Quick change of fortunes
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.
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.
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: email@example.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!