Re-designed for 2017 is the Competition Hook Length Storage system, which thanks to a number of unique features allows you to store any hook length from 2 inches right thought to 2 feet.
The slotted foam has been replaced with solid pins to secure your hook length loops, these have been ‘beefed up’ to ensure that there is no chance of them bending or snapping even in extreme temperatures. To further protect your hook lengths a tint has now been applied to the lid to prevent them being damaged by UV light whilst still allowing you to quickly locate the hook length you need.
The pins are placed at inch increments to allow you to store a variety of hook length sizes with hook retaining pins placed at both ends of the box, meaning you can store hook lengths up to 6 inches back to back to maximise space.
Should you want to store longer hook lengths we supply the box with an exclusive soft rubber grommet which can be placed over one of the hook retaining pins, this means longer hook lengths can be safely and easily wrapped around this to prevent any kinking or damage to the line making it one of the most versatile hook boxes on the market.
Double sided, meaning you can store upwards of 360 hook lengths, it also features an innovative built in measuring tool that will ensure all your hook lengths are exactly the same length.
On Test: Maver MV-R
Editor Jake Fowles takes to the bank of Burley Fields Lake to put Maver’s all-new £1,399 MV-R pole to the test.
In a funny sort of way, it seems quite apt that my first pole test since becoming editor of this magazine would be with a pole from the same stable as the first pole I ever owned, the pole I learnt to fish with around 15 years ago.
That pole was a Maver Strong Arm that is no doubt still going strong somewhere, hopefully catching as many fish for somebody else as it did for me all those years ago. Fast-forward to today and the pole I have at my disposal is the all-new Maver MV-R. There’s no point me beating around the bush here, if you are in the market for a sub £1,500 pole, the MV-R simply has to be in your thoughts. Let me clarify…
Gone are the Marvel comic-esque graphics that Maver poles of the past have inherently possessed, instead we are faced with simple yet eye-catching green on black, which just works. The 11m section has also seen some subtle detailing in the form of discreet graphics direct on to its Suncore-finished carbon; again this adds to a fresh new look that gives the MV-R a real top-end appearance.
In fact, the MV-R just seems to ooze a reinvigorated Maver that is having a big push to put itself right back in the centre of the angling world. A 10-top-kit package gives any perspective buyer plenty to go at; with four of Maver’s impressive Powerlite kits as well as another four Power kits, the kit inside the pole and a cupping kit including cups, that is a top-end package for a pole that costs mid-range money.
Each of the included kits is pre-slotted and pre-bushed, which means they can be elasticated with your chosen elastic straight from the bag. One reservation I would have here is that if it were me I would probably end up hacking a few inches of carbon off the kits to allow for a bigger-bore internal bush to be fitted. I’m a big fan of utilising a double-bush setup on all of my kits to ensure all of my kits remain the same length, but allowing me to fit the heaviest hollows or lightest solid elastics through the same kit without trouble. But, that’s just personal preference.
The pole itself is rated to 20-plus elastic, so be assured that it has been designed as a true all-rounder for the angler looking for a single pole that can do it all. If it is a strong, reliable backup to one of Maver’s flagship Signature models you’re after then it will slot in as that too (albeit you’d be the fishing equivalent of one of ‘those’ car fanatics that buys a fancy car then leaves it locked in the garage not to be driven), but using the same mandrel as the Signature range sees that the MV-R is fully section compatible with Signature poles.
The package doesn’t stop with its comprehensive kit-count either. Within the padded holdall you will also find: a mini-extension, needed in order to take the pole to its true length measurements; a spare Fighting No4 section perfect for those days where you really need to put the MV-R through its paces; a set of EVA clean-caps for the No3, 4, 5 and 6 sections of the pole and a DVD featuring Maver poster boy Callum Dicks.
Spares aren’t overly expensive either! In fact, you can pick Powerlite kits up for just £39.99 a pop while a full top four will set you back £150.
So, how did I get on with the MV-R during a day on the bank with it?
To give the pole a thorough testing I made a weekend visit to the lovely Burley Field Lake in Cheltenham, with the venue’s main lake a perfect testing ground for such a tool. The water here is home to some big carp and is popular with specimen anglers. However, it is the venue’s large head of silver fish that I am looking to target today.
With this in mind I have opted to thread one of the included Powerlite kits up with some 3-5 rated Maver Dual Core Pro to target a line at six sections with casters, and another with the same stuff but in the 4-7 rating, which is to be used at long range where, after an initial introduction of six balls of worm, caster and dead maggot-laced Thatchers groundbait, I’ll be looking to get involved with some skimmers and bream.
I had in fact had a feel of the pole before today’s trip to Burley Fields at a recent press day that Maver held and was impressed with what I saw then. Getting it back out here didn’t disappoint. The pole has a really nice, smooth finish that aids shipping in and out. We haven’t been graced with the nicest conditions on today’s trip out but despite the intermittent rain, shipping the 14.5m distance where I have started my attack remains smooth and efficient.
At this distance the MV-R feels every bit as good as any of the other poles I have tested in this price range. I wouldn’t say it is an overly ‘light’ pole – in fact there are undoubtedly lighter at this price – but by the same token it feels incredibly comfortable in the hand, which just goes to show the importance of looking at a pole’s balance rather than its on-paper stats.
Its rigidity and responsiveness is impressive too and I think the standout attribute would have to be just how strong it feels, despite offering fantastic performance in each of those all-important areas!
As the day progresses, and after a number of big skimmers have been the result of an excellent morning’s sport, I get the opportunity to stick the final extensions in and push past my initial line. It is something that works really well here as the fish back off, and at this 16m length I continue to put a few skimmers in the net, with fish up to 3lb making an appearance, albeit the average stamp is somewhere around the 1lb mark.
At 16 metres the MV-R maintains its good performance. It definitely doesn’t ‘lose it’ like many poles can start to do at these lengths, although it does start to get a little more weighty. That said, I could happily fish with it at this length for the entirety of a match or session – in fact, the next hour or so is spent doing exactly that, and it just feels like a quality piece of kit.
To end the session and hopefully get among some of the hefty roach that Burley Fields has to offer I drop on to the short line and, sure enough, start to catch some stunning redfins. It may not seem like much of a test for me to be using the pole at this distance, but let me tell you, these boney elbows have done some damage to their fair share of mid sections! As it happens, the wall strength of the MV-R (as seems to be a bit of a trend here), is admirable and copes with everything I throw at it. Having seen all I need to see I decide to call it a day, with around 35lb of Burley Fields’ finest in the net to show for my efforts, a net of fish that was a pleasure to amass.
In summary, I have been more than impressed with what I have seen from the Maver MV-R. The introduction of the MV-R pole, as well as many of the other new products set to be unleashed by Maver is a real statement of intent by a company that is showing signs of heading right back to where it belongs.
1 x MV-R Competition 16m pole (slotted Match kit inside)
4 x Powerlite Power kits (slotted and bushed)
4 x Commercial Power kits (slotted and bushed)
1 x cupping kit and cups
1 x Fighting No4 section
4 x EVA clean caps
1 x pole holdall and protective tubes
Stated length: 16m
Puller-kits fitted: Yes
Cupping kit supplied: Yes
Butt section length:
If you think it, do it!
Top match angler Darren Cox begins a new monthly column in which he shares his thoughts about improving your pole fishing performance.
Over so many years of match fishing I have witnessed some amazing feats of angling, where anglers from all styles of competition fishing have ‘pulled out all the stops’ and do something really special! These times are rare, though, and often a good peg with a decent angler on it will usually win.
However, put a top-class angler on a good peg and he is virtually sure of winning! Well, that’s obvious, you might say, but what makes it obvious?
In my opinion there are many factors. First and foremost, the angler has skill, and normally a vast knowledge he has gained from experience over the years. Most anglers have a good memory and can remember what they did last time in similar circumstances, be they weather conditions, the peg form, what baits they used and suchlike. They can reference that memory to the current situation and convert it into results. It is that inner desire to win, to get things perfect, to get the very best result possible every time they sit down.
When I am talking to anglers I often use the phrase “Don’t make do”. I see this far too often in fishing situations. We have all done it, we have all said to ourselves: “I should do that or change to that.” But how many of you actually do it then and there?
My view is: “If you think it, then do it”, because I believe that’s my angling brain sending me a message. My brain is working things out without me consciously feeling like I am doing it.
That is what many will call natural ability, but I believe it’s brain training from years of good practice and thinking about what is going on and trying to interpret the situation. It’s a bit like driving a car and doing things automatically because you have done it so many times before; but I also believe that if you don’t listen to what your angling brain is telling you then you miss out, big time!
Firstly, because you will never know if that change would have worked. Secondly, if it does then that will lead to success and possibly on to the next decision-making step, triggering a chain of events that will certainly teach you more lessons.
The worst case is that it doesn’t work, but then you have eliminated that option and can move on in another way. Ignore those signals and that is the slow road to disaster, in my opinion.
If you are ‘going through the motions’ in match fishing, then you will be very lucky to do well in this day and age, where fishing tackle is at its very best and most people have the best poles and every other item that gives them an advantage. Now the only advantages are the angler using it and the peg you draw.
So why do so many anglers simply go through the motions? There are many little things that seem insignificant at the time but I constantly see anglers doing things wrong, and they know they are wrong but don’t change.
Here is one of the very basic but most common examples of what I mean: Pole roller positioning.
Yes, we all get it wrong now and again, even the top anglers! But what sets them apart is that when they realise their rollers are set incorrectly they will get off their box and sort them quickly rather than make do.
How many times have you thought, it will be okay? Then 10 minutes later you ship out and the pole end drops off your back roller, and you either tangle your rig or empty your pot of feed in completely the wrong part of the swim. Or even worse than that, it results in bumping fish or losing a big fish because they weren’t quite right! I see it happen regularly at all levels.
There is no science to getting it right as there are so many variables, and again it comes down to experience. The way I do it is to sit down at my peg on my box and work out the following: Where am I likely to be fishing in the swim? What distance?
Fishing at 16 metres and six metres will require totally different positioning. For example, when fishing a ‘top two plus two’ short carp meat line I like to have a roller close enough and slightly to my right so that I can ship back, sweep the fish away from the swim and unship two sections, which then sit safely on the roller and in my pole sock while I play the fish. On some venues this can be your front roller for the long-pole line, but often it is too close and gets in the way for me. So if I am fishing very long at 16 metres I will want two rollers specifically for that.
You also have to consider the length of the rig you will be using. I like to trail my rigs in and out on top of the water as it dramatically reduces tangles – it’s what most anglers do. So think about it if you are fishing tight to an island or shallow long; then your pole tip will need to be very close to the water when shipping, so the roller positioning may need to be high at the back roller to bring the tip down, especially if you are sat on a platform high up off the water.
However, it will need to be just high enough to take a big loaded pole pot if you intend to use one, otherwise you will have issues when it comes to feeding as the pole will bend and the pot will dip into the water. In deeper water you have more rig to drag in the water so the pole can be higher off the water than with a shallower rig. But if you are using both then you need to set the position to suit both.
Generally, I like to keep my rollers as low as I can as I believe that it keeps the pole safer, but there are times where you need to work over, under or around obstacles such as trees, walls and fences, even other anglers. So you must be flexible in how you set them up and work to the environment rather than having a set position every time you go out.
The best positioning of your rollers is what suits where you are fishing at the time. Can you ship in and out smoothly and quickly, feed and land fish comfortably without any issues? If so, then it’s correct. If not, then get off your box and sort it quickly!
You may be saying that this is all common sense, but so many anglers don’t make those changes when they should. Don’t be one of them, don’t make do. If you think it, then do it and become a better angler!
Meat short might be a commonly used method but to really get the best from it you have to understand how and why it works. Callum Dicks explains.
I remember a few years ago, here on Bolingey Lake, I was rushing to get set up and my meat short line was the last thing I considered. I plumbed it up hurriedly, fed it without thinking about what I was doing, and got what I deserved – an absolute nightmare – foul-hooked fish, line bites, lost fish and ultimately it cost me a place in the festival.
For sure, when you have a lot of fish in front of you methods like meat short and fishing down the margins can be very easy. Feed some bait, hook a fish, land it, and repeat the process. However, the thing to remember is that this only happens when you have everything perfect. You have plumbed up in the right depth of water, with a nice flat bottom, you are feeding the right bait, and the fish are feeding. Whether it be by accident or design, you have everything right.
So how should you go about trying to get everything right every time? Although it is impossible to control the amount of fish that are in front of you, I have found that there are a few simple things that you can do with regard to your plumbing up, feeding and presentation to give you the best possible chance of getting the most from a short-pole line when targeting carp.
Setup And Plumbing Up
If you think that the short pole is going to be a key part of your match, there are a couple of things that you can do with regard to your setup and where you choose to fish to make sure that you really get the most from it. First up, set up as quietly as possible. I will cover later why I believe it is important to start on this short pole swim, but the crux of the theory is that if you go on this line first, you can often nick a couple of fish straightaway.
With this in mind, it stands to reason that you want to disturb this area of your peg as little as possible, so any fish that might be there when you arrive at your peg stay there until you start fishing. This means setting up your box and putting your nets in as quietly as possible. If you are planning on fishing really short, it can even be worth tying your nets back to stop them wafting near your swim and potentially spooking any feeding fish.
Callum uses these Guru plummets for ultra-accurate plumbing up.
If the bottom is suitable, always fish your short line away from you at an angle. Today, this means fishing a top six at an angle of 11 o’clock slightly. The reasoning is that you never want to be playing any fish over the top of where you are fishing if you can help it. If you fish straight in front of you, you will often find that fish splash and come up as you are playing them very close to where you are fishing, which can obviously have a negative effect on your catch rate.
There is a strict caveat with this, though – you have to be able to find a suitable bottom to fish on. This is the most important consideration with regard to where to fish. First up, depth of water. This is very much dependent on the time of year, amount of wind, and clarity of water. Generally, the warmer and more coloured the water and the stronger the wind, the closer you should look to fish to keep the fish on the bottom, where you want them. Likewise, the colder and clearer the water, the deeper you should look to fish.
The main thing that you need to look for in whatever depth of water you choose to fish is a flat, even bottom. Avoid fishing among rocks at all costs. This can cause line bites, foul-hookers and all kinds of problems because your loose feed and hook bait fall between the rocks and the fish upend to try and get to your bait. Indeed, the meltdown I described in my opening paragraph was predominantly caused by this.
Another thing to consider is the make-up of the bottom. Ideally, you want a hard gravel surface to fish on. Silt can cause all kinds of problems, so avoid it if you can. Sadly, this isn’t always possible.
I’m sat on Peg 38 on the right-hand arm of the lovely Bolingey Lake and have found what I can only describe as the perfect short line considering the conditions. Three feet of water, a flat, hard gravel bottom and located about five metres from the bank slightly to my left. The perfect dining table for a shoal of hungry carp!
One final thing about plumbing up and swim location – don’t be afraid to plumb up a couple of potential short lines before you start fishing. I usually like to have a couple of depths and swim locations covered and if I start fishing in one place I will often have another line plumbed up a section past it to move onto later. Again, only if I can find an appropriate area of the bottom to fish on.
I am not going to spend too long talking about rigs because I think the angler has to be confident in the tackle used. For me, this means robust 0.18mm Maver Genesis main line to a 0.16mm fluorocarbon hooklength. I now use fluorocarbon for most of my hooklengths because I find it to be very robust and I seem to get more bites on it than I did when I used to fish with standard pre-stretched monofilament.
Strong elastic and well-tied Dacron connectors are a must for big carp!
Elastic choice is Maver’s Orange 12-20 Dual Core. A robust float that takes line through its body and a strong size 14 hook completes the setup. Strength and durability is the order of the day.
A highly visible bristle and strong construction are important when it comes to float selection.
One area of the setup that does warrant a mention is my shotting pattern. I almost always find that a tapered strung bulk is best because it gives my hook bait a nice slow fall through the water and any hungry carp plenty of chance to suck it in!
Even though you are only planning on fishing short, make sure you have the rest of your pole within easy reach. The fish that you hook on this line can be massive, so you need to give yourself the potential to follow the fish out when you hook them.
Sometimes feeding quietly via a Kinder pot is a lot more effective than throwing bait by hand.
Two pieces of meat hooked in tge way gives ultimate bait presentation.
Reading The Peg
I’m going to talk about feeding next but to give the best insight into what I like to do, I think it is important to explain how I work out the best way to catch on a given day.
At the start of the session, I always like to start on my short line. There are two advantages to this. Firstly, if your peg is solid with feeding fish, you could very well find that you never have to come off this line and catch a massive weight without ever even having to try anywhere else.
More commonly, though, you will find that you are able to nick a couple of fish early on, before the line dies and you have to go long. These two, quick, early fish have proved valuable on many occasions.
Always Kinder-pot four or five pieces of meat in and a pinch of hemp, rather than throwing in any bait to start with. As I say, you are trying to catch carp that are in the area already, rather than draw in feeding fish in this early part of the match.
Hemp is the ultimate carp-holding bait!
Today the plan has worked a treat with an early carassio then a bigger carp. With these in the net, my swim goes quiet and I can start to think about feeding more positively. This means throwing bait but a quick and all too common lesson is soon learnt.
As soon as I start throwing bait I am plagued with small roach and skimmers. This tells me that these are the feeding fish that are responding to the noise of bait hitting the water and that I need to change my approach if I am to catch carp on this line in the early part of the day.
Instead of throwing the bait, I go back to Kinder-potting six bits of meat and a pinch of hemp and sitting and waiting patiently for a bigger fish to find my bait. I also switch to using double 8mm meat on the hook to avoid the attentions of small fish and single out the carp.
This works brilliantly and I catch really well. Because I am the only angler on the lake I am able to keep fish coming for the duration of the session in this way.
In more pressured conditions or a match, for example, the chances are that after a few fish have been caught feeding in this way, they will back off and you will be forced to fish longer to keep fish coming.
Later in the afternoon, though, as light levels start to drop and the fish start to feed, I would be able to return to this short line and catch well.
At this time of day, a different mind-set can be applied. Because you are now fishing for active, feeding carp that are liable to respond to the sound of bait hitting the water, you might very well find that a switch to throwing bait in would bring bites quicker – as the carp hone in on the noise.
Again, discipline and thinking about what you are doing is vital – throwing in bait willy-nilly is likely to lead to line bites. Remember, at all times you need to make your hook bait appear as natural to your loose feed as possible. I like to ship out, throw in meat, then lay my rig over the top, ideally with the hook bait falling through the far end of the feed column.
For today, things are kept a lot simpler and Kinder-potting bait sees a procession of fish coming to the net. I finish the session with over 70lb of carp – not bad in just a few hours’ fishing. Above all, though, it goes to prove just how important it is to think carefully about how you fish lines like this and show how devastating they can be when you get everything right.
Just park of Callum's ton-up catch taken in a couple of hours!
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Here's a brief look at one of Rive’s latest additions to its ever-increasingly popular luggage range.
As roller and accessory bags go this latest offering from Rive is nothing short of what you’d expect from the French perfectionists. It’s well made, stylish and functional. The bag is one of several different products from the latest line-up, which was actually launched in 2016.
If you’re looking for a smart and durable solution for transporting ungainly rollers and roosts then one of these could be just what you’re looking for. It’s large, at 1.1 metres in length, but then many anglers have become accustomed to carrying larger bags and more kit to the bankside in preparation for being able to cope with almost any eventuality.
More likely, though, you’ll be interested in the complete line-up of this luggage range from Rive, which is both smart and functional while also being purpose-designed to cope with the rigours of what we anglers throw at our gear – from being loaded in and out of a van or car to coping with the elements, while keeping your kit inside organised and safe.
The roller bag will allow you to transport two Rive R-Rollers (they’re big ’uns!) as well as roosts and other accessory arms, and the bag features foam lining to protect the contents. The external pocket provides two straps with clip buckles to carry legs or feeder arms. The reinforced bottom, side handles and shoulder strap are there for easy transportation.
Dimensions: 110 x 25 x 30cm
Former World Silver Medallist and Irish team regular Willy Wheeler reflects on the changing face of Irish Festival fishing.
When you talk to a lot of English anglers about the things they associate with fishing in Ireland, you generally hear memories of rugged venues, big nets of bream and roach, and even bigger expanses of water.
In certain parts of the country, and on certain waters, the above is still very much a reality, and these vast waters still have their appeal and diehard fans. But there is also a new chapter in Irish angling, which is winning fans from all over the world.
Forget your big feeder rods, buckets of groundbait and tins of corn, the focus for these guys, and on these waters is getting bites – and lots of them!
Lough Muckno in the County Monaghan area has been a real hub for this style of fishing, and though some big bream weights have been recorded here, the festivals are generally dominated by the anglers who can catch a lot of roach and hybrids, reasonably quickly.
For the pole angler this is great news, as once the weather starts to warm up, the pole becomes the most dominant method, as it is by far and away the most efficient way of extracting a large number of fish quickly.
Again, though, careful thought is required as to how you approach this kind of pole fishing, as it is very different to the traditional ‘gung ho’ methods that many have come to associate with pole fishing in Ireland. Speed and efficiency is the name of the game, but this doesn’t mean you have to fish thick elastics, big hooks and throw bait everywhere. The key is to set your peg up so that you can get and keep a sensible number of feeding fish in your catching area, and use tackle that helps you get bites and land fish as quickly and efficiently as possible without spooking others in the area.
Let’s focus on feeding first – and with what I have said above in mind the key is to attract a volume of fish into your peg, and keep them there. The more fish you can get competing for bait in your peg, the faster and more readily they will accept your hook bait. However, if you feed too much, you run the risk of having fish all over the water column, leading to missed bites and other associated problems.
For sure, sometimes feeding aggressively with a catapult can be the right way to go – but I would argue that this is only really the case when you are looking to catch up in the water. There are signs you will get that will help you know when to come shallow, and I will come on to those later.
The groundbait mix that you choose to use is essential. I typically feed a mix of Sensas Black Magic, Black Roach, and Gros Gardons. Mixed dry, this is quite a sticky groundbait with a lot of attractive power. The aim is to create a carpet of bait that is packed with attractants, carrying a handful of the bait that I plan on fishing on the hook.I them aim to keep fish coming by either loose feeding, or potting in feed-rich balls of groundbait, depending on how the fish respond to my attack.
Three key groundbaits for Willy when tacklings big Irish loughs
Where possible, I like to ball in this mix of groundbait too. The key advantage of doing this is that you draw in fish from the surrounding water. Roach and hybrids, in particular, responded brilliantly to this, as they are drawn into the feed area that you have created by the noise, and held by the mass of particles on the bottom.
Again, when it comes to my tackle, the emphasis is firmly on catching a large number of fish as quickly and efficiently as possible. I like to set up three basic rigs, although in a match I will often set up duplicates of each too, in case of tangles.
The first is my ‘bulk-down’ rig. This is for catching fish hard on the bottom and comprises an olivette two feet from my hook, and three No9 or No10 droppers. Mainline choice on all my rigs is 0.12mm Sensas Feeling, and hooklength choice is generally 0.08mm of the same – though I will step up to 0.09mm and 0.10mm if I feel the fish are feeding sufficiently confidently to allow me to do so.
Sensas 3260s and the slightly finer 3210s are Willy's choice for roach when fishing with maggots and casters
Next up is my strung rig, which boasts the same pattern float as I use for fishing on the bottom, but with a shotting pattern comprising strung-out No8, No9 or No10 shot, depending on the size of float that I opt for. When the going is tough, early on in a session, or indeed when I want to try and find out whereabouts in the water column the fish are feeding, this is the rig that I turn to.
The only difference in terms of float pattern between this and my bulk-down rig is the stem material – I favour a carbon stem for fishing on the drop, as this allows my float to follow my rig as it falls, so I can read what is happening.
Finally, I set up a shallow rig. This is a rig that I may or may not pick up, depending on how the session progresses, but I always like to give myself the option. This is similar to my strung-out rig, but with a slightly lighter pattern float, and set 18 inches off the bottom. It is worth nothing, however, that even though I always start fishing shallow with a strung-out rig, when a really big weight is on the cards up in the water, I normally find a bulk pattern to work best – so I won’t hesitate in bunching the shots together if I am catching well.
These three float patterns do very different jobs for Willy
In terms of float size, it is all about matching depths and conditions. Today, I am faced with a swim around six feet deep, and there is a slight breeze on the water. I use a 1g float for fishing on the bottom, and a 4x14 rig for shallow.
Read The Swim
Now that I have explained the basis of my attack, I will try to outline how I go about reading the water to find the right way of feeding on a given day. A lot of the decisions that I take will be based on how the swim responds in the first hour of fishing, as knowing what species are in your peg, and how they want to feed is the aim of the game.
Today has perhaps been fairly typical of a ‘roach’ day. I waited around five minutes for my first bite, then caught small roach for the first hour. The fact that there were no hybrids or skimmers mixed in with them allowed me to narrow my vision – I knew that I was targeting small roach exclusively. I also found that the fish responded well to loose feed. By shipping out, loose feeding a pouch of casters, then dropping my rig on top of my bait I was able to catch a bigger stamp of roach. So quite quickly I had formulated a plan and found a way of catching quality roach.
Midway through the session, I felt that bites were dropping off, and my swim needed another boost. To accommodate this, I cupped in three balls of groundbait rich with casters, and after five minutes the peg was as strong as ever. Then, by loose feeding, as I was before, I was able to keep the fish coming until the end of the session.
This all probably sounds quite simple – and it is. You are after catching a large volume of fish, so the more simple and effective you can be, the better. I mentioned earlier that sometimes you may want to fish shallow – and your peg will tell you when to do this. If you get line bites after loose feeding, pick up your shallow rig and try it. If you catch well, you can then adapt your plan accordingly. However, if you catch a couple of fish then nothing, you are better off sticking to a more disciplined feeding regime and trying to keep the fish on the bottom.
It might not be the big baf of brea, that Ireland was once famous for, but with great nets of roach like this to be taken, there is no wonder the Emerald Isle has a new generation of followers!
At all times, there is one golden rule that you need to stick to, and that is to make sure you come back with a fish. Success on this type of venue is all about playing the numbers game, so never be tempted to ‘risk it’, unless of course, you can’t get any bites on the pole. In this scenario, fishing the feeder, is your best option, as it is probably the case that the fish simply don’t want to feed on your pole line.
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Jon Arthur takes to a town lake armed with £3 worth of bait, on a mission to catch a quality bag of roach in far from ideal conditions…
In this day and age it’s easy to get lost in the mist of baits and additives, and sometimes I think we forget how simple and cheap fishing can be! I’m taking to the banks of a Furzton Lake armed with a liquidised loaf of bread and a pint of hempseed – two of the simplest, cheapest but also most effective roach baits on the planet…
A Redfin Recipe!
Roach are one of my favourite fish – I love them! There are probably no two baits finer than hemp and bread for catching them too. These two baits complement each other incredibly well. Bread is a very instant bait. You can always tell if there are any roach in the area because you will get a bite almost first drop-in. Whether you’re fishing on a canal, river or lake, this is normally the case. Bread is really visible with its white colour, and liquidised bread makes a fish-attracting cloud as it falls through the water to quickly draw in fish.
Hemp can be quite different, however. Roach often take quite a bit of time to gain confidence in feeding on hemp. Sometimes it’s half an hour before you get a bite on it, while other days it can be two or three hours, or even more! Once the roach do start feeding on it, though, they become addicted and often end up in a ravenous frenzy. The fish you can tempt on hemp are normally a very good stamp too. The key is to maintain a very rhythmic feeding pattern and keep a constant stream of seed falling through the water. Combine hemp and bread together and you have the perfect roach recipe. Bread is great for starting a session on, while hemp can provide you with a fantastic finish to it with quality fish.
Jon only uses the best looking hookers!
I always cook my own hemp for hookinh. There are lots of varieties of tinned hemp out there, which are great for feeding, but this is often too small and split too much to get on the hook.
1. Soak a pint of uncooked hempseed in water overnight.
2. Place this in a saucepan and cover it with water and bring it to the boil.
3. I always add a pinch of salt and sugar at this stage to enhance the flavour.
4. Once boiling, turn the heat down and leave the hemp to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes.
5. Keep watching the hemp so that you can see when it begins to split. Sometimes I take out a few grains early because these are ideal for hooking when they have only just split.
6. I always save the oily water that I cook my hemp in. This is great for mixing groundbait with, and I always keep my hemp in this water when on the bank.
1. I don't have a preference on wich bread to use when liquidising - something cheap and a little bit old is normally good. This kind of bread is normally a little bit dry and when whizzed up in the blender is goes very fine!
2. Leave the crusts intact when liquidising – it’s all goodness and means you get more for your money!
3. Place three or four slices in the blender at a time. I normally cut mine in half so they hit the blades quicker.
4. Hold the lid and bottom of the blender and make sure you give it a controlled shake to make sure all the bread gets chopped evenly.
5. Place the bread in a bag in the freezer. Once frozen, take it out and, while frozen, blend it again. This makes it extre-fine.
6. On arriving at the bank, I place some bread in a maggot tub and add water a bit at a time until I can form a damp ball – not sloppy, but not compressed like groundbait. You need the bread to sink but break up quickly on, or near to the bottom.
I have assembled two rigs offering different kinds of presentation. There’s a fairly strong wind, making things awkward because it’s blowing slightly across and towards me here.
The first rig is quite positive, a 1g Drennan G-Tip 3 float, shotted with an olivette three feet from the hook with three No9 droppers below. Hopefully, this will be the main rig, especially for bread. This is very stable and allows me to accurately present my hook bait right over the feed. This can be very important at the start of a session, when the fish are right on the bread, homing in on your ball of feed.
The second rig offers a very different kind of presentation, intended more for hemp and catching fish on the drop. Because I’m going to be loose feeding hemp, the fish normally intercept it as it falls. This second rig is made to mimic this feed and features a 0.4g float with No10 and No11 shot strung out in the bottom half. Starting six inches away from my hook is the first No 11, and there are four more spread three inches apart going up the rig. Above these, the No10s start strung out the same.
Both rigs are made on 0.117mm Drennan Supplex and feature either a 0.075mm Supplex hooklength, or Supplex fluorocarbon hooklength. Hook-wise, there is only one for me when it comes to roach – a Kamasan B511. I have these tied from a size 18 to a size 22, and they cover nearly all my natural and stillwater roach fishing. My elastic is simply a No5 Preston Slip through my full top kit.
You join me at the lovely Furzton Lake at Milton Keynes. This is a very big lake that I’ve fished quite a few times over the years. Normally, however, anglers fish with maggots, casters or groundbait on the pole and I’ve always wondered if bread and hemp would work. I’ve got set up nice and comfortably, with my box placed in the shallow margins. When it’s windy like today, getting nice and low to the water is a big help – you get out of the wind, are more comfortable and can present your rig much better. Getting in the water gives you a little more distance too on lakes with shallow margins, meaning you don’t need to fish as far out on the pole.
Top Tip: Cheeky Pinkies…
One little trick that I like to do is place a pinch of fluoro pinkies in my bread mix. You only need a pinch to add loads of colour to the bait and give you another hook bait option. It’s surprising how many big perch, skimmers and hybrids you can catch by fishing with a pinkie over the top of your bread!
To start, I’ve cupped in a large ball of liquidised bread mix and sprinkled half a pot of hempseed over the top. I don’t think the fish will really eat the hemp but it spreads out as it falls and creates a little bit of a grazing area around by feed. I’m going to start loose feeding immediately too; a dozen grains every few minutes.
Baiting up with a 4mm punch of bread and starting on the heavy rig, I get my first bite after just five minutes! The wind is getting really bad already but catching is a real reward! Half a dozen quick fish in the first 15 minutes prove just how instant bread is – even on a vast expanse of water like this, the fish have homed straight in on it!
Jon stores his hemp in a milk bottle, along with all the lovely jucies it is cooked in!
It’s incredibly difficult to present the rig and, as well as the wind, the lake is towing from left to right really strongly. Most of my bites, however, seem to be coming right on my feed. To make the most of this, I need to place my rig in the water well above the feed, some two metres uptow of it to the right. This way, the rig settles just above where I think my bread is on the deck and I can control the rig over this area and just below it, where it’s likely that some of my loose-fed hemp is landing.
The fishing is very steady but really rewarding too. After three or four chunky fish, bites dry up and I’ve been re-feeding with a small nugget of the wetted-up bread mix, containing a few pinkies and pinch of hemp. Slipping a pinkie on every now and again has worked well too, bringing an odd extra bite, but I’m two hours into the session and I’m yet to get a bite on hemp.
Ringing the changes is really important whenever you’re catching chunky roach like this. To keep them coming you can’t afford to be lazy, and after three or four bites you normally need to change something to bring another run of fish. I’m alternating between 4mm and 5mm punches of bread on the hook and I’ve also played around with the depth quite a lot.
Immediately after re-feeding, it seems better to fish about eight inches off the bottom. This is probably because there are quite a few bits of bread floating up and off my feed. After a few fish here, I simply drop back down to dead depth and enjoy another little run of fish there once the swim has settled.
With around an hour of the session left bites really slow down. Picking up my lighter rig for hemp, I’m surprised to get a sudden bite out of the blue to the far left of my feed area. It’s a better fish too at 8oz – a perfect hemp specimen. This prompts me to try presenting this lighter rig slightly downtow and I manage a good run of these better fish in the closing stages. Eight quality redfins on the seed make for a perfect finish to the session and prove just how important it is to persevere when feeding hemp. It’s also interesting how these were sat right at the extreme left of the swim. They were most likely picking off the odd bit of loose feed and bread crust that pops-up and wafts down to them in the tow. With over double figures of roach in the net on literally £3 worth of bait, it’s been a lovely few hours. Find a local lake, keep your bait cheap and simple and enjoy some budget bagging when you get a few spare hours this month!
Hemp And Bread Secrets
1. The perfect hooker! The grain is still intact with just a small amount of kernel showing
2. Jon generally finds that 5mm and 4mm punches prove the best when good-stamp roach are the target
3. Hemp pinkies and bread - the downfall of many a roach over the years
4. Note how the point of the hook is exposed. This helps Jon convert more bites into roach in the net!
Name: Jon Arthur
Pole: Drennan Acolyte
Venue: Furzton Lake
Location: Milton Keynes MK1 4GA
Day tickets: £7 on the bank
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Alan Scotthorne looks at the pros and cons of netting or swinging a fish in
Whether to reach for the landing net or risk swinging a fish in is a decision that I am sure we have all had to make at some point in our fishing. It is a common dilemma when you’re after small to medium-sized fish such as roach, perch, dace and small skimmers. Usually fish of 3oz to 6oz are what I would class as borderline swingers when you are using standard silver-fish tackle on a typical English venue. When you get to fish around the 8oz mark I think you should almost certainly be reaching for the landing net.
Knowing when to reach for the net and when to swing the fish is key to optimum efficiency
The first thing I must say is that if you are ever in doubt you should always net your fish. However, it perhaps isn’t ever quite as simple or straightforward as that. Sometimes netting every single fish is not really necessary, especially when they are small. Netting fish can sometimes upset your catching rhythm and slow you down. The extra time spent netting could even cost you a pound or two of fish over the course of five hours. On the other hand, risking swinging a fish that then falls off midair can be an even worse predicament, especially if it leads to a tangled rig. Mistakes like that can cost you all-important extra ounces that are often so vital at the weigh-in.
There are clearly other factors that have to be taken into account and, once you’ve decided to swing or net that fish, you then have to consider using the right tackle for the job.
Alan's Elastic Secrets
A central cone helps Alan's elastic run smoothly...
... while a Drennan Tensioner bung helps him set his elastic just right
Spare elastic on the bung means a connector can be changed without rethreading the top kit
Speed is the most obvious reason. After all, in a match situation, we are all trying to amass as big a weight as possible in the shortest amount of time. Another is efficiency, because it can be a bit awkward and time-consuming reaching for a landing net all the time (although if you spend some time on your setup you can make sure your landing net is always in the same place and easy to grab when you need it). Sometimes you can scoop a fish and wish you hadn’t bothered after the hook inexplicably goes into the landing net mesh and causes all sorts of messy problems as you try to unravel it.
Another reason for swinging fish is when you need to extract fish quickly to stop them disturbing the rest of the shoal. Catching perch close in is a great example of this. Even small perch can fight hard and jag around all over your swim if you let them. By stepping the elastic up a notch you can normally persuade them out of the peg much easier and swiftly lift them out. This can really help to prevent spooking any other fish close rather than unnecessarily splashing around with a landing net.
Pike are another reason why trying to get that fish out of the water as swiftly as possible can be better. On my local Stainforth & Keadby Canal, for example, you sometimes have to ship back with a fish on really quickly to make sure a pike cannot grab it! If you are doing this then slightly stepped-up gear is required – stronger elastic, bigger hooks and a more robust hooklength. When I might typically use a No3 elastic to 0.07mm hooklength and a size 22 or 20 fine-wire hook, I wouldn’t hesitate to step that up to No5 elastic to a 0.09mm bottom and size 16 if pike were an issue. You might sacrifice a bit of presentation, but when a hungry predator is lurking you cannot afford to mess around playing fish cautiously. Don’t take control and that fish becomes a pike’s next meal!
Softly-Softly For Skimmers
In some situations, it is safer to net everything you hook, especially on really hard days. It is also good practice when you are targeting soft-mouthed skimmers. A good way to force yourself to net everything is to use much lighter pole elastic. Anything from No3 to No5 is ideal for soft-mouthed skimmers. Going lighter is better for smaller fish and on a shallow venue when you need to stop them coming straight to the top and splashing on the surface. Skimmers don’t have much of a reputation for fighting hard, so there’s rarely any need to fish stronger; you’ll probably just pull the hook out if you do.
The length of elastic in your top kits is a subject that I touched upon last month and is worth going into in a bit more detail. Top kits are not all a standard length between manufacturers, so it all depends on the make of pole that you own. Some top-two kits can be as short as two metres, while others as long as three. Fitting the same pole elastic into either of these extremes will greatly alter the way your elastic behaves. For instance, a No5 through three metres of pole will be much softer and mellow compared with the same No5 through just two metres. The same elastic can, therefore, behave very differently according to how much of it you have inside your pole and I think that is something people don’t always appreciate.
It is really popular these days to have pole elastic fitted through a full, long top-two kit. However, for a lot of my out-and-out silver-fish work I still only thread elastic through the long tip section of my Drennan Acolyte pole. This means I can have a really soft and forgiving elastic to cushion the strike, but the power can kick in relatively quickly. This allows me to control and guide any better fish in a lot easier than if I had the same elastic through a full top-two kit.
The main advantage of this setup is that it enables me to swing in slightly better fish and still be in control. If I were to attempt to swing in the same fish with more pole elastic the process becomes a lot more unpredictable because there would be a greater variation in the height that a fish came through the air. This makes it much more difficult to anticipate exactly where the fish will be when I need to catch it. Small points like this can make all the difference over the course of a session and ultimately help you to be much more efficient.
Incidentally, the top section of my Acolyte is 1.45 metres and a top two is 2.89 metres. You can elasticate these wide-bore kits as they come but I prefer to chop them back around 10 centimetres further to accept a 4.5mm internal Drennan Super Slick PTFE Bush. This allows me to use a wider range of elastics and still have all my kits the same length.
Elastic soft enough to stop you bumping roach but meaty enough to tame bonus skimmers like this is a must!
I normally like to have plenty of elastic coming out of the tip when I connect with a bite. This helps to set the hook and then cushions everything when I am shipping back. By having several feet of elastic coming out on the strike it also buys you a few seconds to do other things, such as throwing or catapulting bait immediately after hooking a fish. If you tried doing this with stronger elastic the fish would come straight to the top, splash around and potentially come off while you fumbled around to feed.
"I won't hesitate to stand up to catch or net fish if I ever need to. You have to do what's necessary to make sure that fish ends up safely in your keepnet."
The more elastic you fit the softer it will become, so always bear that in mind if you decide to use less of it in your pole. For example, a No5 elastic through two sections will behave very similarly on the strike to a No3 elastic through just one section.
If you are faced with the occasional better fish on the end that is a potential swinger, a little trick you can sometimes try is to leave an extra pole section on before lifting the fish out. This should hopefully compensate for the extra elastic and enable you to swing the fish swiftly to hand. So, if my pole rig corresponds to the top two sections of my pole I might unship another section longer and swing the fish in with three sections of pole. It can sometimes take a bit of skill and judgement to do this properly but it’s quite an efficient way of catching on certain days.
I must add that I won’t hesitate to stand up to catch or net a fish if I ever need to. You have to do what’s necessary to make sure that fish ends up safely in your keepnet.
I have already touched upon the importance of stepping up your tackle if you are expecting to swing fish in. As soon as a fish leaves the water its downforce is increased and puts greater strain on your hook-hold. You therefore need to ensure that you have a big enough and strong enough hook and sufficient elastic to cushion the fish as it flaps around. If you are using an ultra-fine-wire hook and gossamer-thin hooklength then a landing net needs to be on standby all of the time.
It can pay to have a couple of rigs set up – one for catching normally and one for a red-letter bagging day. Being prepared to step up a gear can help you to really capitalise on a peg full of fish. Failing that, just make sure you have plenty of spare hooklengths tied up so that you can quickly switch to a sturdier arrangement if you think the fish will accept it. Even one hook size up can make swinging in those better fish so much easier.
Even when I am targeting better fish that all need netting it is still worth experimenting with the amount of elastic in your top kits. For instance, last winter I had a lot of success with our lightest Drennan 4-6 Aqua Bungee hollow elastic through a full top-two kit. This was ideal for catching a mixture of F1s, small carp, skimmers and silver fish on tough days when every ounce was vital. However, when it warmed up I felt I was lacking control with this setup and sometimes had far too much elastic coming out. As the fish became more energetic it was taking longer to get them up to the net, even with a Side Pull Kit.
I overcame this problem by using the same elastic through a Drennan Double 2 Side Pull Kit instead. These are exactly the same length as my standard kits but with an extra joint in the No2 section. This enables me to elasticate just one and a half sections of pole (approximately 2.1 metres). This new arrangement still offers plenty of shock absorption but with much-improved control at the netting stage. There is also still a side puller slot for even greater control. Again, this is a good example of being able to control the amount of elastic you have in your top kits.
Whether to swing a fish or not is a decision we all get wrong at times. On several occasions, I have had my wife Sandra tell me off for trying to gamble and swing a fish that could have been costly had it come off! However, it all boils down to confidence and experience, plus having the right tackle for the job. Being a bit more positive and having the courage to attack has definitely won me a few matches over the years. It’s all about sizing up the situation and knowing what the right thing to do is on the day. Hopefully, I’ve given you some food for thought and the next time you hook a fish you’ll know exactly what to do.
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