Ted Bryan's Blockbuster 2015


Still convinced that success is down to complicated rigs or bait edges? Nash caught up with top consultant Ted Bryan, whose simple approach made 2015 a season to remember.

A familiar face he may be in the angling Press, but with Ted Bryan what you never can tell is what he’ll be holding next time you see him in the news. From giant tench and bream to monster barbel, Ted catches them all. But what isn’t so widely recognised is what an amazing track record the south east Londoner has for big carp. From catching his first 40-pounder over 30 years ago Ted is still catching big fish at a rate that many of today’s big names struggle to compete with.

Full circle 40s
Amazingly given his tally of big fish – 34 40s and hundreds of 30s to his name – Ted only spends a few months of the year targeting carp.
‘Last year I had 18 thirties and five 40s, not my best year but a good year,’ Ted reveals. ‘I had a new personal best mirror at around the beginning of June of 45lb 4oz and then around the middle of August followed it up another personal best mirror of 46lb. Most of my early spring fishing is taken up with tench and bream, with just the odd trip after carp, although this year I started a bit earlier because I didn’t really get into the tench. Then I just pick my times for carp fishing through the summer before wrapping it up in November and getting on to the rivers for chub and barbel in the autumn when they have packed on a bit of weight.’
Fishing a Tonbridge and District venue Barden Lake and also Larkfield 2 run by Medway Valley Fisheries Ted’s 40s came from Barden – ironically the same venue that produced his very first 40-pounder back in 1982.

‘I would often set up in a swim in the evening and then move in the night…’

Time and motion study
Ted’s approach is very location focused, known for always having itchy feet and moving based on what he sees fish doing. The pressure on carp these days makes it more important than ever to be on your toes he feels.
‘If I am bream or tench fishing I know that if I can get into certain swims and bait them then the fish will turn up, but with carp I tend to walk around and look for fish showing or other signs. I know the lakes well, generally can predict where the fish are going to turn up, but they don’t always behave the way they should when there are lots of anglers on the water,’ he says.
‘A lot of the times the signs are very subtle. It could just be a little bit of bubbling, or water that has coloured up. You might be lucky and see a few shows, but often it is the little things that give them away. Lots of people see the obvious activity but you need to see the small signs.’
Ted plays down his tendency to move swims, suggesting at nearly 60 he is getting lazier but he has been known to move three or four times in a day to be confident he is on fish. It’s the way he has always gone about his carp fishing.
‘Years ago when I used to fish Larkfield, I would often set up in a swim in the evening and then move in the night, following the fish down the lake,’ he remembers. ‘I would regularly have a fish in the first swim and then have another one in the second swim as well.’
What Ted thinks has changed is how the carp on busy waters are behaving: ‘Definitely the fish have got a lot warier over the years and they show now when it suits them, they are much less willing to give themselves away,’ he suggests. ‘On Barden for example, the carp now tend to show much more at night and so you have to be prepared to move in the middle of the night to get on them.’

Small spread starting point
Despite typically fishing two or three days each week, Ted isn’t a fan of heavy baiting , much preferring a handful at a time.
‘I never put a lot of bait in when I first set up. In fact, it is rare for me to put a lot of bait out anyway, but I like to create as little disturbance as possible and if I do have to move I haven’t filled the swim in,’ he reasons. ‘If you’ve put a lot of bait out then the chances are you aren’t going to want to move off it and will sit it out waiting for the fish to come back, which can often be a mistake. I generally use no more than a handful over each rod. You don’t want to be putting tons of bait all over the lake.’
Ted’s run of carp has been on the TG Active this year, successful tactics being 20 or 30 baits accurately around the marker, with another 20 to 40 baits around each hookbait to put some fresh bait in for the night.
It sounds almost 1980s throwback bait application but in a world dominated by Spombs and heavily baited areas it’s a reminder that being conservative can be tactically a smart choice.

‘I’m not one of these guys who searches for tiny spots. I just don’t think it is necessary.’

Minimal marker work
Hand in hand with a mobile approach Ted prefers to keep disturbance minimal in a swim, often resulting in better chances of quick action.
‘Most of the time I will set up where the fish are so I’m not one of these guys who thrashes the water to a foam with a marker float. I normally have a good idea of the distance out I want to fish, generally 40-60 yards and then I pick a far bank marker,’ he explains. ‘If when I put the marker out it pulls back fairly smoothly without picking up too much weed then I’m happy, that’s all there is to it. I am not one of these guys who searches for tiny spots. I just don’t think it is necessary. I have caught enough fish over the years to know that what I do works. I find an area I can present baits and put 20-30 free offerings tight around the hookbait.
‘You do have to react to what fish are doing though, so I won’t ignore carp showing further out, I just prefer to fish shorter and more accurately. Equally, if I know there’s a big change in the weather coming in I’ll do my best to get into position ahead of it.’

One rig wonder
What surprises many about Ted’s consistent success is that he uses rigs most carpers would dismiss or overlook.
‘I use the same rigs that I have been using for over 20 years,’ he laughs. ‘The hooklink material has changed a bit and some of the new hooks are undoubtedly better than those we had back then, but the thinking is just the same.
‘Normally on my rods you’ll find a 2oz inline lead to around 8 inches of either nylon or coated braid and then a knotless knot to a Nash Fang X hook in a size 6 or 8, depending upon the size of the bait. I use both pop-ups and bottom baits. If the bottom is a bit weedy or silty then I will use a little bright pop-up. If the bottom is clean silt then I will use a standard bottom bait. The bottom line is that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!’ he continues.
‘I know a lot of guys who use more complicated rigs, and they catch fish, but to be honest those sort of rigs scare the life out of me, too many knots, too many bits to get tangled up and caught in weed. A lot of my fish this year have been caught on one 15mm bottom bait and a 15mm pop-up on the hair to a size 6 Fang X. This combination balances perfectly and gives great hookholds, thanks to the big strong hook.’

. Ted was talking to Paul Garner