Posted by Kevin Nash
1812 days ago

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What does it mean when your alarm sounds? Something, or more likely nothing? Inferior indication is the weak link in your carp fishing. Kevin Nash examines why poor alarm performance and badly used bobbins are holding your results back.


Non-events or near misses?

We live in a world where indicators don’t indicate properly, and most people are only registering or reacting to a screaming take. Sound familiar?
How many times have you heard people dismiss an odd bleep or couple of bleeps as wind, or undertow or a line bite? It’s the standard response to anything happening at the alarms which isn’t a screamer or a definite drop back. Be under no illusions there are a lot more carp picking up hookbaits than you realise, and a significant number of indications that are ignored are related to rigged up carp or near misses.
I understand why people ignore odd unexplained bleeps. Those who have tried striking at small indications won’t have had a consistent success rate simply because there’s not been a reliable way of telling whether the alarm is registering a significant indication rather than a non event. So we’re saying that your alarms aren’t ever giving you the information you need to decide if a carp is involved at the rig end or the wind has blown a bit harder suddenly.
It’s a weak link in the whole process of catching carp, especially difficult ones. You need indication that you can absolutely rely on to tell you there has been an event of significance, a near miss with a carp shaking the hook, or a carp that is briefly rigged up which is an opportunity missed.


Got a problem?

Developing the blowback rig showed me more clearly than ever before how much carp can get away with at the rig end. When I put a rig in front of them that they couldn’t deal with the results just changed like flicking a switch. The blowback rig was and still is deadly, and apart from fantastic hooking mechanics it also changed the game because it was an indicator rig – if the sleeve of tube had been blown back around the bend you knew a carp had got away with it. But you also need effective indication from your alarms and bobbins to tell you WHEN that is happening rather than finding out the following morning when you retrieve a rig after a blank night.
My desire to design out the faults with bite alarms came from realising that I was always suffering interference that prevented me understanding whether I had a problem trying to catch carp or not. You can’t solve a problem that you don’t know you’ve got, and alarms have never before been reliable in all conditions in telling us what we need to know.


Sensitivity at the max

Roller wheel alarms are the best system, from what I have seen vibration sensing just doesn’t work. To be clear, on a flat calm lake lots of roller wheel alarms offer good indication, and any alarm that registers around ¼ inch of line movement will tell you when you are being picked up or a carp is trying to shake a rig out.
But in the real world we very rarely fish flat calm lakes, and as conditions change they begin to interfere with standard roller wheel systems and the only option we have is to desensitise them to prevent constant false indications from gusts of wind, weed collecting on the line, undertow and waves lapping over the lines.
Any carp angler out of nappies has sat listening to alarms bleeping regularly as conditions get worse. It’s irritating, and only solved by reducing the sensitivity of the roller wheel sensing. Some alarms allow you to reduce sensitivity down to six inches of line movement – on that sort of setting you have absolutely no chance of registering when a carp lifts the lead, bounces it on the bottom and dislodges the hook by shaking its head.
The Siren R3 is different because it is ALWAYS at its most sensitive, no matter how bad the conditions.
Without going into complex electronics the speed sensing system of the R3 uses software that screens out interference from the elements. Its sensitivity remains at maximum of ¼ inch at all times, because the Intelligent Sensing system we developed is based on speed sensing and it responds to movements out of the ordinary.
Put it this way, if your bobbins are gradually pulled up to the rod by undertow overnight, the R3 won’t have kept sounding and kept you awake. But any interest at the rig end from a carp and it would be triggered. The feedback we’ve had is that they are the first bite alarm you can use in flowing water, whether fishing for carp, barbel or catfish. You can night fish on flowing water with the R3 and know that you won’t be constantly disturbed by flow triggering your alarms or weed collecting on the line. They are the first bite alarm you could use fishing for cod from the beach – they are a simply colossal step forward in indication. They tell you what you need to know.
Will you get out your sleeping bag this winter when you get an odd bleep or two in the early hours and it’s bloody freezing? Of course you won’t. Why? Because it’s easy to dismiss it as a ‘nothing’ indication, and with traditional alarms they often are ‘nothing’ indications where you might as well stay in bed.
When you have the speed sensing system of the R3 you learn to believe in it because it becomes your eyes underwater. If an R3 sounds you get out your bag! It’s the fundamental of effective indication – the alarm indicates the carp related events you need to know about.


Tight versus slack

Bad indication and poor performance of alarms is made worse by bad use of visual indicators – which is why we looked at bobbins with the Optics range at the same time as developing a ground breaking alarm. I think lots of people don’t know how to fish a bobbin properly.
Slack lining just isn’t the right choice for good indication with semi-fixed rigs, but there’s a fear of line being lifted off the bottom if the line is tight to the lead. If you’re fishing 50 or 70 yards out it’s almost impossible to lift your line off bottom unless you are sticking the rod tips up in the air like you are on the beach – it’s just over paranoia. There are plenty of ways to keep the line down around the end tackle anyway, from Diffusion leaders to Cling-On Tungsten Tube to tungsten Clinger stops.
Stop fishing slack - the single biggest improvement most people could make to their indication is to have a reasonable contact between the bobbin and bite alarm and the lead. The line doesn’t have to be super tight, perversely we had it right in the 70s and 80s with tension in the line to the end tackle and a short drop on the bobbin so we could register forward and backward movement effectively.
Using a clip to jam a bobbin tight up to the blank doesn’t help, the line clip actually stops indication continuing, there needs to be freedom for the bobbin to lift and drop.
Many people are fishing slack with bobbins on the ground, I ask you how does that work with a semi-fixed lead where a carp can be coming towards you? Slack lining can also prevent more effective self-hooking because you haven’t got the tension of the line and rod end to pressure the hook point in more aggressively.
I know they are fashionable but also how does a tiny chain help when you are using semi-fixed rigs and can get drop back bites? One bleep and your bobbin has reached the limit of the chain rather than being down on the deck.
I’m a great believer in the importance of the contact between bobbin and rig, and a good strong line clip behind a bobbin on a short drop also helps bring the elasticity of the mainline into play, stretching like knicker elastic as the carp pulls tight to the clip, helping to bury the hook more effectively than giving line from the reel. A short drop and a good contact to the rig, with tension building nicely through the stretch in the line when the carp pulls up to the clip is by far the best system I have found for most situations.


Lock and load

One of the areas of understanding that seems to be completely missing in many carpers is the importance of drag weights. A bobbin isn’t something you clip on the line that is the same for every venue, every swim and whatever the conditions are that day. Bobbins need tuning to ensure they are working for you, not just clipped on after you cast out to look pretty. It may surprise people that the best all round weight for a bobbin I have found is 18 grams – far heavier than I have seen almost anyone else using in recent years since the trend for featherweight heads and slack lines.
But there is no single bobbin to use all year round, indication needs to be adjusted to keep a nice straight line between you and the lead, the critical contact. If the weather changes, you might need to add another drag weight, or at shorter range remove one. When did you last see anyone altering their indication in response to conditions?
The dual clip of the Optics heads is a key part of their design. We were using grip clips back in the early 2000s, the principle being that any bobbin that is gripping the line gives you maximum movement of the bobbin head for a set movement of line, because the bobbin has to travel with the line, rather than have line pulled through a ball head. The additional ball grip element of the Optics heads then ensures that on violent takes the bobbin can’t be bounced free of the line before the rod is lifted and struck. A bobbin needs to stay attached to the line so you can see exactly what is happening as a take does (or doesn’t) develop.


Learning to listen

Indication remains the area where we needed to make sweeping improvements to how we fish for carp. As far back as 20 years ago I had a tell tale at the rig – by three millimetres of the rig tube mounted on a blowback rig which gave me an amazing insight into how many carp we could be catching, what I didn’t have was the indication. It is only now that through the development of the Siren R3 that we have a tool that offers us a game changing step forward in accurate, meaningful indication. Now we have an alarm that you need to learn to listen to, because the age of meaningless indication is gone with the arrival of the Siren R3.