POLE V WHIP
Which method is better for
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.