Sunday, 25 November 2018

Jig Fishing for Beginners



Winter is upon us, it’s that time of year when a lot of anglers hang up their rods and the banks get quieter. In recent years some anglers have turned to light lure fishing and jig fishing in particular. Jig fishing sessions can be kept short, there’s no night fishing and you can get sessions in when you feel like, you are kept active too so it’s a great way to get out over the winter and catch some fish. If you’ve thought about trying jig fishing then read on and have a watch of the video that is part of this jig fishing for beginners article.

Jig Fishing for Beginners, click below to watch the video

A Jig Head is basically a weighted hook, the shank of the hook is bent at 90 degrees and with your line attached the hookpoint is always facing upwards so you can literally drag the jig head and your lure across the bottom, it’s ideal for fishing deep down where you would expect to find the fish, especially in winter. Jig heads are measured in two ways, hook size and weight size, for light lure fishing with lures of 1” to 4” in size, you will be using hooks in sizes 1/0 (biggest) down to 8 (smallest), for most lures in the 1” to 3” range that I mainly use myself, sizes 2,4 and 6 are the most common.

A standard ball jig head, a great starting point for a jig fishing beginner

The other way to rate a Jig Head is by weight, jigs are measured in grams and for light lure fishing 1 gram to 5 grams are the popular sizes although I rarely use anything over 3 grams myself. I have a saying for my light lure fishing, ‘stay low to go slow’, keep the weight of the jig head down so you can slow your retrieve right down, a slow moving target is an easy target for a predatory fish like perch, zander or pike especially in winter, remember fish are cold blooded and their body temperature is only just above that of their surroundings so fish will be reluctant to chase when the water is cold, hence the lighter jig heads and slower retrieves.

A jig head is one half of your lure fishing setup the other half is the soft plastic lures that you mount on the jig head. There is a bewildering array of soft plastic lures out there, shads, tubes, creatures, worms, leeches, curly tail grubs, crayfish and many more, for the benefit of this article I’ll stick to naming 3 which have done really well for me although I'm relatively new to the crayfish myself, check these three out and make sure you add them to your own lure box.

Shads
A shad is basically an imitation fish, in sizes 1” to 3” they are great for catching predators, again there is a bewildering array of sizes and colours so I’ll just single out the Kopyto Shad, I’ve been using these for years and they are superb catchers, use a white or bright green one for coloured water and a more natural one if your water is clear. The kopyto shad has a paddle tail and it mimic’s an injured fish, like a slow moving target, an injured fish is an easy target for a predator. You can fish a shad with a straight retrieve or you can vary it, jig it up and down, lift the lure off the bottom and let it flutter down again to help the illusion that it’s an injured fish. Superb, no Lure Box should be without one.

Soft plastic shads, the Kopyto Shad is great for jig fishing

Curly Tailed Grubs
Curly Tail Grubs were the first light lure I ever bought, they are brilliant fish catchers, the body is that of a grub and there is a curly tail at the back, when retrieved straight and slow the tails waves enticingly creating the illusion that the grub is swimming, again you can jig it along the bottom, lift the rod to bring the curly tail up in the water then let it flutter down to the bottom again, these lures are great catchers and another one that every jig fishing beginner should have in their Lure Box.

Curly Tailed Grub, the 1st jig head lure I ever bought and still one of the best

Crayfish
The third and final lure you should have in your box is a crayfish type lure, in this video I’ve used the Crazy Fish Nimble but there are many others out there, they look bizarre but crayfish have a superb action as they flutter through the water and they are superb fish catchers, perch in particular go for them in a big way as you’ll see if you watch the video that comes with this article. Again crays can be retrieved straight so the claws wave about creating the illusion the lure is swimming or they can be twitched or jigged, lift the lure off the bottom then let it flutter down, the crayfish is another lure you should definitely have in your Lure Box.

Crazy Fish Nimble showing the quick change Fas-Snap connector as used in the video

A decent perch taken on the crazy fish nimble

When it comes to your lure fishing setup, rods are graded by casting weight so a 1 to 8 gram rod like the one I use is ideal, mine is a Sakura Neo Sportism and it’s prefect for the job. Reel wise a 1000 size reel will do and mine is a Daiwa Exceler, it’s a lovely reel and the clutch is superb. On my reel I have yellow Power Pro Braid in 10lb breaking strain and my leader that attaches to the braid via a shock leader knot is 10lb Drennan Supplex fluorocarbon. Once your leader is attached to your braid simply tie the fluorocarbon to your jig head or you can use a Fas-Snap which makes it easy to change jig heads during your session. You can see a video on how to tie the shock leader knot below.

Braid to Mono knot for attaching Fluoro to your braid, click below to watch

That’s about it for jig fishing for beginners, the method works well on lakes, rivers and canals and as always in fishing, watercraft is the key so check out all your usual features, weed, pads, snags, bridges, locks, turnaround points, back eddys, anywhere you think fish might be present because wherever you find fish a predator won’t be far away.

One of my YouTube Viewers Chris Davies with his first ever jig caught perch

Please subscribe to my youtube channel and my blog for future videos and articles and if you decide to give lure fishing a go this winter then good luck, I have a community tab on my youtube channel, please feel free to post a picture of your catches on there.

Tight Lines.

Mark.



Sunday, 16 September 2018

Feeder Fishing for Barbel



Over the last few years it struck me that barbel fishing here in the UK has become extremely popular. I’ve already written a few barbel articles for this blog and they’ve been accompanied by a few barbel videos on my YouTube Channel. The barbel videos I’ve produced so far have become some of the most popular videos on my channel which is quite remarkable given that I’m a carp angler for the majority of my fishing. I’ve included two of my barbel videos at the bottom of this article, I’d highly recommend you watch them along with ‘Feeder Fishing for Barbel’ and 'Preparing Hemp for Fishing' which are both included within this article, my channel is worth a subscription too, if you would be so kind.

A typical River Severn Barbel caught on my feeder fishing tactics below

Swimfeeder Groundbaits, Rigs and Hookbaits
I’m a big fan of hemp and pellets for barbel. To compliment the pellets I like to use Dynamite Marine Halibut Groundbait, this particular groundbait is amazing and it really provokes a strong response from all species of fish, it’s also a perfect groundbait to use with Halibut Pellets, or any other pellets for that matter. The hemp is in there because it’s one of the most incredibly attractive baits in fishing and barbel absolutely love hempseed, it gets into every nook and cranny on the bottom and the barbel are perfectly adapted to digging out every last grain, hemp will keep barbel in your swim and keep them rooting around. Below is a video on how I prepare my hemp with a Thermos Flask, it’s mess free and very easy to do up to 3 pints of hemp in one go so it’s just perfect for a day’s barbel fishing and you should definitely check it out. Alternatively, you can get either tins or jars of hemp ready prepared Here.

Quick and easy way to prepare hemp for barbel fishing, CLICK BELOW TO WATCH




My barbel rig is a simple running swimfeeder, I’ll come to the feeders I use for barbel next, regarding the barbel rig itself, I use 3-4ft of Drennan Supplex Fluorocarbon in 8 or 10lb breaking strain. At the hook end I have a Drennan Super Specialist Hook in size 10, these hooks have been around for many years and I’ve been using them myself since the 1980’s they are incredibly strong and totally reliable, they are also quite cheap compared to a lot of fishing hooks these days!. My hooklengths are 3-4ft to keep the hookbait away from the feeder, where the feeder sits on the bottom is where the line starts to rise up to your rod tip and this is a ‘spook point’ for barbel, specially if the area you are fishing is heavily fished. The fluorocarbon hooklength is used for it’s invisibility to fish in water, my barbel fishing is always done in high summer when the rivers are generally low and clear so the long / fluoro hooklength is the perfect combination to help trick those wary barbel.

Different Feeders for Barbel Fishing
There are two basic types of feeder for barbel fishing, the open end or ‘cage feeder’ and the block end or ‘slow release feeder’. These two types of swimfeeder are quite straight forward, the open cage feeder allows your groundbait, hemp and pellets to empty out of the feeder quickly in the current and the one I use is a Guru Gripper Feeder. This type of feeder is ideal for building a baited spot and repeated casting with a loaded cage feeder will quickly establish a bed of feed and create a scent trail for the barbel to home in on. The slow release feeder holds your groundbait, hemp and pellets for much longer so there will still be a scent trail coming from the feeder even if your bait is whittled away by smaller fish like roach, dace minnows or baby chublets and the slow release feeder I use is a Korum River Feeder. Both of these feeders can be very effective on the right day.

Feeder Fishing for Barbel on the River Severn, CLICK BELOW TO WATCH

Feeder Fishing Tactics for Barbel
My feeder fishing tactics for barbel were actually developed by carp anglers on the banks of the famous Redesmere Lake in the North West. Back in the day the carp anglers had to develop tactics to get bites from these heavily pressured carp. One such tactic was to fish a bed of bait at a comfortable range with one rod on the bait and one rod just off the spot fished as a single hookbait. Those shy biting Redesmere carp grew wary of the baited spot but they would often slip up on the single bait which just looked like a random freebie that had gone astray. I’ve used these tactics on hard fished waters for many years and I used them for my River Weaver Carping, the single or small patch of bait off a big baited area produced 80% of my biggest River Weaver carp, proof indeed that the single bait slightly away from the baited spot really works.

Feeder Fishing Tactics for Catching River Severn Barbel

I had no hesitation in applying this tactic to my feeder fishing for barbel. I lay down a bed of feed and fish an open end cage feeder on the bait. This is my main line of attack on the river and the bait I expect to produce the most fish. In conjunction with this rod I use a second rod with a slow realease feeder as a kind of single hookbait that I fish off the main bed of feed. This rod with the slow release feeder is there to catch wary fish that have backed off the main bed of feed or those fish that deliberately hold back, those wary fish can quite often be the biggest in the shoal but not always. Check out the diagram of my typical feeder fishing tactics for barbel (above), the black oval shape is the main feed and the red dots are the spots I would fish the slow release or single feeder. As a general guide, I start off with the slow release feeder parallel to the main feed in position 2 or 3 on the diagram, this allows the barbel to move upstream onto the feed and up to the hookbait without encountering any lines, just the bait and the hookbait. If bites don’t come and the fishing is slow I’ll often move the slow release feeder to position 1 and fish what I call the tail end of the baited spot, you can fish 10-20yds further downsteam, just make sure the feeders are aligned in the flow so the scent from the main baited spot flows down to the slow release feeder. This can often save you a blank, it can pick up fish that haven’t yet reached your feed or fish that are holding back in the flow and just picking off bits of bait that have flowed downsteam. It’s a great spot for a late blank saving bite and given that river severn barbel can be very nocturnal I often find myself having to use this tactic as we get towards dusk. For your information, the 'hot' time for barbel on the middle severn is usually around 10pm-1am in summer.

A nice 7lb River Severn Barbel caught over bait on the open end cage feeder

So there you have it, these are the tactics I use for Feeder Fishing for Barbel on the River Severn, gone are the old baits like sweetcorn and meat, today it’s hempseed, pellets and a fishy groundbait, the barbel love this combination and the proven big fish tactics allow you to get the most out of your swim. Remember you can use the slow realease feeder for trying other parts of your swim to help you build up your knowledge of spots the barbel prefer but I like to use my second rod as a really subtle trap instead.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at my feeder fishing for barbel, check out the previous barbel videos I’ve made below and please subscribe to my Youtube Channel by Clicking Here, thankyou.

Until next time, take care of yourself and tight lines.

Mark.

Please check out my other Barbel Fishing videos, these two below show the basics of catching barbel and this article and video is very much the next level.
Barbel Fishing on the River Severn, click below to watch.


Barbel Fishing for Beginners, click below to watch.




Sunday, 28 January 2018

Dropshotting for Perch



The technique of dropshotting for perch isn’t difficult to master, in fact it’s a very simple way of lure fishing. In its purest form it’s just a lead weight clipped on the end of the line with a hook tied in slightly higher up with a soft plastic lure nicked on the bend of the hook. In this article I’ll take a look at some of the fishing tackle I use for drop shot fishing and I’ll share a few tips to help you catch canal perch using the drop shot rig.

Dropshotting for perch, a simple way of lure fishing

Dropshotting for Perch, click below to watch the video

Dropshotting Fishing Rod
My drop shot rod is a Sakura Sportism Neo. This is a rod made by French lure fishing specialists Sakura, it’s a rod which is 7ft long and weight rated 0.9g-7g, its incredibly light to hold and a dream to play fish on. For its size and weight rating it’s very deceptive and it has plenty of backbone to handle small to medium sized pike should you be unlucky enough to hook one whilst targeting perch. All in all it’s a great rod and perfectly suited to dropshotting for perch.

Dropshotting Reel
The reel I use for my dropshotting is a Daiwa Exceler 1500a. This is a beautiful reel, incredibly light and super smooth, I’m a big fan of shimano reels and this Daiwa reel is easily a match for any of them, the clutch is superbly smooth and that matters when you might need to tame a big fish on such a light setup.

Braided Mainline
All my lure fishing is done with braided mainline including my drop shot fishing, although I use green braid for my conventional jig fishing, for dropshotting I use the Hi Viz Yellow Power Pro Braid in 10lb breaking strain. Power pro braid is an excellent main line for lure fishing and the high vis yellow helps with spotting bites during those pauses in the retrieve when the line is slack. Quite often a fish can hit your drop shot lure from the side and the only indication you see is the line moving to the side and high vis yellow braid makes this easier to spot.

Drop Shot Weights
My preferred Drop Shot Weights are the brass ones by fox rage in 7g, because they are brass they aren't toxic like a lead drop shot weight and i'm happy to use them for this reason and despite there being cheaper lead options available.

Fluorocarbon Leader
Fluorocarbon lines have revolutionised drop shot fishing, their ‘invisible in water’ qualities have been a real plus when it comes to tricking shy biting fish into taking a lure. My chosen fluorocarbon is Drennan Supplex in 10lb. This is the same line I use for my summer barbel rigs and it’s equally at home as my drop shot leader. My leader is at least 6ft long and the drop shot hook is tied in with a palomar knot or I use a VMC Spin Shot Hook, I make sure there is at least 3ft of fluorocarbon from the lure to the leader knot, remember the fluorocarbon leader is pretty much invisible in water and the hook will be sufficiently far enough away for the high vis yellow braid not to bother the fish. Check out the two videos on tying knots that accompany this article, the Palomar Knot is for tying the drop shot hook into the leader and the shock leader knot is for attaching braid to mono so it’s ideal for tying your fluorocarbon leader to your high vis yellow braid.

Braid to mono shock leader knot for your fluorocarbon drop shot leader knot, click below to watch

Drop Shot Hooks
I use VMC Drop Shot Hooks for most of my dropshotting but for the conventional drop shot hook, I tie it in with the Palomar Knot. Lately I’ve switched to the VMC Spin Shot Hooks, they differ in that the hook is on its own little mini swivel. You tie the uptrace part of your leader to one end of the swivel so that the hook point faces upwards then you add in a down trace to the drop shot weight to the other end. The spin shot system allows you to change out the down trace part of your leader if it becomes damaged, remember the drop shot weight just clips on the line and fluorocarbon is quite brittle, I’ve broken quite a few drop shot rigs when I’ve moved the weight to adjust the rig and the fluorocarbon has snapped rendering the rig useless. Using the VMC Spin Shot Hooks I can now change out the down trace without having to replace the whole rig. Check out the ‘Drop Shotting for Perch’ video that accompanies this article, the whole rig and the spin shot hooks are all explained in detail.

Palomar knot for tying a drop shot hook into a fluorocarbon leader, click below to watch

Drop Shot Lures
My lures for dropshotting for perch are the same as those I use for Jig Fishing, by doing this I can keep the cost of buying lures down, believe me, once you get into lure fishing you’ll find yourself going overboard on lures, so by choosing lures that I can use on both techniques I don’t need as many. Below are a few of my favourite lures for drop shotting.

Gunki Whiz
My current favourite drop shot lure is the Gunki Whiz in hot tiger. This is an incredibly successful lure, it’s brightly coloured like any other type of firetiger lure so it’s ideal for fishing in coloured water. If I had to pick one lure to use all the time I’d be torn between this one and the kopyto shad, both are superb lures.

Shropshire union canal, drop shot caught perch on a 2" Gunki Whiz Lure

Kopyto Shad
I use the kopyto shad for Jig Fishing as well as drop shotting, it’s a superb lure in chartreuse colour, which is a kind of luminous green. The kopyto shad has been ever present through most of my lure fishing on the Shropshire Union Canal and it’s proved its worth time and time again, just have a look through my previous lure fishing videos on my youtube channel to see how successful this lure has been, dropshotting for perch or jig fishing for perch and pike, this lure is superb.

Crazy Fish Nano Minnow
Another lure that’s become a favourite of mine is the Crazy Fish Nano Minnow, when bites are hard to come by or I keep missing them my first change is to a smaller 1” lure and the nano minnow. Remember a drop shot lure is always nicked through the nose so the fish literally has to inhale the lure to get a good hook hold, dropping to a 1” usually does the trick and the 1” nano minnow has saved me a blank many times, like the gunki whiz and the kopyto shad, it’s definitely another lure I wouldn’t want to be without.

Crazy Fish Polaris
Another favourite is the Crazy Fish Polaris, whilst it’s not really a lure I’d use for searching the canal, it does come into its own when you are clearly on a shoal of perch and you want a lure to stay in the take zone. You can literally just twitch the crazy fish polaris against the drop shot lead and without moving it. These small twitches will induce a perch to strike if they are in the vicinity and this lure works really well.

As you can see my top lures are mainly shad baits that all have the paddle tail in common, I find paddle tail lures the best if you have to go searching for the perch which is always how I fish. I do have other lures in my bag like worms and leeches but I only use these when I know I’m on a shoal of perch. With the paddle tail lures it’s just a case of casting across the canal then slowly drawing back the lure to make it rise up and flutter, then let the line go slack so the lure flutters down, working the lure this way makes it very attractive to perch and pike and it will usually induce a strike if they see it or sense the lures presence through their lateral line system if the water is coloured. Lures like worms and leeches are best suited to fishing static where you cast to an area you know the fish are present, then you can twitch the lure to give it movement but without winding it in so it stays on the take zone and hopefully brings a bite.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little look at dropshotting for perch, it’s a very simple but very effective method of catching on the right day. Take a look at the videos accompanying this article, the main one is on dropshotting for perch and takes you through what’s written here, the recurring theme of the video is using the paddle tail lures and drawing the drop shot weight across the bottom then letting the line go slack to make the lure flutter up and down, that is the essence of dropshotting with lures like the gunki whiz and the kopyto shad. The other two videos are both instructions for tying knots, the shock leader knot is great for tying braid to mono so it’s perfect for attaching your fluorocarbon leader to your hi viz braid. The palomar knot is ideal for tying conventional drop shot rigs and using a standard drop shot hook with this knot will certainly be cheaper than using the VMC spin shot hooks I’m using, the spin shot hook definitely has its advantages though, as I’ve highlighted above and in the main ‘dropshotting for perch’ video.

Lure fishing, a drop shot caught perch from the difficult Shropshire Union Canal

Remember the Shropshire Union Canal is a bit of a ball breaker when it comes to catching perch, by way of a final tip I would say watch out for scattering shoals of roach. I’ve had my best days fishing when I’ve seen small shoals of roach scattering to evade a predator, I’ve seen this phenomenon four times this winter and although you might think pike are responsible, every one I’ve witnessed so far has been perch so definitely go to them if you spot prey fish scattering.

That’s it for now, please Follow my Instagram Page and subscribe to my YouTube Channel if you haven’t already, I’ll be back with another article and video in the near future.

Until then, take care of yourself and tight lines.

Mark.



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