A few years ago now I spent a lot of time looking at how our tackle and baits really perform underwater. The results were often extremely revealing and definitely slayed many of the preconceived ideas that get trotted out in carp fishing all the time. Of all the things that I learnt back then, many of which I incorporated into my fishing without even really thinking about, here are the ones that really stood out and have helped me catch a lot more fish.
Gravel is rarely clean
Pull a marker float or plain lead across the bottom and you will often feel the ‘bump-bump’ that signals gravel right? Well, often that isn’t quite the case. Very often there will be a fine layer of silt over the top of the gravel and your 3-4oz lead ploughs through this to the gravel below. Gravel is rarely the same colour either, so this is why the Diffusion Camo comcept works so well, the translucent colour blends in on a wide range of different backgrounds.
Weed can play havoc with some rigs
Even if you think you are fishing in a clear area the chances are there are small pieces of fresh and old weed, perhaps leaves and sticks and maybe filamentous algae on the bottom. You might pick up small traces of this on the rig, which should be a tell-tale sign that it is there. Use a long rig or a stiffish leader material where there is stuff on the bottom and it will be impossible for the rig to lay flat. When I think the bottom is mucky I shorten my rigs down to about 15cm and often put the whole lot in a PVA bag to ensure it gets to the bottom without catching on anything.
Slack lines are rarely slack
If you are fishing with nylon or fluorocarbon lines then forget about them laying perfectly along the lake bed, even if you slacken right off. The slightest piece of weed or stick on the bottom will lift the line for several metres. All monofilament lines tend to coil underwater as well, so often slackening off can make the line sit further off the bottom, rather than closer! Undertow can also pick up lines over time, leaving your carefully slackened line actually quite tight. If you must fish slack lines then use a heavy braided mainline, such as Bullet Braid, as this really does sink and stay on the bottom.
You are never as accurate as you might think
We all like to think that we can cast and bait up accurately, but having tested my accuracy against a marker on the lake bed I know that I can often be way off the mark. Clipping up and using Marker Sticks helps a lot, but a cross-wind or hitting the cast too hard or too soft can mean you are several feet out. If you are fishing to clear areas feel the rig down and don’t be afraid to keep recasting until you are 100% happy.
Think carefully about how much bait you introduce
Carp will very often nip into a swim and eat just a few baits before moving on. Rarely, does a big bed of bait hold fish, all it does is cut down your chances of catching. If the fish will put up with it, a much more effective strategy is to bait little-and-often, as this will keep the carp returning to look for more food.
Pink and white baits stand out best
Of all colours, white and pink stand out best on a range of lake beds. Especially in the winter, when the carp’s senses are dulled by the low water temperature, using a brightly coloured hookbait can make a big difference to the number of bites you receive.
The Choddy is not a cast-anywhere rig
I know a lot of anglers who think the Chod rig will work anywhere, even in weed. The truth is that the hookbait will be clear of the weed, but the line or leader is likely to be held up by the weed so the rig is floating about way off the lake bed. This is worst when you are fishing into small holes in the weed. The lead will be in the clear spot, but the rig and leader will be held up as the line hits the edge of the weed.
Think about bite indication
You might have guessed that I am not a fan of slack lines, well you would be right! One other problem with using them is that they have a major effect on bite indication. With a slack line we could move the rig over four metres before receiving a single bleep on the alarm! In fact, when fishing at ranges over 50 metres there is virtually no difference in the distance that the line is off bottom when fishing a tight versus a slack line.
Keep rigs simple
Even simple rigs are quite easy to find on the lake bed, and the more rig components and thicker lines that you use the easier they become to spot. If you think the carp are rig-shy and not picking up rigs that they can see then the simple answer is to make your rigs as simple as possible. A short fluorocarbon hooklength to an inline lead and a nice sharp hook is as simple as it gets, but is also the least visible.
Keep the noise down
Sound travels much faster and further underwater, so keep the noise down. In fact, talking is not a problem as most of the sound is reflected by the water surface, but slamming car doors, banging in bivvy pegs and even heavy footsteps can all ruin your chances when fishing for clued-up carp.