Which method is bet­ter for

Angling Times (UK) - - TIPS & TACTICS -

TWO weeks ago I spent a day on the Trent at East Stoke with Gareth Atkin, where we used a va­ri­ety of run­ning-line meth­ods to tar­get bar­bel and chub.

How­ever, we ended up get­ting bites from small roach all day, de­spite putting in loads of bait to try and feed them off.

At the end of the ses­sion, I de­cided to try and re­turn as soon as I could to see what I could achieve by fish­ing for the

roach with pole and whip gear.

Join­ing me this time was my good friend Kelvin Tal­lett, and on the way there we dis­cussed the tac­tics we planned on us­ing.

I wanted us to try very dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to see which worked bet­ter on the day, and so we agreed that I would use a long elas­ti­cated whip while Kelvin would adopt a long pole/short line ap­proach.


We chose two nice look­ing swims about 30m apart, and the first job was to plumb the depth.

On my pre­vi­ous visit with Gareth we’d got about 9ft of wa­ter 20m out and I was hop­ing to find enough wa­ter on my long whip line for roach to com­fort­ably set­tle and feed in. I was pleas­antly sur­prised to find a con­sis­tent 6ft right un­der­neath the tip of the whip and 7ft a cou­ple of me­tres past it.

When you’re plumb­ing depth on long whips it’s im­por­tant to get the ex­act depth un­der the tip as this is the line of the swim that you will have most reach on when you’re run­ning a rig down. Lots of an­glers fish way too far out on long lines but you can’t cover as much wa­ter this way. It’s fine if you’re get­ting a bite as soon as the rig goes in but I al­ways try to catch in line with the whip tip if I can.

The whips I use aren’t tra­di­tional flick tip mod­els. I’ve used Daiwa Tour­na­ment and Air­ity Sys­tem whips for many years and for deep-wa­ter fish­ing, I dis­card the No1 sec­tion and use No8-No14 la­tex through the No2 and No3 sec­tions. On the Trent I’d got a softly set No10, which would give me a safe­guard if I hooked a big chub or perch but was soft enough to cush­ion the strike and al­low me to swing in roach.


There was a fair bit of flow go­ing through, and as I was us­ing 8m of whip I needed a big enough float to eas­ily be able to con­trol it go­ing out and once it was in the wa­ter.

I there­fore went for one of my new DH16 pole floats, tak­ing 3g. I’ve spo­ken many times about keep­ing river rigs sim­ple – the ter­mi­nal end of the rig com­prised just an olivette and a No6 drop­per.

I de­signed the DH16 with a rel­a­tively short bris­tle com­pared to many other floats, and the

rea­son for this is that I only want a small amount of the bris­tle ac­tu­ally un­der the wa­ter. If the bris­tle is too long there is a ten­dency to shot it down and then, when you hold it back, the tip just rides up out of the wa­ter.

With the DH16, you can hold back against the body-up shape with­out the float rid­ing up so your pre­sen­ta­tion be­comes bet­ter and, in turn, you catch more fish.

Kelvin de­cided to kick off on his 13m line and found a con­sis­tent 9ft of wa­ter un­der his pole tip. He elas­ti­cated with Blue Hy­dro­las­tic through two sec­tions and, like me, he chose DH16 floats in 1.5g and 3g sizes.

We both use Bait-Tech Pro Nat­u­ral ground­baits and our mixes were the same. A bag of Dark and a bag of Ex­tra gave us 3kg of dry mix and after this was wet­ted we added around 1.5 litres of mole­hill soil to give the mix some weight and more vol­ume.


While our mixes were the same, at the start of the ses­sion our feed­ing was very dif­fer­ent. Kelvin threw in 10 big balls, slightly down­stream so that he could run his rigs over the top. Into these balls he’d put half-a-pint of cast­ers and the same of hemp.

I started off by in­tro­duc­ing small balls of ground­bait ev­ery cast. To start with, I added plenty of cast­ers and hemp ev­ery time I formed a ball. De­pend­ing on the re­sponse I could then add more or less as the day went on.

We started to get bites after about 15 min­utes, and for half-an­hour a pro­ces­sion of small chub took a lik­ing to our red mag­got or sin­gle caster hook­bait of­fer­ings.

I kept feed­ing with a small ball of ground­bait ev­ery put-in, while Kelvin de­cided to see just how long he could keep get­ting bites over his ground­baited area with­out feed­ing any­thing else. It’s a tac­tic that can work re­ally well on some days.

After an hour, a few roach started to ap­pear, to­gether with the odd small perch, and a fur­ther half-an-hour later my catch rate was get­ting bet­ter while Kelvin was run­ning out of bites.

It was clear that the fish had prob­a­bly eaten ev­ery­thing he had put in at the start, so he balled it again. This time he put in four big ones and within a few min­utes he was catch­ing again.


Up to this point, all Kelvin’s fish had come on the 1.5g rig but the pace was get­ting faster.

A switch to his 3g rig proved to be worth­while as the con­trol be­came much bet­ter. He was now able to hold the rig back a lit­tle – the 1.5g float had been very much just a run­ning-through rig.

My swim was get­ting stronger, and go­ing into hour three of the five-hour ses­sion I thought a very big weight might be on the cards. That was un­til I started to get plagued by pike! Over the next hour, I had sev­eral at­tack­ing fish on the way in. One came com­pletely out of the wa­ter and som­er­saulted as it des­per­ately tried to get hold of the roach I was swing­ing in!

At this point I had been well clear of Kelvin in terms of our re­spec­tive catches, but he con­tin­ued to catch on his long pole line while my swim dried up com­pletely for a while be­cause of all that pike ac­tiv­ity.

Things picked up in the fourth hour, prob­a­bly be­cause the pike had had their fill, and in the fifth hour my catch rate went up again.

A bonus chub over 2lb was the high­light of my catch while Kelvin landed a su­perb roach on dou­ble caster near the end of the ses­sion.


At the end we re­flected on our dif­fer­ent ap­proaches. I’d used up all my ground­bait and ac­tu­ally mixed a bit more, while Kelvin had only used half of his. I’d used all my cast­ers and hemp but Kelvin had half of his left. We both felt that 3g floats were needed for good con­trol.

Kelvin felt he should have topped up sooner than he did, think­ing that three or four balls ev­ery half-an-hour might have been a bet­ter way to go. My ball a chuck ap­proach had worked well un­til the pike ap­peared. What I needed at that point was a run­ning line rig to give me some­where else to go in the swim.

We both agreed that the Trent is rammed with sil­ver­fish right now!

I en­joyed a lovely run of roach like this un­til Mr Pike moved in. I fed hand-sized balls, while Kelvin bombed in big­ger ‘Jaf­fas’.

DH16 floats were ideal for both meth­ods. We both used Bait-Tech ground­bait bulked up with mole­hill soil. Two meth­ods, two great catches for Kelvin and me.

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