Liam Close, Carp angling Thoughts...
Thought and opinions - Presentation, bait and Rigs
By Liam Close- Retro Baits Introduction
When it comes to rigs , bait and the best way to to present them It can be a bit of a minefield and their is no right or wrong answer. A decent bait , a sharp hook in the right spot and your most the way their. I’m not or one minute suggesting , my ideas and thoughts are 100% correct and I’m right and your wrong. Everybody approaches scenarios in their own way and that is great, personally I am learning all the time and that is the fantastic thing about angling there so many successful approaches and ideas these are just some of mine. Their will be times in my own fishing when what I’m writing here goes out the window and I’m doing the complete opposite, that is real life we can not always account for the fact that carp are wild creatures that can never be predicted with any degree of certainty. This just a general rule of thumb guide to how I approach and think about my bait, rigs and presentation and a few things in between the majority off the time.
The snails range, something different everest colour and shade a angler could ever want.
My Thoughts Their is no one size fits all answer and I feel there are a lot off anglers that adopt a one trick pony approach that is based around the going rigs and methods of the time. As effective as these rigs and presentations can be ie Ronnie , Chod, helicopter ect. At the moment the Ronnie rig fished on a stiff boom helicopter style is all the rage. As effective as this setup can be, it is in my opinion massively over used and used in the wrong situations to capitalise, on the time that a lot of anglers have: It may work and get bites it could happen to the perfect set up for the situation you have before you, but unless you only fish one lake or even one spot forever, that will not always be the case. There is also the other side of the coin when somebody changes bait and rigs every hour or session because they have no confidence in any single rig or approach. There is no quick fix to be consistent on tougher waters. Sometimes you just can not get on the fish or they are not feeding heavily enough to make a mistake. It is often the case in the summer and especially early autumn they are preoccupied on natural food. It's important to know why you are not catching so you don’t needlessly tie yourself up in knots over rigs and baits. Sadly this only comes with experience of success and failure threw experience that can not be learned off the Internet or brought off the shelf. Knowing when to make changes at the right times and when to stick to your guns can make or break a session or even a season. We all know location is key, but with fish under so much pressure these days the correct location has to run parallel with making the right decisions in terms of rigs, baits, spots etc. I’m a firm believer that the a more subtle approach is far more successful than going in all guns blazing in terms of leading around for spots , spodding and having rigs plastered in metal work. That said you have to have confidence and if those approaches work for you and give you fantastic, but from what I see on the banks this is often not the case. So many people are trying to emulate what they see in the media and want to be noticed. I'm not even sure a lot of people actually enjoy their angling as much as they could and should. A lot of people also have unreal expectations of what can be achieved within there angling given the time, venues and limited resources that many anglers have to deal with. It is not realistic to have the edited results we all see in angling media. Like most forms of media, what you are seeing is not always what it seems. It’s important to enjoy your angling and not put yourself under pressure because of what you see on youtube , Facebook, Instagram ect. Your not seeing the large chunks of failure, your only seeing the snippets of Success.
As much as we all love catching carp, there is more to it, I love everything that comes it. Capturing this Heron having his breakfast made my day. You gotta stop and smell roses along the way sometimes.
That said I do believe, If more people thought about the situations they are faced with at any given time, if some anglers applied a little more common sense and some rational thinking rather than following what is in vogue, a lot of anglers would have more consistent results. These changes may only to be tweaks here and there. I always want to achieve the optimum efficiency from my chosen rig in the situation I’m faced with. I don’t always get it right, inevitably as a human we will all make mistakes and get things wrong. In the media most the time the mistakes and blank hours are edited out. You can not do that in real life. Weather it is bait, location rigs etc. The faster you can read the situation and right the inevitable wrongs you make as an angler the more successful you will be. The only difference between a good consistent angler and a inconsistent angler is how often they make the right call and how quickly they rectify there failures. The tweaks required are sometimes as little as length of the rig or the length of the hair, a blow back ring instead of tube. Helicopter over lead clip and of coarse choosing between pop up, bottom bait or a wafter or maybe a completely different bait a change of location or even a complete change of venue. Sometimes the fish are just feeding with gusto and it really makes little difference, but these times are few and far between and majority of time the fish are not just throwing caution to the wind and hanging themselves. As the year goes on and the craziness of spring clubbing season comes to an the fish spawn the lakes get weedy, the fish become more cautious as the relentless pressure takes it toll the fishing can become very difficult and making the right choices is so important.
A breakthrough moment on Weston Park, my first fish on a chod rig after a frustrating night on fish and not getting the results I felt I should have. Finally bit the bullet and put the chods out and this was the first of many that winter to fall my chod rig presentation.
I remember one particular night on Weston Park I’d had one fish in the night on a my helicopter set up with a wafter hook bait, but their were fish showing all over me and felt I should have had more, I opted to go on choddies as there was a lot of silk weed and i felt my presentation was been compromised and the chod rig was possibly the answer. Within an hour I’d had two fish, this gave me the confidence going forward to fish with the choddies . Until this point I hadn’t fished with chod rigs, and I had some good results on them, threw out that winter. Although they may not have been my go to rigs , I recognised I should have done better and was willing adapt and change to suit the situation i was faced with. . No matter what rigs and bait we use the fish ultimately have the upper hand and are constantly entering anglers swims and getting away with an easy meal scott free. If that was not the case they would be getting caught week in week out. Pop ups I’m sure most of us have noticed in recent years pop ups have become a lot of anglers go to method, when it comes to hook bait choice. For me seeing so many anglers all doing the same thing is fantastic, because it means that it easy to get away from what crowds are using. In clear shallow water particular a bright pop up must be like a danger beacon to the carp that are under pressure. On a lightly fished water, where the fish are possibly more naive and less wary it can be a come eat me beacon. This is where thought and looking at the situation your faced with comes into play.
A fish that has only done three known captures.” THE LONG LEATHER” Taken on a rare occasion i utilised the Ronnie rig, fished helicopter style on a semi stiff braid material.
When I do fish pop ups, I’ve always tended to fish them as low as I feel I can away with. Now everybody fishing them lower lying, I’m still fishing them lower than most though. Majority of the time I’m not adding swivels to the rig which makes things much more simple and minimal , it also allows me to fish the pop up tighter to the lake bed. I really do like the reverse combi rig as it allows me to fish a pop up really low and I like the mechanics of the rig. Although it is a little tricky tie to begin with it’s a really good simple rig.
The reverse combi rig , one omy go to rigs when fishing pop ups.
I’ll generally fish pop ups in weed , but the length off the hook link is the critical part to get right, or how far you have the bead up the helicopter leader if that is choice off presentation. So many people are scared to fish in weed, but a long hook link and a pop up with a lead clip and a bit of PVA foam to cover the hook, has caught me so many fish over the years, it's a presentation the fish are not used to dealing with day in day out. I much prefer a dull match the hatch pop up over a bright one the majority of the time, especially when we get to the summer months. Of coarse a bright single in the winter or early spring can never be discounted, but again it's something the fish see and deal with day in day out. Thinking outside the box will often bring you bonus bites and sometimes nick those rarer visitors to the bank. Generally I’d only use a pop up if I feel it is absolutely necessary or I’m fishing for un pressured carp. As effective as they can be and as much as they have a place in my angling they are overused and often used to the detriment of the anglers results, because they blindly use them based on the rigs in vogue that are suited more towards a pop up. I’m more inclined to use the chod rig in certain situations than I ever was before as it is not as widely used as it once was as the Ronnie rig dominates , the chod rig is a fantastic set up in the right situation , for me though it is a rig for very specific situations. Some of friends very good successfully anglers utilise chods in situations I would not and have good results . As I’ve already said there is no right or wrong answer and you have to find you own path and find what your confident on as “ Success breeds confidence and confidence breeds Success.”
Bottom baits Even on the most silty of bottoms I’d often favour a bottom bait over a pop up especially if it is a busy lake. A bottom bait to me is most natural presentation to my mind. I don’t want my bait to stand out as a rule, especially on lakes that see sustained angling pressure. When surface fishing the last thing you want is your bait standing out as different, bites can almost be impossible to come by and this has to be same on the bottom at times. Bottom baits on a simple blow back hair rig is just not something the carp deal with a huge amount these days and a simple bottom bait presentation allows me utilise my favoured rig perfectly, which is the good old fashioned knotless knot hair rig. No bells and whistles, no swivels here and bull shit there just a solid, simple reliable catcher of carp. Just the way I like to fish. A lead clip , heavy lead and 5 bait stringer cast to showing fish on a spring morning apart from stalking is as good as carp fishing gets for me. It's not always that simple, although quite often it is and a lot of people just make it needlessly complicated.
A setup that has caught me so many fish over the years and my go to set up I use for the vast majority of my angling. Cast to showing fis as is or fished over a spread o boilie. Simple
rig 6 bait stringer.
If the lake is clear of any major weed then it really is a no brainer for me. Again how many people use a bottom bait straight out the bag these days? Not many! When such a effective presentation is been ignored by most it's always going to be a winner.
A 30lb plus common taken from a shallow spot on a bottom bait amongst light weed.
Wafters Wafters are something I like to use a lot in the colder months, it’s not the pop up that everybody using but if the carp is not feeding with gusto and is a little lethargic a wafter can really sort them out. The other good thing about using wafters in winter, is the carp are not as likely to waft the bait up of the bottom or off the spot. I don’t think their fins and general movements in the swim are as erratic and charged up as in the summer.
Everything is slower and more lethargic that is why to my mind a critically balanced wafter is perfectly suited to winter fishing. I’m not one second saying they are not effective throughout the year but a very light bait amongst big feeding is can to my mind can cause issues at times. Fishing a lump of putty to keep in position around an inch or two up the link does no harm to stop it flying around as a big fish is feeding on the spot. I also like create my own wafters majority of the time, by using roughly two thirds of a bottom bait and a third of a pop up, I then trim the pop until I get the sink rate I want. I can also change the pop up if I want to, something bit brighter to top the hook bait with . This is particularly effective in winter and spring when I want something bright out there that is not a pop up, that is been used by the masses day in day out. I do sometimes use dedicated wafters and trim them down or I balance out a bottom bait with a wafter instead of a pop up this gives you a very slightly buoyant presentation which is what I use if the fish are wary and as I alluded to earlier very active and wary during in the summer months, It may not make a great deal if difference , but it has caught me plenty of fish over the years , it certainly does no harm. It sinks fairly quickly but still retains enough buoyancy to allow the hook link to kick away from the lead.
One of the Trench A team before the lake was destroyed forever, one of 5 five fish landed that session, caught on a 3 ft long hook length fishing knotless knot style with a pop up in heavy weed. A 5 bait stringer and couple of pieces of PVA foam around the hook completed the set up. No leading around for spots just fishing simply into an area the fish clearly were . Simple strong rigs was all that was required
PRESENTATION I like to use rigs that are as basic and as simple as possible. A standard blow back hair rig covers so many different scenarios. I like a supple material as possible as rule. Sometimes if fishing at range a stiffer material is needed. I’ll fish a material as supple as possible but as stiff as necessary. Although I’m not a fan of really stiff materials and as of yet have not used them with any consistency within my angling, that said I know how to use them and have the components just in case the need arises. The stiffest material I tend to use is mono, mono straight of the spool is hugely underused and effective hook link material in my opinion. I can often get away with softer materials because most the time I incorporate a stringer or mesh bag more often than not it's a stringer, which in itself is deadly underused weapon, but it also has the added bonus of making supple braided rigs much more tangle proof. To my mind it also acts a bit of a parachute when fished over silt and weed. One of the most important aspects of rigs in my opinion apart from the obvious a sharp hook and been tangle proof, is the length of the rig. Rig length is something I see a lot of anglers not paying enough attention to. I generally i like to use as short as possible but as long as necessary. If I’m fishing a hard bottom 4 to 7 inch is a go to; Over silt or weed anything from 5 inch to 3ft. Their are so many variables though, working this out to the terrain of the lake bed, becomes second nature threw experience and trial and error. Sometimes particularly with bigger fish you need to give them a bit of extra rope to hang themselves. It’s also worth paying attention to what others are using if everybody using short rigs go long or vice versa. Rig length can be a key piece of the jigsaw. Taking Notice Of coarse feature finding comes into play but that is a big subject in itself , that so many people get wrong. I’ve seen so many people destroy their swim before they even start its incredible. Some lakes you can take liberty’s , but certainly on most the lakes I fish, leading around extensively or at all in some cases is destroying your chances. I couldn’t think of many things I’d want to do less than to start making loads of disturbance, in a swim that is occupied by fish; Yet most people do it and it is hugely encouraged by the angling media. Some people make it work and fair play: if it works for them, but in a lot of circumstances especially short sessions I’d avoid it like the plague personally. The only feature I’m really interested in is the fish , once I have found them my priority is getting a rig in place with minimum disturbance . I may go into detail another time regarding my thought process regarding feature finding . In short though I feel on a lot of lakes people worry about spots far to much. With a bit of water craft the fish clearly tell you where they want to spend time and feed. There also other ways to get a general guide of what you are up against in regard to the lakes topography and make up. There are times when leading around etc can be vital but for me it the exception rather than a rule , there is time and place but again knowing that time and place can make a huge difference to results . Been awake and watching at first light is one if the most under utilised essential things i see of anglers just not doing. A lot of people talk a good game , but on the lakes I fish ,very few are up and watching at the crack of sparrows. First light is so important and I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to be awake at first light and watching that lakev8f you want to maximise your opportunities. One show at first light is also often worth ten shows in the afternoon, because a morning show is likely close to where they are feeding. A show in the afternoon is often just a random show . Not to be ignored no matter what time of day a fish shows. Feeding times can change but as I already mentioned this is just a generalisation of how I see things but more often than not , first light is the main feeding period on a lot of waters.
Lead choice again is something that many anglers don’t give a massive amount of thought to. A lot of people just use a lead that is heavy enough to get them to the spot , utilising a heavy lead or light lead in the correct situation can make a big difference. I’ve often done well fishing heavy leads on small lakes. Many will opt to use lighter leads. It is often short range casting on smaller venues , so people will often be using 2oz , 2.5 oz some may use 3oz but in this case I’d possibly use a 5oz lead as my first line of attack. Again there's a lot of variables, It’s little tweaks that can make a big difference. I always incorporate a lead that has a helicopter ring instead of a swivel as there is far less play in the lead , when the fish does make the mistake. It’s far more effective and less likely to tangle.
A very special common caught on the reverse combi rig from a low stock Shropshire Mere
Taking note of other anglers results without been a punisher and understanding why they are having the results they are, both consistent anglers and inconsistent anglers, knowing what they are doing can be used to put pieces of the jigsaw together. Now you don’t have to go and blatantly ask what everybody is using, but going back to the lead Size thing, I’ll watch somebody cast and I can determine roughly what size lead they are using and even what type of set up they using. You can use their rod hours to your advantage. This does not necessarily mean you have to copy a successful angler to a tee; what works well for one person may not work for another. There is more than one way to skin to cat, finding your strengths in angling and playing to them while been versatile, adaptable and been observant can catch you just as many as another successful angler who fishes completely different style to yourself. But taking elements of others success and adding it your armoury can only make you a better angler.
If everybody doing the same and blanking I’m going to ensure I’m doing something different or else I’m going to have the same results. Likewise if somebody doing better than I am , and they are on roughly the footing as I am in terms of time , I want to know what they are doing that I’m not. That does mean I’m going to copy them to every last detail , but ill take into account and maybe apply some of what they are doing to my own angling. If somebody doing loads more time, then you can not compare results, Time is a great leveller and if you have it as a carp angler it is hugely valuable, especially if your on the ball and can fish in optimum conditions. Make no mistake been flexible and been able to fish when conditions are favourable is such a massive advantage. The importance of weather can not be underestimated , it such a huge key success. Again been adaptable to different weather conditions is so important . Zig rigs (an area I need to massively improve) , floater fishing or bottom fishing in one form another are all strings you need in your bow to be consistent.
Check out the background ,the storm is rolling in. Timing can be everything when fishing low stocked lakes for proper ones.
Enjoy your angling best of lick for 2022 and hope you all catch a few, there still so much to talk about, I may do another write up in the future, but for now I’ve likely bored you all enough , so I’ll leave it their. Keep em bent Liam Close. ( Facebook - Liam JC Angler)