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A beaten bar­bel: the re­sis­tance of the cur­rent and the fight of a fish can make play­ing a river species to the net quite tricky.

to a fish be­com­ing fa­tigued. The abil­ity of a fish to fight is, there­fore, gov­erned to a cer­tain ex­tent by the rel­a­tive pro­por­tion of white to red mus­cle fi­bre.

Body shape

The mor­phol­ogy of a fish dic­tates the na­ture of the fight, too. Take, for ex­am­ple, pike.

The elon­gated body and the group­ing of the dor­sal and anal fins close to the cau­dal fin mark it out as a species built for short bursts of ex­tremely high speed.

The gen­er­a­tion of the mus­cle power and its con­ver­sion into thrust through the body also varies be­tween species. There will also be dif­fer­ences within a given species, due to fac­tors such as the con­di­tion of the fish in re­spect of its en­ergy sta­tus – has it eaten re­cently?

Sex­ual dif­fer­ences will in­flu­ence the na­ture of a fight – com­pare the thrust gen­er­ated by the huge fins of a male tench com­pared with the small fins of a fe­male tench. Ge­netic vari­a­tions will oc­cur, too, per­haps re­lat­ing to body shape.

River fish v still­wa­ter fish

In re­spect of the en­vi­ron­ment, wa­ter tem­per­a­ture has a role to play, but the dif­fer­ence be­tween flow­ing wa­ter and still wa­ter is clearly a key en­vi­ron­men­tal fac­tor. In this in­stance, it is less to do with

the phys­i­ol­ogy of the fish, and more to do with the na­ture of the cur­rent. There are two fac­tors to con­sider.

The re­sis­tance ex­erted by a river cur­rent upon the body of the fish and the tackle be­ing used makes bring­ing the fish up­stream more dif­fi­cult com­pared to bring­ing the fish to the net in a still­wa­ter. The faster the cur­rent, and the larger the fish, the greater the force cre­ated, and the more dif­fi­cult the fish is to con­trol.

Con­versely, a fish fight­ing against a cur­rent, as well as against an an­gler, may lead to fa­tigue of the white mus­cle tis­sue far quicker than in a still­wa­ter.

Al­though there will al­ways be in­di­vid­ual dif­fer­ences be­tween fish of the same species, the mus­cu­la­ture will be the same and, as such, the po­ten­tial for the fight will be equal, ir­re­spec­tive of which en­vi­ron­ment the fish is in. It is, there­fore, the en­vi­ron­ment that ex­erts the main dif­fer­ence in the na­ture of the fight, rather than the fish it­self.

The win­ner

As for the hard­est fight­ing fish? The huge dor­sal fin of a big grayling in a shal­low, streamy cur­rent marks it out above all oth­ers in my book, but of course that is purely sub­jec­tive, I have no sci­ence to back it up, just years of ex­pe­ri­ence! So why not email your own views to: am­let­ters@timeinc.com Is there a bet­ter way of at­tach­ing a hook length to a feeder rig than us­ing a leger stop? I find it a bit awk­ward, and a cou­ple of times the main line has bro­ken at the stop.

QPhil Thomp­son, via email.

Dave Coster says…

I think leger stops are old hat now, with most an­glers pre­fer­ring to use quick-change beads. Th­ese neat, lit­tle de­vices al­low you to at­tach hook lengths to the main line, while at the same time act­ing as a stop that free-run­ning feed­ers (or leger weights) can buf­fer against.

The new breed of quickchange beads also al­low hook lengths to be switched in a hurry, with­out hav­ing to break the rig down.

You have op­tions of chang­ing to longer or shorter traces with con­ven­tional feed­ers, or if us­ing a Method feeder with very short hook lengths, you can put a bait on spare end tackle and switch this onto the rig if you lose your bait for any rea­son. This saves a lot of time, par­tic­u­larly when hair-rig­ging hard baits, which can be a fid­dly busi­ness.

AA need for speed – the use of quick-change beads al­lows you to swap hook links speed­ily.

Once there are fish in your swim, they nor­mally dic­tate your cast­ing rate when you are catch­ing or miss­ing bites. If bites dry up, it can help to kick-start the swim by in­tro­duc­ing two or three quick feed­er­loads of grub, but equally it some­times pays to rest the swim for ten or 15 min­utes.

You need to ex­per­i­ment, be­cause no two feeder ses­sions are ever the same. The trick is to keep on your toes, think­ing care­fully be­fore your next move. You can al­ways put more bait in, but you can’t take it out!

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