Winning tactics for Thames roach
Part two of Carl Eland’s roach session sees a switch to running line
LAST week Carl Eland began his day on the Thames by fishing the pole. Now, a couple of hours into the session, it’s time to switch to a waggler.
“It’s far quicker than shipping in and out 14m of pole and I can wind roach in from mid-river, at speed,” Carl explained.
“Ideally, you want little or no wind or if it is blowing, a slight downstreamer is best.”
DON’T SPLIT THE SHOAL
“With my pole line at around 13m I’d put my waggler line in around 3m further out to make sure I’m not drawing away roach on the pole line. I also fish the waggler slightly downstream, which helps control the rig and stops the angler upstream of me pulling my fish into his peg.”
“Mainline is 2lb Maxima to a hooklink of 0.10mm Supplex Fluorocarbon and a size 18 Drennan Wide Gape Match hook set to fish just touching bottom. The waggler is a Drennan Merge Peacock taking 3AAA, two locking shot and six No8 shot spread evenly in the bottom half of the rig.”
“I will keep loosefeeding hemp throughout a match, but I do like to give the waggler line a big opening hit of 10 pouches at the start. This creates a bit of a bed on the bottom that won’t be disrupted by boat traffic. After this opening hit I’ll loosefeed around a dozen grains of hemp every minute or so.”
WHEN TO CHANGE
“I’ll have 10 minutes on the waggler after an hour of feeding to see if the fish are settled. If not, I’ll revert to the pole, keep feeding hemp and try again in 30 minutes. It can take three hours before the float line gets going.”
After a change to the waggler Carl goes straight for goal with a real blast from the past – a tare!
“They catch the bigger roach while bypassing bleak and dace,” Carl explained. “I cook my own at home and add iron tablets to turn them jet black. Unfortunately, I forgot to do that to the ones I have today but hopefully it won’t matter!”
Casting slightly downstream, the moment of truth arrives and there’s an audible sigh of relief when the waggler buries on the first chuck. Carl misses the bite but is pleased. “I wasn’t expecting that to go under but it shows some fish are there,” he says. The next three casts all result in a missed bite
before the next
sees a 3oz roach hooked and wound in.
Over the next half-hour, the pattern continues with a lot of missed bites but several bigger roach added to the net. These misses prompt Carl to go up to a size 16 Wide Gape Match hook. This partially helps, with more fish landed, but it is still hit and miss, which he thinks is down to there being too many small roach in the peg, if you can have such a bad thing!
“I’ve got something in the bag which might help this,” Carl says, and he produces a sprig of plump glossy black elderberries.
“We’ve all heard of big roach being caught on the berries but how many of us have actually ever caught on them? Watch and see,” Carl says as he impales one on the hook.
Out goes the waggler and under it goes, the strike being met with solid resistance from a much bigger roach. The same trick is repeated several more times and within 20 minutes of changing over to the berries, Carl is getting a good roach each chuck.
“Elderberries aren’t really a bait to use in a match. In general I’d stick to tares, but berries are well worth having in the bag,” he says. “Today hasn’t quite been the big roach fest I was hoping for but there are hundreds and hundreds of roach in the river and if you can find a way to pick out the bigger ones, that’s how the 30lb weights are taken.”
Elderberries (left), tares (right) and hemp as feed for roach. Elderberries produced the better roach straight away.