While many an­glers avoid weed, MATT RHODES reck­ons it can be the key to suc­cess – par­tic­u­larly on pres­sured dayt­icket fish­eries like Cromwell Lake in Not­ting­hamshire

Angling Times (UK) - - CONTENTS -

WEED. You love it or hate it, and most an­glers seem to run a mile from the green stuff.

Yet the carp ab­so­lutely adore it, and very of­ten you will find gangs of them holed up in the weed­i­est ar­eas of the lake.

There are sev­eral rea­sons for this. The cover it pro­vides gives them a sense of se­cu­rity and there are of­ten loads of snails and bugs that they can feast upon liv­ing on the fronds. Also, de­pend­ing upon an­gler pres­sure, weedy ar­eas can have fewer lines in the water and are there­fore seen by the carp as safe.

What­ever the rea­son, carp spend a lot of time in weed. If you only tar­get clearer ar­eas you might have a long wait be­fore the carp come to you.

There are sev­eral dif­fer­ent kinds of weed in most gravel pits. The ones that the carp like best are the fresh long­stemmed va­ri­eties, which might look

like a foot­ball pitch on the sur­face, but down be­low are caves and chan­nels that the carp use to move around. The stuff that I par­tic­u­larly don’t like is blan­ket weed. This car­pets the lakebed and can grow so thick that fish can’t move through it. Avoid it.


The tac­tics that I use de­pend on how thick the weed is. If it isn’t grow­ing too high off the lakebed a light lead and chod set-up can work well, as the hook­bait will come to rest on top of the weed, right in the face of any carp that swims over it.

How­ever, once the weed is much taller a light lead can be­come a li­a­bil­ity as it is likely to get stuck in the weed on the drop and never make it any­where near the bot­tom. Now your choddy is likely to end up way up in the water, nowhere near the carp.

Now I go com­pletely the other way and use the heav­i­est lead I can, of­ten four or five ounces. This is fished on a Nash weed lead clip, so it ejects in­stantly on a take. A heavy lead gives a cou­ple of ad­van­tages. First, it means that even when fish­ing over weed I can feel the drop, and sec­ond, it en­sures that the lead ac­tu­ally gets to the bot­tom.

So, when faced with a swim where I can’t find any clear ar­eas, how do I po­si­tion my rigs? I look at the sur­face of the lake. Can I see any clearer ar­eas or, in par­tic­u­lar, chan­nels in the weed? These are likely ar­eas to tar­get as the weed is go­ing to be thin­ner here and it is im­por­tant to fish along these routes that the carp nat­u­rally use. It might take me 20 casts or more, but I will keep cast­ing at a spot, drag­ging in some of the weed ev­ery time. Even­tu­ally, the weed will start to thin out, as long as my cast­ing is ac­cu­rate enough. The spot won’t be free from weed, but it will even­tu­ally be clear enough for me to get a de­cent donk as the lead touches down.

In open water this con­stant re­cast­ing with a heavy lead would be the kiss of death, but in weed it mat­ters less. The plants mask the sound and vi­bra­tions of the lead go­ing in and it is sur­pris­ing how quickly I have caught carp af­ter all this dis­tur­bance.


There is no point in fish­ing in weed if you don’t have the con­fi­dence to ex­tract fish from it. This comes with ex­pe­ri­ence and us­ing gear that is up to the job. By drop­ping the lead, the fish will tend to come up in the water and are much eas­ier to keep mov­ing.

Lead­ers are an­other no-no, as they sim­ply pick up weed and make it more dif­fi­cult to land fish, so I use rig tub­ing in­stead.

When I get a bite it is im­por­tant to be on the ball and dic­tate the fight to the fish. Keep them mov­ing by pump­ing the rod and walk­ing back to bring them up to the sur­face and away from trou­ble.

If a fish should get bogged down then my first ploy is to put the rod down and wait for them to find their own way out. This might take 10 min­utes or more, but be­lieve me, nine times out of 10 the line will start mov­ing and you will be in di­rect con­tact again.

As a very last re­sort, fish­eries like Cromwell will have a boat avail­able and the bailiff will help you deal with a weeded fish. I never fish a swim, though, where I think I will need the boat, but it is good to know that it is there as a back-up should the worst hap­pen.

I use combi rigs made from a com­bi­na­tion of 20lb fluoro­car­bon and 25lb Nash Ar­mourlink for much of my boilie fish­ing and weedy swims are no ex­cep­tion. A size 5 Nash Fang X bar­b­less hook bal­ances a 15mm


bot­tom bait and 10mm pop-up, but I like to mould a blob of putty around the knot to help turn the hook on a take. There is noth­ing com­pli­cated about this rig, it is just de­signed to sit nicely in weed and make it easy for a carp to pick up the hook­bait.


Be­cause I am us­ing a fairly sub­stan­tial boilie hook­bait I rely on a spread of boilies to get the carp mov­ing around and look­ing for grub. A kilo or two of boilies are spread around the rods at the start of the ses­sion and then I will top up with an extra hand­ful af­ter each bite or, if I have seen signs of fish, just to keep some bait in the swim. I don’t like to bait too tightly, pre­fer­ring to spread the bait out to make it eas­ier for the carp to find some of it.

I do like to soak the boilies in lake water for a cou­ple of hours be­fore putting them out. Fresh baits tend to take on quite a bit of water and if this is near weed they will take on the smell of the weed, by soak­ing them first they ac­tu­ally keep their smell for longer.


Fish­ing in weed might fill you with dread, but just think how much time carp spend liv­ing in it. They are used to find­ing their way through weed beds and lo­cat­ing food. I’ve caught a lot of good fish from weedy pegs that have been writ­ten-off by other an­glers, not least one of my best catches ever.

Last sea­son I had a real red-let­ter ses­sion at the high-pro­file Cromwell Lake in Not­ting­hamshire. At the time I was work­ing as a bailiff on the lake and so had a good idea of the move­ments of the fish and how much pres­sure each swim was re­ceiv­ing. One thing stood out, peg 16, the weed­i­est on the lake, was hardly be­ing fished, yet there were fish show­ing in its water regularly.

Ar­riv­ing for a 48-hour ses­sion on my days off, peg 16 just hap­pened to be the only one free, so I lit­er­ally ran around there with my gear, con­fi­dent that I could be on for a few fish as they were show­ing out in front of me at about 60 yards.

Each rod took me 20-25 casts to get some of the weed cleared and to get the rig down, but it was worth it as the fish were soon back with a vengeance. My first bite re­sulted in a 37-pounder, which helped to de­mol­ish the weedbed and make it more fish­able.

I then had mir­rors of 39lb and 34lb. A 41-pounder was next up, fol­lowed by a 31lb mir­ror, a 31lb com­mon, and fi­nally the small­est of the ses­sion, a 28lb mir­ror.

By fish­ing two rods on the one spot I would wait for a bite on each be­fore re­cast­ing, so as not to dis­turb the groups of feed­ing fish. This worked bril­liantly and kept the bites com­ing right through the ses­sion.

So rather than avoid weed I ab­so­lutely love it and, cru­cially, so do the fish. Learn how to deal with it and you will catch more carp.

Tight lines alert me in­stantly to a take. I al­ways fish like this in weed.

A lead clip jet­ti­sons the lead on a take.

Big leads are sure to reach the lakebed.

Re­cast­ing cleared just enough weed for a drop.

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