's face. Before you start fishing you must locate your fish, and that takes time. Some species are easier to locate than others, but even with the easiest, you will be doing well if you find them in a day. Sometimes you can only guess where they will be, but there is a world of difference between a guess based on knowledge and a blind guess. You must take into account the way in which the fish feed, what they feed on, the effects of the weather on the water, the depth, and many other things, and all this takes time. It is not enough to know exactly where the fish are; you must try to find out where they will go from there, where they will be at any given hour of the day  or night, and when they will be most likely to feed. Until you have come to a conclusion about all these things, you should not think about setting up your tackle.

In any lake or river, there are far more places where big fish hardly ever go than where they go often.  And if you fish at random, or simply because a place 'looks a good spot,' you may fish season after season and never show your bait to a single good fish, though there may be dozens in the water.
I do not know how often your decision on where you will fish will be right. But if you are correct on every fourth attempt, you will be doing much better than I. You must expect to be wrong often, but you will be right often enough to catch some big fish. If you realise that you cannot catch them unless you fish where they are.

The second essential is to avoid frightening the fish. It is not a bit of use finding them if you frighten them away. Let us look at our average angler again. If you ask him whether fish can see an angler on the bank, or feel the vibration of his tread, he will tell you quite emphatically that they can. And while he is telling you he will, as likely as not, be stamping to warm his feet. You will notice that if there are marginal rushes, he will have cut or beaten them down in front of him, and he will probably be sitting on a basket or stool, or standing upright. His rod will be coated with shiny varnish. He may be wearing a white shirt, or hat, or doing many other fish-scaring things which I have not space to mention. You say he does not do all these things?

Perhaps not; but how many of them can he afford to do, if he wants to catch big fish?  You cannot take too much trouble to avoid scaring fish. Whatever you do, you will scare too many, in fact you will scare off far more than you ever know about. Sometimes a fish you have scared will return later; but the more care you take not to scare it at all, the more likely you are to catch it.

The third essential is to use the right tackle. Our average angler is inclined to use what he sees others using, or what tackle-shops advise him to use, and since he is copying unsuccessful people, he is unlikely to do much better. You must choose your tackle on two grounds: ability to put the bait where the fish can find it and also to hook and land the fish if it takes the bait. Here we come to an important point; each essential must be fulfilled without cancelling out the others. We have seen that the second essential is not to scare the fish, and our third, the choice of tackle, must be governed by that too. It is no use locating your fish, and concealing yourself or creeping stealthily to within casting range, and then dropping an ounce of lead on its head, or fishing with such coarse line that even the most stupid fish would be ‘spooked’. Equally, however, it is useless to use tackle so feeble that you are bound to be broken if you hook the fish, and you must use your judgement in striking a fair compromise.  However, I will say that you will not lose out by being careful with it to the point of fussiness, and by being always anxious to improve your tackles efficiency. If you spot the slightest weakness or falling-off in effectiveness, stop fishing and put it right. Lots of big fish are hooked and lost; some because the choice of tackle was wrong in the first place, some because the angler failed to keep it up to scratch. You will often find your tackle fails you, however careful you are; or you may not be able to cast far enough, or you may find the fish is too much for your gear and breaks away, but if you do your utmost to make your tackle perfect, you will be repaid.
You will inevitably be told about the small boy who caught the big fish with a stick cut from the hedge; the great angler whose favourite rod was described as 'a dog's hind leg, and the famous little boy who caught a big trout on a two penny garden cane. Perhaps we can agree that they succeeded in spite of, rather than because of their tackle. Tackle means all your tackle not just rod, reel, line and hook, but all the sundry items, and the landing-net too.

The fourth essential is to choose the right time to fish.  Fish are not always feeding, and the bigger they are, the less often they feed.  They do not grow big by abstaining from food, however.  Here, study will help you to choose your time, for you cannot fish continuously for a month.  You must not fear early rising, or even spending many continuos nights at the waterside if necessary.  You will put in many hours fishing at wrong times, but you will be right much more often if you try to decide what is likely to suit the fish, and don't consider yourself.

The fifth essential is to use the right bait.  Our average angler is inclined to put this choice first, and to have a great deal of faith in special baits.  Some people believe that there are secret ingredients, which can be put into baits to make them irresistible to fish.  It is not true.  The majority of big fish are caught on very simple, ordinary baits or lures, and if you carry out faithfully what I have laid down as the first four essentials you will be astonished to find how relatively unimportant your choice of bait is.  That does not mean that it is of no importance at all; it means that you should not blame your bait until you are sure that you have carried out the first four essentials.  If you have located your fish, and put your bait where the fish can find it at a time when they are feeding, using the right tackle and avoiding scaring them, and after an hour or two have not had a bite, then you may start wondering whether a different bait might be advisable. Give the bait you are using another three or four hours to confirm this, before you make a change.

In choosing baits, I would advise you to try first a bait which you know has often been found attractive to the kind of fish you are after, and if you find that it is not successful, then choose another for a definite reason, not just for the sake of making a change. For example, if you were carp fishing and could not tempt a fish with boilies, you might consider changing to corn, if the water was a heavily fished one, in which the carp had had ample opportunity to discover that corn was good food.
However, if the water swarmed with small fish, you might choose instead a
water-snail or craw fish, which the little fish would not pull to pieces, as they would paste, worms or corn.  That is what I mean by choosing an alternative bait for a good reason.
One of the difficulties of catching big fish is that in every water, there are a great many more little fish than big ones.  A big fish cannot take a bait if a small one has taken it first, or if a horde of small fish have pulled it to pieces or off the hook.  As a broad generalisation, the adage 'a big bait for a big fish' is a good one, and mainly because a big bait is less liable to be first taken by small fish.  The average angler uses baits which are generally much too small.  He would be astonished at the size of bait that I usually use.  Your choice is more likely to be too small than too big.

These are the five essentials, from what one might call a material point of view.  I know that they do not cover the problem completely; what I want to stress is the importance of feeling your way to success, step by logical step.  If you fish in this way, you are bound to succeed eventually.  A blank day is only a failure when it has taught you nothing.  If you treat your fishing as a lucky dip, you will learn little and catch few fish.  It was said of Christopher Columbus that when he sailed, he didn't know where he was going; when he arrived, he didn't know where he was; and when he came home, he didn't know where he'd been.  Something similar might be said of the way many men fish.
You will see that what I have advised takes no account of angling methods. An extensive repertoire of ready-made methods is most valuable, but they must be your slaves, not your masters, and if you aim to fulfil the essentials, you will often find that methods will choose themselves. A great many anglers are masters of more than one style of fishing, and yet fail because they lack flexibility of mind. They become like card players, who can only play the cards they have been dealt, You are faced with a given set of circumstances: do not ask yourself 'Shall I float-fish, or bottom fish? Shall I use a Hair rig or surface techniques?'  Start from basic principles and build up a technique; of which every part is a response to the task in front of you.

Down the years, anglers faced with problems have attempted to develop cut-and-dried procedures, and millions of words have been written about how these should be carried out.  When one of these methods is found to be successful, i.e.: the Hair rig, anglers suppose that they can follow it without thinking, and that is fatal, since fishing will always exceed in diversity all the ready-made angling formulae ever devised.  The methods which I describe here, will not be of much use unless you realise this.
In addition to the material approach to angling, there is the question of the angler's outlook.  It is perhaps more important.  I have already spoken of confidence.  If you remain confident in the face of disappointment, you will succeed in the end, but this will not be easy if you have not yet caught a big fish.  Like learning to swim or to ride a bicycle, it is making a start that is difficult.  The more big fish you catch, the easier you will find it to catch the next one; but begin by facing the fact that when you have turned to fishing for big fish only, the whole tempo of your angling will be slowed down.   For you cannot use methods which successfully combine the ability to catch little fish and big ones. Very often you will have to fish in a way deliberately designed to avoid catching little ones, and since, as I have said, there are many more small fish than large ones, you must be prepared to exchange quantity for quality. I am sure that you would not mind fishing for six days without a single bite, if you could be perfectly certain that on the seventh you would catch a monster, one of which would be talked about by you and your friends for years to come.

Besides confidence, there is another element in your approach to big-fish catching which is not always there to begin with, but which I believe anyone can cultivate. It is a mixture of enthusiasm, determination and persistence.
That reminds me of a conversation I once had, when I was discussing the catching of big carp with an old friend of mine. I summed this conversation up by saying, “You've got to be deadly ”.

Kipling, writing of things other than fishing, speaks of 'the calculated craftsmanship that camps alone before the angry rifle-pit or shell-hole, and cleanly and methodically wipes out every soul in it.' That must be your attitude.  If you think that no fish can matter that much, you will fail.  It must matter tremendously that you should catch the fish you are after.  An intense feud must exist between you and it, a feud that can only end with your success.
This kind of approach will help you to understand better the limited mental powers of fish.  Nowadays, people are inclined to talk about 'conditioned reflexes' in fish, by this they mean that the fish have learned something from an experience that they have had.  Species of fish differ in their ability to learn, but all of them can learn to some extent, and the older they are the more they are likely to have learned.  The more exactly you are able to assess how much they know, the more easily you can predict what they will do and thus circumvent their knowledge.

I find that anglers are apt to be extremists in their views about the intelligence of fish; some credit them with mental powers almost equal to those of humans, while others treat them as if they had no more sense than an earthworm.  You will not greatly overestimate their intelligence if you think of it as nearly equal to that of a domestic fowl.  Those big fish, which lead solitary lives, seem more intelligent than those that swim in shoals.  You will find that fish are greatly affected by the amount he water is fished.

On little-fished waters, the fish are relatively suspicious of tackle, but very easily alarmed at seeing the angler or feeling the vibrations of a heavy foot tread, while the more intelligent species are also very UN-suspicious of unfamiliar baits.  Thus, you will find that in a lonely private lake, such species as roach and rudd are very easy to catch if you do not alarm them.  But carp are most difficult to catch where a water is heavily fished, and many fish are caught and returned, or are hooked and break
away.  Undoubtedly the more intelligent fish become highly suspicious of tackle. 

Unfortunately, their familiarity with ground-baits and hook-baits, which form part of their food source, makes their capture even more tricky.
Shoaling fish, on the other hand, seem unable to discriminate in this way to anything like the same extent. In well-fished waters, they become more suspicious of the baits offered, while their instinct to flee at the indications of the presence of humans is overcome very slowly indeed. All fish are inclined to take their cue from others
and this is especially true of shoal fish, whose opportunity to observe the action of their fellows is greatest.
You will see, therefore, that the commonly held idea that the less a water is fished, the easier the fish it contains will be to catch, is really only true of such fish as roach, rudd, bream and small perch. Most other species may be easier to catch in a much-fished water by the exercise of a little thought, and the more you learn about the fish you are trying to catch, the more likely you are to hit upon a way of outthinking them.

You will find that preoccupation with a particular kind of food is not confined to chalk-stream trout, but happens with many other kinds of fish.  In cases of this kind, keen observation will repay you well.  There is reason to suppose that preoccupation with a particular kind of food, displayed at times by most species of fish, depends on the number of particles of the food available and also upon the particle size.  The greater the number of particles or food-units, and the smaller their size, the greater the preoccupation displayed by the fish.  Additionally, large fish seem to show greater preoccupation than small fish.  The bearing of all this on choice of ground bait and hook bait is obvious, though it runs counter to the accepted notions of ground bait in small particles and a larger hook bait. Obviously the greater your total knowledge of angling, the better your chances will be.  I do not think you can read too much about fishing, but you will often find opposite opinions expressed, while now and then you will find that the books are all agreed about something you are sure from your own experience is quite wrong. But you will find a great deal that throws more light upon your problems and that your own experience will tell you is sound, while you will pick up a lot of small but useful tips; the combined effect will much increase the efficiency of your angling.  I advise you to accept with reserve the dictums of any angling writer who is forever using the
words 'always' and 'never.'  Lord Grey was right when he said that those were the two words least appropriate to any angling matter.
Manual skill cannot fail to help, but I am sure that it is greatly overrated.  Perhaps my own limited skill makes that statement suspect, but I cannot help noticing how many very skilful anglers there are and how very few big fish they catch.  Provided you are not downright clumsy, you need not feel overawed at the sight of another angler casting twice as far or more accurately than you can.  He may know less about where to cast than you do, but he is worth watching all the same.  Practice will improve your skill, but it is very easy to become obsessed with it, so that the means become more important than the end. 

You must be careful, too, not to jump to conclusions.  To some people, the best bait, or the best tackle, or the best time, are those which featured in the capture of the last large fish they heard about.  You may begin to think a bait is a good one when it has accounted for a dozen or more big fish, in different waters, and you will do well to regard other details in a similar way.
All angling is, is a series of problems.  The more you fish, the more problems you will be set. For the solution of one very often sets a number of fresh ones, and it is probably true to say that the greater your experience is, the more unsolved problems will confront you, and you can never solve them all. The best advice I can offer you here is that before you try to solve a problem, make sure you know what the problem is.  When you have done your best in every way you can think of, you must wait. Kipling's Gilbert de Aquila said 'We wait.  I am old, but still I find that the most grievous work I know.'  Waiting is, indeed, hard work.  Catching big fish involves a great deal of hard work, of which waiting is only a part.  Perhaps that is why you will feel such a tremendous sense of satisfaction when you succeed.

Richard Walker

 

How To Stalk Carp

By Garth Barnard

 

Introduction

Stalking carp in the margins is a great passion of mine, to watch a Carp taking your bait is so thrilling. It amazes me how very few Carp anglers actually stalk for Carp as in my opinion it is a devastating and productive method full of rewards. Usually I will fish a 16 hour over night session with multiple rods, but as and when I can, I will stalk Carp in the margins.

Tools for the job

The tools for the job are simple, you need a rod that has a bit of back bone to it for muscling Carp out of snags, a sturdy reel loaded with a minimum of 10lb line,

Some strong hooks, shot or ‘Heavy Metal’ putty, a light float or two, a landing net, unhooking mat, weigh sling and scales, forceps and Klinik.

I use a J&K 8½ ft -1½lb test curve Stalking rod and Centerpin reel loaded with 10lb Pro Clear line and a size 8 or 6 ESP Raptor. I prefer to use a Centerpin reel rather than a fixed spool reel as I can lower the baited rig onto feeding carp using only one hand minimizing movement in having to flip the bail arm for example.

It’s also a lot more fun!

What to wear

It is important that you can see the Carp and that the Carp cannot see you!

You will need a peaked hat, Polaroid glasses and clothing fitting to your surroundings.

Do not forget to wear insect repellant, it is a jungle out there!

Location

Locating the fish and ascertaining the way they are feeding is vital. Before you have even wet a line, you need to find the general location the fish, using prior knowledge of marginal hotspots or local knowledge by asking a bailiff or another angler can do this. Once you know the general whereabouts of the Carp you then need to locate their exact whereabouts, this can be done by wearing your Polaroid glasses and by getting above them, if you can, by climbing trees, etc.

Be careful when climbing trees!

Once located watch their feeding behavior and plan a method of attack.

Feeding Behaviour

When Carp feed in the margins they could be feeding off the bottom, off the top or off of lilies, reeds, etc. When feeding on the bottom I use a bottom bait set up using a lift-rig, when feeding off the top then I would use a ‘free-lined’ set up.

The set up

When the Carp are feeding off the bottom I use the Lift-rig, this incorporates a small float held on only by a rubber float band, a shot (or ‘Heavy Metal’ putty) just heavy enough to cock the float and a size eight or six hook. I use a small one-inch hook-link made from braid tied to the hook using a knot-less knot and incorporating a ‘hair’. The short hook-link is connected to the main-line via a small swivel, I either mould ‘Heavy Metal’ putty around the swivel or attach a shot on the main-line tight to the swivel, which is just heavy enough to cock the float. The float is secured to the main-line using a rubber float band, this has two advantages, firstly and most importantly the main-line will pull free of the float if it gets snagged, secondly, it allows easy movement of the float for varying the depth.

If the Carp are feeding on the top, near the top or near lilies, reeds, rushes, etc, then I will use a free-line set up of just a size six or four hook tied directly onto the main-line.

Your Behavior

So once you have located the carp and observed their feeding behavior it is then time to catch them. I only stalk for Carp that I can actually see or know that are defiantly there.

Keep all body movements slow, methodical and deliberate, I once stalked a Carp six inches from the bank in a white T-shirt and shorts purely because of the way I moved into position and presented the bait. Do not fish with a shadow over your bait, if the sun is behind you then stay very low and/or literally stand/crouch in a bush and be part of it!

Plan ahead your playing of the fish, look for likely snags, which the Carp will almost certainly head for.

Note: I do not normally wear a white T-shirt and shorts for stalking it was just that I saw all chance and took it whilst not intending to fish at all.

Using the set up

Most of my stalking is done using the Lift-rig, I set the float at about an inch below the surface as when the Carp are feeding they will nudge the line causing line bites. If the float is set normally the line bites will cause the float to ‘bob’ which in turn makes ripples on the surface of the water, this will make the Carp wary and even spook.

In ‘Gin’ clear water you should still be able to see your hook-bait, the only problem is when Carp are feeding clouds of debris make it difficult to see the hook-bait so careful attention is needed on the float.

The float will move in all directions as the Carp nudge the line, but as soon as a Carp sucks your hook-bait from the lakebed, it will lift the shot (‘Heavy Metal’), which in turn will allow the float to lift and break the surface of the water.

As soon as the float lifts, strike, hang on and concentrate

Most margins are snaggy and unlike a Carp caught in open water it is at full strength when it heads for a snag, you may need to ‘Bully’ the carp away from the snag and even after a very brief fight straight in the net!

When ‘Free-line’ stalking on the surface, just allow the carp to suck in the hook-bait and before striking. Again, play the fish as I have stated above.

Baits and baiting up

For stalking you need to use a bait that is readily eaten by Carp, for instance I have been using Trout/Salmon pellet paste molded around hair rigged Trout/Salmon pellets or lob worms on the hook fished over a light scattering of micro Trout/Salmon pellets.

I have recently used a hair-rigged boilie, which I have great confidence in that produced a number of Carp, this was also fished over a light scattering of Trout/Salmon pellets.

When walking around locating the Carp I take a bucket of Micro Trout/Salmon pellets with me, if I see a Carp feeding in the margin I will put a couple of handfuls on top of them to gain their confidence and keep them there until I return. It might be a while as I make my way from swim to swim before I get there to introduce more Micro pellets and my hook-bait, but at least I have gained their confidence.

Conclusion

I have learnt so much about the way Carp feed from just watching them whilst stalking or preparing to stalk for them. Stalking for me is one big adrenalin rush from the moment I unload the car to the moment I get back in it!

On my last 3 hour stalking session I caught six Carp to 18lb 4oz using a Lift-rig and a hair-rigged 16mm boilie over a light scattering of Trout/Salmon pellets.

Tight lines

Garth ‘Gaffer’ Barnard

 

Silent But Deadly 

By Rod Hutchinson

At the start of the season, for some reason I felt a bit stale. My fishing on local waters was to be, as has been the case for the past few years, confined to short afternoon or evening sessions. There was no problem there, I enjoy short, sharp sessions, giving it all you've got, but I had got a bit fed up with carting all the gear around. For some daft reason, in the past I'd taken nearly the same tackle with me for a couple of hours in the evening, that I would have done for a week in France. It was affecting my mobility to the extent that on some occasions, I had not moved swims when I should have done. A rethink was on the cards, if I was to make the most of the short sessions.

As it happened, before I'd made any sort of decision on what approach to take, fate played its hand. One evening I dropped in at the lake, just for a look around, to see if anything was moving. Behind the islands, on the shallows was my old mate Terry, sat float fishing sweetcorn. He'd caught six small carp and was having a lot of fun. True, he'd not had a big one, but he had every chance, as from behind the reeds, we could see the odd twenty or large double, gliding in and feeding, along with shoals of small carp. As we talked his float dipped and he struck into another, which promptly tore across the shallows, sending out a huge bow wave. The carp wasn't big but it provided tremendous sport, and this on Terry's rather crude, heavy carp rod and ten pound line. He asked if I fancied a chuck, which I readily accepted. He had started something off, in fact from the moment the float dipped for the first time, he couldn't get the rod off me. It was exciting stuff, spotting fish and dropping a handful of corn in front of them, then gently casting the float tackle, so that the bait fluttered down enticingly amongst the free baits.

I left that evening with new enthusiasm, refreshed, ready to have a summer, slightly different to what I'd done for years.

As many of the carp were small, I wanted tackle that would provide good sport with these fish, yet still have the power to subdue any big fellas that I got attached too. I am in the enviable position of pretty much getting blanks built to order, and was quickly on the phone to Simon Chilcott of Century, outlining what I wanted. A rod with a fast tip, for casting lines up to 8lbs B.S., yet with a forgiving middle and butt section. The test curve to be anything from 1 1/4 to 1 1/2lbs. I basically wanted a sensitive float rod, but one capable of casting quite heavy lines, i.e., 5 -8 lb B.S. up to thirty yards. Within a week, three different blanks had been supplied, and Stuart Barry was busy building them up with stand off match rings.

I was in a hurry to put them through their paces and the vanish had hardly had time to dry before I was off, making my way across the Lincolnshire Wolds, to the lake. Behind the islands, the water was a seething cauldron of bubbling fish, however Mick another syndicate member had beaten me to the spot. We yarned for a few minutes, during which time Mick's swingers were going up and down like yoyo's from line bites. I told him that I would have liked to have fished the area, to which Mick said no problem, move in along side.

Out directly in front of me was a small island, packed with trees, their branches trailing onto the surface of the bay. To my left, in the corner of the bay itself was a large raft of floating scum which stretched out some five yards or so, towards the island. It was a beautiful, humid, early summer evening, and the light was perfect for spotting fish. In this area, the water is very shallow, going from around two feet to a maximum of four feet depth. Every few minutes a shoal of about a dozen fish, emerged from under the scum, and made their way out, past the island, through a channel to my right, and out into the main lake. Half way between myself and the island was a small clear sand patch. I waited until no fish were present, then baited the sand with three pouches full of corn. Over casting the mark, I gently drew back the float until the hookbait, drifted down onto the sand. The hookbait being two grains of sweetcorn, on a size 10 Perfection rig hook.

Maybe five minutes passed before a carp emerged from the scum. It was a big common, a very big common. Following it were perhaps twenty smaller ones. On seeing the corn, the big fish went straight down and started feeding, as did the smaller ones. A huge patch of tiny, seething bubbles, hissed to the surface, covering an area the size of a table top. The float lifted and I immediately struck, straight into a tree behind me! I was a bit too quick on the draw with that one. No matter, after five very enjoyable minutes, extracting my tackle from the branches, once more I pulled the tackle back over the still bubbling area.

The float didn't get time to settle, as the corn was taken on the drop. The float heading sideways towards the safety of branches, trailing from the island, into the bay. I heaved the light rod over, and the carp was pressured out into open water. It was only a single figure carp, but it gave a terrific fight on the light tackle. During the next three hours, I went on to catch twenty more. These were fish which had been bred in the lake, ones that had never felt a hook, and all were in superb condition. There were commons, mirrors, linears even a fully scaled. It was one of the most enjoyable evenings fishing that I'd had in years.

Over the following week, I was at the lake practically every evening. Trying different hooklengths and baits, and generally trying to master the method. Some years before I'd taken a few nice fish on the float, when the carp were really going hard on hemp and maggots, but at that time, I never thought that I'd got really to grips with the method, and was sure that I'd missed lots of takes, because the set up wasn't sensitive enough. Back then, I'd never known really, what was the right time to strike. Was it when the float first lifted, when it was completely flat on the surface, or should I wait until it actually ran away across the surface, slowly submerging? Fact was I tried striking in all those instances and had still managed to miss more than I'd hooked. This time I was going to get it right.

The Float Rig

What I was looking for really was a float rig that was so positive, that if the float moved, there was a fish on, as easy as that. The problem as I saw it was, that with really light baits, such as single grains of corn, maggots, hemp or tares, even a B.B. shot was heavier than the bait. If they felt this then I figure there was a good chance that the bait would be rejected. I reckoned that was the reason why I'd missed so many when I'd tried float fishing in the past. The more I looked at it, the more some form of variation of the lift float method looked on the cards. Richard Tennant was also instrumental in what finally became, the float rig. Richard had caught quite a few on the float the year before and mentioned that it was well worth trying braid for the hooklength. He wasn't sure if it was down to conditions at the time, when he had used it, but his results had been better than when using monofil straight through. It was certainly different, I'd certainly not read or heard of anglers using braids in a float set up before. I must admit I couldn't see why it should make any difference, but I'm always open to advice, so decided to give it a try.

By pure coincidence the Anglers Mail arrived that day, with a free float attached to the cover. A very light float, with canal dart written down the side, with the instructions 2 size 2. I wasn't sure what size shot they were, other than they were very small. Anyway I decided to use that as well.

The rig I set up comprised of 7lb B.S. Sabreline, as the main line, with an eighteen inch hooklength of 5lb B.S. "The Edge" braid. The hook being a size 10 Perfection Rig Hook. One inch behind the hook bait I used one small shot, which was just enough to sink the float. No other shot was used on the line, the float being left to slide between two stop knots, four inches apart. The float being fished slightly over depth so that the last nine inches or so of the braid, laid on the bottom.

The next session I had there was a cold easterly wind and I struggled to get any takes at all. However the set up worked perfectly and the moment the small shot moved, the float would sit up and fall over. I found that by striking on the rise of the float that every fish was hooked well inside the mouth. The only draw back on that evening was the blustering wind, which with the seven pound mainline I was using , made the almost weightless end tackle difficult to cast more than about fifteen yards. At the time I was still using 4500 Baitrunners, but by later changing to a small Aero, this made casting a lot much easier. I was convinced that I'd got the set up just about right, and all I needed was really good conditions to really put it through its paces and see how effective it really was. These conditions came about five days later. I arrived at the lake earlier than usual at around 4pm. There were literally hundreds of fish moving around on the shallows of the main lake, and behind the islands. I started out by first baiting up an area of silt just off a rush bed that stretched about fifteen yards out into the lake. Into this area I fired around 200 10ml mini boilies, flavoured with Mega Tutti Frutti. There were a few good fish milling around the rushes, and the baiting appeared to scare one or two, so I left the swim to settle down for an hour or so, and moved behind the islands.

There were an incredible amount of fish around, all staying together with fish of a similar size. One minute a shoal of second year fish around the two pound mark would come through, a few minutes later a shoal of five and six pounders. Then there'd be a few doubles and all the time the odd twenty would move in. Staying on sweetcorn I had an all action hour or so taking fish right through the sizes, the largest one being the last before I moved, a nineteen pound common. That went berserk in the confined space behind the islands, and scared everything off for a while. I dually baited up with corn again before moving to the other swim I'd baited previously.

Using the mini boilies, the rig was even more sensitive as no shot what so ever was needed to cock the float. Some fish had already been on the bait, that was evident from bubbles left on the surface. I didn't have long to wait however before two dark shapes glided in and up ended. The float rose and I struck instantly, the clutch screaming as the fish tore off across the shallows. I stopped her just before a dead tree that lies in the water, and from then on was pretty much in control. On the bank she turned out to be a common of twenty two pounds, which pleased me no end. I went on to take an eighteen and a ten pounder from that spot, that evening.

Up until the end of July, when I went off to concentrate on other things, I took a total of 165 carp on the float rod. While its true that the vast majority were small carp, when bigger fish were around, the method was just as effective with them. The most important thing was, that on short sessions, I was always getting action, and a bend in the rod to me is what its all about. If I'd have stuck behind three rods during that period, I most probably would have caught more larger fish, but I don't think I'd have enjoyed those sessions as much. There are only two draw backs to the method. The first being windy, blustery conditions and the second being once the weed gets up and there is a lot of floating scum about, that really does make controlling the float very difficult. Having said that those latter conditions make all methods of fishing difficult.

All types of particles and mini boilies are suitable for this method, and trout pellets are particularly good. Two of our syndicate members, when encountered by a shoal of small fish, swear by bacon rind. They chop a few bits up, about half an inch in length and feed this with corn, fishing the bacon rind over the top. Doing this, they've had up to a dozen carp on one bait!

Many, years ago, I sat behind Chris Yates and watched him float fishing a bean. The float went under and he struck into what we thought was a small carp. On the bank, that fish went thirty eight pounds, and later grew on to be the British record carp. The method works with all sizes of carp, and the set up as shown in the diagram is the most sensitive I know, while still using tackle capable of landing big fish. Give it ago, I'm sure you'll enjoy yourself, I did.

Flavours And Additives

By Archie Braddock

For those of you who don't know me, I've been around for so long I don't even believe it myself! It's been said that when I started fishing the Dead Sea was only sick! In the late 1950's I modeled myself on Dick Walker, complete with floppy hat and cane MK IV's. Through the sixties I fished for Carp, in the days when sweetcorn and luncheon meat were still in the future. Bread was the main bait, and the really adventurous used par-boiled potato, the first boilie.

By 1970 I'd moved on to other species, but kept closely in touch with the Carp scene via the weeklies and monthlies. Then in 1989, 1990, and 1991, I went strongly back into Carp fishing, this time with boilies, hair-rigs, optonics, the lot, in my quest to catch a large Trent Carp. (Detailed in my book 'Fantastic Feeder Fishing') This involved me in some serious study into the composition and make-up of boilies, for I had decided to make my own. I wasn't too far out of touch, however, for during the previous seven or eight years I'd spent a great deal of time experimenting with all sorts of flavours on baits like maggots, bread, meat, etc., which certainly boosted my catches of Chub, Roach, Perch and Bream. And of course, with flavoured meat and the like, along came the Carp, some of which I landed, and many of which I didn't.

By the end of my 2½ year Trent boilie campaign, I knew a heck of a lot about mixes, boiling times, bait density, pop-ups, rigs and such, but there was so much conflicting information it was never possible to be sure who was reporting genuine discoveries in bait advances, and who was just hyping up various products to boost sales. Several writers suggested doubling up on flavour levels when making pop-ups, as heat de-natured some of the flavours; they also suggested reducing normal boiling times to a minimum, for the same reason. A bit later on, it was suggested we start dipping, glugging, or soaking, to help replace some of the attraction lost by boiling.

This seemed logical to me, for I had had several years of applying flavours to the outside of baits like maggots, meat, etc, so I started to experiment with all the various liquid attractors to see what happened. Eventually I came up with a concoction of Sense Appeals, P.G flavours, and E.A. flavours. Yes, all on the one bait. And it worked! During my last year of boilie river Carping, all my fish came to five and six bait stringer rigs, with the hook-bait itself given an extra dunking before casting, to make it stand out from the freebies. Before fishing, all the boilies had been treated with the above blend, then frozen up in packs of fifty in freezer bags until needed.

I didn't know it for sure at the time, but with what I've learned since I realise that I was on the right track. When I eventually moved onto Barbel, Chub, etc, I continued to apply the same principles, went even further into the reaction of fish to flavours, and ultimately made the decision to start producing my own powders and liquids for sale to pleasure anglers and matchmen, rather than Carpers. After all, who was I compared to the likes of Hutchie, Maddocks, the Nutrabaits lads, and the other established Carp additive/flavour producers of the day? So I started with just powdered groundbait additives, for I had learned enough about these to know I could equal or improve upon anything on the market.

And there it might have stayed except that, quite by accident, I stumbled on a group of liquid feeding triggers that had never been used in angling before. My early tests gave startling results, so I finally decided to take the gamble and move into the very crowded liquid flavour market. But first I had to know just what the opposition was, so I bought a sample of almost every successful flavour on the market, and had them analysed. To copy them? Oh no. The best of them all was Hutchies Scopex (which everyone else has copied) but you won't find a Scopex in my range. What I wanted to learn was how to put a good flavour together, and then improve on that. And there really is room for improvement.

I am appalled by some of the concoctions offered for sale. There are several bottles on the market which contain about 2% flavour, and 98% carrier. There are others that are virtually identical copies of each other, but with a different name and a different coloured label. And some of the claims made for them are nothing short of ludicrous. It's been said that there are only 7 or 8 good flavours on the market and that all the rest are just variations on a theme, under different names. I certainly go along with that.

So, what is a good flavour? It's one that works on three levels. The first part is volatile, very active. It leaks out into the water rapidly, drifting on the currents and undertows, alerting fish to the possibility of food. The second part is less volatile; it leaks off slowly, giving the fish time to home in on it and follow it back to its source. The third part is the 'stick on' material, the essence that stays on the bait, or releases extremely slowly, to form a halo of attraction around the boilie. This is the taste, the feeding trigger, that actually makes the Carp pick up the bait.

Sales talk? A load of elderly shoe-menders? No, this is exactly what I've managed to perfect, and for very good reasons. My research has shown that applying heat to flavours does alter, denature, or in some cases, destroy them. In actual fact heat destroys the volatile, active parts of any flavour, which unbalances it. Which means that boiling baits is not wise. But we need to boil them, don't we, to defeat the attentions of small fish and crayfish. So, put the flavour on the outside! This is done by dipping, glugging, or soaking first, then freezing. The freezing process does not harm flavours, but what it does do is draw the flavour into the skin of the boilie during the defrosting process.

I can almost hear you saying, "But why not inside flavouring as well as outside?" Sure, it's your money if you want to waste it. It is my opinion that, provided the bait is basically nutritious, like fishmeals and bird foods for instance, then the outside application of flavours will ensure maximum pick-ups. Modern hook rigs will do the rest.

But think of the advantages of neutral, unflavoured boilies: you only need to outside flavour those baits you will be using during the next session, so if you want to change the flavour the week after, because you're going to a different water, it's dead easy. Okay, so you've got your favourite flavoured ready-mades, Strawberry, Tutti Frutti or whatever, and you always fish with them, everywhere. Fine, carry on, but just try one of your four rods with an outside flavour…you'll get more pick-ups. I repeat,…you'll get more pick-ups. Everyone I know who has tried it has had this experience.

Yes, I have to admit to a small plug here, as this has all been on my own flavours, but it will work to some degree with any flavour. Why?

1) There has been no destruction by heat.

2) The flavour is 'available' to the fish, not locked away under the egg skin of the bait.

3)The defrosting process does embed a certain amount of even the most unsuitable flavour into the outside of the boilie, where the fish can detect it.

What is an unsuitable flavour? Sorry, I've got to say it…most of those on the market. Before the bait companies send out lynch parties, let me hasten to add they are not trying to con you. Most flavours are made water soluble, able to dissolve easily in water. If they weren't, they would never get through that egg skin that forms when boiling the bait, to do their job of attraction. On the other hand, put that same water-soluble flavour on the outside of the boilie, and most of it will disperse in a short time.

There are liquids out there that do the job; Essential Oils for one. These are quite dense, are very slow to dissolve in water, and have excellent taste value. On the other hand, add a mere few drops to a mix, denature them by boiling, lock them up behind the egg skin; and then expect them to attract Carp? It's no wonder that these very good attractants are out of favour. Conversely, take bulk fish-oils, which are often added to the outside of boilies via glugging. They're totally non-soluble, they won't disperse in the water, therefore they have virtually no attractive powers. Any leak off at all will go straight to the surface. Have you ever noticed how many writers quote fish rolling over their baits, yet they can't get a take?

Flavours based on the famous P.G. (Propylene Glycol) are water-soluble, those on E.A. (Ethyl Alcohol) are super water-soluble, so the only way to make sure they remain in the bait is to lock them in with the egg skin….with the previously mentioned disadvantages. So, and I realise I'm repeating myself, it will always help to freeze an extra flavour on the outside, which, as stated, will improve the pick-up rate.

With no apologies, I'll now finish this feature by describing my own products, not just for sales hype but because in the last year I have made great advances in designing flavours, and, at the same time, I have come up with new materials that have never been incorporated in flavours before. No longer are there just variations of only seven or eight good flavours, there is now something different. How different? The question I am always asked by good carp men regarding any flavour is "what's it on?", meaning what is the carrier base, P.G., E.A, Glycerol, or whatever. My answer is none of them. If I produce a peach, a pineapple, raspberry, or any other, then it is on peach, pineapple, etc. With added enhancers, attractors, and new substances. Everything in my bottles attracts fish, and there is certainly no P.G. at all.

And that's as far as I can go, without starting to give away my hard won trade secrets. If anyone wishes to call me for further information I'll be happy to oblige. My advert will appear on Anglers' Net very soon.

May you all catch your personal best Carp….but I'll settle for a big Barbel.

Archie Braddock

 

Launching Leads!
Extreme Range Carping - The Key Points

By Chris Woodrow

 

5…4…3…2…1…BLAST OFF!!!

The body flexes and, after all your might, the rod surges forward and away the terminal tackle goes, like a bullet, towards it’s target way off in the distance. Well, in theory, that’s what’s suppose to happen.

Extreme range carp fishing is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s one area of carp fishing which I really enjoy and, nowadays, on many of the bigger venues, a method which is becoming increasingly necessary as fish are driven further away from the banks by disturbance or whatever, to areas of ‘supposed’ sanctuary.

Before I go too much further, I ought to clarify exactly what I mean by the term ‘extreme range’.

This is possibly an area where I risk a slagging, as everyone seems to have their own ideas about what is, and what isn’t, extreme range, and whether or not it is necessary. For someone used to fishing a 5 or 6 acre pond, then a big chuck might be 60 yards and any further seem quite daunting, but for many of the anglers currently fishing a place like, say, Harefield, a cast of 130 yards plus is fairly routine stuff. Get my drift?

Anyway, for the record, in my opinion I consider that extreme range is anything over 120 yards.

I ought also to say that this piece is about casting your baits out, not using a boat. I confess that when fishing at mega distances on several of the huge reservoirs I often fish in France and other parts of Europe, I use a boat to drop the baits.

I know a few people don’t agree with this, well, that’s your choice and you are entitled to your opinions which, if sensible, I respect.

OK back to the point.

Fishing at extreme range is obviously a pretty specialised thing requiring specialist tools. It is not for the faint hearted and you have to be 110% confident in your tackle.

This article is not aimed at the complete novice, as it were, even though there is possibly a thing or two to be gleaned from what follows. I have deliberately skipped over the very basics, as these things, hopefully, we’ve learnt during our carp fishing apprenticeships.

I have also quoted extracts of technical articles, written by me which have either been or are due to be published, rather than rewriting relevant pieces for the sake of it. 

Right, down to business… Extreme range carp fishing: the key points.

Extreme Range Rods

The piece which follows is a small extract from my article ‘In Pursuit of Excellence’, a detailed, technical piece on the creation of a specialist extreme range rod, with contributions from Dr. Steve Harrison of Harrison Advanced Rods, and Vic Gibson of rod building fame.  

It will give you a good idea of what to look for when selecting a rod for extreme range work.

‘Personally, I don’t believe that there is such a thing as one rod which will effectively cover all aspects of modern day carp fishing.

I consider that different types of rods are required for different jobs. After all, you wouldn’t use a bread knife to chop a log in half, or an axe to slice a loaf of bread, would you? I suppose you could, but it would obviously be far better to use the axe for the log and vice-versa.

For a good number of years, for all my extreme range fishing I was using 13ft long Armalite ‘Top Gun’ rods 3.5lb test curve, made up for me by Vic Gibson with 5 Silicon carbide rings plus tip and Fuji reel fittings. They performed extremely well, are capable of really hurling out a 4oz lead and play fish well under the tip.

In my opinion, their only drawback is that in terms of weight they are heavy in relation to a lot of the newer models on the market and they are quite ‘tip heavy’ resulting in sluggish line ‘pick-up’ at big range.

Now, rods seem to be a very personal thing; if you asked a dozen top anglers their preferred rod for extreme range work, you’d probably get 8 to 10 different answers!

I wanted to make my own decisions, avoiding the distractions of the glossy colour adverts in the monthly carp magazines with the ‘average casting distances’ and ‘prodigous casting abilities’. I’m sure these rods are very good, but I wanted to make up my own mind.

I looked at a large proportion of the top end of the market in extreme range rods before finally settling on a blank which I felt almost entirely comfortable with. The rod I had selected is manufactured by Harrison Advanced Rods of Liverpool, being their 12.5ft 3.5lb test curve model. 

I explained to my local Harrison agent the specification I required and also the exact job I wanted the rod to do. This meant the agent had to speak direct to Harrison Advanced Rods as I was requesting the test curve be stepped up to 4lb and a change in colour.

Harissons immediately agreed that it would be absolutely no problem, which was tremendous.

The final specification was as follows:

Length 12.5ft, 2 section with overfit joint.

Test Curve 4lb.

Job Capable of casting a 4 or 5oz lead to extreme range, have a very fast line ‘pick-up’, maintain its balance / feel and be able to play a fish under the tip.

Colour Anything other than black or grey.

I opted for a 12.5ft long rod as opposed to a 13ft as I am quite short and feel more comfortable ‘hitting the horizon’ with a slightly shorter rod.

The reason I wanted to have the blanks coloured was so that they would be a little different from the standard black or grey blanks which are so abundant on most carp lakes.

These rods were ringed up for me by Vic Gibson for extreme range work with 5 Titanium silicon carbide rings plus tip and Fuji reel attachments.

Now, these rods can really hurl a lead out. They are not ‘broom handles’ by any means, maintaining their feel when playing big fish under the tip.

There are several good, proven extreme range rods on the market in addition to the Harrison versions which I’ve mentioned, such as:

The Jim Gibbinson Eclipse 13ft 3.25TC manufactured by Simpsons of Turnford.

The Insight 13ft 3.5TC manufactured by Leslies of Luton.

The Rod Hutchinson IMX / Dream Maker 13ft 3.5TC SU manufactured by Rod Hutchinson

The Orient Power Plus 3.5 to 5TC manufactured by Leon Hoogendijk (not readily available in the UK as far as I know).

All these rods, in the right hands, with the correct reel etc., will cast a lead a very, very long way.  

Make your decision wisely before forking out, remember, these are specialist tools for a specific job and they won’t be much use on your local 5 or 6 acre pod.

Reels

Big casting, big reels…or, should I say, big spools.

A fixed spool reel with a small spool is not the best to use when considering extreme range work using lines of 10lb plus breaking strain.

For all my extreme range work I use line between 10 and 14lb breaking strain in conjunction with a shock leader (we’ll look at shockleaders / lines in a minute).

When fishing at extreme range, using heavier lines as I’ve mentioned, I use Daiwa’s SS9000 with baitrunner conversion (Daiwa Infinities are their 2001 offering, with baitrunner now of course!). I have used Diawa’s SS3000 prior to this in the past, the reason for choosing the SS9000 is because they hold a massive amount of line, which is essential when I need to row baits up to 300 yards and more on the cotinent.

Both the SS9000 and SS3000 have very deep, conical shaped spools which allow the line to flow off the spool freely with an absolute minimum of friction, as the larger diameter line leaves on the cast. In addition to this, they have incredibly smooth clutch systems, which makes playing big fish a much safer / pleasanter experience.

Let’s diversify a bit here, because this an important point.

I still see people, when playing a big fish on a short line, BACKWINDING. I fail to understand why. With today’s smooth clutch systems being common on most carp fishing reels, what is the need to backwind? If a clutch is set properly before you cast out, once a fish is hooked, it’s all very easy. If you need to exert more pressure whilst playing a fish away from a snag or something, just tighten it a couple of notches; most clutches nowadays are numbered, so it can be reset immediately once the fish is out of danger.

Surely, backwinding is as out of date a ‘churner’ now? Remember them?

Back to the point. These reels will certainly add distance to your cast but are also expensive.

Shockleaders

For extreme range work shockleaders are essential, to ensure you don’t crack off every time you really heave into a cast. 

There are several types of shockleader on the market; my own personal favourite is Kryston Quicksliver 35lb breaking strain. This stuff is ace; it is incredibly abrasion resistant and has a very low memory, thus ensuring it doesn’t clatter through your rings.

A heavier line will also suffice as a shockleader, such as 20lb breaking strain leader to 10lb mainline.

There are also available now tapered leaders which are well worth investigating.

If you want to make the leader really abrasion resistant, you can add Kryston Granite Juice to the leader which, according to Kryston, will increase its abrasion resistant by as much as 300%!

All these and more are available from any good tackle dealer.

Shockleaders need to be kept as short as possible, with just a maximum of 2 or 3 turns on your spool, or they will reduce your cast.

The shockleader knot is also something which needs to be tied correctly and seems to stump a lot of people. Below is a small extract and sketch from an article entitled ‘Get Knotted’ which is a technical piece on knots.

‘I use shockleaders a lot, not only for casting, but as an abrasion resistance for some of the horrendously snaggy, rocky, waters when in France.

I used to hate tying shockleader knots and came up with some weird concoctions before getting to grips with it.

I must confess, I do not know the ‘proper’ name for this knot so, for argument’s sake, let’s just call it the shockleader knot.

It’s simple to tie and very reliable (as shown in the sketch).

It’s worth mentioning at this point that, after tying the knot, when cutting off the loose ends to leave them a quarter of an inch or they will become stiff and hinder the cast as the knot goes through the rings.

After a capture this, as with all other knots, should be meticulously inspected and tied again if necessary.

Lines

Main lines are really down to personal preference, I use Berkeley Big Game line and Berkeley Ultra – Thin as well as old favourites, such as Sylcast and Maxima. 

Most monofilament lines nowadays are pretty similar, so there is not really any point me labouring this.

Throwing Sticks

Unless you are fishing with a single hookbait or a smaller stringer, the only way you are going to get your free offerings out anywhere near extreme range is either using remote control boat, a normal boat or by using a throwing stick.

Let’s assume, for the purpose of this article, that boats of any description are banned as, indeed, they are on a large proportion of UK waters.

Using a throwing stick or boilie stick as they’re called, manufactured by Cobra Advanced Baiting is one of the few ways of getting your free offerings out 120yards plus in favourite conditions. The Cobra range of throwing sticks is simple to use and, to quote Cobra, "Once you’ve mastered it, it’s like riding a bike; the ability is with you for life."

I would suggest that the best Cobras for extreme range baiting are the King Mega and Ace Ultralite versions.

You will find that adding a heavy ingredient to your base mix, such as DT Baits’ ‘Heavy Additive’ will give you those vital extra yards. Keeping the baits big, such as 25mm will also help greatly.

It should also be mentioned that you need to keep the inside of your Cobra clean and free from any dirt or grit etc., that may obstruct the boilie’s flight path.

The five steps to putting a bait out to extreme range using a boilie stick, which I’m sure Cobra won’t mind me quoting, are as follows:

  1. Stand facing your baiting area using a similar stance to that used for normal casting.
  2. Use the Cobra boilie stick as an extension of your arm.
  3. For long distance baiting, more power is required and you will feel the boilie accelerating up the tube as your arm extends fully forward.
  4. Stop the Cobra at the 10 o’clock position to get maximum distance.
  5. Finally, remember that successful use of the Cobra is down to technique, not strength.

Cobras are obviously available from all good tackle shops. 

Bait Missiles

Bait missiles, rockets, or whatever you choose to call them have been around for a few a seasons now. Before that, of course, it was the good old ‘Steradent tube’ style spods!

These plastic, torpedo shaped items are certainly able to put free offerings of bait 120yards plus, in the right hands. I have even seen reports that certain varieties can reach 150yards and more. This kind of range is beyond my abilities; god luck to those who can do it.

Generally, your missile will come equipped with a loop of heavy line and swivel or a plastic fitting at the ‘open’ end and attach your main line to. It is then a case of filling the missile with boilies, particles or whatever and launching it to its destination, using the same casting technique as you’d use when really whacking out your hookbait.

Now, this is easier said than done, as these things are fairly hefty and bulky in comparison to a normal terminal tackle arrangement. I would suggest that using a strong shockleader in conjunction with a heavy rod is a must if you really want to chuck it a big distance.

When the missile hits the water, it tips up and releases its contents into the water and can be easily retrieved by winding in. The same procedure can then be repeated, if required, until the swim is sufficiently baited.

The version I use is sold by Trev’s of Wilmslow; has a buoyant nose cone enabling it to float.

I recently read a review of a new version on the market which sinks (Gardners, I think). I would suggest if going for this type that you are very careful to retrieve it quickly after casting, to avoid any chance of picking up your hooklinks / mainline on the retrieve.

Bait missiles should definitely be part of your extreme range kit and are available from all good tackle dealers.

The Terminal Tackle

Generally, this is pretty much the same as any rig you’d use for medium to long range work. Helicopter style rigs are an excellent option, keeping the hooklink as short as possible. I like to have the rig set-up as simple as possible to avoid any chance of a tangle. Keep anti – tangle tubing to the absolute minimum, keep things as finely tuned as possible.

There are loads of rigs well documented throughout the monthlies and we all know which rigs we are confident in, so I don’t really need to go into any more detail on this point. 

Leads: I prefer the ‘zipp’ style lead as opposed to in-lines, especially those manufactured by Korda Developments; they don’t wobble in flight and fly really well.

I use 4oz minimum. I understand Korda are in the throes of manufacturing a 5 and 6oz version, which I am anxious to try.

The Cast Itself

There are several methods of casting, from resting your end tackle on pieces of drainpipe to 6ft run ups!

My preference is to have the lead hanging about halfway down (6 feet) the rod whilst I am standing at a 12 to 6 o’clock position (sideways) to the water.

I keep my eyes firmly on the target (obviously after making sure there’s no one anywhere near me), swing the lead back and forth and when it’s nearest the rod, with all my might, push the rod forward, releasing the line when the rod hits 10 o’clock position. I try to take full advantage of the rod’s tip speed and test curve to really get some power into the cast.

I choose to remove the spool prior to casting and put it back on with the bail arm close, rather than having the bail arm open – you never know when these thing might get knocked or just shut accidentally, but it’s possibly being over cautious, so it’s your decision.

Conclusion

There are obviously a few items I’ve either missed or just glossed over but my intention was just to cover what I consider to be the key points.

I hope this piece has been of some interest and that it will be some interest and that it will be of some use next time you are trying to ‘hit the horizon’.

Extreme range fishing is one of the many forms of modern day carping, certainly one which took me a long time and considerable expense to get to grips with, bit I feel the rewards have made it truly worthwhile and it is now one of my favourite forms of fishing.

Chris ‘Essex Man’ Woodrow

 

Angling Ethics

By Jim Gibbinson

The Oxford Dictionary defines 'ethics' as a moral philosophy or a set of moral principles. Keeping the rules, in fact.... or is it? Suppose you are fishing a water which requires that all pike be killed - you catch a pike by accident, but instead of killing it, you return it live to the water. By breaking a rule in order to stay true to your principles, have you behaved ethically, or unethically?

Tricky one, that. 

BOATS

An ethical issue which crops up from time to time in carp magazines concerns the use of boats. If we assume their use is permitted on a water, is it ethical to use one? And if so, how should it be used?

I will use a boat in order to learn about a water - to go out with an echo-sounder in order to enable the drawing of a detailed water map. I also see nothing wrong in using a boat for swim access - providing it does not disturb other anglers, of course. I'll use one for putting out free-feed, too. But that is where it ends. I will not use a boat to take out terminal tackles. In many overseas waters, and some UK waters, too, boats are used to enable anglers to fish well beyond casting range - up to three or four hundred yards. Other times a boat might be used not for distance, but to enable terminal tackles to be placed somewhere which would otherwise be inaccessible - deep beneath the branches of a far-bank overhanging willow tree, for example.

Is the boating-out of terminal tackles legitimate? Is it ethical?

I think not, so I don't do it. In saying that, I am not trying to take the moral high ground, and I have no intention of preaching to those who feel differently, but to me it seems that step too far. Casting is an athletic skill; if someone wants to fish beyond others, or place baits in difficult-to-access spots, I feel they should try to acquire the necessary skill, not short-circuit the situation by boating-out their terminal rigs.

Doubtless even those who disagree with me can see 'where I'm coming from', to quote the clich‚, on that particular issue - but it gets somewhat more complicated. While I will not boat-out terminal rigs when fishing from the bank, I see nothing wrong in using a boat as a fishing platform. I've caught loads of pike and trout from boats, and have not suffered the tiniest pinprick of conscience while so doing.

Inconsistent? Yes, I suppose it is. But that's the trouble with ethical issues, they are not always clear cut.

The foregoing, incidentally, applies to rowing boats and outboard powered boats, but the same principles - other than the 'fishing platform' bit - apply to bait-boats. 

WEEDS AND SNAGS

Several years ago I was a member of an Essex syndicate. One particular summer, the shallows became heavily weeded. Ninety percent of the carp spent ninety percent of their time on those shallows. Beyond the weed - a cast of about eighty yards, I suppose - was a clear area. If baits were cast to this area, runs were virtually assured. Trouble was, hooked carp had to be pulled through eighty yards of intervening weed where, most times, they became immovably stuck, so anglers were compelled to pull for a break. I would estimate that four out of every five carp hooked were lost, many of which were left trailing hooks and line.

The anglers who fished the shallows were breaking no rules, but was it ethical to fish there? I decided it was not, so I declined to do so - instead I concentrated my efforts up the deeper, semi-weedfree end of the pit which, unfortunately, was often carpless, too!

A friend of mine encountered a similar situation in a Kent club water, only this time the carp were among snags. A small group of anglers cast adjacent to, and sometimes actually in the snags. Predictably, many of the carp which were hooked were lost. The situation was exacerbated at night by the delay which occurred as the anglers woke up, then extricated themselves from sleeping bags and bivvies. They broke no rules, but in my opinion fished in an unethical, not to say irresponsible manner.

Rules can be manipulated - and again ethics come to the fore. As an example, consider the two anglers who decided to concentrate their winter fishing on one of my local pits. The club has a 'no prebaiting' rule, which it defines as putting in free-bait other when actually fishing. So what did our two 'master baiters' (pun intended!) do? They would arrive at the water, assemble a rod, chuck in a couple of kilos of boilies, then dismantle the rod and leave. Despite being at the water for less than half an hour on such occasions, they claimed that they had not broken the 'no prebaiting' rule. In literal terms, that was true - but they had undoubtedly abused the spirit of the rule. As it turned out, their endeavours went to waste because they caught nothing. And doubtless due to the excessive amount of free-bait they put out, precious little was caught by anyone else that winter, either. But their tactical stupidity is not the issue; I question their ethics. 

INSTANT BIGGIES

In recent years a lot of big fish have been imported from the Continent and stocked in UK waters. Some of those fish have been imported illegally; others have been brought in legitimately. But let us set aside the legality or otherwise of those importations, and also the serious risk of introducing disease which might affect indigenous fish - instead let us look at the ethical issues which are raised.

'Instant biggies', we are told, devalue our home-grown fish. A big Continental 'stockie', it is said, is less worthy than a fish which has grown large in the UK. While I can understand the sentiments of the 'British is best' contingent, I think they have been hoist by their own petard. For many years they have placed inordinate emphasis on a carp's size - or to be more precise, its weight. Big fish have become prestigious; an angler's worth being measured, in large part, by how many big carp he has caught. It was always a superficial measure of merit, but it had the virtue of simplicity. But the issue became confused - big fish were being introduced here, there and everywhere. The shortcomings of the simplistic 'big is best' philosophy were suddenly thrown into sharp relief.

My attitude is best summed up by my response to someone who expressed the opinion that 'imported fish don't count'.

"Towards what?" I asked.

In other words, what is the significance of a 'brag list' of big fish? It demonstrates a high level of competence, certainly - but then again, there are plenty of highly capable anglers who confine their fishing to waters where the carp are smaller, so a list of big fish does not necessarily indicate that someone is a better angler than the next man. So if not proof of exceptional expertise, what is it? Could it be status? Ah! I think we've hit on something! In pre-importation times - a big fish list gave an angler kudos and rank. Unfortunately for the 'British is best' purists, the weeklies and their readers rarely distinguish between home-grown fish and imports - a forty pounder is a forty pounder whatever its origins.

So, is it ethical to fish for big imported carp, and then to report them to the angling press without making it clear that they are immigrants?

Frankly, yes. After all, what does it matter?

There is nothing unethical about fishing for imported fish - indeed, I could make a pretty good case for it being considerably more ethical than deliberately setting out to catch a home grown fish which has already been caught far too often.

I don't fish for newly introduced imported fish, but my reasons have nothing to do with ethics. I fish for personal satisfaction - not for plaudits or kudos. And satisfaction is an intangible quality - it depends on lots of different factors, chief among them being a sense of achievement. What anyone else catches - either in terms of size or the country of origin - is completely irrelevant. 

SWIM HOGGING

Go to any big-carp water where there are no restrictions on the length of time one can fish, and chances are you will find long-stay carp anglers. Sometimes they will monopolise key swims - or what they perceive to be key swims - for weeks and occasionally months on end. It places unremitting pressure on the fishery - and consequently the fish - and excessive wear-and-tear on their chosen swims. Additionally, it restricts other anglers' choice by taking certain swims out of commission.

If, as we said, there are no restrictions regarding this sort of thing, then these full-timers are not breaking any rules - but is what they do ethical?

My own fishing is rarely affected by this sort of thing because I've usually scuttled away to quiet waters long before the situation arises, so I have no personal axe to grind when I say that I think long-term swim hogging is unethical. It is also extremely selfish, but that is another issue.

TARGET FISH

Earlier I made reference to fish which are caught too frequently. In some waters there are so-called 'mug fish' which just keep turning up - short of transferring them to a non-fished water where they can enjoy a peaceful retirement, there is not much we can do about the situation. But what of particular big fish being deliberately targeted - and that despite their having been caught time and time again. One that immediately comes to mind is the big mirror they call 'She' which lives in Faversham's School Pool. How often has that poor carp been caught, I wonder - a hundred and fifty times? Two hundred? More? The hapless 'She' is an extreme example, but sadly, by no means unique. Can we honestly justify that sort of thing?

IN CONCLUSION

For the word 'ethics' we can sometimes substitute 'altruism', 'fairness', 'unselfishness' or 'consideration', but ultimately it is indefinable because what is wholly acceptable to one angler, might be unacceptable to another. So in the absence of an 'ethics ombudsman' who, imbued with the wisdom of Solomon, can arbitrate on such matters, we have to decide for ourselves what is ethical, and what isn't.

 

 

Particle Baits In Europe

By Chris Woodrow

In the UK over recent years there seems to have been a lot of controversy and, in many instances, misapprehension about the use of particle baits. We now find ourselves in the position that a large percentage of UK waters totally ban the use of particles. When I refer to particles I mean of course seeds, nuts, pulses etc.

Even though the word particle means ‘extremely small piece or amount’ according to Collin’s English Dictionary, I don’t intend to discuss mini boilies, chopped up baits or other small baits.

Particles can of course be dangerous if they’re not prepared correctly, and this I would imagine is the main reason for the controversy. Undoubtedly, undercooked particles have killed carp, this being the result of sheer ignorance on the part of the person preparing the bait.

The second main reason was the peanut problem some years ago when, if I recall correctly, hundreds of tonnes of peanuts were infected by a mould virus which was undetectable to the human eye, and was fatal if consumed in quantity by the carp. I haven’t heard of any recent problems with the quality of peanuts, so I guess the problem is now history.

Obviously it’s important to insist on the best quality particles available. But how you tell quality, I don’t know. I imagine that going to a reputable particle supplier, such as Hinders of Swindon, would be a good start.

It must also be stressed that sacks of particles need to be stored correctly in a totally dry, cool environment otherwise you’ll bring a serious quality problem on yourself!

Before going on and talking more specifically about particle fishing in France, I think it would be a good idea to briefly discuss the basics of particle preparation. Dehydrated particles require soaking in water, normally overnight, or for at least say 12 hours. Most swell up to at least double their size, so you’ll need to consider this when selecting bucket size and level of water in it. It’s also worth adding a flavour to the liquid at this point so that the bait absorbs it during the soaking process. Colour, if required, can also be added at this stage.

Once you’ve soaked your baits, they require cooking, generally using one of two methods: in a normal cooking pot or in a pressure cooker. Personally, I prefer the pressure cooker as it doesn’t allow so much of the natural smells etc. to escape. As a rule of thumb 15 minutes to half an hour in boiling water will do the trick, but you’ll need to keep an eye on them so that they don’t get too soft, or remain too hard.

After this, particles should be drained and either put in cool water ready to use, put back in the water used to boil them once it has cooled, frozen, or allowed to ferment for use.

Fermentation occurs if you leave the particles for a few days, normally a maximum of three. The dictionary tells me this is the process whereby sugar turns to alcohol. I read somewhere else that it’s the starches that turn to sugar. Either way, once the bucket of particles smells sickly and becomes milky, they’re at their best. If your bucket becomes vinegary and very acidic, like you’ve overdone it, start again!

Tiger nuts and maize are excellent examples of good fermented baits. With maize I’ve had some excellent catches in France when other normal particles haven’t produced.

Some particles, such as oat groats, only require minimal preparation, such as soaking, but you must check before making any assumptions.

OK, now we’ve established that quality and correct preparation of particles is of paramount importance, let’s go to the point – particle fishing in Europe.

Most waters outside of the UK have no bans on the use of particle baits; some of the smaller, ‘purpose run’ lakes in France do though, so it’s worth checking with the owners. I don’t fish these overstocked places so I can’t really comment. This article is specifically aimed at bigger, lesser-known waters, but I guess the principles are the same.

With so many particles on the market nowadays where do you begin to start? Good question.

I normally start out by finding out as much as possible about the place I’m going to fish. I’m not referring here to the scenery, but to the make-up of the lake-bed. Has the lake got a muddy, soft bottom? Is it a pit with a hard bottom? By finding out you can begin to short-list an appropriate particle.

Obviously, many people have favourites, in which they’re 100% confident. Indeed, my own favourite is oat groats, and I always take a sack in the car when going on any session in Europe, regardless of venue. If you’ve got a favourite, fine, use it, but why not try another on one of the other rods? You could be surprised, and maybe find a new favourite!

On lakes with soft, muddy bottoms particles with a flattish side, such as black-eyed beans, maize, pinto beans, lupins or tiger nuts will settle softly on the bottom and can be easily taken by our friend, Mr. Carp.

A hard bottom is ideal for the denser particles, such as soya beans, maples or chickpeas, where sinking out of sight isn’t a problem.

With weedy, silty type bottoms, I prefer to use very small particles, such as oat groats, hemp, pearl barley and the now famous Hinders ‘Partiblend’, which all sit on the weed nicely and don’t sink out of sight. Of course, your rig must take that into account, so we’ll look at that shortly.  

Cost is an important factor also. Particles such as tiger nuts are obviously far more expensive than a sack of maize, so you’ll have to look at this when making your choice.

As most waters in Europe allow the use of boats, getting your particles out to your marked spot is not as much of a problem as it is in the UK. I fish a lot of very big waters, which require fishing at huge range, so there’s no way that spodding or ‘bait rockets’ as they now tend to be called, would be feasible. Mind you, it’s useful to have this bit of kit in your tackle box.

When dropping particles from a boat, if I’m using a reasonable quantity, I use an old piece of drainpipe and simply prefill it and tip it vertically when in position so that the baits drop accurately into the precise location. When using a small quantity of bait, I either drop it in by hand from the boat or use a PVA bag in weedy/silty conditions because it’ll tend to pull your hookbaits into the weed or silt.

Rigs. As I’ve stated in previous articles, I like to keep rigs as simple as possible when fishing in France. Whilst waters in Europe, especially France, are now receiving far more pressure than in years gone by, I still consider simple rigs work effectively.

When fishing with particles, I prefer to use pop ups or, indeed fish a pop up boilie over a light scattering of particles. I’m not too bothered about critical balancing; I’ve tried both critical balancing and anchoring baits to the bottom, and both seem to give similar results. One thing though which I’m sure is always overlooked when critically balancing baits is that colder water is denser than warm water, creating slightly more buoyancy. In other words the deeper you go, the more buoyant it gets, so if you’ve balanced your bait in a bucket by your bivvy it won’t act the same in 20ft of water. Think about it…

To summarise: think carefully about which particle you’re going to take to Europe with you. For the record, a 30/70 mixture of pinhead oatmeal and groats is my personal favourite, and of course tiger nuts!

I hope this article has been of interest, maybe some use, and has given you some food for thought.

Good Luck.

Chris ‘Essex Man’ Woodrow

 

Carp From Big Waters

By Jim Gibbinson

How do I catch carp from a big water which holds relatively few fish?

The first job is to spend time getting to know the topography of the water, ideally via a boat (never, ever go in a boat without wearing a lifejacket) and an echo-sounder. The next best option is a boat and "prodding pole", but if circumstances make the use of a boat impossible, then by means of a plumbing rod from the bank.

Then comes observation. Carp are usually fairly cooperative in that they cruise, bask, roll, jump etc. By marrying these observations with weather conditions - especially the wind direction - and knowledge of the water's topography, it should be possible to build up a preliminary picture of which areas are favoured by carp.

While any standard carp fishing approach might produce results, one of the most effective is 'stalking'. I put the word in inverted commas because it is not confined to conventional peering under-trees type stalking (although that can be an excellent tactic), but includes looking for where fish are rolling5 head-and-shouldering, bubbling, mud-stirring etc. Having found the fish, it is essential that they be approached ultra-cautiously. Carp which are rarely fished for tend to be extremely "spooky" and will not tolerate heavy lead or bait bombardment. A light lead - or no lead at all - and a single hookbait is the best bet. If the nature of the bait permits, a stringer might be incorporated.

While I have caught carp by stalking, my preferred approach - and the one which has been most successful for me - is to select an area of the lake (or more likely, pit) and wait for the conditions which suit that area. Let me explain by giving a "for instance". Suppose my plumbing/echo-sounding etc reveals a tennis-court size plateau within casting distance of the north-east comer. If the carp in my chosen water behave typically, they will move to the plateau when a nice, mellow south-west wind springs up. If I can get to the plateau ahead of the wind -before it springs up, in other words - I will have feed items and baits in position, awaiting the arrival of the carp. If the wind is already blowing, which means carp will probably already be there, I will dispense with free feed and rely solely on stringers.

A related approach is to fish the corners - if the water has them, that is. I will opt for the corner into which the wind blows. The bottle-neck nature of a comer means that carp tend to accumulate in a relatively small area - which is an obvious advantage when there are only a few in the water.

The upside of fishing sparsely stocked waters is that the carp are likely to have been neglected, so they are usually quite responsive to baits. In one of my articles or books, when talking of such fish, I described them as "easy fish in difficult waters" - by which I mean that if you find them and don't alarm them, they can be quite easy to tempt. The downside, of course, is that they are often very difficult to find

As regards actual tactics; baits most likely to be taken from the "off" are naturals such as worms - with semi-naturals such as cockles a good bet, too. Next on my list are particles; notably sweetcom, chick peas, maple peas and tigernuts - they tend to be more instant than are boilies. I always take about half a kilo of boilies, though, and when I pack up to go home, I scatter them where I hope they will be found by carp. After half a dozen or so such introductions I would start incorporating boilies into my actual fishing. In my experience, the best boilies to use are birdfood or cereal based high-attract sweet tasting versions incorporating such flavours as Scopex, Strawberry, Peach, Maplecreme etc (readymades are ideal). Fishmeal boilies might come later in the campaign, but would not be my first choice because it seems to take a long while for non-boilie oriented carp to acquire a taste for them.

Ideally I would start my fishing in early April, fish through the spring (assuming no close season is in force on the water), and continue until late October. November to March I would choose somewhere less demanding.