Sunday, 27 July 2008

Carp Rigs - The D Rig

For 95% of my carp fishing I use a bog standard knotless knot hair rig. There aren’t many occasions when I’d actually need another rig, I’ve tried a few different rigs over the years and whilst some of them have worked in different circumstances my standard hair rig is still the one I use the most.

One rig that did make a positive difference in my carp fishing was the D Rig. I was fishing that well known Cheshire carp water capesthorne hall at the time and the fishing was difficult to say the least. I was getting very few runs despite being on fish every session. I came to the conclusion that the carp must at least be picking up my hookbaits but somehow getting away with it and cleaning me out of bait. On a normal carp water that hasn’t been subject to the same kind of angling pressure capesthorne has, the knotless knot hair rig was fine but these capesthorne fish were extremely crafty and I found myself struggling.

The answer to my problem came in the form of a variation of the famous d rig that was known as the ‘reflex’. This particular version of the d rig was commercially available from a tackle company called big fish adventure, it was made using my favourite kamasan b175 hook and involved whipping a small length of amnesia line to the back of the hook with the ‘hair’ itself being made from a loop of drennan double strength mono that was passed through the amnesia ‘D’, tied at the required length and glued so it didn’t come undone.

Big fish adventure kamasan b175 'reflex' D rig

I went from carp showing over my baits and no action to carp showing over my baits and plenty of runs so the rig definitely worked. On close examination it’s obvious that the stiff mono and amnesia looped together allowed for more movement of the hook bait than the conventional hair rig and I think this extra movement certainly had a big hand in tripping up those cute capesthorne carp.

The next step after using the big fish adventure version of the ‘reflex’ d-rig was to tie my own as they were on sale at £3.00 for a packet of 5!. I bought some 30lb amnesia, some fly tying cotton and a fly tying vice and set about doing them myself. The self tied d rigs worked a treat and in the long run they saved me quite a bit of money.

Home tied carp 'D rig' using amnesia and fly tying cotton

If you look closely at the above picture you can see that my kryston silkworm hooklength is actually tied to the shank of the hook just underneath the whipping then threaded back through the eye of the hook. With the hooklength coming off the inside of the eye like this you get the same ‘flip’ effect that the knotless knot and the line aligner both rely on. The advantage of this rig is the extra free movement of the hookbait that comes from the stiff amnesia and the 8lb mono being looped together, if you put one of these rigs next to a conventional hair rig you can see the difference straight away.

I’ve never needed to use this d-rig variation very much, apart from capesthorne I generally tended to use it on pressured day ticket waters where the carp had a reputation for being cute, linear waters like hardwick and st johns being good examples, this rig worked a treat on those two particular carp waters and I caught well from both after ringing the changes and switching to the d rig. If you're fishing a pressured water then give this rig a try. I’m not sure if big fish adventure still sell the Kamasan B175 hooks already whipped but they are easy to do yourself. I found that using the fly tying vice and tacking the amnesia in place with superglue prior to whipping was a big help.

Although I don’t use this rig that often I always have a few b175 hooks already whipped up and sitting in my tackle box just in case, the rig has done me proud on pressured carp waters and it’s definitely worth trying if you think your carp are clearing you out of bait on a regular basis and not getting hooked.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Carp Baits - Maize

I first started using maize as a carp bait in the early 90’s, it was cheap and convenient and at the time I was hard up for cash so it was ideal. The carp seem to like it too and over the years no end of big fish have fallen to this simple and easy to use carp bait.

I’d recommend buying maize by the sack and preparing it yourself. I do use the dynamite maize now and again purely for convenience but overall, maize by the sack is a lot cheaper. Today, maize is still under £10 per 20 kilo sack and it doesn’t take a genius to work out how cheap that is compared to your average kilo of rolled boilies, if your fishing on a budget maize is the perfect bait.

How to prepare maize for carp fishing

As with most particle baits maize requires soaking and boiling before use. I soak mine for 24hrs then boil it in an open pan for around 20 minutes or until some of the grains begin to split open. That’s it, preparation is literally that easy. My normal routine is to put as much maize as I need on soak two days before I go fishing. The day before I head out I’ll boil it up ready and if for any reason I can’t go fishing, I bag it up and freeze it ready for next time as maize will freeze without any problems. You can always keep a few bags of maize in the freezer too, if you find yourself with a few spare hours to go fishing then your bait is already waiting for you.

Soaked and Cooked Maize ready to use

Presenting maize on the hook is very easy too, I fish mine as a miniature stack rig with two grains of maize on a knotless knot hair rig with a small piece of yellow foam sandwiched between the grains. You can use a larger piece of yellow foam to create a popup bait, or a smaller piece to make your bait critically balanced so it just sinks with the weight of the hook, or you can use just one or two grains of maize straight on the hair rig and fish it as a bottom bait. My preference is for critically balanced or if I’m fishing in weed a popup.

Knotless Knot Maize Stack Rig

Waters like linear fisheries and horseshoe lake have been turned over on maize, not just once but many times over, I did exceptionally well on maize at linear in the late 90’s long before it became a popular bait on there. Today, a decade on, maize is still recommended as a bait on waters like st johns and hardwick. Its been a hugely successful bait that has stood the test of time and there aren’t many waters that won’t respond to this cheap and convenient bait.

31lb 2oz Linear Hardwick Mirror, this former PB was caught on the Maize Stack Rig shown above.

On the back of the popularity of maize, companies like enterprise tackle have produced fake/rubber maize and whilst I’ve used fake maize as a bait and caught, my preference is still for a couple of real grains and a piece of yellow foam on my rig. The yellow foam is cheaper and with only 5 pieces of fake maize in a packet I think the enterprise fake baits are far too expensive.
With fuel and food prices on the up, sticking to the cheap and simple options can keep the cost of your fishing right down, as a carp bait, maize is very good, very cheap and well worth considering as a bait.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Carp Fishing - Petty Pool Memories

If you spend any amount of time online and viewing carp forums you can’t possibly have missed the huge row that blew up after a local north west carp angler was caught out fishing the out of bounds section on Northwich AA’s petty pool. I didn’t offer my own opinion on any of the forums and whilst the forum arguing was going on I kept thinking back to my own time on petty pool, remembering in particular just how hard this water actually is if you fish it legally from the designated pegs.

My own experience of petty pool started in April 2002, at the time I’d already graduated from capesthorne hall and the reputation of petty pool just didn’t frighten me in the slightest. 2002 was the year we had a foot and mouth outbreak and with waters closing down everywhere, Northwich AA took the decision to leave petty pool open in the close season. This was just the opportunity me and my mate Barney had been waiting for, a difficult water made easier by close season fishing for the first time!. We could smell a result on the cards and the second week in April we made a start fishing this tough north west carp water.

The first thing you notice about petty pool is the fly life, the ground around the pool was boggy and getting to some swims involved using wooden walk ways the club had put in. Unfortunately the boggy areas were a breeding ground for very small black flies that just loved biting anglers and right from the start they made my life hell. The carp didn’t help either, despite it being close season they still seemed to live their whole lives over on the far side of the pool a million miles away from any angling pressure.

Me and Barney fished the pool 3 days per week, evenings after work on Friday and every Saturday and Sunday daytime. We never turned up very early but we always stayed to the death at 10pm in the hope of picking up a last minute fish. We kept a moderate amount of bait going in too although it was usually into the poorer producing swims as I just didn’t have the time needed to be at the gates early enough to secure famous pegs like the bus stop although if the going pegs were empty we always dropped in there, as I was the driver Barney was stuck to the hours that I could fish.

April soon turned into May, then into June and still no sign of a run to either me or Barney. By now the flies were a nightmare and I was literally going fishing in a thermal suit to keep them from biting me, I had a hat, mozzie net for my head, gloves and a couple of bottles of jungle formula, I even had bicycle clips for the bottom of my jeans to stop them from biting my legs but somehow they always seemed to get me!.
Whilst suffering getting bitten during the summer I still couldn’t seem to get near the fish, day after day we’d watch through binoculars as huge carp would launch themselves out of the water on the out of bounds bank a mere 250-300 yards away!. Time kept moving on and June turned into July then into August with still no sign of a run to either of us. By now I was already beginning to think that life was too short to fish petty pool. Your confidence just ebbs away when you have to sit and watch carp rolling and jumping on the far side when there’s nothing you can do about it.

September came and the nights were beginning to draw in, 3 days a week since April with no sign of a run was just madness but we both thought that the carp might come over from the far side under cover of darkness so we stubbornly stuck it out and carried on fishing.

It was Saturday 7th September 2002 when the unthinkable happened!. We were on for a day session, Barney had taken the bus stop peg as it was empty but there was a big wind blowing into the car park swims and with a bit of rain in the air I just fancied it up that end so I turned left from the car park and dropped into the second to last peg at the car park end. The big wind made the fishing bearable but I still had the thermal suit to keep from getting bitten. We had to be off the pool at 10.00pm so at 9.40pm I started packing my rucksack and gear ready for another glum walk back to the car. It didn’t take too long to pack away, I'd done the brolly and I was just zipping up the side panel on my rucksack when my left hand rod finally ripped off!.

I was actually quite stunned for a minute, 3 days a week for 6 months and finally my line was peeling off the spool at a rate!. I came to my senses pretty quickly and hit the rod, sure enough it whooped over and I was finally into my first petty pool carp. I find it difficult to explain what was going through my mind as I played that fish in. My heart was in my mouth as I played it, I literally kept stepping out of myself and kept talking to myself as I played it in, you know the sort of thing, keep it steady, don’t blow it, take a deep breath and stay calm!. The fish didn’t have that much to offer thankfully, it did try to make some reeds on my left hand side but my setup is strong and I was easily able to guide it away from any potential danger. Roughly 5 minutes after getting the run I slipped the net under my first petty pool carp. I can’t tell you what a moment that was!, all the driving there and back, baiting, biting insects and demoralising trips were forgotten in that magic moment.

I left the fish in the net and packed my rods away whilst I waited for barney to appear from the bus stop. When he did I told him I had a fish in the net and he was as delighted as I was!. I retrieved the fish from the landing net, weighed her and did a few photographs before returning my prize to the water. How big was my petty pool carp I hear you ask? It was 14lb 12oz, possibly the smallest carp in the pool!.

Petty Pool carp, my one and only success in 6 months hard fishing!

It had taken so long to finally get a bite on this most demanding of venues and when my time came I got myself a 14lb 12oz mirror. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry!. I’d literally bled every week for that fish and at the end of the day I caught a mid double. For a while I was gutted but after sitting and reflecting I had after all caught a carp from petty pool and any carp from there is a massive achievement regardless of its size.

We fished on through the rest of September and October before finally calling it a day for the year. I came to the conclusion that life is far to short to fish petty pool, I like my carp fishing and I enjoy getting runs and catching fish, if I’m honest, despite finally catching a carp from petty pool, I felt like the venue had beaten me into submission. I never did go back after our last October session and neither did my mate Barney. He actually blanked right through and I felt for him as he'd put in the same amount of effort as I had and he deserved something for that. When the 2003 season came round I dropped my Northwich AA membership and moved onto more productive waters to begin the slow process of rebuilding my shattered confidence.

I can’t begin to tell you how hard petty pool is as a carp venue, limited bank space and wise carp that happily live well away from any angling pressure, it’s a lovely place to sit when the flies aren’t biting but slowly it chips away at your confidence until eventually you wonder if the effort is worthwhile and give up. I have a lot of respect for the lads who sit it out on there waiting for their fish of a lifetime, it is without doubt the hardest carp water I have ever fished and probably ever will fish. I kind of feel for the lads who have been making the effort to fish there only to find another angler sneaking into the out of bounds and catching those fish with ease because the water itself is just so much harder than that!.

Tight Lines

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Carp Fishing - Moon Phases and Another Blank

It hasn’t escaped my notice that quite a few carp fishing forums have had moon phase discussions on them of late. Some people swear that the phases of the moon do effect carp fishing and some don’t. I’ve kept track of my own carp captures in relation to moon phases for many years and if I’m honest, my own results are inconclusive.
Writing down and summarising my own results against moon phases would be quite a large job and one I don’t have the time to do at the moment, the point of me bringing the subject up on my blog is to publish a list of moon phase peaks for 2008. Below is a list of all peak moon days in 2008, every one of them is a peak day, even the full moon days that a lot of people seem to rubbish.

Peak Moon Days for Carp Fishing in 2008

Whilst it’s not as accurate as charting moon rise, high point and setting times, checking your results past and present against these peak days might give you a very rough idea if the theory is working for you. Obviously you would expect to see slightly more captures recorded on peak days. To really check your captures thoroughly against the moon, you should visit the moonstrike website and delve much deeper into the specific times your carp have been caught. Remember, the moon rises and sets every single day so even a capture made on a poor day may coincide with the moon either rising, setting or reaching its high point, the only way to find out for sure is to check your capture times thoroughly and see if the moon phase theory works for you.

It’s funny how things change so quickly, last week I finally got access back to most of my waters that had been closed to me due to not doing work parties. After only one blank session I somehow managed to aggravate an old lower back injury which meant sleeping on a bedchair was out of the question for a week or two. Oh the best laid plans!, this left me a bit stuck for a choice of venue this week and after much deliberating I decided to spend a few hours back at the runs water I’ve been fishing during May.

I arrived about 1pm in the afternoon and after leaving the gear in the car I had a slow walk around the lake to see if I could spot some carp. I didn’t have to look very hard, I found them in the shallows, some were cruising round on the surface whist others were fizzing away happily feeding on natural food. I didn’t bother walking any further, I headed straight back to the car to collect my fishing gear then slowly began setting up on the same peg I’d moved into last time.

I figured I’d only get one chance to get a bait amongst these fish, I sat and watched them for 10-15 minutes before deciding were to cast, I aimed for a spot right in the middle of the fish, they were bubbling away in this area so even if they disappeared the natural food might see them return. I was confident of at least catching one fish so I dropped my rig and pva mesh bag right on the money and slackened off my line. A couple of fish swirled as the lead weight hit the water and previous experience of this happening suggested that it might be bad news.

I thought long and hard about the second rod and I finally decided to place it in an area I suspected they may move too if spooked. Again just the rig and a small pva mesh bag were all I used, my odyssey xxx baits weren’t round either, just a couple of barrels in the mesh bag and a barrel on the hair rig.

I sat back to watch things unfold, if things had gone well I would have expected a run pretty quickly but it never came, in fact half an hour after casting in most of the fish had left the swim and gone to another area. Funnily enough the carp passed by my second rod but where I’d expected them to possibly hold up, they carried on moving. Odd fish did stay around the shallows so I didn’t move swims when I probably should have. For whatever reason, the carp definitely weren’t up for being caught this time round and after watching them closely and moving my baits around to try and get a chance I finally called it a day at 8pm.

I don’t mind blanking, it comes with the territory when you fish for carp but I really thought I’d have one when I saw all those fish milling around. Hopefully next week I’ll be able to do an overnighter in search of some bigger fish again, in the meantime it’s gentle back exercises for me!.

Tight Lines

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