It’ss time to rip up the roach rulebook
Using 12lb line will catch you more roach. No, that isn’t a misprint and you did read it correctly. Russell Shipton explains all...
GRAB a spool of 12lb line from your local tackle shop and it’d be reasonable to assume that big carp were your target. After all, such strong kit would only be needed to tame the most powerful mirrors and commons swimming, right? But what if an angler told you that they were using it to help them put together big nets of roach that others could only dream of? First off, you’d be perfectly entitled to think the person making that claim had lost the plot. But listen to their theory and you’ll quickly realise that their seemingly bizarre tactic was actually nothing short of a masterstroke. Marukyu and Middy-backed angler Russell Shipton was given more than his fair share of bemused looks when he first started using 12lb mainline for silverfish but he brushed off the scepticism and is now reaping the rewards.
“Commercials are full of roach but it can be really tricky trying to pick out the biggest fish,” explained Russell. “They are the wariest in the shoal and if the rig and hookbait doesn’t act naturally you can guarantee it will be ignored.” One of the most common problems when fishing for quality roach is slowing down the fall of the hookbait so that it drops at a similar rate to the loosefeed and this is where the thick mainline comes into play. “Mainline that has a 12lb breaking strain has a bigger surface area than line of 3lb breaking strain and this instantly slows the rig’s descent. “I still use a really light hooklength like you’d expect when roach fishing and this is all that the fish see when they are feeding so the heavy mainline above doesn’t put them off.”
Stringing your shot evenly down the rig also helps make the hookbait fall slowly. When a big roach enters the swim it is highly unlikely to sense there is anything untoward and you can expect the elastic will be pulled out of the pole tip in no time at all.
Little and often
While your peg may be home to a lot of roach, it will take a busy feeding regime to get them competing hard. If you are fishing for carp or F1s, trickling in a few bits of bait via a pole pot after every fish is the best way to get into a bagging rhythm. But that won’t suffice for redfins. Lashing in maggots or casters every 30 seconds is paramount. Fail to stick to this routine and your results will suffer. “It is all about getting the fish to compete. If you are putting in a few casters every now and then, you won’t stir much of a reaction. “It is a bit like a chain reaction – the small fish will hunt down the bait first and, if the bigger fish see them darting around taking food, they’ll soon get involved and bully out the tiddlers.” Casters are usually better as the small fish find it more difficult to destroy them in an instant. Although you will feed over 100 times every hour, your bait bill doesn’t have to make you wince and three pints of casters will be enough for a day session. “You only need to feed seven or eight casters each time. It is not the quantity that matters, it is keeping a constant trickle going through the water column that does the damage. “But when you are feeding so regularly it is important to fish close to the bank so that you can do it by hand.”
Pole to hand
You will put plenty of roach in the net if you are fishing the pole in a conventional manner but you will bag even more if you fish to hand. This involves fishing a rig that is almost the full length of the pole you are holding so that you can hook fish, play them and bring them to hand or the net without having to unship sections. “I use a top kit and a No.4 section and it is used like a whip. Once you get into a busy rhythm you can catch at double the speed that you would when fishing the pole conventionally. “The rig should be about six inches shorter than the length of pole you are fishing with. This will make sure every fish swings straight into
your hand when the elastic is stretched.” A fairly heavy float is required to give you the necessary casting weight and one of 0.5g-0.75g is usually ideal in good conditions. Sinking the line and keeping it tight is vital or you will miss a lot of bites and the tactic will become ineffective. “You need to be in touch with the float at all times. If a bow forms in the line it will take a fraction of a second longer to pick up the float on the strike and that will make all the difference to results.” Targeting the Match Lake at Sussex’s Sumners Ponds, it didn’t take long for Russell to prove that what looks like a crude rig at first glance is actually a fantastic way of catching big weights of roach. Small fish were the first to fall for the trap but, once the shoal settled, the bigger redfins came out to play, with plenty of samples to 1lb and the odd bonus crucian contributing to a 40lb haul. To help prove his point, Russell even had brief spells using an almost identical rig but with much lighter mainline. Although his catch rate didn’t reduce, the stamp were much smaller. “People think you are absolutely clueless when you mention using 12lb line for roach but it’s a tactical move that will keep you one step ahead of the game,” concluded Russell.
“Once you get into a busy rhythm you can catch at double the speed”
Using a thicker mainline (lower) will help reduce the speed at which the hookbait falls Using a strung out shotting pattern will slow the pace down even more to help fool big roach ...to catch this!
Keep the point of the hook showing when you are missing bites Bury the hook when big roach are hard to pick out of the shoal